Thursday, January 22, 2015

Mr. Mayor, Tear Down that Barrier to City Hall

In my last post, More Than Just One Tree, I explained that Tree-gate is more about the lack of openness and transparency in our city government and the cavalier way that many city departments disregard policies and procedures.

Have you been to the new City Hall since the 2013 elections? We supposedly elected a whole new group that was going to bring more openness and transparency to city government. If you have been to the new City Hall over the past year or so, you will know that it is not easy to visit with the Mayor, your Representative or anyone else. You must first sign-in. A guard/receptionist asks for your destination and they call to confirm that you have an appointment. You then must pass through a metal detector - something that was only required for City Council meetings in the now demolished City building. 

Not long ago I had a meeting with the Mayor at his invitation. Although I made it through gestapo-gate, I was detained downstairs and not allowed to go to the Mayor's waiting area on the 2nd floor until I was summoned. 

On another occasion I went to another city building to get something from a friend who works there. I was confronted by one of El Paso's finest (really?) and had to explain where I was going and why I came through a door supposedly for city officials only. 

None of the check-in procedures represent good customer service or openness. 

I have never been to Mayor Leeser's Hyundai dealership but something tells me that there is not the check-point with the guards that clear you before you can gain entry to see a salesperson.

Not only is the El Paso government our government - they serve us and we don't serve them - we are their customers.

Here's a modest proposal: Move the Mayor and City Representatives and the graduate of the Tricky Dick Nixon School of Government, our City Manager, to offices downstairs, each office having a large glass window. Now that would be openness and transparency. The bunch who got elected because the previous city government and staff were supposedly so secret wouldn't be able to hide behind check-points and intimidating officers. Well - at least not the ones who are accountable enough to be full-time servants available to citizens at all time.


  1. I wrote to Mayor Leeser about the horrible new police cars that do not say any longer "To Protect and Serve." Just "El Paso's Finest." Did he and Council approve that? Six weeks have passed and no reply. Somehow I am not surprised. Like the extremely limited public parking near City Hall 1, and the very ADA-unfriendly meeting space in City 3, the message is - "Go Away, We Don't Want You to Bother Us."

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