Confused about what the ethics commission actually decided? Well, you’re not alone, Tommy Gonzalez and his attorney are, too. The Ethics Commission determined that Tommy Gonzalez violated the ethics policy regarding repaving streets in District 2 (Romero’s district) and installation of speed humps in front of Cathedral High School.
In order to understand what the Ethics Commission decided to do about these two items, you need to understand what their different levels are and what they could do. According to El Paso City Code (page 197), there are four levels of sanctions that the Ethics Commission can impose (emphasis added):
- Letter of Notification – A letter of notification may be issued when the ethics review commission finds that a violation of this chapter was clearly unintentional or when the action or conduct found to have been a violation of this chapter was performed by the official in reliance on a written opinion of the city attorney. A letter of notification may advise the person to whom the letter is directed of any steps to be taken to avoid future violations.
- Letter of Admonition – A letter of admonition may be issued when the ethics review commission finds that the violation of this chapter was minor and/or may have been unintentional, but where the circumstances call for a more substantial response than a letter of notification.
- Letter of Reprimand – A reprimand may be issued when the ethics review commission finds that a violation of this chapter was committed intentionally or through disregard of this chapter
- Recommendation of Removal from Office – Removal from office may be recommended to the city council for action when the ethics review commission finds that a serious or repeated violation of this chapter was committed by an officer intentionally or through culpable disregard of this chapter.
The Ethics Commission approved two sanctions for Gonzalez: “a letter of notification for recklessly disregarding an applicable policy or procedure by authorizing an unqualified alley to be resurfaced in District 2 and a letter of admonition for recklessly disregarding an applicable policy or procedure by authorizing the installation of speed humps on Stanton Street in front of Cathedral High School.” (You can read the El Paso Times story here). Basically, the Ethics Commission found that Tommy Gonzalez unintentionally was unethical about the speed humps and might have been a little bit unethical about repaving the alley way (or he could have unintentionally been unethical there, as well). So, there you have it, the Ethics Commission ruled that Tommy Gonzalez accidentally was unethical.
His lawyer has stated that they are already looking into ways to appeal the Ethics Commission’s ruling.