From Darkness To Light

2 Jan 2024

Former financial consultant for city of Durango sued for alleged whistleblower retaliation

Posted by Adam Howell

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A former financial consultant and Chief Financial Officer of the City of Durango is getting sued for allegedly retaliating against a Chief Internal Auditor in Texas who reported credit card theft by city of El Paso officials to the police.

Former city of Durango financial consultant Tommy Gonzalez

Former city of Durango financial consultant Tommy Gonzalez. Image copied from City of Midland website.

Tommy Gonzalez worked as a financial consultant for Durango in March of 2023 while he was simultaneously employed as the city manager for El Paso Texas.

Gonzalez was paid $35,000 as a contracted financial consultant for the city of Durango, who he worked for remotely from Texas.

During his time as a financial consultant for the city of Durango, Gonzalez was allegedly retaliating against El Paso’s Chief Internal Auditor Edmundo Calderon for conducting an audit into criminal financial activities.

Specifically, Plaintiff Calderon is accusing Gonzalez of treating him poorly “for conducting the audit and not notifying him and other city officials sooner and asking the police department for help in obtaining video” from a gas station.

In this situation, Calderon was investigating El Paso city officials for credit card theft and “Misapplication of Fiduciary Property.”

Ultimately, Calderon claims that Tommy Gonzalez and other El Paso city officials took adverse personnel action against him affecting his compensation, work assignment and promotion, Calderon’s Petition states.

Pursuant to the Texas Whistleblower Act, Calderon’s Petition said that sovereign immunity is waived and abolished by the City of El Paso based on the allegations of violations of law made by Calderon as a public employee.

Former City Finance Director's Lawsuit in TX

Former employee of Irving, Texas, hires former City Manager of Irving, Texas

In a “Sole Source Justification Form,” Durango City Manager Jose Madrigal described why Gonzalez was the only practical source from which to obtain the services, why the price was considered to be reasonable, and what efforts were made to get the best possible price for the taxpayer’s dollars:

“The specialized services provided by Mr. Gonzales include a distinct ability and history of financial expertise, evaluating and developing talent and processes to advance financial resilience within various organizations. Mr. Gonzales has a long track record of evaluating and improving financial operations in his work with various Cities across Texas. In his experience in both city and financial management realms, and his qualifications as a Malcolm Baldridge Foundation Lifetime Leadership Award Recipient, and having received the award in his time at the City of Irving, his unique skill and proven ability to improve financial operations is genuinely a distinct set of abilities to aid the City of Durango in advancing the financial capacity toward outlined goals.

Similar offered services have been evaluated from less qualified vendors and pricing has been determined appropriate for the scope and level of expertise to be provided,” Madrigal said.

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While Jose Madrigal was approving the contract for Gonzalez in Durango, the existing Financial Director Cynthia Sneed was preparing for departure from Durango. Where she was going was a new job as Finance Director in Boulder City, Nevada.

Prior to Gonzalez being hired on as a financial consultant for Durango, El Paso City Council voted in February of 2023 to fire Gonzalez from his City Manager job in the city of El Paso. At the same time, Gonzalez’s contract for El Paso had not quite ended. It was scheduled to end on June 28, 2023, according to El Paso Matters.

In other words, Tommy Gonzalez was hired by Durango City Manager Jose Madrigal, who likely knew that Gonzalez was looking for new long-term employment.

Both Jose Madrigal and Tommy Gonzalez worked for City of Irving Texas in the years 2012 and 2013, according to their Linkedin accounts.

However, with Tommy Gonzalez having been the City Manager of Irving during those years, it’s likely that Gonzalez helped in hiring Jose Madrigal as the Strategic Services Team Director.

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Tommy Gonzalez allegedly worked as a Chief Financial Officer for the city of Durango.

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Following the drama that went down in El Paso, Gonzalez became the city manager of Midland, Texas, where he currently works.

Adam Howell is a writer who believes in free press and the importance of the constitution. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.

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