Councilor needles city officials

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By David Giuliani

Some former Las Vegas mayors would envy the majority support Mayor Alfonso Ortiz gets from the City Council.

For his administration’s initiatives, Ortiz has enjoyed the backing of council members Diane Moore and Andrew Feldman. Another council member, David Romero, has missed meetings for months as he recovers from a stroke.

Then there’s Councilwoman Tonita Gurule-Giron, who represents northwest Las Vegas’ Ward 1.

She has been a thorn in the side of Ortiz, needling his administration with questions.

During last week’s City Council meeting, Gurule-Giron said she had a lot of questions for interim Finance Director Pamela Marrujo about the budget during the monthly financial report. That prompted City Manager Timothy Dodge to say that questions should run through him and that he then could direct the inquiries to Marrujo.

That contrasts with the longtime practice in which council members can ask direct questions to administration officials making presentations.
After Dodge’s statement, Mayor Alfonso Ortiz announced that he would allow only three questions in a row from a council member, “so that we don’t prolong discussion from one councilor only.”

Gurule-Giron objected that questions go through the city manager. She said that under state law, the city manager can’t also be the finance director.

She then questioned a $40,000 budget transfer.

“I could just go on and on about inconsistencies and errors in the budget,” said Gurule-Giron, a former employee of the state Department of Finance and Administration. “I’m very concerned. I looked at last month’s to this month’s comparisons. Those numbers are inconsistent.”

Dodge asked that Gurule-Giron come in to meet with him about the alleged inconsistencies.

“I don’t have any idea about the inconsistencies you’re talking about,” he said. “There are no inconsistencies.”

Dodge said the entire council approved the budget over the summer.
“I voted for it because DFA (Department of Finance and Administration) gave approval,” Gurule-Giron said.

On another issue, the councilwoman objected to the evaluation form that City Council members were asked to use for the city manager’s performance review.

“Was this run through HR (human resources)?” she asked after Ortiz distributed the form.

“It was run through the mayor,” Ortiz replied. “HR has nothing to do with the manager’s position. We’re following the proper procedure.”
Councilman Feldman agreed.

Gurule-Giron said the evaluation process should have taken place in September, after six months into Dodge’s contract.

Ortiz stood by the evaluation form.

“If you choose to respond, you can. If you don’t, fine,” he said.