OUR VIEW: Cronyism is alive, well in Odessa

THE POINT: The Odessa City Council Squad will bring you a stunningly unqualified new city manager in the coming weeks. What a shame to see taxpayer dollars wasted on a phony search that netted us the most unqualified city manager choice in the state.

Odessa businessman Ronnie Lewis wrote a fantastic guest view last week that included this: “The definition of cronyism is the practice of giving jobs and other favors to friends or associates without regard for their qualifications, especially in politics.”

Whew! That is exactly what is going on in our fair city.

The Odessa City Council will soon begin the process of approving John Beckmeyer as Odessa’s next city manager. We feel certain it is a done deal and that, like Mr. Lewis wrote, cronyism is at work.

Sure, sure the City Council Squad members have been out and about around town talking him up, claiming he’s the equivalent of the second coming. You know, he doesn’t need any of those pesky things like experience running a city or the educational background that basically all city managers typically have.

No, no. He doesn’t need any of that nonsense. Shoot, he’s friends with the mayor. What more could be needed?

We are told Mayor Javier Joven has spread the good tidings that Beckmeyer, as the executive director of the Republican Party of Texas since July 2021, will offer Odessa some kind of a direct pipeline to Gov. Greg Abbott, which might mean more funding for needs in Odessa.

That’s funny. Some of the top GOP crew members of Texas have what one might call a pretty “frosty” relationship with the Governor. In fact, during the last election, most of the top hard-right GOP team supported either former Florida U.S. Rep. West or former state Sen. Don Huffines. Not Abbott.

As we have come to expect with the majority of this City Council and Mayor, there is not a lot of truth telling going on around these parts.

But there is a lot of cronyism.

Here’s what we know:

Beckmeyer is a “friend” or a “pal” of at least one City Council member and the mayor. He was one of four “finalists” picked by the T2 Consulting group out of Fort Worth.

Do you remember T2? They are the group hired less than 24 hours after the mayor and his squad fired City Manager Michael Marrero and City Attorney Natasha Brooks. They are the group the mayor arranged to get a $50,000 deposit for, along with a contract that could pay them more than $300,000 this year for helping find a “qualified” city manager.

We don’t know who any of the 50-something applicants for the city manager spot are. Nope. That is all secret and any reports from T2 are all sent to the mayor’s personal email per the contract with the City of Odessa.

What we do know is that one of the four finalists dropped out prior to last week’s in-person interviews. We also know the other two finalists did have city manager experience and the appropriate educational background.

To be clear, we are not suggesting what the experience or education of a city manager candidate should be. Nope, we are just letting you know what our own City Council told T2 what they wanted in a new city manager.

Back in March, the City Council crafted exactly what they wanted in a new city manager. The council stated the new city manager must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in public administration, business administration, management or a related field. In addition, they must have three or more years experience as a city manager, assistant city manager or as a department head in a city of similar size to Odessa.

According to LinkedIn, Beckmeyer has an associate’s degree in animal science from Western Texas College and a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Sam Houston State University.

Beckmeyer has been the executive director of the Republican Party of Texas since July 2021 and is the chief operating officer of the STEM Software/Musketball Group in Odessa since January 2019. He joined the Musketball Group in 2017.

So, clearly, he is qualified to be city manager since he is the Mayor’s friend and all.

Our neighbors to the East, Midland, have also hired a new city manager. Their council went a different direction and hired an experienced city manager. Go figure.

The new Midland city manager has been fired from previous jobs in city government. Some are making a big deal out of that. But, shoot, maybe it was like our two fired city managers, Marrero and Richard Morton, who were both tossed out by actions of really, really controversial City Council members.

We emailed a list of questions to T2 this week seeking some explanation for how T2 even had Beckmeyer on the shortlist of candidates when he had exactly ZERO of the qualifications council wanted.

No response thus far to that email.

We find it hard to believe Beckmeyer made the finalist list and suspect an elected official(s) asked for Beckmeyer to be a finalist. But, again, it is super top secret. You taxpayers don’t deserve an explanation.

You, the taxpayers, who will pay up to $338,000 to T2 for this sorry search for a city manager and will also pay Beckmeyer likely more than a $250,000 annual salary deserve better. We all deserve better than the City Council we have.

We also hear nonsense about Beckmeyer’s contract. Some noise about possibly adding some language making it more difficult and expensive for future City Councils to fire him like the last two were tossed out.

Amazing how the actions of Joven and his junta exemplify the adage: “Rules for thee; not for me.” They also are the collective poster child for the caution one often hears when dealing with politicians: Pay attention to their actions, not their words.

We suppose a future City Council could just stick it to Beckmeyer like the current City Council has done to both Marrero and Brooks. They haven’t paid out what they owe them and are currently still taking every opportunity to blame everything but the JFK assassination and Climate Change on Brooks.

We’ll have more on that soon, including information on controversial current City Attorney Dan Jones, who has told some real whoppers about Brooks and other things. We can see why our current City Council loves him so much.

But back to the City Manager issue.

These folks just go too far. Now we can be a laughingstock of the state for our unqualified City Manager as well as our clown circus of a City Council.