The county's purchasing board may file a lawsuit against its former purchasing agent, but no one on Monday would say why.
The purchasing board, whose sole job is to oversee the county's purchasing department, called a special meeting for today. According to the posted agenda, the board will meet in executive session to "discuss potential litigation and receive legal advice regarding the former Purchasing Agent." Piti Vasquez was the purchasing agent up until Dec. 31.
Vasquez said Monday he was not aware of the meeting and declined further comment.
"I have no comment right now as to what they are doing because I don't know what they're doing," he said.
The purchasing board is made up of three district court judges and two county commissioners.
Board member County Judge Veronica Escobar said she could not comment on the case either.
Vasquez worked for the county for more than 35 years until September, when El Paso County Commissioners Court authorized Escobar to sign a "separation agreement" with Vasquez. He then submitted his retirement effective Dec. 31. His annual salary was $120,791.
During those final months, Vasquez was questioned by the Commissioners Court about whether he and other employees had followed the county's new Procurement Review Panel procedures.
The county implemented the panel last year as a tool to help raise red flags in contract bids and negotiations. The panel's goal is to avoid or reduce corruption, according to county officials.
In a previous interview with El Paso Times, Vasquez declined to say whether his retirement was linked to issues with the Procurement Review Panel.
Since Vasquez's resignation, the county has initiated a search for a new purchasing agent, but a decision has not been made.
In December, the purchasing board decided to repost the position for another month after the majority of applicants did not meet the county's requirements for the job.
Only longtime assistant purchasing agent Jose Lopez and an out-of-town applicant were interviewed for the $106,000-a-year position, which originally drew 71 applicants.
Aileen B. Flores may be reached at email@example.com; 546-6362.