As many of you know, city council is set to vote tomorrow on whether to authorize an outside investigator to investigate how the attempt to terminate First Southwest’s contract came about. The city also released three reports last week. The first one, the Norton Rose Fulbright report was released on December 2, 2015. On December 3, 2015, two other reports were released by the city as attachments to the city agenda for tomorrow.
The first report was the “Financial Advisor Request for Qualification Report” submitted by the city’s city manager, Tommy Gonzalez. The second report was released by the city’s Internal Audit Department. Both of these reports were requested by Oscar Leeser. The Norton Rose Fulbright report was also commissioned by Oscar Leeser. The Norton Rose Fulbright report clarified that the sale of the ballpark bonds were delayed by Joyce Wilson at the behest as of yet unidentified city officials ostensibly to help Steve Ortega in his political campaign against Oscar Leeser. The final two reports were requested by Leeser as a result of controversy surrounding Larry Romero.
On Friday we also learned that one of Romero’s prior challengers, Jim Tolbert filed an ethics complaint against Larry Romero. As with anything related to a dysfunctional city government we are now learning that the city’s ethics board is missing most of its membership because several city representatives have not appointed members to the board. This should not really surprise many of us.
However, city council will be voting to order an outside investigator to investigate how the attempt to replace First Southwest came about. This is a good thing.
No matter how you may feel about Oscar Leeser, the fact remains the he has transparently and openly requested investigations into the financial services provider debacle. Not only has Leeser followed through in ordering two investigations, but he also released them to the community and has further requested city council to vote on a third-party investigation.
Oscar Leeser’s action, so far, have been an abrupt change from previous administrations where investigations were conducted in secret and the unpleasant facts were buried in executive session. It is now up to city council to follow his example and vote on an outside and independent investigation into the financial services debacle.
As much as we think we know about the financial services debacle the reality is that we have many suppositions but little facts from where to glean the actual events that led to it.
As much as most of us look forward to the continued transparency so far demonstrated by Leeser, we must remain mindful that there is an even more important issue that has been delegated to the back burner. That is the issue of who authorized the delay of the ballpark bonds that ended up costing the city’s taxpayers about $22 million.
I have filed numerous open records requests and plan to file others in the coming days looking for more information about this. I’ll be writing about this issue as the information becomes available to me. In the meantime, keep a close eye on how city council first pontificates about the third-party investigator and what it ultimately votes on tomorrow.