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10/25/06  Party Hearty on his own Dime.

  Several council members are riding Dean's party train, racking up personal Aadvantage miles, vacationing at posh Mexican hotels -- all on Dean's expense account, which gets covered by Joe Taxpayer's dime.

At least 3 council members have huge conflicts of interest on the Dean contract.  They should not have even been in the discussion two weeks ago, much less voted on the Dean contract.  They are being entertained and are not reporting the entertainment perks on their financial reports.

If you caught Monday's debate on KRLD between Mayor Miller and Dollar Bill Blaydes, you heard him try to justify Dean, Dollar Bill, et al staying at a 5 star hotel in Mexico City, rather than at more reasonable lodgings.  Dollar Bill said it was the only safe place for important people like him to stay in Mexico City.  Just between you and me, I doubt that's going to win him any friends in the Mexican government.

On Dallas Observer's UnFairPark, Robert Wilonsky has a great take on the whole sordid affair.  You need to use the link to read the whole commentary, but this cite pretty much sums up why this Dean contract is so wrong, so Dallas:

Dean Writes Own Deal, Deal?
Robert Wilonsky - DallasObserver.com - UnFair Park
10/24/06
... The deal approved two weeks ago said that in addition to the $515,000 in annual fees and expenses, Dean also gets an additional $25,000 if necessary that only the city manager has to approve, then another $25,000 if the city council gives its blessing. So, in reality, the deal he signed with the city two weeks ago is closer to $565,000 than the oft-reported $515,000 figure. ...

Ever the optimist, Mayor Miller is trying to goad one of the Dean 7 to reverse their vote on the Dean contract and make a motion to reconsider.  Don't expect Dollar Bill to be the one to make the motion.  Actually, I doubt any of the Dean 7 will do the right thing, but I sure hope my councilman, Steve Salazar, surprises me and makes the motion to reconsider the Dean contract.

Below is a memorandum Mayor Miller has submitted to the council with suggestions for amending the Dean contract.  My comments are in blue type.

Memorandum
Date:      October 20, 2006

To:         The Honorable Members of the Dallas City Council

Subject: DEAN INTERNATIONAL CONTRACT
_____________________________________________________________________________________________

These are the changes I propose we make to the one-year Dean International contract we approved on October 11, 2006.

We have until Wednesday, October 25, 2006, to reconsider our vote.

Only one of the members who voted for Dean's sweet deal can move to reconsider  the vote.  That would be Dollar Bill Blaydes, Ed Oakley, Sandra Dee Griffith, Ron Natinsky, Steve Salazar, Elba Garcia or Pauline Medrano.  Mayoral candidate Griffith might be tempted because this is going to make him an easy target by the other mayoral candidates.  The problem for Sandra Dee is that he is not informed enough to make a sensible statement about the Dean contract.  He was also on KRLD.  He admitted voting for a contract that he had never read -- after he said he knew what was in the contract.  Sort of like, "I voted for it, before I voted against it."

I am happy to forward you copies of receipts that Dean has filed on his expense reports to the city that show why there is a strong and immediate need to amend his contract in the following ways:

1. Limit number of Dean employees per trip (9 of his employees went on a trip to Laredo for a quarterly meeting of the Dean-created group ROTCC);

This is like we are subsidizing a rolling party.   9 employees on the same trip?  That's quite an entourage.  ROTCC is another one of those shadow government operations that Joe Taxpayer gets to fund, but has no clue what it's about, and little or no power to stop decisions made by the likes of Dollar Bill.   

2. Limit number of Dallas council members per trip (5 council members went on Laredo trip);

This would be Dollar Bill Blaydes, Ed Oakley, Ron Natinksy, et al.
 

3. Pay no expenses if Dallas officials/employees not on trip (we reimbursed some travel expenses for a trip to Washington D.C. with Irving City Council members, their spouses and children and NO Dallas officials);

Dallas taxpayers are not only paying for Dollar Bill, et al to party hearty, but we get to pay for free-loading politicians from other cities. 

4. Have a formula to reduce expenses and/or fees when other paying members join TEX-21 and ROTCC and any other Dean-created group we pay him to consult for (We are providing the seed money for him to travel to other cities and countries to recruit members to his organizations and, when successful, we should be reimbursed or compensated in some fashion);

Dallas taxpayers are paying for Dean to create multiple-layers of shadow governments.  Each new member to his layered party cake pays him consulting fees in addition to what he is already raking off from Dallas taxpayers.

5. Use city's reimbursement limits on travel, meals and entertainment expenses;

6. Cap nightly hotel rate (i.e., no Four Seasons Mexico City [$360/night before taxes] no Las Hadas beach resort in Mexico - both Dean trips that we paid for);

Sounds pretty reasonable to me, but then I don't think like Dollar Bill or his traveling buddies. 

7. No internet surcharges in the room (use the hotel biz center instead, or pay it personally, or get a blackberry);

Unfortunately, many hotels no longer offer free internet service even in their business centers.

8. NO Xerox copies made in hotels (Dean charged $82 for copies at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C.);

9. Strict monthly dollar limit on copying (we are spending up to $2000/month now, and there is no detail given for any of it. There is no reason for this much copying to be done by a professional lobbyist working one project for us, unless we are doing all the copying for all of his clients);

The firm where I work does not spend $2000 a month on copying.  With scanning and e-mail and fax, there is just no need to do that kind of copying.  We are paying for Dean to furnish copies to his other municipal clients. 

10. No City of Dallas Council members or employees, or Dean employees, may use personal airline Advantage accounts to accrue miles from taxpayer-paid trips for personal use (all three groups do
now).  Instead, create city-owned accounts and use city-earned mileage for official city travel to reduce city travel costs;

You should have heard Dollar Bill's response when she brought up this particular little perk of his.  He said there's nothing wrong with him or other council members racking up advantage miles on taxpayers' dime.  Mayor Miller told him it was illegal.  If it's not, it sure ought to be.

11. No councilmember/city employee guests allowed on Dean?s expense report, which is specifically (and strangely) allowed now; 

Does this mean we are paying for spouses and significant others to travel with council members or city employees?  These are supposed to be business trips.

12. "Allowable" expenses reimbursed not "Actual" expenses, as written now; 

13. Quarterly meetings of Dean-created organizations, for which Dallas is the primary source of funds (TEX-21 and ROTCC and any others) should be held in Dallas (i.e., Laredo ROTCC meeting cost Dallas thousands of dollars with 9 Dean employees and five council members flying or driving to Laredo, eating meals, and spending the night unless a host city outside Dallas is willing to pay Dean his expenses);  

With video conferencing, there is no need for all the traveling anyway.  Mayor Miller is right that we should be having meetings in Dallas when Dallas taxpayers are primarily footing the bill.

14. We should consider giving him only a monthly fee and he pays for all expenses out of that. It will discourage him from booking at 5-star hotels, will keep his organizational meetings in Dallas, will discourage him from doing Xerox copying in hotels at $1 plus/page, and will stop the habit of putting movies and liquor, the internet and the mini-bar, on the hotel tab;  

15. We need better record-keeping if we do keep giving him an expense account:

            a) Dean regularly submits receipt for meals that do not itemize the charges, making it impossible to tell if there is liquor on the bill (which we assume do include alcohol since a number of dinner tabs that re itemized include beer and Jack Daniels)

            b) Dean does not request reimbursement for some of the largest, most expensive meals that are on his travel itineraries. Who is paying for these meals (like dinner for 8, formal attire requested, at a Washington DC restaurant earlier this year)?

            c) If it is Dean, why don't the meals show up in council members' annual financial disclosure statements (which specifically call for meals and travel to be disclosed if they are paid for by professional lobbyists or trade groups)? 

Clearly council members are not paying for these group meals/entertainment because they don't show up in their campaign reports as an officeholder expense and their daily travel per diems would nor cover it.

We clearly have a reporting problem that we do not want to be a problem for councilmembers, or city employees, and our reporting system needs to be more transparent.

I look forward to getting feedback from you on these important items.

Sincerely,

Laura Miller 
Mayor

As I said above, don't expect Dollar Bill Blaydes to be the one to make the motion.   He's having a great time on our dime.  That's why he got so emotional when Mayor Miller mentioned how much he enjoys traveling with David Dean.   He doesn't want anyone messing with his party train.

sb

 

                                        

    





                            

 

  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8