in Houston, Texas
San Antonio ponders bolstering disclosure requirements, city official recommended contractor with ties to new employer
Monday, Oct 01, 2012, 03:11PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
riverwalk

Let’s see if we have this right.

The deputy city manager of San Antonio admits to doing something wrong that isn’t something wrong because it isn’t in the ethics code the mayor of San Antonio would like to change to make it wrong.

So as to make it right.

As is the case with much political logic, an explanation is necessary. Mayor Julián Castro is asking City Manager Sheryl Sculley and the City Council to support changes he would like to make in the city’s ethics code, the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Castro told the newspaper the changes are needed to “enhance trust and confidence” in city government. And by that he means acknowledging in a generalized but codified way what most San Antonians concluded from the start:

Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni made a big boo boo.

DiGiovanni was a member of a city selection committee that recommended a $300 million downtown convention center contract  - the largest in San Antonio history - be given to Zachry Corp. of San Antonio and Hunt Construction Group of Phoenix, Ariz.

The City Council unanimously approved the recommendation.

At the same time he was mulling the attributes of Zachry Corp., DiGiovanni was in talks to become the chief executive officer for the non-profit Centro Partnership devoted, not quite so coincidentally, to the development of downtown San Antonio.

Among the people taking part in those talks and who, eventually, signed off on hiring DiGiovanni was David Zachry, a member of Centro’s executive committee and, not quite so coincidentally, the chief executive officer of Zachry Corp.

In a letter obtained by the Express News, DiGiovanni said he believed he violated nothing in the city’s ethics code. Zachry and Centro, he contended, are separate entities. Still, he said, “I made a mistake here, and I deeply regret that mistake. And I'll have to live with it for the rest of my career.”

The city’s Ethics Review Board has yet to rule on whether or not DiGiovanni’s negotiations posed a conflict of interest.

Castro isn’t waiting for a decision. He wants the public to know who sits on city committees and wants committee members to disclose their affiliations. Companies that want to do business with the city would have to disclose the names of partners, board directors and officers.
Castro also wants a city official designated to research conflicts of interest.

The most experienced city official will not be available to take the position, as he is leaving to join Centro Partnership.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of San Antonio's Riverwalk by flickr user Princess Stand in the Rain, used via a Creative Commons license.

Comments
Cecil Coltrane
Monday, 10/01/2012 - 04:47PM

Overdue are ethics review boards, citizen review of police, polygraphs. The fox guarding the hen house is not working.

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