in Houston, Texas
New ethics complaint filed against San Antonio city officials over handling of convention center contract
Tuesday, Nov 20, 2012, 10:36AM CST
By Mark Lisheron

A former city contract coordinator for San Antonio is not satisfied that a brisk but gentle paddling of Deputy City Manager Pat DiGiovanni is sufficient to make the handling of a $300 million Convention Center contract go away.

Michael Cuellar filed a complaint with the city’s Ethics Review Board against DiGiovanni, David Zachry, CEO of one of the winning contractors, and three city employees, the San Antonio Express News reports today.

The board is expected to consider the complaint at its meeting Dec. 17.
The complaint followed a decision in October by the board against taking action against DiGiovanni for his role in the Convention Center negotiations because he had “unknowingly” violated the conflict-of-interest guidelines in the ethics code.

While DiGiovanni was voting to give the largest construction contract in city history to Zachry Corp. and Hunt Construction Group of Phoenix, he was in the final stages of accepting a job as chief executive officer for Centro Partnership, a non-profit downtown development promoter.

Zachry is a member of the executive committee for Centro Partnership.

Pat DiGiovanniPat DiGiovanni

DiGiovanni insisted he violated no ethics code rules, but admitted making a mistake he said he regretted.

Cuellar contends an apology just isn’t enough. “City staff have demonstrated a failure to scrupulously avoid the appearance of impropriety at all times,” the complaint says.

Each of the five have proclaimed innocence in letters to the board. In a bid to discredit Cuellar, Robert Newman, an attorney for Zachry, called his complaint “unfocused, rambling and substantially incomprehensible.”

Newman told the paper Cuellar had a history of “harassing behavior,” referring to 33 open records requests of the city he made in the past five months. Police Chief William McManus drafted a letter Newman provided to the Ethics Board saying Cuellar is no longer allowed in City Hall, but did not say why.

Cuellar resigned from his coordinator’s position in February, but would not tell the paper why.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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Photo of money by flickr user 401 (K) 2012, used via a Creative Commons license

Tuesday, 12/04/2012 - 03:22PM

In other parts of the government contracts of this size and considering the individual in question is now employed by centro would be grounds for a complete contract review and possible revokation of the contract and beginning the process anew.

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