The Bridge Over the River Trade
So, the weekend's almost here, and you say you still can't get enough of David Dean? Well, neither can Mayor Laura Miller, who, come Wednesday's city council meeting, is determined to get the council to re-evaluate the city's most recent contract with Dean that calls for him to get $515,000 in taxpayer dough to lobby for the Trans-Texas Corridor on the city's behalf. And by "contract with Dean," we mean the contract Dean wrote for himself, before it went through several drafts and still wound up as a deal far exceeding the money City Manager Mary Suhm recommended to the council. But more about that on Monday.
Last Friday we finished the week with Dean's open-records request to the mayor's office, demanding, among so many other things, all of Mayor Miller's calendars dating back to 2003. So this week, we thought we'd give you Miller's memo sent to all 14 council members this evening in their weekend packages. In it, she calls for the council to "reconsider our vote" on the Dean deal, which the council can do but only till Wednesday, according to the city charter. And it can only do so if one of the seven council members who voted for the contract changes his or her mind. Because, yeah, that's gonna happen.
The mayor's memo is after the jump. She's not suggesting the city dump the contract entirely, but merely alter it. The memo contains her suggestions. And pay particularly close attention to the one that says, "No councilmember/city employee guests allowed on Dean's expense report, which is specifically (and strangely) allowed now." Like I said, see ya Monday. Or sooner. --Robert Wilonsky
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.
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);
2. Limit number of Dallas councilmembers per trip (5 councilmembers went on Laredo trip);
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);
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);
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);
7. No internet surcharges in the room (use the hotel biz center instead, or pay it personally, or get a blackberry);
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);
10. No City of Dallas Councilmembers 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;
11. No councilmember/city employee guests allowed on Dean's expense report, which is specifically (and strangely) allowed now;
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 councilmembers flying or driving to Laredo, eating meals, and spending the night unless a host city outside Dallas is willing to pay Dean his expenses);
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 councilmembers' 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 councilmembers 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.
CC: Mary K. Suhm, City Manager
Thomas P. Perkins, City Attorney