I'm Shocked, Shocked to Find That Ethics Aren't Going On at City Hall. Not Really.

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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On May 12 I wrote a column quoting Dallas City Attorney Tom Perkins on why he had decided to write a proposed new ethics law for the city council. The new law he wrote was adopted unanimously by the council. It greatly relaxed restrictions on how soon after a city council vote the members of the council can seek money from the people whose issue they just voted on and how many people they can seek it from.

The new rules were: 1) Much sooner, and 2) Lots more people.

The rules slipped into law without public scrutiny because of a parliamentary trick. Later, when he was called on it, Perkins said he had proposed the new rules because he was getting complaints from citizens and companies who wanted the council to be able to call them up sooner seeking donations after a vote on their issue. I wrote in my column:

The post-Don-Hill-up-the-river ethics rules, Perkins said, were causing a hardship for companies that wanted to give more money to council members right after important votes. "That's the message we heard from businesses and companies that regularly do business before the city council," Perkins said.
I was not able to cover last night's meeting of a special ad hoc committee convened to reconsider the relaxing of the rules. A story about it by Steve Thompson in today's Dallas Morning News quotes Perkins as giving a quite different explanation for where the rule changes came from. He says in Thompson's story: "That was a concern of some council members."

Council members asked for it. Not businesses and citizens.

Oh, I know...time for the Captain Renault line from Casablanca: We are shocked, shocked. But, look, it's easy to get too cynical about this stuff. This business is transparently outrageous, and we should be shocked, shocked.

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City Attorney Tom Perkins
The committee is recommending that some but not all of the new un-ethics rules be rescinded. The part somebody wants to hang on to is a new rule saying the council members are only barred from going after the top officers and representatives of a company whose issue they are voting on.

The new rule changes the old rule, which was that they couldn't take money from anybody who worked for a company whose issue they were working on. Now they can take money from any and all employees except the top officers.

You know how that works right away, right? The council member says, "You can't give me the money, but your secretary can."

You see this principle all the time in campaign finance: There are households in the Park Cities where people have got their spouses and even their kids making $1,000 donations to Dallas city council members. I see those in the reports, and I try to imagine the conversation around the pool: "Son, you're only 12, but it's not too soon for you to begin learning how to flout ethics laws."

At last evening's meeting, Perkins said he felt the new law making it possible for council members to approach the employees of a company for donations was important because prohibiting those employees from coughing up might do damage to their constitutional right of free expression.

That's why I call him "Temerity Tom."

Hey. If the employees of those companies really feel that their constitutional right to be dunned for donations is being impaired by the city, then let them sue. In fact, do we believe that a single employee or citizen has ever complained?

Remember: Perkins said first he proposed the new un-ethics rules because of complaints from citizens. That story lasted three weeks. Now he's admitting the complaints came from the council, even though he won't say which members.

So now he says we have to keep the new looser rules on donations because we want to make sure we're not impinging on anybody's right of free speech. Forgive me, but I suspect very strongly that Temerity Tom has been instructed by some group on the council to keep this crucial window open so they can gouge more people for more money in exchange for their votes.

FBI agent Don Sherman: Are you out there?



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30 comments
Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

You are right on it.That is the big different between Tom Perkins and Sam Lindsay,Lindsey quoted law and left it up to Council to decide if they wanted to obey it or ignore it,Perkins tries to change the law to fit Council wishes.I shall never for get,Sam standing before the Council and saying,my job is to quote law,and legal opinion based on law,not to change law.Sam always made it plain he was not going to try ,and satisfy any one person other than do his job,interpret law.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

The city staff and council are a bunch of incompetent crooks.   No wonder mayor droopy drawers Caraway is in Nigeria-probably learning the latest in email scams.   Let the FBI investigate them all.  Let the IRS audit them every year.   Put them all in prison with Don Hill.   They just do not get it.  They think that they won the lottery that entitles them to feed on such funds as well as squandering tax dollars.   You know I think it would be fitting to after an election to have all political campaign monies ceded to the city (or government body that the race was for) to the general coffers.  “But we can’t dooooo thaaaaat.  It is our money we are entitled to it” said the city council as they lined their pockets with contribution cash (intoned in a whine voice)

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

After following the affairs of the City of Dallas closely for several years, my sense is that both Queen Mary Suhm and her henchman, Tom Perkins, are pathological liars who could give a flip about the interests of the average citizen residing in the City of Dallas.

Whodunnit
Whodunnit

A den of thieves........they couldn't tell a true story if you gave them a bucket to put it in. The story keeps evolving and spinning because no one is willing to tell the TRUTH! If the City was being run on the up-and-up, Perkins would be GONE for his insubordinate behavior (and so would Mary Suhm).

Guest
Guest

My Dad used to make political donations in my name all the time when I was a kid.

I also had very complicated tax returns as a teenager (as a matter of fact, my Dad would give me lunch money in one big check at the beginning of the month, and it would have deductions for income and payroll taxes).

Bevolaw
Bevolaw

Right on Betty - Perkins will just change/amend anything to meet the sinister goals of him, Suhm and their cronies. Its just sick and I hope they all get busted and sent to prison. I am so fucking sick of this bullshit from these people that think they are above the law/ethics/rules!!!!!! 

Enough is enough!!!!  FBI PLEASE HELP!!!!!!!

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

OK, so all we seem to need is an FBI audit of the City Council and DISD.

What's the hold-up?

Do we need to have a citizens rally at the empty, baking-in-the-sun City Hall Plaza to get the FBI's attention?

It's so frustrating to me that we all see the corruption, we all live with the incompetence, and yet nothing can be done.

It's especially troubling to me bc I spend my day with the kids getting ripped off by the corruption. 

We just found out that while Ivonne Durant can keep her excessive salary, there is no money to have a child tested for Special Ed services over the summer due to DISD's budget priorities.  His new teachers will have to start the 6-week process over in the fall.  Another year lost for this kid due to bureacracy and paperwork and greed at the top. 

Freaking immoral.

yeahIsaidthat
yeahIsaidthat

ya think? Did you hear how at the very end when Hunt asked her if Suhm knew of this?Sounds like Suhm 'dropped her pen' and bent over to find it and didn't hear the question.It is vital that Sandy Greyson wins. Donna Starnes is another Stefani Carter and the last thing we need is some of that on the council.

ThatGuy
ThatGuy

Thank God for Angela.

JimS
JimS

If Greyson gets elected, then there will be three council members (Hunt, we assume Griggs, and we know Greyson) who will ask questions like this. Not even counting who the mayor is or what he does, just having three members to play the Hunt role, instead of only one, will have a major effect. Of course, if North Dallas elects the Tea Party lady, then somebody goes over at the beginning of each meeting, covers her with a butterfly net, and life limps on. 

OED_Denizen
OED_Denizen

Think Mike Rawlings. Look at where his money comes from except it is in $5,000 increments rather than the $1,000 that JimS talks about.

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

Teacher: you don't have to go out and demonstrate. You get on Facebook embarrass the hell out of them. Write them a letter and then post it on FB. Hell, Jim will even help publicize you. You got the power baby, use it.

Mister_Mean
Mister_Mean

We as a society have embraced incompetence.  When some one messes up royally we reward them.   A few years back the DMN had an editorial about shame.   Use to be that people experienced shame when they got caught-now it is a badge of honor.   I enjoy reading mysteries and recall the series of Judge Dee (the 700 AD Chinese Magistrate chronicled by Robert VanGolik)-back then the guilty were flogged in public (50 lashes of a heavy whip) oh but we can't do that their self esteem will be damaged. I recall also about bringing these long list of shenanigans to members of the legislature (oh I forgot they are part of the problem too).   The old saying ‘the fox guarding the hen house.”

lorlee
lorlee

For the past 30 years, I have run non-partisan City Council races in Dallas.  I have worked with Sandy Greyson on each of her races.  She is one of the most competent, honorable people I know.  If you want to help -- here's how.  If you live in District 12, get out and vote.  If you know people in District 12, encourage them to vote.  If you want to volunteer or donate money, go to sandygreyson.com

That Guy
That Guy

"That was a concern of some council members."   Why the hell won't those who were so concerned step forward and identify themselves.  It's all on the up-and-up, right?

Mitch
Mitch

At least we know the Tea Party lady won't vote to raise taxes like your beloved Angela Hunt did.

Beth
Beth

Jim is referring to the $1,000 to City Council races.  Mayoral races have different donation limits.

Snookie Pie
Snookie Pie

Hey, there, dipstick, Mike Rawlings was NOT on City Council.  Therefore Mike Rawlings did not ask Perkins to relax the ethics law.  It was Neumann and Natinsky who wanted the rules of giving flushed down the toilet.  Rawlings is not violating any ethics laws because he has no power to vote on anything.  Only AFTER he gets elected will he be governed by the strict or the relaxed ethics laws.

I know you desperate Kunkle groupies are always blogging lies about Rawlings.  This is a key indicator that ya'll known Kunkle will lose. 

JimS
JimS

Bad News: not to discourage participation here or anything, but do you ever consider picking up the phone?

Bad News Travels Fast
Bad News Travels Fast

Lorlee, if YOU want to help Sandy Greyson, then you should quit immediately.  Because YOU are not helping her.  You are hurting her with your piss-poor campaign management. 

You took the most powerful candidate in the area pulled pathetic, low vote numbers.  You did not do anything at all to get out the vote (GOTV).  You did little or no blockwalking or phonebanking.  Donna Starnes' campaign manager was running A-1 circles around you.  They had poll greeters at all the early vote sites.  You had none that we could find.  They had poll greeters at all the important election day sites--you had none. 

Your pathetic campaign management hurt Sandy Greyson the first go-round.  Sandy has a new crop of energized, experienced campaign consultants that are all working for free for her campaign.  They suggested she get rid of you, but she's too fine a lady to do that.  Why don't you make it easy for her and quit, so she can hire a decent, qualified, campaign manager.

All I can say is thank God there are many great people who have swarmed down to help undo the damage you are doing.

Lorlee, it's time for you to retire.  Find a porch and rocking chair.

Texaspainter
Texaspainter

Wah, wah, Mitch can't afford the extra $100 a year. Wait til you see whats coming next.

Paul
Paul

to:  yeahisaidthat.  I don't know what type home you have but, by your math my home would be valued at $250K in order to have taken only a $100 hit on the Angela Hunt increase.  Heck, my land is valued at $175K.  So, my $350K valued, older home's taxes rose $140 per year because of Angela Hunt's vote.

It's not whether or not we can "afford" it, it's whether or not we want to keep being taxed to death that matters. 

Now, I pay $2,100 for just the City taxes portion.  Add in all the other taxes, county, DISD, etc. and my taxes on my home are $7,500 per year.  Which is $625/month.  That figure just keeps climbing when people like Angela Hunt put their hand in my wallet.

Sam_Merten
Sam_Merten

Or in the parking lot of Friendship-West.

Marc
Marc

Hey SnookiePie, Rawlings may not be a council member yet, and he may not be guilty of assisting in the relaxing of the ethics rules, but he DID say that his only regrets about Leppert were that he did not finish his term and that he did not serve a second term.

That is all the reason I need to vote for Kunkle, even if I didn't like his policies, which I do.

Besides, Rawlings is endorsed by Natinsky, which is probably a kiss of death. Now, he just needs the endorsement of Edward Okpa to be a real loser!

RTGolden
RTGolden

So.... let me see if I have this straight.  If you're not yet an elected official, being unethical is NOT a character flaw, as long as once you get elected, you learn to be unethical on the sly, like other elected officials?Not pitching a tent for either candidate, just trying to follow the logic of your post.

OED_Denizen
OED_Denizen

$5,000 buys a LOT of influence particularly when several family members are donating. AND yes I did know that Rawlings was running for Mayor.

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