Mike Kueber's Blog

January 20, 2013

City contracting in San Antonio

Filed under: Issues,People,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 12:59 am
Tags: , , ,

Earlier today, I posted on my Facebook wall that I was planning to run for the San Antonio City Council, with the election on May 11.   I noted that I wouldn’t be soliciting or accepting any campaign contributions because there was too much money in politics.

Coincidentally, Brian Chasnoff’s column in the Express-News today discussed a problem concerning city councilmen who make money off city contracts.  Apparently, city ethics rules prohibit councilmen from making money off contracts that are directly with the city, but contracts with city-affiliated agencies, such as SAWS and VIA, are kosher.  

Mayor Castro sees this distinction as an improper loophole and recently proposed that contracts with city-affiliated agencies also be prohibited.  Chasnoff suggests, however, that Castro’s proposal might have an improper motive – i.e., District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan, a political thorn in Castro’s side, has a consulting business that does a lot of business with city-affiliated agencies.  This could be a way of getting back at her.   

While doing some research on this subject, I stumbled across a similar column that Chasnoff wrote a couple of months ago.    In the earlier column, however, Chasnoff focused on the ethical quandary of Rolando Briones, who is running for the same District 8 position that I am.  Apparently, Briones bid on and won some engineering contracts with the city in 2012 after he had become a District 8 candidate.  This is something that even Elisa Chan declined to do after she became a council candidate.

Briones said in the Chasnoff column that he will give up his city contracts if he is elected even though the city ethics rules allow him to finish out those contracts.  (In fact, giving up the contracts will cause problems for the city.)  I think it would have been better if Briones had followed Chan’s example and quit bidding on contracts after he became a candidate.  I also think that Mayor Castro’s proposal to treat city and city-affiliated contracts alike makes sense.  And most importantly, as with lobbyists and elected officials, I don’t think there shouldn’t be a resolving door between being a city vendor and being on the City Council. 

On a related matter, I wonder whether people like Chan or Briones should be entitled to vote when the city considers a proposal to give contracting preferences to Asians and Hispanics (and African-Americans.  Of course, if all minority councilmen recused themselves, there would be only be the single white, non-Hispanic male on the council left to vote.


1 Comment »

  1. I’m so glad I live in Fredericksburg…

    Comment by Q — January 20, 2013 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

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