By Lisa Sorg
The taxi lobby, a restauranteur, the police union, and usual suspects from the development community paid their way into the hearts of City Councilmembers during the first six months of the year.
According to campaign contribution and expense reports for the January 1 -June 30, 2004 filing period, Landry's Restaurants, who in March won the bid for the Tower of the Americas restaurant, waited until June to show their gratitude to Mayor Ed Garza and District 10 Councilman Chip Haass, with $1,000 and $500 contributions, respectively.
Mayor Garza, he's a traveling man, made a lotta stops all over the world, and racked up frequent flier miles en route to Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Phoenix, Houston, Kansas City, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C. - where he spent $690 staying at the Mayflower Marriott.
Garza's refined and varied palate also takes him from the politicos' hangout, the Plaza Club in the Frost Bank Tower (total tab: $642.44), to the commoners' eatery, BBQ Patio ($160) on Old Pearsall Road.
Many of his largest contributors hail from out of town: $1,000 from Houston law firm Allen, Boone and Humphries, which serves on the advisory board to the Association of Water Board Directors; $500 from Houston planning commission member/civil engineer Orlando Teran; and at least $5,000 from various people in the Rio Grande Valley.
Several Councilmembers - Joel Williams, Enrique Barrera, Roger Flores, and Ron Segovia - invoked Section 552.17 of the Public Information Act, which allows them to keep secret their addresses and phone numbers - and that of their campaign treasurers'. Although it would be troubling to wake up one morning to find Council rabblerouser and former county jail inmate Jack Finger dancing on your lawn, withholding this information makes it difficult, if not impossible to verify through contribution records if the officeholders or candidates live in their respective districts.
The recent actions of one Councilmember have landed his address in the newspaper, and speaking of District 3's Ron Segovia, the former cop accepted $500 from the San Antonio Police union, which could put him in a difficult position concerning the investigation into the cops' alleged mishandling of the alleged domestic violence against KSAT police reporter Gina Galavez.
Although the City's ethics committee has recommended a $500 limit on individual campaign contributions, District 9's Carroll Schubert has blasted that amount out of the water, accepting five grand from oil magnate Gary "Texas Tea" Blackie (OK, his nickname isn't Texas Tea) and another $2,000 from HPI Consultants in Austin, which markets software tools and books used by crude oil traders, petroleum product traders, and refinery planners.
District 5's Patti Radle observed the $500 limit, and garnered droplets of money from environmentalists, peace activists, and civil libertarians, including $25 from Joleen Garcia, $50 from Tom Keene, and $100 from Jane and Woody Tuck.
But the burning question of the last six months remains: Why did Mike Barnard and Roman Martinez, taxi cab operators from Houston, spread around at least $5,500 among Councilmembers? For their tips? •
By Lisa Sorg
Keep your hands off Council's stack
D1 Roger Flores
D2 Joel Williams
D3 Ron Segovia
D4 Richard Perez
D5 Patti Radle
D6 Enrique Barrera
D7 Julián Castro
D8 Art Hall
D9 Carroll Schubert
D10 Chip Haass
Mayor Ed Garza
Source: Candidates' campaign contribution/expense filings, January 1-June 30, 2004. Contributor's list is partial.
For full filings, go to sanantonio.gov/clerk/elections