The Jeffersonian: Politicks, Sports, and Culture

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Playing His Saxophone While Rome Burns

From Roddy Stinson, why is it that a County Commissioner making ninety-something thousand dollars a year feels the need to be paid to get up and toot his sax at a function hosted by Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson- the collection agency for the county:

"Roddy, I don't understand how the orchestra of Bexar County Commissioner Paul Elizondo can play for pay at a Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson bash while that firm does business with the county.

"Yet that's what
happened on Dec. 16 at the Witte Museum.

"Elizondo was front and center, tooting his sax, at the Linebarger Christmas Party!"
It wasn't the first time.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Elizondo and his "orchestra" have been Christmas-party drumming, strumming and tooting "for us for at least 15 years," said Carri Baker Wells, director of operations for the San Antonio office of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, the longtime holder of the county's lucrative contract for collecting delinquent taxes.

Wells declined to disclose the amount of money the law firm paid Elizondo for the night's work, saying only that "it was the going rate for a 13-piece orchestra." (An Express-News staffer familiar with the "going rate" said the orchestra was probably paid around $1,500.)

"We paid him less than some other bands in town charge," Wells said, making a case for her expressed belief that the musical deal between the law firm and Elizondo represented no conflict of interest for the commissioner.

Elizondo, who is up for re-election in 2006, made a similar point in defense of his doing business with a county contractor:

"I checked with the DA's office and the (Texas) Ethics Commission, and I was told there is no conflict if I'm providing a professional service for these people.

"I've got a band that's in demand — the premier dance band in San Antonio for 43 years — and that's why people hire me, not because of my position with the county."

Leaving the premier dance band note out of it, that's just too easy (That's like saying you've been the premier lingerie model in SA for 43 years. Oops, sorry couldn't help myself.), why the hell is an elected county official able- and willing for that matter- to have another business on the side? It may be legal but it doesn't pass the smell test. The fact that Elizondo cannot even begin to perceive that is horrendous.

Good job checking with the toothless Texas Ethics Commission too. Next time I'm thinking about drinking too much at a family function, I'll ask my alcoholic uncle if he thinks that's allowable.