Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What Have We Learned?

What have we learned recently about the burgeoning scandal in Richardson city government?

Monday night, we learned (h/t David Chenoweth) that WFAA's investigative reporter (*cough* yellow journalist) Brett Shipp was at the Richardson City Council meeting and allegedly asked ("confronted," intercepted, ambushed, choose your own verb) council members going in and out about alleged emails from Mayor Laura Maczka to JP Realty's Mark Jordan from before December, 2013, that suggest something more than a strictly business relationship between the two while the Palisades rezoning case was still a pending matter before the city government.

After the jump, what have we not learned?

We have not learned what about this is illegal. Sleazy, sure. But illegal? No, we have not learned that. As I said on April 6:
It's not illegal to vote in a way that benefits friends, or future friends. If it were, everyone in Washington would be in jail. It's not illegal to accept a job from someone who once had business with government. If it were, almost everyone in Washington would be in jail. The revolving door is an old tradition. Unless someone turns up evidence of a quid pro quo (and I haven't seen it yet), don't expect this to go anywhere.
Source: The Wheel.

Now that the allegations are being made publicly, we can add "It's not illegal to have an affair." But expect Brett Shipp to focus less on the legalities than on the tawdriness of it all, if and when he airs the results of his investigative report. Expect Shipp to reveal the emails, plus some flustered reactions by an ambushed mayor and council members, and let viewers draw their own conclusion that Shipp just nailed a gang of crooks and a perp walk is only a matter of time.

Brett Shipp sometimes appears to be more interested in sensationalism than reporting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And the whole truth remains, as always, that it's not illegal to have an affair, or vote in a way that benefits friends, or take jobs from businesses you regulated in office. But that's a detail that Shipp is unlikely to adequately explain.

Unless someone uncovers a quid pro quo, I still don't expect this to go anywhere in a court of law. The quid pro quo doesn't have to be as solid as a canceled check from Jordan to Maczka with "for your vote" in the memo field, but there needs to be something more than the nothing I've seen so far.

As for the court of public opinion, that's another matter. Maczka has already had the book thrown at her there, mostly deserved. That's where Brett Shipp's piece will have its intended effect.

Note: I am not a lawyer. I could be all wrong about what's legal and illegal. But I find it strange that no one is pointing out specifically which ordinance or statute has been violated. Maybe that's because it's obvious (to everyone but me). Funny thing, though. Judges demand that prosecutors go through the detailed exercise anyway. So, humor me. Tutor me. Exactly what's illegal in what's been rumored? That's what we haven't learned yet.


Mark Steger said...

The WFAA story by Brett Shipp aired. It's pretty much as I predicted above. In fact, it's weaker than I expected. Not that I expect that to matter.

Mark Steger said...

Headline from Texas Tribune: "Ex-Perry Lawyer Picked to Hear Appeal in Perry Case." See how high the bar is in conflict-of-interest cases?

Mark Steger said...

We know now, almost four years later, that the quid pro quo does exist, in the form of tens of thousands of dollars given by the developer to the then-mayor. A jury convicted them both of bribery.