The City of Richardson's "Statement on Indictment of Former Mayor", in full:
Let's unpack that statement.The City has been aware of this ongoing investigation and has been fully cooperating with the FBI in this matter.
In 2015, the City initiated its own related ethics investigation by an independent investigator in response to several citizen complaints regarding former Mayor Laura Maczka’s relationship and employment with Mark Jordan and his company. The City exercised the full extent of its power following existing law to conduct the investigation, which was specific to potential City and state ethics violations, finding none. As a non-criminal investigation, the independent investigator did not have subpoena powers and focused solely on alleged violations of specific City and state ethics laws based on the then-available evidence. After the ethics investigation was complete and the investigator’s report was publicly delivered to the City Council, the City then handed over all related materials to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit for further review.
Due to the ongoing investigation and pending legal proceedings, the City must defer any further public comment on this matter to the appropriate authorities.
Source: City of Richardson.
"The City exercised the full extent of its power following existing law to conduct the investigation, which was specific to potential City and state ethics violations, finding none."
The city's extensive code of ethics must surely cover bribery. The DOJ indictment alleges that "Jordan paid Maczka over $18,000 in cash and $40,000 by check, paid for over $24,000 in renovations to Maczka’s home, paid for Maczka’s luxury hotel stays and airfare upgrades." So the City saying "finding none" is an admission that the ethics violation investigation process has a fatal weakness.
"As a non-criminal investigation, the independent investigator did not have subpoena powers."
And there's the weakness. According to the indictment, Maczka denied accepting things of value from Jordan, things allegedly worth many tens of thousands of dollars. And lacking subpoena power, that's where the City left it. The City's investigation concluded, "While the facts in this case do not reveal a cognizable violation of the Code of Ethics, it is certainly understandable that the sum of the Mayor's actions would be viewed by the public as offending the overriding interest of the Code of Ethics." That word "cognizable" has significance that I did not fully appreciate at the time. Lost in the headlines of the time was the conclusion that the mayor's actions failed, as the Code of Ethics puts it, "to avoid even the appearance of impropriety." The Code of Ethics appears to be toothless on that front. Or the City Council declined to bite. An explanation on the former possibility is called for, and an apology on the latter fact might be called for.
"The City must defer any further public comment..."
In other words, the City intends to bury its own role in this matter, a role that fell short of serving the public good. While Laura (Maczka) Jordan is fighting her case in court, the City needs to take steps to ensure future ethics investigations have better success. It can't do that by going back to business as usual. A review is called for by an independent outside expert of the Code of Ethics, the Maczka investigation, and the City Council's non-reaction to that investigation.
That brings me to the subject that isn't mentioned in the City's statement. That is what this bribery case was all about, the Palisades development. Fifty years from now, long after Laura Maczka is a fading memory in Richardson's history, the city will still be living with what's being built on those 59 acres. It's been called an example of "improper town planning," a "substandard project" that looks like a "prison complex." Did Mayor Maczka unduly influence City staff, the City Manager, the Planning Commission, or the City Council to approve a development that did more to enrich her future husband, the developer, than it did to serve the city's long-term best interests? While the courts are determining if Mayor Maczka broke the law, the City needs to determine if its own planning process is flawed. A public commission to review that is called for. As one resident put it, "There must be a lasting lesson here other than don't be a crook."