Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Commissioner Explains

Public funds, private gain

Commissioner: Classes for things key to public work

By Zach Lindsey
Published: Saturday, April 10, 2010 2:36 AM CDT
While attending conferences funded by Webb County, Commissioner Sergio “Keko” Martinez also received educational credits that applied to his private law career.

On Thursday afternoon, Martinez said the conferences have had a positive effect on his knowledge of issues relating to the county, such as public information requests, human resources and risk management issues.

UPDATE:  Here's a list of the expenditures that were paid by Webb County for Sergio Martinez.  Most of the trips seem to relate with what Martinez has been charged to do as commissioner.  But two (underlined) seminars deal specifically with Civil Law.  I can see how that field of law would pertain to him since he is a practicing attorney and he sued a gentleman recently for alleged breach of contract (did not finish a campaign sign).  Maybe if you were Patricia Barrera and you were sued by your former employees, you could benefit from these courses as well.

But seriously, the county attorney is supposed to answer any questions that the court has about civil law, if any arise.  Here it appears that he's personally benefiting at the expense of the taxpayer.  He gets credit through these seminars for his private law practice and therein lies the conflict of interest.

Ethics aside, just add up what he's spent in three years.  It's in the $14,000 ballpark.  Now I understand why he was so eager to pay Delia Perales out of his own pocket for the cost of printing his paychecks.  It's because the county auditor's office, and the taxpayers have his back.  He apparently has money to throw around.

Commissioner Martinez is quick to be reimbursed for his travels, all while the economy is tanking.  He's not missing a beat; his time is valuable and he's going to get paid somehow.  But eventually the county's budget has to be fine tuned, i.e. slash ten percent from each department.  And a hiring freeze has to take effect.  And the commissioners give themselves a raise to deal with their day-to-day expenses.

"Keko" likes to proclaim that he is from "el barrio" on his campaign signs.  In the barrio, most people have to go without, scrape pennies together and lead a simpler life.  Even those in the upper middle class are struggling right now.  Fortunately for Martinez, he's found a loophole.  Too bad he's doing it on our backs.

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