• December 26, 2014

$16,000 dinner cited in lawsuit

Expenses from 2011 AUSA trip to D.C. part of ousted director’s claims against Killeen

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Posted: Saturday, May 11, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 11:09 am, Thu Feb 13, 2014.

Documents released by the city of Killeen this month show that five area cities picked up the $16,000 tab for a dinner — which included alcohol — in Washington, D.C., in October 2011.

The 2011 Association of the United States Army conference was one of several occasions on which Killeen City Manager Glenn Morrison broke state finance laws and city policies, fired Killeen finance director Barbara Gonzales claims in her lawsuit against the city.

The total trip, including the dinner, cost taxpayers nearly $20,000.

Gonzales’ lawsuit, filed under the Texas Whistleblower Act, alleges Morrison authorized Killeen’s $6,000 portion of the dinner without her approval and violated a city policy prohibiting the purchase of alcohol.

City officials deny any wrongdoing.

“The city of Killeen looks forward to its opportunity to present facts in a court of law, which will prove the allegations being made are false,” city spokeswoman Hilary Shine said.

The $90-a-plate dinner at the 901 Restaurant and Bar, a mile away from the National Mall, served 180 guests, including “federal officials and other dignitaries,” Shine said.

“The five cities joined together to host an evening including dinner and bar service at a restaurant for the approximately 100 soldiers from Fort Hood who were attending the AUSA conference,” she said.

Killeen paid the up-front $10,500 cost for the dinner, and the cities of Copperas Cove, Belton, Harker Heights and Temple reimbursed Killeen $2,500 each, according to the invoices.

Morrison paid an additional $5,500 on his personal credit card, including a gratuity of $916, for which he was later reimbursed by the city.

Killeen paid $6,000 for the event, which included food, beverage, gratuity and charge for the rental of a PA system, Shine said.

According to Texas Government Code 252.0215, purchases over $3,000 require competitive bidding, unless other exemptions are presented by department heads. Gonzales was head of the Purchasing Department at the time.

The city did not deny that alcohol was served at the dinner.

“There is no written policy regarding the purchase of alcohol,” Shine said.

Gonzales’ attorney, Bill Aleshire, provided the Herald with a copy of the city’s “Purchasing Card Program.” The Herald requested a copy of the policy from the city as well on Friday, but city officials did not provide it.

The document from Aleshire states that certain types of merchants are blocked from p-card usage, including, “but not limited to, liquor sales, bars and lounges, adult entertainment facilities, etc.”

Although Morrison placed the $5,500 on his personal credit card and was reimbursed by the city, Aleshire said he still violated city policy.

“Morrison selected that restaurant and bar without taking competitive proposals,” Aleshire said.

“In addition to the specific prohibition against alcohol purchases, as director of finance, Ms. Gonzales felt that using thousands of city tax dollars to purchase alcohol looked bad and would violate the ethical standards in the purchasing policy,” the lawyer said.

Additional invoices provided by the city via the Texas Freedom of Information Act showed city officials spent an additional $13,500 for accommodations, per diem and flights for three city employees and two council members.

Morrison, Shine, Assistant City Manager John Sutton — then airport director — Scott Cosper, who was mayor pro tem at the time, and then-Mayor Timothy Hancock all traveled at the city’s expense.

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22 comments:

  • Randy Johnson posted at 5:59 pm on Tue, May 14, 2013.

    Randy Johnson Posts: 20

    None of them will reply. They are all in cahoots with each other. Especially Glenn, he has a new circle of friends. It used to be all of his softball buddies when he was state director but he left them behind. If he keeps his job then the city should let them all keep their job.

     
  • Eliza posted at 2:23 pm on Sun, May 12, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 901

    Anyone that supposedly qualifies for an additional $10,000 a year pay increase should have the answer for any questioned which pertains to their job on the tip of their tongue
    This employee of the tax payer is making $100,000 a year with the increase.
    I think the council members should be asked if they did approve that increase as Shine has stated.

     
  • BrianSupak posted at 11:45 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    BrianSupak Posts: 9

    “Shine said” She speaks, it’s amazing! I recall asking her about several purchases she made while I was the City’s Purchasing Manager; I hardly ever got a reply. It’s hard to enforce a policy when certain employees have the power not to have to explain their actions.

     
  • BrianSupak posted at 11:27 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    BrianSupak Posts: 9

    Killeen paid $6,000 for the event, which included food, beverage, gratuity and charge for the rental of a PA system, Shine said. That math doesn't add up. Did the current actor of a finance director get you the numbers?

     
  • BrianSupak posted at 11:03 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    BrianSupak Posts: 9

    “There is no written policy regarding the purchase of alcohol,” Shine said. Well, why not? [sad]

     
  • Max67 posted at 9:57 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    Max67 Posts: 63

    Good point Whoknew. One hand on the taxpayers' money and one...??? If Wedge needs help removing that Wedgy, she can always call the Fire or Police Dept., since, as she stated, she's sure they'll be there within a moment's notice...

     
  • whoknew posted at 9:33 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    whoknew Posts: 3

    @ Wedge - I follow whats going on and I can tell you that the City Manager always has one eye on the citys financial health and makes fiscally responsible decisions.

    Maybe you need to pull the wedgy out and really see what is happening in the City of Killeen. The City Manager does not have his eye on the cities financial health, he usually has it where it does not need to be. 13 Year affair and now where.

     
  • Eliza posted at 6:55 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 901

    Right after the statement of --Max67---You are a moron--The statement below was made.

    @ Besides that the Mayor was in Washington to......think about it.


    That's an unusual and weird statement to make, considering the article subject is ;
    $16,000 dinner cited in lawsuit

    What's the mayor being in Washington at the same time, as the 5 city employees, have to do with anything?
    His name wasn't mentioned in the article, as one who took any benefit from the money the other members took part in spending, with approval from the city manager.

     
  • Dr Strangelove posted at 6:12 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    Dr Strangelove Posts: 582

    Thank you Max67—SPOT ON!

    Wedge used a typical liberal tactic—I have no facts so I’ll insult the people that disagree with me. It’s obvious you don’t have a clue what I and Max67 are posting.

    On the Internet I usually don’t comment on someone’s spelling or grammar but when a person says I’m uneducated and can’t spell or use proper grammar I have to comment back. Wedge, get a grip dude?

    It’s also obvious you know nothing about Military Retirees! Most of us are more educated than our civilian counterparts a lot of us don’t want to work in Killeen flipping burgers for a living so we go out of town for better pay and benefits; which could have been here except for attitudes like yours. You just probably think all we know how to do is kill the enemy, blow up, and break things?

    What some civilians had forgotten us Military Retirees stayed here; we stuck it out. In the seventies downtown Killeen was a toilet and we didn’t want our kids raised in a toilet. The City didn’t want to clean it up they were getting their take. We along with some righteous business owners/citizens cleaned it up—we demanded it!

     
  • Eliza posted at 5:28 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    Eliza Posts: 901

    @ The total trip, including the dinner, cost taxpayers nearly $20,000.

    Can the 5 that made the $20,000 trip tell the tax payer who paid for it, what the tax payer received in return for their share of the wine and dine put on by and for the city employees.
    What were the benefits of making the trip and paying out the money.

     
  • el residente posted at 3:18 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    el residente Posts: 12

    And I think we know Silversarge is not the drama queen here. When reading Wedge's comment:

    "Today, I got up and my street was in great condition, my commode flushed, my faucet had water flowing and I'm sure if I needed them, I would have Police or Fire here in a moment's notice." [Numerous Corrections Made]

    I could've sworn I heard the sound of birds chirping and whistling theme music from an animated child's movie in the background.

     
  • Max67 posted at 2:42 pm on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    Max67 Posts: 63


    Wedge states “There is no requirement to take an expenditure to the council unless it exceeds 50K.” The distinction being made is based on a difference in terminology. The governing body (the city council) approved the Purchasing policy, which requires competitive bidding or quote sheet completion for all expenditures in excess of $3,000.

    Since the governing body approved the policy requiring competitive bidding/quote sheet completion, and the city manager did not follow it, the city manager violated the law, causing the city to be out of compliance with requirements of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) and Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB). If allowed to continue, these deficiencies can adversely impact the city’s bond ratings .

    Also, since policy prohibits the use of taxpayer monies to purchase alcohol, Glenn should have also acknowledged/addressed his actions in an appropriate manner, rather than just forcing staff to reimburse him the monies after-the-fact, by overriding their rejections (in their attempt to follow the rules).

    Rather than personally attacking a retired military person, referring to him as “uneducated” because he has to work out of town, especially given the abundantly present misspellings in your own comment, you might want to think of it as an opportunity to improve the way in which the city can better meet the needs of its citizens. You are making the assumption that he is uneducated simply because he has to work outside of Killeen, when in actuality, there are likely less jobs that require a higher level of education in Killeen (at least as compared to other cities, such as Temple, Waco, etc.).

    Rather than calling people “uneducated” and “morons” because they are too smart to buy into the cover-up that you so strongly advocate, you should probably deal with some of those issues that are bothering you. It could be that you should spend more time reviewing the laws and regulations, and maybe less time fixating on the flow of your toilet and faucet. Actually, you could probably combine the two and review the laws while you’re making use of your toilet.

    @Silversarge, you are right. The lawsuit (available online) references Ms. Gonzales’ numerous attempts to bring the violations to the attention of management at various levels, starting with the city manager. That is the reason behind her whistleblower lawsuit. It also the reason for the bogus Fleet Services Division “scandal” – an investigation initiated with one motive – that yielded no real facts or corresponding results.

     
  • silversarge posted at 11:44 am on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    silversarge Posts: 4

    I didn't say that the finance director wasn't culpable, she probably brought the issue to her supervisors a long time ago, and was told to leave it be. I agree that she is using this to retaliate against being fired, but my issue is that people are still missing the point. Again, as I said, even with the shuffle in city leadership, the powers that be didn't really change, and the same issues that plagued the city before, still do.

     
  • silversarge posted at 11:36 am on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    silversarge Posts: 4

    Oh, and as far as political ties to Fort Hood go, that should be obvious to anyone with at least half a brain. Look at the incident with the former III Corps Command Sergeant Major - CSM Coleman. Busted just outside the gates of Fort Hood by KPD for suspected DUI, verified by the DA Civilian Police on Fort Hood. The III Corps Commander pulled some strings, and the charges quietly disappeared, and CSM Coleman was forced to retire. Funny thing though, a week after he left and took up residence near Fort Bragg, NC, he was busted on Ft. Bragg for DUI. After all, it wouldn't look good for either Ft. Hood or Killeen to have to admit there was an alcohol problem at senior levels here, would it?
    But now that budget cuts loom, and federal jobs and civilian contracts are getting cut left and right, local municipalities need to relook at the amount of support they get from the Military. If they don't diversify, they will get caught with their pants down, so to speak. Unemployment is rising rapidly, and that trend isn't likely to change soon. Even if the military budget situation improves, officials at Ft. Hood don't anticipate a rehire until at least FY 2015, because it takes that long for the process to complete.

     
  • PlayFair posted at 11:31 am on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    PlayFair Posts: 10

    As finance director, wasn't it Gonzales' responsibility to reveal this in 2011. If she was aware of what she considers wrong doing and did nothing, isn't she not only complicit but culpable as well.

     
  • silversarge posted at 11:23 am on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    silversarge Posts: 4

    Doesn't anyone find it curious that the whistleblower suit comes along with the fleet services debacle? There have been assorted allegations for years about financial shenanigans in the city. It appears that the city manager is using an excuse to retaliate against a finance director who complained about issues that the "real" city powers wanted left alone. While a finance director is supposed to know everything that goes on, in reality much of the day to day operations cannot be micromanaged by one person. It is no stretch of the imagination to see that there are serious problems in this city still, and the remaining leadership still prefers to cover up rather than deal with the issues. The recall did little to solve problems other than make the voters feel like they actually accomplished something good. Those that ran Killeen before last year still do, just like a small group of landowners and former landowners still control small towns like Copperas Cove.
    Throwing accusations around solves nothing. Bring in outside investigators with no ties to the city and let them do a thorough job of digging. Then clean house properly, and start from scratch.

     
  • Wedge posted at 10:58 am on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    Wedge Posts: 5

    Dr Strangelove has a stange desire to be a drama queen. First, I'm not part of any problem because there is no problem with cutivating relationships with our military neighbors. If you are angry that you have to work out of town maybe you should move there, or better yet gain a broader skill set by attending college.......oh maybe you weren't aware of the supurb educational opportunities in Killeen, like the new 600+ acre A&M campus thanks to years of great work by Ft Hood and Killeen officials.

    Max67 - you are a moron. You obviously know nothing about how local goveremnt works. There is no requirement to take an expendure to the council unless it exceeds 50k. Besides that the Mayor was in Washington to......think about it.
    "It appears that our city Manager is wasteful"....again you don't have a clue. Maybe you should get more data instead of jumping on the bash bandwagon. I follow whats going on and I can tell you that the City Manager always has one eye on the citys financial health and makes fiscally responsible decisions.

     
  • Dr Strangelove posted at 10:23 am on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    Dr Strangelove Posts: 582

    Wedge; you’re part of the problem with this City! The City of Killeen has been kissing Fort Hood’s feet since the 1940’s. The attitude on the City Staff well the heck with job growth we have Fort Hood. Years ago Killeen could have gotten Texas Instruments but the attitude of the Chamber of Commerce we don’t need TI we have Fort Hood. How many businesses closed in 1990 and 91 when the post deployed to the Gulf War! I understand bring in business to our area you need to spend monies for that—let’s stop the worshipping of Fort Hood. So many of us Dog Faces retired here but like myself has to work in another city because of little or low paying jobs and this worship of this Federal business Fort Hood.

    I agree with you this is also a diversion from Fleet Services scandal.

     
  • el residente posted at 10:10 am on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    el residente Posts: 12

    And with new technology, those things practically can flush themselves...

     
  • Max67 posted at 10:03 am on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    Max67 Posts: 63

    If this was a planned event, wouldn’t Glenn have known in advance so he could have taken the request to the council for approval? Shouldn’t he have also gotten the extra $5,500 he spent afterward approved by them. Has anyone asked what Glenn spent that extra $5,500 on, especially since it was more than twice what other cities paid for their total dinner/event cost? That was in excess of travel and other costs identified up-front. Would it not be likely that the extra amount was for unanticipated liquor costs? It’s morally unacceptable for him to charge the taxpayers for what was likely extra liquor costs, but even less acceptable for him to claim he did that in “honor of our soldiers” – soldiers who selflessly give to their country, in stark contradiction of stealing from the taxpayers.

    Don’t you think there are better ways to honor our soldiers? Couldn’t we have honored more soldiers if we’d done this locally, rather than flying all the way to Washington D.C.? We also could have supported our local restaurants and businesses here, rather than paying an exorbitant amount of money to an expensive restaurant in Washington. And again, if it’s a regular event that needed to be held there, Glenn should have been able to plan for these costs up-front, getting the proper approvals and following the procurement/purchasing rules.

    Once we exempt people from following the rules in place to protect our taxpayers’ funds, we lose the benefit of having those controls in the first place. And in government, controls are extremely critical.

     
  • Max67 posted at 10:02 am on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    Max67 Posts: 63

    There is nothing more deplorable than those who play on the public’s support for our soldiers to support their own selfish causes, trying to tie their own desires to the values demonstrated by our soldiers. Has anyone really asked what the soldiers really got from that dinner?

    @Wedge, I’m glad your toilet flushes, don’t get me wrong, but I think we probably want to have just slightly higher expectations of our executive city management. If you’ve only got your eye on the toilet, you might be missing a lot of other “stuff” that’s going on somewhere else.

    **Quite honestly, luckily city staff responsible for the areas you referenced get their jobs done in spite of the mismanagement of executive city staff, such as the city manager. Just because they do their jobs and work hard, doesn’t mean the city manager shouldn’t be held responsible for doing his job and doing it properly. And it also doesn’t mean that all those staff members support our city manager.

    It appears that our city mgr. is wasteful. If it weren’t for his wastes, other city staff might be able to do more for the citizens or even put more $ back in their pockets – in case they want to have a nice dinner sometime.

     
  • Wedge posted at 8:41 am on Sat, May 11, 2013.

    Wedge Posts: 5

    All seems legitimate to me. It important that we maintain and foster our Ft Hood relationships. I think those trip to Washington yield the city large returns.
    I would call this extremely minor compared to the reckless environment at the Fleet Services Division that was under the Finance Director.
    This is just an attempt to overblow an even, deflect the attention off the real issues,t and use the press to cast a bad shadow on the CIty.
    Maybe KDH should print more of the great stuff getting done by city employees that provide great services to the citizens.
    Today I got up and my street was in great condition, my commode flushed, my faucet had water flowing, and Im sure if I needed them I would have Police or Fire here in a moments notice. These thing don't happen by them self. Be thankful.