Some City Hall history informs this crisis
While we’re on the subject of compensation, let’s recall Jim Davis, one of The Bee’s best City Hall reporters.
Davis some 10 years ago did an award-winning investigation of travel expense reports turned in by City Hall’s elected officials. I was an assistant city editor at the time, and worked with Davis on the story.
I mention this for a reason. The bonus controversy may inspire local reporters to dig into things like travel expenses and allowances of current City Hall officials. That would mean filing state Public Records Act requests.
Autry, to his everlasting credit, was utterly transparent when it came to Davis’ PRA requests. I know because I was with Davis as he did some of his research. City officials set stacks of files on a conference table. The Bee went to work. It was that simple.
Would Swearengin be as open and accommodating?
If my recent experience with PRA requests for Code Enforcement appeal records is any indication, the answer is no.
The point is that these payoffs have been “dark money,” dark taxpayers’ money lavished on favorites furtively, well out of taxpayers’ eyes and knowledge. AKA personal slush fund
Make that “out of taxpayers’ vision.”