Friday, August 30, 2013

City Hall Entertainment | Casey's Last Word

Historically speaking, the greatest entertainment at City Hall has come from council members themselves.

Over the years they have given us spectacles ranging from cowardice in Brackenridge Park to simultaneous bribery indictments by the state and the feds – for separate bribes – to these immortal words:

“It couldn’t be my baby! And if it is, I’ll do the right thing.”

It was, and he didn’t.

This week, however, the performers have been normally anonymous council aides.

One aide, actually now a former aide, gives us mystery. The other gives us megalomania.

Let’s start with the megalomania.

Roger L. Legrand is the “chief of communications” – itself a grandiose title for a council aide – for District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan.

Yes, he took part in the now-famous secretly recorded conversation in her office about the proposal to add gays and other members of sexual minorities to the city’s longstanding anti-discrimination ordinance.

Now Legrand is taking credit for … well, let’s look at his own words on Facebook, as detailed by Express-News columnist Brian Chasnoff:

“In just a weeks (sic) time I have leveled the Mayor and the San Antonio Express News, all but ensured my bosses (sic) election to higher office and will more than likely force recalls on two left of center Council members (Diego Bernal in district 1 and Ron Nirenberg . . .”

Bernal has sponsored the ordinance, and District 8 Councilman Nirenberg has come out in favor of it.

In his grandiosity, Mr. Legrand has taken credit for fantasy achievements.

But Mr. Legrand lives in a bubble.

As far back as the 1990s, a range of polls showed Americans favoring anti-discrimination laws for gays by percentages ranging from the mid-60s to the mid-80s.

There’s no reason to think San Antonians feel differently, despite the volume of sermons from certain quarters.

Voting for non-discrimination is no longer a courageous political act.

Now for the mystery, one laid out by another Express-News columnist, Gilbert Garcia.

Using state transparency laws, Garcia obtained records regarding a staffer hired by District 5 Councilman David Medina.

Medina was ousted last spring after a series of controversies.

A year earlier, Medina had hired a friend named Sergio Galvan, and paid him an annual salary of $85,000.

That’s the highest pay of any of Medina’s staffers, and more than most council members pay their chiefs of staff.

Yet Medina never provided the City with a title for Galvan, a description of his duties or even a phone number.

Galvan was not listed on the city roster, nor assigned a city telephone or e-mail.

Columnist Garcia could learn nothing about Galvan’s work from talking to other Medina staffers.

He quoted Rick Cuellar, who ran the councilman’s district office, as saying he had met Galvan only once – at the funeral of Councilman Medina’s brother.

Garcia checked the Facebook page of another staffer and found a number of staff photos at various events.

Galvan was in none of them.

It’s possible there is a reasonable explanation, but Medina hasn’t answered Garcia’s calls or otherwise come forward with it.

That raises an obvious question: Was Galvan’s a “no-show job,” a classic from the old days of political machines?

In those bad old days, the politician would, of course, get a kick-back or some other consideration.

I’m not saying that is what is going on here.

As I said above, this is an intriguing mystery, not a scandal.

But as a San Antonio taxpayer, I hope we haven’t read the last chapter.

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