Tuesday, June 16, 2015

You Make the Call...Cronyism or Not!

Today I attended the monthly TRWD Board meeting. Once again the board room was filled with TRWD administrators and lawyers, but I'm pleased to report I had 2 supporters present today.....Andra and my new friend DG.  Thank you so much for being there!

Agenda Item 7 was a $140,000 contract with Whitley Penn for internal auditing services. TRWD had been using the Weaver firm in Fort Worth for the last 8 years.

Now, Whitley Penn was the recommendation of the Finance Committee. Why the change? The name Whitley is familiar.....could the Whitley in the Whitley Penn be related to our Tarrant County Judge B. Glen Whitley? 

Well of course it is!

Tarrant County Judge Whitley was a very vocal supporter of then-incumbents Marty Leonard and Jim Lane.  He openly endorsed them while in his official capacity as Tarrant County Judge.

One month later, his firm received the TRWD contract.

Merriam Webster defines cronyism as "the unfair practice by a powerful person (such as a politician) of giving jobs and other favors to friends."

In my opinion, awarding this contract to Whitley Penn screams conflict of interest and is a perfect example of the cronyism media and the public criticize TRWD for.  

Well, I shared this opinion with my colleagues and just received a blank stare. They really don't think this is inappropriate.  Could this be the work of Fort Worth Way brainwashing?!

General (Mis)Manager Jim Oliver lost his cool a little though and blurted out something to the effect of my having received campaign contributions from Monty Bennett to which I responded at least I don't give Monty Bennett TRWD contracts.

I want to know what you think. Do I just have an over-developed sense of ethics or is this an example of cronyism?

It's a pleasure to serve you!

Mary Kelleher


John said...

Yes, were correct in asking the question as it is cronyism! I assume the motion passed with one dissent!

dg said...

I believe the vote was 3 to 1

Mary Kelleher said...

You're correct. Board member Jim Lane was not present for that agenda item. My prediction would be the vote would have been 4-1 if he had been there.

Anonymous said...

Mary, would it be possible to publicize these meetings on this blog? I'd like to show up at the next one, just to see what happens. Transparency will only occur when we start looking at what's going on.

Mary Kelleher said...

Of course! Thanks for asking. I'll try to remember to put something out before each meeting.

Meetings are typically the third Tuesday of the month at 9:30 am at the Fort Worth office on 800 E. Northside Drive.

Meetings are now live-streamed and recorded for those unable to attend. You can watch the videos at trwd.com.

If you get a chance, watch the April 29, 2014 BOD meeting in which my colleagues censured me.