Static Quo

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Before he could dive full time into the radio station, though, Davis had to tie up loose ends on some projects at his old job--like selling off darkroom equipment and finding a new chairman to take over the city employees' savings bond program.

"I did double duty for eight months to a year while I was at WRR," Davis testified.

The time Davis spent shuffling between his old and new jobs left him with long hours during which he was apparently accountable to no one. WRR employees--many of whom testified at Rodriguez's trial--grew angry and resentful that their general manager was not to be found when they needed him, or when city officials were trying to locate him.

In July 1994, an anonymous tip to the city's "fraud hotline" prompted the city auditor to launch an investigation into Davis. After four months, the auditor's office concluded that Davis had abused city time by not showing up for work and by lying on his time sheets.

In his first month on the job at WRR, payroll records show, Davis reported 30 hours of comp time. On May 23, 1994--his first week on the WRR job--Davis called the station saying he had a "personal problem." Records show he did not show up for work, but did claim eight hours regular time on his time sheet.

On June 1, Davis reported he had "some plumbing problems" that would keep him away from the office, but his time sheet still registered eight hours. From December 1993 to July 1994, payroll records show, Davis took four separate leave days for deaths in the family, including one day in July 1994 to attend a funeral near Lubbock for a man "who was like a grandfather to me." City policy allows paid leaves only for funerals of immediate family members.

In all, auditors found 29 instances of questionable behavior by Davis, while on city time during his first four months at WRR.

But that was not all. Auditors also found that Davis had engaged in "questionable uses" of a station policy allowing advertisers to pay the station with trades or services instead of money.

Such trade-for-service arrangements, common in radio, television, and some newspapers--allow advertisers to swap their products for advertising spots instead of paying in cash. During her time at WRR, Rodriguez says, it was not uncommon for the station to do up to $200,000 a year in trade business with advertisers. At some businesses, WRR managers need only to flash their business cards, and meals or services will be charged to the station's trade account.

Most media outlets have strict rules to make sure that free meals, tickets, flowers, and myriad other goodies offered in trade are used only for bona fide business purposes, not personal gain.

Although WRR has such a policy, auditor's office documents show that Davis used trade to entertain people who had no business relationship with WRR. On July 30, 1994, for example, he treated the owners of African Concepts--former Dallas City Councilwoman Diane Ragsdale and her sister, Charlotte Ragsdale--to dinner at St. Martins Restaurant. The tab was $65.28, which the restaurant covered as part of its trade account with WRR.

On August 3, 1994, Davis lunched with Marilyn Clark, owner of Clark and Co. Public Relations, at the Grand Kempinski. The trade tab was $35. Two weeks later, Davis sent Clark a $97 bouquet from trade client McShan Florist. The flowers, according to audit records, were to thank Clark for hosting a dinner for Davis--unrelated to any WRR business.

"Trade for services is against city policy, except at WRR. Trade is treated like cash, and the potential for abuse is high," says an audit department investigator who worked on the Davis case and asked not to be named. "It makes it imperative that a person of the highest integrity is in charge, because it can be tempting to use trade for personal gain."

The auditor's probe also determined that Davis' violations of city policies had started before Suhm decided to give him the top job at WRR.

Auditors found that Davis violated city policy in 1992 by double billing the city and state for a business trip to Austin.

On November 12, 1992, while working for the information services department, Davis attended an afternoon meeting of the 911 Administration Committee in Austin. That morning, also in Austin, he attended a Texas Department of Health meeting to review grant proposals for statewide HIV and AIDS education programs. Davis submitted expense forms, to both the city and the state, for two nights' lodging, mileage, and meal reimbursement for the trip. He charged the state $201 and the city $198.04. When the discrepancy was discovered nearly two years later, Davis was issued an "administrative warning" by his boss, Frank Poe.

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Holly Mullen