Those City Credit Cards Are a Bit of a Gamble

Here are two more interesting tidbits from the Allen Gwinn database: two $500-plus charges at Walt Disney Resorts. One dates from April 5 of this year: $531.87, purchased by Terry Freeman, a senior office assistant in the City Auditor's Office. The info is pretty incomplete: It doesn't say for whom the trip was purchased or why, only that someone stayed at a Disney resort on the city dime.

It happened again just two months ago: On September 20, Sylvia Harris, an office assistant for Dallas Fire-Rescue, charged $580,52 to another unspecified Disney resort. That's just a few months after Harris got someone -- or someones -- a room at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. On February 1, three separate charges of $532.80 were filed from the Hard Rock Hotel. Harris is also booking plenty of other rooms at resorts and casinos: The Orleans Hotel and Casino in Vegas ($388.04 charged on April 10) and the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas (six charges of $343.35 each on September 18) were also trips she booked.

The fact is, there are probably very good reasons for city officials to be in Vegas. But we've been here before, back in October, when we reported that Bill Blaydes, when he's out pimping the Trans-Texas Corridor, insists on staying only at the most top of notch hotels: the Four Seasons in Mexico City and Las Hadas in Manzanillo, Mexico. But, hey, why not mix work and pleasure when someone else is paying for it?

Of course, you must remember "ninety-nine percent of this stuff is probably legit," says Gwinn. Still, "I don't know how legitimize the thing you found," he says, referring to the Atlantis Casino Resort charge raked up by Kenny Shaw. (A high-ranking city official reached about that particular charge says of the expense, "Sounds odd to me.")

Incidentally, Gwinn says his meeting with City Manager Mary Suhm went quite well: "She was extremely cordial; I have her cell phone number now." He also says she's trying to get him itemized receipts for the items listed on his database.

"She goes, 'Don't assume a conspiracy,'" Gwinn says about the delay in getting him the docs. "I said, 'I never assume a conspiracy where a government's involved, because that assumes government's organized.' She said that after they got my request, they went ahead and reviewed it. My take on it is they wanted to make sure they didn't get nailed by the same thing DISD did. She did say that they would produce receipts posthaste."

Gwinn had to end the call at that point. He was heading to an interview with WFAA-Channel 8. "Everybody in Dallas is all over this right now," Gwinn says. "It's really going to be interesting." --Robert Wilonsky

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky