Monday, March 28, 2016

Alamo Group of the Sierra Club Member Files Ethics Complaint Against Mayor Ivy Taylor

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 2:43 PM

click to enlarge Mayor Ivy Taylor looks forward to her first full term as San Antonio's top leader. - SARA LUNA ELLIS
  • Sara Luna Ellis
  • Mayor Ivy Taylor looks forward to her first full term as San Antonio's top leader.

Mayor Ivy Taylor's ethic troubles continue.

Gay Wright, a San Antonio resident and member the Alamo Group of the Sierra Club's executive committee, filed an ethics complaint Monday against the mayor.

In the sworn complaint, Wright alleges that Taylor committed an ethics violation when she accepted a $1,000 campaign contribution from Sam Dawson, co-owner of Pape-Dawson Engineers, four days after the mayor voted for the $3.4 billion Vista Ridge Pipeline. Dawson's company is a member of the Vista Ridge Consortium.

The San Antonio Express-News revealed the campaign contribution and its timing in a March 15 column, which noted that contributions can't be accepted from people affiliated with a high-profile contract until after a 30-day period. 

Since Taylor's July 22, 2014, appointment as mayor, Dawson and eight of his family members have donated approximately $18,200 to the mayor. The complaint alleges that Taylor, who is also a San Antonio Water System board member, accepted campaign contributions while the SAWS board was deliberating and voting.

Wright said in a press release that the San Antonio Express-News column prompted her to file the complaint.

“I feel that Mayor Taylor should not have accepted the Dawson donations. Now that I know about all that money, I can’t help but wonder if it wasn’t the reason why she rushed the Council vote on Vista Ridge so soon that councilmembers couldn’t possibly have examined the contract or understood all the risks," Wright says. "And also she rushed the Council vote on SAWS’ rate structure, not allowing enough time for public hearings.”

The Alamo Group of the Sierra Club has opposed the Vista Ridge pipeline from the beginning.

Terry Burns, chair of the organization, says the complaint highlight's the "mysteries" of how the project is being financed.

“These apparent ethical lapses raise grave concerns about the ongoing financial mysteries of Vista Ridge finances: Abengoa Spain and its Texas subsidiary’s financial precariousness, mysterious bridge loans, questionable applications for State low-interest loans, and so on,” Burns says. 

Burns is calling for an independent investigation of all the financial relationships regarding Vista Ridge, including whether any exist between SAWS board chair Heriberto "Berto" Guerra; Taylor; other City Council members and the Vista Ridge Consortium, which includes Abengoa Spain, Abengoa Vista Ridge, BlueWater, Pape-Dawson, Garney Contruction and R.W. Harden.

Abengoa Spain, the company chosen to head up the project through its locally based subsidiary, Abengoa Vista Ridge, is facing bankruptcy proceedings. At her State of the City address, Taylor announced that Garney Construction was taking over the project, purchasing 80 percent of the project equity and all decision-making authority.  

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