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GHA: Travel and Entertainment Expenses Clarification?
by David Stanowski
01 December 2011


Introduction:

The issue of expenses at GHA gets curiouser and curiouser.

Our ORR to GHA on 28 October 2011 read:

"This is a written request, pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act (the “Act”), Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code as amended, application is hereby made upon you as custodian of information for the Galveston Housing Authority to produce the following items; please send in digital format, such as PDF files, when possible:

Documents listing the travel and entertainment expenses generated by GHA Commissioners Paula Neff, James Dennis, Betty Massey, Tom LaRue and Teresa Banuelos between 01 January 2011 and 28 October 2011."

Based on our explict stated request, we assumed that everything that was sent to us in fulfillment of the ORR were expenses generated by the Commissioners. However, after we published our original article on 28 November, we received the following email:

Learn Purchase Real Estate for Cents on the Dollar!

"I should have explained to you that the GHA credit card was provided so that you could match the individual commissioner’s expense to the credit card (to show payment). The rest of the charges on their have nothing to do with that particular commissioner. So, the Texas Poker Supply you reference was not bought by a commissioner but by GHA for Bingo supplies for our two elderly apartment complexes. The modern office supply was a purchase to furnish one of the vacant offices in the ICC (again not a purchase by a commissioner).

With that clarification, if you have questions on any charges I would be happy to explain them. I would ask that you make this clarification on your website as it is misleading as it stands."


So, the clarification is that all of the charges that we published were made by the GHA, but not necessarily the Commissioners. Many were made by the GHA staff.


Yesterday,
GHA sent explanations for some of the example charges that we presented in the first article. Their explanations can be accessed by clicking this link:

Some of the explanations raise more questions.


Paula Neff's Expenses:

Page 5: The Capital Grille $212.55

$139.45 reimbursement for food requested by two GHA Commissioners.


Is $139.45 for one meal within the per diem rate?


Page 18: McCallisters Deli: $177.00

GHA Purchase of food for executive Board Meeting

Why is GHA buying food for a board meeting?


Page 36: Room Service: $68.81

This was a purchase by the Commissioner for in room meals at a hotel that the Commissioner was staying for a training seminar.


Does the GHA allow the use of room service in these amounts?


GHA’s Clarification on James’s Dennis’ expenses:

Page 11: Floral: $51.90

GHA purchase of flowers for funeral


Page 12: Flowers: $123.95

GHA purchase of flowers for funeral


Why is GHA buying flowers for funerals?


Page 26:
Capital Q BBQ: $297.00

GHA purchase of food for Section 3 training


McCallisters Deli: $148.30

GHA purchase of food for Leadership training


Page 27:
Many restaurants

GHA purchases of food for various meetings and trainings


Mario's: $758.80

GHA purchase of food and conference room for staff agency plan retreat


Mario's: $624.90

GHA purchase of food and conference room for Director’s agency plan retreat


Why is GHA buying all of these meals at restaurants?


Stay tuned. More to come on GHA expenses!

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