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Shade criticizes Kim’s office spending habits

Friday, April 25, 2008 by Austin Monitor

City Council Place 3 challenger Randi Shade is criticizing incumbent Jennifer Kim for expenditures she has made during her time in office and promising to post her own expenses and office calendar on the Internet if she is elected.


“If I’m elected, my commitment is to post all of my office expenses and my calendar online, so people can easily see how I’m spending my time when I’m on their dime, and how I’m spending taxpayer money,” Shade said.

Kim’s office expenses have previously gotten her in hot water. She repaid the city after it was revealed that she purchased some monogrammed Christmas stockings and a fish for her office.


Shade said, “ When I first saw the incumbent’s office expenses, I was outraged as a taxpayer. I don’t know why I or anyone else should get stuck with the bill at Shaper Image for Jennifer Kim’s $500 air purifier or $60 ink pens.

Besides the air purifier and ink pens, Shade pointed to other expenditures she felt did not serve a public purpose: a ‘steam wizard’ for $64.98 and a ‘survival lantern,’ also from Sharper Image for $79.95; Vera Wang bar ware, and Crane & Company stationary and travel journals; an MP3 player, and a pomegranate wreath and other decorative items from Crate & Barrel.


Kim responded, “All of my expenditures comply with the policy which is that those things are used in the course of doing city business and for my office.”


Shade said, “I don’t know if any of these expenses were illegal or against city ethics rules, but I do know they don’t pass the smell test.  I think any Austin taxpayer would look at these expenses and agree with me that they are inappropriate.”

The incumbent added, “I’ve returned to the city treasury on average $5,000 per year in unspent money that goes to our fund balance and when the Council voted a pay raise, I refused to accept it.”


Kim also said she would be willing to post her schedule and past expenses online. She was under the impression that Shade had been asking for those things to be posted in real time—but that is not what Shade said during Thursday’s candidate forum. If such postings cost the city the kind of money that was projected for the 2006 Open Government Charter amendment—millions of dollars—Kim said, “at a time when we’re trying to watch the budget…I’d just like to ask her what kind of city services she’d like to cut in order to pay for it.”


Neither Kim nor fellow incumbent Lee Leffingwell could have been pleased to see the page 3 ad in this week’s Austin Chronicle, even though it features a nice color photo of the two of them together. Discount Electronics owner Rick Culleton paid for the ad, which is headlined, “They represent the wealthy special interests . . . and that’s why we need to replace Lee Leffingwell and Jennifer Kim!”


The photo purports to show Kim and Leffingwell standing together in front of a Wal-Mart—which was not the background when the photo was taken, Kim said. Culleton is staunch opponent of the redevelopment of Northcross Mall, which will feature a Wal-Mart.


Culleton has previously run ads supporting Jason Meeker, who is running against Leffingwell. This one says he is voting for Meeker and Kim’s opponent Shade.

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