Thursday, July 20, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Ethics complaints filed on two city commissioners

Nathan Wiebe, chief of investigations for the Office of the City Auditor, filed two complaints with the city’s Ethics Review Commission this week against members of advisory commissions.

Wiebe filed a complaint against Isabel López-Aguilar, a member of the Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Resource Advisory Commission and program coordinator at the Latino HealthCare Forum. The complaint states that auditors “found evidence that López-Aguilar, in her capacity as a commissioner … appears to have participated in a vote on an agenda item that affected a nonprofit entity … in which (she) appears to have a substantial interest.”

According to the complaint, that vote “resulted in a recommendation to (City) Council for funding to (Latino HealthCare Forum).” Council approved funding for the program, including extensions of $200,000 as part of the Fiscal Year 2016-17 budget.

López-Aguilar did not disclose her connection with the organization and auditors said that she admitted to them that she voted on the item but “did not feel she had a conflict since she believed that her salary would not be directly paid by the recommended funds.”

Her boss, Jill Ramirez, who chairs the commission, did recuse herself on the item, according to the complaint. López-Aguilar did not respond to a request for comment. She was appointed by Mayor Steve Adler.

Wiebe also alleged in another complaint that Clifford Gillard, a member of the African American Resource Advisory Commission, participated in evaluating funding proposals for the nonprofit Capitol View Arts. Gillard serves on the board of directors of the organization and was president last year, in addition to being one of the nonprofit’s founders.

According to a complaint filed with the city’s Ethics Review Commission, Gillard failed to disclose his membership on the board of directors of the nonprofit and failed to indicate on an attendance sheet for a July 13, 2016, meeting of the commission that he had an alleged conflict of interest.

Although the commission recommended funding of $50,000 for the project, it did not make it into this year’s budget. He was appointed by Council Member Pio Renteria. Gillard did not respond to a request for comment.

Photo by John Flynn.

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Key Players & Topics In This Article

African American Resource Advisory Commission: The African American Resource Advisory Commission advises the Austin City Council on quality of life issues for the city’s African-American community and recommends programs to alleviate inequality.

City of Austin Ethics Review Commission: The Ethics Review Commission is charged with review of, among other issues, ethics complaints leveled against City of Austin boards and commission members. They meet quarterly.

Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Resource Advisory Commission: The Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Resource Advisory Commission recommends programs and policies to the Austin City Council with the goal of alleviating economic and social inequities that confront Hispanics and Latinos in the community.

Office of the City Auditor: This city department is created by the city's charter in order to establish and ensure "accountability transparency, and a culture of continuous improvement in city operations."

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