I hadn’t realized it but City Attorney Mike Aguirre’s appeals to continue to try to prosecute Sunroad executive Tom Story have been completely exhausted.
I must have been sleeping but yeah, that whole brouhaha that exploded when he charged Story a long time ago and then was blockaded by local judges is over. He is officially unable to take the case and there are no more appeals.
But now, Mayor Jerry Sanders is proposing that the City Council appoint a special prosecutor to look into the matter.
Jay Goldstone, the mayor’s chief operating officer, sent a memo to the City Council last week pointing out that because the district attorney and attorney general have declined to take up the prosecution, the only way this thing could be looked into is by a special prosecutor.
The mayor’s spokesman, Fred Sainz, elaborated a bit for me.
|The city attorney surprised some when he appeared with Mayor Sanders to release the mayor’s staff report on the Sunroad debacle.|
“Our consideration right now is that absent some other means, a special prosecutor may well be the only way to determine whether these charges have any validity whatsoever,” Sainz said.
Just a bit of background: Aguirre charged Story with 11 misdemeanor violations of the lobbying laws that prohibit former city officials from contacting their former colleagues on business issues for a set period of time.
Judge Michael Wellington, however, slammed Aguirre in perhaps the most brutal rebuke of the city attorney yet recorded in an official ruling. Wellington ruled that Aguirre couldn’t prosecute Story because he had unethically allowed the lines to blur between his criminal investigation into Story and his civil lawsuit against Sunroad.
If the city attorney can’t prosecute it, and the district attorney and attorney general say thanks, but no thanks, then it’s hard to imagine how this thing could continue.
The mayor, however, seems to think that letting it die could be a political liability for him.
But that brings up the other point: The mayor and City Council can just appoint a special prosecutor if the unspecial prosecutors either can’t or won’t investigate something?
That’s a bit scary. Makes you think twice about getting on their bad side.
“We would only do this in an extraordinary circumstance and it was recommended by the district attorney,” Sainz said.
Now, how worried should Story have to be?
Well, the mayor’s own staff found that city employees had violated administrative regulations by speaking with Story.
Here’s the rule they were accused of breaking:
City employees shall not communicate with former City employees on any issue or matter in which that former employee had official responsibility or participation for a period of one year from the former employee’s final date of active employment.
If city employees broke it because they talked to Story, did Story break the rules by talking to them?
I called the City Attorney’s Office to ask him about it. I can imagine Aguirre either having an exotic theory about what the mayor is trying to do with this special prosecutor or, on the other hand, being happy about the mayor trying to find out if Story really is guilty of a crime in this mess.
“Since this is a criminal matter still under consideration, we can’t comment on it,” said Chris Morris, the head of the city attorney’s criminal division.