More corruption and conflicts of interest in the tolling authorities, this time in Dallas

Link to Dallas Morning News article here.

Richardson mayor resigns from mobility panel
He’ll also move business out of city-owned building
Dallas Morning News
August 14, 2006

After being criticized for possible conflicts of interest, Richardson Mayor Gary Slagel has resigned from the Dallas Regional Mobility Commission and says he will move his company out of a city-owned building.

Mr. Slagel made the announcements at Monday night’s Richardson City Council meeting.

The longtime mayor has come under criticism for possible conflicts of interest in two separate matters involving his software company, CapitalSoft Inc., which has a $2.6 million contract with the North Texas Tollway Authority.

Mr. Slagel heads a Dallas Regional Mobility Commission task force that has been looking at potential agencies to build and run new North Texas toll roads. He has been accused of using his position to push for his client, NTTA, to oversee future toll roads and not disclosing his business ties to the tollway authority.

At a recent coalition meeting, Mr. Slagel apologized to members who were unaware of his private dealings with the authority. But he said he didn’t use his position to lobby for his client.

“I pushed for a system solution,” he said Monday from his company offices at STARTech Early Ventures.

His firm’s location in a business incubator housed in a 27,500-square-foot building owned by the city of Richardson has been the other issue dogging him.

Although Mr. Slagel said he receives no special consideration and pays the same rent as other tenants, his company has received capital venture funding through STARTech Seed Fund and has been housed in STARTech offices since 1999.

Some believe his links to STARTech create the appearance of a conflict of interest.

Mr. Slagel said Richardson City Attorney Pete Smith advised him that his involvement with the NTTA and STARTech were proper and posed no conflict of interest.

He said he took Monday’s steps “so we can move forward and focus on the council’s goals for the city.”

Mr. Slagel’s decision was applauded by others.

“I think you’ve made the right steps here. I’m glad to hear it and ready to move forward,” council member Jim Shepherd said.

Richardson resident Bill Denton said that Mr. Slagel’s company had been housed in the city building longer than it should have and that he thought the mayor made the right decision.

“We have more important issues on the table that demand the council’s attention. We don’t need to be sidetracked,” he said.