Shirakawa Wonders if People Dislike Him because He’s a Raider Fan

The day after a county audit demanded George Shirakawa reimburse $12,772 in improper charges with his county-issued credit card, the president of the Board of Supervisors threw out a checklist of reasons why the media would make up “straight-up untrue” reports about his fraudulent expense reports, misuse of taxpayer money and missing campaign disclosure forms.

“If you don’t like me cause I’m fat,” Shirakawa said, his voice catching several times, “or you don’t like me because I’m mixed race, or you don’t like me because of the work I’ve done, if you don’t like me because I support same-sex marriage, or you don’t like me because I believe all men and women should be created equally in the constitution. … All of those things—or I’m a Raider fan, maybe. If you don’t like me, that’s OK, but don’t use untruths to attack.” (Here is audio of Shirakawa’s statement, courtesy of KLIV.)

Wow. Where to start?

First, the indisputable: The Oakland Raiders suck. Kidding.

The county’s recent audit—the fourth into Shirakawa’s county credit card but the first to note problems—wants him to pay back in total more than half of the $36,837 in purchases he has made in his four years as supervisor. He already reimbursed the county for $7,049. None of this is a media conspiracy.

It did not come about because “one newspaper wants to do outdo the other,” as Shirakawa said, referencing Metro’s investigation into the supervisor’s expenditures and the Mercury News’ follow-up coverage. The turmoil came from the supervisor freely throwing around taxpayer funds on personal vacations, meals and entertainment—and like he earned it, when, in fact, Shirakawa declared bankruptcy last year.

His colleagues on the Board of Supervisors weren’t having his excuses at Tuesday’s meeting. Supervisor Ken Yeager wanted further explanation for the credit card charges Shirakawa made, while also calling for quarterly reports on elected officials’ credit card usage.

Supervisor Dave Cortese noted that all politicians sign up for public scrutiny, which caused Shirakawa to interject: “I must have missed that day when we signed up for political office. I didn’t sign up for untruths.” The supervisor has mostly limited his defense to three reported travel expenses, which may have been bungled in a Mercury News report.

Cortese, in unusually eloquent fashion, responded that “elected officials are virtually exempt from any protections under the defamation laws. That’s been the way it’s been for years and years. That’s what I meant. You sign up for this, you don’t have a lot of the remedies an ordinary citizen has for facts being put out that aren’t true.”

The problem for Shirakawa is that all but a few quibbling details are true. Larry Stone, the county’s tax assessor, said as much during the public comments portion of the meeting.

Stone disagreed with any suggestion that the county credit card policies on travel and meals are unclear or the root of the problem, a key talking point for County Counsel Lori Pegg and County Executive Jeff Smith.

“The policies, quite frankly, are fine,” Stone said. “The problem is with selective enforcement, particularly at the highest level of county leadership.”

Josh Koehn is the managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Josh_Koehn.

6 Comments

  1. “Power differential” is the County’s defense.  The Merc is providing support for this by saying that for except board members, the County has done a good job checking expense charges.  Throw Shirakawa under the bus, fix the “power differential”, and everything’s hunky dory.

    He’s done.  He’s toast.  He should agree to pay back everything and resign in exchange for a promise from the DA not to prosecute – while he still can.

  2. We dislike you because you are a thief.  You have been stealing our public money for year.  You had no intention of even paying us back until you got caught.

    The problem with you and Reed is once the story broke you spit out more lies and get away with a slap on the hand.  Why you are not being charge with sealing public funds is beyond me. Any other city or county employee would be fired immediately.

    Don’t go away in shame just go away.

  3. NOW THAT IS A TSHIRT!
    Thanks to George, We have learned so much about all those politicions , that profess to carry the spirit of our fair Pueblo in their wallets.
    The Logo should read,

        “How Do You Like Me Now”!

    The Village Black Smith

  4. Mr Johnson (above) took the words right off of my keyboard! Shirakawa is a criminal, lavishing the good life on himself and his cronies, while thousands of County residents suffer through the darkest times of their lives. And oh BTW, everyone in local politics has been aware of who this guy is for years, but he’s in the in crowd, so no one said or did a thing. I hope those who are investigating are not foolish enough to stop at dinner receipts. Dig deeper, he’s dug a huge hole.

    The Metro broke the story and has stayed on it for a couple months, then the Mercury was (apparently) shamed into covering it, but the other four (highly paid – in the 2%) Supervisors have remained quiet, with all but an occassional wimper. Are Cortese and Yeager waiting for instructions from Cindy Chavez? Where’s the public condemnation/censure for the matters Shirakawa has already admitted to? Is this community going to let him be sworn in for another term in just a few weeks? I hope not.

  5. George, I have only one reason why I don’t like you—- you’re a slimy crook, feeding at the public trough by stealing money from taxpayers.  That’s it, pure and simple.  Now, please retire in disgrace and get out of town!

  6. Here’s a few other questions Supervisor Shirakawa should address (that have nothing to do with him being a Raider fan)

    On the verge of personal bankruptcy, how is it he “loaned” his own campaign nearly $80,000 thousand dollars?  Where did this stockpile of money come from?  COuld it be from lobbyist and special interests who bought dumped money to him ion the side to avoid political contribution regulations? 

    In the failure to disclose his campaign finances, there is still the claim that Shirakawa made with his chief of staff giggling as this side that he he has paid most of the debt.  Does that mean he “loaned” money to his campaign from funds he cannot account for, then he “paid back” another $80K to himself?

    Does his IRS forms indicate that he had this $80K?  Did he claim the repayment on his IRS forms?  Or is tax fraud yet another way that Mr Shirakawa disregards the rules and violates the people’s trust?

    The other question that must be asked is why is it that Mr Shirakawa has to drink during lunch?  Is it common practice to a have alcohol so many times (he eats out an awful lot sometimes even double dipping in lunches on the same day.  He frequents gambling locations (Tahoe, Vegas, Reno, Thunder Valley) even thinks it is appropriate to have “staff” retreats in Tahoe, so we know by looking at him and now his receipts that he is over indulgent and lacks control with food, we can see the pattern of gambling and the hiding of detailed receips would indicate the consumption of alcohol at these so-called working lunches. He very much seems like an addict of various levels and substances. 

    Gluttonous George get off the public dole and resign already.  You are not the victim you claim to be.  You’re a known political bully who finally is being revealed.  You have NO trust of the public.  Go get help and then when you are well beg the forgiveness of the public you betrayed by your scandalous behavior and total disregard for rules.

    To the county board of Supes, do not think that you are all forgiven either.  This happened under your watch too.  You should be the LEADERS we elected you to be and condemned this behavior and breaking of the rules.  Don’t be so spineless.