While George Shirakawa continues to wonder why he’s receiving so much attention for his misuse of taxpayer money, some of his friends and closest political allies are distancing themselves from the president of the Board of Supervisors.
On Tuesday, lobbyists Tom Saggau, Dustin DeRollo and Joe Guerra each sent reimbursement checks to the county for purchases Shirakawa made with his county credit card while ostensibly meeting with them.
Saggau and DeRollo—who in addition to doing consultant work for San Jose’s police and fire unions also lobby on behalf of Rural Metro, the county’s ambulance service provider—told San Jose Inside they had no documentation for 12 lunch or dinner meetings Shirakawa noted in his expense reports with one or both of them dating back to 2009.
According to documentation Shirakawa provided the county for a “lunch” June 12, 2012, at Capers Loft in downtown San Jose, DeRollo and Guerra were present for a meal that ended at 6:04pm with an $83.18 tab. Shirakawa did not provide the county with an itemized receipt for the meal—as well as 173 other occasions, according to the latest county audit—despite county rules requiring such documentation.
DeRollo cut a check to the county for $184.09, Saggau wrote a check for $122.45 and Joe Guerra reimbursed the county for $27.73. The three men wrote in a joint letter to the Controller-Treasurer Department: “Please accept these three checks to reimburse the County for our portion of meals as identified by the Metro Newspaper.”
To date, eight individuals have reimbursed the county for $1,547.18 in charges Shirakawa expensed to taxpayers unbeknownst to the people he said he was with.
Included in that list is San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore ($400); political consultant and San Jose Inside columnist Rich Robinson ($70); Norberto Dueñas, a deputy city manager for San Jose ($33); and San Jose Councilmember Xavier Campos ($150).
Moore told San Jose Inside that he and his command staff were having a private dinner party in February at the Fairmont Grill on the Alley when Shirakawa showed up unexpectedly and joined the dinner. Moore said that the dinner was not related to county business in any way, but Shirakawa offered to split the tab and charged $548.62 to his county credit card.
Dueñas and Campos had dinner with Shirakawa a little more than a week later at P.F. Chang’s and Shirakawa again picked up the tab, which included alcohol despite the supervisor signing a missing receipt memorandum that declared no alcohol was purchased. Dueñas also had a breakfast with Shirakawa, as noted on the supervisor’s expense reports.
A member of Campos’ staff told San Jose Inside that the councilmember met with Shirakawa to discuss the P.F. Chang’s dinner and other meals, which is how he came up with the $150 reimbursement. Leaving aside meals Campos received as a policy aide to Shirakawa in 2009 and 2010—plenty of staffers got free lunches and dinners—there were at least eight instances in the last two years in which Shirakawa picked up the tab for meals Campos was noted as attending in Shirakawa’s expense reports. The total cost of those meals was $414.16. Here are those meals with dates, restaurants and check totals:
April 26, 2011 — Applebees — $53.27 (Shirakawa chief of staff Eddie Garcia also attended.)
April 28, 2011 — Capers Loft — $88.07 (Shirakawa former policy aide Gustave Caraveo was also noted as present.)
June 6, 2011 — El Pirrin — $19.07
July 22, 2011 — El Pirrin — $36.78
Oct. 6, 2011 — Red Robin — $53.47
January 18, 2012 — Hawaiian Drive Inn — $24.63
February 17, 2012 — P.F. Chang’s — $97.15
March 2, 2012 — Capers Loft — $41.72
The largest reimbursement to the county—$559.91—came from Cora Tomalinas, a community activist who was attending a conference in Washington D.C. but could not return home after falling ill, according to a Mercury News report. Shirakawa, also in D.C. at the time, used his county credit card for her to stay a night in his hotel room after going to the hospital.
At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Shirakawa defended his use of county money for Tomalinas’ hotel room by noting that his critics must not have ever served in the military, otherwise they would understand the bond between a “band of brothers and sisters.”