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Conflict of interest concerns raised at meeting over money from failed BPUB project

Conflict of interest concerns raised at meeting over money from failed BPUB project
1 year 8 months 2 weeks ago Tuesday, October 25 2022 Oct 25, 2022 October 25, 2022 10:36 PM October 25, 2022 in News - Local

More calls for transparency were issued from customers with the Brownsville Public Utility Board at a special meeting Tuesday with city commissioners.

Questions about possible conflicts of interest were raised as leaders continue to discuss what to do with the leftover $29 million that was collected from Brownsville PUB customers for a failed energy project a forensic audit alleged misled the public to collect the increased rate fees.

RELATED: Brownsville commissioners, BPUB leaders, continue to discuss failed project

Brownsville PUB vice Chair Patricio Sampayo brought up a recent refund effort initiated by the city of San Antonio in a separate case.

“One of the things that San Antonio did was say, “OK, we’ve got $50 million that we want to give back to the community. We’re going to set 15% of that aside for low income families,” Sampayo said.

Customers at the meeting brought up the issue of who should lead the discussion over the leftover money.

Current Brownsville PUB Chair Sandra Saenz is the former personal secretary of former Mayor Tony Martinez.

According to the audit, Martinez was a key player in the failed Tenaska project. 

Saenz was appointed to the board on Martinez’s last day of office.

It's not just customers questioning the ethical concerns of Saenz being on the board.

“With the current chair being someone who worked for someone who was named in the Tenaska audit…is that something that you all have looked at?” Brownsville Commissioner Roy de Los Santos said. “Does it make sense for the chair to be unilaterally appointing this committee?”

Sampayao asked that any conflict of interest questions commissioners may have be addressed between the city's and the Brownsville PUB’s legal counsels. 

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