Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kansas City police commanders, lobbyist charge taxpayers for pricey meal and booze at Capital Grille

Posted by on Thu, Feb 10, 2011 at 12:00 PM

click to enlarge Chief Corwin: Should know better.
  • Chief Corwin: Should know better.

I'd love to wine and dine at the Capital Grille on the Plaza and have someone else pick up the tab -- like, say, all of you. Unfortunately for me, I can't do that. But three Kansas City police commanders and a lobbyist can and did, ringing up pricey meals on taxpayers' dimes.

According to The Kansas City Star, the commanders and a lobbyist ran up three tabs of more than $500 each at the swanky restaurant (a November tab of $540, a December tab of $570 and a December 2009 meal for $564.48), all billed to the Kansas City Police Department as "legislative expenses," which actually means that we're all picking up the tab. And, at all three meals, they were reportedly boozing, which violates department policy.



Worse yet, the December 2009 meal was attended by three commanders, the lobbyist and Police Chief Jim Corwin. Shouldn't the chief know better? Yes, yes he should.

Corwin told the Star that there was "no excuse" for the Capital Grille charges, calling it "a poor choice of

restaurants."


"I have been present when alcohol was purchased and I did not take

action as I should have," he said. "I should have approached the board

to make a policy change. That's where I misstepped."

Corwin took full responsibility for the expenses and policy violations.

"This is on me," he said. "We sent them to Jeff City to make

relationships.... They went there to do business for the police

department and the expenses they have can be explained."


The Star's review of 2009 and 2010 receipts turned in by Majors Roger Lewis and Wayne Stewart, who lobby for the KCPD, "revealed a pattern of expensive charges at steakhouses and taverns, some as high as $298, mostly in Jefferson City." Other names, like the KCPD's paid lobbyist, Andy Arnold, and state lawmakers sometimes showed up on the receipts.

From the Star:
In all, Lewis and Stewart charged about $7,000 last year in meals, gas and other expenses for about 80 days' worth of work between them. They also charged about $5,000 for lodging. In 2009, they charged about $7,600 in meals and expenses and about $6,000 in lodging.



Lewis is the department member who charged all three Capital Grille meals to his department card, the records showed. Stewart attended two of those dinners.


All of this isn't sitting well with Police Board President Pat McInerney, who sent Corwin an e-mail Monday demanding that the commanders repay the money they spent on the pricey meals as well as for any alcohol charged, which came to $3,201.76.

The Star reported that Deputy Chief Cy Ritter was also in attendance at

all three Capital Grille meals as well as several Jefferson City

outings. Ritter and Corwin apparently plan to split the cost with Lewis

and Stewart, knocking down the reimbursement to $800.44 each. How nice of

them.

The lobbyists can also expect to have an independent auditor look at their expenses, and if policy violations are discovered, McInerney promised the Star that "there will be consequences."



Sounds like nothing but Applebee's from here on out.

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