Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Judge Gilbert's Ener-Tel Consulting Gig

Municipal Court Judge Allen Gilbert retired in March after 44 years of service.  The city held an extended celebration for the esteemed judge before quietly rehiring him as consultant for $60,000 per year.  The judge performed outside work for over a decade while employed full time as a public servant.

The City eventually became an extra gig for the enterprising Judge post retirement. Judge Gilbert next showed up at Ener-tel as Consulting General Manager and President of Ener-Tel Services. 

City of San Angelo policy states:

All fulltime employees must obtain prior written approval from their manager/supervisor before any outside employment is accepted. Employee requests for approval to accept outside employment, including self-employment, must be submitted in writing to the employee’s manager/supervisor by completing the Dual Employment Request form which can be obtained from the Human Resources Department. The request form requires listing any pertinent information about the outside employer, the nature of the job, and the hours of employment.  Employees are not to solicit or conduct any outside business during paid working time. 
The City had no record as to when they officially adopted this policy.  San Angelo's City Clerk indicated the policy had been in effect when they started in 2014.

City records reveal Ener-tel e-mailed the City's Engineering Department in regard to their new shop building and permanent fencing.  The first communication happened in early December 2018 with a followup in January 2019.  Both times Ener-tel included Judge Gilbert among the recipients.  As the issue stood outside Judge Gilbert's court responsibilities one can conclude the Judge was working for Ener-tel.

Ener-tel owner Scott Wisniewski e-mailed Judge Gilbert in April 2018:

First, thank you again for taking the time to meet with us to improve communication and service between our entities. I would also like to offer any help and assistance we can provide to bring all parties(city, county, ASU, SAISD, etc) onto a camera system to create more efficiencies and overall safety to our city. 
It appears Ener-tel employed Judge Gilbert as a consultant between April and December of 2018.  Wisniewski's first e-mail to Gilbert occured in December 2017 and came after the Standard Times did a story on the Judge's spice business.

By 2016, Judges Choice rubs were in more than 150 H-E-B stores and nine barbecue joints, making the circuit of various cooking competitions and about 80 small "mom and pop" stores.  For now he's enjoying wearing multiple hats and living multiple dreams..
The Judge had at least two outside gigs while employed full time with the City of San Angelo.  He did file a Dual Employment Request with his supervisor and City Human Resources for his spice business, doing so in January 2018.

That means the Judge was aware of the form and his obligation to complete it.  He did complete it on 1-3-2018, his 43rd year of city employment.  Gilbert had conducted some of his outside work for at least a decade.  Judge Gilbert's supervisor City Manager Daniel Valenzuela chose not to sign the Dual Employment form.

The Judge had one public admonition for failure to follow city policy prohibiting sexual harassment:

On the morning of November 8, 2006, Judge Gilbert, while reading the local newspaper, noted an advertisement for a local “gentleman’s club” announcing the upcoming performance of an exotic dancer with a name very similar to that of the assistant city prosecutor assigned to his court.

Judge Gilbert shared the advertisement with several people employed by the city and over whom he had supervisory authority. Together, the judge and several city employees created their own flyer out of the advertisement in an effort to make a joke at the city prosecutor’s expense.

The flyer consisted of a letter-sized copy of the original advertisement promoting the exotic dancer, along with the following captions added to the bottom of the page by Judge Gilbert’s court staff involved in the prank: (1) “Let her take your law into her hands!” (2) “Let her handle your case!” and (3) “[She] wants to prosecute you!”

With Judge Gilbert’s tacit approval, several of these flyers were placed in public areas around the courthouse.

That same morning, the city prosecutor saw the flyers as she arrived at the courthouse and began removing them from where they had been posted.

According to the city prosecutor, when she inquired as to who was responsible for posting the flyers, Judge Gilbert told her that he had found the advertisement in the paper that morning and stated he “could not resist.”

Following the meeting with the city prosecutor, Judge Gilbert carried an unknown number of the flyers to the headquarters of the San Angelo Police Department, where he posted at least one of the flyers on a door, and left a second one with a senior officer.

The city prosecutor, having been told that the flyers had been posted at the police department, proceeded to that building where she observed Judge Gilbert as he was leaving.

When the city prosecutor arrived at the police department, she found a dollar bill attached to one of the flyers, placed there by someone at the department, not Judge Gilbert. She removed the offending flyer.

That afternoon, the city prosecutor accompanied Judge Gilbert and another court employee to Mertzon, Texas, where Judge Gilbert was to preside over the court docket for that city.

Upon arriving in Mertzon, Judge Gilbert shared the story of the flyers with court personnel. Additionally, Judge Gilbert’s employee informed those present that an additional comment had been considered for the poster, to wit: “She wants to beat your case,” or words to that effect.

On November 11, 2006, Judge Gilbert was placed on paid leave by the San Angelo City Council, pending an investigation into the incident.

On December 5, 2006, the city council voted to suspend Judge Gilbert without pay for two weeks, finding that he had violated the city’s policy against sexual harassment and citing his “bad judgment” and “irresponsible behavior” in the matter.
The Judge's Mertzon work was not declared until January 2018, even though he was publicly admonished for behavior in the Mertzon Courthouse the afternoon of November 8, 2006.

Gilbert violated City policy by not completing the Dual Employment form for his Ener-tel consulting work prior to leaving City employment.

Judges are to declare conflicts of interest.  How many decisions did Judge Gilbert influence to the advantage of Ener-tel while he was paid by both Ener-tel and the City of San Angelo?  

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