Councilman Greg Brockhouse (D6) called for a “full audit” of the Tricentennial Commission on Tuesday, little more than 24 hours after Tricentennial CEO Edward Benavides resigned. Where and when that audit will take place has yet to be determined.
Brockhouse sent a memo to Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1), who chairs the Council’s Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee, requesting that the committee meeting next week include discussion of an independent review that would look into the Tricentennial’s organizational structure, requests for proposals, fundraising statistics, media contracts, and more – including “who had supervisory responsibility for the Tricentennial and CEO.”
The Tricentennial Commission and its leadership has come under scrutiny after fundraising struggles and questionable contracts were revealed.
“We must be completely transparent with the public on the status and future of the Tricentennial Celebration,” wrote Brockhouse, who is also a member of the committee that has received two updates from the Tricentennial. “These shortfalls are not the sole responsibility of the CEO. Accountability demands an independent review to ensure the systemic issues that led to these breakdowns are removed immediately.”
Treviño fully expects an audit to take place, he told the Rivard Report Tuesday, but a more appropriate venue for it would be the Audit and Accountability Committee, chaired by Councilman John Courage (D9).
“My hope is that we can stay focused right now on the matter at hand,” Treviño said, namely asking questions and receiving updates about the commission’s plans for San Antonio’s 300th anniversary.
Brockhouse said he doesn’t care which committee takes on the audit, just as long as it gets done.
“Edward [Benavides] can’t just be the scapegoat,” he said. “It’s not all on Edward’s back. There should have been support mechanisms and help.”
The questions the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee was asking “obviously weren’t being asked by whoever was supervising Edward,” he added.
The Tricentennial Commission, a local government corporation, was established by City Council in 2015. Assistant City Manager Carlos Contreras will lead the organization until its volunteer board, comprised of community members, selects the new CEO.
An hour after Brockhouse sent his memo to media, Treviño responded with his own.
“I believe we should give the Tricentennial Commission and interim leadership the time and opportunity to assess the progress and make any necessary changes,” Treviño wrote. “I expect Interim CEO Carlos Contreras – who has been on the job for one day – to provide an update to the Committee next week. I have full confidence in his responsiveness and I will work to ensure he reports to the committee regularly.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg said he will allow the Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee to look into Brockhouse’s issues.
“What is critically important for the city is the success of the Tricentennial,” Nirenberg wrote in an email. “I’ll be focused on ensuring that the Tricentennial is the best experience possible for all of San Antonio.”
The Arts, Culture, and Heritage Committee will meet at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21.