Fort Worth

$545 tickets to see Michelle Obama: Frivolous or official city business?

Two Forest Hill officials are under fire for seeking city money to see former First Lady Michelle Obama promote her book, “Becoming.”
Two Forest Hill officials are under fire for seeking city money to see former First Lady Michelle Obama promote her book, “Becoming.” AP Photo

Some City Council members are accusing Mayor Lyndia Thomas and Mayor Pro Tem Beckie Duncan Hayes of misusing city money after the pair sought reimbursement for $545 tickets to see Michelle Obama in Dallas.

The pair will get a chance to answer the charges during public hearings at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Forest Hill City Hall, 3219 California Parkway. The council could vote to suspend or remove them, according to the agenda.

Council members Gerald Joubert, Carlie Jones and Stephanie Boardingham said other questionable expenses include the purchase of school supplies, an event sponsored by the Links Foundation and meals at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen and Texas Roadhouse. They said the events and meals were not related to their duties as elected officials.

Boardingham, who leads the audit committee, said several citizens who also serve on the committee noticed the receipts and questioned her about them.

Thomas, who defeated Joubert by one vote in the mayor’s race two years ago, said the accusations are politically motivated. Thomas is seeking re-election in May.

Thomas said Forest Hill has a $10,000 public relations budget and that she and the mayor pro tem have requested reimbursement for events they attend on behalf of the city, which is allowed by its charter.

Thomas said they attended Obama’s “Becoming” book tour in December at American Airlines Center to get information and to “learn new things.” She said the Links event in Plano was for scholarships and that the school supplies were for a children’s reading club that the mayor started. The restaurant expenses were for meals while attending training conferences.

“I am never not the mayor,” Thomas said. “I spend 10, 12 hours a day in the office doing work. I interact with citizens. There is nothing I have to hide.”

Thomas also accused Joubert, Boardingham and Jones of violating the Open Meetings Act when the three gathered at a Starbucks on the evening of Jan. 2.

“Someone called me and said the council members were meeting at Starbucks,” Thomas said. “I went down there and saw the papers spread out on the table. They were shocked to see me.”

The mayor said the council members should have gone to the city secretary’s office to sign the necessary paperwork to call the special meeting.

Boardingham said they were meeting because the city’s charter stipulates that signatures from three council members are necessary to call a special meeting.

Duncan Hayes said the allegations against her are baseless. She said other council members are not working to move the city forward, which is why she and Thomas started the reading club for children and other activities.

“We wanted to get things done,” she said.

Duncan Hayes also said the council members who called the special meeting want to defeat her and the mayor in the upcoming election.

“We are dealing with adult children rather than with adult men and women,” she said.

Former President Barack Obama got a standing ovation at Michelle Obama's book show at Capital One Arena in Washington on November 17, 2018. She is touring the country promoting her memoir, "Becoming." Barack Obama carried roses for his wife.

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