Supervisor George Shirakawa has racked up about $36,000 in credit card expenses in his last four years in office. There are first-class travel upgrades, dining out at P.F. Changs and other pricey restaurants, and even a $500 golf excursion in Las Vegas. They are all items ABC7 News media partner The San Jose Mercury News says Supervisor George Shirakawa has put on his county-issued credit card.
There is outrage. "What are we doing? How can we stop this? Why is he still in office, first off?" one woman asked.
A newspaper editorial is asking Shirakawa to step down. He wouldn't respond to reporter questions Tuesday, but did address the credit card controversy with a statement during Tuesday's board meeting. "I don't want you to be distracted by the political lynching you've read today and continue to read about in the print media," he said.
The long-time elected official told his fellow supervisors that his constituents are more concerned about escalating violence. "I haven't been talking about a 19-inch LCD HD TV that's in my office that I purchased back in 2009. What we talked about is the recent shooting yesterday," he said.
Supervisor Liz Kniss says she wants an already launched audit into her colleague's expense reports and credit card use finished as quickly as possible. "So, we're looking at this legally, ethically, reputationally," she said. Shirakawa's reputation for poor money management includes his personal bankruptcy filing last year despite a $143,000 a year salary.
Many though, say the long-time public servant deserves the benefit of the doubt. "He has done a lot for the city so, he has a lot of supporters," San Jose resident Kaycee McNeil said.
"There's a lot of people wondering what's going on. We're going to find out what's going on and all that will be public record," Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman said.
Shirakawa says he is cooperating with the audits and investigations, and will have more to say soon. "Certainly, when the reviews and inquiries are completed, you'll hear a little bit more from me," he said He made his comments Tuesday because the board is looking at more widespread policy changes with regard to county-issued credit card use in the wake of this scandal.
These hot topics will be back before the board on December 20.