HOT OFF THE PRESS:
NEAL PULLS a sneaky TRICK.
Renews “His” Consultant’s Contract
Apparently his neurological condition has not improved his ethics and morals as a politician. Today, County Judge Neal (and his buddies) renewed the contract of consultant Tomas Duran (his former insurance partner) at Nueces County Commissioners’ Court. He knew the public eyes of taxpayers were on him. So he tried the oldest bureaucratic trick in the book to conceal his “dirty little deal”. He buried Duran's contract underneath a mint of items to be approved collectively (here was inserted the renewal of Consultant Duran’s contract. “Does he think the voters are that naïve?”
Duran and Neal date back to when Neal became mayor in 1997 ... They both were agents for a new controversial insurance company that was known as "Not Fully insured" that ran by the name of “ENTRUST.” This company did not cover “catastrophic losses” like HUMANA and others which are “Fully Insured” – instead the company was an “Employer Insured/Financed” company – the employer paid in case of catastrophic losses. When Neal became mayor, he had a plan, much the same as he is doing in the county government. He brought his insurance guru --Duran -- into the fold to make a presentation for the city so as to convince the city council to go with ENTRUST (for the city’s group health insurance). But the vote was tied – half of the councilpersons for and half against… What does Neal do as mayor? He votes and breaks the tie to go with ENTRUST. Just one thing he lef tout: NEAL failed to tell the public the latter and that he was a “business associate” of Duran and that he himself was even an “insurance agent” for ENTRUST. Yes, Neal was the insurance agent for ENTRUST at that time and one of his accounts was Sam Kane Meat Processing.
An FBI investigation followed, lawsuits, appeals - the CITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI's taxpayers paid the bill in the end of legal miffs. The city ended up going with ENTRUST. But Neal did not stop there. He somehow managed to get DURAN to be the “coordinator” of the ENTRUST DEAL with the city. The city ended up suffering catastrophic losses – the CITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI had to pay out a fortune of tax-payer dollars. Why would Neal be concerned? It was the company he was working for anyway.
Three years ago, Neal was elected Nueces County Judge. What does he do? Begins to apply the same ruse. He hires Duran. As what? As the group health insurance consultant for the county – Duran, again, without uncertainty, without proviso, is paving the way for a “non-FULLY INSURANCED” DEAL, much as the ENTRUST deal of past years cited (the type that Neal and Duran have represented for about 40 years). Note: This consultant position is usually part-time, Neal has made it a full-time post. He has even protested that the other commissioners cut Duran salary; yet Neal has meat-axed the county workers salaries.
But Neal’s neurological disorder worsens as he hits his mid-70s. It is clear that he can no longer micromanage the insurance deal himself. It is clear that his mind has become befogged – yet the CORPUS CHRISTI CALLER-TIMES uses Neal’s neurological condition (which he has had a long time by the way) it to put out a human interest story and irresponsibly writes an article in the front page of its paper that serves more of a “sympathy card” for his re-election campaign.
Not only do his eyes droop but his mind looses focus. Not only does he hire DURAN as the county’s health insurance consultant but also his former personal business secretary, Claudia Lobell, at benefits that total in excess of $80,000 while his real secretary earns only $30,000 or so. He also has brought in as an administrative assistant – Steve Waterman – into this deal to assist Duran. Waterman, according to sources in the profession, has a reputation of coming in only when there is a "top insurance deal" involved.
Usually consultants (referring to Duran) for the county are hired part-time (or for less than a handful of months); Neal has hired him as the “guru” because Duran is the “middleman” negotiating lucrative deals with pharmacies, doctors, and even third party entities. Rebates? Payola? – no one is monitoring the thousands upon thousands of dollars being transacted up in a sly and underhanded way that corrupt the very soul of the soul of the Nueces County Government.