What is happening at the City of Houston?? Elected officials are supposed to represent us, but with scandal after scandal, it seems like all they are doing is representing their own interests.
1. Controller Ronald Green – He acted as a character witness and asked a judge for probation for his friend, Dwayne K. Jordon, who has pleaded guilty to felony theft. According to the Houston Chronicle, “Jordon pilfered 23 Houston properties from different owners and then duped unsuspecting buyers into purchasing homes built on stolen ground.” Controller Green’s wife, Justice of the Peace Hilary Harmon Green, ordered the eviction of tenants on behalf of Jordon. Surely this was a conflict of interest considering her personal ties to Jordon, but should Controller Green be kicked out of office at the next election for his role? Elected officials walk a very fine line between their public and private life. Did Controller Green ask for probation, or did Ronald Green? It will be interesting to see if this will have any impact on the next election.
My guess is that it won’t carry that much weight considering the $120,000 he owes to the IRS didn’t really play a factor in his initial election in 2009. This might actually be worse than the incident with Jordon. The controller is the money manager of the city, and yet, he can’t handle his own finances. Controller Green said that it was an “‘honest dispute’” and is working to get it resolved. Apparently he still owes $112,000. Disputes like this happen all the time, and we really don’t have all the facts, but people are often quick to jump on these types of issues. Surprisingly, it wasn’t a huge issue in his 2009 race, but it has yet to be seen if this coupled with Jordon’s case will be enough for someone to run against him and win.
2. Council Member Larry Green – He left the nonprofit workforce training center, HousonWorks, with $1.7 million in unpaid bills after stepping down as its CEO to focus on city council. Although the organization was in trouble before CM Green’s arrival, board president Howard Lederer said that CM Green held galas and golf tournaments that “turned out to be expensive events that did little more than pay for themselves.” Furthermore, an audit by the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) found “extensive mismanagement at the organization. The report also resulted in the H-GAC deciding not to renew a long-standing multi-million dollar contact with HoustonWorks.” It sounds like he completely mismanaged this program and made many poor choices.
3. Council Member Helena Brown – She hired a private attorney to sit in with her on public meetings and then tried to seek $850 in reimbursements from the city. It is fine to consult an outside attorney, but it shouldn’t be paid for with tax dollars considering that council members are already given access to an attorney. She also asked for $2,108 in reimbursements for gas money for her volunteer, William Park. City policy does not reimburse volunteers. Finally, her $3,000 purchase of 13,000 magnets is also being reviewed as to whether or not it constitutes political advertising. CM Brown said that the magnets will be included in a mail out for a district convention to be held later this year.
4. Council Member James Rodriguez – Spent tax dollars for a trip to Disney World for a Latino elected officials’ conference.
5. Council Member Jack Christie – Spent tax dollars to visit Harvard for a leadership seminar.
6. Council Member Wanda Adams - Spent tax dollars on a trade mission to Ghana as well as iPads.
7. Council Member Jerry Davis – Spent $3,500 from his budget to produce a PSA on illegal dumping and another $2,300 to air it on a radio station. This one isn’t terrible, but how many people really heard that PSA? I doubt it was worth the money. It probably would have been better if he worked with the city for a city-wide campaign that would have cost less to produce and would have reached more people. He also spent $600 worth of brisket and sausage for an event promoting women’s health…. Because brisket and sausage are so healthy… and are typically loved by women…..