News from April 2019
By Urban Reform
Karen R. Miniex, former vice president and general counsel of the Houston Housing Authority, was awarded $1.87 million by jurors following a whistleblower suit against the agency. The jury found that she was retaliated against for reporting what she found to be voucher fraud by an employee of the agency.
Mayoral Candidate Tony Buzbee officially filed suit against Mayor Sylvester Turner, in his unofficial capacity, and Clear Channel Outdoors, claiming “illegal campaign contributions” from Clear Channel to Turner’s campaign. As we wrote about earlier in the week, Buzbee argues that billboards being donated by Clear Channel to the city to advertise its AlertHouston program amount to illegal corporate campaign contributions. The campaign was rolled out last week and is the city’s attempt to get more Houstonians to register for the city’s emergency alert system.
As Mayor Sylvester Turner met with council members laying out his plans to implement the voter-approved Proposition B “pay parity” measure, the 67 fire fighter cadets held in limbo were being delivered “layoff notices” saying that their last day would be June 7, 2019. "Citing the budget shortfall which the interoffice memos say is due to Prop B, the letter notifies the cadets that their positions are being “eliminated by virtue of force reduction.”
In the midst of a heated fight over Mayor Sylvester Turner’s implementation of fire fighter pay parity, a compromise might be in sight. Turner and Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President Marty Lancton sat down to discuss implementation ahead of an upcoming vote by council on whether or not to lay off fire fighters.
Mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee announced that he intends on filing suit against Mayor Sylvester Turner’s reelection campaign claiming a violation of campaign finance laws. The suit stems from Turner’s recent announcement about a new “AlertHouston” ad campaign. The service informs the public about severe weather and other major public safety issues in the city.
In response to a public records request made by mayoral candidate Bill King, the city is asking for $2.8 million to access records on how Mayor Sylvester Turner unilaterally approved roughly $400 million in contracts. The issue sparked a few months ago when it came to light that Turner approved $400 million in contracts under the city’s provision allowing him to bypass council approval for contracts less than $50,000.
The City of Houston’s new affordable housing operations center, Emancipation Center, was first reported on back in 2016 in local real estate blog swamplot.com. The renderings, which can be found on the LAI Design Group website, showed a glassy sphere to be built in the historic Third Ward. At the time, it was called the Coleman Global Center or CGC, named after 30-year State Rep. Garnet Coleman who spearheaded the project.
City Finance Director Can't Explain $4.2 Million Increase in Electricity Costs | Urban Reform