On the heels of launching a petition to end Pay-to-Play in the City of Houston, Mayoral candidate Bill King rolled out a 7-point ethics reform and transparency plan. King says his plan will safeguard against corruption, save taxpayer dollars, and improve access to public information.
The first plank calls for the creation of an Independent Office of Inspector General and a public release of any findings by that office. He proposed moving the OIG office from it’s current role of being only accountable to tge mayor, to one where the inspector reports to the mayor, controller, and one member of council selected by the council body. “This will increase accountability and eliminate the mayor’s unilateral control of investigations involving employee misconduct,” says King. Additionally, he says that under his administration all reports released by this office will be released to the public, unless the three representatives choose otherwise.
The second plank calls for the enactment of policies found within his proposed Pay-to-Play petition. He says that if the petition drive fails, he will put the items on the city council agenda and ratify them with a charter amendment. He also proposes changes to the searchable database for campaign contributions.
King also wants to reform the bidding process in the city. He says factors like community engagement is overvalued in consideration of contracts and sometimes is weighted more than the overall cost. “The result is that projects cost taxpayers more money and fewer projects are completed,” he said.
Under his administration he vowed to award contracts to the lowest responsive bidder with “no exceptions.” King says this method was used prior to Turner taking office. He also vows to release all documents pertaining to the contract, except those prohibited by law, and place them on the city website.
He also plans to restore deleted budget information. “Turner has eliminated more than 200 pages of details about how your tax money is spent that were included in Parker’s budget,” King says.
If elected, he will make every city contract public, regardless of amount, and put them into a searchable database. He also promises more robust month financial reports that include contracts that fall below the threshold that would require council to approve them.
One of the most significant reforms proposed is to distribute discretion of releasing public information. Responsive information to public information requests will only be withheld if the mayor, controller, and one city council member agrees it should be.
Lastly, King wants a charter amendment to prohibit future mayors and council form undoing these reforms.