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Archive for July 12th, 2017

This is in today’s Chron and we learned about it yesterday:

Houston Public Works Director Karun Sreerama made $77,143 in unlawful payments to a Houston Community College trustee who faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to bribery, according to federal court records.

The payments – made when Sreerama ran a private engineering firm – are related to an extortion and bribery case against 21-year HCC trustee Christopher Oliver, who was accused of taking payments and promising to use his position to help secure contracts with the community college system. The acting U.S. attorney has agreed to dismiss the extortion charge against Oliver in exchange for his guilty plea on the bribery indictment, court records show.

The extortion count lists an individual with the initials “K.S.” as a “victim” of “extortion under color of official right” carried out by Oliver between December 2010 and August 2013, meaning Oliver allegedly used his position as a public official to obtain an unlawful payment.

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Public-works-director-ensnared-in-HCC-bribery-11281775.php#comments.

And the Chron E-Board put out this today and here is how it starts:

Anybody who’s admitted taking a bribe has no business serving in elected office.

Seems like a simple principle, but the simple truth is that Chris Oliver, an admittedly corrupt politician, is now serving on the board of the Houston Community College. And a man tied to unlawful payments made to Oliver has a top-level job in Houston city government.

Oliver needs to step down immediately, and Houston’s mayor needs to investigate and reveal what’s going on with Public Works Director Karun Sreerama, one of his administration’s most important department heads. Sreerama’s name surfaced when his initials appeared in court records describing an extortion scheme that authorities say Oliver initiated.

While Sreerama’s involvement needs to be reviewed, there is no question what should become of Oliver, who has served on the Houston Community College board for 21 years.

And how it ends:

Meanwhile, Sreerama took charge of Houston’s public works department about a month after the indictment, but his involvement in the case wasn’t revealed to City Council members who confirmed his appointment.

It’s important to note the indictment identifies “K.S.” not as a criminal or a co-conspirator, but as a “victim,” as Sreerama’s lawyer confirms. Nonetheless, it raises important questions about what Sreerama did in connection with this scandal. What were the circumstances surrounding his unlawful payments to Oliver? Did he tell Mayor Sylvester Turner about this investigation before he was nominated to his important executive position?

The community college board has called a special meeting for Thursday afternoon at which it will consider censuring Oliver. Unfortunately, it appears the board cannot force the resignation of a confessed criminal who admits betraying the taxpayers’ trust and who’s awaiting sentencing on federal corruption charges. If Oliver wants to impress U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore before his sentencing, he should immediately resign from office.

Meanwhile, if he hasn’t already, Houston’s mayor needs to ask his public works director some hard questions about this case. If the head of the city’s public works department made unlawful payments to an elected official who’s pleaded guilty in a federal bribery case, Houston taxpayers need to know the whole truth about what happened.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Oliver-should-resign-11281818.php.

Now what am I missing here? If you are a vendor who has government contracts or want government contracts and if an elected official tries to shake you down, you can either make illegal payments, you can tell the elected official to go f__k-off, or you can go to the authorities and rat out the elected official and risk never getting a government contract again because elected officials and governments don’t like to do business with a rat. In this case, he made illegal payments to the elected official so what is there to review and what hard questions should be asked? Who thinks paying off an elected official is proper, acceptable and A-Okay? Like I said, what am I missing here? Enlighten me, please.

Harris County is not joining the anti-SB 4 lawsuit. Here is from the Chron:

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said it would be ineffectual for the county to sue the state because the county is, constitutionally, an arm of the state. He said not voting in favor of joining the lawsuit against the law was not an endorsement of the statute, which he called an overreach by the state that would increase distrust in immigrant communities.

“Do not interpret, if we choose not to, don’t interpret that as an endorsement of Senate Bill 4,” Emmett said. “It is not.”

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Harris-County-will-not-join-sanctuary-cities-11281761.php.

Sorry, Hunker Down, it is an endorsement.

I don’t have a MLB question today.

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