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Archive for July 31st, 2017

He’s Out

To no one’s surprise, The H-Town Mayor said adios to his Public Works Director. There is no way he could have hung around.   The former Public Works Director thinks he got a raw deal of sorts. I don’t know about that. Here is from the Chron’s Rebecca Elliott and Lindsay Ellis Friday evening take:

(Karun) Sreerama, at a later news conference in front of the federal courthouse, lamented having his name “dragged in the mud” after cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and signing a confidentiality agreement.

“Because I could not disclose anything before today, stories began to take their own life, and I have been unfairly, inaccurately and unjustly labeled as somebody who gave bribes. This is total nonsense,” Sreerama said. “I did not do anything wrong.”

(HCC Trustee Chris) Oliver’s March indictment, unsealed in May, hangs on two sets of payments from Sreerama. The U.S. attorney’s office charged Oliver with “extortion under color of official right” for the first, meaning the trustee allegedly used his position as a public official to obtain unlawful payments, and bribery for the second.

The payments in question began in late 2010, when Sreerama, identified as “K.S.” in Oliver’s indictment, began writing checks to Oliver in response to the trustee’s solicitations, Sreerama’s attorney Chip Lewis said.

As Lewis described the three payments totaling $77,143, Sreerama made the first two because Oliver claimed he was going through a costly divorce, and then claimed he needed funds to complete the process of adopting a child. Both payments were presented as loans and were not repaid. The third payment took the form of an exorbitant fee Oliver charged after his company cleaned the parking lot at Sreerama’s business.

“By the time we get to the third payment and he hadn’t been repaid the loans, Karun became worried that saying, ‘No, no I’ve got somebody who already does the cleaning, etc.’ could adversely affect his position down the road,” Lewis said.

Federal authorities confronted Sreerama in March 2015, a year and a half after he made that final payment, and asked for his cooperation in their investigation, Lewis said.

And:

Asked why he did not report Oliver’s initial solicitations to federal authorities, Sreerama said he expected to be repaid.

“I made a loan to Chris Oliver,” Sreerama said. “Why would I go to a federal authority when I made a loan, expecting him to pay it back to me?”

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Public-works-director-Karun-Sreerama-steps-down-11656430.php.

I don’t know about you, but if the FBI had approached me and I hadn’t done anything wrong, I would politely tell them no thanks. Commentary thinks most folks would agree with me on this.  Nobody that I know of his buying his take on this.

The Chron E-Board has a take today on the petitions the Houston Firefighters gathered. Here is how the take starts:

“Excuse me, ma’am, do you like firemen?”

That was the opening line, the conversation starter used by a fellow approaching baseball fans outside Minute Maid Park. In his hand he held a pen and a petition. His appeal sounded simple: Sign a sheet of paper calling for a referendum that would give a pay raise to Houston firefighters.

Anybody who’s followed the issue closely knows it’s not that simple. Still, a lot of Houston voters who instinctively support firefighters may not know that. And unless somebody mounts a campaign to spread the word, this misguided referendum could pass without a serious debate about its fiscal consequences for Houston taxpayers.

This petition drive is the latest development in a long-running contract dispute between city officials and the firefighters’ union.

And then this:

Firefighters apparently had no problem gathering signatures on their petitions. The city secretary’s office still must certify they’ve collected enough valid signatures from Houston voters, but it seems almost certain this issue will appear on the ballot in November.

The mayor will have his hands full trying to pass the bond issue crucial to fixing the city’s pension mess. So somebody else needs to organize and raise the money for a campaign to educate voters about what’s wrong with pay parity.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Voters-need-educating-on-HFD-salaries-Pay-dispute-11718454.php.

Nope, nope, nope!

This is the H-Town Mayor’s deal. These guys endorsed his campaign a couple of years ago. Then they had a falling out. The Mayor has to lead the effort to convince voters to vote no. He has to make the case against. Pure and simple if you ask Commentary.

After we got our arses handed to us yesterday, the Skipper had this to say:

“We’re beat up. We’re not in a good spot right now. There are a lot of guys in there that are battling.”

Yep. That’s karma for you. That’s what happens when a money grabbing, price gouging, greedy baseball team sticks it to 100 of its most loyal customers.

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