Archive for September 22nd, 2021

At Messy City Hall 

Commentary doesn’t have a dog in this hunt.  Here is the headline of the lead story in today’s hard copy of the Chron: 

Mayor fires housing director over claims 

Lousy headline if you ask Commentary. It really doesn’t do justice to the Chron article. 

The article doesn’t make the H-Town Mayor look good. 

Let me first say this. I always thought the fired Housing and Community Development Director Tom McCasland was one of the top hires of the H-Town Mayor.  Was I wrong? He certainly popped the Mayor yesterday.  The dude knew he was going to be fired and he went down with a final direct hit on the Mayor. If you are going to go down, you might as well go down on your own terms. 

Here are the most damning parts of the Chron article: 

Mayor Sylvester Turner fired the city’s housing director Tuesday after he publicly accused the mayor of manufacturing a “charade” of a competitive process to steer affordable housing money to a select developer against the recommendation of staff. 

According to state documents, a company listed as a “co-general partner” and “co-developer” with a stake in the deal, Harbor Venture Group, is run by the mayor’s longtime law partner, Barry Barnes, and another partner at Barnes’ firm, Jermaine Thomas. Turner left the firm after being elected mayor in 2015. 

Turner denied wrongdoing and said he fired Housing and Community Development Director Tom McCasland because he lost confidence in him after the explosive allegations, which were delivered in remarks to City Council’s housing committee. 

The mayor said he did not know Barnes was involved in the deal until Tuesday, and did not see anything wrong with his participation. 

“There’s no reason why he should excuse himself,” Turner said. “There’s no conflict.” 

And this: 

The documents McCasland gave council show the Clear Lake project scored lower in the application process, reserves a far smaller share of units for low-income tenants, and costs nearly $170,500 per affordable unit — nearly four times the $44,800 subsidy required for the four deals it replaced, on average. The project also would serve only seniors, whereas three of the four bumped projects are for low-income families, the city’s stated preference for affordable housing investments. 

McCasland acknowledged the mayor has the authority to overturn staff recommendations, but he argued in this case it represented a subversion of a competitive process to benefit one applicant. He said he was not alleging fraud, but said the pattern was emblematic of a broader theme in Turner’s administration, a management style he said drives out public servants dedicated to integrity and creates a “breeding culture for corruption.” 

And finally, this: 

McCasland acknowledged earlier in the day he expected to be fired. He warned that the Turner administration is pushing other “unethical” proposals “that will negatively impact the city,” calling on council members and the public to hold the administration to account, decrying what he called a “do-it-because-I-say-so” culture. 

Here is the entire read: Turner fires Houston housing director who accused him of ‘charade’ bid process to benefit developer (houstonchronicle.com). 

You decide how all this went down. Messy for sure. 

This is kind of a consequence to term limits and those dumb four-year terms.   Accountability doesn’t exist under this system. 

I am sure the “What’s Your Point” folks will have a field day on this on Sunday. We will also probably hear something from the Chron E-Board. 

Eight years ago today, the old Foley’s, err Macy’s building in Downtown H-Town was demolished by explosives. I used to do some shopping there.   

Our magic number is four. 

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