This is not the kind of story candidates like to see written about themselves.
Houston mayoral candidate Roy Morales told a group of voters in March, “I manage the Head Start program.”
The claim by the retired Air Force lieutenant colonel was untrue, which Morales acknowledged to the Chronicle last week.
As an elected Harris County Department of Education trustee, he leads a committee that monitors the agency’s management of the federally funded preschool program. The agency is responsible for only a quarter of the Head Start programs in the county.
Since February, Morales has made several campaign assertions about his work experience that appear to inflate his record.
Morales served in the Air Force from 1980 to 2003, then became chief technology officer for the Houston Emergency Center. He has been a self-employed business consultant since 2005.
His work evaluations from Air Force and city government supervisors consistently portrayed him as an exceptionally valuable performer, whether on homeland security projects or as a creative developer of solutions to information technology problems.
But until he was prompted by the Chronicle last week, Morales indicated to voters he left the emergency center on 2005 on his own accord. In truth, he was fired.
His supervisor at the time, Sharon Counterman, listed no reason in an April 8, 2005, letter telling Morales his services would not be needed after May 20, 2005. Morales submitted a June 1, 2005, resignation letter and later that year launched the first of two unsuccessful campaigns for City Council.
“I resigned,” Morales said in an interview. Prompted by a mention of his supervisor’s letter, he added, “She didn’t fire me; she said my service were not going to be needed.” Shown a copy of the letter and told that it meant Counterman fired him, Morales remarked, “She did.”
Morales, 52, said his departure came because of his disagreements with city officials about how the 911 call center should operate. The center’s early operations were plagued with shutdowns; Morales blamed the problems on faulty systems and plans acquired before his arrival.
On his previous statement about his role with the Head Start program, Morales said, “Did I say ‘managed’? I didn’t mean ‘managed.’ ”
I suppose it depends on what the meaning of “is” is, right? I’ll have to go back and listen to the interview I did with Morales for the 2007 At Large #3 special election again, but the subject of his time with the Emergency Center and his disagreements with them did come up. Seems to me that it would have been easy to tell the truth about his termination there in a way that fits nicely into his overall narrative as a candidate – someone who isn’t afraid to buck the conventional wisdom and go against the grain, which he as the only Republican in this race clearly does. He could have made his firing into a positive, a badge of honor. But he didn’t do that, and now he’s faced with this. One could understand a reluctance to address the subject, and if that were the only thing he’d been less than forthcoming about, it might not be that big a deal. Put together with the other fibs, though, and it’s hard not to see a pattern. I have a feeling future candidate forums are going to be a bit more challenging for him.
On a tangential note, this article was written by Alan Bernstein, who will be leaving the Chron to take a job in the Sheriff’s office. If this is his swan song, it’s a pretty good one. Congratulations and best of luck with the new gig, Alan.