If you saw Wednesday night’s rather sensational coverage of the allegations that Metro CEO Frank Wilson had an “improper” relationship with an employee, you would have come away with the impression that things were about to go all Chuck Rosenthal at that agency. But if you read this Houston Politics post about that hearing, you might wonder what all the fuss is about.
During Wednesday’s hearing in the open records lawsuit against the Metropolitan Transit Authority, an attorney for lawyer and former City Controller Lloyd Kelley acknowledged that he had no witnesses ready to testify that the transit agency had destroyed specific documents his client had requested.
Instead, attorney Michael West told state District Judge Al Bennett that Metro couldn’t be trusted to comply with the court’s order not to destroy any documents. West also said he could produce witnesses who would testify that Metro officials — particularly its chief executive, Frank Wilson — had strong motives to hide or shred documents Kelley wanted to see.
When Bennett questioned West about this, West stated in open court that Wilson had a “personal relationship that is inappropriate” with his chief of staff, Joanne Wright.
When I asked West later if by “inappropriate” he meant a romantic or sexual relationship, he said he wasn’t certain.
So Kelley has no witnesses to testify that any documents or emails he’s requested have actually been destroyed as he’s loudly been alleging for weeks now, and the best he can do is produce someone to testify that Wilson had motive to destroy documents – the documents he can’t find anyone to say were destroyed – because these documents might have to do with an inappropriate relationship, the nature of which he’s not sure about. It sounds a lot less sensational when you put it that way, doesn’t it?
This doesn’t mean that documents weren’t shredded, or that Wilson didn’t have an inappropriate relationship with Wright. All the things Kelley is alleging may be true. But he’s not acting like a man who has evidence of the charges he’s made, he’s acting like a man who’s hoping to find evidence of them. Those are two different stories.