Houston City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones, the subject of a city inspector general investigation, has filed a Texas State Bar grievance against City Attorney David Feldman.
Jones’s spokeswoman, Kelly Cripe, would not provide a copy of the grievance, but she said the complaint relates to how Feldman has handled the investigative and panel-review process that has put Jones in the hot seat. Among the concerns:
– The Office of Inspector General is still questioning Jones’ former staff members, despite the fact that it released supposed conclusive findings of its investigation in June. The findings said Jones used city resources for her private law practice and did not cooperate with investigators. For the last two weeks, Jones, Mayor Annise Parker, and council members Sue Lovell and C.O. Bradford have been embroiled in meetings over those findings. So we’re not sure how they can hold a review if the OIG is still questioning witnesses.
– The investigation’s “smoking gun” proving that Jones used city resources to further her private practice is a three-page fax that was not part of the OIG’s original findings and did not materialize until last week. Cripe says the fax was an emergency motion for continuance for a client of Jones’ who had been hospitalized with a stroke and would not be able to make a scheduled court hearing. Although investigators are now questioning staffers from as far back as 2008, this emergency motion is the only evidence Jones has been confronted with.
– For the first two months of the investigation, Jones was not made aware of the nature of the allegations, or who brought them, yet she and her staffers were still asked to give sworn statements. Jones’ attorney had to file an open records request to find out why she was being investigated; only after the city’s lawyers sought a State Attorney General’s opinion that they provided Jones with a copy of the complaint.
Feldman, for his part, says he has not been notified of any complaint filed against him, and he trades counteraccusations with her. I’ll just say this much: We need a resolution to the original issue, and we need it Real Soon. I realize this is the first time this ordinance has been used, so I suppose we can’t have any expectations about how long it “should” take, but it sure doesn’t seem like it should be taking this long. Let’s get this done so we can get past it, OK? The Chron has more.