A three-member panel led by Mayor Annise Parker has found insufficient cause to believe Councilwoman Jolanda Jones breached council ethics violations documented in a city investigation.
In a four-page report, the panel also criticized the Office of Inspector General investigation for its “lack of thoroughness” and for finding in some cases that Jones broke rules that do not even apply to her as an elected official.
Though the report notes some concerns about Jones’ behavior, it largely clears her of any violations of city rules and ends all inquiries into whether Jones used her city resources to support her private law practice.
The panel, on which Councilwoman Sue Lovell and Councilman C.O. Bradford also sit, came to an agreement with Jones that requires her to remove her council phone number from the card. The agreement also calls for her to conduct ethics training for her staff, to take steps to separate her council business from her law practice and to create records that show any employee who drives her to court is not doing so on city time.
The panel could have sent the matter to the entire council for possible sanction that could have included removing Jones from office. But the panel declined to forward the matter, and its action today concludes an eight-month saga that produced little physical evidence of violations of law beyond a single business-related fax sent from her council office fax machine.
You can see the panel report at the link above. Last week, the DA declined to bring charges against CM Jones in the matter, so this was the last item on the to do list. At the time, Mayor Parker said she wanted to defer till after the election, but CM Jones wanted to get it done, so I presume the Mayor acceded to her wishes. May we not see any reason for another ethics panel for a long time.