The legal battles continue, but HCC will swear in Dave Wilson today regardless.
Houston Community College has cleared Dave Wilson to take his seat at this week’s board meeting despite legal uncertainty raised by Harris County officials about the trustee-elect’s residency and prior to a possible court ruling on Wednesday that could prevent him from serving.
“Right now, Mr. Wilson has been elected and has taken an oath of office, and there is no prohibition from any court that would prevent him from taking his seat, so – from the perspective of Houston Community College – there is no legal basis at this time to deny him the opportunity to sit as a trustee,” HCC special counsel Gene Locke said on Tuesday.
Locke clarified that HCC did not participate in the controversy about where Wilson lives.
“HCC has not involved itself and is not involved in the legal issue regarding his residency,” he said. “It is a matter between the County Attorney’s office, appropriately, and Dave Wilson. We will abide by the outcome of any judicial proceeding regarding his residency.”
Most immediately, county officials are focused on a pending request that could prevent the trustee-elect from serving.
“We anticipate that the court will making a ruling on that on Wednesday,” said Robert Soard, the county attorney’s first assistant. “We’re asking the judge to order him not to participate until a judge has had an opportunity to hear evidence from both sides.”
He added that HCC’s decision has no impact on the case filed by Ryan.
“The restraining order only applies to Mr. Wilson. It does not apply to the Houston Community College or the board of trustees,” Soard said. “The restraining order was to prohibit him from taking office. We believe he violated that restraining order because he has stated he has taken the oath of office.”
Operating as a trustee on Thursday would be a further violation, according to Soard, who has stated previously that the HCC board would be irreparably harmed if Wilson takes office and casts votes while the courts decide if he is eligible to serve.
So just to clarify here, there’s the original restraining order, which barred Wilson from taking the oath of office, an order that he ignored, and there’s the lawsuit over his residency, for which there was a hearing on Monday, with another hearing to consider additional filings next week. With me so far? The lawsuit is in the court of Judge Mike Engelhart, but the hearing on the TRO, which was granted by Judge Elaine Palmer, will be heard by Judge Brent Gamble. If HCC is going to seat Wilson tomorrow, then I’m not sure what purpose the TRO, if it gets extended, would serve. I’m also not sure what will happen if Judge Engelhart eventually rules that Wilson is in violation of residency requirements. Have I mentioned that it would be nice to have an agreed-upon standard for this sort of thing that could be enforced in a timely fashion? Because that sure would have been nice to have here. We’ll see what the courts give us today. Stace has more.