The Harris County District Attorney has filed a sealed court motion to recuse her office from further investigation into a Dolcefino Consulting criminal complaint filed against Mayor Turner for hiding e-mails.
Judge David Mendoza, the ethics counsel for Kim Ogg informed us of the decision Thursday.
The reason: Dolcefino Consulting served as Communications Advisors to Ogg in her campaign for District Attorney.
“One of the reasons I wanted to help Ms. Ogg become District Attorney was because of her promise to me to be aggressive on issues of public integrity. If I had known then she would seek to recuse herself from investigations involving my firm I would have told her no,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “I find it odd that when my office complained on a powerful Democratic politician our Democratic DA got a sudden case of conflict of interest.”
Dolcefino Consulting accused Turner of hiding e-mails with Maya Ford, a virtual goddaughter to Turner, and the beneficiary of consulting contracts since Turner took office. Ogg’s office has been sitting on the complaint for 5 months, and there is no evidence they’ve even asked City Hall to show them the e-mails.
“In my view, the District Attorney is already in violation of the law too, since it required them to respond within a month to our complaint,” says Dolcefino. “Houstonians should be asking some tough questions about public integrity in this town.”
Judge Mendoza says the Turner case also became intertwined with the prosecution of Cypress Creek EMS for violating state charity laws. The Northwest Harris County Ambulance company faces criminal charges stemming from a complaint from Dolcefino Consulting after refusing to turn over payroll records for 911 employees. Ogg has now asked for a special prosecutor to take over that case, even though it has been ongoing since she became District Attorney fifteen months ago.
The FBI is probing possible fraud in the 911 service in ESD #11 and employees of CCEMS recently testified in front of a grand jury.
“It is no secret my office has been highly critical of Ms. Ogg’s alleged office of Public Integrity,” says Dolcefino. “Kim Ogg has now been District Attorney for fifteen months.”
Records obtained by Dolcefino Consulting show Ogg’s office waited five months to tell the Houston Independent School District after we formally complained some Democratic school board members were hiding phone records. By the time HISD turned over the records, the phone records we wanted had been discarded. The DA let them get away with it.
Early this year Ogg’s office falsely claimed our complaint about Democratic HCC Board Member Adriana Tamez was unfounded. Dolcefino Consulting turned over hours of video surveillance and utility records proving Tamez did not live in the District she was elected to represent. The Public Integrity Unit claimed they did a thorough investigation, but refused to turn over records showing the public what they did or didn’t do.
“Our District Attorney has the authority to initiate investigations without a formal complaint, but those are their rules. Now, when my Investigative Communications Firm complains, they play games, and now want to hand off the hot potatoes,” says Dolcefino. “In this town, a growing number of people are hiring us to help get them justice. Ms. Ogg could have chosen to help us clean up the town, but she isn’t.”
DA Kim Ogg should recuse office
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg remains silent on Mayor Sylvester Turner’s illegal withholding of city e-mails sent on a private server. She has ignored our request for an interview.
“The idea that the District Attorney hasn’t already picked up the phone and told the Mayor to release the e-mails he is hiding is sad,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “The silence from Ms. Ogg is deafening. Taxpayers are watching. Mr. Turner is routinely conducting city business on an outside e-mail server and he’s hiding them.”
Dolcefino Consulting has filed a formal criminal complaint that Turner is hiding e-mail communications with Maya Ford, the Mayor’s goddaughter. Ford started a media firm called Ford Momentum, three days before Turner got elected and got a number of City Government related contracts. Ford also detailed allegations of ethical misconduct by the City Garbage Director in e-mails to the Mayor.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is already said to be reviewing the misuse of city e-mails by the now former Press Secretary, Darian Ward.
“It personally pains me to call her out. It is now time for Ms. Ogg to recuse her office and select a Special Prosecutor to investigate the transparency violations at City Hall,” says Dolcefino.
At least some of the e-mails the Mayor is hiding concern the scandal plagued recycling contract, won by Spanish Company, FCC. One of the biggest owners of FCC is George Soros, whose Political Action Committee contributed $250,000 to the Ogg campaign. Ogg has recused her office in other cases with much smaller political contributions involved.
“As someone who worked to helped get Ms. Ogg elected, I am personally and professionally disappointed she hasn’t lifted a finger to get City Hall to follow the law, Dolcefino said. “I have zero confidence, and I mean zero confidence in the Public Integrity Unit.
Some of the e-mails the City is illegally withholding have been kept from the public for more than a year. The Mayor has ignored repeated requests to let the sunshine in.
Dolcefino Consulting has notified Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg we are filing a criminal complaint filing against Mayor Sylvester Turner, accusing him of illegally withholding public e-mails.
The e-mails at question involve Turner’s communications with his political confidante Maya Ford, who detailed possible ethical misconduct by city garbage boss Harry Hayes and big landfill companies.
Houston City Council today approved the recycling deal, despite evidence the city rigged the bid to exclude a company called Ecohub. Even the day before the bid was released, top city officials were warning it would exclude companies.
Ecohub founder George Gitschel had worked with the city for nearly six years on a plan to reduce garbage routes and save the city up to $40 million dollars a year. Gitschel even offered to share profits with the city to help get pay raises for Houston Firefighters.
“The Mayor has betrayed taxpayers today,” says Gitschel. “I worked with the city for years in good faith and kept my word they would be the first Ecohub in the country. I am disgusted and will fight to uncover the truth. Houstonians should be outraged at the secrecy. This deal is smellier than a landfill.”
Ecohub hired Dolcefino Consulting in December of 2016. For more than a year, the city has fought the release of records on city garbage contracts, even ignoring a Judge’s order to produce them for inspection last week. Instead, the city is using your tax-money to fight the release of records.
“Let me be clear. This is not the final chapter of this fight,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “I heard the Mayor says no one has questioned his transparency and fairness. Well we are, and we have notified the Mayor we are asking the District Attorney to do her job and subpoena these records immediately. We have proof he is hiding damaging records that protect his communications on an e-mail account registered to his law firm.”
On November 30, 2017 Dolcefino Consulting requested all e-mails sent between Turner and Maya Ford on any device since January 1, 2016.
The Mayor provided just a handful of e-mails.
“We have a smoking gun that he didn’t give them all to us,” says Dolcefino. “This is a mayor who didn’t fire his press secretary when she was caught covering up e-mail evidence she ran her production company on city time and city equipment. Guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”
City council approved the 20-year deal with foreign recycling company FCC. Only council members Brenda Stardig, Mike Knox, and Michael Kubosh voted against the contract.
Councilman Michael Laster, who chairs the city council committee that reviewed the deal said he would have voted no as well, if he had been at the meeting.
“Every Council member who voted for this contract while this charade of secrecy exists will wear this ethics vote,” says Dolcefino.MAYOR-TURNER-CRIMINAL-COMPLAINT-01-10-2018
COH RESP DOCS 12-6-17
4 - Re TWEF Vendor Inclusion
a - Fwd CONFIDENTIAL IMPORTANT Full Story
b - Fwd FOLLOW UP ONE BIN FOR ALL
c - Fwd Thank You!
– Company asks for criminal investigation into Turner’s handling of emails Email
– Criminal complaint filed against Houston mayor after controversial $37M recycling contract approved for company
On Wednesday, January 3, 2018, Mayor Sylvester Turner wants Houston City Council to approve the secretive recycling contract with a foreign company FCC.
This $37 million-dollar, twenty-year deal is riddled with secrecy. The Mayor has illegally withheld public records, even from his own e-mails.
Dolcefino Consulting and ECOHUB filed a lawsuit to compel production of the records. The Mayor is spending tax money to fight the Judge’s order. The Mayor has refused to release the scoring sheets, or the names of the City employees who chose the company the Mayor wants. The proposed contract with FCC is being kept secret too.
ECOHUB isn’t the only company raising questions. Waste Management has headquarters here. 1,000 employees. They want to know how the world’s largest recycling company lost out in experience to FCC.
New court documents show the Mayor’s confidante, Maya Ford ignored legal requests to see her records. Ford called the court motion “silliness.” Ford e-mails already show she made allegations of possible ethics violations against City garbage boss, Harry Hayes. A court hearing to compel the records is set for January 30, 2018.
“Any City Councilmember who votes to approve this contract while the Mayor fights to keep this smelly deal secret is making a choice that will haunt them.” That is a promise, says Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting. “Council should delay this vote until the records are made public. Taxpayers have a right to know the truth, whatever it is.”
Dolcefino Consulting has confirmed the FBI has begun interviewing former city employees involved in the recycling case, including the Mayor’s former Press Secretary, Janice Evans who fielded questions from the media about possible bid rigging in the contract.
ECOHUB was finalizing a contract to save the city up to $40 million dollars a year in garbage costs by recycling all the trash into new products when Turner came into office and killed the tax saving contract. There is evidence the Mayor wanted the company to be cut out of a new bid.
ECOHUB had almost $800 million dollars in private financing to build their plant, at no cost to Houston taxpayers, and promised to share profits.
“We will watch to see if any member of Council moves to delay this vote until the Mayor comes clean with the records”, says Dolcefino. “It is time to see who has the ethics to fight for taxpayers.”
New Houston City Hall e-mails detail efforts to rig a scandal plagued recycling bid set for a vote next week.
The e-mails obtained by Dolcefino Consulting offer the latest evidence Mayor Turner wanted to exclude Houston based ECOHUB from even having a chance to compete, despite the promise of hundreds of jobs and drastic reductions in the cost of garbage pickup.
Just one day before the City Hall issued the bids, Economic Boss, Andy Icken, had been kept in the dark about the final language. “RFP for recycling out tomorrow. Want to be sure this encourages maximum participation including ECOHUB.” Hours after the Icken e-mail, there was more evidence key City officials had been ignored. Icken writes, “Can we discuss concerns raised to me by Chris B and Steve Costello?” The proposal would have required ECOHUB to have an existing plant. The Mayor knew they did not and ultimately would be disqualified.
Deputy Director, Chris Butler, had been paid through a Bloomberg foundation grant to lead the ECOHUB effort, complained the terms in the proposal “cause some concern as they may be used to exclude certain proposals.”
ECOHUB founder, George Gitschel, filed a complaint just days after the City issued the proposal. The Turner administration simply ignored the protest for four months, never even responding to the detailed bid rigging complaint.
“Doesn’t that sound familiar,” says Dolcefino Consulting President, Wayne Dolcefino. “This is a Mayor who is fighting the release of e-mails that will document possible misconduct in the garbage department, is spending your tax money even fighting a Judge’s order to produce e-mails kept secret for a year.”
E-mails we do have, show an effort from the beginning to exclude ECOHUB from a fair shot at the contract, even though the company promised to save Houstonians $40 million dollars a year.
In April, former Chief Procurement Officer, John Gillespie was told Solid Waste Officials were against expanding the scope of the proposal, as it was their understanding, the Mayor did not support a “One Bin” type proposal. Hours later Houston garbage boss, Harry Hayes reported the “Mayor had declared One-Bin dead.”
The big question is WHY? ECOHUB had won an exhaustive bidding process unanimously, promising to reduce the wear and tear on garbage trucks by two-thirds, even offering to share profits with the City by recycling all trash into new products.
Houston City council members, Michael Kubosh and Steve Le ignored political threats to delay the vote before Christmas. Several council members want the e-mails released, but the Turner administration ignored State District Judge Kristen Hawkins’ order to produce the documents for her review.
The Mayor continues to illegally withhold government e-mails sent or received on his personal e-mail account, including warnings from a top advisor warning about possible sweetheart deals for landfill companies.
In June, the Mayor announced he wanted to award the contract to a foreign company called FCC, even though the contract would violate Houston First provisions. Waste Management, with thousands of employees and headquarters in Downtown Houston are also publicly complaining about the recycling deal.
“The Mayor has chosen secrecy over transparency. You got to ask yourselves. Why? says Dolcefino. We don’t even have the names of the City employees who evaluated the deal, or their scoring sheets. They should be released immediately. I’ll hold my breath.”
The vote on the 20-year recycling contract is set for next week. The e-mails identified in this report are available to the media upon request.
Mayor Sylvester Turner has now doubled down on secrecy, fighting a Judge’s order to turn over e-mails about a controversial recycling contract
The City Legal Department filed a notice of appeal late Thursday, clearly trying to hide the records until the 37-million-dollar contract with FCC is voted on by Houston City Council sometime next month.
‘The Mayor is showing his true colors. If this 20-year contract is such a great deal for Houstonians, let’s see the records”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. The Houston based Investigative Communications Firm sued the City to release records.
‘Every voter should be outraged. He’s spending your tax money to hide e-mails sent on computers you paid for, written by people who work for you”, says Dolcefino. “Maybe the Mayor has forgot who he works for.” Shameful.”
The recycling contract has stirred dramatic showdowns at Houston City Hall. A growing number of councilmen are saying they would support delaying the contract until the documents are released.
Dolcefino Consulting was hired to investigate and expose possible bid-rigging for this new contract. E-mails already show Mayor Turner and Solid Waste Boss Harry Hayes led an effort to make sure Ecohub couldn’t win the contract if they tried to bid. Ecohub was in the final stages of negotiating its own contract with the City before Turner came into office.
EcoHub had private money to build an 800 million-dollar plant that would have employed hundreds of Houstonians. The company wanted Houston’s garbage to recycle into new products, saving up to 40 million dollars a year by using just One Bin. Ecohub had even offered to share profits with the City to help pay for Hurricane Harvey cleanup and critical needs in the Houston Fire Department.
Instead, the Mayor killed the deal, kept Ecohub in the dark while bidding a new deal. The Mayor wants FCC to win the contract, a Spanish company owned in part by Democratic financier George Soros.
No word on when the appeal will be heard.
Dolcefino and Ecohub are being represented by Attorney Stewart Hoffer, of the law firm Hicks-Thomas.
“We know the City has been illegally keeping public records a secret, sometimes ignoring requests for months, says Dolcefino.
The vote on the FCC Contract is scheduled for January 3, 2018.
Dolcefino is available for interviews on Friday, December 21, 2017.
ECOHUB press conference video to delay Houston recycling contract vote with George Gitschel joined Houston attorney Stewart Hoffer and Wayne Dolcefino.
ECOHUB Founder George Gitschel joined Houston attorney Stewart Hoffer and Wayne Dolcefino, President of the Dolcefino Consulting firm at a Friday afternoon news conference to press for transparency before City Council is scheduled to vote on the deal.
Gitschel, The founder of Houston based ECOHUB, wants the scandal ridden Recycling contract vote delayed.
The press conference followed the court ordered production of e-mails the City of Houston has been fighting to keep secret, including e-mails from Mayor Sylvester Turner’s private e-mail account.
Judge Kristen Hawkins told City lawyers she is deeply troubled with the way the City has followed laws requiring the disclosure of public records. Judge Hawkins will inspect thousands of documents the City wants to withhold, including e-mails that will help show possible bid rigging and charges of possible corruption in City of Houston garbage contracts.
Following the court order, Houston City Councilmember Michael Kubosh was the first to call for a delay in the recycling contract vote until the e-mails are made public.
“It is time to find out why ECOHUB was kicked out of the chance to win this contract,” says Kubosh. “It is the right thing to do.”
ECOHUB has accused the Turner administration of rigging the recycling proposal to keep the company from participating. Turner killed a nearly completed contract with ECOHUB, even though the company was offering to save the City of Houston up to $40 million dollars a year in garbage costs.
The court order compels the City of Houston to produce e-mails illegally withheld from Dolcefino Consulting and ECOHUB by January 5, 2018. The judge has also ordered the City to turn over for her inspection, thousands of e-mails the Texas Attorney General has allowed the City to keep from the public.
“This is a major victory for the public’s right to know,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Houston taxpayers owe a debt of gratitude to Stewart Hoffer of Hicks Thomas law firm. I know we do. They have fought for transparency at Houston City Hall.”
At a court hearing this week, Hoffer proved the City was improperly hiding e-mails, including documents that detail possible bid rigging and ethical misconduct by Houston garbage boss Harry Hayes.
ECOHUB is a recycling firm that has offered to save the City of Houston up to $40 million dollars a year in recycling costs, eliminating two-thirds of garbage routes and the need for landfills. Instead of taking advantage of the offer to even share profits, Mayor Sylvester Turner has opted instead to give tax breaks to a Spanish firm and wants to give them a 20-year contract even though they will cost Houstonians millions more than necessary.
“It is not too late to delay this vote, so that Houstonians will know the whole truth,” says George Gitschel, founder of ECOHUB. “We stand ready to help Houston save millions of dollars and help the environment at the same time.”
The Mayor is scheduling a City Council vote on the controversial FCC Contract for Wednesday morning, despite growing complaints by Council Members that the process of picking the company is flawed. One of FCC’s owners is political power broker George Soros.
Judge Hawkins also reminded City lawyers the Mayor must turn over recycling records from his private e-mail account requested by Dolcefino Consulting.
“Judge Hawkins should be commended. Her ruling is a victory for the public right to know, for transparency, and for good government,” says Dolcefino.
Please contact Wayne Dolcefino at 713-360-6911 for interviews.
Dear Mayor Turner and Esteemed Council Members, we demand that you cancel the fatally flawed recycling contract being considered by the City Council. It’s a bad deal for Houston’s citizens that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. We want to support the environment, but we don’t want to pay a garbage tax to support business as usual.
We urgently request that you start a fair comprehensive zero waste bidding process, which must allow all options, including One Bin approaches, to be considered side-by-side under the same evaluation criteria.
Only then will we be assured that Houston residents are getting the best deal possible for their pocket books and the planet.
This petition will be delivered to:
Mayor Sylvester Turner
Council Member Stardig
Council Member Davis
Council Member Cohen
Council Member Boykins
Council Member Martin
Council Member Le
Council Member Travis
Council Member Cisneros
Council Member Gallegos
Council Member Laster
Council Member Green
Council Member Knox
Council Member Robinson
Council Member Kubosh
Council Member Edwards
Council Member Christie
The world’s largest international construction company has a message for Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. It is a message that could mean millions of dollars coming back to Houston taxpayers.
Grupo ACS has reaffirmed its support for the ECOHUB project. The support came in a letter delivered to the Mayor and all members of Houston City Council just days before curbside recycling service are set to resume. The letter should make it harder for City Hall to keep trying to cut ECOHUB out of any city business.
GRUPO ACS has annual revenues of $39 billion dollars.
ECOHUB and the City were in final contract talks to take all garbage to an $850 million dollar privately financed facility to create new products. The program could literally end the need for landfills, but Mayor Turner killed the deal.
There’s growing evidence the Mayor help structure a new recycling proposal that would cut ECOHUB out of the competition. ECOHUB founder George Gitschel has loudly cried foul, filing a bid rigging complaint the Mayor simply ignored for months. ECOHUB and Dolcefino Consulting are now suing City Hall for keeping public records a secret. E-mails sent or received by the Mayor’s close confidante Maya Ford have now been subpoenaed in the case. In the few e-mails that have been made public, Ford detailed allegations of possible ethical misconduct against Houston Garbage Boss Harry Hayes.
Houstonians have been asking questions too.
ECOHUB has promised to share up to $16 million dollars in profits with the City every year, in exchange for the city garbage. Taxpayers wouldn’t have to invest a penny in the plant. ECOHUB says they could cut garbage routes dramatically, saving Houstonians up to $40 million dollars a year; money which could be used for firefighters and Hurricane relief the first year the plant is open.
The obvious question, why would that offer be ignored by the Mayor?
“It is time City Council grasps the chance to make millions of dollars for taxpayers,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “It is time to do the smart thing. Who turns away millions of dollars?”
Mayor Turner recently selected a foreign company to handle recycling, but there were allegations of favoritism. City Council wanted the contract talks reopened. Hurricane Harvey pushed the recycling scandal out of the headlines, but with recycling starting up again, the contract will be back in the news.
“With evidence of possible bid rigging, it is time for the Mayor to reopen negotiations with ECOHUB, or to simply start all over so that every company has an equal chance to compete with the best technology.”
The letter from ACS suggests Hurricane Debris should make the City rethink the future of recycling.
“Millions of tons of waste from Hurricane Harvey… present new important facts for our City to consider in its decision,” says Carlos Ramiro Visser, Chief Executive Officer from ACS Industrial Services Inc.