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
A formal investigation of the Houston Community College recommends a criminal probe of at least one sitting Houston Community College Board Trustee, and recommends an axe be taken to exorbitant legal fees.
Dolcefino Consulting was hired in July by independently elected Board Member Dave Wilson to begin a review of HCC ethical practices.
“While we were working, HCC has already blown more than a quarter of a million dollars investigating itself, again,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “In typical HCC fashion the taxpayers don’t have a clue what they have done. It’s a swamp Washington would be proud of.”
Wednesday morning, HCC Trustee Dave Wilson was joined by Dolcefino to publicly release the first report and recommendations for an ethical cleaning of the tarnished education institution.
“We have spent a lot of time fighting with the Houston Community College over records. They don’t want you to see the truth, cuz it is ugly,” says Dolcefino. “We decided it was time to go public. Some of the fixes would be obvious to a kindergarten student.”
“I have paid for this review out of my own money because I respect being a public servant,” says Wilson. “HCC will remain a sick institution if we do not find our ethical compass. I am just one vote, but I promise to be a loud one for transparency and accountability.”HCC_REPORT
Expensive secrets. Why?
Why are Ventura County District Attorney Greg Totten, and Patricia Murphy, the Presiding Judge of all the Ventura County Superior Courts fighting the search for the whole truth about the cost of a decades old court case?
“It’s time California taxpayers start asking some real tough questions,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of the Houston based investigative communications firm Dolcefino Consulting. Dolcefino is a long time investigative journalist who has exposed public corruption in dozens of cases. “Both the Judge and the District Attorney have some explaining to do.”
Dolcefino Consulting has been investigating how much California taxpayer money has been spent in the last few years fighting to keep secrets about a 28-year old misdemeanor court case. You have probably never even heard of it.
Now you will.
Sean Mireskandari was one of England’s most powerful lawyers and was investigating public corruption in London when his trouble started. The Solicitor’s Regulation Authority (SRA), the English version of our state bar, took away his license, in part because they claimed Mireskandari was a convicted criminal based on a 28-year old fraud case suddenly unearthed in Ventura County, California.
But what really happened?
Mireskandari called the investigation by the SRA in England a hit job, even accusing English investigators of perjured testimony. A criminal complaint was filed here in Houston. There’s even harsher criticism for the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, allegations they falsified the true results of the case. Mireskandari says he simply admitted not properly registering a company, hardly a reason to take away his law license.
Mireskandari has accused members of the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office of accepting payoffs from England to help frame him. There is a big fight over whether the Ventura County court records are even real. Mireskandari has spent over a million dollars in the legal fight to prove he was framed.
“If there’s nothing to see here, why is the District Attorney’s Office playing so many games to keep records on this case a secret. We have been fighting with Ventura County for months. Why? Makes you real curious,” says Dolcefino.
Ventura County has spent an awful lot of California taxpayer money fighting to keep the whole Mireskandari story a secret, fighting our requests for public records, withholding important e-mails. Why fight, if there are no secrets?
One of the mysteries in the Mireskandari case is the old court record itself. Mireskandari hired top investigators to try to find it. They couldn’t. It was gone. Suddenly, more than a year later, those key court documents reappeared, supposedly found by a veteran Ventura County prosecutor by the name of Linda Groberg.
When did the old court records turn up? Right as Groberg was being forced to give sworn testimony in the lawsuit. There are accusations the new court record was a fake.
Those are serious charges.
Ventura County District Attorney Gregg Totten says he’s tough on corruption in his own office, but when we asked to see the records of the internal investigation in this case, we got nothing. Why wouldn’t the DA order a probe to get to the bottom of the charges?
To prove the court record was a fake, Mireskandari filed suit against the Ventura County Superior Court Clerk. That federal case has lasted for years and Ventura County brought in two big California law firms, Jones & Day and Cummings, McClorey, Davis and Acho, P.LC., to defend them.
So where are those bills? Just how much California tax money has been spent in this fight? We asked the law firms. We asked the courts. We asked the District Attorney. We asked the Presiding Judge.
All we got is a rather nasty letter from the Court Executive Officer, Michael Planet, telling us that the court “does not have any judicial administrative records responsive to your requests.”
“You’d think we were asking for state secrets,” says Dolcefino. Where are the bills? Did the law firms do it free? They really are simple questions. Taxpayers have a right to know. Period.”
The legal bills from the federal case may be a secret, but we do know Ventura County taxpayers already spent $74,000 dollars paying outside law firms to represent District Attorney Greg Totten’s office in this curious case. County attorneys also spent years on the case.
We asked to speak to Totten about the corruption charges leveled against his office and the growing cost of this decades old court case. His deputy told us no. The District Attorney has so far refused to even talk with us.
“Wouldn’t you think the District Attorney would want to clear the air on this case if there is nothing to see here,” asks Dolcefino? “They aren’t. They are fighting us big time. In my world that’s a big red flag.”
A funny thing happens when you look deeper into the high-stakes Menger Divorce Case playing out in Houston. There are new questions about possible pay to play politics in the Harris County family
In these big divorce cases it is usually about the children and the money. One of the largest assets in the Menger case before Judge Lisa Millard is the company Petro-Valve, Inc., a multi-million- dollar valve supply company in the oil and gas industry. In early 2016, Marek Menger was ousted as the company’s president and replaced by his soon-to- be ex-wife, Sherry Menger.
The ouster came after charges of reckless spending by Marek Menger while he was boss, driving the company into financial trouble as he continued to spend his self-proclaimed fun money while living in Cabo San Lucas and took lavish trips. Since Sherry has run the company, it has returned to profit and the ability to expand.
That wasn’t enough good news to keep Judge Millard from appointing a receiver to oversee all of the couple’s companies. If Petro-Valve, Inc. was profitable and poised to remain so, why did Judge Lisa Millard appoint a receiver to oversee, not only Petro-Valve, but the couple’s other three companies? That sends a message that could threaten the business operations and scare customers away.
It gets more curious.
Millard appointed Houston based forensic accountant, William Stewart Jr. to act as the receiver in the Menger divorce. Just six weeks later, Stewart was already out of the case. For just those six weeks, Stewart’s billed more than $50,000. Millard told the Mengers they could challenge the cost, if they want to spend more money on legal fees.
Why would a judge appoint a receiver to manage a profitable company? Why so little oversight of the bills?
Stewart is a frequent donor to Judge Millard’s campaign. More than $6,000 since 2005.
We already told you another court payment went to Jeffrey Uzick, appointed by Millard as a master in the case to oversee evidence. Uzick and his law firm are an even bigger contributor to Millard, $21,000 over the same period.
Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but next time you go family court, you might want to look at the judge’s campaign records first.
Jurors in Galveston have handed a major legal victory to the oyster companies fighting a major takeover of Galveston Bay.
After a two-day trial in Judge Lonnie Cox’s 56thDistrict Court, the oyster fisherman were awarded nearly half a million dollars in legal fees in their fight against S.T.O.R.M., an oyster company that tried to orchestrate the lease of half of oyster beds.
To this day, the Chambers-Liberty County Navigation District has refused to rescind their lease to STORM for 23,000 acres of Galveston bay bottom. Several courts have ruled the lease illegal, and Judge Cox was instrumental in stopping STORM from harassing other oyster boats when he ruled the bid to control Galveston Bay Oyster reefs was illegal last year. The trial was set to assess whether the oyster companies could recoup legal fees.
“This was an illegal lease from the start,” says attorney Cris Feldman of Houston based law firm Feldman and Feldman. “STORM sought to take control of the public resources that belong to all Texans. They threatened the livelihoods of hundreds of Texas fishermen. Today’s ruling goes a long way to begin to repair the damage to their businesses.”
S.T.O.R.M. or Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management is a company created by Ben Nelson and Tracy Woody of Smith Point. Nelson was a political power broker in Chambers County, and Woody is a local Justice of the Peace.
“We are honored to have helped expose this political deal and the damage it has done to the Texas oyster crop,” says Feldman.
During this long fight oyster companies were afraid to plant the material needed to create new oyster beds. The oyster population in Galveston Bay was already at risk because of recent tropical weather.
A funny thing happens when you start investigating the folks who get appointed in Harris County Family court cases. They seem to give a lot of campaign money to the Judges who appoint them.
Let’s look at the controversial Menger divorce case in Judge Lisa Millard’s court. Menger was ousted as CEO of the Houston Based Petro Valve company. Millard appointed attorney Jeffrey Uzick to serve as a discovery master and special master in the Menger divorce. In Texas, masters can resolve disputes instead of the Judge.
Before Millard was elected , Uzick had represented clients in the court only eight times in eleven years during In the twenty-two years Millard has been sitting on the bench in the 310 th District Court, Uzick has appeared in a case before the 310 th approximately 194 times.
Maybe it is just a coincidence, or the search for good justice, but Uzick and his law firm have been one of Judge Millard’s biggest political contributors. Since 2005 Uzick and his law firm
have donated $21,000 to Judge Millard’s campaigns.
Uzick saw no connection and reason to even comment. No surprise there. Judge Millard didn’t return phone calls for comment either.
Here is a piece of great non-lawyer advice. Next time you go court, take a look at the campaign records of the Judge. See how much the lawyers on the other side of the case have given.’’
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.
Texas Tech University is stepping up the battle to keep secrets about the investigation that led to the firing of popular football Coach Mike Leach.
The University is asking the Texas Attorney General to keep all the records secret.
“The people who pay the bills at Texas Tech are the students, parents and taxpayers,” says Wayne Dolcefino President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Maybe the Regents should get a refresher course in the public right to know. They are acting like we are looking for the body of Jimmy Hoffa.”
In recent days, Dolcefino Consulting has learned Texas Tech University fired Coach Leach without even completing an investigation into the alleged mistreatment of a player. Now, they don’t even want you to see what they actually did do before they slimed the reputation of a guy who led the Red Raiders to their best season ever.
“It is time for the truth to come out,” says Dolcefino, “All of it. Good or Bad. What’s the University afraid of?”
Coach Leach says the University still owes him $2.3 million dollars under his contract.
Dolcefino Consulting has asked for financial records and e-mails in a growing review of possible waste, fraud, and mismanagement at the University. Texas Tech Regents are trying to hide phone records. We have also asked for documents detailing payments to former Chancellor Kent Hance since his resignation. The University now claims he is still a part time employee.
In letters to the Texas Attorney General, Texas Tech lawyer Ronny Wall complains Dolcefino Consulting has asked for the records to pressure Texas Tech to pay Coach Leach.
“First of all, Mr. Wall has no business questioning my motives,” says Dolcefino. “The law makes that quite clear. Second, the records belong to the people of Texas, including the good folks in Lubbock. What are they hiding?”
Supporters can sign the petition at PayCoachLeach.com . The website also has a way to leave tips about possible misconduct at Texas Tech University.
Dolcefino Consulting has issued subpoenas for e-mails of Maya Ford, a close confidante of Mayor Sylvester Turner. It is the latest development in the fight to expose e-mails surrounding City of Houston garbage and recycling contracts.
Ford was an advocate for ECOHUB, the recycling system that would seriously cut the cost of Houston garbage pickup, turning trash into new manufactured products. The company had arranged private money to finance the first plant. The City of Houston was on the verge of finalizing a contract when Turner took office and quickly killed the deal.
Since last December ECOHUB has been trying to expose bid rigging and possible corruption in the awarding of recycling contracts. Dolcefino Consulting has been fighting with Houston City Hall over public records detailing communications between City Hall and big garbage companies.
“We know Maya Ford sent e-mails to the Mayor and other top City Officials alleging Houston Solid Waste Boss, Harry Hayes was ethically challenged, showing favoritism to big garbage companies,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. Shame on Mayor Turner for keeping secrets about the way public funds are spent. We already know this deal smells.
Judge Kristen Hawkins is presiding over the legal fight between Dolcefino Consulting and the City of Houston.
“We have been fighting to get records of these lucrative garbage deals for nearly a year. If the Mayor isn’t hiding anything stop playing games.” Says Dolcefino.
Dolcefino Consulting is a Houston based Investigative Communications firm headed by award winning Investigative Journalist and Private Investigator Wayne Dolcefino.