Houston Mayoral Candidate Ben Hall called on Mayor Annise Parker to stop the political abuse and apologize to Houstonians for wasting their tax money.
“Once again the Texas Supreme Court has had to remind this Mayor that her personal agenda cannot deny people the right to vote,” says Hall. “Her attempt to confuse voters on the HERO ballot is just another game and taxpayers should say enough is enough.”
Hall is the only mayoral candidate who has opposed the HERO ordinance, leading to growing endorsements from the faith community across the city.
Under Mayor Parker, “shadow governments” in some Houston neighborhoods are flush with taxpayers’ cash and doing deals that are walking conflicts of interest.
Take the $200 million Uptown Bus Project. That is the plan to tear up and widen Post Oak under the theory thousands of people will suddenly stream to 14 more buses even though the ONE that runs down the street now is rarely half full.
Early this year, some Uptown officials started admitting what critics already knew. Some of the people pushing the bus project will make millions on the deal. They own property that will have to be purchased for the street widening project. Millions of dollars. Uptown Chairman Kendall Miller will likely make millions. Other Uptown Officials have refused to admit if they will get a real estate payoff.
“Taxpayers are starting to wake up and smell the bull,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “These politically appointed officials are controlling tens of millions of taxpayer dollars and have inherent conflicts of interest. Do we really want neighborhood bosses using our money to make themselves money? We don’t get the profits. They aren’t even elected by the neighborhood!”
Uptown spent more than $165,000 in recent months on a PR campaign to try and sell the bus deal, and to calm the growing public belief this bus project is a huge waste of money. Uptown told us they even hired a special lawyer to make sure this deal was all on the up and up.
Now we know all that transparency talk was just that. An e-mail obtained by Dolcefino Consulting shows Uptown wants to hide not only the appraisals on the properties but what they agree to pay for the property they buy with your money. The e-mail was sent in June from Uptown lawyer Stephen Wood to Board member Jonathan Zadok.
“I did a little research and I believe that we can keep the prices we pay for land confidential until the project is complete. We might be challenged on that, but we will probably take this position, if asked.”
So the next time Uptown President John Breeding talks about transparency…remind yourself what they say in private.
When politicians know something is a bad deal for taxpayers they try to avoid talking about it.
That is what METRO is now doing about the expensive Post Oak Bus Boondoggle planned for Uptown.
METRO is formally refusing to say how much of YOUR money they have spent on the Post Oak Bus project.
Dolcefino Consulting asked the simple question weeks ago, and now METRO’s expensive outside lawyers are telling them to keep the information secret because METRO is getting sued by Uptown property owners.
METRO is facing growing questions about whether they can even legally participate in the plan to tear up Post Oak for two exclusive bus lanes. Even some METRO Board Members are wondering out loud if the money train to consultants should be shut down until the Texas Attorney General rules.
Public reports say METRO has squandered $40 million on the failed plan to put rail down Post Oak. Now METRO won’t say just how much more have they have spent on the controversial bus project.
“It is sad METRO has chosen secrecy,” says Dolcefino Consulting President Wayne Dolcefino. “The public has a fundamental right to know how their money is spent. Period. If the Metro lawyers think that hurts their case in court that should tell taxpayers a lot. METRO should also reveal just how much they are paying every hour for this enlightened advice.”
METRO is supposed to release ridership numbers for the proposed Post Oak Bus project this week. Dolcefino Consulting has already proven Uptown was exaggerating ridership numbers when they claimed 14,000 people would be using the bus lanes by 2018.
Sylvester Turner announced he wants to raise the City of Houston revenue cap–That’s how career politicians hide their requests for tax increases in politician speech.
“Turner will raise taxes on Houston families,” says Houston mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “Houstonians are paying enough. They demand City Hall be more efficient and accountable.”
Turner has outlined his plan to raise taxes to hire more police. But the community should look at what he did not say and why!
- Ben Hall wants a civilian review board, with subpoena powers, to add transparency to probable police disciplinary violations. Turner is silent.
- Ben Hall wants video recordings of police confrontations reviewed within 24 hours by an independent panel. Turner is silent.
- Ben Hall wants to allow the public to be able to file sworn complaints at public libraries and other city buildings if they feel intimidated by the police. Turner is silent.
- Ben Hall will post sustained excessive force complaints against police online by badge number. Turner is silent.
- Ben Hall will require drug and alcohol testing of every officer who uses deadly force that causes death or serious bodily injury to assure the public no improper influences contributed to the use of such force. Turner is silent.
There is a reason for the silence!
“Sylvester Turner is a career politician who has long been financed by the Houston Police Union,” says Hall. “Special interests have ruled Houston long enough.”
Houston Mayoral Candidate Ben Hall today unveiled his comprehensive plan to promote accountability of Houston Police Officers to the public in the wake of heightened distrust of law enforcement across the country.
“Too many of our children are dying at the hands of police under questionable circumstances and too many citizens simply do not trust the police,” says Hall. “Such distrust will only lead to more bad consequences, and more funerals.”
“Let me be clear. Both citizens and the officers of the Houston Police Department are entitled to respect. We need police to protect us from criminals. Our officers’ loved ones want them to come home safe at night, and we need to ensure encounters between police and our communities do not begin for the wrong reasons or end in unnecessary death.”
To enhance more trust and respect, Hall released his initiative called L.E.A.P. — which stands for Law Enforcement Accountability Policy:
LAW ENFORCEMENT ACCOUNTABILITY POLICY
I. An effective and independent Citizen Police Review Board will be empaneled. This nine member board will be empowered with subpoena power, and will have three members chosen from the community, one member from the business community, two members from the judiciary, two members from the law enforcement community and a member representing the Mayor’s office.
II. Houston Police Officers will be required to appear before the Citizens Police Review Board on probable violation cases to directly answer questions about departmental policy violations lodged against them.
III. Every HPD officer interacting with the public on the streets will be equipped with and required to wear a body camera, with open microphones, to record every interaction. Any deliberate attempt to compromise the recordings will be grounds for disciplinary action, including termination.
IV. Every HPD officer will be required to provide his/her badge number upon being request to do so by any citizen, unless doing so would jeopardize the safety of the officer or another. The badge number must be provided, however, as soon as is reasonably possible without posing risk to the officer or another.
V. Confirmed excessive force complaints against officers will be posted on-line by badge number, along with a summary of the complaints and findings.
VI. Any police officer using deadly force that causes death or serious bodily injury will be required to submit to immediate drug and alcohol testing. A positive test will be grounds for immediate disciplinary action, including termination.
VII. Houston Police Officers will not become unreasonably rude or escalate conflicts with the public, nor shall they intentionally place themselves in harm’s way to invite the use of deadly force.
VIII. Any Houston Police Officer who covers up for another officer’s wrongdoing will be held accountable for the same violation as the offending officer for whom he or she covered up.
IX. Dash Camera and Body Camera video of any altercation in which a citizen is charged with assault on a police officer or resisting arrest will be submitted to and/or reviewed by the Citizen Police Review Board members within 24 hours after written reports are filed.
X. Sworn complaints against any Houston Police Officer may be filed at any public library or public city building. Citizens who file false complaints on law enforcement officers will be investigated and charged with the crime of filing a false report.
We no longer have the luxury of absolute trust of police officers. This is a regrettable fact, but one that needn’t persist. With these policy enhancements it is hoped that the deserved trust of out police officers will be re-established.
Houston Mayoral Candidate Ben Hall will hold a news conference Tuesday, August 11th at 2:00 pm to unveil a comprehensive accountability policy for Houston Police.
Hall’s announcement comes amidst new protests in Ferguson, Missouri and another controversial police shooting in Arlington, Texas.
“Too many of our children are dying at the hands of police under questionable circumstances and too many citizens simply do not trust the police,” says Hall. “Houston needs to lead the nation on reform so that police encounters do not begin for the wrong reasons or end in unnecessary deaths.”
Ben is uniquely qualified to lead this reform. As a former City Attorney under Mayor Bob Lanier he understands the cost to taxpayers of litigation relating to alleged police brutality. As a private attorney he represented Chad Holley in a police brutality case.
To enhance trust and mutual respect, Hall will detail his initiative called L.E.A.P. — which stands for Law Enforcement Accountability Policy.
Full details of the plans will be released tomorrow, and L.E.A.P. will include mandatory body cameras and a Civilian Review Board with subpoena powers.
The news conference will begin at 2:00 pm at the Hall Law Firm at 530 Lovett Blvd. Media inquiries should be directed to Dolcefino Consulting at 713-389-0810.
Some folks just don’t want to play by the rules.
When the Chambers Liberty County Navigation District cut a smelly deal to give a local politician a virtual monopoly of the oyster crop in Galveston Bay, audio tapes proved they violated state transparency laws.
So the Navigation District voted again a few months ago, and this time they refused to let the public hear a tape of the public meeting where they did it.
On August 5th, 2014 the Texas Attorney General ruled the navigation district should cough the tape up. The Attorney General cited the law that seems pretty easy to translate, even for those appointed navigation commissioners who appear to need a refresher course on the Texas Open Meetings Act.
“The minutes and recordings of an open meeting are public records and shall be available for public inspection and copying on request to the governmental body.”
As of August 11, 2015 Dolcefino Consulting is still waiting.
“The failure of the Chambers County Attorney and District Attorney to force the navigation district to follow the law should be an eye opener for voters in Chambers County”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “I know they are big on home cooking down there in Anahuac, but perhaps they should put down the cookbooks and pick up the law books.”
The State of Texas sued the navigation district last week alleging the oyster deal was illegal. The head of the company that worked out the deal with CLCND is Judge Tracy Woody, who gets a salary from taxpayers even though he rarely goes to the courthouse.
Some folks just don’t like to play by the rules.
Mayoral candidate Ben Hall says Houstonians have simply had enough.
“Mayor Parker misleads voters on the rain tax, tries to deny people the right to vote on the HERO ordinance, and now when the highest court in the state tells her to just stop it, she acts like a spoiled child and plays more games.”
Hall called on Houston City Council to change the ballot language immediately.
“The Mayor wanted ballot language to confuse voters. That speaks volumes about this Mayor and why Houstonian’s should reject all career politicians.”
Houston Attorney Andy Taylor will hold a news conference Friday morning, August 6th to announce a NEW legal challenge to the ballot language for the November HERO Election.
“This Mayor continues to demonstrate an embarrassingly callous disregard for the Constitution,” says Taylor. “We warned her that the ballot language she insisted upon was dead on arrival from a legal perspective. Parker has left us with no choice but to ask the Texas Supreme Court to send her another clear message.”
Wednesday the Houston City Council voted to put the HERO ordinance question on the ballot, but the Mayor decided to play games with the language in an effort to confuse voters on the effect of a “Yes” or “No” vote.
The Houston City Charter specifically requires the Mayor City Council to submit HERO in such a manner that it shall not take effect unless a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon at such election shall vote in favor thereof. This, if a voter is in favor of HERO, they are supposed to vote “Yes,” while a voter who is against HERO is supposed to vote “No.” But that’s
not what this lawless Mayor did. To the contrary, she intentionally reversed the ballot language in such a way that a vote in favor is a “No” vote and a vote against is a “Yes” vote. The ballot language will force voters to vote on whether to repeal the ordinance, rather than voting on whether to adopt the HERO ordinance.
“This double negative ballot language is no accident. Parker knows polls show most Houstonians are against the HERO ordinance, but they will have to now vote yes. It is confusing, even to members of City Council and the Mayor knows that. It is sad she continues to waste taxpayer money playing games.”
Obviously time is of the essence in this writ of mandamus action. The proper ballot language must be in place before the end of the month to get absentee ballots prepared.
The news conference will be held at 10:00 am at the Hilton Post Oak, 2001 Post Oak Blvd.
A powerful state lawmaker asked the attorney general to decide if digging up Post Oak for bus lanes is a violation of the 2003 election where voters chose rail.
“I don’t know how much money we are spending on a regular basis on this project, but we might wait on that ruling before we spend very much money,” says Metro Board Member Diann Lewter.
Uptown officials just keep spending: $150,000 in three months just on the PR campaign. More on lawyers and consultants.
That begs the question. If the project is ruled illegal, who is going to pay the taxpayers back? Will Mayor Parker?
METRO officials are now admitting they don’t even know if buses will be able to maneuver down the two lanes as designed, and Uptown ridership projections are being reviewed after Dolcefino Consulting showed them to be inflated.
“We already know some of the people who want to tear up Post Oak stand to make money on this deal, and with these new questions it is time for the Mayor to tell her Uptown friends to pull the plug,” says Jim Scarborough of the Uptown Property Owners Association.
METRO is set to release new ridership projection in mid-August.