Two Fort Bend Independent School District board members are accused of intentionally withholding public records in the hours before a controversial rezoning vote.
Dolcefino Consulting has filed formal criminal complaints against Kristin Tassin and Dave Rosenthal for refusing to turn over phone records detailing school district business.
The complaints were delivered to the Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton Monday afternoon.
“The public right to know is fundamental to the operation of school districts,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “These complaints are a direct result of the arrogance being shown by members of the School Board. It will not stand.”
Tassin went on Facebook calling parents and little children bullies after members of the Riverstone community protested the secretive process being used to justify the rezoning. Dolcefino Consulting sent Tassin and other members of the Fort Bend District multiple requests for records, including phone records, text and photo messages. Tassin opened our e-mail request on March 1, 2019 but refused to even sign the certified letter detailing the same request. She has produced no documents.
Board Member David Rosenthal wants to be reelected, yet he ignored our request to produce his school district related phone calls. These phone records are not in the custody of FBISD and that is why we directed our requests to the elected officially individually. Dolcefino Consulting plans to file additional complaints in the coming days.
“The remedy for this intentional withholding of public information is a complaint to the District Attorney, and I have signed the necessary documents to initiate a criminal investigation,” says Dolcefino. “We take the issue of transparency seriously.”
Parents have accused the Fort Bend ISD Board of using false data and potential violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act to justify the rezoning of children at Fort Settlement Middle School. FBISD plans a vote on the rezoning tonight, while they withhold e-mails detailing the backroom dealings, citing in part the Spring Break holiday for the delay.
“We have called on FBISD to delay any vote until all these public records are available to the parents and taxpayers who actually pay the bills for this secrecy so we can prove this is pure politics and a community vendetta,” says Dolcefino. “This should be a primary issue in the upcoming May school board elections. If the people who serve forget who the bosses are, they should resign or be thrown out of office.”
Dolcefino Consulting has already called on Tassin to resign after her attack on parents.
PARENTS FIGHTING THE REZONING WILL MEET WITH THE MEDIA AT 6:00 PM OUTSIDE SCHOOL DISTRICT HEADQUARTERS.
Houston City hall must cough up records detailing the employees of Houston’s biggest hurricane contractors.
Late Friday afternoon, the Texas Attorney General turned down Mayor Turner’s requests to hide records of payments to DRC and Tetra Tech, disaster companies getting a huge chunk of the $75 million already paid to outside contractors in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
Last December, Dolcefino Consulting asked for documents detailing the use of payments from the City of Houston to DRC, Tetra Tech and Leidos Inc. since August 1, 2017. Houston City Hall said no.
“We also asked for documents showing employees or contractors of the companies that have been paid with City of Houston funds, because it is my experience that government official’s buddies end up on the payroll of companies after disasters,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “You would think Houston City Hall would be proud to show people how every dime of their disaster money is spent, but they don’t. Of course, with this mayor, nothing really surprises me anymore.”
In January, Dolcefino Consulting documented more than $100,000 in campaign contributions to the mayor from vendors benefiting from Hurricane Harvey contracts, even though billions of dollars more is still to be doled out.
“Every single penny should be spent on helping Houstonian’s get their lives back to normal and every single penny should be accounted for,” says Dolcefino. “Hurricane victims have a fundamental right to know who is making money off their misery and if we lived in a city with transparency, we would require all disaster companies to detail their personnel, their contractors and their lawyers because the money is often well hidden.”
The City of Houston has ten days to turn the records over or file a lawsuit against the Texas Attorney General.
Shame on the Fort Bend Independent School District.
Fort Bend ISD is set to vote as early as Monday evening on the highly controversial and totally unnecessary plan to rezone children from Fort Settlement Middle School.
At the same time, Fort Bend ISD is stalling the release of public records that parents deserve to see. Guess what their excuse is?
“It is the height of arrogance that these elected public officials may actually try to push this sham through before the public gets to see how this sausage was made,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Houston-based Dolcefino Consulting. “They should do nothing until they comply with the public right to know. If they vote, they should all face the consequences at the ballot box and at the courthouse,” says Dolcefino.
One thing is public already. Fort Bend ISD has hired outside lawyers to fight the request for e-mails about the mistreatment of Riverstone parents, instead of just turning them over for free. That’s a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.
“School Board Member Kristin Tassin whined in a Facebook post this month that requests for public information by parents, the people who actually pay to operate the school district, would take resources away from educating kids, and now she is guilty of wasting public resources hiring outside lawyers to try to keep her records secret,” says Dolcefino. “What a hypocrite.”
Tassin had also made religious attacks on Facebook about non-believers in Jesus recently. The Riverstone community is extremely diverse, a reflection of a Fort Bend County that is increasing in minority non-Christian communities.
Fort Bend School Board members have not released a single public record requested by Dolcefino Consulting and have ignored requests for their personal phone records detailing Fort Bend ISD business.
“We have made it abundantly clear that we are preparing to file criminal complaints to enforce the public right to know, just as we have done on other occasions,” says Dolcefino. “Every single Fort Bend ISD trustee is already in violation of state law. We have notified the Fort Bend County District Attorney of this critical issue of transparency.”
After parents complained about the lack of transparency in the rezoning case, Board Member Tassin called the moms and dads and their little children bullies after they held a news conference outside school district headquarters.
“Any member of a school board that doesn’t respect the absolute right of parents to fight for their children shouldn’t be there,” says Dolcefino. “Parents all across Fort Bend should be up in arms. This is not just about one neighborhood. The school board is telling parents that the bureaucrats know what’s best for their children.”
If Fort Bend ISD goes through with this vote Monday, they will do it in front of hundreds of angry parents. Dolcefino Consulting will keep the media advised of our plans for the Monday evening school board meeting.
We are losing track at the number of ways ESD #11 taxpayers are being taken to the cleaners by their ambulance contractor CCEMS.
Wait… we just found 106,000 more ways.
Cypress Creek EMS is a charity. CCEMS has filed lawsuits against Dolcefino Consulting to keep charity financial records a secret. Today, they told a Houston judge they have spent $106,000 in legal fees, just to keep secrets from the public. And that is just in this one case.
“Funny, CCEMS could have just refused to turn over the charity records and it wouldn’t have cost a penny in 911 funds,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Of course, the last time they did that the Harris County District Attorney charged them with a crime. So instead, CCEMS uses the courthouse to try to retaliate against my firm for their criminal troubles.”
The only losers here are the 600,000 folks who live in ESD #11. Texas law says charities must have their financial records available for inspection. What’s the big secret at CCEMS?
“That’s $106,000 spent on a lawyer that could have been used to buy medical supplies and drugs, so the next time you get an ambulance bill from CCEMS, you will know why it is so high. You elected ESD safety commissioners to safeguard the millions in tax dollars you spent on ambulance service,” says Dolcefino. “They should resign. They can no longer claim they didn’t know you were getting ripped off. They obviously don’t care.”
We estimate CCEMS may have already spent a half a million dollars filing lawsuits against Dolcefino Consulting just to keep secrets.
Dolcefino Consulting has now hired Houston lawyer Jeff Diamant to seek legal fees from CCEMS to stop this retaliation. The firm also plans to file a new criminal complaint.
A court hearing has been scheduled for early April to hash out the latest funny business coming out of Mayor Turner’s City Hall.
For now, State District Judge Steven Kirkland chose not to get involved, clearing the way for the City of Houston to open enrollment Monday morning for the new CIGNA health insurance plan for forty thousand City of Houston employee’s families.
A Houston tax payer cried foul on the huge new contract, claiming the Mayor stacked the cards for CIGNA in a health insurance contract that will cost taxpayers millions more than it needed to. That taxpayer is also Vice President of United Health Care, the company calling the Mayor out.
One of the allegations is that CIGNA was given information about medical claims that United wasn’t given and that only CIGNA got to make a final best offer.
But why would city hall ever play favorites? Isn’t it supposed to be what’s in the best interest of taxpayers and city employees and their families?
Getting the health care contract right is important. More than $400 million in claims. That’s a ton of money.
Lawyers for the taxpayer told the Judge this is the city’s mods operandi: Wait till the last minute to vote on the contract then complain that any problems don’t need to be fixed because it would jeopardize city employee’s health. The insurance policy for Houston City Employees lapses at the end of April.
It’s hard not to notice that the Mayor’s close friend Cindy Clifford was in the room during the vote. Clifford was the head of Mayor Turner’s Inaugural Committee. She’s been on the winning side of a curious number of big city contracts since then. She is also the lobbyist for CIGNA.
Clifford was also the lobbyist on a multi-million-dollar airport contract just pushed by the Mayor. We’ve been raising a stink about Clifford for months. Clifford constantly claims in sworn lobbying reports that she hasn’t spent a penny on Mayor Turner or his family, despite photos on Facebook and Instagram that prove otherwise.
Houston City Attorney Ron Lewis has ignored our complaints. So has District Attorney Kim Ogg. The April court date could be ugly, if United proves up the Mayor tried to cheat taxpayers to help his friends at CIGNA.
Forty- four thousand City of Houston employees and their families have health insurance, and it costs Houston taxpayers a fortune to provide it. In 2019, the budget for health benefits is $435 million.
That’s huge money.
Tomorrow, a Houston taxpayer named Darryl Chapman will ask a judge to stop the new contract with Cigna, calling it an illegal procurement, rigged from the start to make sure they won. The court hearing is scheduled for 1:00 pm in Judge Steven Kirkland’s court.
One of the allegations is that Cigna was given information about medical claims that another company United Healthcare wasn’t given.
But why would city hall ever play favorites? Isn’t it supposed to be what’s in the best interest of taxpayers and of city employees and their families?
It’s hard not to notice that the Mayor’s close friend Cindy Clifford was in the room during the vote. Clifford was the head of Mayor Turner’s Inaugural Committee. She’s been on the winning side of a curious number of big city contracts since then.
City records show she’s the lobbyist for Cigna. The Mayor pushed through the Cigna deal today, even after learning the legal action had been filed.
“I think everyone will agree, anyone can file a lawsuit,” said Turner during a meeting of Houston City Council. “Until a temporary restraining order is put in place and the requisite bond filed, there is nothing that precludes this body or anybody from proceeding.”
Of course, that could also mean Houston taxpayers will likely pick up another legal tab down the road to clean up the Mayor’s latest smelly business deal.
There’s a growing pattern of complaints that this Mayor is picking winners and losers, long before we are supposed to pick them in lucrative city contracts.
We’ve been raising a stink about Clifford for months, since she constantly claims in sworn lobbying reports that she hasn’t spent a penny on Mayor Turner or his family, despite photos on Facebook and Instagram that prove otherwise.
Houston City Attorney Ron Lewis has ignored our complaints. So has District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Makes you wonder who else is getting a piece of this huge financial pie?
The scandal plagued Northwest Harris County 911 Ambulance Charity Cypress Creek EMS has a new legal problem today.
Dolcefino Consulting is now asking State District Judge Ursula Hall to make the ambulance company pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees for its non-stop attempts to stifle scrutiny of the so-called charity ambulance company.
CCEMS already faces criminal charges for refusing to detail millions of dollars in payroll paid for by ESD 11 taxpayers and has wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees fighting our requests to inspect their charity financial records. The criminal trial is scheduled for late April.
“It is time for CCEMS to be held accountable for its gross misuse of public 911 funds,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “ESD 11 taxpayers are paying millions more in taxes they need to pay because CCEMS is squandering these life-saving funds.”
Last month, KPRC Investigates proved a CCEMS manager was running a private car repair shop out of the ambulance facility for cash payments. As a result, Dolcefino Consulting requested records detailing all the car parts bought with charity funds. CCEMS immediately went to court to stop us.
“The ESD 11 Commissioners have sat on their hands like ostriches while CCEMS blatantly rips off taxpayers. These commissioners now have two choices: Either stop this grotesque conduct or face a petition to remove them from office for sheer negligence,” says Dolcefino.
“We have been hit with lawsuit after lawsuit by these ambulance bullies to try to stop us from exposing their racket,” says Dolcefino. “Not only will it not work, we want them to understand there are financial consequences.”
CCEMS financial records have also been sought as part of an ongoing FBI fraud investigation. The charity also faces a civil lawsuit over allegations of bid rigging in the choice of the company that handles ambulance billing. That company is run by the wife of a CCEMS top official.
The ESD 11 Board meets Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m. at CCEMS Headquarters in Spring. It is time for the public officials elected to watchdog the 911 service do their job.
We are watching.
Before you move to Weston Lakes, we have a warning.
Some of the beautiful acreage where dream houses are built is slowly disappearing.
A lawsuit by retired couple Joe and Jill Nixon against the Weston Lakes Property Owners Association documents a nightmare.
“We’ve lost, let’s see, our lot was 1.6 something acres. We’ve lost what they estimate to be an acre of land,” says Jill Nixon. “We’re going to lose our home. No matter what Wayne, we’re going to lose our home.”
Weston Lakes has not only refused to fix the bad drainage problem, they have been raising dues for all the homeowners to pay lawyers to fight the Nixon’s. The couple says several other homes will likely face the same fate.
What’s worse is the evidence the City of Weston Lakes knew this was a problem before the Nixon’s invested their golden years there.
“We are sounding the alarm. The pretty promotional videos about Weston Lakes don’t include the part where they don’t do the right thing for the people who choose to invest their lives there,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of the Houston based Investigative Communications firm Dolcefino Consulting.
“Every real estate agent in Fort Bend County should warn their customers about rising dues to pay for the result of bad planning and bad drainage,” says Dolcefino.
“Every other homeowner in Weston Lakes should demand the Nixon’s be made whole, just like they would want their property protected. This is a homeowners association that simply doesn’t care and everyone who invested there should demand protection.”
The Nixon’s lawsuit is in Fort Bend County Court. The family is available for interviews.
“We tried to warn the City of Weston Lakes, but they ignored our calls. The frustrated Nixon family has hired us to warn all potential homebuyers,” says Dolcefino. “We will be glad to update this story when Weston Lakes does the right thing and show they care about the people who invest there. In the meantime, we will sound the alarm.”
“Every time it rains, it’s a nightmare,” the Nixons tell us. “Is today they day the fence falls in or is today the day the house slips over the edge?”
You don’t see that on the Weston Lakes promotion video or their town website.