Turner

We have a big thank you for Mayor Turner. When Dolcefino Consulting President Wayne Dolcefino was the investigative reporter at Channel 13, he just hated him. Now it seems Sly has moved on to a new journalistic target. He now hates the station’s current investigative reporter, Ted Oberg.

At least he’s consistent.

We can’t imagine why he’s mad at Ted. At a City Hall news conference that is must-see TV, Turner accused Oberg of being some sort of biased political operative. Actually Mayor, Ted is only calling you out because your political deals stink.

Mayor Turner wanted a Virginia company to get a $35 million Hurricane Harvey victim housing contract even though the company has been sued by the State of Louisiana for messing up the Hurricane Katrina cleanup. Louisiana politicians call them the “crème de crème” of awful. Can he be mad about that?

Oh, we know why he’s sore. Channel 13 dared to question the familiar folks riding the political gravy train on hurricane relief, especially the lawyer the out of town folks are going to use.

It’s Barry Barnes, the Mayor’s former law partner – and get this:

When the contract proposal was reviewed by a City Council committee, Barnes’ firm stood to make about $2 million. Suddenly, in the few weeks before City Council acted, somebody decided they needed a bunch more legal work than they had originally thought. The new sticker price? $7 million.

Turner points out that his buddy Barry got contracts from government before he was Mayor. He’s absolutely right. Remember that Barry Barnes’ partner was then State Representative Sylvester Turner and their law firm got paid millions of your tax dollars. We are sure it was just qualifications and not buying political influence.

The Mayor tells us he doesn’t tell contractors who to choose to help on city hall contracts, so maybe this Virginia based disaster relief company just got lucky. I bet they had no idea who Barry Barnes was – maybe they just liked his firm website.

Have you noticed the Mayor gets really cranky when you question the way he’s spending our money?

We are going to ask for all the records that explain how the Barry Barnes piece of the pie exploded in recent weeks.

We will bet you Mayor Turner will fight it. He will try to hide the records. Use City of Houston lawyers to fight it in court. That’s what he does.

Maybe now we know why he seems to hate firefighters so much. They dared to question.

Mayor – don’t blame Ted. Look in the mirror.

Mayor Turner and his anti-firefighter folks owe Houston’s heroes an apology!

The Protect Houston PAC, that’s funded by the mayors cronies, put up a campaign sign right in front of the Southwest Inn that says, “Vote Against Prop B.”

Can we stay stupid? This is the motel where a blaze took five Houston firefighters lives.

What a slap in the face to Houston firefighters and their families. The mayor owes the families of these fallen heroes an apology. He owes an apology to Houstonians for attacking people who save lives every darn day.

The mayor addressed the issue at the end of city council meeting Wednesday. All the mayor said was the sign was taken down and we need to be respectful.

There was no apology from Sly. That speaks volumes.

“Who is getting fired for this? Be respectful is not good enough, especially for the families of these dead firefighters. Someone needs to be held accountable for this.” Said Wayne Dolcefino, president of Dolcefino Consulting. “The mayor has crossed the line. He can’t even say he’s sorry? What a guy.”

The mayor seems to think the anti-firefighter sign wasn’t anything really different than the pro Prop B sign placed near the crosses to mark their sacrifice.

“Hey mayor, I got a hunch these dead firefighters would be on the front lines fighting for fair pay. Trying to find some moral equivalence tells Houstonians all they need to know”, says Dolcefino.

Maybe Houstonians will send a message to Sly on November 6th.

Houston lobbyist Cindy Clifford thinks Sylvester Turner is the best Mayor in the land. At least that’s what she claims on Instagram all the time.

No accounting for taste, but here is a chance for the “Best Mayor in the Land” to prove ethics matters. A chance for him to prove my suspicions wrong.

Order an investigation into Cindy Clifford today to see if she’s breaking the law on lobbying reporting. We are waiting.

Houston City Hall lobbyists have to register and account for the money they spend trying to influence our public officials. Cindy Clifford is a lobbyist for some big players, including Republic Waste, Yellow Cab, Kelsey Seybold, Comcast, Cigna, Andrews Kurth, RPS Klotz Associates, HOK, and SP Plus Corporation to name a few.

When we were investigating that plum hand-picked government job the Mayor’s daughter Ashley Turner got from Lone Star College a few months ago, we noticed on Instagram Cindy Clifford had hosted a party, along with CenterPoint Lobbyist Elizabeth Brock, to celebrate the cool $85,000 a year job Ashley got without having to go through the trouble the rest of us do competing with anyone else.

Maybe Clifford and Brock think Ashley is the best Mayor’s daughter in the land.

We also found this invitation to Ashley’s 30th birthday party in January 2017, hosted again by guess who? Cindy Clifford and Elizabeth Brock.

On July 4th, 2018, Cindy Clifford hosted a fireworks party the Mayor attended, and after Christmas there’s yet another Clifford hosted party where the Mayor and the Police Chief both came. Food and Drink count in lobbyist reporting by the way, but Cindy probably knows that.

“I love parties, and I know the Mayor is itchin’ to come to my next bash,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Oh, wait a minute, I am not trying to influence him to give me and my clients contracts. Think he’ll say no?”

Cindy Clifford also hosted a luncheon on May 8th, 2017 for someone who isn’t related to the Mayor but is clearly an important public official in her own right.

Marvalette Hunter became Mayor Turner’s Chief of Staff on April 3, 2017, and Cindy, who already thinks Sylvester is the “best Mayor in the land” must have been all exuberant that Marvalette was now working for him.

Today we asked to see all the documents showing any expenditures by Cindy Clifford since January 1, 2017. There aren’t any.

“So maybe the City Secretary, the City Attorney and the Mayor haven’t read up on ethics laws recently, but did you know it’s a crime to not properly disclose expenditures made to influence city officials and their families,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Oh, I know, Cindy Clifford isn’t a lobbyist when she’s entertaining the Mayor and his daughter, she’s just a buddy who thinks he is the best Mayor in the land and loves the first daughter too. Paleeze. If that’s a loophole there isn’t a lobbyist in town who wouldn’t become convinced this is the “best Mayor in the land.”

Maybe in between attacking Houston firefighters who risk their butts for his family and mine, the Mayor could order an immediate review of all City Hall lobbyists to see who is reporting the money they spend on public officials and their families.

He could direct the Houston City Attorney Ron Lewis to fight for transparency. Oh, wait a minute, Lewis is the City Attorney who has let the Mayor get away with illegally withholding public records.

To be fair, Cindy Clifford is not just a lobbyist. The best Mayor in the land appointed her as a member of the powerful Harris County-Houston Sports Authority and she got a piece of the lucrative Houston airport food concessions contract. Clifford runs a PR firm that must have some expertise in airport food too.

Maybe Dolcefino Consulting should offer to throw a lunch for Sylvester or Ashley or Marvalette. We could post it on social media. Cindy likes to talk about her political entertaining.

“Maybe I could even get appointed to lead the effort to find all the waste, fraud and abuse in city contracts, so we can pay the firefighters what they deserve,” says Dolcefino. “We can start by cutting out any contracts which may be going to his law partner, his college pals, or his friends.”

La Griglia on West Gray is where a lot of important people go to have lunch. It’s where Sylvester Turner’s buddy Cindy Clifford threw a luncheon a few weeks back for Ashley Turner, the Mayor’s daughter.

A celebration of her new job with Lonestar Community College.

Clifford is the chair for the Mayor’s inaugural committee.

Ever heard of the term, “Quid Pro Quo?” – it means, to give so that you will give. In other words, I scratch your back and you’ll scratch mine.

News of Ashley Turner’s appointed job for the community college is raising lots of eyebrows on social media. Let’s see, ya think the Lone Star Folks are buying some connections with the gig for the Mayor’s daughter?

But, back to the food…

Also in attendance at Turner’s back scratching luncheon was Houston First CEO, David Mincberg, and Elizabeth Brock, a lobbyist for CenterPoint Energy. Even Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena was there to congratulate Ashley on her new “job” appointment. Pena was there scratching Sly’s back before he had to turn on his own firefighters on the pay parity fight.

Let’s also not forget about Clifford lobby’s for Republic Waste. Maybe the next time you see the Mayor you can ask why all the hurricane debris, no matter where it was, all seemed to end up in Republic landfills… But, we digress.

You got it – so the Mayor and all his buddies held a fancy celebration for Ashley getting a $84,000 a year government job, a job that no one else even got to apply for, because she was appointed by the Special Assistant to the Chancellor.

So, what’s the next stop on the City Hall “Quid Pro Quo” train?

Stay tuned.

Guess who got the $84,000 a year job? Ashley Turner, the Mayor’s daughter

The Lone Star College System gets an awful lot of your tax money. $161 million dollars in property taxes and another $77 million dollars from State Funds, just in the next year. Much of the rest of their money comes from tuition.

I am sure taxpayers all agree Lone Star should look for the best people to compete for some of these high paid government jobs.

So, is this your definition of competition?

The Special Assistant to the Chancellor at Lone Star College decided they needed to hire a new Executive Director of Community Relations to help manage “external relationships” for the proposed new Lone Star College-North Houston campus. That’s “government speak” for someone to help lobby other politicians.”

The school is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019 pending approval from state and regional government agencies.

Lone Star College even created a fancy job description, but that was a waste of paper, because this wasn’t a job that anyone could apparently apply for, a job where the best person could win.

In Early April, the Special Assistant Quentin Wright sent a memo to the Chancellor that he wanted to “direct appoint” a candidate for the job, even before Human Resources was told a new post was needed. That’s code for let’s ignore the concept of seeing who wants the job.

Guess who got the $84,000 a year job? Ashley Turner, the Mayor’s daughter. Her last job was running a wellness center.

“This isn’t fair to taxpayers and it’s not even fair to the Mayor’s daughter”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.” Cynical taxpayers will think she got the job because the school wants to buy the Mayor’s political help in getting their Aldine area campus approved.”

This is one of the things people don’t like about government. Instead of seeking out the best possible candidates for jobs you pay for, jobs sometimes go to folks who know politicians, or are related to them. It is a horrible practice because it smacks of favoritism.

Turner’s new role will also make her the person who deals with the media in crisis situations at Lone Star College. The school ignored our questions about this new gig.

“Ashley Turner may not have any experience in the media, but hopefully she won’t get advice from her father about public information. Sylvester has made a mockery out of the Texas Public Information Act while Houston Mayor, hiding public records, even ignoring judges orders to produce public records,” says Dolcefino.

Kim Ogg

Kim Ogg candidate photo

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.

Why?

“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.

Here’s why.

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.

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RELATED
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.

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