Wonder what they put in the barbecue sauce at Bud’s Pitmaster BBQ?
You know, that barbecue place that got that plum contract to serve food at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
I bet it’s a family secret.
But, since taxpayers own George R. Brown Convention Center, I’m sure you know just how much money Bud’s must pay every month just for the right to have such a captivated clientele.
Don’t know? Neither did we. Under the Turner Administration it’s some kind of state secret.
We’re not kidding.
Houston First runs the GRB and they’re now asking the Texas Attorney General to keep the government contract with Bud’s a secret.
Wait. It gets better.
The folks who run our city don’t even think you have a right to see if Bud’s even pays rent. Seriously. It’s another trade secret, even though it’s your money.
Houston First, Chairman of the Board is David Mincberg. He was the Mayor’s Finance Chairman when he ran for office, so you can guess why he has that gig. Does he really think Houstonians don’t deserve to know who gets food concessions and who doesn’t?
By the way, did we mention Bud’s is owned by Theldon Branch III, a good buddy of the Mayors. Branch is on the Port Commission. He was part of a deal with lobbyist Darryl Carter, another Turner buddy, to get a piece of the lucrative airport concession deal.
So was Cindy Clifford, who chaired the Mayor’s inaugural ball.
We could on and on…
Talk about the Mayor’s goddaughter getting a consultant contract on the new train, or his daughter getting a lucrative contract for a proposed new community college.
“But barbecue secrets, really. The Mayor should call his political appointees at Houston First and order transparency for the menu for a change, but he won’t” said Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting. “Houston First is already acting like a political slush fund, so why should we be surprised they think knowing how much money we are making back from all these restaurant real estate deals is a trade secret.”
Want to hear something else funny. Mayor Turner authored the Texas Public Information Act. Wonder if he read it first?
A big hearing in Houston federal court Monday October 22nd for Houston real estate developer Vinod Ramani, the Chief Executive of Urban Living.
A jury found Ramani guilty of taking someone else’s ideas and making money off them. In the legal world, that’s called copyright infringement and violations of the digital millennium copyright act (DMCA).
It would be hard to call what happened an accident. The jury found Ramani had violated the “dmca” more than 11,500 times, and Monday’s hearing will determine how big of a check Ramani has to write.
The punishment for each violation ranges from $2,500 to $25,000. Do the math.
Ramani could be hit with damages that could be as high as $280 million.
Houston residential design firm Preston Woods and Associates sued Urban Living and Ramani.
Urban Living had claimed they owned the rights to many architectural works used in projects around Houston. Turns out they didn’t. The rights belonged to Preston Woods and Associates.
Stay tuned. The judgement could send shock waves through the Houston real estate world.
Taking other people’s stuff and claiming it’s your own is wrong.
Let’s see if the judge will stay true to what the jury wants and hold Ramani responsible for all the counts.
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.
The stage is set for a showdown over secrecy at Texas Tech University.
The Seventh District Court of Appeals in Amarillo has now set a date of November 7, 2018 for oral arguments in the nine-month long fight over records detailing the investigation and ouster of former Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach.
Dolcefino Consulting won a court victory in Lubbock in June, when State District Judge Bill Sowder refused to dismiss the lawsuit. The Judge suggested Texas Tech was playing “word games” based on Tech’s reasoning behind withholding records on the Leach firing.
“This began with a simple attempt to expose the obvious fact that Texas Tech cheated Mike Leach out of his job and $2.5 million, but now it is much more than that,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting, “This is quickly becoming a landmark case about secrecy at a state university. It is become clear that the Texas Tech’s Board of Regents think they are above public scrutiny. They just can’t be allowed to get away with that.”
Texas Tech is not just hiding records of the school conspiracy to cheat Mike Leach. The university has used the fight over the Leach records to hide records of sexual assaults and sexual harassment on campus and details of the money lost in the Bernie Madoff scandal, among other things.
“The fight over the truth about the firing of Coach Leach has exposed the real problem at Texas Tech. They think they are above the rights of donors, parents, and taxpayers to look at their records,” says Dolcefino, “The recent sudden retirement of the Tech Chancellor proves they haven’t learned a thing about transparency.”
In August, Tech Chancellor Robert Duncan abruptly announced his retirement, and since then Tech lawyer Ronny Wall has fought to keep most e-mails sent or received between Duncan and Regent in the days before a secret.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been asked by Tech to keep the Duncan e-mails a secret at the same time the Attorney General is helping Texas Tech keep other public records a secret.
“This is exactly why we have gone to court,” says Dolcefino, “If the Office of the Attorney General really cared about the public right to know they would be on our side, not working to keep public records a secret. I continue to be intrigued at what Tech is hiding about Leach, Bernie Madoff, and the safety of students on campus. There is a lot at stake in this fight.”
Dolcefino Consulting is represented by Dallas attorneys Michael Hurst and Julie Pettit.
“The Amarillo Court of Appeals will hear argument about important issues regarding the public’s statutory right to act as a safeguard against public corruption,” says attorney Michael Hurst. “We believe that affirming the Lubbock court’s order requiring Tech to disclose these documents serves as a check and balance for the benefit of the students, parents, Coach Leach and public at large.”
New campaign reports are in from Caldwell County and they show Republican Hoppy Haden only has thirty dollars left in the bank in
his campaign to be the County Judge, just days before early voting begins.
Haden’s campaign treasurer is Amelia Smith.
A reminder of Haden’s curious conduct in the fight over the 17- story tall Highway 130 garbage dump. Haden says he’s against the dump, but both Smith and Haden were the original organizers of a group called “Growth and Progress” in Caldwell County, that argued FOR the dump as “economic development.”
The Lockhart Chamber of Commerce fought to keep Haden’s emails about the dump secret, and Haden was one of the commissioners who voted to end the legal fight with Green Group. Haden has yet to explain why he fought the release of the records.
“As a member of Commissioners Court Hoppy Haden allowed more than $100,000 to be spent fighting the simple release of public records”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “This election should be about transparency.”
Democrat Alfred Munoz is opposed to the dump.
We found this interesting on Haden’s campaign website, “We will be facing infrastructure challenges which will include roads, sewer and water supply issues. I believe my background in construction and environmental issues makes me uniquely qualified to help manage the challenges that will be faced by our county in the future. I promise to lead Caldwell County with integrity, honesty and ethics and I humbly ask you for your vote.”
Haden is expected Thursday at an important campaign event called “Caldwell County Meet the Candidates.” It will be held at the First Baptist Church connection center located at 200 S Blanco St.
See you there, Hoppy…
How many more days can Mary Van Orman avoid Montgomery County Judge Tracy Gilbert?
Judge Gilbert wants to see Van Orman in his courtroom. She has yet to show up. Guess she’s scared?
If you are keeping up with the bizarre world of Ms. Van Orman you know Dolcefino Consulting has frequent installments about Van Orman and her growing list of problems. It’s becoming one of of favorite courthouse reality shows.
Back in September, Judge Gilbert issued a warrant to arrest Van Orman for not showing up in his court. Van Orman was supposed to be in court explaining to Judge Gilbert why she ignored his court order.
Earlier this summer Judge Gilbert ordered sanctions against Van Orman’s bizarre behavior toward lawyer Katherine Bihm. That behavior included things like name calling, shouting insults at Bihm from across a crowded Conroe restaurant, and attempting to physically shove Bihm in another courtroom.
Van Orman was required to write a check and an apology and take a class. She decided not to listen.
Last week, more than three months after it was due, Van Orman finally wrote her apology letter. The instructions were clear – write an apology to Bihm “detailing and acknowledging any and all actions and/or inactions of unprofessional conduct.”
Mary? She did quite the contrary.
Van Orman’s apology leaves a lot to be desired – mostly the apology part. The letter is a rambling cornucopia of excuses for Van Orman’s unprofessional behavior and a lecture for Bihm about how easy her life is compared to Van Orman’s.
Van Orman goes on to say, “Conduct which denigrates the public perception of lawyers in our society and especially female attorneys in our society is unacceptable.”
We agree Mary. So why do you keep doing it?
The first campaign report of the Protect Houston PAC is out, and now voters can really see who’s bankrolling the fight against fair pay for Houston firefighters.
The Protect Houston PAC claims it’s a bipartisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats, business and labor leaders, community groups and police and fire chiefs.
The PAC raised $60,000 so far, just a few weeks before early voting. You know how many contributions they got?
Mayor Turner’s political campaign raised nearly half the money, just a little more than $25,000 for advertising and stuff.
The only other contribution, the Houston Police Officers Union. $35,000.
“The police have gotten huge raises and their union clearly want to cheat firefighters because they like it the way it is,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of the Houston based Dolcefino Consulting. “What’s wrong with first responders being treated the same way. Why do the cops hate the firefighters so much? They ought to be on the front lines helping them?”
Sue Davis, a spokesman for Protect Houston PAC is the Mayor’s campaign press spokesman. Grant Martin, a California media advisor is paid for campaign advice.
The campaign reports also show a big payment to a California polling firm.
“This first campaign report exposes Protect Houston for what it is,” says Dolcefino. “This isn’t some independent group protecting Houston. These are cops and the Mayor protecting themselves.”ProtectHoustonPAC
We think fraud victims of Colorado scammers deserve better from Securities commissioner Gerald Rome!
More than 16 months ago Dolcefino Consulting was forced to file a lawsuit under the Colorado open records act called “CORA.”
We filed the suit because Dolcefino Consulting made four valid requests for public records in our investigation of Rome’s frequent bragging of success in returning money to fraud victims
Our investigation found the securities division had a horrible record of getting people their money back. Less than three percent of the money ripped off, and Rome fought us every step of the way. Our investigation shows court appointed lawyers are getting much of the money that is recovered, not the victims.
“Securities commissioner Gerald Rome has fought our efforts to warn Colorado fraud victims about the abject failure to get them financial justice”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting.” It is time for the Colorado legislature to step in.”
We want a Judge in Colorado to set a hearing, so we can take our fight to end secrecy straight to Gerald Rome and the Colorado Attorney General.
The US Conference of Mayors wants to stop Dolcefino Consulting from videotaping a big speech Monday at national conference on garbage.
Guess who’s speaking? Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is still fighting to keep secret his e-mails on a recycling contract widely criticized for the way it was bid and the company who won.
Curiously, Turner’s luncheon speech is sponsored by Waste Management, the Houston based garbage giant who bitterly complained when Turner chose a foreign company to get the lucrative city contract.
Recycling costs are skyrocketing around the country, but it’s likely Turner won’t want to talk about how he cheated the company ECOHUB.
ECOHUB had hundreds of millions of dollars in private money and had offered to share profits with the city by turning garbage into new products. Houston taxpayers would have saved millions in garbage costs.
Turner’s speech comes just weeks before the election for fair pay for firefighters. ECOHUB had promised to use some of the profits to help underpaid Houston firefighters. Turner’s decision to cancel a planned contract with ECOHUB and then hide the e-mails showing why is one of the problems with the Mayor’s claims that the City doesn’t have the money to pay firefighters like cops.
“I have said it before. This recycling scandal will haunt Houstonians”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Taxpayers lost millions in potential savings in this deal and the Mayor and the company that got the controversial deal will not Identify the Houstonians who will make money on this contract. Maybe the Mayor will confess in his speech?”
The US Conference of Mayors denied our request for media credentials, saying we are not a “traditional” news outlet. Dolcefino Consulting has a growing list of clients who have funded our media investigations into landfills, garbage and recycling contracts. In Houston, even the Mayor’s closest aides have complained in e-mails of possible corruption in Houston garbage and landfill deals.
“The US conference of Mayors wants to protect Mayor Turner, even though this is a conference about garbage that we all pay for”, says Dolcefino. “That’s garbage, but our Mayor likes secrecy.”
At the final hearing today in the Kora Leach custody case, Newman stood in front of Lombardino and asked for attorney’s fees of more than $200,000 to be paid by the young mother.
Lombardino surprisingly said “No.”
The judge has been forced to distance himself from his campaign financier after the public pressure of the Dolcefino Consulting Family Injustice investigation into possible corruption and ethics violations in the family courthouse.
In January, a request was made for Lombardino to recuse himself in another protracted divorce case – the Avery/Rodriguez case. Lombardino said no. Then in June, with no pending request from either side, Lombardino did recuse himself. Less than three weeks before that, Dolcefino Consulting released a video detailing Lombardino’s relationship with the lawyers in the case – Bobby Newman and Jared Woodfill.
There have been lots of other lawyers claiming Lombardino shows favoritism to Newman in the past.
In a high-profile international divorce drama, Marcelle Guimaraes – the woman who fled to Brazil with her son – says Lombardino ignored her allegations of domestic violence and sex addiction by her ex-husband, Houston doctor Chris Brann.
Newman has been one of Lombardino’s top donors over the years, giving him tens of thousands of dollars and appearing in many cases in the 308th Family Court. Lombardino’s first fundraiser was on a Newman family boat. The relationship has prompted complaints lots of public complaints.
Kora Leach’s attorney John LaGrappe has filed a criminal complaint involving Newman. LaGrappe told Dolcefino Consulting, “I believe the District Attorney should investigate the relationship between Newman and Lombardino.”
One of the most disturbing revelations in the entirety of our Family Injustice investigation involved Judge Lombardino’s own family. Judge Lombardino failed to disclose Bobby Newman was representing his son David in a divorce case, likely for free, while Newman practiced in other cases in Lombardino’s court.
Maybe all the push back has scared Lombardino straight. The judicial elections are only 34 days away.
“Voters need to send a clear message in November”, says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Judges need to disclose conflicts. Period. Lombardino failed the test. And lawyers need to learn a lesson that campaign cash shouldn’t play a role in fights over children.”
A growing number of victims of Harris County family Injustice have hired Dolcefino Consulting to expose the ethical issues staining the courthouse and help prepare formal complaints to the State Bar of Texas and Judicial Conduct Commission when they are wronged.
For more information on our Family Injustice Investigation, click on the Harris County Family Judges page.