Last night KTRK Channel 13 reported on Sylvester Turner’s apparent use of public office to enrich himself. The disturbing report says Turner’s title company was paid a whopping $144,000 for the sale of just one school property, after Turner had helped convince minority voters to pass the HISD bond.
Even if it is not illegal, the fact that Turner would appear to sell his influence for this deal suggests that he is what is wrong with politics. Houston needs to end “pay to play” politics. The news report also shows Turner received over $800,000 on yet another city transaction. City Housing records show companies linked to Turner received more than $3 million dollars in payments from affordable housing funds.
Today we’ve learned Sylvester Turner’s law firm charged state funded charter schools hundreds of thousands of dollars to represent them before the very state regulators Turner influences as a legislator. He should be helping the children of Texas for free.
“The true judge of a politician is what he does to improve his community and not what he does for his own bank account,” says Hall. “Mr. Turner fails the test miserably”.
“If Sylvester Turner will use his elected office to make himself rich he is not a person to be entrusted with a $5 Billion annual budget of the City of Houston. These disturbing revelations suggest that Turner has sold out his constituents. If he has not sold them out, he has clearly feathered his own nest while in public office.”
“A state representative should be helping the school children of Texas as part of his job, not getting paid to represent the schools before government officials,” says Wayne Dolcefino, President of Dolcefino Consulting. “What we have discovered speaks volumes.”
Houston State Representative Sylvester Turner has played a key role in deciding the budget for the Texas Education Agency.
We now know he also intervened with the Texas Education Agency on behalf of charter schools who paid his law firm handsomely.
Personal financial disclosures and e-mails just released by the Texas Education Agency raise new ethical questions about the state lawmaker who has made quite a living off of government contracts and firms doing business with the State of Texas.
According to his Personal Financial Statements, Turner’s law firm, Barnes & Turner, was paid a legal retainer every year beginning in 2007, by Ollie Hilliard and the Jamie’s House Charter School he founded. As of June 2015, that amounts to at least $225,000 in retainers alone.
Back in 2010, Jamie’s House became news in a bad way after a science teacher was caught on camera, kicking, slapping and dragging a 13 year old student. The Houston Chronicle reported the founder had run at least one other facility for children, that the state shut down for failing to meet minimum standards. Top officials of the TEA twice signed off on renewing the Jamie’s House contract, long after another state agency told Hilliard another facility he ran posed a health and safety risk to children.
Education Commissioner Michael Williams moved to revoke the charter of Jamie’s House Charter School in December of 2013. That led to the expansion of Zoe’s Academy, another client of Sylvester Turner’s law firm. Zoe’s hired Turner’s firm in 2013 and has paid at least $75,000 just in retainers since.
Did Turner’s clients get preferential treatment? Who knows? But the Texas Education Agency treated Sylvester Turner as more than just a lawyer.
E-mails show Turner was involved in getting Zoe’s Academy a waiver to the campus. It appears the Commissioner of Education had agreed to approve the waiver even before the documents were submitted. When Turner raised questions about the waiver process, a TEA official Julie Kopycinski wrote “I need to talk to someone about this ASAP b/c I have to call the rep back.”
Kopycinski is not a charter school official. She is the head of Government Relations with the Texas Education Agency that deals with legislators.
This latest revelation about Turner’s potential conflicts comes a night after KTRK Channel 13 questioned how American Title, a company linked to Turner, was paid $144,000 as part of a real estate deal made possible by the 2012 HISD Bond Election. Turner was against the bond, but within a month had changed his mind, and 2 years later, profited from it.
Turner’s law firm also received more than $800,000 in affirmative action contracts from a controversial government tax collection firm.
Both Turner’s law firm Barnes and Turner and American Title Company, have also received millions of dollars in payments from the City of Houston Housing Department.
Another Turner client, 3D Visions Planning Consultants, boasts of its relationship with the Harris County Housing Authority and State of Texas.
It is time for Mr. Turner to tell voters the WHOLE story.
Ben Hall urged members of the Greater Houston Pachyderm Club this week not to squander their votes on so-called Republican candidates in the race for Mayor.
“There are simply not enough Republicans inside the city to get Bill King or Steve Costello into a runoff, Hall told the crowd. “I am a fiscal conservative and the only one of the candidates to oppose the bathroom ordinance. And I am the only conservative candidate who can build a coalition of Republicans, Democrats and independents.”
Even the recent survey of a few voters by the Houston Association of Realtors proves King and Costello can’t win. Political scientists say the survey is flawed because it ignores half the potential minority vote and exaggerates Anglo votes.
Even with that curve, neither King nor Costello make a runoff.
Labels don’t tell the story.
Republican Steve Costello supports the bathroom ordinance and orchestrated the illegal rain tax on Houston homeowners.
Bill “Waffle” King can try to fool folks with his sudden fiscal conservative rebirth, but when he wrote a book he didn’t name it “Conservative to the End,” he named it “Unapologetically Moderate.”
King refuses to say how he will on the bathroom ordinance and supports sanctuary city policies. That’s a conservative?
“Do you want to be stuck with another liberal tax raising Mayor with the same agenda as Mayor Parker?” We don’t.
The Hall campaign asks all Republican voters to think strategically when they go to the polls.
Which conservative voice can put together the coalition needed to win a runoff?
There is only one and that is Ben Hall.
The old adage, “the first casualty in politics is the truth,” is proving true in the City of Houston elections.
The Houston Association of Realtors owes Houston’s minority community, in fact all Houston voters, an apology for deceptionin a recent mayoral survey.
This PR firm creation is not worth the paper it is written on, and members of the Houston media who are reporting on the survey, should immediately read the fine print before they mislead their audiences.
Polls are scientific. The numbers aren’t just collected, they are analyzed. 62% of the survey recipients were white. That hasn’t been the makeup of Houston’s electorate for decades. Only 10% of the registered voters surveyed were Hispanic and 20% of those surveyed were African American. It’s a gross misrepresentation of the voter makeup in the city of Houston.
“The Hispanic community should be outraged at this slap in the face”, says Hall. Our campaign has received the endorsement of the most influential pastors in the Hispanic community, and they deserve an apology.
American Strategies, the group who conducted the poll, wants you to believe only 38% of voters are opposed to the bathroom ordinance. There isn’t a political consultant in town who believes those numbers.
“It is time for Houston voters to stand up and say enough of this bogus sales pitch trying to convince folks the election is over,” says Ben Hall. “Our internal polls show us Houstonians are responding, but we are not going to sit idly by while the special interests try to peddle this nonsense.”
“Houstonians are smart. They want a Mayor who will tell them the truth, who will protect them, and will stop wasting their money on silly backroom deals. I will be that Mayor.”
American Strategies should be forced to defend why they put out a survey that doesn’t even reflect the Houston electorate. What’s their agenda? How could their margin of error be 4.4% when they don’t know how to count Houston voters?
The future of Galveston Bay may be at stake in a legal showdown this Thursday, October 8th in Judge Randy McDonald’s 344th Disrict Courtroom in Anahuac.
Lawyers for the State of Texas will try to erase a restraining order the Judge imposed last week, stopping the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department from letting anyone take oysters out of a 23,000 acre section of Galveston Bay, even companies who have paid for state leases.
“Because of Judge McDonald’s actions, the safety of the Galveston Bay Oyster Crop is in jeopardy,” says Wayne Dolcefino of Dolcefino Consulting, an investigative firm hired to fight this takeover. “This week, oyster companies were supposed to be transplanting oysters to safer waters so they would be safe to eat. This reckless action and this legal home cooking cannot stand.”
This oyster war is part of a legal battle now being waged across three counties.
Judge McDonald issued the restraining order on behalf of a local Chambers County Company called STORM (Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management). STORM claims it has been given the exclusive right to control the entire oyster population in the 23,000 square foot area by the Chambers-Liberty County Navigation District, an unelected board appointed by local officials. The owner of STORM is a local Judge and his politically powerful relative.
The State of Texas has declared that lease illegal, and has warned STORM it will pay for any damages to the oyster crop.
Oyster companies that have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and are now being denied the right to move their oysters, went to a court in Galveston County for their own restraining order to keep STORM from touching their oysters.
Galveston Bay has been historically one of the biggest oyster producing regions in the country, and this high stakes legal battle could eventually determine if the People of Texas own Galveston Bay, or whether a private company can control public waters.
The hearing is at 1:30 p.m. in Anahuac.
The new Spring Branch School Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri has laid down new ground rules to protect young female students at district high schools from older students by issuing a letter to all Spring Branch ISD Principals.
School principals will now be required to immediately notify the School Police Department when an adult student 18 or older harasses or bullies a younger student.
Last year, a 19 year old at Memorial High School threatened a freshman girl to send compromising pictures of herself. School police never seized the cell phones involved in the incident. The football student was never disciplined by the football team or school administration.
After going to the media months later, the Harris County District Attorney’s Child Exploitation Unit raided the student’s house. By then, any potential evidence of the criminal conduct was gone. In August, the District Attorney’s Office provided special training to Spring Branch ISD Police about evidence gathering in these cases.
Now Superintendent Muri has reminded Principals the District has zero tolerance for any form or harassment or bullying, instructing principals to be sensitive to the concerns of student victims and student parents.
The Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead will hold a news conference at 10:30 am on Wednesday, October 7th in front of the Waller County Courthouse.
CALH will discuss the historic decision by the Executive Director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to reject the application for the controversial Highway 6 landfill. The citizens group had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over 4 years to fight the proposed 15-story garbage dump.
CALH will also deliver a message to Green Group, the Georgia based garbage company that tried to get the landfill deal approved. Last December, CALH and the City of Hempstead won a huge legal judgement from Waller County for the secret dealings between former county officials and the garbage company.
The residents of Hempstead are invited to come to the courthouse to enjoy this victory.
Please contact Wayne Dolcefino at Dolcefino Consulting for additional information.
WHO: Citizens Against the Landfill
WHEN: Wednesday, October 7TH 2015 – 10:30 am
WHERE: Outside Waller County Courthouse
836 Austin Street – Hempstead, Texas 77445
The Houston based Veterans charity Helping a Hero continues to defy calls for the public release of records detailing how they spend millions of dollars in donations.
Now the Harris County District Attorney has imposed a deadline. Helping a Hero must produce records requested by Dolcefino Consulting by the close of business on October 13, 2015, or face prosecution.
Last week Judge Michael Landrum denied the charity request to protect the records, and the Harris County District Attorney is tired of the stalling.
Dolcefino Consulting requested the records 11 months ago, and since then Helping a Hero has sought a variety of ways to keep the records private. The charity has tried twice to get a judge to stop it, and convinced the District Attorney to give them more time because the records were being audited. As that time ran out, Helping a Hero went back to court.
“I wouldn’t give a penny to Helping a Hero”, says Dolcefino Consulting President Wayne Dolcefino. “Charities should be happy to show people how they spend donated money. Especially when the money is given in the names of men and women who suffer from the injuries they received fighting for our country.”
Veterans across the country have criticized charity founder Meredith Iler, and questioned why more donations didn’t go to the adapted homes promised to veterans.
The charity claims it has awarded 100 homes in 22 states.
“Every wounded veteran deserves to see how the money raised in their honor has been spent,” says Dolcefino. “What’s the big deal? Is Meredith Iler really willing to see the charity criminally indicted to keep the public from seeing how she spends money?”
The Harvard law school graduated Sylvester Turner rarely goes into a courtroom. Check the records.
That doesn’t stop his law firm from being paid millions of dollars each year, a lot of it from taxpayers!
Documents obtained by Dolcefino Consulting show payments from the City of Houston Housing and Community Development Funds totaling more than $3 million dollars were made to a pair of firms linked to Turner.
Records released this week show Turner’s Law Firm, Barnes and Turner submitted invoices for $332,000 for legal work on a number of affordable housing projects. The last invoice was submitted in May of this year, three months after Turner announced his run for Mayor.
Turner’s title company was often chosen to handle closing funds for single family home projects in Houston. Documents show the American Title Company handled more than $3 million dollars in transactions. It is not known how much of that money the firm got to keep.
It’s not his only financial connection to affordable housing. Personal financial disclosure statements show Turner’s firm was paid $175,000 in retainers by a company called 3D Visions Planning Consultants. The company lists several Housing affordable housing projects, and its list of partners includes the Houston Housing and Community Development Department and Harris County Housing Authority.
This is the latest in a series of discoveries about just how much Sylvester Turner has cashed in on political contracts while “Representing” Houston in the Texas House.
Turner’s firm made more than $700,000 from the controversial tax collection firm Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson. The firm likes to use politicians to fill minority hiring goals, instead of truly disadvantaged companies who would love the work.
Maybe that explains why Sylvester Turner remains silent when Linebarger cheats the minority community out of a current share of the HISD tax collection contract.
And maybe that also explains why Sylvester Turner has remained silent as millions of dollars in affordable housing TIRZ funds get wasted. Several million dollars were spent on empty lots that are still empty years later.
Turner’s law firm is among those paid out of the TIRZ money.
Maybe that explains why Sylvester Turner helped pass an HISD bond election that has broken promises to the minority community.
Turner’s title company made $144,000 on a real estate deal made possible from the bond election.
Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when a career politician gets taxpayer money while he is paid to protect it.
Another day, another Baptist Minister says Sylvester Turner has falsely exaggerated his religious support.
Pastor Ricky Bell of Forest Lawn Missionary Baptist Church is the latest to come forward to say he is not endorsing Turner as the career politician now claims.
Monday, Pastor Walter August spoke out.
“I don’t like my name being used when I have not endorsed Mr. Turner”, says Pastor August of the Bethel Family Baptist Church. “I have a responsibility to educate my congregation on the issues in this race, and Proposition 1 is something I feel strongly about.”
Turner is an advocate of the bathroom ordinance that will let men use women’s restrooms. He has been endorsed by the same Gay Caucus that endorsed Mayor Annise Parker. Those policies have divided this city and attacked churches.
Turner has also claimed the support of the first ladies of many churches, including First Lady Yolanda Bryant of the Island of Hope Church of God in Christ. Bishop Phillip Bryant’s family took to Facebook to complain.
“She is in full support of Ben Hall. We pray that this Mayoral race will continue to be clean and honest and focused on the issues.”
Speaking of Turner’s actions, Hall said, “It is time for Sylvester Turner to apologize to these men and women of faith”. Integrity is at the very heart of what Houstonians should demand from the next Mayor.”
“Mr. Turner is desperate to stop the growing movement of the religious community to our campaign. Mr. Turner represents a 4th term of Mayor Parker and her divisive agenda.”
Ben Hall has opposed the bathroom ordinance from day one, and has garnered the support of more than 2,000 pastors and churches.