Anna Eastman: HISD Board May Be Losing the Public Trust
Acknowledging that "the public trust that we've had is really waning" and that "there's an appearance of impropriety," Houston ISD board trustee Anna Eastman said today she believes the district should have "a third party to audit our bidding and procurement procedures."
In recent months, increasing questions have been raised about whether Board President Paula Harris should be voting on the contracts of her good friend Nicole West, who operates a construction firm. Previously, Harris has defiantly said that she's not going to give up her friends and that there's nothing wrong in her voting on business involving them.
Harris did not return phone calls from Hair Balls on Thursday. She has told the Houston Chronicle that she would start abstaining from votes involving West.
Criticism has also been leveled at board member Larry Marshall for his trip to Costa Rica, to which he responded in an earlier board meeting that he was doing good work, looking for better ways to fund health care. The Chronicle reported this week that Marshall had approached both Superintendent Terry Grier and Chief Financial Officer Melinda Garrett about hiring Kenneth Wells, a Houston doctor who accompanied Marshall on the Costa Rica trip.
HISD board policy states that trustees are not supposed to talk to potential vendors about upcoming business with the district between the time the bidding process starts and the board votes on it.
Stressing that she wasn't pointing the finger at any fellow board members, Eastman said what she's looking for is "at least recommendations for higher standards and control."
"I think it's very clear at this point that no laws have been broken," Eastman said. "I'm not in the position to accuse anyone. I just think it's incredibly important for us to be beyond reproach."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.
- Crushed City: Astros Heartbreaking Game Four Loss to Royals Brings Back Bad Houston...
Sat., Oct. 24, 12:00am
Sat., Oct. 24, 11:00am
Sun., Oct. 25, 12:00am
Mon., Oct. 26, 12:00am
- KHOU and DISH Finally Reach Deal, End Blackout
- Crestmont Village Residents Will Finally Abandon Their Deplorable Apartments This Month