When we first encountered the Houston Airport System's side-business advising various countries and cities how to build airports, we were a little baffled by it. HAS wasn't exactly forthcoming with financial information on it all, and we moved on to other things.
We don't know if that insignificant item started anything, but the Chron asked some questions and the director suddenly resigned, with no one saying much about it.
The website Texas Watchdog decided to take on the time-consuming job of pestering the city and HAS with Open Records Act requests and then wading through the results.
They've found a complicated web of financial mystery involving offshore companies and lax supervision by the city.
And today they've added another twist to the tale.
According to their announcement:
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At the same time Houston airport officials were using city resources to create a maze of obscure companies, many of those same city airport employees appear to have laid the groundwork to secure potentially lucrative jobs at those very same companies.
Top Houston Airport System officials waltzed through a revolving door into the airports' web of spinoff firms in the seven years since it created a nonprofit to build and run airports in other countries, Texas Watchdog has found.
Check out their full report here.
It hasn't been an easy slog for Texas Watchdog: The city is still putting up roadblocks to the release of information.
"The airport system is a public agency and the public has a right to know what's going on," Texas Watchdog editor Trent Seibert said. "At a time when we need more open government, the mayor's office and airport officials are keeping records hidden and answering few questions."