More strangeness is afoot at HCC.
Today Hair Balls received an e-mail, along with other media folks in town, in which a trustee is demanding an investigation into how private information possessed by the college administration and its attorneys was allegedly leaked to the media.
The e-mail was sent by trustee Yolanda Flores to HCC Chancellor Mary Spangler. Media outlets were cc'd.
According to the e-mail, Flores received a letter in April asking whether her husband had an interest in a company called Fort Bend Mechanical, which apparently does business with HCC, and whether Flores failed to file a conflict of interest disclosure form. Flores claims she e-mailed Spangler a denial of the accusations on April 12. She says Spangler read her denial at 5:51 a.m. and that the general counsel read it at 6:13 a.m.
Two hours later, Flores wrote, a reporter for KPRC started making calls into the subject.
"Apparently," Flores wrote to Spangler, "the reporter knew of my position which I find interesting in light of the fact there was a small window between the time my response was received by you and General Counsel, and the time of the reporter's phone calls only two hours later, and the fact that only you and General Counsel were the recipients of my response."
Right about then, Flores stated, she filed a document request under open records law to see the information that formed the foundation for the accusation that she did not properly fill out a conflict of interest disclosure form. HCC apparently balked and kicked the records request up to the AG, who said the college could withhold the info while the investigation was still ongoing.
Flores wrote that her understanding is that the investigation is still going on, which is why she was shocked Thursday to receive a call from a reporter at the Houston Chronicle, "who apparently has more information than I do or have ever seen, who stated she is writing a story on this matter ...."
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Furthermore, claims Flores, Spangler and the administration knew about the supposed Chronicle story, since Spangler "sent a message to the Board of Trustees that" a marketing group "was preparing a statement for the Chronicle in response to their inquiry."
In her e--mail, Flores asked Spangler how the Chron's reporter had access to information Flores herself has been unable to see, particularly since HCC's legal department is the custodian of the information.
Flores ended her e-mail stating, "It seems the continuous breach of confidentiality has allowed people outside of HCC to have greater access to confidential information than I, especially as it regards me ... It appears that someone with access to the records violated the law and my rights when they released the information ... I ask that you initiate a criminal investigation immediately into the breach to determine how the release of these records occurred, the identity of the person or persons who committed the violation, when it was done, how it occurred, where the information was kept, which measure designed to safeguard these documents was violated, and an answer on how this breach could have and did occur."
Flores declined to comment and HCC officials were not immediately available, but we'll certainly keep our eyes on this one.