In the wake of an Office of Inspector General investigation that found she violated city ordinances in creating a flyer dispensing legal advice, Houston City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones said today that she was "confident that when all of the facts come to light, I will have acted within the acceptable standards of conduct."
Reading from a brief statement at the City Hall Annex, Jones said, "I have had an opportunity to review the OIG report and I am committed to working within the city's new process to bring this to a conclusion....I have a long track record of speaking for people who have no voice and I will not let this process distract me from continuing to serve as that voice for the people of Houston."
She took no questions from the assembled media.
The vice president of the Houston Police Officers Union filed a complaint with the city's OIG in March after Jones distributed a flyer titled "Know Your Rights With the Police," which advised people not to speak to police without first calling an attorney. The flyer included phone numbers for Jones's Council office as well as her private law practice. (She had distributed the flyers at a community meeting in response to the public release of a video showing Houston police officers kicking a prone 15-year-old boy who was not resisting arrest.)
A June 2 OIG memo stated that "...the insertion of the City telephone number was unlawful in that the dominate nature of the card was that of a private advertisement her personal law practice." The OIG also found that Jones "interfered with an ongoing Office of Inspector General investigation by instructing her staff not to meet with the OIG investigator, thus hindering their ability to fully cooperate. The investigation further revealed that at her direction, staff personnel failed to respond to e-mails and telephone calls and that they failed to attend scheduled appointments with the OIG investigator."
While the investigation revealed that Jones didn't violate her oath of office, she was found to have violated city ordinances related to improper use of city resources. The OIG memo also listed three violations of an executive order against interfering with an investigation, as well as being untruthful and uncooperative. (A June 8 OIG memo states that, instead of answering directing questions about whether she used city fax and copy machines in creating the flyer, Jones "asked the investigator to step out of his office so that she could contact and confer with her 'advisor' before responding to the questions....Jones further insisted that she would have to leave the interview and return with her sworn answers after meeting with her 'advisor.'").
Jones's fellow council member Mike Sullivan filed a formal complaint with Mayor Annise Parker June 10. The next step is for a three-person panel, including Sullivan, Mayor Annise Parker and a representative of Jones's choosing, to decide whether to bring the complaint before the full council for a vote on censuring or impeaching Jones.
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A spokesperson for Jones told us that "We have not received the complaint filed by Council Member Sullivan and I can't comment until we have had an opportunity to review that document."
We left a message with one of Sullivan's staffers to see if Sullivan will release a copy of his complaint, but we haven't heard back. We hope he decides to release the complaint, as Jones's flyer is certainly something he is passionate about. Sullivan seemed less passionate about what apparently spurred Jones's flyer -- images of cops beating the shit out of a defenseless teenager -- according to the minutes of a February 22, 2011, council meeting.
After quite a few folks showed up to voice their opinion on the Chad Holley incident, and police brutality in general, Sullivan unsuccessfully tried to corral enough votes to shorten their individual time limit to one minute. The minutes then reflect that Sullivan was not present when the speakers actually voiced their concerns about police brutality.
Okay -- so, if we understand Sullivan's priorities correctly: listening to public input in the wake of the Chad Holley incident, not so important. Filing a complaint against a council member for being kinda dumb by maybe using a city copy machine for a flyer advising people to report instances of police brutality and to maybe call her private practice -- freakin' Earth-shattering. Makes total sense to us.