Harris County D.A. investigating West U City Council
By Charlotte Aguilar
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office is conducting an investigation of recent actions of the West University Place City Council.
InstantNewsWestU.com/West University Essentials Magazine confirmed through multiple sources that current and former city officials are cooperating with questions from the Public Integrity Unit of the D.A.’s Office about councilmembers’ conduct leading to the firing of 14-year City Manager Michael Ross.
A slate of four council candidates committed to Ross’ ouster – Mardi Turner, Brennan Reilly, and former Mayors Burt Ballanfant and Bob Kelly – was elected May 9 and took office, along with newly elected Mayor Susan Sample, on June 1. Ross was fired Aug. 10 on a 3-2 vote, with Kelly, Ballanfant and Reilly for and Sample and Turner against his termination.
The probe may be focusing on concerns that were expressed openly by residents during consideration of Ross’ future: That the discussion was anything but transparent and may have partly been conducted in violation of state Open Meeting laws.
A finding of violations could lead to the county courthouse. According to information from the Texas Municipal League, penalties for Open Records violations range from having improperly deliberated actions voided, to fines of $2,000 per violation, to a jail sentence of up to six months.