We've been telling you this for years: Mayor Turner is not to be trusted.
The Harris County District Attorney’s office is investigating the deal at the center of allegations that Mayor Sylvester Turner steered affordable housing money to a certain developer, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the investigation.
The sources confirmed the district attorney’s office requested information relating to the deal, which former Housing Director Tom McCasland said the mayor chose to benefit the project’s developers at the expense of four higher-scoring deals that would have created 274 more affordable homes.
Two developers included in the deal, who McCasland did not name, are the mayor’s former longtime law partner, Barry Barnes, and another partner at Barnes’ law firm, Jermaine Thomas. The lead company in the deal is MGroup, a Montrose-based firm founded by Laura and Mark Musemeche.
Oh, so instead giving the money to the lowest bidder of the most qualified firm, Turner purportedly gave it to his buddies?
Not surprisingly, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo recently had a scandal that vaguely resembles what Turner was just accused of:
Facing mounting public criticism and threats of investigation, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo (D) announced Wednesday she would move to cancel a controversial $11 million contract awarded to a highly connected Democrat for COVID-19 vaccine outreach.
Last week, the public learned that Hidalgo had assembled a five-person committee consisting of three of her own staffers and two others from the county health department to review proposals and select a vendor.
Even prior to the solicitation of proposals, emails obtained by The Texan show that Hidalgo staffers Alex Triantaphyllis and Aaron Dunn had requested significant changes to experience and qualifications required to bid on the project. In some instances, the two requested reductions in the number of years of experience needed, but also changed “required” to “preferred,” and removed some requirements altogether.
Although the committee awarded the $10.9 million contract to Elevate Strategies, LLC, scoring documents obtained by FOX 26 reporter Greg Groogan reveal that initially the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) earned the highest score with 240 points and a project cost of $7.5 million. Elevate Strategies had only scored 204 points while bidding $19.3 million.
According to Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston), UTHSC employees told his staff that they had been prepared to give a lengthy presentation and to answer specific questions about the project, but that Hidalgo’s vetting committee met with them for less than an hour, had not viewed the full presentation, and did not ask questions.
Later the contract vetting committee informed county purchasing agent DeWight Dopslauf that UTHSC had been disqualified for underperforming on another project for the county.
HOUSTON, TEXAS - MAY 30: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner speaks during the George Floyd Commemorative Concert at The Fountain of Praise Church on May 30, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)