in Houston, Texas

Authority 'not there' for city of Houston investigative arm, Inspector General Bob Doguim says as he quits job

Wednesday, Feb 08, 2012, 08:09AM CST
By Steve Miller
Houston City Hall

Inspectors general in other cities root out fraud, conflicts of interest; Houston's IG only has power to investigate complaints of vulgar language, unlawful tamale sales

While Philadelphia's inspector general was stamping out contracting schemes between vendors and city officials, Houston's counterpart spent the past year fielding complaints of poor work performance evaluations, harsh language and other petty grievances best suited for an HR department.

In Chicago, the office of the inspector general issues a quarterly report running dozens of pages describing the findings and results of its office. In Houston, the quarterly report amounts to simple tallies of cases closed. It took a public information request and a state Attorney General’s ruling to obtain all of the complaints fielded by its inspector general office. Even then the city attorney’s office violated the state’s open records law by failing to provide the records in a timely fashion.

And the office that was once said to be revamped via an executive order from Mayor Annise Parker has yet to issue a report on its findings over the past year.

The former FBI agent, Robert Doguim, hired to lead the office, stepped down. His last day was Friday. He lasted 14 months in the job and left on what he said were good terms. He also provided some candid advice to City Attorney David Feldman on how the office might operate in the future.
Bob DoguimBob Doguim

“I talked about the three cornerstones for a successful, true OIG operation,” Doguim said. “That is independence, proper authority and transparency. And I also believe that whoever serves next as the inspector general should have a fixed term.”

With his departure, Doguim said, the city is now in a position in which it can build a true OIG office like the ones in other cities the size of Houston. Or not.

"I said that when they are hiring the next inspector general, before they do, they should know what they want at the city," Doguim said. "Do they want to build the Federal Reserve, or do they want to put an addition on the house?"

The complaints received by the OIG office in the past year tell a story of an office with little legal heft, besieged by concerns that are mostly personal and often more concerned with perceptions rather than reality.

One employee filed a complaint stating that unauthorized vendors were selling tamales at the Houston Police Department.  

Another claimed there was trouble in the city’s wastewater department: “...I have felt discriminated because I am Hispanic and I feel also retaliated and besides that I have been sick because of this situation, they do not treat me as a good hard worker. …”

Then there are also substantial complaints regarding misuse of funds and labor kickbacks that, if proven, would seem to lead to bigger cases or illicit activity.

One accusation, also from the wastewater department, alleges a supervisor misused funds and was given free work in exchange for directing contracts to certain vendors. The claim was backed up with 17 pages of emails.

There remains fallout from the Houston Fire Department fiasco from 2009. A May filing accuses a supervisor of downgrading an employee’s evaluation because of a “racially charged assessment."

The complaints came from across the spectrum of the city’s 21 departments and offices. Engine operators, inspectors of all kinds, city council members and even City Attorney Feldman were named in complaints.

That account alleged that Feldman, in a department meeting, entered wearing “a pair of brightly colored feathered earrings…

"The earrings strongly resembled the same type of earrings sometimes worn by Council woman Jolanda Jones. As Mr. Feldman entered conference room number 382, several employees laughed, however, the majority of the employees were not laughing. Mr. Feldman approached the podium and laughed himself! He then started to speak, but did not make sense in what he was saying. He stated (in a different tone than usual) 'I have had a hard life.' I had to walk several miles to get to school and Oh, did I mention I am a lawyer". 'I am a lawyer'. It then appeared that Mr. Feldman was clearly mocking Council woman Jolanda Jones in both her attire and demeanor.”

Doguim said he wanted to look into the allegation but was overruled by Mayor Parker, who sent it over to the Houston Police Department for investigate.

Feldman declined to speak with Texas Watchdog.

There are complaints of name calling, including numerous racial epithets, complaints against judges’ rulings, as well as complaints of inappropriate language, in one case citing the use of the words ‘damn’ and ‘hell.'

In another protest, a retired worked claims, “On July 29, 2011, Mr. Jackson came to my work station and called me ignorant. ... I have retired and no longer work for the city.”

Still another alleged that he was denied a promotion. One person filed a complaint against “someone in IT (information technology)” who had changed the passwords while that complainant was out of the office.

While Doguim professes admiration for Feldman, he said that in the end, “the authority is just not there.”

“I had always argued that the office should not be under the city attorney,” Doguim said. “Mr. Feldman never pushed back on anything I recommended, or tried to influence anything. But at this level, even the appearance of a lack of independence is a problem. It makes it look like someone is saying, ‘I have an OIG,’ but they don’t want all the things that come with it.”

Assistant City Attorney Lynette Fons will serve as interim IG until a replacement can be found. Fons is a former litigation attorney at Beirne, Maynard & Parsons.

Texas Watchdog will be releasing all of the 342 pages it obtained from the city in the coming weeks.

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of Houston City Hall by flickr user J Jackson Photography, used via a Creative Commons license.

Creative Commons License
Like this story? Then steal it. This report by Texas Watchdog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. That means bloggers, citizen-journalists, and journalists may republish the story on their sites with attribution and a link to Texas Watchdog. If you do re-use the story, e-mail

More Stories in this category
Sherry Gregory Nassar
Saturday, 02/11/2012 - 01:28PM

Tried to send email to but it bounced back. per your request to let you know when someone publishes/copies one of your stories, I posted your story about the Houston Investigator who quit. Have heard rumblings and overt complaints against city employees for years as they held the city (which lives in terror of lawsuits) hostage. It took years to get an unqualified Vet out of BARC. He killed many of the animals he attempted to spay and neuter. His reputation as a poor excuse for a vet was known all over the city. It took years but - finally the city has been working very hard to do the right things for the poor homeless and stray animals who end up at BARC through no fault of their own.

KTRK: On Big Screens for Billionaires, Comptroller Susan Combs Silent
Related Blogs and Media
Here’s Something To Do with Your Camera While Waiting for Swamplot To Return Next Week Among the many things Swamplot is thankful for: the amazing photographic talent of our readers. You can get a taste of that talent by...
Update:15 hours 16 min
VIDEO: KTRK abc13 1988 Foley's Thanksgiving Day Parade Alan Thicke, Don Nelson and Jan Glenn broadcast 1988 Houston Foley's Thanksgiving Day Parade on abc13 KTRK In 1988, KTRK abc13...
Update:18 hours 48 min
Mike McGuff
Where the Largest Homes in Houston Tend To Be; Ranking the Worst Bottlenecks Piney Point Village Has the Largest Homes in Houston and the Nation [HBJ] Historic Woodland Heights Prairie-Style Mansion at 205 Bayland...
Update:21 hours 49 min
Alinskyite police unions have too much power Check out this CATO Institute podcast featuring the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Derek Cohen opining on "The Power of Police Unions."...
Update:22 hours 42 min
Grits for Breakfast
Old campaign money flows to former intelligence chair’s new group, and former staffers Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) left Congress at the end of last year with plans to do a nationwide radio show. He also became honorary...
Update:1 day 15 hours
Open Secrets
Remember That Mind-Blowing Tip You’ve Been Meaning To Send to Swamplot? Swamplot is fueled by the hot tidbits picked up by curious and intrepid readers all across the city. If you’ve got a tip,...
Update:1 day 16 hours
Two Houston TV newsers releasing books/albums Tom Abrahams rolls out new novels; Marci Izard releases first book and album Here is some big news, just in time for the holidays, about...
Update:1 day 16 hours
Mike McGuff
Rethinking use of force: De-escalation It's called different things – "de-escalation," "tactical disengagement," or "preservation of life" – but the message is the same:...
Update:1 day 18 hours
Grits for Breakfast
Pfizer won’t lack resources in lobbying for $160 billion Allergan deal The Pfizer flag flies in front of world headquarters in New York. Pfizer and Allergan will join in a $160 billion deal to create the...
Update:1 day 18 hours
Open Secrets
VIDEO: This Black Friday shopper wins the TV news award Best Black Friday Shopper Ever TV newsers in Houston and all around must be scouting for their television market's version of this guy!...
Update:1 day 19 hours
Mike McGuff
Karen Townsend | 3 years 4 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" -
Peter Corbett ✈ | 3 years 4 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy
KERA Public Media | 3 years 4 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour.
PBS MediaShift | 3 years 4 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 3 years 4 months
Great addition, been burned too much by bad subs. "Google Play Announces Free Trials For In-App Subscription Services"
TxDOT | 3 years 4 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact
keyetv | 3 years 4 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested.
Karen Townsend | 3 years 4 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
© 2015 TEXAS WATCHDOG and USELABS. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Statement