in Houston, Texas
Documents on Galveston councilman's potential conflict of interest withheld
Monday, Mar 19, 2012, 04:09PM CST
By Steve Miller
galveston

The city of Galveston refuses to hand over information it collected in determining if a city council member voting in a conflict of interest.

The city’s ethics commission announced earlier this month that Councilman Rusty Legg had no conflict when he voted on an issue regarding the Galveston Housing Authority. That’s the same conclusion the city attorney’s office reached in November.

Tarris Woods, a former city councilman who lost in a runoff election to Legg in 2010, appropriately asked the city for “all information used to provide a legal decision that Rusty Legg did not have a conflict of interest with GHA.” He was told by the city that the information fell under attorney-client privilege, although that’s not for the city to decide.That’s why the state has an excellent system via the state Attorney General.

And the Daily News points out that the report exonerating Legg was cited in a public meeting, making it a public record.

Some believe that because Legg is vice president of Charna Graber, a real estate firm that takes money from the public housing trough, he should have recused himself. Legg voted last year to give the housing authority $25 million to help rebuild some public housing, provided it not be done in areas with mixed-income housing. He stated that building in mixed-income areas would hurt the smaller property owners who rent to tenants with housing vouchers.  

This seems like an obvious case of abstaining from the vote to at least avoid the issue of a conflict.

Woods has referred the situation to the local District Attorney's office.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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