in Houston, Texas
View complaints to the Houston Office of Inspector General here
Tuesday, Mar 13, 2012, 12:59PM CST
By Steve Miller
Houston City Hall

In assembling the year’s worth of complaints to the City of Houston’s Office of the Inspector General, we engaged in a practice we loathe: Redaction.

It’s a common practice among government bodies when disseminating public information. We found that it is often done in a manner that makes no sense at all, as in the case of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.

When Texas Watchdog won a state Attorney General's opinion to gain access to some records in full, we found lawyers for TWIA had redacted words such as “and” and “draft,” often nonsensically.

We did it to protect the accused. In some cases, the allegations are incredibly inflammatory. It makes no sense to attach someone’s name to such a thing, so we went through 300-plus pages with a little program called PDF Pen and did our best to rid these documents of these names.

On the other hand, the complaints against City Council members, some cops and Mayor Annise Parker remain unredacted. Because of their prominence, most of those complaints had already been reported widely.

Read the complaints filed between December 2010 and September 30, 2011 here. (The city redacted the complainants' names prior to releasing the records on guidance from the AG.)

The OIG has been a question mark since Parker and her city attorney, David Feldman, decided the city needed a more official inspector general. Their mission was an abject failure; their hand-picked inspector, former FBI agent Robert Doguim, was a sound choice, but he quit within 13 months because he didn’t have the authority he needed to make the office a true investigative body. It was more of a glorified human resources department with a $538,000 payroll.

Instead, he fielded the complaints you will read here, tales of people being passed over for promotions and raises, name calling, people objecting to people who swear, and declarations of racism, sexism and other prevalent social maladies. Doguim told Texas Watchdog in January that 25 percent of the complaints were referred back to the department heads.

“I wrote to Feldman to tell him they were referred back so the managers could do their jobs,” Doguim said.

So in Philadelphia, the office of the inspector general uncovers illicit contractor schemes and bribes. In Houston, the beefed-up inspector general's office manages to clear a council member accused of using her position to obtain clients for her private law practice.


Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or

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Photo of Houston City Hall by flickr user quadrant6ix, used via a Creative Commons license.

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