in Houston, Texas
Leander mayor scrutinized over zoning vote, use of city property
Friday, Apr 06, 2012, 05:03PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Texas Rangers

The city of Leander is running out of enforcement agencies to investigate its mayor, John Cowman.

Add the city’s Ethics Commission, after the City Council voted 5-2 to take to the commission allegations that Cowman directed City Manager Kent Cagle to tell two council members how to vote on a zoning issue and that he misused city property, the Austin American-Statesman is reporting.

You may not be surprised to learn that one of the two votes against this latest investigation was cast by Cowman.

The Texas Rangers have since last summer been investigating allegations that Cowman misused government funds and property, according to the Statesman.

A week ago Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said he had been provided with enough evidence to launch a criminal investigation of Cowman. He has since asked the Texas Attorney General’s office to take up the investigation to eliminate the potential for conflicts of interest.

Because no one is talking specifics, it is difficult to tell if all of these various investigations are intertwined.

It is clear, however, the city is asking the city Ethics Commission to determine whether Cowman violated the city charter by sending a memo to Cagle that went so far as to choose the council members he wanted to make and second the motion to approve the zoning measure.

At least one of those council members, Andrea Navarette, expressed her displeasure at the thought of being told what to do by the mayor.

Cowman has a peculiar way of burnishing his political reputation. In 2010 he walked away from a spot on the board of Capital Metro after it became public the transit authority serving Austin and nine other municipalities including Leander was reimbursing him for mileage to meetings rolled up in city vehicles.

Is it any wonder that council member Chris Fielder, who announced his intention to run for mayor against Cowman, would grab Cowman’s throat (Fielder insists it was Cowman’s collar) during a city retreat?

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

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