Councilwoman speaks publicly about accusations

June 13, 2011 3:42:30 PM PDT
Houston City Council Member Jolanda Jones is back at work and under fire again over her controversial flyer reminding citizens they have the right not to talk to police.

Jones spoke publicly for the first time Monday afternoon about last week's report from the Office of the Inspector General, which included accusations of ethic violations.

City ordinance limits what everyone involved can say as this process moves forward. So Councilwoman Jones' remarks were brief. She has until Wednesday to notify the city attorney as to which fellow council member will represent her in the hearing that could pave the way for punishment from City Council.

Jones dodged questions moments after reading the short, prepared statement addressing the OIG's investigation against her.

"I have had the opportunity to review the OIG report and I am committed to working within the city's new process to bring this to a conclusion. I am confident that when all the facts come to light, I will have acted within the acceptable standards of conduct," Council Member Jones said.

Her troubles stem from a community meeting where her staff handed out a flyer offering legal advice that listed her City Council number. The OIG found Jones violated several city ordinances, from improperly using city resources and city employees to conduct personal business to interfering with and acting untruthful during the investigation.

Houston City Councilman Mike Sullivan filed a complaint against her. He is part of a three-member panel including the mayor that will meet privately to hear the evidence and figure if this should go before full City Council for a public hearing.

"I have not seen all the evidence yet. I am troubled by what I've seen in the Office of Inspector General report that was released last week. There's no doubt those are alarming findings and I'm interested in learning more about them. That's what this process will enable us to do," Sullivan said.

The hearing is set to begin June 20, one week from Monday. Houston City Council has the option to reprimand, censure or impeach her.

This is not the first time this year that Councilwoman Jones has been investigated by the OIG. In January, after a visit to Houston Fire Station 8, Union President James Caynon accused Jones of berating the firefighters, saying the station was too nice and the firefighters seemed to do nothing all day long.

She was cleared by the OIG, and later she released a video showing her remarks had been taken out of context, and she had actually been joking with the firefighters.

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