Only on 13: Former mayor's documentary produced by city now pulled from website

Tom Abrahams Image
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Former mayor's documentary produced by city now pulled from website
Former Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner's documentary, which was produced by the city, was archived from the website.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- We are getting a closer look at a City of Houston-produced documentary made in the final days of former Mayor Sylvester Turner's administration.

The 30-minute video was archived after ABC13 asked questions about its production and its cost of $2,450.

The documentary chronicles the former mayor's path from a child growing up in Acres Homes to high school valedictorian and champion debater to the state legislature and as the city's 62nd mayor.

The city told ABC13 the mayor did not request the documentary but did want a video that resembled previous year-end videos, which HTV - the city's in-house production team - produced in all but one of the mayor's eight years in office.

But it comes in the wake of another effort to use public money to catalog the mayor's legacy - a book whose publication was ultimately pulled from the agenda at which its costs would have been approved.

That was ultimately paid for with private funds - something Rice University political scientist Mark Jones says may have been the more prudent action here, as well.

"In hindsight, this would have probably been a better project for the mayor to engage in after he left office with a private production company funded by his own resources," Jones said. "He certainly has the resources to fund this type of project, and then there would be a very clear line between private and public."

SEE ALSO: Will taxpayers foot the bill for $124,000 worth of books on Mayor Sylvester Turner's life?

The Houston First Corporation board is due to decide what it will do with a $124,000 invoice payable to Mayor Sylvester Turner's office.

Bob Stein, also a political scientist at Rice, had a similar opinion.

"It doesn't really surprise me that Sylvester Turner, who's had a long career, not just in, of course, as mayor, who served two terms, but has had a distinguished career in the State Legislature, would want that reputation to be at least documented in some way or form," Stein said.

"What may be different is that he did this while still in office, and he did this - at least attempted to, with some public funds - a rather trivial amount. So again, my sense is that it's it's not unexpected. Only that he did it while he was still in office, and may have attempted to use city finances for it," he continued.

Again, the city stressed that Turner did not request the video's production. The video is no longer available to view. The city told ABC13 it was likely because it is in the process of archiving products from the previous administration. But it did come after ABC13 asked about it.

The video was available for nine days.

Other year-end videos, including ones for 2021 and 2022, are still posted on HTV's YouTube channel.

Eyewitness News did reach out to the former mayor's team Tuesday afternoon and was told he was out of town. However, his team did send him our request for comment.

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