Pearland could soon outlaw entering into business contracts with current council members

ByAndy Yanez Community Impact Newspaper logo
Friday, June 17, 2022
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PEARLAND, Texas -- Current Pearland City Council members, and any business entity they have a substantial interest in, could soon be barred from entering into contracts with the city.

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Pearland City Council at its June 13 regular meeting passed in a 4-1 vote the first reading of an ordinance that would restrict the city from agreeing to contracts with current council members and any business entity in which that person has a substantial interest if approved in the second reading.

"The impact of the change would simply say that the city would not have the ability to enter into a contract with a sitting City Council member or a business entity, in which that council member has a substantial business interest," City Attorney Darrin Coker said.

The amendment to the ethics ordinance is not official until the passing of the second reading, which is expected to be held on June 27. The item originated several council meetings back when City Council considered doing some initial changes to the ethics ordinance dealing with former council members, Coker said.

Pearland City Council at its May 23 regular meeting adopted the second reading of an ordinance that makes it so the city cannot enter into a contract with former council members and any business they have a substantial interest in for at least 12 months after their successor is sworn in.

Council Member Joseph Koza, who was the lone vote against the first reading, brought up the concern that the amendment change could hinder small businesses in the city from entering into smaller deals, like purchase order contracts, with the city.

Koza used his Koza Inc. business, which focuses on embroidery, screen-printing, and more services, as an example of a business that could potentially be negatively impacted by the blanket ordinance.

The way the ordinance is drafted prohibits the city from entering into any level of contracting with current council members, Coker said. Council Members Jeff Barry and Woody Owens were not present at the meeting.

Pearland currently follows state law, which allows cities to enter into a contract with a council member or business entity they have a substantial interest in, but that council member has to file an affidavit with the city secretary and abstain from the discussion and voting on the contract, Coker said. If the second reading passes, it will be stricter than state law, he said.

Council Member Alex Kamkar expressed his support for the ordinance amendment and praised former Council Member Trent Perez for pushing for the council to look at the amendments.

According to a June Pew Poll, 65% of Americans believe most political candidates running for office at the national level are for their own personal interests. In that same poll, it found that roughly 66% of Americans have a positive view of their local governments, which is down slightly 3 percentage points than 2019, according to the study, but higher than both state and federal government trust.

"I think we've heard a lot of comments about restoring trust with the citizens and things of this nature, and I think this kind of thing that (Perez) brought up and we built on is really showing that we are trying to go above and beyond to rebuild that trust," Kamkar said.

Editorial note: This article has been updated to include data points on local governments from a Pew Poll.

This article comes from our ABC13 partners at Community Impact Newspapers.