The Censure of Dave Wilson
The censure of Dave Wilson is a testament to what is wrong with many of our local public institutions. The Houston Community College System (HCC) is systemically wrecked. The leadership of HCC is concerned with corruption, contractors, and the trappings of officialdom. The vendors and bond lawyers run the board. Unlike HISD, there is no way to shut down the corruption and malfeasance by having the state take it over.
I wanted to attend the recent HCC board meeting to see if the board members would actually carry out their threat to censure Dave. The meeting turned into a marathon beginning at 4 p.m. and ending after 9 p.m. – not the most efficient use of anyone’s time. The meeting itself included one item after another of mindless spending, none of which benefited the students. I was amused by a couple of items in particular.
Before I get to the mindless spending, I must mention the public comment period of this meeting, which brought out my old friend Jimmy Dunne. Jimmy is a liberal’s liberal, a true believer. He loves the idea of free public college tuition even though he has no idea how to pay for it. I have pointed out to him many times that if college tuition is free, it will become worthless and have the opposite effect of what he is trying to achieve. Jimmy is a big Bernie Sanders supporter and thought his idea of free college tuition for everyone was the most important idea that came from the 2016 presidential campaign. I did mention Jimmy is liberal, right? The very people who would later vote to censure Dave Wilson loved Jimmy’s idea.
Local governing bodies in our area have taken to using a weird hand waving gesture [i.e., jazz hands] when they support someone’s comments. When Jimmy was talking about his idea of free tuition, HCC Trustee Adriana Tamez started making this gesture in support of Jimmy’s comments about Bernie Sanders and his idea of free college tuition. Audience members, not board members, do the gesture presumably. The idea is for the audience to silently support the speaker without clapping, which is generally verboten with governing bodies. The idea that an HCC Trustee would support the idea of free tuition in a local property tax supported learning institution is mind boggling. In Jimmy’s defense, he did suggest a foundation should provide free scholarships. This isn’t your little local community college operating out of the local public high schools at night anymore. This unchecked spending suggestion was just a prelude to the evening’s wild spending. .
Apparently HCC’s procurement group has not heard the tale of former HCC Trustee [and soon to be Club Fed member] Chris Oliver. Or maybe they understand him all too well. For example, a financial advisory contract was before the board. Trustees Dave Wilson and Robert Glaser both questioned the formula used to select the winner – a one point difference between the victor and second place finisher, which equated to $60,000. The scoring system is just a subjective way to direct contracts to the preferred vendors.
Also on the agenda was a strategic planning contract for $787,000 to the Berkeley Research Group. Let me remind the readers this was the same type of contract that former City of Houston Public Works Director Karun Sreerama received from HCC. As you will remember, Sreerama was identified as an individual who paid [supposedly FBI] money to Chris Oliver in exchange for contracts. The post-Oliver cost must be going down because Sreerama was paid several million dollars for his strategic thinking. The recipient of this contract happens to sit on a committee with the Chancellor.
Additionally, on the agenda was yet another contract to hire yet another lawyer to investigate Oliver et al.’s wrongdoing. This will be the fourth lawyer hired by the board to investigate Oliver and friends. Hiring a non-conflicted lawyer to investigate Oliver has proven very difficult for the board. The first attempt wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars by hiring two lawyers who either hired Oliver or represented those who did. You really cannot make it up. The third lawyer hired was Larry Finder who may have been a good choice; but, I think the board (and especially the Chancellor) was a little nervous about Mr. Finder’s findings. As you may know, Mr. Finder is a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas and knows lots of people who put handcuffs on folks and well, we just can’t have that at HCC.
Four hours or so into the board meeting got us to the main event and the reason why I came to the HCC board meeting. Would the board actually vote to censure Dave for fighting corruption? Sitting through this board meeting, I felt bad that I had not been there in a while because Dave definitely needs our help. The board, except for Robert Glaser and Dave Wilson, is completely out of control. I supported both Wilson and Glaser because I know these men and knew that they would do everything in their power to rid HCC of the culture of corruption.
The Harris County Republican Party and local legislators must get involved. A special note to Ryan Patrick – there is a lot of work that needs to be done at HCC. Many of the vendors, contractors, and administrators need to receive federal grand jury subpoenas.
There is no way that Oliver worked alone – he was just one vote. My suggestion is to start with Zeph Capo and Adriana Tamez. Capo made the motion to censure Dave and Tamez seconded the motion.
As you may have guessed, Dave was censured. A badge of honor.