Houston City Council Member Jolanda Jones must be breathing a sigh of relief. A council review panel released its findings Thursday and cleared Jones of any major violations following complaints that she used her city office resources and staff to operate her private law firm.
The problems began when Jones passed out “Know Your Rights With the Police” cards at local community meetings. The cards listed both her council office phone number and a number for her legal practice.
The panel did conclude that “Jones used extremely poor judgement in listing her council officer telephone number on the card.” But the report also stated “There is no evidence that the council member was untruthful in her statements to the OIG.”
The panel did meet with Jones and ask her to take several remedial actions including “to conduct additional ethics training for her staff.”
I wasn’t assigned to cover Jones’ news conference but her statement is posted below:
Jones Statement: Since February, I have maintained that when the facts came to light, I would have acted within the acceptable standards of conduct and now, seven months after this process began, the District Attorney and the Mayor’s Review Panel have come to the same conclusion.
I have never used my role as a council member to benefit anything or anyone other than the people I was elected to serve. The accusations made against me have been baseless and defamatory from the start. I do not practice civil law and have never represented anyone in a police brutality case. It is always good judgment to inform the public of their legal rights and for that, I take full responsibility.
As was finally acknowledged by the Review Panel today, this process allowed for multiple allegations against me to remain in the media and with the public for which the OIG never had the authority to make. I am disappointed in a process that allowed for this sort of negligence to occur.
I share the Review Panel’s concern regarding a lack of thoroughness in the OIG investigatory processes and it is my hope that changes will be made to prevent further situations that result in nothing more than waste and injustice.
It is time for all of us to put political distractions aside and focus on the significant challenges this city faces. I have never lost sight of the needs of our citizens and I take very seriously my role as an advocate for the people of Houston. I have never backed down from a fight for what I believe is in the best interest of Houston and I will always take a stand on important issues. My commitment to the people of Houston remains unaffected. I will never stop speaking up for citizens that have no voice at city hall.
I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor and my fellow council members to address the issues we were elected to resolve.