The Final Report is Released On Council Member Jolanda Jones
September 29, 2011

 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.

Houston Police Officers’ Union Targets City Council Member
September 8, 2011

(Updated with statement from Council member Jones)

The Houston Police Officers’ Union PAC released a list of candidates it has endorsed and will support for the November election.

The list includes Mayor Annise Parker, City Controller Ron Green and most city council incumbents – except two term incumbent Council Member Jolanda Jones.

Not only is HPOU endorsing one of Jones’ opponents, Laurie Robinson, the union is also sending a mailer to some voters targeting Council Member Jolanda Jones.

The mail flyer urges voters to “save the date” to vote for “a safer Houston” and it also says on the flyer that Jones is “working overtime to prevent police officers from protecting you.”

This is part of the fallout over the Office of Inspector General investigation. It accused Jones of violating ethical standards by allegedly using her council office staff and resources to operate her private law firm.

That investigation began when some complained that Jones passed out this flyer at town hall meetings:

It encourages people to know their rights with police. The advice included tips such as, “never speak with the police” and “never sign a consent to search.”

It also listed Jones’ city council office phone number.

Some police officers felt this was a slap in the face and severed the trust and bond they’ve worked hard to establish with members of the community.

Jones is facing three challengers in November. She narrowly won re-election in 2009, but I wouldn’t count her out just yet. She has loyal followers and is a fighter.

However, people who support the Houston Police Department may feel they can’t cast a vote for Jones if she is as reckless and anti-police as HPOU claims.

Meanwhile,  a spokesperson for council member Jones released this statement, “Council Member Jones has received support and endorsements from individuals and organizations throughout the city including the AFL-CIO, Tejano Democrats, Harris County Young Democrats and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. 

The council member is concerned about public safety issues and supports and respects the Houston Police Department. We hope that HPOU will join her in focusing on important issues that would make better use of police union resources such as police brutality, the crime lab and justice for thousands of rape victims.”

OIG Investigation is Bad News For Council Member Jolanda Jones
June 8, 2011

The Houston City  Attorney has released the results  of an investigation into City Council Member JOLANDA JONES <<< click link to read report.

This is a breaking story and I’ll have more information shortly.

If you recall, Jones came under fire in February for allegedly using her position as a city council member to solicit clients for her law practice.

Council member Jones passed out fliers at a town hall meeting that discouraged people from speaking with the police. More troubling, said critics, Jones listed her personal AND council phone numbers on the cards.

Jones insisted at the time that she did nothing wrong.

The OIG report tells a different story.

Meanwhile, Jones has released this statement, “I have just received this report and will comment further once I have reviewed it.  I hold myself and my staff  to the highest ethical standards. I look forward to clearing up any misunderstandings with respect to this report as expeditiously as the process permits.”

City Leaders Speak Against Prop. 1
September 29, 2010

Several members of  Houston city council stood in solidarity on the steps of city hall Wednesday morning to say they could not support Prop. 1, the  plan to collect a monthly fee to fix the city’s flooding and drainage problems.

Council members Wanda Adams, Jolanda “Jo” Jones, C.O. “Brad” Bradford and Jarvis Johnson say they have critical concerns which must be addressed in an implementation ordinance.

“As public officials, we have a responsibility to let our constituents know what they are voting on. To date, we cannot answer those questions because the information has not been provided,” said Adams.

Mayor Annise Parker is expected to outline the potential implementation of  Proposition No. 1 at this mornings city council meeting.

“We want to ensure that the oldest and  most-in need neighborhoods’  street and drainage projects are completed first; that all Houston businesses have equal opportunity to participate in contracting opportunities, and that Houstonians get hired first,” said Adams.  “Likewise if the drainage fee is collected on citizen’s water bills, then renters are held responsible for the legal obligation of a property owner yet are excluded from much-needed infrastructure work. Churches, colleges and other organizations need to know how much they have to pay.”

Council Member Jones Picks Up Endorsements
September 11, 2009

She’s been getting some heat for her outspoken style of raising questions about the Houston Fire Department, but Council Member Jolanda “Jo” Jones is still winning endorsements in her quest for reelection. 

As 2 ON THE BEAT reported earlier, one of  Jone’s opponents, Dr. Davetta Daniels,  was endorsed by the Houston Professional Firefighters Association, after it rescinded its endorsement of  Jones.

In a news release issued by council Member Jones  campaign,  she touts  three new endorsements from State Representative Kristi Thibaut, Houston 80-20 Asian American Political Action Committee, and Christians for Better Government.

“I am deeply grateful for the support from Rep. Thibaut and these organizations. It’s exciting to see more and more Houstonians coming together in support of our campaign to make sure that Houston city government works for everyone,” said Jones.