This is exactly why soon to be State Sen. Paul Bettencourt is going to be an “upgrade” of sorts over the current senator from SD7, Sen. Dan Patrick:
For Immediate Release:
Contact: Allen Blakemore
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Bettencourt Says City of Houston Audit Letters Should be Made Public
If Elected, He Pledges to File Legislation to Ensure They Are Made Available
HOUSTON, TX – Paul Bettencourt, Republican candidate for Texas Senate District 7, today pledged serious legislative action after the disclosure that the City of Houston is keeping its management audit letters private, even though other large Texas cities routinely make them available as public record.
“It is outrageous that the City of Houston is trying to hide their independent external financial audit findings from public view that apparently show significant deficiencies in city accounting transactions. There is simply no fact, or supposition of fact, that any audit letter, paid for by public tax dollars, should not be made public immediately, as transparent good government demands!” said Bettencourt.
“If elected, I will make this one of the first bills that I file,” Bettencourt continued. “The public has a right to know, and the legal rulings by the city, and even the Attorney General’s Office, must not be used in lieu of good public practice and transparency.”
Bettencourt calls on Mayor Annise Parker to release these audit letters and publically explain why they have been hidden from public view. By contrast, according to the Houston Chronicle article on January 28th entitled “City Keeping Audit Letters Secret”, by Jayme Fraser, Fort Worth and San Antonio post copies of their independent audit letters on their websites for public view.
Paul Bettencourt is available for comment today.
For better or worse, Sen. Patrick focused on state and national issues and didn’t get directly involved in city or county issues. Bettencourt is going to be the polar opposite of that and that is a good thing for the citizens of Harris County.
From the article linked in Bettencourt’s press release:
Houston officials have blocked the release of letters detailing weaknesses in the city’s financial accounting even though other large Texas cities routinely share such letters as a matter of transparency.
“What are they trying to hide, if anything?” asked Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “The financial business of a government entity is everybody’s business. It’s our money, and it’s our government.”
It’s a shame that city officials are trying to hide these audits from the citizens of the city. But it is good to know that help is on the way. Bettencourt is a tenacious advocate for the taxpayers and will not back down in any fashion. The 84th Texas Legislative Session is going to be a fun one to watch.