Well, hellooooo Houston City Councilwoman Helena Brown! How have you and those big brown eyes come to Your Wonkette’s attention today? Oh, you are busy asking local Houston Korean businessmen to give you money for an $11,000 flight to Korea, even though it was already paid for on the public dime? That is kind of weird! Why are you doing that? Do you have to pay off an evil meth dealer? Do you have an unfortunate stripper habit?* What is the deal, Sweet Councilwoman Brown?
From the Houston Press:
In a recent e-mail, which the Houston Press obtained, Brown said: “The trip to Korea is a costly trip. … Please make checks out to Helena Brown who will personally be offsetting the costs.”
But that wasn’t true. Brown paid for airline tickets to South Korea with public money — $11,000 — according to her expense report. Enrique Reyes, her director of communication, said last week hotel costs hadn’t been charged yet, but declined all questions. Brown’s office said the council member returned to Houston today.
Asking for direct contributions under such circumstances appears to break both city law and Harris county policy. Brown not only solicited money during a period when it wasn’t allowed, but in her e-mail she also asked all contributors to pay her at a June 28 gathering held at a Harris County building in Spring Branch, a violation of County policy. Meeting organizers are informed before forums that fundraising isn’t allowed. “If solicitation for money was happening, that’s not right,” said Ricardo Guinea, director of the Sosa Community Center, which housed the gathering.
So what’s that about soliciting money “during a period when it wasn’t allowed”? Houston has “black-out periods” when you can’t fundraise; we’re sure the Supreme Court will be rectifying that soon.
But there is more fun stuff coming out of Brown’s office — namely, that aside from probably totally breaking the law, she is also an asshole! Little Ms. “Just Make the Check Out to ‘Cash'” is very much about austerity, you see. At least when it only affects the help.
Last April, Brown tried to force out one staff member because she was pregnant, says a letter that employee wrote to the Mayor Pro Tem’s office. She also deleted hours her staff had worked, according to employee time cards, so it would show they worked fewer than 40 hours per week. All of Brown’s staff except one, have been part-time and without benefits, exhibiting Brown’s austerity politics.
“Who wouldn’t want to receive benefits?” asked Brown staff member, Marni Rainey. “But it’s a big issue of hers.”
None of the employees received overtime, required under the federal Fair Standards Act, though several of them worked more than 40 hours per week. It’s also a violation of city policy, which prohibits managers from tampering with time cards unless there are errors.
Helena Brown, you are going places! Probably the Governor’s Mansion, 2015!
*Fun fact! Sarah Tressler was your Editrix’s intern at the late alt-weekly LA CityBeat! She was very flirty.