Houston – Outside Mayor Sylvester Turner’s office, two dozen individuals stood on the steps of Houston City Hall with the message “Stop Corruption in Houston” emblazoned across their chests.
“This is a problem. This is a widespread problem,” said Towana Bryant, a shipping business owner, about the harassment of small business owners who are part of city contracts.
One Vietnamese business owner put it simply: “Being a minority, a woman or a small business in this city gets you into trouble.”
Chyna Gragg, owner of a roofing business, says many minority business owners are not treated fairly by major contractors.
As a result, like Gragg and other people, they are not being paid what they owe. The reason, says one business owner, is, “You know we don’t have the power to fight back.
Gragg said she has a case pending in federal court.
Councilman Michael Kubosh is not awaiting trial to make his ruling.
“When you have a minority contractor not being paid by the majors or being harassed by the prime minister and the city not doing anything, that’s wrong,” Kubosh said.
Friday’s news conference comes nearly a month before federal judge William Paul Thomas is sentenced on public corruption charges. The former Houston city manager, who regularly appears at Mayor Turner’s side, was convicted of bribery-related conspiracy in July.
Activist Kunel X highlighted Thomas’ case at a news conference on Friday.
“I am suing those who worked closely with William Paul Thomas,” said X.
X continued This is another example of what many say is a part of the Turner administration for some time.
“We are here to address the culture of corruption. The pay-to-play system is implemented. There is a serious problem and it needs to be fixed,” X said.
Late Friday, the mayor’s office issued the following statement.
“The Davis-Bacon and Related Actions (DBRA) Division of Housing and Community Development (HCDD) of the City of Houston assessed underpayments to workers at the 900 Winston development by Brazoria Construction, a low-level subcontractor. The review found that Brazoria Construction had failed to pay its workers wages as determined by the US Department of Labor. As a result, the prime contractor, Royal American Construction, was notified and asked to issue compensation checks to the injured Brazoria Construction workers. Rice Construction, a subcontractor that employed Brazoria Construction as a subcontractor, paid compensation checks to the injured Brazoria Construction workers. As a result, HCDD filed a Brazoria Construction underpayment case and cleared it. The City of Houston is actively reviewing this matter and to date has refused to release documents in violation of the TPIA and has received no information as it is not aware of any complaints.
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