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Office of Business Opportunity (OBO)

When an employee in the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity (OBO), formerly Affirmative Action & Contract Compliance Program, notified the Inspector General’s Office that a African American contractor was able to maintain his company's minority owned business status after the owner had submitted documents that would of made his minority status ineligible, therefore denying contracting opportunities to several Hispanic owned business, the employee was fired.

The employee first made his concerns known to Osazuwa, his supervisor. After what appeared to be no action taken, the employee mentioned his concerns to Warren, his manager. And again, after what appeared to be no action taken, the employee brought his concerns to the former Director Velma Laws, and shortly thereafter was fired by the COH for alleged misconduct. The EEOC determined that the employee’s termination was wrongful due to various reasons, including race etc...

Although Mayor Parker has moved Velma Laws into a position in Personnel, she has not investigated or reprimanded the COH employees that were investigated by the EEOC during their investigation of these charges. The other four COH employees that were investigated are Constance Acosta, Attorney in the Legal Dept., Sgt. David Guillen, a Houston Police Officer within the Office of Inspector General's Office (OIG) that conducted the FLAWD initial investigation (OIG 2006-0521 and OIG 06-610) and made contradictory statements that would appear to be perjurious statements which were revealed in the EEOC investigation, OBO Contract Certification Manager Timothy Warren and OBO Contract Supervisor Isaiah Osazuwa. This OIG investigation was flawed because Laws, Warren, and Osazuwa appear to of provided false and misleading and/or perjurious statements during the investigations.

The employee complaints of Laws', Warren's, and Osazuwa's and what appears to be their wrongdoings and/or perjurious statements were filed on 9/01/06, 12/14/06, 02/02/07 with C.C. Kirchner, 04/04/07, OIG 20070199, and 20070214. All of these employee complaints investigated by the OIG (Houston Police Dept.) appear to be biased against the employee disregarding what appears to be any and every false and misleading and/or perjurious statements made by Laws, Warren, and Osazuwa.

In a Houston Chronicle story
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/metropolitan/7108733.html Mayor Parker publicly faulted the manner in which the OIG conducted a specific HFD investigation. As this Chronicle story reports, Mayor Parker took the steps needed to have employee complaints investigated without prejudice by moving the OIG into the Legal Department.

In addition to these OIG investigations, Laws, Acosta, Warren and Osazuwa and HPD Sgt. David Guillen appear to of given false and misleading and/or perjurious statements during the Civil Service Commission’s hearing and/or the Texas Workforce Commission Hearing (TWC), with Ms. Acosta also being told to stop prompting or assisting testimony with the COH employees during the TWC telephone hearing. All of what appears to be the specific perjurious statements were documented in the EEOC investigation.

The following text of a lack of proper auditing procedures and special treatment to contractors by Mrs. Laws and Mr. Warren was part of the initial complaint that the employee filed with the OIG.

An example of this lack of due diligence resulting in firms continuing their certification when they should not is XXXXXXXX owned by XXXXXXX. During his certification as a DBE firm not only did his business structure change from a corporation to a LTD, but after a review of his submitted PFS many discrepancies existed that would show that his net worth exceeded the $750,000 threshold for DBE certification.

This lack of requiring applicants to reapply after three years which results in the City of Houston not being able to carefully evaluate accounting mechanisms that applicants may use to try to circumvent the PNW threshold, but also in the City of Houston not having the required documents in order to make an knowledgeable decision for approval or denial of the applicant. This lack of following required procedures can be shown by the example of XXXXXX and his Airport Concessionaire Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) certification for his numerous businesses located at the Houston Airport System (HAS). XXXXXX had in previous years neglected to provide full disclosure of his personal assets, which continued his certification until February 2006 when his submitted recertification documents where reviewed by myself. I was able to identify personal assets that he had not previously disclosed on this submitted PFS. These personal assets resulted in showing that his personal net worth exceeded the $750,000 dollar threshold for DBE certification. Additional documents provided by XXXXXX stated that these assets where not required or being used to open or expand a concessions business.

Although the decertifying process should of began in April of 2006 when I notified Velma Laws of XXXXX PNW status, to date it has not. Several months after I notified Mrs. Laws I spoke with my manager Timothy Warren of XXXXXX status.

At that time he made a statement that he knew XXXXX and would call him up to have it corrected. I was surprised by this statement, as all the documents that he had submitted to date documented that these assets exceeded $750,00 and where not required or being used to open or expand a concessions business. Although I had assumed that at this time procedures to remove or decertify his business entities would begin, Mr. Warren felt it necessary to contact XXXXX to clarify his earlier statements regarding his PNW. XXXXXXX files have been closed since 2/28/2006 and I have been instructed to keep them closed. By having these files closed for a period of one year an applicant (XXXXX) no longer has the ability to have his files “reopened“ by the city and would be required to reapply. By reapplying he would submit a PFS that perhaps would again not reflect all of his personal assets and the City of Houston would not do due diligence and review his closed applications and consider prior information submitted. The purpose of having this $750,000 net worth cap is to provide for a type of graduation from the ACDBE program to allow for the participation of eligible DBE/ACDBE in which I know of several Hispanic owned businesses that could possible be eligible for these opportunities. By not decertifying ineligible businesses other entrepreneurs are unfairly being kept out of these lucrative contracting opportunities.