Did controversial city housing deal violate federal competitive bidding rules?

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reacted sharply Wednesday to continued scrutiny of a controversial $15 million affordable housing proposal which was awarded on Turner's order to a development group which included the Mayor's former law partner.

"I have been in this business for more than 30 years, 30 years and I think I have an impeccable record of integrity in how I conduct business," said Turner.

It was the City's now former Housing Director Tom McCasland who blew the whistle on what he described as "a charade of competitive bidding."

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Today at City Council, the Mayor doubled down on this defense.

"There is no procurement. Let's be very clear. This is not a procurement issue. There was no bidding," said Turner.

But according to information FOX 26 obtained from the Texas General Land Office, that statement from Turner could prove problematic.

As a condition of receiving millions of Harvey recovery dollars the City of Houston must agree to abide by federal guidelines which clearly state: "All procurement transactions for the acquisition of property or services required under a Federal award must be conducted in a manner providing full and open competition."

The Mayor's statement that there was "no bidding and no procurement" could invite review of past projects funded with federal relief dollars administered by the GLO.

"I welcome anybody's review. I welcome anybody's review," said Turner.

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An invitation which led Fox 26 to a document dated June 4 - the original request for affordable housing proposals issued by the City's Chief Procurement Officer Jerry Adams.

"Bid proposals will be reviewed, underwritten and scored to select awardees," wrote Adams.

So why is the Mayor publicly insisting there were "no bids or procurement" in a deal that's drawing so much negative heat?

The answer to that question is very likely to be sought by members of Council in the days and weeks to come.


"The allegations were so egregious. We need to clear the air," said Michael Kubosh, a member of Houston City Council.

As it stands in Houston, it may not matter who prevails in the "competitive process because the Mayor retains the authority to pick winners and losers, presumably, in the best interest of the City and its citizens.

If Council approves the deal in question Fox 26 is told the GLO will ultimately determine if any federal procurement rules were broken.