Sick leave petitioners fall short, high salaries for pension execs, HFD wants assurance on firefighter liens, Texas Monitor investigation leads to indictment


Petitioners for a paid sick leave ordinance in Dallas are considering their options after a drive that produced 110,000 signatures but came up 871 signatures short.

For taxpayers and state employees, the figures are bound to look out of line: The state’s public pension systems are struggling with billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities while, according to a Texas Monitor review, compensation is up nearly 24 percent over the past two years for the top-paid 20 investment executives involved with those pension systems.

The fire was massive, engulfing the Southwest Inn in Houston, putting the lives of the 45 guests there at risk. The Houston Fire Department arrived in mass and fought the colossal blaze for hours. By the time the smoke cleared, four firefighters were dead at the scene and more than a dozen were injured. A fifth firefighter later died of his injuries. The 2013 fire caused the greatest loss of life in Houston Fire Department history. In its wake, the administration of former Mayor Annise Parker quietly hired an attorney to, in part, monitor lawsuits by the firefighters and put liens, clawing back money, on any settlements so the city could be reimbursed for the costs it incurred for the firefighters’ medical care. That liens would be placed on the settlements of the dead and the injured has caused a furor across the city. Current Mayor Sylvester Turner pledged last week to drop those collection efforts.

Darian Ward, former press secretary for Mayor Sylvester Turner, was indicted last week for her role in hiding records from a Texas Monitor reporter. In the indictment, the grand jury said that as an officer of public information for the City of Houston, Ward “unlawfully, with criminal negligence, while acting as an officer for public information for the City of Houston …  failed and refused to give access to and to permit and provide copying of public information …”

Have a tip for the Texas Monitor? Contact editor Trent Seibert at [email protected]


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