Mayor Turner fires housing director for accusing him of “parody” of tender



HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner on Tuesday fired his director of housing and community development after accusing the mayor of a “masquerade” bidding process to funnel money from the city to a particular developer.

“Unfortunately, I have reached a point where I can no longer respond to this administration’s tenders for this development,” said Tom McCasland at a committee meeting on Tuesday morning.

At one point during McCasland’s explosive remarks, there was an audio and video interruption to the public stream of the town reunion.

A spokesperson for the mayor said the issue was a technical difficulty and unintentional.

McCasland asked why Mayor Turner rejected his department’s warnings and recommendations against the prosecution of MGroup, the developer of an affordable housing project in Clear Lake, Huntington in the Bay Area.

In a series of memos and other documents released by McCasland to city council members, he says his office recommended that the mayor go ahead with four projects at a combined cost of $ 16.2 million. dollars in municipal dollars and provide 362 affordable units. But he says the mayor chose to go with the Huntington project alone at a cost of $ 15 million and 88 affordable units.

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“This administration is funding a certain developer, at the expense of working families who need affordable housing,” McCasland said.

McCasland was careful to clarify that he was not alleging that there had been fraud.

“But even though there is no fraud in this case, it is something you should be concerned about because of how it hurts the way the city does business,” he said. he told council members.

In a statement, Mayor Turner said, “There is no masquerade. The comments made by the former director of the City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department are puzzling, exaggerated and wrong. “

The mayor made additional remarks at an impromptu press conference on Tuesday afternoon.

“This is not a fraud, it is not an illegality, there is nothing wrong here. The only criticism Tom makes is that I didn’t follow his choice, ”Turner said.

In response to questions about his former legal partner having a stake in the MGroup Huntington project, Mayor Turner said he was not aware of the connection until today.

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The Texas General Land Office released the following statement, stating that it would investigate McCasland’s allegations:

“We will be reviewing all funding requests allocated to the City of Houston by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The GLO will coordinate with the HUD and other investigative entities to determine what actions to take regarding these allegations. Fraud has no place in helping Texans recover from disaster.

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