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CM Brown alleged to have altered time cards

Oh, my.

CM Helena Brown

Houston City Councilwoman Helena Brown subtracted hours from employees’ timecards in apparent violation of federal law, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle.

The first-term councilwoman shorted an employee by more than three hours in a day in several cases. At least six times, Brown deleted enough hours from employees’ reported workweeks that it cost them overtime by bringing their weekly total under 40 hours.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires overtime pay and accurate record keeping. City policy prohibits supervisors from changing employees’ timecards except to correct errors. A spokeswoman for the Harris County district attorney said the office does not confirm the existence of investigations but said the Public Integrity Unit would handle a complaint if one were filed. Charges that could result from the circumstances described by the Chronicle could include tampering with a government document, a felony, she said.

Brown’s staff at one time included five 39-hour-per-week employees classified as part-timers. Many of Brown’s changes to the times reported by her employees appear to shorten or lengthen their workweeks to exactly 39 hours.

These are serious allegations, and there doesn’t seem to be much room for mitigation or extenuating circumstances, but we don’t have the full story. I hope there is an investigation by the District Attorney’s office because one way or another we should get some kind of official resolution to this. If you want to play the speculation game, ask yourself how the Chron knew to go looking for this information. Someone tipped them, the question is who. Holiday week or no, I’m sure the rumor mill is on overdrive this week. Whatever happens from here, there has already been one change resulting from this:

[City Attorney David] Feldman said he did give Brown’s office legal advice on how to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act. While he would not specify what that advice was, he said the general issue was with her 39-hour-per-week part-time employees. She has three. The difficulty of properly tracking their hours creates the potential for FLSA violations, Feldman said.

“She is still in the process of converting over the 39-hour employees to regular full-time employees,” he said.

I’m sure they’ll still decline their health insurance benefits, though. By coincidence or not, this investigative piece came out just ahead of this Houston Press cover story on Brown that I daresay will have tingues wagging at City Hall for weeks. I’ve read it and am still thinking about it; I’ll have some thoughts on it later. Bay Area Houston and Stace have more.

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11 Comments

  1. John Cobarruvias (@BayAreaHouston) says:

    Just an FYI. This is a violation of federal law and not in the jurisdiction of the DA in Harris county. someone correct me if I am wrong. So this will be what? FBI? She is so screwed.

  2. Brad M. says:

    Why am I not surprised.

  3. joshua bullard says:

    people operate at times in good faith,if you look back to the media and charles kuffner’s post its easy to accept that the general public was informed that their was going to be some untraditional methods of employment records with in cm browns office-this should come as know surprise to anyone,therefore if their where “error nunc pro tunc” in the record keepings of such records-certainly it will be deemed “errors in good faith”,the law allows for errors in good faith especially when the whole city was put on notice,mistakes may have been made,but no crime committed.

    the chron.com is just trying to sale the paper……this doesnt go anywhere

    joshua ben bullard

  4. paul kubosh says:

    I agree with Joshua it goes no where. Also glad to see John weighing in.

  5. John Cobarruvias (@BayAreaHouston) says:

    If a kabosh says there is nothing to this, then there is probably a lot to this!

    Helena Brown is an incredible idiot. I mean what kind of an idiot do you have to be to alter time cards? I mean seriously folks, just how stupid do you have to be to think that altering a time card is ok?

    That lady needs help.

  6. John Cobarruvias (@BayAreaHouston) says:

    Oh. FYI. The Houston Press has also piled on. They are a bit more animated than the Chronicle.

  7. Athena says:

    Every village has to have its idiot and in Joshua “Lower Case” Bullard, Houston has an idiot extraordinaire. His run-on style and lack of punctuation come from the stream of unconsciousness school of ramblings. It is of no surprise that our village troll, Paul Kubosh, would agree with him as Bullard cannot speak while Kubosh eats or drinks.

    Nunc pro tunc? Good faith? Give me a break! Helena Brown cheated these people on time with the intention of never having to pay them overtime or benefits. Additionally, that either of you two miscreants would attempt to justify her acts speaks only to your personal lack of ethics and respect for persons and the law. And, Josh your lack of fluency and literacy in English would suggest that Latin would never be within the realm of possibility for you.

    Hey Paul, have you posted a disclaimer yet advising your DWI clients that one day you just may publish their case history on Off The Kuff if the end justifies your meanness? Tell them up front that you may recommend that they not be hired in the future because their potential employer needs to know about their criminal record? Interesting, that you do not apply the same set of rules to the ethically and intellectually challenged psychopaths that you are fond of endorsing.

    What sort of foul mischief are you up to now that involves the rabid, misogynistic, homophobic merchant of hate that is Dave Welch? Let’s see, you had deeply insinuated your slimy, porcine, cancerous self into the homophobic campaigns of alleged Democratic candidates Elaine Palmer and Keryl Douglas, along with your strong support of Tea Party wingnuts Brown and Leticia Ablaza, and now you are playing with Welch. You are only missing Hotze to fill your flush of crazies. You in particular should be known by the company that you keep. And that begs the question of which one of you gets possession of the fleas after arising?

  8. Paul Kubosh says:

    “Hey Paul, have you posted a disclaimer yet advising your DWI clients that one day you just may publish their case history on Off The Kuff if the end justifies your meanness?”

    When Steven Kirkland was in Municipal Court #8 it was a horrible time. In my opinion he was a horrible Judge. I do not think he was competent to be a Municipal Court Judge nor a District Court Judge. Before he ever considered a deferred for a defendant he wanted to know if the defendant ever had a dwi. It was somthing he wanted to consider. He had the right to do it. I believe his criminal record was somthing that the voters had a right to consider. His sexual orientation had nothing to do with it.

    “Interesting, that you do not apply the same set of rules to the ethically and intellectually challenged psychopaths that you are fond of endorsing.”

    Given a choice between Brown and Stardig I will always go with Brown. Like I have said before she just needs to work on her delivery.

    “What sort of foul mischief are you up to now that involves the rabid, misogynistic, homophobic merchant of hate that is Dave Welch?”

    As far as Dave Welch is concerned I am trying to get them to get behind the feeding charter. I am not having much luck there.

    “Let’s see, you had deeply insinuated your slimy, porcine, cancerous self into the homophobic campaigns of alleged Democratic candidates Elaine Palmer and Keryl Douglas,”

    You calling me homophobic because I opposed a candidate who happened to be gay does not make me homophobic. You don’t know me. You are being judgmental. Did you oppose them because they are black? Check the records I give more to Democrats then I do Republicans.

    “along with your strong support of Tea Party wingnuts Brown and Leticia Ablaza, and now you are playing with Welch. You are only missing Hotze to fill your flush of crazies.”

    You are being presumptious. As far as the Hotze’s are concerned I tried to call Dr. Hotze the leader of the “harris county texas conservative god fearing want to do the right thing and fall in line and do anything the publication says pac”. You know what? I couldn’t get a return call. In fact the only response I got was an email from their political consultant that says he doesn’t return phone calls.

    Understand somthing. If anything I am anti-establishment. Not Republican or Democrat. So what you will.

    John,
    I prefer the Koch brothers reference more the Kabosh. Just saying.

  9. Paul Kubosh says:

    Kuffner,

    I must admit I love your blog….all you guys need to come to my Christmas party this year.

  10. Mainstream says:

    Paul Kubosh personally attended a fundraising event and donated $200 to an openly gay candidate for city council District A in the 2009 contest, so charges that he is homophobic for opposing Kirkland are off base. Kirkland received mixed reviews by attorneys practicing in his court. Whether black Democrats opposed Kirkland as a result of racial affinity or based on homophobia is another question, however.

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