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Wilson’s legal fees

Oh, come on.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

The ongoing legal battle over Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson’s residency is poised to pit one source of taxpayer dollars against another, as the college may be on the hook for his legal fees and the county continues to pay to pursue a case it has lost twice.

HCC has an insurance policy that covers legal fees for trustees, but the deductible is $300,000 – much higher than the $36,980 Wilson’s case has cost him so far, meaning the college probably will have to pay the full bill. The college, which would not comment for this story, has requested an attorney general’s opinion to determine whether it is permitted to use public funds to reimburse personal attorney fees incurred by trustees.

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Although he thinks the county should stop trying to oust him, Wilson says it’s appropriate for HCC to cover his legal fees.

“If you don’t indemnify your trustees, you’re never going to get anybody to run for anything,” Wilson said.

I hate to say it, but he’s right. Dave Wilson remains a lousy human being, but he’s also the winner of the court case against him, and as such he’s entitled to have his costs covered. The bill in question is, relatively speaking, small potatoes. Just pay it and be done with it.

Officials in the county attorney’s office say they continue to pursue the case because it raises important legal issues. The county has pointed to the fact that Wilson has claimed his wife’s home outside the district on tax forms.

“We believe that a person should not be able to claim the benefit of a residential homestead at one location while registering to vote at a different location,” First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard said Tuesday. “More fundamentally, an elected representative should not be allowed to serve and set the tax rate for a district in which he does not personally reside.”

It was right for the County Attorney to take this action against Wilson. If nothing else, it has shown what a sham residency requirements are, a weak spot in the law Wilson fully exploited. Whether it makes sense to pursue this further is less clear to me. It’s hard for me to see an appeals court seeing things differently. I agree with the principle involved, but at some point it really should be a matter for the Legislature to deal with if they so choose, and not the courts.

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