Double dipping

You almost have to admire the nerve.

CM Steve Le

Houston’s highest-paid city council staffer has continued to collect his $119,600 salary despite being out of the state in a U.S. Army military law training program since January.

Daniel Albert, chief of staff to District F Councilman Steve Le, deployed to Fort Benning in Georgia as part of the Judge Advocate General’s Officer Basic Course from Jan. 21 through March 1, learning military skills and tactics. He then reported to the JAG Legal Center & School in Virginia, where he studied military law from March 4 until Wednesday.

During his training, Albert was on active duty status, earning a lieutenant’s pay. For the first two months of his deployment, however, Albert listed standard 40-hour work weeks on his city time cards.

On March 22, Le and Albert were informed that the Houston Chronicle had requested records relating to Albert’s city work. Two days later, Albert logged into the city payroll system and scheduled six weeks of paid leave, entering 30 days of vacation or other leave — though he had accrued only 11 such days at the time. The next night, records show, he deleted those entries and used the 40 days of paid sick leave he had accumulated instead, scheduling the sick leave to run through this Friday.

City ordinance prohibits employees from working outside jobs while on sick leave. Houston city workers can use 15 days of paid military leave if they apply for that status, but city officials have no record of Albert submitting the required paperwork.

JAG school officials said Monday that Albert still was on site participating in the program, which will train him in military law and begin a years-long commitment representing the Army or Army soldiers as a reservist with the San Antonio-based 1st Legal Operations Detachment.

Le said he asked the city’s Human Resources department and Office of Inspector General to look into the issue several weeks ago after community members raised concerns.

Albert, who did not return calls for comment, said in an email that this OIG probe prevents him from discussing the matter, though he said he was concerned that unspecified “misunderstanding(s) … would condemn a person in public shame before a thorough investigation.”

“I am confident that this matter will be resolved,” he said.

Councilman Greg Travis, who said he feels a kinship to Le as a fellow political conservative, nonetheless blasted the arrangement.

“He doesn’t show up to work, and I think the frustration is shared by everyone on this floor, council staffers and council members,” Travis said of Albert. “When you have somebody in your office who’s unethical, who’s taking money for work not performed, you’ve got to fire them. There’s no way you’re out in another state and you’re performing your job.”

Councilman Dave Martin, another conservative district council member, echoed that.

“It doesn’t smell right and it has never smelled right ever since the day I found out how much money he was making and the fact that I’ve never seen the guy at City Hall — and I see every chief of staff at City Hall every single day because I go to City Hall every day,” he said. “This guy is the anomaly.”


Le, who is responsible for approving Albert’s time cards, said he approved the lengthy sick leave after Albert told him he had broken his leg and was advised by a doctor to take time off.

Le said he was unaware, however, that city rules prohibit employees from working outside jobs while on sick leave or that Albert had not used vacation days earlier in his deployment. Le said he examines Albert’s time cards but not which types of leave are used. He also said computer problems prevented him from approving time cards for part of the year.

Emphasis mine. This is not the first time that Daniel Albert’s work habits have been questioned, but this particular instance is really egregious. Putting aside CM Le’s professed ignorance of city rules (reminder: Le was elected in 2015, so he is not a dewy-eyed newbie), based on his own words either Albert lied to him about why he was claiming sick leave, or he is lying to us about why he approved the request. I mean, one either has a broken leg or one does not, and that fact ought to be easily verified. I don’t know what the mechanism is to get Daniel Albert to pay back the salary he didn’t earn to the city, but it needs to be used. And the voters in District F will want to know about all this as they decide who to support this November.

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18 Responses to Double dipping

  1. David Fagan says:

    Have you seen Daniel Albert’s credentials? It’s one of those things that make you feel like a gross underachiever no matter who you are, now he wants to serve in JAG, that is absolutely terrific. Good for him. People are worried about sick time, and sick leave. Get his military records geniuses, there’s no mention of that, they have doctors in the military. Even if you may have an injury in the military, they still expect you to do your job, even with a leg injury. Why would an educated lawyer sight a broken leg if he couldn’t back it up? Go ahead and try to make this an election year issue with a Vietnamese French immigrant so highly educated and achieved that he makes it look like joining JAG is nothing BUT serving his country and you’ll just help get Le re-elected. This article, and commentary, reeks of agenda and I wish there was a little thought put in before these things are written. There is an entire section of law that addresses the discrimination against service members, so just go ahead and find the political person wanting to tackle that issue. This article, and commentary, is a flat joke and if I weren’t trying to be polite I’d say a few more things about it, but it really diminishes the credibility of this publication by leaps and bounds.

  2. Manny says:

    Sounds like theft, Council members don’t need a large staff and not a one is worth what he was being paid.

  3. Bill_Daniels says:

    “I don’t know what the mechanism is to get Daniel Albert to pay back the salary he didn’t earn to the city, but it needs to be used. And the voters in District F will want to know about all this as they decide who to support this November.”

    Good job spreading the word, Kuff. The singular issue here is the guy collecting his CoH salary while he is clearly not working for the CoH. I support job protection for the guy, so he doesn’t lose his day job while he’s doing his military gig, but he doesn’t deserve to draw pay from both the military AND the city, and the city has a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers to not do that.

    The money needs to be clawed back, and somebody needs to ask the CM why he thinks it’s OK to waste the taxpayer’s money like this.

  4. Manny says:

    Fagan, you went on a ramble and lost me as to what you are trying to argue.

    Even if he is an Eisenstein he is overpaid for the job he is suppose to be doing.

    Will it be an issue who knows, I seriously doubt that Le will be reelected. Le won because Vietnamese are like Cubans when it comes to Vietnam and his predecessor was making overtures to the Vietnamese government.

  5. David Fagan says:

    It sounds like theft because that’s the way the article was written. You cannot penalize a person for serving his country, and if he is sitting in a military law classroom with any type of leg injury due to military training, and the city wants to refuse sick time, then the city would be in a lawsuit for discriminating against a service member. He is now a citizen soldier and is protected under UCMJ, which doesn’t give two craps about local control. These articles do not reference Mr. Albert’s military medical records and, therefore, has a giant hole where the words “true journalism” should be. This shows a lack of research, laziness, and a one sided opinion without even talking to Mr. Albert himself. All the statements in this article are heresay and does no service but to try to make Councilman Le look corrupt, which is using a person’s desire to serve his country in an abominable way. It sounds like there is more to this story than this poorly written article references and, therefore, is not journalism, but opinionated statements based on hearsay. This is a disservice to Mr.Albert’s desire to serve and a statement to where we have come since 9/11/01. In the ‘business world’ Mr. Albert’s efforts would be considered adding value, he will probably be the only lawyer in the city who is also JAG. Mr.Albert is better than this city deserves, or could afford. A JAG lawyer can serve this city’s veteran community in innumerable ways, and makes Councilman Le a stronger candidate. For those who cannot recognize that, I just don’t know what else to say. Mr. Albert can easily tell the city to shove it’s sick time and cash out with a much better, and brighter, career in the military, and I wouldn’t blame him for it, and I would support him 200%.

  6. robert says:

    Especially since he’s a lawyer….AND in the military, there is no excuse for not knowing the ordinance. The military trains you on your rights as a civilian when you are called to do service as well.

    City ordinance prohibits employees from working outside jobs while on sick leave. Houston city workers can use 15 days of paid military leave if they apply for that status, but city officials have no record of Albert submitting the required paperwork.

    Seems like politicians being openly above the law is becoming a trend, lol

  7. Jules says:

    David, what facts are we missing? It seems he would be entitled to 15 days of paid military leave but did not apply for that.

    Whether or not his JAG training makes him better or not isn’t relevant, any city worker could attend school out of state and make the same claim.

    Also, paragraphs.

  8. C.L. says:

    David, you sound like a paid shill for ‘Ass Clown’ Daniel Albert.

  9. General Grant says:

    The issue is simply he is being paid for a job he isn’t doing. None of Mr. Fagan’s missive deals with anything relevant to that

    Also, the only statements of “heresay” are made by Le, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

  10. Greg Wythe says:

    I look forward to CM Le running on the merits of Daniel Albert. 😉


    When Daniel Albert took a three-week cruise a couple of years ago he (1) claimed he was working from home and then when was caught (2) said he didn’t know that he had to put in/apply for vacation. I don’t give a damn how many degrees he has, but even a 19-year old who has worked for more than six months knows to use vacation time. We in District F have a standing joke about “Daniel sightings.” He’s a thief and should be disbarred.

  12. Bill_Daniels says:

    So, his leg injury prevents him from sitting at a CoH desk, answering the phone, pushing papers, etc., but miraculously, his leg injury does not prevent him from sitting at a desk in the military? Clearly, the CoH should find out who the military’s desk supplier is and buy one of those, so people with injuries can still work.

    It’s a miracle! Praise Jesus! Oh, wait, can we say that these days?

  13. Steve Houston says:

    When I was in the reserves years ago, your employer did not have to pay you on top of what you were receiving from the military. The city of Houston has a specific benefit paying for 15 days but it should be noted that whether or not he broke his leg, he’s still being paid by the military. Those who think full time military employment is so terrific for lawyers might want to take a second look at their pay scale, there’s a reason the services can’t keep lawyers for very long and those who think such lawyers are anything special might want to interact with a few of them.

    That said, this is a political blog and Charles doesn’t profess to be a journalist, though many who come here recognize he typically provides vastly superior coverage of the topics he cares about. Those who don’t like it here can leave as they see fit and find another such blog that is more to their liking. As far as David’s rants above, he shows no understanding of the subject matter so it comes across as an effort to distract from the core issues for a city councilman that voted against laying off/demoting firefighters recently, nothing more.

  14. David Fagan says:

    Seeing how the majority of this page is copied from the Houston Chronicle, the reference to journalism must have been made toward the newspaper? “Knowledge is good”

  15. J says:

    David, your fascist tendencies are showing. His military service doesn’t excuse his defrauding the city.

  16. Jules says:

    He’s suspended for now.

  17. David Fagan says:


    Definition of fascism
    1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

    You’re welcome.

  18. Bill_Daniels says:


    While I disagree with you on the basic argument, good for you for standing up for yourself. When all someone has to throw at you is, you’re a racist/sexist/poopyhead/big meanie, you know they aren’t capable of debating, or even capable of having a reasonable conversation. That’s all they can do. It’s the best they can do, to toss out pejoratives. It’s sad, really.

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