A month before complaints about problems at his apartments were disclosed publicly, state Rep. Hubert Vo used his government letterhead to complain to Houston police commanders about the department’s scrutiny and accuse officers of harassment.
“What I am concerned with is the appearance that the NPC officers are using their authority to harass and issue tickets instead of working with the apartment managers to remedy any deficiencies,” he wrote in the Feb. 25 letter to Assistant Chief Dorothy Edwards, who heads the Houston Police Department’s Neighborhood Protection Corps.
“The word ‘harass’ is a very strong word and I use it very cautiously, but the conduct of the officers involved in this situation leads me to no other conclusion.”
The three-page letter, which goes on to complain that the manager at the Villa De Matel apartments was not treated fairly and “taunted,” was obtained from HPD by the Houston Chronicle late Friday under the Texas Public Information Act.
While it does not make any explicit threats or demands, the letter is on his state office stationery, which contains the state seal and a rendering of the Texas Capitol. It notes his position on the House Law Enforcement Committee last session.
Under his signature, Vo also indicated that he was sending a copy to Edwards’ boss, Chief Harold Hurtt.
Here’s a simple rule that all elected officials should follow: If what you’re about to do is not directly related to the function of your elected office, don’t use any of the trappings of your office for it. That means no stationery, no email address, no phone, and so on. If it’s your personal business, do it on your time and on your dime. You’ll be amazed how much grief you can avoid this way.
Now I don’t know if this official-letterhead complaint by Rep. Vo violated any laws or House rules. His opponent is calling for an investigation – no surprise there – but that doesn’t mean there’s anything to investigate. If there is, then let the chips fall where they may. And let there be no more surprises to uncover related to this.