For several weeks, Houston Councilmembers have used a number of procedural moves to delay a vote on an ordinance that would regulate certain business practices at auto collision and repair shops.
Now they've voted to delay it for another two months, so they can vet the requirements with industry stakeholders. The delay means it will come back for a vote in February, when half of the councilmembers at the table will be rookies.
Councilmember Jolanda Jones spoke in strong favor of a delay, but for slightly different reasons.
It was Jones last public session as a councilmember and in her final remarks she alleged a Houston Police officer, who was instrumental in helping draft the ordinance, was making money off the deal.
"I have heard allegations and if they are true then they need to be investigated, so I'm requesting a formal investigation. Sgt. Provost threatened people. I gave some of the details yesterday, I'll get into them later when I get back into town. That concerns me. He has family members who work for Service King. I have a colleague around this table who, I've been told if it's true, has a family member who works for Service King. That's problematic."
Service King is a collision repair chain that operates in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio. Sgt. Michael Provost helps the city craft auto regulations, including the SafeClear towing program and this ordinance to regulate repair shop billing practices.
Houston Police Officers Union Vice President Ray Hunt says the allegations are unfounded.
"We believe that Sgt. Provost operates under the highest integrity and we have no reason to question his integrity on this. This is another attempt by Jolanda Jones to grandstand at council, just like she's been doing for the last four years."
As for whether there will be a formal investigation, right now it hinges on a piece of paper. Houston Mayor Annise Parker says the law requires a written statement to initiate an investigation against a police officer. At this time, Jones has only made an oral request.
"Allegations of criminal behavior against a classified employee, a Houston Police Officer, have to be written and sworn to. Councilmember Jones has indicated that she will do that, although most of what Councilmember Jones offered was hearsay."
Parker says if a written complaint is filed, the Internal Affairs Division of the Police Department will investigate.