The four employees attended termination hearings today and could find out tomorrow morning whether they'll lose their jobs. An Office of Inspector General investigation found the employees improperly accepted $143,000 in bonuses between August of 2004 and January of this year. Mayor Pro Tem Carol Alvarado has stepped aside temporarily and is replaced by Councilman Michael Berry. Houston Mayor Bill White says city business must continue.
"What I focus on day to day is just trying to make the city safer, trying to make sure there's economic development, reduced traffic, that sort of stuff and I think that's what most city council people focus on. So, it doesn't really have must to do with city business. Councilmember Alvarado continues to be one of the leaders of city council and I think acting Mayor Pro Tem Berry will do a good job."
White also had some advice for other city employees who may have accepted improper bonuses.
"If there's anybody else in the city who's ever taken improper payments, I'd recommend they resign. We don't like it and we're not going to tolerate it."
The Harris County District Attorneys Office is now investigating the improper bonuses and could file criminal charges later. All four employees have been suspended without pay.