Houston City Employees Remain Terminated

Four city employees remain terminated from their jobs after a commission reached a decision that they received improper pay raises and bonuses. Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports.

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The hearing started around 9am on Tuesday and was supposed to last about six hours. Instead it wrapped up after midnight after attorneys argued for hours about procedures and evidence. The commission determined that four employees in the City of Houston Office of Mayor Pro Tem should not be reinstated to their positions. The four were accused of falsifying documents and forging signatures in order to receive unauthorized pay raises and bonuses. Former Mayor Pro Tem and City Councilmember Carol Alvarado testified that she never authorized the payments.

But former employee Rosie Hernandez disputed that during her testimony, saying all the raises were discussed with and approved by Alvarado. Hernandez's attorney, Walter Boyd, says this came down to a case of one person's word against another.

Along with Hernandez, Christopher Mays, Florence Watkins and Theresa Orta received bonuses and raises amounting to more than $143,000 since 2004. Hernandez and Watkins both held supervisory positions and were charged with greater culpability. Mays and Orta were still terminated, but the commission found they were not guilty of any conspiracy to receive bonuses. The District Attorney's office is doing a criminal investigation into the office of Mayor Pro Tem and criminal charges could be brought against the four employees and possibly against Carol Alvarado. The FBI is also monitoring the case because it involves an elected official. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.

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