Harris County, Texas

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Budget Y
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Meetings P
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials Y
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Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying N
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Public records Y
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Local taxes Y
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Transparency grading process
Harris County, Texas is one of 254 counties in Texas. It is located within the Greater Houston metropolitan area. As of 2010 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 4.1 million, making it the most populous county in Texas and the third most populous county in the United States. Its county seat is Houston, the largest city in Texas. It was founded in 1836 and is named for John Richardson Harris, an early settler of the area.

Website evaluation

In 2011 Harris County earned a Sunny Awards for having a perfect website transparency score. See also: Evaluation of Texas county websites

Last rated on Jan. 12, 2012

The good

  • The current budget is published.[1]
  • County commissioner meeting schedule and agendas are published.[2][3]
  • The names and contact information for all county commissioners are published.[4]
  • Information on administrative officials is available.[5]
  • Information on building permits and zoning is available.[6]
  • Audit reports are published.[7]
  • Information on contracts is provided.[8]
  • There is a procedure for requesting public records.[9]
  • Tax information is provided.[10][11]

The bad

  • Meeting minutes are not posted.
  • Information about lobbying is not provided.

Board of Commissioners

Member Precinct
Ed Emmett County Judge
El Franco Lee Precinct 1
Jack Morman Precinct 2
Steve Radack Precinct 3
Jerry Eversole Precinct 4

Corruption charges

Jerry Eversole was rumored to have accepted bribes from developer Mike Surface in 2008. In 2010 he was indicted on those charges for allegedly accepting $100,000 worth of bribes.[12]

Public Employees

Precinct 1 Constable Jack Abercia failed in his 2009 disclosure form to state his office and his source of occupational income. He is paid $130,512 a year, records show. Texas Watchdog called his office, and he was quick to return our call and took note of the inquiry. He said he would fix the missing information on the disclosure form.[13]

Lobbying

Main article: Texas government sector lobbying

Harris County spent $200,000 on lobbying in 2011.[14]

Harris County belonged to the Texas Association of Counties, a government sector lobbying association. However, because of a 2005 lawsuit which concluded that the lobbying activities of a taxpayer-funded organization like TAC were illegal, Harris County revoked its membership in the organization.[15]

Voter fraud

In August 2010, a 3 alarm fire destroyed all the voting machines in Harris County, the cause of the fire is unknown.[16]

Shortly after, the Texas Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against the Harris County voter registrar in federal district court for what it says are violations of voter registration laws, political favoritism and violations of voter privacy.[17] The lawsuit follows registrar Leo Vasquez, who has accused two Democratic-leaning activist groups of voter fraud involving more than 5,000 applications.[18][19]

In response, Texans Together Education Fund, parent company of Houston Votes has also filed a suit agains the King Street Patriots, a local tea party group. The suit accuses them of intimidating voters, while King Street Patriots maintains that their volunteers are only poll watchers.[20]

Unemployment rate

The county has seen a large spike in unemployment due to the recession, losing 49,800 jobs in the first quarter of 2010.[21]

Payroll documents

Harris County answered a Freedom of Information Act request from Sunshine Review and copied a list of payroll related records for the county.[22]

Public employee salaries

Main article: Harris County employee salaries



External links


References