Some on Pasadena City Council rattled by now-withdrawn proposal to contract private investigator
Several Pasadena City Council members have raised concerns over a now-dead proposal from Mayor Jeff Wagner to contract a former Houston police officer to conduct private investigation services.
The item, which was listed on the council’s Jan. 16 agenda, was deferred by Wagner during the pre-council meeting before the regular session. The item proposed approving an agreement for the services with former Houston police officer David P. McCoy.
“It really, really concerned me,” City Councilman Cody Ray Wheeler said.
Wagner’s chief of staff, James Rodriguez, said Monday that the proposal is not going forward and that “it didn’t work.” Attempts to contact him for further information were unsuccessful, as were attempts to reach Wagner.
McCoy declined to comment.
Wheeler said no explanation was given for the proposal or why it was later taken off the agenda.
He and fellow council member Sammy Casados said they found the language worrisome in the contract that had been proposed between the city and McCoy.
According to the proposed agreement, “The responsibilities of David P. McCoy will, as directed by the Mayor, include review and investigation of facts and circumstances involving allegations of City, non-classified personnel, and agents misconduct related to duties and transactions with the City and non-criminal violation of law or policies.”
“The private investigator was solely under his (Wagner’s) discretion,” Casados said of the proposal. “If anybody was going to be investigated, it was completely up to the mayor.”
Wheeler said he had not received any notice or background information about the proposal. City Councilman Thomas Schoenbein said he, too, had been in the dark about the plan.
“The first time I heard about it was when it was placed on the Jan. 16 meeting agenda,” Schoenbein said. “We did not have any opportunity to ask any questions. It was automatically deferred.“Wheeler said he could think of no reason to hire an outside private investigator when existing law enforcement avenues are available and posses more investigative authority. McCoy’s services would have cost the city $100 per hour with a four-hour minimum requirement written into the contract.
A resume attached to agenda documents indicated that McCoy was with the Houston Police Department from 1985 to 2014.
A recent local example of a city’s internal investigation was when the city of Houston’s Office of Inspector General checked into alleged misconduct by Darian Ward, who stepped down as press secretary to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner after claims that she used city resources for a private side business and tried to block release public records. Harris County District Attorney’s office has requested evidence from the city in that case.
Wheeler said he was concerned about potential for abuse that could occur through contracting of private investigation services.
“Hopefully, he got a sense that it’s an overstep of power,” Wheeler said of the mayor.
Schoenbein noted that the mayor and McCoy had both worked for the Houston Police Department, saying, “And I think that would have been one of the questions: What ties to the Houston Police Department and current administration would have been in place?”
Wagner was a longtime Houston police officer before his election as mayor in 2016.