A Harris County grand jury indicted six members of the Pasadena economic development board Tuesday for holding private meetings with a contractor.
According to Houston Public Media, the indictment was for the violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act, which requires any government board to open its meetings to the public when a majority of board members are present.
Board members of the Pasadena Second Century Corp., including voting members Jim Harris and Emilio Carmona, Secretary Jackie Welch, Treasurer Brad Hance, Vice President Ernesto Paredes and President Roy Mease were all indicted in connection with private meetings the board held with engineering firm Civil Concepts about possible designs for a new civic center.
“The spirit of the law requiring open meetings is transparency in government,” said Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg. “Intentional failure to notify taxpayers about meetings where their tax dollars are at stake is a crime because it destroys the public’s trust in their government to operate openly.”
Pasadena City Councilman Sammy Casados filed the initial complaint against the board for failing to make the meetings public. He also told the Houston Chronicle the board held the meetings without notifying either the public or the council.
“The city has run too long with the good old boy system,” said Casados. “This just proves that they were taking advantage of the system and keeping pertinent information from the public.”
Mease, who was a long-time friend of Pasadena Mayor Johnny Isbell, had served on the board since 2009. Mease and the other board members met with Civil Concepts Owner Richard Cansler. Cansler and his family were also among the highest donors to Isbell’s mayoral campaigns.
If convicted, each member could be sentenced to up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.