Saturday, December 20, 2014

City attorney Feldman quits

This is a fairly large turd in a Christmas gift bag dropped on Mayor Parker's doorstep.  I suppose that's why she used such effusive praise in announcing his departure.

Sticking to the long-held practice of politicians releasing uncomfortable news on a Friday evening, Houston Mayor Annise Parker announced today that her top legal brain has tendered his resignation.

City Attorney David Feldman, who joined the Parker administration in 2010, will resign effective January 16, 2015, according to a release from Parker's office. "Dave has provided great legal counsel for me and the entire City of Houston since his arrival nearly five years ago," Parker said in a statement. "His legal acumen is unmatched. Without his assistance, we would not have been able to accomplish many of my administration's priorities. I wish him the best of luck as he begins this new phase of his professional life. He will be missed at my executive staff table."

Feldman became the second-highest compensated city attorney in the United States after he threatened to quit a year ago.  But it's never about the money, of course.

Feldman said he long had planned to leave by early 2015 but acknowledged the precise timing of his resignation was driven by the lawsuit against Parker's signature equal rights ordinance, set for trial Jan. 19. Conservative critics sued the city this summer after Feldman and Parker announced that the group's petition to force a referendum on the ordinance did not contain enough valid signatures. Opponents largely take issue with the rights extended to gay and transgender residents under the ordinance, which the City Council passed last May, banning discrimination among businesses that serve the public, private employers, in housing and in city employment and city contracting.

Feldman is a central figure in the suit. Opponents charge that he illegally inserted himself into the signature verification process when his office disqualified more than half of the 5,199 pages of signatures because of alleged notary errors. The suit contends that City Secretary Anna Russell, who originally counted enough signatures to verify the petition, should have been in charge of signature verification. 

I suppose we'll go ahead and buy the story that this helps both the former city attorney and the mayor in some shared-interests kind of way.  Time -- and the outcome of the HERO lawsuit -- will tell if that is true or if it is not.

Texpate seems to be in benign agreement that this isn't a good thing for Mayor Parker, but mostly from the 'lame duck' point of view.  I think that's an understatement, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Update: Texas Leftist speculates on what Feldman's leaving -- and the long-term impact of the I Stand Sunday rally last month -- means for HERO's future.

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