HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) — Monday morning Harris County “part(ed) ways” with a questionable hire in its disaster recovery effort. By Monday night it appears he is still assisting the troubled agency.
The Harris County effort to help Harvey victims has been hopelessly slow to get going. As we told you last year, the effort had helped no one – not a single victim – through most of 2019. The numbers are only slightly better this month but the troubled agency behind it is still taking hits. The Houston Chronicle first reported the Harris County Community Services Department hired Guy Rankin in December on a temporary assignment. Rankin was the former head of the Harris County Housing Authority. He lost that job in 2012 amidst a HUD report showing mismanagement and questionable spending.
County commissioners and Judge Lina Hidalgo were unaware of Rankin’s hiring. It was done through a temp agency and his name did not appear on a county agenda as a new or temporary hire.
Today the department says Rankin and the county “mutually agreed to part ways.” In an email to county leaders Harris County Community Development Executive Director Daphne Lemelle wrote, “Due to the negative media and to reduce distractions from the ultimate goal of serving Harris County homeowners, please be advised that Guy Rankin will be ending his service effective today with the DR team. Project Recovery remains focused on serving our Harris County residents as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
But apparently “ending his service effective today” doesn’t mean he’s stopping work for the project. Tonight the county’s Community Services Department says Rankin is still working for the department “providing some reporting assistance,” spokesman Pat Trahan told ABC13.
We’ve asked for a clarification as to whether Rankin and the county “parted ways” or if he’s still getting paid for “reporting assistance.” So far no clarification.
NOTE: The attached video is from our original reporting on the Harris County program in November 2019