13 Undercover

Port of Houston commissioner reinstated

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fed up with all that questionable spending at the Port of Houston? Angry at the price tag for that $100 million cruise terminal we can't seem to give away? On Tuesday, your county commissioners had a chance to send a message and 13 Undercover was watching.

Jim Fonteno only showed up for a couple of minutes, but he already knew the deal was done. He was keeping that prize appointment at the Port of Houston, for another two years and a seventh consecutive term.

The county judge felt the need to explain his vote to you.

"Speaking only for myself, my decision to support Jim Fonteno was I believe he is the kind of change agent we need from within the port to move the port forward," Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said.

Change agent?

Fonteno was on the port commission when $100 million was blown on a cruise terminal, was part of the port commission when it came under fire for all that questionable spending, for the secrecy. So this whole change agent business made us say, OK, name the changes.

"Judge, can you tell us what Jim Fonteno has changed? You described him as a change agent," we asked Emmett.

"It's not a question of what he has changed. I think it's a question of his understanding of port operations," he said.

"I think it sends the absolute wrong message that the majority of commissioners court is not looking for change, is not looking for port to do better, to be more honest and transparent," Jack Morman said.

Jack Morman is the commissioner for the Port of Houston area and he wanted change -- a retired logistics colonel named John Kennedy.

"The type of guy who builds a city in the middle of the desert overnight," Morman said.

But no matter Who Jack Morman wanted to appoint, the Jim Fonteno vote was just a formality.

"Sometimes change for change's sake isn't necessarily the right thing," Emmett said.

Judge Emmett says he would consider term limits for port commissioners and financial disclosure. But so far, none of the port commissioners, including Mr. Fonteno, have offered to voluntarily detail their finances.

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