Terrence McCoy, Houston Press: Junior Defamer of Conservative Helena Brown

Conservative Houston Council Woman Helena BrownThis is the article that Rich Ambrose brought to my attention last week. I wrote a diatribe in the comments section of the Houston Press in support of Helena. Too many Houstonians think Helena is extreme only because they don’t comprehend the true State of the City. Defined benefits plans have our finances cratering, but Boss Parker and her go along to get along City Council members don’t want us to know.

Thank goodness for Councilwoman Helena Brown. She is being the conservative watchdog we all hoped she’d be. Read John Griffing’s article detailing Helena’s rebuttal of this young and misguided writer’s smears so you can support Helena. –rhl


Terrence McCoy: Junior Defamer  by John Griffing (reprinted with writer’s permission)

Terrence McCoy, a young writer at the Houston Press, has sought to build a name for himself defaming conservative public figures. CM Brown just happened to fall prey to his juvenile antics. McCoy’s writing is full of cutesy metaphors and much of his sensationalist tripe fails to pass even a basic rubric of good journalism. Writing a colorful story does not a journalist make.

McCoy has written a series of hit pieces with the intent of scandalizing the record of a scandal-free Council Member by using the statements of disgruntled ex-employees, hearsay, and still worse, out-and-out lies. McCoy, operating under Houston Press auspices, makes blatant accusations followed by alleged “evidence.” But his evidence is often incomplete, as well as lacking corroboration and the balance of an alternate perspective. McCoy’s “evidence” for his claims would likely be ruled inadmissible in a court of law. Let’s look at some examples of McCoy’s claims, followed by brief factual clarifications.

McCoy claims that Brown flaunts labor law and the rights of her workers by classifying them as “part time.”

Reality: All of Brown’s staff is paid between $20-$60,000—well above a living wage. Employee pay, concealing the identity of employees, is listed below:

Employee 1: $60,000
Employee 2: $45,000
Employee 3: $43,000
Employee 4: $30,000
Employee 5: $30,000
Employee 6: $21,000

*Additionally, almost all of Brown’s interns are paid $10/hour. All employees chose to seek private coverage. Many private businesses, including churches, allow their employees to do the same. When did public insurance and access to the city gravy-train become the inherent “right” of citizens, as McCoy suggests?

McCoy claims that Brown tried to force out one of her employees due to a pregnancy.

Reality: The employee in question engaged in borderline extortion and began insinuating legal action due to pregnancy-related work “stress.” Brown was very supportive of the employee’s situation since the time it was fully disclosed by the employee. Recently, the employee’s situation improved; Brown increased her pay substantially and decreased her hours; higher pay and fewer hours? Nice work if you can get it. Brown is now being harassed by the Chronicle and the juvenile poser at the Press for discriminating against a pregnant woman. Which is it? It can’t be both. Either Brown is trying to force her out, or isn’t doing enough to empathize with her employee’s circumstance. Pick a narrative. Better yet, why not just report the facts?

McCoy claims that Brown spent $11,000 of “public” money for a trip to Korea.

Reality: McCoy never mentions that the trip also included stops in Taiwan and mainland China. A trip of this size for only $11,000? This is not exactly an inefficient use of city funds. McCoy also neglects to mention that such trips by city officials to engage community leaders of different ethnic backgrounds, initiate dialogue with other culture and promote international business and trade are quite common. Council Member Brown was promoting business and trade as well as a direct non-stop Houston/Korea flight. A number of other Council Members would have joined Brown on this trip, had it not been for last-minute scheduling difficulties. A number of current Council Members have frequently taken city-sponsored trips to Asia. Earlier this year alone, two Council Members went on comparable trips, one to China and another to Germany. Mayor Annise Parker travels abroad often. Her latest jaunt was to Brazil.

Could it be that the Houston Press has two separate standards for Democrat and Republican members of city council? Surely a news organ like the Press wouldn’t endorse selective application of standards to single out and isolate certain public figures? As far as the issue of “public” money is concerned, the funds allocated for CM Brown’s trip were drawn from an expense account created for her district, and the amount spent was out of funds saved. Not only was the general fund not tapped, at least another $11,000 in remaining funds were transferred to help with the backlog of untested rape kits. Nothing controversial or unethical took place here. The aforementioned perfectly illustrates McCoy’s preference for scandalizing random pieces of information in order to artificially improve the readability of his gossip-laden diatribes.

The latest attack and slanderous accusation against CM Brown is that Brown has violated federal law by soliciting campaign funds during the black-out period: talk about serious allegations and very poor journalism.

Reality: Council Member Brown’s trip to Taiwan/China/Korea was completely funded from her district office funds, as mentioned previously. CM Brown had no need to raise funds for herself. There was, however, an effort to raise funds for businessmen who might be joining her on the trip. Fundraising of this kind is not unusual and is certainly not against the law. Recently, a Vietnamese delegation was sponsored on a trip by the Vietnamese community. William Park, CM Brown’s adviser, blasted out an email before the trip instructing potential contributors to contribute via the Council Member. That statement was sent in error. While the Council Member could be the vehicle by which private financial assistance of non-city employees could be handled, and it would not be a federal violation, the Council Member understood full well that this type of situation might be misconstrued as a campaign contribution and therefore instructed all potential contributors to deal privately with potential delegation participants instead.

McCoy claims that William Park, senior adviser to CM Brown, lacks official standing with the City of Houston, and attempts a hatchet job with a few stilted sentences about Park’s record. McCoy alleges that Park was “banned” from the financial services sector and then proceeds to boil down a complex legal battle into an overtly slanted tirade, enabling him to plug his piece for this week (shameless marketing.) McCoy makes cartoon characters out of Brown and Park, with Park assuming the role of puppet-master with all the glory of Chicago, and Brown his vassal.

Reality: Park is one of many uncompensated advisers affiliated with city council. Third parties are very common, especially where city pensions are concerned. The primary issue with Park seems to be that, since he is not on payroll, he is not in any sense under the control of Mayor Parker’s bureaucracy. In the singling out of Park, e.g. forbidding his use of city insignia despite its unofficial use by others is an unequal application of standards. It is interesting that labor standards matter when the grumbles of an extortionist are at issue, but not when discussing a Council Member’s senior-most adviser.

McCoy claims that Brown won her runoff election with the support of only 2 percent of the electorate.

Reality: Brown won the runoff with 4.5 percent of support from the electorate and in the general election 6.9 percent of the electorate put her into the runoff – not dissimilar from Mayor Parker’s 6.4 percent that saved her from a run-off (by 800 votes).

Finally, McCoy jeers at and dismisses Brown’s connection of Agenda 21 with several Houston initiatives and does little more than cite Mayor Parker’s reactions to Brown in council meetings as his basis for disagreement.

Relying upon the grunts, sighs, mannerisms and gestures of a public official politically opposed to CM Brown constitutes a logical fallacy; such a position is completely lacking in logical validity and in no way serves as legitimate dismissal of CM Brown’s assertions regarding Agenda 21’s impact at the local level. Where is McCoy’s documentation to support his derision? In point of fact, Mayor Parker gets numerous awards and recognitions from the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) which openly endorses Agenda 21 and draws its origins from Agenda 21. McCoy’s thoughtless dismissal begs the question.

CONCLUSION

McCoy’s writing makes good fiction, and certainly possesses a riveting narrative. It would be even more effective if any of his narrative were true. McCoy is a great writer. Maybe he should consider writing novels.

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Posted on July 10, 2012, in Helena Brown, Houston City Council, Houston Press, Press and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. McCoy’s execrable waste of words is more about the svengali CONman Park than it is about Brown, though he does seem to toss charges of financial fraud in her direction. The salad days of the old Houston Press are long gone, replaced with dimwitted nonsense such as McCoy’s.

  2. The root of all this is Helena’s disgruntled former Chief of Staff, Leticia Ablaza. She went after Mike Sullivan with vindictive and false facebook pages after he voted for the historic designation for her neighborhood. She stabbed Helena in the back and created all this latest firestorm, and even caused problems for Elizabeth Perez. I feel sorry for Medina, she is on his campaign now and who knows what kind of trouble she will bring him. Ablaza is still on the ballot for a Democratic precinct chair. I think she may be a liberal mole that deliberately sabotages every conservative she can.

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