The county's move to expand its lab comes as city leaders look at plans to spin off Houston's troubled crime lab. Mayor Annise Parker has proposed removing the city's crime lab from the Houston Police Department and placing it under an appointed board.The news came on the heels of a report last month describing the city's vision for a new crime lab ("Parker crime lab plan would cost more," March 21), which may cost up to 20% more to operate than keeping it at the police department. It would be run by:
Parker has said she welcomes county participation in her plan, but that seems unlikely.
County Judge Ed Emmett has called the idea a "nonstarter."
an independent local government corporation, a hybrid of a nonprofit organization and government agency. The corporation would be funded by the city, and the mayor would nominate and Council would confirm its board of directors. The board would hire and fire employees and oversee the lab's operations.
On Monday, Icken and Feldman unveiled what the board would look like. It would have five members: someone who understands the judicial system, someone with law enforcement experience, a criminal defense attorney, a forensics expert and someone with a finance background. ...
The plan does not preclude the city from joining forces with the county, which plans to build its own expanded forensics center at the Texas Medical Center. If the city and county were to cooperate through the local government corporation, Icken said, Commissioners Court would appoint two of the five board members and the city would appoint two. Commissioners Court and City Council would jointly appoint the chairman, just as they do for the Port of Houston Authority.Incredibly frustrating. Most pols at least offer lip service to the reality that working together would produce a better outcome, but lip service is all it is. The politicians involved appear unable to remove ego and an historic turf-war mentality from the process, and the predictable result is politicization, duplication, waste and higher costs for taxpayers. There are circumstances where rivalry and turf battles improve outcomes, but this is not one of them.