Public Integrity Unit employees get pink slips

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by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News and Photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

kvue.com

Posted on July 2, 2013 at 7:44 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 2 at 6:02 PM

TRAVIS COUNTY -- Tuesday afternoon Travis County Commissioners voted to let employees with the District Attorney's Public Integrity Unit know their jobs are on the line. 

More than 30 employees' jobs are in jeopardy. The commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to let the PIU employees know their jobs may no longer be funded on September 30. 

County Judge Sam Biscoe says the commission will vote next Tuesday, July 9, to decide whether the county will cover the cost to fund the PIU. 

Governor Rick Perry cut $7.5 million in state funding after he threatened Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg to resign after her DWI arrest. Lehmberg refused, calling on commissioners and taxpayers to fill in the funding gap.           

“Unless some funding is found in the meantime, our jobs are gone,” said Gregg Cox, the unit’s chief. He called the layoff notices “a step in the process.”

County policy guarantees employees will receive 90 days notice before being laid off.

Cox estimates the PIU employs about 30 people and pays $300,000 in salaries.

The PIU handles public corruption cases, insurance and tax fraud cases. It also investigates politicians and white collar crimes, including a on-going investigation involving misuse of money and some of Governor Perry's supporters.

State Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) filed a bill on Monday to override the governor’s veto. He hopes HCR 1 will have more success than the resolution he filed in the last special session. That resolution was left pending in the Senate Appropriations Committee without a vote. 

Travis County Intergovernmental Relations Coordinator Deece Eckstein said it’s not clear if such a bill can override the governor’s veto.

“It’s a new parliamentary issue…We won’t know until it gets to the House floor,” Eckstein said.

Commissioners are considering all options, including asking other surrounding counties to help pay for the PIU. 


 

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