Ben Zeller

Ben Zeller

Victoria County Judge Ben Zeller said Tuesday that he has no control over when a report reviewing Hurricane Harvey spending will be ready.

The question arose Tuesday morning during a weekly meeting of the Victoria Economic Development Corp. Partnership meeting. Former Victoria Mayor Paul Polasek and businessman John Clegg both asked Zeller about the report, which County Commissioner Kevin Janak has been working on since early this year.

“I have no idea when that will be ready,” Zeller responded. “I know Commissioner Janak and his crew have been working on that. I thought that would be out by now, but I’m not on that committee.”

Janak began working with a small group of county employees to fact-check information and review work performed on county buildings after Harvey. The report is supposed to answer questions about whether the work was done properly. Some Victoria County Airport commissioners and others have strongly criticized the recovery work and the lack of bidding for more than $4 million in repairs.

On Monday, Commissioner Gary Burns asked Janak whether there was an update on his internal review of invoices, completed and incomplete work and other matters related to the county’s recovery after Harvey.

“There’s still no time frame,” Janak said at Monday’s commissioners court meeting. “We continue to be working on it.”

Janak could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Tuesday morning, Polasek posed the question to Zeller and raised a related concern about properly posting the commissioners court agenda.

In early October, Virtus representatives made a presentation to the court without their presence noted on the meeting agenda. Janak introduced the representatives during the citizens’ communication period after updating the court on the progress of his work group. Polasek said he hoped the court would properly post future Virtus discussions and said he would have attended the meeting if he had known the company officials were going to be there.

Zeller did not respond at Tuesday’s meeting to Polasek’s point.

Virtus Group representative addresses commissioners

Victoria County Commissioner Kevin Janak addresses Luis Garcia, a national project coordinator with the Virtus Group, during a commissioners’ court meeting in October 2019.

At the October meeting, Janak said that in March, when the work group started, it “didn’t know where we were, what needed to be done.” He said the group has been conducting an extensive review that includes reviewing insurance documents, scopes of work, invoices and supplemental change orders.

He also said in October that while it has been a slow process and a “frustrating” one for some members of the public, the work group does not want to rush its review.

At Tuesday’s meeting, John Clegg, vice president of Clegg Industries Inc., suggested getting the report out by the end of the year.

“It’s been a while, you know,” Clegg said.

Zeller said he couldn’t make any guarantees about the report’s completion date.

“I would certainly think it would be out by the end of the year,” Zeller said.

But he added: “The control I have over our commissioners is probably over-hyped. There’s not a whole lot of control there. I can’t speak for Commissioner Janak more than anyone else.”

Morgan O'Hanlon is the business and agriculture reporter for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at 361-580-6328, mohanlon@vicad.com or on Twitter @mcohanlon.

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(2) comments

Doug Hazlewood

Can they be any more vague and keep on trying to slow walk this away? Some of our elected officials do not seem as concerned as their constituents are and it is suspect.

LEONARD SADDLER

Can we receive a report on what we do know?

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