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Waste of the Day: Houston DPW Chief Buys Gold Coins Bearing Her Name

March 27, 2024

Topline: Families in Houston are still being overcharged for their water bills, but Public Works Director Carol Haddock seems to have another, slightly more narcissistic priority.

She spent $15,500 to distribute 5,000 commemorative “challenge coins" to employees, each inscribed with Haddock’s own name in gold lettering.

Open the Books
Waste of the Day 3.27.24

Key facts: Haddock announced the coins in a video emailed to Public Works staff that KPRC 2 Houston obtained from an anonymous tip. The TV station filed a public information request to get the price tag.

Haddock earnestly declares in the video that the coins have “that iconic Houston skyline, which is a powerful tie to who it is that we’re serving on a daily basis.”

The coins were sent to every member of the city council, though one councilwoman said, “I see no use for it.”

Haddock also recently spent $13,000 to buy 180 Samsonite backpacks for her employees.

Meanwhile, thousands of Houston families are being billed monthly by Public Works for water meters they aren’t even using. The only way to avoid it is to pay a private plumber to remove the meter. The city passed nine ordinances in December to try and resolve the issue, but the bills persist.

Background: It’s no wonder that Haddock has such expensive taste. She’s one of the highest-paid people in all of Houston, according to records at OpenTheBooks.com.

Haddock took home $292,000 in 2022, more than all but 16 other City of Houston employees. That’s also more than former Mayor Sylvester Turner and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made that year.

Supporting quote:  Houston Public Works told KPRC 2 that “In the tradition of our military, challenge coins are given as a source of morale, pride and to recognize hard work. The HPW Challenge Coin was created during the mayoral transition period to be a physical reminder of our foundational work amid growing uncertainty.”

Critical quote: The TV station wrote, “Investigative Reporter Amy Davis requested interviews with Haddock a few times this year. Her staff told us she would talk to us once she and the mayor released the new water plan to help customers stuck with outrageous bills. We assumed that is taking up a lot of her time. But then we saw a video made for her employees.”

Summary: Challenge coins are traditionally given for a special achievement or award, usually by the military. How kind of Haddock to declare herself worthy of that honor.

The #WasteOfTheDay is brought to you by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire.
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