Houston mayor under fire for high paying intern position created

After a TV investigation, questions are now surrounding why Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner personally directed City of Houston executives to create a $95,000 intern position at the airport during a hiring freeze for intern, Marvin Agumagu, 31.

Houston mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee said the mayor has pleaded ignorance of the position that was created during a city hiring freeze and why there was such a high salary.

"Marvin Agumagu was given a base salary of $95,000 a year with an internship of 18 months to two years providing him the option to make this a permanent job," said Buzbee.

He said according to online research, Houston airport interns work for about eight weeks about 32-40 a week with salary range from $8-$21 an hour without any benefits.

Buzbee added the Harris County DA, the state's attorney general, governor and Texas Rangers should investigate Mayor Turner and the intern.

"There should be an investigation from the public integrity unit to figure out why a position was created for somebody who had no experience. Why did he do that to the detriment of firefighters and police officers and the city of Houston," said Buzbee.

He said Houston firefighters make roughly $42,000 and police officers about $60,000.

We reached out to the mayor’s office for comment, which they responded with a written statement:

Mayor Turner's statement on the Houston Airport System's Executive Internship Program

HOUSTON -There has been a lot of discussion, but little attention paid to the facts.I hope that everyone will review the facts and the supporting documentation that was provided to Channel 2 in advance of its story, but was not shared with its viewers, regarding the Houston Airport System’s Executive Internship Program and the City of Houston’s Administrative Policy 3.5 governing the hiring of Executive Level employees.

•As shown in this key memo, the Houston Airport System Executive Internship Program was created by Director Mario Diaz to attract new talent in the field of aviation and to serve as an entry to the Management Training Program.The establishment of the program is within the discretion and authority of the Department Director.Please see the attached memo by Director Diaz and Administrative Procedure 3-5 7.1.2 https://www.houstontx.gov/adminpolicies/3-5.pdf

•The approval sought from the administration was to approve the re-classification of the position and waiver of posting.This personnel action was done in accordance with the City of Houston’s Administrative policy.The process is routine, and I have signed 122 of these reclassifications for each of the 23 city departments since taking office in January 2016.

The official job title for the Executive Intern is Senior Staff Analyst (Executive Level) with a pay grade of 28.The Department Director chose thejob title and pay grade and the Human Resource Department determined both wereconsistent with the specified duties and responsibilities of the position.

•For reference, there are a total of 94 Senior Staff Analysts positions in the City of Houston, of which 15 are at the Executive Level. The current salary range for Senior Staff Analyst s is $74,256 - $131,325.

•Mr. Marvin Agumagu’s salary is commensurate with his education and experience. He has three (3) advanced degrees, including a bachelor’s degree, Master’s Degree and a law degree.He also has experience in international relations and governmental affairs which is an asset for the City of Houston’s 5-star international airports.

The City of Houston is proud of our record on recruiting, hiring and retaining qualified individuals.We are especially proud of our intentional outreach to attract millennials who bring innovative ideas and energy to our workforce.As we compete with the private sector for qualified employees willing to learn and excel, we are amazed at our good fortune to attract such talented young men and women committed to a life of public service.

Regarding my statement about Mr. Agumagu, I do know Marvin and, quite candidly the reporter’s question caught me off guard as I was rushing to another scheduled city event after leaving the Houston Police Department's cadet graduation.

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