HOUSTON – Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner issued a response Tuesday to Monday night's KPRC 2 Investigates report on a city intern being paid $95,000 annually for a position with the Houston Airport System.
The position is publicly funded.
Marvin Agumagu, 31, was offered a position as the first candidate for the airport’s Executive Internship program. Agumagu was given the salary of a senior staff analyst, $95,000 a year with benefits. He took the position in October 2018. Turner, in his statement, said there are "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 Analysts is $74,256 - $131,325."
“The Executive Intern program is newly created within HAS. Based on the scope of responsibilities, needs and demands of the job, we are requesting an effective date of October 13, 2018, with a base pay rate of $3,654 biweekly or $95,000 annualized," airport director Mario Diaz wrote in an email to Turner at the time of Agumagu's hiring.
In Turner's statement, he admitted to knowing Agumagu before he was offered the internship. Last week, KPRC 2 investigative reporter Mario Diaz asked Turner in person if he knew Agumagu, and the mayor responded, “I have no idea who you are talking about.” Turner said in his statement that KPRC 2's Mario Diaz's question "caught me off guard as I was rushing to another scheduled city event."
Turner's statement says airport director Mario Diaz created the Houston Airport System Executive Internship Program in order to "attract new talent in the field of aviation and to serve as an entry to the Management Training Program."
Turner said the establishment of the program is within the "discretion and authority of the Department Director." Here is a link to the memo of the administrative policy for filling key executive management positions.
Turner, in his statement, says director Diaz requested approval for the "re-classification of the position and waiver of posting." Turner said the process is routine, and he's signed 122 such approvals for each of the 23 city departments since he took office in January 2016.