Dealership Defaults on City

The closure of the Lawrence Marshall dealership in Hempstead has left the City of Houston in a bit of a lurch. The dealership provided many of the city's vehicles and parts. As Laurie Johnson reports — city officials may have to sue to recover losses from the dealership's bankruptcy.

An interesting item showed up on the city council agenda. It was an ordinance appropriating more than $93,000 to a company that no longer exists.

The contract with Lawrence Marshall Chrysler was supposed to cover a new ambulance for the Houston Fire Department.

This raised some confusion at the council meeting.

"Chair recognizes Councilmember Green" "Mayor I also need some clarification. Are we — how can we appropriate the funds without a vendor?"

After some discussion with the city's legal department, council concluded they could still authorize the expenditure but award it to a different contractor.

Houston Mayor Bill White says the city may end up in litigation over Lawrence Marshall's bankruptcy filing.

"Whether it be an auto dealer or whether it be this one construction company that went belly-up that left us with a problem and the county with a whole lot more — we would pursue that through the bankruptcy court."

Lawrence Marshall was a city vendor for everything from ambulances to recycled parts and upholstery services. In an inner-office city memo, officials say they found out about the dealership's closure through media reports.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...