Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts under ‘Local politics’

Millennials for office

I have four things to say about this. These days, Kylie Mugleston spends a lot of time on street corners, piquing drivers’ curiosity with a sign that says “Talk to Your Future Politician.” The 19-year-old is heading a political campaign in her hometown of Vidor, northeast of Beaumont. A young independent in a mostly conservative […]

Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences officially opens

Excellent news. The greater Houston region now has a sophisticated asset to investigate and solve crimes with the official opening of the new Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences (HCIFS). Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and other dignitaries, including Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new facility on Thursday […]

TOP responds to Chron story on Mayor Turner

Via the inbox, we come full circle: The following is a statement by Tarsha Jackson, Harris County director of the Texas Organizing Project, in reaction to the article “Progressives fret over Turner’s focus”: “Far from fretting over Mayor Sylvester Turner’s focus, I am energized that the mayor of the third-largest city in America is committed […]

Is there some fretting about Mayor Turner?

Maybe? I don’t know. I guess it depends on how you define “fretting”. The resignation of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s top deputy – a social justice advocate and one of the mayor’s few confidants in a sea of senior staff appointed by the previous mayor – is fueling worry among aides and allies about the administration’s […]

No one ever said pension reform was going to be easy

The firefighters’ pension fund isn’t happy with the way things are going. The plan to reform the City of Houston’s pension system is running into opposition from the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (HFRRF). In a recent letter sent to its members, the HFRRF criticized Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner for ending the negotiations on […]

Some dude opposes pension reform

Presenting this in a slightly redacted form. [Some dude] has joined friend and ally Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, in rallying opposition to [Mayor Sylvester] Turner’s [pension reform] proposal among conservatives. He has attended at least three dozen forums on the topic, by his count, and has been running social media ads touting his views on […]

January 2017 campaign finance reports: Houston officeholders

Normally, at this time I would be scanning through Houston candidate campaign finance reports, to see where incumbents stand at the start of the season. Of course, barring near-term court action there is no season for Houston municipal officeholders this year, and unlike past years they have been able to raise money during what had […]

Interview with Bill Kelly

You may have heard that the city of Houston has some legislative business to take care of this session. Most notably, the city wants to get a bill passed to implement its pension reform plans, which may or may not have been complicated by the news that a vote could be required for the city […]

We may be voting on pension obligation bonds

Oh, boy. A state lawmaker carrying Houston’s pension reform bill says her version of the proposal will require a public referendum on a $1 billion cash infusion central to the negotiations, an idea Mayor Sylvester Turner called a “poison pill” that could derail the reforms and force “massive” layoffs. The requirement that voters have a […]

More on the Whitmire Astrodome bill

I still don’t care for this. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett voiced concern Tuesday that a bill filed by a veteran state senator jeopardizes the county’s plan to revitalize the Astrodome, adding that county representatives would continue to try to persuade legislators to support the $105 million project. Emmett said state Sen. John Whitmire’s bill, […]

We don’t need another vote on the Astrodome

Not for this we don’t, anyway. Less than five months ago, the future of the Astrodome seemed to be more secure than it has been in the decades since it hosted its last Astros game, with Harris County commissioners moving forward on a massive renovation project they said would usher in festivals, conferences and commercial […]

Time to pay attention to the HCDE again

Some highlights from the HCDE meeting agenda for this Thursday at 1 PM, as emailed to me: 1. Changing board meeting dates. 2. Michael Wolfe wants to name our Post Oak facility for his deceased mother. 3. Create a Home School Division. 4. Create a School Choice Division. 5. Create a board services division that […]

More MUD muddles

Who needs collateral? When Houston businessman David Lucyk decided to develop land in northeast Harris County, he lined up a bank loan to pay for water pipes, sewers, roads and a stormwater detention pond. He offered the bank three items as collateral: land his company owned, an ownership stake in a business, and the promise […]

Year Two for Mayor Turner

Year One was busy, but a lot of what was done this year depends on what happens next year. Tasked last year with distinguishing himself from a crowded field of mayoral candidates, Sylvester Turner styled himself as a progressive with expansive policy goals. He pledged to boost wages, improve educational opportunities and implement a new […]

Astrodome architects chosen

For the first phase. Harris County commissioners on Tuesday chose Kirksey Architecture to design a project to retrofit the Astrodome by raising its floor and installing parking spaces underneath. Commissioners designated the Houston-based firm as their top pick to conduct the architecture and engineering on the $105 million renovation of the Dome, a sweeping project […]

Commissioner Locke’s last day

He served well, and did a lot in his short time in office. Gene Locke, who was appointed Harris County commissioner nearly a year ago after the death of longtime Commissioner El Franco Lee, was praised for his effectiveness during a meeting Tuesday at which he cast his final vote. The former city attorney and […]

On welcoming immigrants

Mayor Turner puts out the welcome mat for a key part of Houston’s community. A press conference Monday morning to announce the unveiling of Houston’s Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities evolved into a denunciation by city officials of President-elect Donald Trump’s rhetoric toward immigrants and refugees. With portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin […]

Acevedo and Pena confirmed by Council

They’re officially official now. City Council unanimously confirmed Art Acevedo and Samuel Peña as Houston’s new police and fire chiefs Wednesday, clearing the way for the mayoral appointees to take office. Acevedo, Austin’s former police chief, is poised to take the helm of the city’s police department Thursday, while El Paso Fire Chief Samuel Peña […]

Mayor Turner picks Austin PD Chief for HPD

From the inbox: In a sweeping announcement, Mayor Sylvester Turner named four new department directors and a reappointment Thursday. Pending City Council confirmation, Art Acevedo of Austin will assume the position of police chief and El Paso’s Samuel Pena will take over the fire department. “Acting Police Chief Martha Montalvo and Acting Fire Chief Rodney […]

Council ratifies Turner’s pension plan

From the inbox: On a 16-1 vote, Houston City Council has endorsed Mayor Sylvester Turner’s historic package of pension reforms. The vote clears the way for the City to move forward in partnership with the pension systems to seek legislative approval of the reforms. “I am bubbling over on the inside,” said Mayor Turner. “I […]

Pension deal approved by firefighters

It’s a big deal, though it’s hardly a done deal yet. For the first time ever, the Houston firefighters’ pension board agreed Monday to accept benefit cuts for current workers and retirees, potentially paving the way for a solution to a 15-year-old crisis that has threatened to bust budgets and weaken the city’s financial stability. […]

Pension deal takes a step forward

Not quite there yet, but getting close. Houston’s police and municipal pension boards have agreed to a landmark reform package produced over months of intensive negotiations at City Hall, and Mayor Sylvester Turner hopes the firefighters fund will follow suit with a vote Monday. The pending proposal, which puts Houston the closest it has come […]

RIP, Constable Ruben Davis

Sad news from Fort Bend. At a time when the public and law enforcement officials contemplate how to best blend policing and community, Fort Bend County has lost a man many describe as a role model for the perfect mix of serving and protecting. Longtime Fort Bend County Precinct 2 Constable Ruben Davis died on […]

Appeals Court judge Terry Jennings switches parties

Cool. It was just after presiding over a same-sex wedding, in January, that the formerly Republican Justice Terry Jennings, of the Texas First Court of Appeals, started thinking more seriously about changing his party affiliation. Jennings had been considering becoming a Democrat for years as he grew increasingly dissatisfied with the way the Republican Party […]

City and county confer on critter control

Hope they can work something out. Harris County and Houston city officials will meet [this] month to better tackle the region’s significant stray animal problem. City and county leaders and private animal welfare representatives will meet Oct. 12, according to a spokesman for Harris County Judge Ed Emmett. One focus of the “summit” is expected […]

Commissioners Court approves Astrodome parking plan

Here we go. Harris County commissioners approved the first piece of a $105 million plan to transform the stadium into part parking garage and part event space for things like concerts and trade shows. After years of indecision, advocates for preserving the Dome are hailing the move as one that might breath new life into […]

The Astrodome parking proposal is about to get real

Here it comes. Harris County commissioners are poised to make their largest investment yet in the Astrodome’s future next week. They are slated to vote on the first piece of a $105 million plan to raise the ground level two floors to fit in roughly 1,400 parking spaces, which would make the Dome suitable for […]

Kinder Institute analyzes Mayor Turner’s pension reform plan

From the inbox: Rice University’s Kinder Institute has done the preliminary math on Mayor Sylvester Turner’s historic pension reform plan and determined the numbers appear to add up if all of the components are implemented as envisioned. The institute is one of several agencies to analyze the mayor’s proposal since it was unveiled last week. […]

Now let’s take on the revenue cap

With the pension issue settled, this can be the next big item on Mayor Turner’s to-do list. Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask city voters next fall to do away with a decade-old cap on city revenues, but for now he’s stuck with it. So City Council on Wednesday will consider cutting Houston’s property tax […]

Let’s cooperate on animal welfare

Yes to this. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett called Tuesday for a summit of county and Houston city leaders, along with animal welfare organizations, to address the region’s “outrageous” problem with stray animals. While the details are still being developed, Emmett said one focus would be better collaboration between Harris County, which focuses primarily on […]

More on the pension deal

The full version of the Chron story adds a lot of detail. Under the tentative deal, the funds would assume more realistic investment returns – 7 percent rather than 8 percent to 8.5 percent – and would recognize all recent market losses on their books at once. The city also would erase the plans’ underfunding […]

Mayor Turner announces pension fund deal

From the inbox: Negotiators for the City, the Houston Police Officers’ Pension System, the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund and the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System have developed Preliminary Points of Understanding on a structural approach to long term, sustainable, defined benefit pension reform. Detailed formal plans continue to be developed and will need […]

State appeals dismissal of anti-refugee lawsuit

Because of course it does. Texas is appealing the dismissal of its lawsuit against the federal government and a refugee resettlement agency over the placement of Syrian refugees in the state. In a notice dated Aug. 12, Texas alerted the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that it would appeal a June decision by Dallas-based […]

Harris County to fix some Houston roads

Some good news from the inbox: As part of an agreement approved by Houston City Council today, Harris County Precinct 1 will pay for additional street improvements worth millions of dollars within the Houston city limits by year’s end. This is a continuation of an arrangement Mayor Sylvester Turner and outgoing Commissioner Gene Locke negotiated […]