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Posts under ‘Local politics’

Things are tough all over

HISD faces a big deficit: Houston ISD leaders are bracing for a projected $107 million budget shortfall that, in a worst-case scenario, could prompt the district to slash jobs. During the school board meeting Thursday, however, officials pledged to try keep cuts away from schools. “We get it,” Ken Huewitt, the district’s deputy superintendent and […]

The Mayor’s education czar

Former HISD Trustee Juliet Stipeche has joined the Turner administration. Mayor Sylvester Turner has named former Houston ISD board president Juliet Stipeche to a newly created Director of Education role in his administration, seeking greater collaboration between the city and area schools, community colleges and universities. Many council members and education advocates praised the move, […]

State of the county 2016

This year’s theme is cooperation and meeting challenges. In his ongoing effort to revive the Astrodome, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Tuesday proposed using the aging landmark for an outdoor light show when Houston hosts the Super Bowl next February. Emmett discussed the future of the Ddome and touched on the challenges the county […]

Resign to run has kicked in for Council members

Another change that our new term limits law has wrought. Houston elected officials who become a candidate for another elected office are now automatically required to resign their current seat, uncharted territory for city officeholders who previously had not been subject to the so-called “resign-to-run” provision of the Texas Constitution. The requirement that has long […]

So what happened to One Bin for All?

KUHF asks the question. It has been almost three years since the city won a $1 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies for the One Bin For All concept, which would let Houstonians throw all their waste in one bin, to be separated for recycling later. Former Mayor Annise Parker tried to start the project, but […]

Emmett preps to name interim Lee successor

We will know who it is soon. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Monday announced he expects to appoint a successor by Friday to complete El Franco Lee’s term on the county’s governing body. Emmett wants the new Precinct 1 commissioner to be in place for the court’s yearly budget meeting the following Tuesday, Jan. […]

Selecting a successor for El Franco Lee: What I’m looking for

Building on what we discussed last time, what am I, as one of maybe 100 people who has the privilege of selecting a Democratic nominee to take El Franco Lee’s place on the November ballot – and most likely, on Commissioners Court for the foreseeable future – looking for? What qualities do I want that […]

Selecting a successor for El Franco Lee: Process and questions

From the inbox, sent by Carroll Robinson. The Issue During the past few days, there has been a great deal of speculation about the legal process for selecting someone to replace the late Commissioner El Franco Lee on the November 2016 General Election ballot. (Texas Election Code, Subchapter C. Sections 172.057, 172.058 and 172.054 (1).) […]

Lee’s campaign finances

Among other things, Commissioner El Franco Lee leaves behind a lot of money in his campaign finance account. When Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee died unexpectedly Sunday, he left friends and allies in mourning, political hopefuls jockeying for his job and an uncommonly large campaign war chest of nearly $4 million. What happens to […]

On succeeding El Franco Lee

Don’t rush anyone. Within hours of longtime Commissioner El Franco Lee’s sudden death Sunday, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett received calls from three people vying for his seat. Emmett, who alone must appoint a temporary successor, said he will not consider these three or five others who by day’s end expressed their interest. “There’s such […]

RIP, El Franco Lee

The longest-serving and first African-American Harris County Commissioner passed away suddenly on Sunday. El Franco Lee, Harris County’s first African-American commissioner and a popular mainstay in the political community, died Sunday morning of a heart attack. He was 66. The Houston native served more than three decades as commissioner in Harris County’s Precinct 1, and […]

Mayor Turner sworn in

The new era begins. Lauding Houston as a city where, “when you dream big, big things can happen,” Mayor Sylvester Turner delivered his inaugural address Monday morning at a packed Jones Hall downtown. Turner also announced his first policy plan, saying by Jan. 18 each pothole reported to the city help line will be “assessed […]

City-county relations should continue to be good

Glad to hear it. Prospects for increased city-county cooperation are looking up, Houston Mayor-elect Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Ed Emmett say, forecasting further thawing of the historically contentious relationship between the jurisdictions. Turner spoke with Emmett and Harris County’s four commissioners just days after his narrow mayoral victory over Bill King, seeking to […]

Interview with Mayor Annise Parker

We are in the last few days of the administration of Mayor Annise Parker. Having served three terms each as Council member and Controller, she is finishing up eighteen years as an elected official in the city of Houston. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk to her one last time before she heads […]

The incumbents’ advantage

Is it about to become that much harder to vote incumbent city officials out of office? The already difficult task of ousting incumbent Houston officeholders likely has become even tougher. City elected officials now have an extended runway to accumulate cash before returning to the campaign trail, thanks to a voter-approved extension of term limits […]

More HERO public information requests

The bullying continues. Does President Barack Obama regularly drop a line to Houston City Council members? Probably not, but we could soon find out, thanks to a public records request that opponents of the city’s equal rights ordinance, known as HERO, filed this week. It’s a response to a public records request that a nonprofit […]

Harris County keeps considering vote centers

Perhaps one of these days they will move forward on this. Seeking to making voting easier on Election Day, Harris County officials are considering shifting to a system that would allow voters to cast ballots at any county polling place rather than only at their neighborhood precinct. These so-called “vote centers,” modeled after the countywide […]

Houston Zoo reverses its stance on allowing in guns

This was a surprise. The Houston Zoo has reinstalled a series of signs that prohibit the carry of firearms into the gates of the family-friendly attraction almost three months after being forced to take them down at threat of legal action. Attorney Edwin Walker with Texas Law Shield, a legal services firm for gun owners, […]

HCC versus Dave Wilson, the continuing story

It’s a fight over legal fees. Dave Wilson has long been a thorn in the side of Houston Community College trustees. That hasn’t changed now that he’s one of them. Wilson, a controversial figure long before he was elected to the HCC board in 2013, has done nothing to diminish his gadfly reputation in his […]

Mayor will seek texting-while-driving ban

One more agenda item before it’s all over. It’s not the first time Houston officials have broached the issue; Mayor Annise Parker has long lobbied to impose a Texaswide texting-while-driving ban. But months after another legislative session with no action, term-limited Parker said she would ask council members to consider a local ban before she […]

A new HERO will be up to the next Mayor

As it should be, whether we like it or not. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who championed the city’s ill-fated equal rights ordinance, HERO, said she no longer plans to try to revive it before leaving office at the end of the year. In the aftermath of HERO’s resounding defeat at the polls November 3, Parker […]

No idling

From the inbox, from last week: Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council today approved two significant ordinances that will improve Houston’s quality of life and protect public health: an anti-idling ordinance for motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 14,000 pounds; and a commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. […]

Keeping an eye on Katy ISD

This could be interesting. Some of the details of George Scott’s “shadow school board” are still that – shadowy. But as the conservative blogger has assembled a group to meet regularly to reach its own conclusions about the business of the fast-growing Katy ISD board, his mission is clear: to use public data to take […]

Harris Health wants more people to enroll in Obamacare

Who can blame them? Harris County’s public health care agency, responding to a budget crisis, will eliminate more than 19,000 people next year from eligibility for free or nearly free services, hoping most of these patients will obtain coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The board of the agency, Harris Health, voted Thursday to reduce […]

Getting back into the marriage game

It was too good to stay away. Two Harris County justices of the peace have resumed officiating weddings this week after a brief hiatus in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on marriage equality. Judges Russ Ridgway and Jeff Williams stopped marrying couples after the high court on June 26 legalized same-sex […]

Packing heat at the zoo

Yeah, this won’t cause any controversy. Houston Zoo officials have been forced to remove long-standing “no guns” signage from the city-owned property after a prominent gun rights attorney filed a complaint, marking the first visible local example of a new state law that targets government entities illegally restricting concealed carry. Though the Houston Zoo is […]

Yet another report on pensions

Yippie. Some city leaders have spent years standing in the town square, hollering themselves hoarse that Houston’s financial footing is unstable, that huge pension costs threaten the city’s future ability to police the streets, pick up trash and maintain parks. In recent weeks, they’ve been joined by two others with bullhorns: The Greater Houston Partnership […]

Students against Dave Wilson

OUT SA, the website for out students and allies at Houston Community College, reviews a litany of Dave Wilson’s recent activities and discusses what can be done about them. Mr. Wilson has created a hostile environment for LGBT students, staff, and faculty of Houston Community College by these actions. In addition, with his last action, […]

Change to term limits may be on the November ballot as well

Here we go again. Mayor Annise Parker’s proposal would wait until 2020 to lengthen City Council members, the mayor and and controller’s terms; while Councilman Jerry Davis is proposing a staggered roll-out starting in 2016. Supporters say the 2020 plan would be the easiest sell to voters, with no current elected officials standing to benefit. […]

BP settlement cash

Nice. The city of Houston, Harris County and Metro netted $23 million in compensation from BP for revenue they could not collect in the wake of the company’s 2010 Gulf oil spill, officials announced Thursday. Houston will pocket about $12.2 million from the costliest environmental lawsuit in U.S. history to cover hotel and sales tax […]

Auditing HCDE

We’ll see about this. Later this summer, state auditors are expected to release their final report on the Harris County Department of Education. They’ve been examining the agency since last December. Superintendent James Colbert told lawmakers about it at a hearing in April. “We should have absolutely nothing to hide as far as I’m concerned […]

Parker wants a vote on lifting the revenue cap

So do I. Mayor Annise Parker plans to press City Council this month to reconsider loosening a decade-old revenue cap for public safety spending as talk of a looming budget deficit and possible service cuts grows more ominous around the dais. The cap limits the growth in city revenues to the combined rates of inflation […]

Dave Wilson will never go away

What’s that definition of insanity again? Opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance have once again submitted petitions calling for a voter referendum to put a gender identity issue on the ballot in November, but the mayor says it’s not going to happen. Anti-gay activist Dave Wilson showed up at Houston City Hall Thursday with boxes […]

TOP calls for changes in construction incentives

From Prime Property: Members of the Texas Organizing Project stood with signs across from a 40-story building under construction at Preston and Milam just off the park on downtown’s north side. The group was hoping to draw attention to the Downtown Living Initiative, a program that offers $15,000 per unit in tax rebates to developers […]