Here they are throwing a hissy fit to express their deep sense of disappointment.
Just shy of 6,000 bills were filed in the Texas Legislature prior to last week’s deadline. Nearly half of those came in the usual blizzard of filing activity 72 hours prior to the Friday, March 8, witching hour.
Some of these bills were serious. Others were downright silly. Not many are likely to get a careful reading by state lawmakers, who are, understandably, overwhelmed by the sheer numbers. That’s life in Austin during the first five months of every odd-numbered year.
Shrug? Sigh? Move on? Well, no. For Houston’s sake, hell no!
Here’s a fact that should make city of Houston voters and taxpayers do a not-so-slow burn: Out of all those thousands of bills deemed by at least one lawmaker as worthy of consideration by our state Legislature, not a single one was filed to address a stubbornly serious problem facing the city of Houston and its taxpayers: the lack of local control over the city of Houston firefighters’ pension fund.
We’ve tried public shaming. But not even calling out the names of the 37 legislators who represent at least a piece of Houston in a Chronicle editorial was sufficient to stir a single one from his or her lethargy. Or is it fear?
In the past, we’ve hinted about the history of influential local lawmakers using their powers to keep pension fund business cloaked in secrecy and out of the hands of mayor and council. No doubt, that remains a factor in continuing the stalemate.
Just a few thoughts here.
1. There are fewer than 37 members that actually have Houston voters in their districts. Sorry, I’m still going to be nitpicky about that.
2. There are any number of possible reasons why no legislator took this up. Maybe they agree with the firefighters that the city has misrepresented the issue. Maybe no one actually asked them to carry a bill, and they (correctly, to my mind) chose to keep their nose out of the city’s business in the absence of such a request. Maybe they think that the city has bigger fish to fry first. Who knows?
3. You know how we could know? If some professional news-gathering organization took the time to contact each member’s office, and wrote a story about the answers they did and did not receive. I wonder what professional news-gathering organization might have the interest and the resources to undertake that kind of research and publish the result of it. I’m sure there must be one.
4. As I said before, this issue is now officially moot for the 2013 election. If you run for city office this year and you want to make an issue of this but you do not address the legislative part of it, you don’t know what you’re talking about and you ought to be ignored.