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No quorum for very special Council meeting

Close, but no cigar.

A handful of city council members who organized a rare special meeting to push for a Houston firefighters petition seeking pay “parity” with police to appear on the November ballot fell short of a quorum Friday and broke up without a vote.

The resolution they had put forward called on Mayor Sylvester Turner to let the council vote at its meeting next week to place the parity petition on the ballot.

Turner told one council member last Friday that he planned to have that discussion at the Aug. 8 council meeting, but word of that plan had not reached the full council Monday when members Greg Travis, Michael Kubosh, Brenda Stardig, Martha Castex-Tatum and Dwight Boykins signed a memo calling the special meeting.

[…]

No more than seven members reached the council chamber Friday morning, two short of the count necessary for a quorum, so Councilwoman Brenda Stardig called off the effort after 15 minutes.

Signatories Travis, Kubosh, Stardig and Boykins were present, though Boykins grew impatient and left. Council members Mike Knox, Steve Le and Dave Martin also were present. Castex-Tatum did not attend.

Martin had said he would skip the gathering, but the New Orleans native acknowledged he showed up in Cajun mode, spoiling for a fight.

See here for the background, and here for Mayor Turner’s statement. CM Martin did indeed mix it up, getting into squabbles with CMs Travis and Kubosh, which I encourage you to read. If more Council meetings had that kind of entertainment, I’m sure more people would tune in to them. There will be a Budget Committee hearing, followed by a Council vote on August 8, and we’ll have this thing on the November ballot.

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16 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Nothing to add about the story, but kudos on the picture. I laughed!

  2. Paul Kubosh says:

    Yeah it was funny. I laughed also.

  3. Jason Hochman says:

    The city council needs to make a statement with Turner and his policies that encourage segregation. (Although he made a deal with HUD to never ever do it again.) Well Turner is on a fact finding mission in South America, on the tax payer dollar, certainly, his former staff members get indicted, but it is the policy of everyone at the city to refuse to give information to taxpayers, to refuse to listen to taxpayers, and to pat themselves on the back so hard that they have bruised ribs. Turner’s press release states that the pension has been solved. No, the debt is just recast as bonds. The language of the referendum is such that they can lift the revenue cap if needed to service the bonds. And Turner has been slathering to bust through the revenue cap, to get more money for his trips to South America or his reality show or something. I wish Wayne Dolcefino would come back and comment on this. I wish I had the money to move to a better town.

  4. Ross says:

    Jason, if the firefighters get their way, the revenue cap will be busted in a major way, since that’s the only way to pay the inflated salaries they think they are worth. Property taxes currently do not cover the cost of police and fire. If HFD salaries go up, that situation gets worse.

  5. Starting salary for a houston firefighter is $28k a year.

    Fuck that. It’s a joke

  6. Ross says:

    Joe, the starting salary for a Houston firefighter of $28k is during the training period. Once they finish training and become a probationary firefighter, the salary jump to $40k, the second year it’s $43.5k, and goes up some more after that. The training period is 38 weeks, so the taxpayers are paying for the firefighter cadets to learn their job.

  7. Less than $28k for a 8 and a 1/2 month long training period?

    What a joke.

    city leaders and voters are just as ignorant as my former employers.

  8. Bill Daniels says:

    Joe.

    Are you kidding? How many other companies pay their employees to train 8 months for their job before the employees actually perform any work? The only comparable I can think of is the military. Think about that. HFD is hiring people that, at the time of hire, are NOT qualified for the position they have been hired to do. HFD pays not only for the cost of training, but pays the new hires a salary to learn, so they WILL be qualified to do the job they hired on to do.

    Everyone paying tuition at a college or trade school is going to feel kind of taken advantage of. Why aren’t companies that hire welders paying people to go to welding school as well as their tuition? Why aren’t electric companies paying new hires to go to school to learn how to be electricians? Why aren’t accounting companies paying high school grads to go to school for 4 years to get an accounting degree?

    We finally found an employer willing to pay someone to learn a skill, and you’re upset because it isn’t enough? Wow. Just wow.

  9. The city of houston offers room and board, like colleges, for firefighters and police in the academy?

  10. Steve Houston says:

    Joe, what colleges offer room & board for free, to most students at least? It was cheaper for me to live off campus. Tuition did not cover room and board at college either so that’s not a fair comparison.

    Ross/Bill, the police pay their trainees too. The difference is that one city department has a wealth of applicants while the other has to fight tooth and nail with others that pay better. A friend that teaches at Sam Houston tells me that most officers and firemen across the state have to earn their certification before applying for jobs unless it is for a large department. In Houston, the police need 48 college hours to start while the firemen need 24, military exceptions a given. Once either get certified with Houston, they can go anywhere for a position without paying back the cost of their training.

    So until the number of applications for positions falls below the number of openings like it did for police, why should HFD pay trainees more, Joe? Where is that $80 million a year going to come from out of the general fund? Want to close half the parks, all the libraries, start a garbage fee, and everything else to pay for it? I doubt it.

  11. Even though tax loopholes, tirz budgets, the general budget, etc are public. Houstonians still can’t figure it out.

    Since Amanda Edwards won’t bring any ideas to the table… I guess i’ll bring the table.

  12. Bill Daniels says:

    Steve,

    I agree. HFD and the Texan’s cheerleaders have a lot in common. Both groups get all the applicants they want, yet both want more pay.

  13. David Fagan says:

    So, Steve, HFD should raise their standard to attract more qualified applicants. Raise the college credit hours to 60 and require a minimum of an Associates degree. How would that effect the number of applicants? It would reduce them. What does that say about Houston’s staffing levels? Sounds like they have a problem if it is easier to get into Houston to get the certifications to go somewhere that pays more and supports the investment they’ve made in the people they’ve hired. Do a search about the cancer studies and practices of the Spring Fire Department and compare that to Houston.

  14. C.L. says:

    I’d like to bring $28K to the table to help Joe move to a different City – might be worth it to stop the ‘If only you yokels had elected me’ arguments…

  15. I thought my argument was… just look at my website.

    Let us know when amanda edwards uses her over priced harvard law degree to think of ideas beyond poetry slams for elementary students.

    Let’s be honest. The only reason Edwards won was because no one wanted Roy Morales on city council. He would be like a Helena Brown 2.0

    But then again, District A was always the dumbest district to begin with.

  16. Steve Houston says:

    David, while I applaud your continued advocacy of HFD, it doesn’t change the human resources equation unless you are now telling me that your employees are inferior and have been for years. I don’t think any of us believe that. So the fact that retention is extremely high and applications far exceed current openings tells the market that double digit raises are just not called for.

    That some cancer studies show an elevated number of otherwise very rare cancers, the type that most of you will never get by the way, doesn’t prove what you apparently think it does since these are merely correlations and not causation. Most states do not recognize the studies as a result. And comparing a volunteer fire department up north to Houston’s fire department where just the operating portion is over half a Billion dollars a year really doesn’t make a great deal of sense even though it’s my understanding that said volunteer department hires a lot of HFD personnel on the 21 or 22 days a month they aren’t working for Houston.

    So if the job is so terrible because of working conditions, low pay, a series of mean old mayors that refused to fight fires along side you, and equipment that isn’t replaced fast enough for your liking, let your feet do the walking because there are a whole lot of people willing to jump at the chance of getting any opening that comes up. Until enough of you leave at once or until masses of qualified applicants stop trying to fill the openings, your market worth is clear. Taxpayers show their appreciation for all the good work you do by paying their taxes so you get those paychecks and benefits many in the real world will never see. But if you don’t want to do it, step aside so someone that wants the job can have it.

    PS: I’m still waiting to hear where you think the money will come from for the huge raises you want. Are you advocating removing the revenue cap or are you ready to show an equal amount in cuts from other city departments?