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We’ll have to wait a little longer for the inevitable Prop B lawsuit

It’s still coming, just not, like, today.

Mayor Sylvester Turner

Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday said he would delay a City Council vote to hire a law firm to represent the city in possible litigation over Proposition B, the ballot item passed by voters to grant Houston firefighters pay parity with police.

City Council had been set to consider a contract with Norton Rose Fulbright for $1.3 million. The contract would set aside $250,000 for the firm to handle litigation over real estate purchases in connection with infrastructure projects, with the rest set aside for a court fight over the parity measure approved Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Turner said he will look to Fire Chief Samuel Peña to restructure the fire department to absorb the measure’s additional cost, which both Turner and City Controller Chris Brown say will total more than $100 million in its first full year.

Turner said Wednesday he does not know “how we’re going to pay for it,” but he made clear initial layoffs would come from the fire department. For months, Turner has warned that the city would need to make cuts if voters approved Proposition B. It passed with 59 percent of the vote.

The measure would tie firefighters’ pay to that of police of corresponding rank and seniority. City Council, which is not meeting Thanksgiving week, agreed to bring the item up at its Nov. 28 meeting.

“I don’t know the answers,” Turner said. “I don’t know how we’re going to balance the books when we have been given an added bill of $100 million each year.”

He added: “The tough decisions start now. They start right now.”

The mayor said the fire department “restructuring” would include a reduction from four shifts to three, as well as other methods of reducing costs.

See here (at the bottom) for the background. I suppose one possible path to brokering a peace treaty might include an agreement to get everyone possible on board for a push to repeal – not amend, repeal – the stupid revenue cap, which would at least prevent the city from losing revenue for no good reason. There can’t be a vote on that before May of 2021, however, so that may be too long-term for any benefit, but one way or another this needs to be tackled, and it’s in both sides’ best interests for it to go away. I’m just spitballing here. The smart money is still on a lawsuit being filed, and after that who knows.

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15 Comments

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    Republicans have painted a target on Turner, he needs to stay out of the court house regarding this issue.

    Removing the CAP would be a first step, I am fairly certain that the people would support that. The Republican message on taxes has worn thin.

  2. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    No real fan of the Mayor, but in this case I suspect that everyone who is extremely supportive of HPFFA is planning on supporting the Republican in 2019. The only problem with those seeking to oust Turner is this….theres a difference between mildly supporting the prop and voting for a Republican for Mayor. The political environment has changed in l’age de Trump. Sure, Turner might lose a percent or two for this, but King or Buzbee have to convince about 20 percent of the cities Democrats to vote for a Republican. Thats unlikely in 2019.

    In other words, Turner can probably file the lawsuit and get away with it.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    Manny,

    What makes you believe that the majority of voters would approve voting the revenue cap down? What’s different now, than in 2004 when Houston’s voters were for it?

    More generally:

    Turner needs to give up his lawsuit dreams and just go ahead and start firing other city employees to make up for the extra firefighter pay. Let all those people KNOW exactly why they were let go, and don’t hold back on cutting firefighters, either.

    Give the people what they want.

  4. Bill Daniels says:

    Tom:

    Why would firefighters vote for a Republican? What Turner did was the fiscally conservative thing….pointing out that all that extra money for zero extra hours of labor would necessitate cuts in all city departments. Turner has proved to be more moderate than I thought he would be.

    What would firefighters and other rent seekers think they would gain by voting for a Republican?

  5. Manny Barrera says:

    Bill, different voters, people that realize that government is not cheap nor free. When America was winning WWII they realized that and we are heading back in that direction.

    75% approval of proposition A, should tell you something Bill.

  6. Tom in Lazybrook says:

    Bill, the firefighters WILL vote for Republican, which is probably what many of them normally vote for anyway. The problem is that the number of firefighters that actually LIVE in Houston is probably quite small.

    As far as firefighters being Democrats, I think if you looked at the HPFFA endorsement lists for the last several years, I suspect you’d be surprised with that.

  7. Steve Houston says:

    http://www.houstontx.gov/finance/COH-Ten-Year-Plan-Report.pdf

    Let them eat cake!
    Most of them don’t live in the city so they can’t vote for anyone in city elections but I don’t see them supporting a candidate like King who still claims their pensions are too expensive. The thing about voting for a true fiscal conservative is that they rarely carve out an exception for unionized employees like firemen while cutting everything else. That’s what they want.

  8. Bill Daniels says:

    Clearly the City of Houston should elect Alexandria Occasio Cortez for mayor. She’s got a plan to give everyone what they want, and she actually has a degree in economics, so we know she knows what she’s talking about.

  9. David Fagan says:

    Fly, quail, fly………..

  10. David Fagan says:

    http://www.houstontx.gov/finance/COH-Ten-Year-Plan-Report.pdf

    The only double digit percentile revenue growth in this document is TIRZ revenue pg. 43, 10% per year, every year for 10 years.

    This document states to, pg 144, quit using special revenue funds, aka ‘ lock boxes’

  11. In regards to the $12.27 revenue cap…

    Houstonians are too lazy to learn arithmetic and too selfish to pay an extra $12.27 a month.

    Just look at the past 4 years. CEO’s and politicians asking me for ideas that i googled while the 4th largest city pretends they don’t know who i am. LOL

    With the exception of medical center. Houston has to be the dumbest and ugliest city i’ve ever lived in

  12. Manny Barrera says:

    Joe, have you thought about moving, I love Houston and chose to stay here.

  13. I’ve been trying to leave for 10 years.

    You can find similar jobs, smarter companies and a better standard of living in much prettier cities

    I didn’t need to run for office to know Houston private and public sector leaders were this dumb.

  14. david fagan says:

    This entire experience helps me realize a few things.

    The Mayor is nothing but a puppet for the Greater Houston Partnership, same with Martin. The beef is not with the Mayor, it is The Greater Houston Partnership. The raises proposed was probably their idea and the reason something better was not negotiated is their idea also. Martin was so eager to offer a 13.5% raise on Wednesday like it was all about him, but in a way that it makes me believe The Greater Houston Partnership told him to.

    Looking over the contributors to the Protect Houston SPAC is overwhelming. The amount of money these people raised in such a short period of time is outside of most people’s abilities. They are corporations that exist outside this state and people who make $100 million look like a drop in the bucket. It is no wonder no one is listening, because they are too rich to care.
    This makes me more proud of the Houston Fire Fighters and the hurdles they did not know they were overcoming. Hard work, effort, dedication, focus, and every positive quality in an employee exist in these people and their actions show Houston that they are getting a bargain. No matter what they do when emergencies slow down.

    The people I talked to during the polls let me know that some people out there listen, and more than listen, but care about what happens. When they hear the story of the compensation challenges HFD has been through, they know something is wrong. I appreciate all those who voted to support the Fire Fighters of Houston and pray to remember them, thank you.

  15. DBrice says:

    Why lift the revenue cap? The city can collect 90 million above the revenue cap already for Fire/Police. I suggest before we lift the cap we find out what happen to the Prop H money? The money was collected but fire has received zero from what I can tell.

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