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From the “Needlessly overstated answers to simple questions” department

I have three things to say about this:

Tony Buzbee, a Houston lawyer who recently announced his plan to run for mayor next year, has offered to “mediate” a long-running pay dispute between the city and firefighters, one week after a judge blocked implementation of a voter-approved charter amendment that would grant firefighters equal pay to police officers of corresponding status.

In a joint statement Friday with the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, Buzbee said he believes it is time “we equally value our police and fire first responders in Houston,” seeming to indicate that he supports the push for “pay parity.”

A spokesman for Mayor Sylvester Turner declined comment, referring to the mayor’s previous comments that a judge should first decide whether a collective bargaining agreement can supersede a voter-approved charter amendment.

1. No.

2. Whether or not the city has any ability to negotiate the terms of the pay parity referendum is an open question right now. (So is the pay parity referendum itself, but let’s set that aside right now.) Asking the city to come to the table and negotiate the terms of the pay parity referendum is basically equivalent to telling the city to agree that the firefighters are right about the big picture and to abandon its current course. Which the city may eventually wind up doing, depending on what the lawyers and the courts say, but now is not the time for that.

3. Even if we were to accept the premise of point #2, maybe find a mediator who’s more, you know, impartial? Like, maybe someone who hasn’t announced their candidacy against Mayor Turner? It’s a big city. We have lots of certified mediators. I’m sure someone else might have time in their schedule for this.

4. Again, no.

Oh, right, I said three things, not four. Better call in Tony Buzbee to mediate the difference between what I said and what I did.

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21 Comments

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    Buzbee got what he wanted, his name printed for free. Name recognition helps when running. Tank parked in front of house, same thing. I think he has been planning to run for a while.

    The TRO is for 15 days then we will see what happens.

    I expect that Bill King if he is planning to run again will soon start making sure his name is out there.

    Turner is running the city like a Republican lite would, meanwhile a few inches of rain and we get flooding.

    The absence of a leader in Houston is hurting the City, last leader was Bob Lanier. Whether one agreed with him he was out front.

  2. Bill Daniels says:

    Holy Crap, I agree with Kuff AND Manny. This is a first.

    Lanier was the last mayor I liked, too, but probably for different reasons. I liked him because he saw Metro amassing a fortune from the sales tax and said, “hey, I’ll just take some of that money and fix the streets,” which is something that benefited ALL Houstonians. It’s doubtful any mayor could do that now, considering the fiefdom Metro has become.

    Unless Buzbee’s secret plan to run Houston is to sue Dallas and use the lawsuit proceeds to pay for everything, I don’t see what he has to offer Houston.

  3. Steve Houston says:

    Bill, it’s even more interesting that all of us seem to agree on Buzbee, myself included. He comes across as a showboat. I bet he doesn’t even advocate stealing other people’s idea’s off Google and jamming down other people’s throats like a $15 minimum wage and that other junk Joe keeps tossing in…

    The problem with Lanier’s money grab from Metro is that the $50 million a year he took from them to finance his expanded police force, was not supposed to be used that way. Any time a politician does something like that, he paves the way for those who follow in his footsteps to do likewise with whatever their agenda might be, usually not something you approve of. If the money was not going to the intended purpose, it should have been returned to the citizens that paid it in the first place. His hiring spree had a growing impact as those cops started getting their programmed raises for staying, even more when Brown started giving them raises. Hiring like that is a time bomb if you don’t plan for the costs and those who pay attention saw how well that worked out, yes?

  4. Manny Barrera says:

    Steve, your version is not accurate as to what occurred. Lanier was an FDR Democrat and it was common for him to have expert flown in to help solve a problem.

    Most of the money was used for streets, sidewalks, and infrastructure. It did free up some money for police at that time many HPD officers were leaving after 20 years and going to other agencies like the Sheriff’s Department. Lanier initiated the Drop Program as an incentive to keep those officers in HPD. Call in a water leak and it would be repaired with 24 hours, same for pot holes. Many of those sidewalks to schools are there because of Lanier. The Casas de Amigos Clinic in North Side, Lanier. The multi-service center in Denver Harbor, Lanier. He initiated a gang task force that was very effective.

    Pension problems actually got started with Lee P. Brown. At one time his administration believed that the City would be able to tax all those lines underneath the City. So Brown quit taking the Metro money and gave police and fire pay raises. He also expanded the Drop program to make it more lucrative for employees. He was wrong on the fees and the City has suffered since then.

    Lanier, also, is responsible for revitalizing the downtown. Purchase of the old HL&P Building, they did not have switches there, lights stayed on all the time. Also purchased the building that houses HPD.

    Lanier was a great man that helped Houston, was he perfect, no one is.

  5. Steve Houston says:

    Manny, the money shuffle of stealing Metro money went like this: Metro is a regional transit system authorized to get monies from an additional sales tax. It is not just for the city of Houston. Under Lanier, he appointed board members that agreed to deplete Metro coffers so the city could use those funds to repair streets, build sidewalks, and other city of Houston infrastructure. Most of that was already scheduled to be done so the city used that money for budgeted projects and it allowed the city to finance a massive 655 overtime program for police, hiring additional officers as fast as it could. The money was supposed to go to Metro projects or serve as Metro’s stake in getting rail built, not subsidize city street projects.

    During his tenure, Mayor Lanier could routinely be heard stating at the city council horseshoe that he needn’t give police and firefighters meaningful raises because their turnover rate was under 3%. That is why they became so underpaid as other cities gave regular raises. Instead, in his last year, he gave them DROP, which allowed employees who hadn’t retired yet to effectively double dip, building up a second saving account instead of a bigger monthly pension check when they finally did leave. Note that the cost of this program would come long after he left, a form of kicking the can down the road, just as his hiring spree wouldn’t start costing much until after he left because starting pay was so low for most city positions, including public safety.

    It became worse when Mayor Brown listened to HFD’s actuaries instead of having the city hire its own firm to perform an actuarial analysis, his raises to cops and his granting the municipal employees DROP with a buy in for those under “Plan B” to convert to Plan A, but that door was opened under Lanier. It didn’t help that the stock markets went from the then-biggest bull markets to the dot com crash, later crashes making the problem worse, but DROP has been credited with a significant portion of the pension debt from all three pensions which is why it was stopped for cops in 2004, municipal shortly afterwards, and HFD as of last summer’s pension reform.

    Otherwise, he had all the railroad tracks along Old Katy Road torn up so rail would never happen there, did buy that police headquarters that resulted in crime lab evidence being tainted, and the city has been unable to sell said building despite years of attempts which many of us discussed here some years back. Lanier was effective at getting what he wanted done but took great efforts to adopt a poison pill strategy so those who followed couldn’t undo his efforts. That his “blind trust” made a mint buying up land in and around Freedman’s Town as the city adopted Lanier-led programs to develop the area, his gang task force efforts led to raids like the Pedro Oregon raid and the scandal with the Tejano squad, and crime was falling across the country based on demographics more than anything his police chiefs did is a matter of record.

    If your real reasons for adoring the guy were his minority set aside program, racial hiring quotas, pushing the TIRZ program down our throats, and concrete poured in low income areas of town (to enrich his contractor buddies), that’s fair enough but much of what he did caused long term harm.

  6. Manny Barrera says:

    At least you got the story closer to the truth Steve. Police and Fire were underpaid because of Whitmire, give her some credit.

    Much of what he did caused long term harm. Really?

    If you are a supporter of trains, so be it, he was not and what we have is not working very well. Houston was not only the city getting money from Metro when Lanier was doing it. Many of those projects were not scheduled under the capital projects.

    Metro money was used to work on streets where buses ran, the money that was freed up for the city was used for other infrastructure.

    Not sure why you, Steve, have to make everything racial, minority set asides, helping low income neighborhoods with good streets, are those the new dog whistles?

    Not sure where you got some of the data but if it came from one source it is a bias source.
    I said he revitalized the downtown, he did. At to selling the HPD building they could sell it if they wanted to, they do need a place to move to first.

    City can’t sell the property because they can’t get what they want for the building, thus the market.

    But I am glad that you admitted that you were not truthful when you said he used Metro money to pay police.

    Bill King does not critize everything the City does.

    Steve you tend to be dramatic but often wrong. Why do you hate minorities so much?

  7. C.L. says:

    Good grief, Manny. Why does everyone’s disagreement with your opinion have to be one that’s somehow racially motivated ? You exhaust me.

  8. Steve,

    City hall will be like bumble and tinder

    Women pretend not to know who i am and thank me afterwards.

  9. Steve Houston says:

    CL, I call what he does “Manny Spin”. He can’t stand being wrong and hates it when people pay attention to how he tries to spin events in a particular manner. He admits that Lanier raided Metro coffers, in part to keep it from engaging in transportation projects like rail and in part to indirectly finance hiring police without paying for it during his term yet if someone else points it out, he cries foul. Metro was not established to use the sales tax as a means of fixing city streets along bus routes, it was established to help the entire region with transit projects such as rail (many were sold on it by the promise of monorail and giving commuters an alternative to pouring more concrete for highways) but as long as some of the money went to low income neighborhoods in the city and to minority/women contractors under a preferential program, Manny can’t help but love it, the extra costs to the rest of us be darned.

    Lanier engaged in such projects to the point where it screwed so many in surrounding communities that they demanded an opt-out from paying the Metro tax, thanks to his method of giving them virtually nothing for the taxes they were forced to pay. Then he tries to spin Lanier’s boondoggle purchase of an office building downtown as a good thing when the city later found the structure was deficient, it caused untold damage to criminal cases, and the city still can’t find a chump to buy even during boom times. I wonder how much the former mayor made on the deal…

    He also claims that the city’s DROP program has not caused financial problems despite most experts, and even some with limited expertise like his buddy Bill King, have pointed to as seriously flawed to the point of bankrupting the city. He could read the city’s long term fiscal reports of the past 20 years but much like his forgetting the police raids of his beloved gang task force endangering the public with no provable, direct impact on crime rates, the facts just don’t matter to him. Now he’s claiming that his buddy Bill doesn’t criticize everything the city does although the truth is, Bill spends most of his extensive blogging to do just that. Then Manny throws in his obligatory “disagree with me and it’s because you hate minorities” spiel he is so well known for, notice he dropped the bit about running for office mentioned above?

    Manny, for someone trying to reinvent the definition of stalking, you sure seem to go out of your way to continue engaging me to respond to you in this forum. What office are you going to make a failed attempt at next, having been rejected by voters for city council and HCC?

  10. Manny Barrera says:

    Steve, how about actually addressing the questions, why do you hate minorities?

    Are those the new dog whistles, racial quotes.

    How can I admit to something I did not state. One has only to read the comments above to see that you are making things up.

    You seem like an angry white male Steve, who is afraid to post your real name. People make fun of Joe but at least he has the balls to use his real name.

    Losing is never something to feel sorry for, not trying is much worse. You are a loser Steve, that hides and tries to act like you know more than you do.

    By the way I have also ran for HISD. If I am in a district and it is open and someone was named the new king or queen, I want them to run against someone. Did you notice that I don’t take money. It is my money that I spend.

    You are the loser Steve, grow some and read more. But you do seem like a bitter white male that loses to women and minorities, but like to blame them for your inadequacies.

    Besides I do admit when I am wrong and have done so in this forum. That article I linked to when I said you were a stalker, I said I stood corrected.

  11. Steve Houston says:

    Manny, the closest you came to admitting you were wrong to call me a stalker was this response: “Steve, I consider you a stalker, whether I am right or not, that is my opinion.” So you can continue trying to rewrite history but that only works when people don’t pay attention.

    As far as the goading and personal insults you continue to make as you get increasingly frustrated, it just smacks of desperation. Frankly, there’s no need for it and it doesn’t further any of the discussions here. If you knew me, you’d know that I have no hatred in my heart, not for women, not for minorities, nor for anyone else. I may find fault with the false claims you constantly make but I’m sure you’re trying your best with what you have to work with.

    Joe, my social calendar is full enough that I don’t use either Tinder or Bumble so I don’t get your analogy. If women are singing your many praises, good for you, you just don’t convey that kind image in this forum and never have.

  12. Manny Barrera says:

    Steve, you and C.l. two peas in a pod. He won’t vote for Adrian because of his hair.

    No hate in your heart, come out and we shall see if you have hate in your heart.

    I had not mentioned you by name, but did correct your version, which you ended thus,

    “If your real reasons for adoring the guy were his minority set aside program, racial hiring quotas, pushing the TIRZ program down our throats, and concrete poured in low income areas of town (to enrich his contractor buddies), that’s fair enough but much of what he did caused long term harm.”

    You stated that things that were not true, the first time, I corrected you so that people would not think that your version was true.

    You still seem to be a bitter white male, that is scared to publish your name. I have a very good idea of who you are, but unlike you I won’t mention your name.

    Let me repeat for your benefit and C.L. benefit, Joe has the balls to have his name published, neither one of you are worthy of shining his shoes.

  13. Manny Barrera says:

    C.L. I believe that last time I said I would not mention you if you did like wise. You are wrong not everyone that posts here have been called racist or sexist by me. Joe is not there nor the majority of the others. But like Steve and Bill you tend to mix fantasy with reality.

    As to Joe if you bothered to read what he has posted he has some very good ideas. If you want to see what he looks like and hear him speak.

    But to campaigns, I run for various reasons, but let me list some of the people that I have helped win, Yolanda Navarro Flores when she first ran for State Rep., Gave former Senator Mario Gallegos information that allowed him to defeat Roman Martinez for State Senate, Felix Fraga City Council, Abel Davila HCC, Diana Davila HISD twice, and Dave Wilson HCC.

    But to the pensions, call me old fashion but a man’s word is his bond. The City promised something and then they sought to renege. I remember a Houston lawyer who won a billion dollar case on a handshake and what it means in Texas. It bothers me how many men and women have been screwed out of their pensions as the CEOs and or administration walk away with millions in their pockets. As to Bob Lanier I was the first Latino to join his campaign and brought in many people to help him, but I, also, was very critical of some of the things he did, ask Dave Walden.

  14. Mainstream says:

    Bill King held a campaign kick-off breakfast this past Saturday and I am told he announced, although I was not present. I have seen no media confirmation, which is odd.

  15. Ross says:

    Manny, that list of people you’ve helped tells me you are an awful judge of character. Flores is a nasty woman who screams at people when she doesn’t get her way. The Davilas, to my eyes, are the epitome of corrupt, self centered pieces of crap who care nothing for the constituencies they represent, but only for what they themselves can scam or steal. Diana Davila is an awful HISD trustee who cares not one whit for the kids she is supposed to serve. With your support of Dave Wilson, I have to assume you hate gays. Why do you hate gays, Manny?

  16. Steve Houston says:

    Ross, well said.

    Mainstream, I agree it is odd since he’s made no mention on his website or his social media accounts. While it took him years to come around on the TIRZ issue, I agree with him on changing or shutting down the program, some of his other ideas aren’t terrible either but I’d rather have better candidates challenge Turner.

    Manny, your double standard is showing again. Joe routinely vilifies local voters and female office holders/candidates by name when they do not jump through his unique set of hoops yet not one peep from you on why he hates women. He thinks he’s special because he googled ideas and posted them to his website, not because he came up with any workable solutions himself, and attacks those who do not do likewise. As a number of people have pointed out over the years, you are quick to accuse people of racism, sexism, or lying, presumably since they don’t march to your tune.

    As far as the pensions are concerned, the city promised more than it could afford and most of the employee representatives acknowledge that fact. The benefits constantly increased based on false information and then reality set in. Isn’t it childish to hold onto the premise that the city should go down in flames before adjustments be made? In fact, benefits are fluid, never locked in stone, but if employees felt cheated and could produce an airtight contract with the city regarding pension benefits, they should have sued in court. For the record, no such contracts exist.

  17. Manny Barrera says:

    Ross you don’t the Davilas and you certainly don’t have an idea of what they did for the community they represent or represented.

    Wonder what type of person you are Ross that Yolanda yelled at you, because I have never heard her yell in the 30 years I have known her.

    Ross if you know that the Davilas engage in what you claim take it to the FBI, you are full of it. I personally would recommend they sue you, but they are too nice. I spent years investigating HCC, guess who the FBI got? http://inside-hcc.com/index-inside.htm

    Ross you don’t know Dave, but he is probably the best person to watch over the taxpayers money.

    You are one ignorant person Ross and not sure that education would help you.

  18. Manny Barrera says:

    Mainstream he had to quit something first, see Marc Campos commentary yesterday.

  19. Manny Barrera says:

    Steve, some people like you, yes, I do point out racist persons very quickly.

    Happened that I was pondering about Joe this morning and I don’t think he is complaining about females, just certain type of females, like the ones that run Neighborhood Centers.

    People joined the service thinking no war would break out, damn if they still had to serve in a war. A promise is a promise.

  20. Manny Barrera says:

    Ross I guess that I put my name for at large, I won’t get your vote, it is okay, Trump voters are not my cup of tea.

    Ross do you even live in the HISD district Diana represents? I read where you bad mouthing her and asked what it is that you are griping about. But I do know one thing, you don’t live in both Diana and Jolanda’s district.

  21. David Fagan says:

    Point #3 What does impartiality have to do with anything in this city? If the FF’ s are to operate the same way this city operates, then impartiality has no place.