Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘Sylvester Turner’

Pension deal takes a step forward

Not quite there yet, but getting close. Houston’s police and municipal pension boards have agreed to a landmark reform package produced over months of intensive negotiations at City Hall, and Mayor Sylvester Turner hopes the firefighters fund will follow suit with a vote Monday. The pending proposal, which puts Houston the closest it has come […]

Kinder Institute analyzes Mayor Turner’s pension reform plan

From the inbox: Rice University’s Kinder Institute has done the preliminary math on Mayor Sylvester Turner’s historic pension reform plan and determined the numbers appear to add up if all of the components are implemented as envisioned. The institute is one of several agencies to analyze the mayor’s proposal since it was unveiled last week. […]

Now let’s take on the revenue cap

With the pension issue settled, this can be the next big item on Mayor Turner’s to-do list. Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask city voters next fall to do away with a decade-old cap on city revenues, but for now he’s stuck with it. So City Council on Wednesday will consider cutting Houston’s property tax […]

Let’s cooperate on animal welfare

Yes to this. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett called Tuesday for a summit of county and Houston city leaders, along with animal welfare organizations, to address the region’s “outrageous” problem with stray animals. While the details are still being developed, Emmett said one focus would be better collaboration between Harris County, which focuses primarily on […]

More on the pension deal

The full version of the Chron story adds a lot of detail. Under the tentative deal, the funds would assume more realistic investment returns – 7 percent rather than 8 percent to 8.5 percent – and would recognize all recent market losses on their books at once. The city also would erase the plans’ underfunding […]

Mayor Turner announces pension fund deal

From the inbox: Negotiators for the City, the Houston Police Officers’ Pension System, the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund and the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System have developed Preliminary Points of Understanding on a structural approach to long term, sustainable, defined benefit pension reform. Detailed formal plans continue to be developed and will need […]

City loses in appeal against firefighters’ pension statute

Here’s a pension fund-related litigation update for you. Houston can’t overhaul a state-governed firefighter pension system that the mayor claims is pushing the city towards insolvency, a Texas appeals court ruled. Houston sued the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund in January 2014, seeking a declaration that a state law setting how the fund is […]

The bigger debtors’ prison problem

It’s not just Harris County. Last week, an Amarillo attorney released documents that he said showed the city jailed disabled people simply because they were unable to pay municipal fines. According to the Amarillo Globe-News, the victims of this apparent debtors’ prison system include “a disabled veteran on social security who owed $539; a woman living on $490 […]

Documenting the ways that proposed Mexican-American Studies textbook sucks

Read the report. Saying that a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook is “dripping with racism and intolerance,” several educators and students are calling for the State Board of Education to reject the controversial book. “It is an utter shame we must deal with racially offensive academic work,” State Board member Ruben Cortez Jr., D-Brownsville, said Tuesday […]

Harris County to fix some Houston roads

Some good news from the inbox: As part of an agreement approved by Houston City Council today, Harris County Precinct 1 will pay for additional street improvements worth millions of dollars within the Houston city limits by year’s end. This is a continuation of an arrangement Mayor Sylvester Turner and outgoing Commissioner Gene Locke negotiated […]

What do we want of a Fire Department study?

Whatever it is, this wasn’t it. A much-anticipated analysis of fire department operations essentially was dead on arrival Friday after it failed to identify cost savings and called for a multitude of investments, including three new fire stations. Mayor Sylvester Turner promised to conduct another review of the $500 million department to supplement the $297,000 […]

HPD wants control of crime scene forensics for officer-involved shootings

No. Houston’s acting Police Chief Martha Montalvo, with the support of the powerful Houston Police Officers Union, has made a behind-closed-doors bid to take back control over the troubled Crime Scene Unit from the city’s independent forensic science lab. The Crime Scene Unit is small but critical – its technicians gather and photograph evidence from […]

Next B-Cycle expansion announced

From the inbox: Houston’s bike share system, Houston B-cycle, will more than triple in size over the next two years, adding 71 stations with 568 bikes. The expansion will be paid for with federal grant dollars. “The expansion of the B-cycle system will bring bike sharing into new neighborhoods and to new users,” said Mayor […]

Pension reform update

Things are happening. Longtime firefighters pension fund chairman Todd Clark has retired from the department and resigned his post, a move City Hall observers interpret as perhaps the clearest sign yet that Mayor Sylvester Turner’s push for pension reform may succeed. The municipal pension also is in upheaval, having bought out former director Rhonda Smith’s […]

Turner endorses Ike Dike

Interesting. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has endorsed the “Ike Dike” storm surge protection proposal, raising the possibility that Houston could be one of the last cities in the Galveston Bay area to endorse the $6 billion project. If the Houston City Council passes a resolution endorsing the Ike Dike concept, the Bayou City would become […]

Where are the chiefs?

People are beginning to wonder. Six months after Houston’s top cop retired and 10 months after Houston’s fire chief resigned to take another job, both departments remain without permanent chiefs, prompting concerns that public safety could suffer during the transition to permanent leadership. The delays are already among the longest in decades at a time […]

Still asking for Zika help

From the inbox: Following reports of the first local mosquito-borne Zika infections in the U.S., Mayor Sylvester Turner is once again calling on the state of Texas and federal government to provide financial assistance to help fight it. “There are already 14 confirmed cases of Zika virus being transmitted locally in Florida,” said Mayor Turner. […]

Looking again for a new justice complex

Got to do something about this sooner or later. Mayor Sylvester Turner has formed a committee to study how to acquire a new police headquarters and courts complex for Houston. Former mayor Annise Parker spent more than two years studying how to replace the city’s aging “justice complex” but ultimately abandoned it without having found […]


The city’s pothole repair program seems to be going well. Faster response by city crews to resident-reported potholes has saved thousands of drivers a bumpier ride around Houston the past six months, though officials warn there’s a long way to go before local streets are smooth driving. Since Mayor Sylvester Turner announced on Jan. 4 […]

Astroworld II?

Mayor Turner would like to see it happen. In a recent informal lunch with members of the media as he approached six months in office, Mayor Sylvester Turner ticked off the important things his administration has accomplished — unanimous passage of a balanced budget, pothole repairs — and issues he plans to tackle — the […]

Endorsement watch: Labor for Thompson, the Mayor for Miles

From the inbox: The Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO today announced their support of Senfronia Thompson for State Senator District 13. “Our unions screened two candidates for Senate District 13 — Representatives Senfronia Thompson and Borris Miles,” said Zeph Capo, President of the Area Labor Federation. “Both candidates have been steadfast allies in […]

No bonds this year

Maybe next year. Mayor Sylvester Turner likely will not ask voters to approve bonds this November to replace the nearly depleted debt residents approved in 2012, a move that may delay several projects. […] Having addressed a $160 million shortfall with the unanimous passage of his first budget last month, Turner said he now is […]

More options for glass recycling

From the inbox: Through a new partnership with Strategic Materials Inc., North America’s largest glass recycler, the City of Houston is able to offer residents a more convenient way to recycle glass. “Since the removal of glass from the City’s single stream recycling program earlier this year, we have been working to find ways for […]

Council approves proposed finance law changes

That was easy. City Council approved changes to Houston’s campaign finance law Wednesday with no discussion, effectively doubling contribution limits per general election cycle and boosting the amount many candidates can reimburse themselves for personal loans. The revisions, which go into effect Friday, are meant to clarify rules left unclear after the court struck down […]

Still waiting for a design for I-45

Pull up a chair and relax, this could take awhile. After 15 years of discussion, study and ideas for improvements ranging from enormous tunnels to a massive circulating freeway loop, planners are still at least six months from unveiling their $7 billion plan for historic changes to I-45 and most of the downtown freeway network. […]

On recycling glass

Not sure about this. Considered only in terms of the city’s short-term budget and Waste Management’s profits, perhaps the decision to stop recycling glass makes sense. But it wasn’t popular at the symposium, which was hosted by UH’s Center for Sustainability and Resilience and the Houston Advanced Research Center. There, speakers suggested that decision ignores […]

Mayor proposes raising contribution limits

Not sure how I feel about this. Incumbents and wealthy candidates would get more of an advantage under proposed changes to Houston’s campaign finance law, which would effectively double contribution limits per general election cycle and allow many candidates who pour money into their own campaigns to recoup more of that cash. The modifications, reviewed […]

The latest attempt to kill the Uptown BRT line

Whatever. “See this right turn lane filled up?” asked consultant Wayne Dolcefino to about a dozen angry Uptown residents, standing along Post Oak Boulevard near the intersection with San Felipe Street on Monday morning. “That’s going away. The right lane at Westheimer? That’s going away too.” A woman’s jaw dropped, as though what Docefino said […]

How much would you pay to fix Houston’s sewer system?

Whatever your answer to that question is, the real answer is that

Pension progress report

Our favorite subject, back in the news. Mayor Sylvester Turner and the leaders of the city’s three pension boards made clear to a visiting group of state lawmakers on Monday that they agree a fix to the city’s growing pension burden must be found, perhaps by the mayor’s deadline of year’s end. The state House […]

Mayor Turner asks for Zika help

From the inbox. With members of the local legislative delegation at his side and an illegal tire dump as the backdrop, Mayor Sylvester Turner called on the state of Texas to declare the Zika virus a public health emergency and dedicate funds toward local efforts to fight it. “Local governments are in a position to […]

On finding the next HPD Chief

I don’t know about this. Mayor Sylvester Turner has chosen to select Houston’s next police chief through a private executive search firm, taking the position that the applications and résumés of job candidates do not have to be made available through the Texas Public Information Act. The process stands in stark contrast to that used […]

Memorial residents file lawsuit over flooding

This ought to be interesting. A group of residents sued the city of Houston and one of its local redevelopment authorities Wednesday, alleging that they approved commercial development in the Memorial City area without requiring adequate storm water mitigation, resulting in increased flooding in residential neighborhoods. Claiming federal and state constitutional violations, the west Houston […]

Council unanimously passes Turner’s first budget

Good job. Mayor Sylvester Turner achieved his goal of securing unanimous passage of his first general fund budget Wednesday morning, a month ahead of the typical schedule and after an unusually brief and uncontentious discussion of council members’ proposed changes. The $2.3 billion general fund budget, which pays for most basic city services with revenues […]