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Archive for May 11th, 2011

The administration is proposing handing off the City’s Convention and Entertainment Facilities Department to a non-profit organization and already they have messed up which leads me to believe that I don’t think they have thought this through.  Most of the facilities are in Downtown Houston and they forgot to brief the council member whose district includes Downtown – James Rodriguez.   I don’t know about this deal.  The Houston Press has a piece on the handoff and here are bits:

Basically, the merger would create a nonprofit organization called the Houston First Corporation. Pending council approval on May 18, Houston First would lease out the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Wortham Theater, Jones Hall, Jones Plaza, Miller Outdoor Theatre, Sesquicentennial Park, Root Memorial Square and several other smaller park and performing arts facilities from the city for a one-time cash payment of $8.6 million, followed by yearly payments of $1.4 million over the next five years.

Amid the drone of acronym-laden, jargon-heavy talk that followed (amid the alphabet soup, we got to hear the word "visioning" quite a bit), and a few questions from mostly contented council members, there suddenly erupted a volcano in the form of Councilman James Rodriguez, whose District I encompasses downtown, the site of most of the venues and the home of many arts donors and patrons.

"I have several serious concerns about the proposed Hotel Corporation/CEFD organizational changes, including failure to communicate this information to me as the downtown district Council Member," he began, in a cold fury.
"For several years, I have worked tirelessly to improve facilities in District I, including those in our downtown. I find it ironic that in the past, I have been asked to build consensus and garner support for matters pertaining to these facilities and didn’t even get a phone call to brief me on this matter."

While several other members thanked Icken and Campo for briefing them as early as last Thursday, the two men evidently forgot to bring the guy whose district this would be affecting most into the loop. Interesting — it was either incompetent or nefarious.

Without waiting for answers, Rodriguez asked Campo and Icken which stakeholders were part of the discussions, and how they felt about the proposed deal. He wanted to know what the short- and long-term impacts would be to the Theater District, convention business, and local arts programs. He wanted to know how all these facilities would be improved, and who would be held accountable should they fall apart, or should customer service erode. He called for more in-depth public discussion and pointed out again that these are taxpayer assets. And he closed by demanding to know who was on Campo’s board, and wanted to know if it was both diverse and had at least some members with experience of running multimillion dollar facilities.

First of all that Andy Icken fella and Ric Campo are pretty arrogant if you ask me if they didn’t even bother to brief CM Rodriguez.  It goes to show that they don’t think much of James and don’t know James’ history with the Downtown facilities.  As former CM Alvarado’s Chief of Staff, James work tirelessly on Downtown entertainment projects and as a Council Member – well you get the picture.  I worry that if an arrogant fella like Campo is in charge, is he really going to listen to folks in the future.  If Icken and Campo have that attitude going into this deal, no telling how they will screw up the so-called merger on down the line.

I also worry about the diversity issue.  How many Latinos are on the Convention Center Hotel Corporation that Campo chairs?  I didn’t see any on the list.

Does Council really want to handoff jewels like the Wortham Theater, Jones Hall, Miller Outdoor, and the Convention Center to an unproven entity?  These are our most precious Downtown facilities.  They are what help make Downtown special.

Is the Convention and Entertainment Facilities Department bleeding? Not to my knowledge.  It is a department that seems to be working so why hand it off?

Have the stakeholders truly been engaged in this process.  They are the ones that have made the facilities what they are today.

City Council needs to push back on this deal and delay it for a while.  Maybe they ought to put together some sort of citizens group to study this. 

This deal reeks of arrogance.  I don’t think they have thought this through.  Again, you would think that they would have gone to CM Rodriguez in the initial phase and gotten his thoughts.  They didn’t because they think they know better – but they don’t.

If Council lets go of these facilities, they are going to lose a measure of accountability that they may regret in the future.  This show must not go on!
Check out the entire Houston Press article here.

On this day in 1999, the Rockies hosted the Mets at Coors Field.  The starting pitcher for the Mets was a righty, the Rockies started a lefty.   What did the starting pitchers have in common?

Yesterday at the H-Town city Hall there was a celebration of diversity of sorts as The Mayor and leaders of the city’s African American, Asian American, and Latino communities came out to support the revised redistricting plan.  Here are bits from the Chron on what happened yesterday:

"We’re the growth," (CM James) Rodriguez said in announcing his support of the map unveiled by Mayor Annise Parker on Tuesday morning. "We need a plan that’s equitable and reflects our growth."

And:

"If you look at, historically, the progress that has been made by Latinos, it’s been incremental, step by step," said Marc Campos, a political consultant for Rodriguez and veteran of past redistricting battles who worked extensively on this year’s plan. "Redistricting has always been a weapon that we’ve utilized to make gains."

And:

"This is an opportunity. It’s not an answer," Parker said. "If the Latino community gets together behind the right candidate, funds that candidate, assists that candidate in mobilizing voters, there’s no question in my mind that this district can elect a strong Latino leader to City Council to join those that we already have, but it’s not going to happen automatically."             Here is the entire Chron story.

The two starting pitchers at Coors Field on May 11, 1999 shared the same name of course:  Bobby J. Jones for Mets and Bobby M. Jones for the Rockies.

Commentary got some run in Politico.com today.   Check it out.    General Sanchez will formally get into the U.S. Senate race today.  If he runs a credible campaign, maybe The President’s campaign will put some resources into Texas – maybe.  Stay tuned!

The ‘Stros once again were terrible last night.  Oh, the misery!  They have that look. The look that says:  “When are we going to win?”

 

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