Archive for June 9th, 2014

Some folks say that City of H-Town term limits prevent our elected officials from tackling the long term problem issues like pensions and City finances. Of course, nobody really wants to roll up their sleeves and put together a grass roots campaign to undo term limits altogether. I really don’t think that two four-year terms or three three-year terms get you there. It just gives folks another few years to prepare for their next race. You really have to do away with them so folks can sort of invest in their full duties if you know what I mean.

That being said, if you run for a City office and you win, you know you only have six years so you own and take responsibility for what happens under your watch. You can take credit for all sorts of initiatives but you also have to take the heat for the stuff that doesn’t get done. That’s how the game should be played.

The Houston Police Department not being able to check in on 20,000 cases last year and problems with the City budget next year have gotten some recent run in the press prompting two letters to the Chron yesterday including one from former Mayor Bill White. Here they are:

The first one from resident Judson Bryant:

Regarding the editorial “HPD needs help” (Page B8, Thursday), Houston has a strong-mayor form of government. The mayor is the captain of the municipal ship with commensurate responsibility and authority. Where was the mayor as the investigative backlog accrued? Who selected and directly managed the chief of police?

This Houston Police Department issue, along with others, raises questions about our form of municipal government. Does our system bring forth and offer to voters candidates with both political savvy and managerial skills? Good managers are hard to find in many organizations. Does the city offer good career opportunities, competitive compensation and long-term employment security in a social environment that is supportive of good government? Maybe we are getting exactly the quality of government we have collectively requested.

Asking these questions causes me to reflect on those citizens who cannot insulate themselves from city government lapses and omissions. I live in a subdivision that has an active homeowners association. We supplement HPD police services with constable patrols. These additional police services make a measurable difference in the level of criminal activity.

Unfortunately, many areas of the city are not organized in a form that allows them to efficiently and effectively augment essential city services. I fear that these citizens bear the disproportionate brunt of the civic consequences as 20,000 crimes are placed in a queue. We need to do better, much better.

Here is from Mayor White:

Regarding “City budget gap could exceed recession levels” (Page A1, May 28), apparently city of Houston Finance Director Kelly Dowe claims that he cannot manage the city’s future budgets without cutting essential services.

Despite growing revenues and the fact that Dowe has crafted budgets for five years, he faults “prior mayors” and a cap on the growth in city revenues approved overwhelmingly by city voters in 2004.

My administration raised the city’s cash balance and bond ratings and negotiated an agreement that reduced the level of employee pension benefits. Many people deserve credit for these achievements, including an able City Council and then City Controller Annise Parker, who worked closely with my finance department, provided monthly financial reports and had direct input into the structure of city debt.

Dowe has found funds for the Parker administration’s priorities, including subsidies for upscale downtown apartments and a new $410 billion bond issue.

As a citizen who loves our great city, I appreciate Dowe’s public service. I would admire it even more if he accepted responsibility for hard budget choices rather than pretending that any problem arises from budgets long ago but not in the last five years.

Fair is fair. Mayor White has a point.

The current Mayor can take credit for a bunch of stuff under her watch like the Rebuild Houston infrastructure fund, the expansion of Hobby airport, the Buffalo Bayou project, the new Convention Center Hotel, and the anti-discrimination ordinance – just to name of few. But there will also be some stuff that didn’t get handled. I will say she has made the effort to work on the pensions but hasn’t gotten a lot of help.

That’s kind of the way it goes under our current governance structure. That’s what happens when you are only on the clock for six years.

The folks that decide to run for Mayor next year know what issues they have to tackle. Blaming the current the elected officials for not handling business won’t get you elected. Pointing out that the current governance structure is a hindrance and holding us back and laying out a plan to reform might.

The ‘Stros have lost 100 plus games the past three seasons – 2011-2013. What was their record in 2010?

I don’t know much about horse racing. I only pay attention during the Triple Crown races. I was watching when California Chrome came up short and one of his owners went off on the system that has been in place since forever. The dude certainly lost a ton of goodwill and that’s too bad since everyone was rooting for his horse.

The ‘Stros of course were 76-86 in 2010.

Jose Altuve is running fifth in All Star voting in the second baseman category. Go online and give him some love or head out to The Yard later on this week and help punch his ticket.

We are now 28-36. Yesterday in Minnesota we had two grand salamis. Yes, two grand salamis. One from Chris Carter and one from Jon Singleton. That is only the second time in club history where we have had two grand salamis in a game. Denis Menke and Jimmy Wynn did it on July 30, 1969 against the Mets at Shea. The team also had a SpringerDinger and a Dexter Fowler dinger. We took another series. I certainly can’t complain with the team’s play these days. Tonight and tomorrow we play the D-Backs in their crib and then turn around and host the D-Backs at The Yard Wednesday and Thursday. Got it!

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