Archive for January 29th, 2015

The H-Town City Council Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee is meeting this morning at City Hall to discuss term limits. You can check out the meeting online. I wonder how many folks will show up and offer their two cents.

Right now Council Member C.O. Bradford is making a good point about who is going to put together a public campaign to push for the city charter proposals that will be on the ballot this November. CM Bradford also wants to know who will fund the campaign. I wholeheartedly agree with him. Where’s the beef? Most folks will probably give their money to mayoral or council candidates this year and not to term limits campaigns. Stay tuned!

When Baggy won the 1994 NL MVP Award, how many first place votes did he receive out of the 28 votes cast?

The City of H-Town’s proposed justice center is in the news again today. The Mayor is now looking at the old Exxon building Downtown as the new site. Now this is a new wrinkle. Here is from today’s Chron:

City Council members are questioning Mayor Annise Parker’s surprise announcement late Wednesday that the city may move its police and courts operations into the Exxon tower downtown.

A deal is far from done, officials cautioned, but the city may lease the 45-story building at 800 Bell from Shorenstein Properties, which has launched a joint venture with Griffin Partners for the “possible redevelopment” of the tower, a Griffin press release said, to house courtrooms and other city needs.

The announcement comes two weeks after Parker pushed the council to vote on the future of the city’s police-and-courts buildings, offering a choice between constructing a new “justice complex” or repairing the city’s crumbling facilities. With both options ranging from hundreds of millions of dollars to more than $1 billion, and with both requiring voter approval and perhaps even a tax increase to fund, the council balked, punting the item back to Parker.

The mayor had said she was seeking input on how to proceed, and griped that the council had “ducked” a hard decision. However, Parker did not list leasing space as an option, so the topic was not discussed.

Parker did mention the idea offhand, however, then saying she would “continue to explore all options, including lease space.”

Security, tech concerns

Councilman and former police chief C.O. Bradford said leasing such a space concerns him because the building’s age may prevent it from accommodating technology and security upgrades, and said the tower’s height and underground parking are security risks.

Bradford added, “It’s hard to believe” the idea was not under discussion when the council considered justice complex options.

Andy Icken, the city’s chief development officer, said the Exxon option was first formally proposed Tuesday. Though Icken said neither the nature of the lease nor any costs associated with it have been discussed, he said Shorenstein hopes to complete the deal in six weeks.

“Although their proposal is interesting and potentially a lower cost alternative, there are many unanswered questions as to whether this facility can meet the needs for our ‘Justice Center’ and whether the property is affordable to the City,” Parker wrote in a Wednesday memo. “We now intend to begin an intense effort to make that assessment.”

Informed of the six-week timeline, Bradford said, “Oh, come on.”

Here is the entire Chron piece behind the paywall: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/In-surprise-move-Parker-now-looks-to-lease-6047196.php#/0.

As a reminder here is what I said a week or so ago on this:

We all know the City of H-Town needs to improve its criminal justice facilities but it ain’t going to be cheap. The Mayor knows this and kind of laid out some options that were handed back to her at City Council yesterday. Here is from the Chron today:

Pushed by Mayor Annise Parker to decide whether Houston’s aging police and courts buildings should get patchwork repairs or be fully replaced, with both options carrying staggering price tags, City Council members instead opted for indecision.

By a 12-4 vote, the body sidestepped both options – one of which could cost more than $1 billion – and referred the item back to the Parker administration. The measure was a nonbinding resolution, meaning any choice would have seen no money spent and no plan formally committed to.

Parker, however, said she presented the item to gauge whether council was willing to move forward with building a new cops-and-courts complex, as several million dollars are needed to continue the planning process, money that could be wasted if the council has no plans to ultimately approve the project itself.

“It’s either put hundreds of millions of dollars into the existing buildings or put hundreds of millions of dollars into new construction,” Parker said. “Council members want to vote ‘none of the above,’ and my job is to tell them you can’t say ‘none of the above.’ The buildings are becoming hazardous. It’s clear council members don’t want to take a position. When there’s no good answers, if they can duck, they’re going to duck as long as they can.”

City Hall insiders saw hypocrisy on both sides, however.

Just as Parker complained that council members, many of whom often complain about being excluded from key decisions, punted when given the chance to make a hard call. However, those suspicious of the mayor griped that Parker sought council input only when it was convenient for her to share the heat over a potentially unpopular proposal.

Here is the entire Chron piece that is behind the paywall: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Council-sidesteps-decision-on-justice-center-6016115.php.

I don’t blame the Mayor. This is a big ticket item that she probably won’t get enough support for from Council this year so go on ahead and punt it over to the next administration. I don’t have a problem with justifiable punting on this.

This is important and needs a good and healthy discussion. I will say this. Have you ever been to the Municipal Courts Building close to Downtown? You know what I am talking about. Make sure the next Municipal Courts Building is convenient and with no hassle parking – please!

Jeb Bush is in town tonight to raise money for his campaign. My pal Jacob Monty is raising funds for Bush. Here is from the Chron:

Jacob Monty, an immigration attorney who pledged to raise $100,000 for Bush, said he sensed some “Bush magic” among Houston’s business community.

“There are people who haven’t given money to any of my endeavors in five or six years, that said, ‘Yes, I’m in,'” Monty said. “Raising money for Bushes is different, especially in Houston.”

I wonder if Jeb is going to tell Jacob to ask some his clients to “politely” leave the country.

Baggy of course received all 28 first place votes for the 1994 NL MVP Award.

In case you wanted to know, top ‘Stros pitching prospect Mark Appel is currently reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas – HUH!

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