Archive for October 17th, 2017

Never Mind?

Have we ever been up 2 games to 1 in a 7 game LCS?

What’s going on here? Why the change?   Commentary thought everything was set. Here is the Chron headline online on a story by Mike Morris:

Turner seeks to keep current property tax rate despite rev cap

Here is how the story starts:

Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask city council on Wednesday to sidestep the voter-imposed revenue cap by approving the same property tax rate as last year.

According to City Controller Chris Brown, the city would need to cut the property tax rate by about one fifth of one cent to comply with the revenue cap. The difference would mean about $7 next year to the average Houston homeowner, but the potential political damage to Turner could be much more.

Council must set the tax rate at its Wednesday meeting, but no specific rate was listed on the council agenda and no explanatory backup material was provided to council members until Monday night. Several council members, informed of Brown’s Monday afternoon memo outlining the mayor’s plan, responded with an incredulous, “What?”

The information angered the mayor’s critics and confused his allies on the council a week before voters begin heading to the polls to consider a crucial $1 billion bond that would cement Turner’s landmark pension reforms and another $495 million in city improvement bonds.

To comply with the revenue cap, Brown said, the council would need to set the tax rate at 58.421 cents per $100 of assessed value, not leave it at last year’s 58.642 cents. The difference to the city general fund, he estimated, is $7.9 million.

“I’d love to think of it as a misunderstanding,” Councilman David Robinson said. “Conspicuously on the agenda today it was not disclosed, so it certainly raised a lot of questions. Call it, what – $8 million? It sounds like a very small amount to have a standoff about.”

Turner had proposed a temporary 9 percent property tax rate hike to cover Hurricane Harvey-related costs, then cut that proposal in half when the federal government agreed to cover a larger share of expenses. He then scrapped it entirely late last month after Gov. Greg Abbott provided $50 million in state disaster funds.

The city would “continue to operate under the rev cap,” the mayor said at the time, referring to the 13-year-old, voter-imposed rule that limits what the city can collect in property taxes. Rising property values have forced City Council to cut the tax rate every year since 2014 to avoid collecting more revenue than the cap allows.

The mayor’s proposed rate increase was possible because Harvey placed the city under a federal disaster declaration, and would by law last only one year. Turner’s spokesman Alan Bernstein said Monday afternoon that the mayor’s proposal to leave the rate flat did not rely on invoking the disaster declaration language, but hours later acknowledged that clause is the basis for keeping the same rate.

“The mayor clearly said at this meeting, the press conference with the governor and everybody, ‘We are not going to be invoking the disaster clause,'” Brown said late Monday. “So, now they’re saying they’re going to do it. OK, they can do that. My opposition is not if they do it or don’t, my opposition is that they do it and nobody knows about it.”

Here is the entire Morris read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Turner-seeks-to-keep-current-property-tax-rate-12282925.php.

I guess H-Town City Hall has an explanation but it is still going to look bad. Do they really need this headache? They are just letting folks call them flip floppers, fibbers, going back on your word – you get the picture. They made a big deal about staying on course when Gov. Greg Abbott handed over the $50 million check.   Like I said. I hope they have an explanation because right now it looks like it ain’t worth it.

The Chron E-Board is making some serious accusations against the HISD Superintendent today on the suspension of the Furr High School principal. Here is part of today’s E-Board take:

After an outcry from students and parents, Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza announced that investigators are now looking into a second set of “pretty serious” misconduct allegations.

In all likelihood, the district is combing through (Bertie) Simmons’ emails and interviewing teachers and others searching for an impropriety. “Show me the man, and I’ll find you the crime” is a tactic used in Stalinist Russia. All HISD employees must now be watching their backs.

There’s no other way to put this. This decision smells of political meddling. And this is the wrong time for the board of trustees to be engaged in that.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Furr-flap-12282434.php?utm_campaign=btfpm.

“Stalinist Russia!” Pretty strong words if you ask me. I don’t know if I would say that or go there.

This is what the H-Town region leaders, mostly past, got wrong. Sprawl to the wall.   Commentary is talking about highways and freeways over a genuine mass transit system. Now it looks like it could impact the Amazon deal. Here is from the Chron:

The nationwide bidding war for Amazon’s second headquarters has Houston leaders pitching the city as a diverse and dynamic marketplace, one with big industrial players and an emerging tech sector – the perfect place to plant seeds for new technological breakthroughs.

But a new report says Houston would rank low on Amazon’s wish list. The city came in at No. 52 among the major U.S. metro areas vying for the Seattle tech giant’s $5 billion campus, according to an analysis by economics research firm Moody’s Analytics, which examined the various things Amazon wants in a new hometown.

Houston is just one in the scores of U.S. cities cobbling together rival proposals to lure Amazon’s 50,000 new employees and a sprawling 8-million-square-foot development. On the list of places Amazon should go, Austin ranked No. 1, with its rapid job growth, crop of technology companies and the promise of cushy Texas incentive packages. Dallas was No. 37.

But Houston ranked low in two key areas that Amazon wants – transportation and quality of life. Census data compiled by Moody’s Analytics showed only 2 percent of the local population takes public transportation to work. Only 1 percent walk to work.

Compare that to Philadelphia, where almost a quarter of the workforce uses the mass transit system, and 7 percent walk.

“Amazon doesn’t want to build a place with 50,000 parking spots in it,” said Adam Ozimek, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics. “That, possibly more than anything else, is going to rule out Houston. Amazon looks at how people get to work. It’s a big ask.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Houston-ranks-No-52-12281540.php.

That “50,000 parking spots” phrase is a deal killer.

That’s what we get when our unwritten policy has been moving cars and not people and we don’t even do a good job moving cars. When will we ever learn?

Commentary attended the Children at Risk HISD Board of Trustees Candidate Debate yesterday evening at Lamar High School.   One of the candidates criticized the amount of money some candidates had raised. Of course, this candidate had only reported raising like a little over $1,000. How does he think candidates are supposed to communicate with voters? Mail isn’t cheap.

Maybe about 125 folks in all showed up. It ended at about the bottom of the first inning.

In the 2005 NLCS, the ‘Stros were up 2-1 after 3 games.

Last night’s loss was ugly. There is no other way to describe the drubbing.

Game 4 is at 4 pm today.

Game 5 is at 4 pm tomorrow.

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