Archive for July 5th, 2021

CNN and the Fourth

Commentary was in Baytown with my Dad yesterday.  I watched CNN’s coverage of the Fourth of July festivities hosted by Dana Bash and Don Lemon.  I have to say it was outstanding and highly entertaining. The live music by various artists and the fireworks was first rate.  The coverage lasted well into the evening.  Nice job CNN. It will certainly be must see TV in 2022. 

Check this from the Chron this past weekend:  

A petition filed in April by a group seeking to give City Council members the ability to place items on their weekly meeting agenda contained enough valid signatures to put a charter referendum before Houston voters, the city secretary reported Friday. 

In a letter to Mayor Sylvester Turner and council members, City Secretary Pat Daniel said her office verified that 20,482 petition signatures contained the name, signature and other required information of registered voters who live in Houston. The legal requirement to get a referendum on the ballot is at least 20,000 valid signatures. 

The city secretary’s office counted 31,448 of the nearly 40,000 signatures submitted by the Houston Charter Amendment Petition Coalition, the group behind the petition drive, according to Daniel. 

The referendum, if approved by voters, would amend Houston’s charter to allow any three council members to place an item on the council’s weekly agenda. For now, the mayor wields almost full control of the agenda, including the ability to block any measures, under the city’s strong-mayor form of government. 

The charter already allows three council members to call a special meeting and set the agenda, but the maneuver rarely attracts a required quorum of council members. 

The Houston Charter Amendment Petition Coalition — a politically diverse mix of groups that includes the Houston fire union, the Harris County Republican Party, the conservative group Urban Reform, Indivisible Houston and the Houston chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America — has said it intends to place the measure on this year’s November ballot. City Council has until Aug. 16 to approve the referendum ahead of the Nov. 2 election. 

And this: 

Turner said Friday he was conferring with the city’s legal department and had not yet decided when to seek a council vote to create the ballot measure. However, he suggested it would not happen this year, and said the city also is awaiting the results of a separate petition drive by the fire union, which is seeking a charter amendment that would require binding arbitration when the city and union reach an impasse in contract talks. 

“There is no obligation, I think, on our part to put anything on the ballot for this year,” Turner said. “There may be other referendums, petitions that may come either this year, next year, whenever. I know there is one out there right now. But again, I’ll defer to legal.” 

City Council is required by state law to place verified petitions before voters, though it does not outline a specific timeline for to do so. When council members do pass an ordinance ordering the referendum, they have two options for setting the date. The first choice: the next uniform election date, November 2021 in this case. The second option: the next municipal election or the next presidential election, whichever is earlier. In this case, the upcoming November 2023 city election falls before the next presidential election in 2024. 

Under state law, the referendum may not take place during an election that begins less than 30 days after City Council orders the referendum. Turner must call the council vote no later than Aug. 16 for the referendum to make it on the ballot this year. 

At-Large Councilmember Michael Kubosh, who is supporting the charter amendment effort, said he believes the referendum should be placed on the November 2021 ballot. 

“The two most sacred things about a democracy under the Constitution is our right to petition our government, and our right to vote,” Kubosh said. “Delaying a vote, I believe, is wrong. I believe that once the petitions have been gathered, and once the city secretary has verified that there is a sufficient number, then it should immediately go on the next ballot.” 

Here is the entire or rest of the read: Group collects more than 20,000 signatures in effort to give Houston city council more power (houstonchronicle.com). 

Sigh. Not letting voters decide this November would not be a good move by the H-Town Mayor. Put it on the GD ballot. H-Town voters took the time to sign the petitions.  If the Mayor doesn’t like the initiatives, organize a campaign against and beat them at the polls.  Not putting it on the ballot really is not an option. It would only make the Mayor look petty. 

It didn’t have to be this way. 

Four Astros were selected to be AL All Star team members. Congrats to Jose Altuve, Michael Brantley, Carlos Correa and Ryan Pressley.  Yuli Gurriel should have made the team. 

We have a three and a half game lead over the A’s, and they visit The Yard for three starting tomorrow. 

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