News from June 2019
A newly created website all but confirms months of speculation: Houston Council Member Dwight Boykins will be entering the 2019 mayoral race. According to the site, an announcement is scheduled at the Wortham Center, though the date is not yet public.
Mayor Sylvester Turner is gearing up for the fight of his life. After chasing the mayor’s seat for some thirty years, he finally won, but there are a few people who are hoping to deny him a second term. His actions so far are indicating that his 2019 campaign will be a far cry from 2015 when he told the Houston Chronicle “I’m not running a race-based campaign.” Last week, Houston Style Magazine published a biased and accusatory article, which read more like campaign propaganda, that accused Turner’s opponents, Tony Buzbee and Bill King, of using “dog whistle” politics.
With a treasurer designation filed and the endorsement of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, Council Member Dwight Boykins (District D) is officially running for Mayor of Houston. Last week, we broke the story that the website DwightBoykinsforMayor.com was live. It has since been taken down but, at the time, Boykins told those inquiring that it was a draft version and he was considering running.
On the heels of launching a petition to end Pay-to-Play in the City of Houston, Mayoral candidate Bill King rolled out a 7-point ethics reform and transparency plan. King says his plan will safeguard against corruption, save taxpayer dollars, and improve access to public information.
When she first took office in January, County Judge Lina Hidalgo rolled out what she called a “Talking Transition”. According to Hidalgo, the Talking Transition was a way to include the opinions of Harris County residents in her transition efforts and make sure that as she began to outline her priorities, they were in line with the county’s needs. The report says, “Judge Hidalgo intends to base County policies on what issues matter most to residents, informed in part by these survey results.”
In a seemingly never-ending cycle, the 14thCourt of Appeals today ordered the Houston Professionals Fire Fighters Association, the Houston Police Officers’ Union, and the City of Houston to head back to the mediation table within 60 days. Last month a court ruled that the voter-approved Proposition B “pay parity” measure was unconstitutional. In response to that ruling, the administration rescinded the layoffs of 220 fire fighters.
Thanks to the charity of a group of Methodist churches in Houston’s 3rdWard, those in need of dental care, but lacking the resources, were able to get it. Boynton Chapel United Methodist Church, Trinity East United Methodist Church, Trinity United Methodist Church, and Riverside United Methodist Church teamed up and brought a free dental clinic to Emancipation Park in May.
After about eight hours of debate over amendments, City Council voted 12 – 4 in favor of Mayor Turner’s $5.2 billion 2020 budget. Council killed attempts to increased district service budgets from to $1.5 million as well as an attempt to open the door to a “commuter fee” or congestion fee where those traveling to and from Houston would be taxed to pay for infrastructure.
It took Houston City Council about 8 hours to get through the roughly 30 amendments offered by council members to the 2020 budget. The $5.1 billion budget still leaves a lot to be desired as it’s imbalanced, contains wasteful spending, and isn’t entirely transparent, but there were a number of amendments that passed and didn’t pass, that should make taxpayers happy. The good ones that passed.
By Urban Reform
At last week’s marathon Houston city council meeting to consider the $5.1 billion fiscal year 2020 budget, one council member attempted to tack on an amendment that would have opened the door for a “commuter fee” better known as congestion pricing. Council Member Martha Castex-Tatum (District K) offered the amendment, with the full support of Mayor Sylvester Turner, and it would have created an exploratory committee to research the new fee.
Metro’s ambitious plans for light rail expansion have been scaled back to one goal: connecting to Hobby Airport. Metro has proposed both an $881 million, 7.4-mile extension of the Purple line that would garner an estimated 2,800 riders per day, and a 6.4-mile, $900 million extension—slightly costlier but picking up higher ridership, an estimated 4,400 riders per day.