Backers of City Proposition 2 are mad that they won't get their way.
Houston officials say they wrote Tuesday's Proposition 1 tax cap in a way that specifically meant that the competing Proposition 2 revenue cap couldn't be enforced if it passed with fewer votes.
After it did, Mayor Bill White announced Wednesday that he intends to follow through with the original intent. Prop 2 backers cried foul.
"The citizens have clearly spoken" by endorsing Prop 2 with 56 percent of the vote, said Jeff Daily, a key backer of the city charter amendment.
Prop 2 backer Bruce Hotze said White should expect a barrage of phone calls and faxes if he doesn't honor the will of those voters: "They can ignore it at their peril."
Proposition 1 got 64 percent "yes" votes and, more importantly, 36,463 more affirmative votes than Prop 2. The city's charter says that if two amendments on the same ballot are "inconsistent," the one that gets the most votes is the one that shall be enforced.
City attorneys knew of that existing charter provision when they drafted Prop 1 with language intended to make it inconsistent with Prop 2.
When Prop 1 was drafted, it included this sentence: "The City Council shall have full authority to assess and collect any and all revenues of the city without limitation, except as to ad valorem (property) taxes and water and sewer rates."
The sentence is not in the summary language on the ballot but is contained in the full amendment ordinance passed by the City Council. Prop 2 is similarly abbreviated for the ballot. The sentence directly conflicts with Prop 2, which limits the council's ability to assess and collect revenue.
This should be no secret, White said, as the major purpose of Prop 1 was to offer an alternative to Prop 2, and the explicit pre-emption was discussed openly.
"There are a lot more of us who voted for Prop 1 (than Prop 2). How can I decide to disregard the plain language of what they voted for?" he said.
He's still outmaneuvering them, too.
Tellingly, no Prop 2 backers would follow through Wednesday on earlier threats to sue the city if it didn't implement both amendments. Hotze repeatedly sidestepped the question.
Instead, Hotze went to City Hall as chairman of a new group, "Implement Prop 2," and delivered a letter to the mayor and council members.
"We are certain that our City Council members are eager and excited to implement the 234,598 voters' will and add Proposition 2 to the Houston City Charter," the letter said.