GLO to Harris County: Drop dead

Hard to see this as anything but a hatchet job.

Houston and Harris County officials said the Texas General Land Office informed them Thursday they would receive nothing from the more than $1.3 billion in applications they submitted for federal flood mitigation funding the state is disbursing.

Instead, about $1 billion in U.S. Housing and Urban Development funds the GLO is managing will flow to other local governments in 46 Southeast Texas counties that are eligible for the aid. Four smaller municipalities in east Harris County — Pasadena, Jacinto City, Galena Park and Baytown — will receive about $90 million combined.

The snub, delivered by GLO staff in meetings this week, surprised local leaders, who had expected the city and county to receive hundreds of millions of dollars.

“I would like to tell you the meeting was informative and productive. Unfortunately, the meeting was ridiculous,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, who suggested the state had political motives for its decision. “The GLO is saying today that the largest county in Texas, the county home to the most significant elements of our state, local and national economy, does not merit the fair share of billions of dollars.”

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said it was “unconscionable” that federal funds Congress intended for Hurricane Harvey recovery would not flow to the Houston area, by far the most populous affected by the storm.

“Our community needs this federal funding and we have already begun the process of reaching out to the Biden Administration to identify alternatives — including a potential review of the process for this allocation and a direct carve-out going forward,” Hidalgo said.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s administration said the city was preparing a letter Thursday evening in which it would ask the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to intervene. In a statement, the mayor called on the federal agency to “immediately halt the distribution” of the funds until it could review the situation.

“For the state GLO not to give one dime in the initial distribution to the city and a very small portion to Harris County shows a callous disregard to the people of Houston and Harris County,” Turner said. “And it is unfathomable that the state GLO would redirect most of these dollars to areas that did not suffer much from Hurricane Harvey.”


An appropriation from the state is crucial to closing a roughly $900 million funding gap Harris County has for its flood bond program. Without it, the county faces the prospect of issuing a new bond, diverting toll road revenue or scaling back the size or scope of flood projects.

Russ Poppe, the Harris County Flood Control District executive director, said he struggled to understand how roughly $300 million in applications his engineers prepared failed to secure a single dollar. He said he thought the county’s projects exceeded the criteria for awards.

“We’re curious to see how the GLO scored our projects, and why they declared us ineligible,” Poppe said. “I just don’t know until I see the numbers.”

See here and here for some background. I’d like to see those numbers too, because I cannot envision a scenario in which absolutely none of Houston or Harris County’s requests made the cut. Hell, if it had been looking likely along the way that Houston and Harris County were coming up short, you’d think it would make sense for the GLO to give them a heads up so they could maybe shore up their applications. Indeed, the exact opposite appears to be the case.

One might argue that the fix was in from the beginning.

It should be self-evident why the state should want Harris County to get its fair share of these funds. For that matter, the same is true for the federal government. As such, I hope Mayor Turner’s letter to HUD has an effect. I know George P. Bush has a primary challenge to run, but there are other concerns to deal with. The Press and the Trib have more.

UPDATE: Said letter to HUD, signed by Mayor Turner and Commissioner Rodney Ellis, can be seen here.

UPDATE: Judge Hidalgo sent her own letter to HUD as well.

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14 Responses to GLO to Harris County: Drop dead

  1. Manny says:

    Those are the rules of the Republican/Racist/Fascist party. Not sure why anyone would expect them to play by different rules.

  2. Jeff N. says:

    The GQP leadership is at war with Texas cities and their malice will cause the loss of lives and homes.

  3. Bill Daniels says:

    In fairness, both Houston and Harris County have demonstrated that they are not good stewards of money. Houston got funds to rebuild private homes after Harvey, I think….one of the storms, anyway, and only fixed a few houses.

    And Dora wasted almost $ 20M building out a hospital that never saw one patient. Millions of taxpayer dollars….just blown, gone, like a popcorn fart. They didn’t even say, hey, we built and staffed it, we’ll see the homeless and treat them for whatever maladies they have. Nothing. The GLO had good reason not to throw more good money after bad.

    Anyone miss Ed Emmett yet? Voting has consequences, and, well, here we are. The state realizes you don’t send money to the irresponsible.

  4. Ross says:

    Wow, Bill, your hindsight is really good.

  5. policywonqueria says:

    Re: “Anyone miss Ed Emmett yet?”

    It’s good to know that he is a OTC reader, at least occasionally (see recent missive). It would be nice if Citizen Emmett could persuade his students at Rice U to elevate the policy discourse in this forum, perhaps for extra credit, assuming he is too busy himself to share his deep insight and extensive executive and local-politics experience.

    But then again, there is that mud-pit slug-fest quality to the verbal jousting here … and the ever-present danger of being called all sorts of names suffixing in -ist.

    Who would want to expose impressionable academicians-in-progress to such unpleasantries? They would have to grow a thick skin quickly.

    Not to mention some OTK community members having short attention spans and failing to demonstrate college-readiness and deficiencies in the reading comprehension department.

  6. Joel says:

    I can read just fine PW, as can, I suspect, everyone else here (as usual, reading your last paragraph was more than enough).

    But just because I can read (and write) dissertations, doesn’t mean I or anyone else want to wade through one every time you have a (very) simple point to make.

  7. Jason Hochman says:

    Speaking of wasting money, Ed Emmett was lauded for the underground jury meeting center which was flooded by Harvey and closed, after like, say, I dunno five years? At a cost of millions. If I buy something for fifty dollars I expect it to last a lifetime. I am a tightwad, and, if I run and get elected, I will guard your money with prudence.

  8. TruthShallSetYouFree says:

    “Assumptions” are always bad, unless big shots at Flood Control use them–then it’s the State’s fault, or the GLO. See how that works? It keeps you unscathed while you sit in your ivory tower.

  9. C.L. says:

    No one I know is missing Ed Emmett.

  10. Ross says:

    Jason, who is Prudence, and why should we trust her?

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  12. Jerry Smith says:

    Harris County has wasted money for the last 34 years i worked there. Maybe its time i run for Harris County Commissioner and prioritize Flood Control. Time to quit talking about it and be about it. If Harris County gets a Billion Dollars for Flood Control they would spend half on studies. Studies don’t get get water moving. I am a avid hunter and fisher ,so yes i wont the best of both worlds. I have been calling for 20 years to get the Flood Control ditch by my house desilted to learn they will study it.

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