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It’s all about Helena

Apparently, we have been living in Helena Brown’s world all this time.

CM Helena Brown

District A Councilwoman Helena Brown has voted against spending money on the renovation of a women’s shelter, a street’s reconstruction, the purchase of a police boat, payment to caregivers for the chronically ill, a study on people at risk for HIV infection, gas cards and the cleaning of public pools.

That was just last week. In almost every case, she was the lone dissenter. Between tags – which delay consideration of items for a week – and no votes, Brown opposed or delayed more than a third of Wednesday’s council business.

The rookie council member declined to be interviewed, but she did respond to written questions in an email.

“I have voted no on items which contradict the conservative ideologies and beliefs that I promised my constituents I would uphold. I have voted no on items which will worsen and not stem the pending financial disaster,” Brown wrote.


Publicly, council members and others say Brown must do what she believes her constituents sent her to do. Privately, she has been called “Dr. No” and “the Jolanda Jones of the right,” in reference to the outspoken councilwoman who so alienated herself from colleagues that several often would leave the dais when it was her turn to speak.

In response to a Houston Chronicle inquiry for a previous story, Brown released a statement that said in part, “By voting me into office this past election, the voters were mandating that the city have a serious dialogue on its spending habits. … My expectations are simple. Balance the budget and end irresponsible spending.”

Even her supporters acknowledged that Brown currently is delivering a monologue.

I realize I’m contributing to the problem as much as anyone, but I confess I’m a little perplexed by the amount of attention being paid to a freshman Council member who isn’t trying to get anything done. I understand the novelty factor here, but really, are our memories that short? She’s Addie Wiseman, the tag-happy no-voting former District E Council member, all over again. (Stace saw that before everyone else did.) The fact that nobody else, not even her current Council colleagues, thought to make that comparison is suggestive of what Wiseman’s legacy was, and what Brown’s is likely to be. I’m sure her anti-spending zeal will have its share of fans, but until she or they advocate for spending less on police, fire, and emergency services, it’s all just meaningless posturing. And sooner or later the next shiny object will come along to distract us.

By the way, if you want a reminder of what exactly is in the city’s budget, here’s that budget-balancing tool that Mayor Parker put out last year. Note that it does not include things like debt service, pension obligations, and health insurance for current employees, none of which can be reduced by fiat. Which of these things would Helena Brown cut or eliminate, and why? I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell from the articles that have been written about her, or the substance-free press statements she puts out instead of answering questions. Being the sole “no” vote based on abstract principles is easy, especially when there’s no consequence to your vote. Having a vision, and convincing other people that vision is the right one, especially when it comes to defining what is “responsible” and “necessary” spending and what is not, that’s hard. Let me know when CM Brown gets around to doing that. Campos has more.

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  1. Jj says:

    There are none of Wiseman’s colleagues left — these CM’s don’t know her. Term limits got rid of all of Bill White’s council, along with institutional memory. And we all know that Annise, as Controller, never spent any time watching White’s council because she is the most ignorant parliamentarian ever (“Robert’s Rules of What?”).

  2. […] Kuffer spends a little time on new H-Town CM Helena Brown here. […]

  3. Brad M. says:

    Looks like we have a future mayoral candidate in Ms Brown for the right side of the spectrum.

    Her NO votes don’t need to be against anything substantial. They just need to be against any spending even if it is for the city dogcatcher budget so she can trumpet it in advertising in the future. LCDs on the right won’t worry themselves about the details .

  4. Mainstream says:

    I had hoped that Helena would pick her battles wisely. She has the intellectual rigor to do better than this.

  5. Spring Branch says:

    Puleeze, Helena Brown is turning out to be nothing short of the complete lunatic I knew she would be. One of the string of articles on her talks about how she flat out denied that her Chief of Staff was behing the facebook page dedicated to calling Mike Sullivan a sham. Go on the facebook page and clear as day, there is Ms. Ablaza listed as starting the page, yet Helena still went on record denying it even though it was so easy to prove. She doesn’t weigh herself down with facts or reality. She will get nothing done. She has gotten nothing done. She will be a one term council member that is a product of a low-voter turn out election that allowed an unqualified fringe candidate to get a (temporary) seat at the horse shoe. She will be voted out in 2013.

  6. joshua bullard says:

    mayor brown ignored wiseman and tatro,he was old school city politics,mayor parker has been in that building alongtime,since 1998,she hasnt had time to take a step back and smell the roses,it doesnt matter if your left or right,its clear to see that people are trying to place blame on council member brown when in fact they are the very people that are neglecting the concerns of district a-which i might add are tax paying members of the city of houston and the mayor and anyone else should respect there voice on council which in this case is there elected council member helena brown,the mayor should act on behalf of district a by making a good faith attempt to settle things in a professional manner with the district a council member and take time to ask if now is the time to be spending money and passing further regulations into the city charter,i think we are in a holding pattern on most spending and we should be in a stop position on over regulations for now,i will offer an apology to the voters of houston who live in district a on behalf of our mayor,i will ask her to do abetter job………………….

    in closing-i think we should keep in mind that cm helena brown was elected in a run off by either 10 percent or just shy of,before this the would have said it was impossible- also charles kuffner-let us not forget that every single chronicle endorsed candidate-EVERY SINGLE CHRON.COM CANDIDATE WAS VOTED OUT OF OFFICE-BRENDA STARDIG/BOOTED/JO JONES BOOTED/ALVIN BYRD BOOTED/KRISTI THAUBAUT BOOTED.LETS KEEP THIS IN MIND,its not going to be bussinness as usual downtown-i am ready to play another game of musical chairs come 2013 spring brancie………….

    ps-marc goldberg in andrew c burks office/i need to hear from you.

    JOSHUA BEN BULLARD 2012///////////////////////////////////////////

  7. Ross says:

    It would be nice if Brown would explain why she doesn’t think the airport needs telecom services, why the gas card deal is so bad, and why the City pools shouldn’t be cleaned. I’m against spending money unnecessarily, but those items all seem to be legitimate. And, it’s not like the airport expenditures come out of the general fund. Has no one explained to Ms. Brown how enterprise funds work?

    I think the real solution here is for the other members of Council to vote against any expenditure benefiting District A. No street repairs, no sewer repairs, no water line repairs. Nothing. That’s how you reduce expenditures.

  8. Spring Branch says:

    You will probably see that happen Ross.

  9. […] like Brown. Surely to earn a laudable title like “hawk”, one must at least have some comprehensible set of principles that clearly define what is good and responsible and what is bad and frivolous. Tagging, and voting […]