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Live by the pointless parliamentary maneuver, die by the pointless parliamentary maneuver.

CM Helena Brown

City Councilwoman Helena Brown’s colleagues, after weeks of frustration over her delays of what they consider vital city business, reached the limit of their patience Wednesday and twice took the unusual step of quashing her parliamentary maneuvers and admonished her to stop.


Council on Wednesday voted twice to override tags by Brown. An override generally is frowned upon as a break from council decorum. It is so unusual that it has not been done since last summer, and regular City Hall observers could not recall the last override before that.

“I understand that an override of a tag is considered a nuclear option around this table,” said Councilman Mike Laster, who said he had reached out to his fellow council members and found none with unanswered questions regarding more than $25 million in road projects in his District J. Brown tagged it without explanation, so Laster made a motion to override, and it passed 13-1. Brown also refused to answer questions after the meeting.

District K Councilman Larry Green called Brown’s tag “careless” and said it revealed a disregard for years of preparation.

“When you start coming into other people’s districts with regard to projects that other people have been working on for many years and to stall, delay if you will, without valid reason or opposition, I believe is disingenuous,” Green said. “I don’t think that it’s a precedent that this body needs to accept.”

The story says the other tag that was overridden was on the agenda item to raise taxi rates; according to Campos, it received the same 13-1 vote to override. Laster asked Brown to remove her tag, then moved for the override when she refused. Good for him, and good for CMs Larry Green and Andrew Burks for calling out their fellow freshman.

In that Hou Politics post, Brown is referred to as a “fiscal hawk”. Putting aside the fact that most so-called (and usually self-styled) “fiscal hawks” these days are huge hypocrites whose definition of “fiscal responsibility” is only spending money on stuff they like, the term has no meaning when applied to someone 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 “no”, on anything and everything for no articulated reason doesn’t make you a “hawk”. It makes you a nihilist and a speed bump. If that’s the way it’s going to be, then the sensible thing for the rest of Council to do is routinely override Brown’s scattershot tags. One of my principles is that you shouldn’t reward bad behavior. Guaranteed overrides would be a simple way of accomplishing that. If Brown can learn to pick her battles, or to at least deign to give a reason for doing her thing, that’ll be different. Until then, I see no reason why Council should play along when there are more important things to do. Campos has more.

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