The Chron’s Ken Hoffman asks a burning question.
Just for fun, how would the vote go if Houstonians had a crack at “Hexit” – leaving Texas?
I don’t mean another “Brexit” – in which British voters elected to leave the European Union, but apparently many didn’t know what they were voting for or against or why.
There are plenty of reasons Houston might think, “You know, Texas, this relationship just isn’t working for me anymore. I mean, we can still be friends. We’ll still co-parent Sugar Land, but maybe we should go our separate ways.”
I was talking with some friends, including one who draws a government paycheck, and we wondered, “Could Houston go it alone?”
Texas needs Houston, that’s for sure. But the other way around? Are we getting out what we’re putting in?
No need to get into social issues, but Houston doesn’t look, vote, sound, cook or think like the rest of Texas. The top elected officials in Texas look like the board of directors of Bushwood Country Club in “Caddyshack.”
Houston’s city council looks like a casting call for “The Village People: The Movie.”
This is about Houston’s cultural might and economic power. “What if” and “could it” succeed independent from the rest of Texas?
One of my buddies, who knows a lot about transportation, said, “All those highway projects in West Texas and the Panhandle and other parts of Texas – they’re funded in part by state gas taxes. Where do you think that money comes from?”
So next time you’re stuck in traffic, about to blow your stack, burning gas going nowhere on Interstate 10, 610 Loop and the Southwest Freeway, remember that we’re paying for lonely, lightly traveled roads in other parts of Texas. That will calm you down.
Most of the rest is a paean to Houston and the ways that it ranks #1 as a city in Texas. Hoffman is a features writer, so when he says “just for fun” at the beginning of this piece, he means that. This isn’t a serious exploration of the idea, just a bit of blue-sky thinking with some jokes (the “Caddyshack” one cracked me up) thrown in. So take a deep breath and try to appreciate what he’s written for what it is.
That said, I will confess that I’ve had the same thought, and for the same reasons. Especially now with the Legislature hell-bent on meddling in local affairs, the idea of telling them to get bent, we’re out of here, has a deep appeal. Go back to “Caddyshack” and watch Ted Knight’s performance if you want an idea of what the reaction at the Capitol might be like to that.
However, this is a Serious Blog, so we must consider the reality of this, which gets pretty daunting right off the bat. Putting aside the legalities that I am not qualified to address – does the city even have the ability to do this? how exactly would we apply for statehood? – several practical issues jump out at me. Houston’s borders resemble a Mandelbrot set in their complexity. We overlap three counties. There are other, completely separate, municipalities that are entirely within our borders – do they have to come along for the ride, or would they represent “islands” of Texas within our new state? And not to put too fine a point on it, but there are parts of Houston that do look, vote, sound, cook, and think like the rest of Texas, and they may not be so hot for this idea. I’m sure at the first mention of the concept, Kingwood and Clear Lake would yell out that they never wanted to be part of Houston in the first place, and they want to stay right where they are in the Lone Star State.
I’m sure there are plenty more reasons why this would never get off the ground, but you get the drift. It’s a fun idea, but in the long run the way to go is to make Texas be more like Houston. The path to that destination isn’t any clearer, but at least we know it exists.