Endorsement watch: City propositions

The Chron says Yes on Prop A:

Here’s the blunt truth: Voting “against” on Proposition A won’t cut your taxes. It will, however, open the door to more municipal debt.

That is why Houstonians should vote “for” Proposition A, which will reaffirm the decision they correctly made eight years ago to fund needed drainage and street improvement projects in the city by a pay-as-you-go system.

A second vote is being taken to fund the Rebuild Houston program because the Texas Supreme Court ruled a similar ballot question in 2010 was incorrectly worded. The earlier proposition asked, “Shall the City Charter of the City of Houston be amended to provide for the enhancement, improvement and ongoing renewal of Houston’s drainage and streets by creating a Dedicated Pay-As-You-Go Fund for Drainage and Streets?”

A subsequent class-action lawsuit said the ballot question should have specifically explained that city residents would be asked to pay a drainage fee through their water bills to fund those infrastructure improvements.

And No on Prop B:

If Proposition B were a referendum on our love and affection for Houston firefighters, as their union president claims, the choice would be easy. We’d back it. And so would Mayor Sylvester Turner, who was endorsed by firefighters in his mayoral campaign after decades of advocating for them. Instead, the mayor is dipping into his personal campaign funds to fight the measure on which too many influential Houstonians have remained mum.

Voters, don’t let the smoke get in your eyes.

In Prop. B, firefighters are asking for more than just appreciation. They’re asking for pay parity with police of comparable rank and seniority. They’re asking for what the mayor says amounts to a 25 percent raise that could cost the city an estimated $100 million the first year, forcing deep cuts to services and nearly 1,000 layoffs of firefighters and police.

Yes, we value firefighters. We value our kids, too. But most of us can’t go out and buy Junior a Lamborghini just because he asks for it.

And we can’t ignore that firefighters’ jobs are different from those of police. Both entail a great deal of risk, but firefighters have long been able to tailor their schedules to accommodate second jobs and businesses. Several Houston firefighters live out of state. And yes, as police point out, firefighters are allotted sleep time during their longer, 24-hour shifts.

Firefighters are asking voters for something police earned through years of hard-fought negotiations that required give and take from both sides.

I still think the ruling against the Renew Houston referendum was a screw job by the Supreme Court, but here we are. You can listen to my interview with Marty Lancton and my interview with Mayor Turner if you want to hear more about Prop B, and in the case of the Mayor, more about Prop A as well.

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14 Responses to Endorsement watch: City propositions

  1. David Fagan says:

    Where is the news coverage about developments in the Mayor’s lawsuit against collective bargaining? Oh, here it is…


    OMG! It’s it true? Can I trust what the mayor says anymore? I gasp in horror….. Why would the mayor negotiate anything when he knows he has a lawsuit pending? Filling a lawsuit over negotiations is exactly what people have been labeling his statements, a scare tactic in fear.

    Vote yes on prop B, the mayor is bought by The Greater Houston Partnership. The mayor filed a lawsuit, the FF’ s went to voters. Take the Greater Houston Partnership out of the FF’ s standard of living.

  2. David Fagan says:

    Definition of allot
    transitive verb 1 : to assign as a share or portion
    allot 10 minutes for the speech 2 : to distribute by or as if by lot
    allot seats to the press

    This is where this statement is wrong “alloted sleep time”. By Mr. Merriam-Webster it would read that this sleep time is “assigned as a share our portion”. By this definition the city is supposedly commanding this sleep time, suspending all emergency activity for it, is this true? Or, by definition 2 “distribute by our as if by lot”, like there is x amount of sleep time and it is divided among the fire department like cake? Should I expect more from an editor who, I am assuming, studied the English language? Because the use of the idea that there is allotted sleep time is wrong. Is it the mistake of an unknowing editor? If so, maybe the rest of the editorial can be found doubtful also, because the assumption the readers make is the editor’s position, and that is compromised when such a mistake, or purposeful position, is made. It paints fire fighters in an undeserved, unearned, and disserviced light. This entire editorial on Prop B should be questioned, How did it ever even come to this?

    Vote yes on Prop B, take the Greater Houston Partnership out of my, and other fire fighters’, lives.

  3. Manny Barrera says:

    The ignorance of the Chronicle never ceases to amaze me. Do those editorial fools really think that the police officers don’t have second jobs? They do and very well paid at that.

  4. Steve Houston says:

    The Chronicle also ran a fact check for some of the statements made by the fire union and opponents of the proposition:

    “The DROP benefit is significantly higher than the standard benefit, so almost everyone opts into the program. This means that most firefighters who retire after 30 years will receive about 70 percent of their ending salary for life and a lump sum distribution from the DROP account of $700,000 to $1 million.

    Firefighters also negotiated raises of nearly 34 percent between 2004 to 2010, the city document shows, a period when police got raises totaling 15 percent. Overall, from 2004 through this year (not counting the police raises that take effect next year), police got raises totaling 38 percent, while firefighters’ totaled 37 percent.”

    So the cops lost more in pension benefits by taking two rounds of cuts (2004 & 2017) than the firemen who only took some last year, even while HFD was getting raises? Wow!

    David: Leaving aside your semantic exercise, are you denying that firemen routinely get to sleep while being paid? Not to beat a dead horse but for a group that constantly complains about “working” over 40 hours a week, why shouldn’t those sleep hours be factored into such statements?

    Manny: Maybe the answer should be to prohibit cops and firemen from working other jobs, the cops will have more rest between shifts and the firemen can do inspections instead of sleep on the job when not putting out fires.

  5. Ross says:

    Many police have second jobs. If they wear their uniform, the second job has to be approved by the department, and there are restrictions on what jobs they can accept. The firefighters are rent seeking, realizing that their refusal to negotiate reasonably is starting to backfire.

  6. Bill Daniels says:

    Do all city workers get to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner while clocked in? Do city workers get to use their city vehicles to go grocery shopping? Are there full kitchens and sleeping quarters in all city offices?

    Just asking questions.

  7. Manny Barrera says:

    Steve, I agree as to not working extra jobs, but then they should be paid so that they will not need a second job.

    Speaking of rent, some police work the apartments where they live and pay no rent.

    Property taxes are too high for too many people. Most of that are the school district, but the state is the cause of that. I know where to put the blame, the Republicans that control the state government.

  8. Rusty says:

    Do any other city workers mow their own grass, clean and maintain their own workspaces, etc.? You constantly overreach. It’s sad. I believe there are legitimate, strong points to be made against Prop B. All this sleep on the job and city vehicle to the store stuff, it makes you look like the fire truck ran over your ball on the way to a house fire. Grow up, H-Town ain’t Mayberry. FFs aren’t sleeping much, I can assure you, and cops are driving those cruisers to get free or reduced meals at restaurants, and I don’t care. Normally, I try to ignore your FF hating “get off my lawn” posts, but sometimes your blind anti-HFD rhetoric is just too much.
    Vote your conscience, God bless you, and I’ll say a prayer for you to get some peace in your life.

  9. David Fagan says:

    relating to meaning in language or logic.

    Oh Steve “rainbow brite” Houston, I apologize for breaking a sweat in an exercise “relating to making in language or logic”, I just thought you had the stamina. But it is good to hear from you, the first quail out of the brush, I knew you were there somewhere. I agree with you and will not beat the dead horse you may be, it is tiring for the both of us. I encourage your further exercising in semantics because the editor of a newspaper makes his living at it and is considered an expert. That being said, he is either excellent at his job, where he wouldn’t have made such an obvious mistake, he did it unknowingly, which would make him very uninformed, thus bringing doubt to their ‘fact checking’, or he did it on purpose, which would make him vindictive toward fire fighters. The only question is his intent, what was his intent? So is he A) not very good at his job B) uninformed and lacks credibility, or C) just vindictive and pushing an agenda with zero journalistic objectivity. In your precious supply and demand model, this editor should be concerned about his quality of publication, because in this day and age it is easy to publish an opinion and the world is drowning in them, so why should such a faulty opinion be important if it disregards semantics? Semantics are important, especially when it tries to describe other professionals in a public forum. Hang in there Rainbow Brite, I know you have it in you.

    Vote YES on Proposition B and take the Greater Houston Partnership out of my life and Fire Fighters’ lives.

  10. Steve Houston says:

    David, if you have a beef with a newspaper editor or reporter, just give him a call rather than come up with yet another conspiracy theory how he’s out to get you. He’s not likely to see your post buried among the others and given the current turnover rate at the Chronicle, he might not be employed there much longer either. You again sidestep the question of sleeping on the job with your meager attempt to be clever, I’ll leave it to you to contact the writer in question so you can match wits with each other, it was just of no interest to me as you presented it.

    But this newfound obsession some Prop B proponents have with your long term ally, Mayor Turner, taking marching orders from the decidedly conservative GHP is just the latest conspiracy theory developed to explain the chip on your collective shoulders how so many are out to deprive you. Much like the GOP dominated state legislature that voted to reduce your pension benefits last year, the GHP has been crystal clear that your pensions need to move to a defined contribution plan to be sustainable and you don’t like it. Anytime someone disagrees with your union’s stance, even by a little bit, they become the enemy and all part of some greater effort to “steal” from you, reducing your like to name calling, petty comments, and a bunker mentality.

    Vote NO on Proposition B; it’s bad for business, bad for the city’s budget, and makes no sense despite all the emotional pleas by people that should know better.

  11. David Fagan says:

    Looking out over the veld of the internet, HARK, there is the quail. Flying into the air of discussion as if in a panic, escaping one tense conversation, just to fly into another. Winning the agreement to not beat that dead horse, why do you, o quail Rainbow Brite, choose to fly with it as if it is tied to your wing? If you have not learned how to unite that dead horse with the knowledge provided you, you shall fly with it till the end of your little quail days. Is this why you pop up out of the grass every time? You have the answers, untie thyself, and call yourself free. Free to fly into other areas of conversation and grow as a Rainbow Brite should. O Steve “Rainbow Brite” Houston, fly into new conversions, seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no quail has gone before!

    And thank you for supporting firefighters in voting YES to proposition B! YOU’RE THE BEST!

  12. Manny Barrera says:

    Vote straight Democrat and vote yes on both propositions.

  13. C.L. says:

    “This means that most firefighters who retire after 30 years will receive about 70 percent of their ending salary for life and a lump sum distribution from the DROP account of $700,000 to $1 million.”

    HOLY F ! I need a job like that !

  14. David Fagan says:

    If you are not a member of the Greater Houston Partnership, and you cannot afford these rates:


    Does the Greater Houston Partnership work for you? I didn’t find an area that said ‘Houston resident benefits’ or ‘non member benefits’ and I cannot afford those rates, why should I adopt their point of view? Who will benefit from The Greater Houston Partnerships’ efforts? The people who can afford the high cost of membership.

    VOTE YES on Proposition B, support firefighters and every day people trying to afford their own property taxes.

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