Category Archives: Local politics

City Council versus HISD

I doubt they can do anything, but I’m happy to watch them try. One year after the state takeover of Houston Independent School District, some City Council members are urging Mayor John Whitmire to take a more proactive approach in … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics, School days | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Is this an opportunity for cooperative cost savings?

Reading through this story about how Harris County is spending the public safety portion of its 2022 bond funds, I have a question. New Harris County law enforcement facilities are one step closer to breaking ground after Commissioners Court earlier … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment, Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayor Whitmire unveils his first budget

Here ya go. Amid Houston’s strained financial outlook, Mayor John Whitmire unveiled a $6.7 billion budget proposal on Tuesday, announcing he does not intend to raise taxes or significantly cut city services during the fiscal year starting in July. The … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Mayor and the Land Commissioner are buds

I have three things to say about this. On Mayor John Whitmire’s first day in office, he got a call from Land Commissioner Dawn Buckingham. Her message? “We want to work with the City of Houston,” Whitmire recounted at an … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What could it have cost for the firefighters?

City Controller Chris Hollins throws out some numbers and kicks up a fuss. Houston Controller Chris Hollins faced fierce criticism from firefighters union president Marty Lancton, after estimating that equalizing past pay for Houston firefighters with their peers in other … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Solid Waste study approved

Could this be the precursor to a garbage fee? Maybe. As Houston’s Solid Waste Management Department faces ongoing challenges in providing basic services, such as consistent garbage collection and recycling pickup, City Council has promised to give the department a … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mayor Whitmire, Judge Hidalgo. Judge Hidalgo, Mayor Whitmire.

What are we doing here? April made four months into Houston Mayor John Whitmire’s administration and he had yet to meet face-to-face with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. “It has me worried, but it’s outside my control,” said Hidalgo. “I … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Parking meter extended hours proposal withdrawn

Probably dead, though I suppose it could come back. Proposals to make it easier to extend parking meter enforcement hours and install speed cushions did not advance at Houston’s inaugural Proposition A committee meeting Tuesday, after both failed to meet … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Parking meter extended hours proposal withdrawn

Time to fight over Prop A implementation

This is gonna be so much fun. During the first-ever Proposition A Committee meeting on Tuesday, council members considered a series of rules designed by the mayor’s office to set parameters around the process. They include a lawfulness review by … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

City workers gear up for their next contract

Believe it or not, the city has employees who are not with the police or the fire department, and they like earning a decent salary, too. Houston’s municipal employees union, HOPE AFSCME Local 123, is expected to begin its contract … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on City workers gear up for their next contract

Parking meter extension proposal sent to Prop A committee

We sure do live in a different world now. City Council voted on Wednesday to send a proposal extending parking meter enforcement times to committee following a clash between council members who introduced the agenda item and those who expressed … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Parking meter extension proposal sent to Prop A committee

Still waiting on details for paying the firefighters

A lot of the same stuff we’ve heard before here, but a little bit more details. Houston Mayor John Whitmire detailed his last three months as the fourth-largest city’s top boss and outlined some of his ongoing projects in a … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

That “Prop A committee”

I mentioned the establishment of a Proposition A committee yesterday, so let’s take a closer look at it. Tensions flared at Houston City Council on Wednesday, as Mayor John Whitmire and council members clashed over the application of a new … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Extending parking meter hours downtown

I’m okay with this. Houston City Council will vote to extend the time residents will have to pay city parking meters on Wednesday. The current ordinance requires drivers who park in metered spots to pay between 7 a.m. and 6 … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Controller Hollins puts firefighter settlement tab at up to $1.3 billion

That’s once you factor in interest payments over the life of the bonds that will be issued to cover this. Houston Mayor John Whitmire’s proposed settlement with the firefighters union could cost significantly more than previously advertised, City Controller Chris … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

The ITC fire five years later

We learned some things from this. The Intercontinental Terminals Co. fire that broke out March 17, 2019, did not just lead to a massive black plume of smoke lingering for days over east Harris County, before spreading 20 miles to … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The ITC fire five years later

We return to the question of “how will we pay for the firefighter agreement” question

Gonna keep asking it until we get a full answer. Mayor John Whitmire’s administration is weighing all options, including hiking the city’s property tax rate and charging residents a garbage collection fee, to help pay for its landmark settlement with … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

We’ll see what City Council makes of the firefighter pay agreement

There’s a bit of pushback happening. Mayor John Whitmire’s administration and officials from the Houston firefighters union are hoping to get final approval in May or June on a massive settlement deal to end their nearly decade-long contract stalemate. The … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Price tag for firefighter back pay revealed

From the inbox: Mayor John Whitmire and the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association announced today a historic deal to end an eight-year impasse. The $650 million settlement to finally resolve the city’s looming liability addresses longstanding pay issues dating back … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

In which I learn about our use of “Dataminr”

I have three things to say about this. The Houston Police Department will stay in the ranks of law enforcement agencies around the country using software to monitor social media for information on criminal activity following a City Council vote … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment, Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on In which I learn about our use of “Dataminr”

It’s budget cut proposal time

A familiar ritual. Facing a projected budget shortfall and costly settlement with the firefighters union, Mayor John Whitmire has directed most city departments to identify potential 5% budget cuts for the coming fiscal year. Finance Director Melissa Dubowski said Wednesday … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Firefighter back pay update

Just tell me what the bill’s gonna be. The city of Houston and its firefighters are nearing an agreement to resolve their bitter, yearslong pay dispute, with specifics expected to take additional weeks or months to finalize, according to city … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mayor Whitmire working with the firefighters

We’ll see what we get. In another step toward settling its years-long conflict with the city, the firefighters union met with Mayor John Whitmire’s administration [last] Friday morning to discuss the city’s first proposal for raises and back pay, with … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Food Not Bombs sues the city again

We’ll see how it goes. Food Not Bombs, a group of volunteers who serve meals outside Houston Public Library’s downtown branch, filed suit Tuesday against the city, alleging that a food-sharing ordinance is unconstitutional. The suit claims that the city’s … Continue reading

Posted in Legal matters, Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Food Not Bombs sues the city again

How are the city’s talks with H-GAC going?

Things seemed to be going reasonably well. The deadline had passed but no one seemed to fussed about it. Despite a deadline set by Houston voters for early January, the process to increase Houston’s role in regional planning will take … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

On hiring more cops

Not as easy to do as you might think. Halfway through his inaugural speech, Houston Mayor John Whitmire said the city made it far too hard for people to join the Houston Police Department. As an example, Whitmire pointed out … Continue reading

Posted in Crime and Punishment, Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mayor Whitmire wants to add Metro cops to HPD

On its face this makes sense. Mayor John Whitmire said he’s negotiating with Metro to combine its almost 400 public safety employees with Houston’s Police Department under Chief Troy Finner. The transit group’s police department, with a budget in 2024 … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Whitmire’s approach to HISD

It’s on brand, I’ll say that. Mayor John Whitmire met Monday with Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath to reaffirm his support for Houston ISD’s appointed leadership, signaling a new approach from City Hall toward the state’s stewardship of the district … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics, School days | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Whitmire’s approach to HISD

We return once again to the subject of a garbage fee

Maybe this is the time it happens. Maybe not. Who can say? For many residents, Houston’s unreliable garbage collection is a familiar issue — and it’s one that even the city’s newly elected mayor apparently must confront. In his inaugural … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Chris Hollins begins his term as Controller

Lots of potential for action here. Houston Controller Chris Hollins knows that following Tuesday’s inaugural celebration comes the hard work. But the 37-year-old former Harris County Clerk says he is up to the task. “The people of Houston put (me) … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Mayor Whitmire orders negotiations with the firefighters

New regime, new directions. In a major step toward reconciliation with the firefighters union, Mayor John Whitmire has asked the city attorney to drop an appeal that former Mayor Sylvester Turner’s administration filed just days before the change in city … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mayor Whitmire inaugurated

Congratulations and best wishes to the new Mayor. Former state Sen. John Whitmire was sworn in as Houston’s 63rd mayor just after midnight Monday in a private ceremony with family and friends at City Hall. Judge Victor Trevino III conducted … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

City ordered to negotiate a contract with the firefighters

A day of reckoning is arriving. The city of Houston and the firefighters union are sparring over who bears responsibility for their years-long legal battle, following a judge’s request for them to start renegotiating the firefighters’ contracts within the next … Continue reading

Posted in Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Where are we going to count the primary votes?

I’m a little puzzled by this. With the March primaries around the corner, Harris County still does not have a confirmed location to run its election operations. Two of the county’s regular sites – NRG Arena and George R. Brown … Continue reading

Posted in Election 2024, Local politics | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Where are we going to count the primary votes?