I was part of a blogger gaggle this past week assembled by Renew Houston, which has a mission of placing a referendum on the November ballot dedicating a revenue stream to to fix -- over the long haul -- Houston's mobility infrastructure relating to flooding and drainage.
(Public policy isn't my area of expertise, but when pols and bloggers gather over a free lunch -- even when it's only Subway -- I will find a way to be there.)
There's a lot of this data at their site containing 'change-your-thinking' information, such as challenging the premise that Houston is a "new" city. It isn't. Even the suburbs that define Houston -- first Meyerland and then Sharpstown, then Clear Lake, Kingwood, and the western edge of Houston around the Energy Corridor -- are between forty and fifty years old. Then there's the fact that it takes twelve years in this town to go from a decision to rebuild a street to the beginning of the work to do so, because of a lack of necessary funds. This work is paid for out of the city's general revenue account, 60% of which is absorbed by public safety. So what results is patchwork, piecemeal measures ... which isn't really fixing anything.
Twelve years is, of course, completely unacceptable. But that happens when you have mayors and council members who are term-limited to six total years; greater focus on the short-term problems, less on the long-term ones. (I'm not advocating here for the abolishment of term limits, like others.)
I have written some harsh things about Councilman Costello (as have others), so I approached this meeting with an intent to have an open mind about an engineer who has made a lot of money from municipal contracts elected to city council, who then proposes a pretty vast public works program -- funded by a new fee -- from which his company stands to benefit greatly.
Whatever Costello gains politically or financially from the charter amendment Renew Houston proposes, the effort is worthwhile and the voters can decide the issue in November.
I signed the petition, and so should you.
Other coverage ...
The Chronicle -- here, here, and Rick Casey here
Off the Kuff (links to more there)
I sat next to Tory Gattis, so he will undoubtedly have something shortly. John's getting his wit on.
Houston Community Newspapers
Channel 39 (video link, has some really hilarious lost paperwork at the end)