Category Archives: Bond Election

May Day is Payday

Houston Conservative Forum

Conservative political thought in the Houston region

May Day is payday in the world of post-Harvey infrastructure spending by Harris County and the contractors who support the elected officials. The smell of a $2.5 billion bond for Harris County matched with another $2.5 billion from the feds brought out all of the swamp creatures at the May Day meeting of the Harris County Commissioners Court.

The real issue of this May Day meeting – to decide the date for the largest bond in Harris County history, presumably for Harvey infrastructure. But, the meeting was hijaked by a group seeking concessions for a county MWDBE program.

Commissioner Rodney Ellis seemed to know all of the new swamp creatures – in keeping with the Workers’ Party theme of the day. This new group talked of economic justice, environmental justice, social justice, affordable housing, resiliency, and disparity studies. Ellis had lots of leading questions for these speakers and his goal was a new MWDBE program for the county akin to the city.

May Day Harris County
Memorial Day Flood

This discussion did not include information about which liberal politicians required payback in order to participate in the program. I’m sure that Dwight Boykins is already looking for a new vacation home. Maybe Chris Oliver can participate when he escapes the federal prison.

Commissioner Ellis wanted it known that he was planning to make it rain cash money in his precinct. Ellis threatened to campaign against the bond unless his constituents were paid – regardless of the damage they suffered as a result of Harvey. The bond amount swelled from a billion to 2.5 billion.

The money grubbers were not limited to Precinct One – they showed up countywide. One minister presented spending priorities to Commissioner Jack Cagle. The smell of money brings out all of the bad actors throughout the city and county.

Commissioner Steve Radack had a ball with these social justice warriors. Radack pointed out the fact that the city dumped tons of raw sewage into westside homes, including neighborhoods surrounding the Addicks and Barker Reservoirs. Radack was trying to stick it to Ellis with this fact.

For many years, the county was a shining example of good stewardship while the city’s political cesspool grew with each election. Now, it appears as though the county is taking direction from the city – at least with the suggestion of a MWDBE program modeled after the city’s program which is wrought with fraud and corruption and is a bastion of liberalism.

Of course, no argument from city swamp people would be complete without an old reference to the “not more than a Starbucks a month” argument. This poor argument is exacerbated by the failure to thoroughly analyze the flooding issues before spending money.

The NOAA Atlas 14 report was delayed to include the Harris County Harvey rainfall amounts. The correct interpretation of the rainfall and how it relates to the area watersheds and their infrastructure is critical. The interpretation of this data and how it relates to the new 100 year flood plain and 500 year flood plain will determine what infrastructure projects we need to prevent Harveyesque events. These new flood plains are years away from being identified. So, the stack of unfinished or yet to be completed projects are irrelevant until the new flood plains are defined, which we be a long process.

May Day Payday Harvey
Jeff Lindner

As if the backlog of irrelevant projects isn’t bad enough, these outdated projects could be adding to the problem by adding water to systems, which adds to the flooding problem. The truth is that we just do not know the honest facts about the contributors to our flooding problems. These issues are complicated and our drainage systems all impact each other. A thorough and complete understanding of how these systems work together after Harvey is needed before we spend one dime one on any bond. Any influence by the engineers who have been paid to mitigate costs for their clients is certainly not the answer.

Back to the meeting. The issue of the day was Ed Emmett’s insistence on a bond election months before the general election in November.

Ellis wanted a $2.5 billion bond as compared with the initial $1 billion amount and he insisted that his precinct receive a good share of the bond, even though that allocation would not match the Harvey damage. Ellis is a true liberal and he is very good at spending other people’s money for his social engineering and environmental justice causes.

If you ever wanted to know why people elected Donald Trump look no further than the issues surrounding the Harvey spending. I say, keep it up Rodney! And, thank you! You gave us Donald Trump and we are not tired of winning. I digress.

The election date was a big fight among the commissioners. Emmett wanted August 25, the anniversary of Harvey’s landfall in Port Aransas. Ellis wanted November. Emmett advocated for the August date because he said that Governor Abbott and Senator Cruz will be running commercials about property tax reform in advance of November’s general election. Emmett did not want the county to have their hand out to voters for a bond that will undoubtedly increase property taxes. County Judge Emmett stated he could campaign for bonds or reelection but could not do both.

Ed Emmett Flooding May Day Payday
Black Hawk over the GRB during Harvey rain

Ultimately, the group settled on August 25 as a bond election date, which is problematic for two reasons. First, conservative voters are concerned about holding an election at an off time, which guarantees a low voter turnout. Second, this date is two days before kids return to HISD after summer break.

Emmett’s date required special permission from the Governor designating the issue an emergency. The establishment thinks this is an emergency because a November election would have conservative voters influencing the vote against special interest pork for meaningless projects.

The original vote was 4-1 with Ellis against the bond election. Emmett, in his calm persuasive way knew exactly which buttons to push to get Ellis to switch his vote – that Ellis would be the fall guy if the vote failed. You see, Ellis owns a side business of selling bonds and those folks would never forgive him if the vote failed. After the public blackmail, Radack demanded a new vote, which was 5-0 for the August 25 bond election.

Local engineering and construction firms being sued for incompetence over Harvey flooding are expecting a big payday with this new bond. Stephen Costello, Houston’s Flood Czar aka Resiliency Officer, is leading the charge for these needless government projects. He needs money to pay his lawyers.

Maybe the contractors who built the county criminal courthouse monstrosity that has flooded twice in the last 18 years could get a payday. Why not? The chain of wrongdoing starts with the elected officials, then the contractors and engineers who line the pocketbooks of the elected officials. As the world turns.

Take a look at these Harvey “advisory” committees. They are filled with engineers tasked with flood mitigation work in their day job and deciding how to spend the bond largess in their off time. Does that sound right to you? It is disappointing that the city corruption [think Karun Sreerama, think Stephen Costello] seems to be seeping over to the county. The engineers who have gotten rich reducing the costs of flood mitigation are the deciders of the Harvey largess. These folks are expected to fund the up coming political campaigns.

On May 7, Governor Abbott granted the emergency exception to allow the August 25 bond election. That very night, the Harris County Republican Executive Committee held its quarterly meeting. Longtime grassroots activist Clint Moore offered a resolution denouncing the idea of any bond election outside of a general election. If taxpayers are going to pay the bill, they should have a fair opportunity to vote on the issue and be represented at the ballot box. It warmed my heart to see the grassroots stand up to the establishment. Hopefully, this bond can be stopped because it has no useful purpose. Hat tip to all the precinct chairs who stood up to the Governor and Commissioners Court.

About that August bond election for Harris County

Sen. Paul Bettencourt is correct in his opposition to the date of the bond election, which is for an amount not specified and no projects identified.

Been a bit since I’ve agreed 100% with Tio Pablo but his thoughts on the recently ordered bond election in Harris County is spot on. From the Inbox:

Are the “Dog Days of Summer” Setting in on Harris County Taxpayers?
Series of summer special property tax rate election events coming, but still time to move them to November!

HOUSTON – Senator Bettencourt (R-Houston) is speaking out on behalf of taxpayers following the announcement by more than one taxing jurisdictions that special elections to raise property tax rates will be occurring throughout the Summer and better public policy is to hold them on the November General Election date. This is occurring so quickly that the Klein ISD Trustees are voting on a TRE election Monday, May 14.

I am worried about voter fatigue as well taxpayer’s pocketbooks!” said Senator Bettencourt. “Rather than spend money on special elections these taxing jurisdictions still have the chance to do the right thing and schedule their proposed tax rate increase elections in November.”

Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) granted permission for Harris County to hold an estimated $2.5 billion Harris County Flood Control Proposition on a non-uniform election date on August 25th, the date of Hurricane Harvey’s landfall. In his approval letter, Governor Abbott highlighted, “…billions of federal dollars either are currently available to Harris County or will be available to the county before it has the ability to issue the bonds requested…”

In their letter to Governor Abbott, Harris County Commissioners Court stated, “We must show the various federal agencies that matching funds are available now in order to apply for Harvey related grants that are already available.”

However, the Governor also stated in his letter, “Congress purposefully provided much of those matching dollars through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds so that local government would not need to match the federal grants.” This strongly suggests that waiting to hold the election in November will not stifle the flow of federal money nor change the facts that the CDBG funds do not need a local match.

At their quarterly Executive Committee meeting this week, the Harris County Republican Party nearly unanimously passed a resolution calling for “Harris County, City of Houston, and Klein ISD governments to schedule their respective bond and/or tax cap repeal elections as part of and on the November General Election date.” Resolution author Clint Moore stated, “Rather than disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters, our elected officials should put these tax rate increase elections on the November ballot. I thought we were beyond choosing these sorts of obscure election dates, but I guess not.”

Voters throughout Harris County may return to the upcoming May 22 Primary runoff election, a probable 9 penny June tax rate ratification election in Klein ISD the weekend of the Republican State Convention, a county bond election in August, and potentially the Mayor’s announcement that he wishes to bust the voter approved property tax rate cap by November general election. “It is a fundamental truth that our Republic functions better when more people are able to cast their ballots in a Democracy,” concluded Senator Bettencourt.

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I watched the Commissioner’s Court meeting when they made the decision to hold the election in August. You can watch it by clicking here and then clicking on Item V, (Part 1 of 2). It was a nightmare for anyone that cares a whit about fiscal policy, small government, transparency, open government or basic fairness to taxpayers. Strong statement since I am a huge fan of Judge Emmett and Commissioners Radack and Morman but that is exactly the way I saw it.

The decision basically boiled down to the best guess of the commissioners as to which date it was most likely to be approved by the voters. Commissioner Rodney Ellis was the only one that wanted it in November but it wasn’t for any of the reasons Bettencourt mentions above, he simply thinks that more of the po’ folks will turn out to approve it. He changed his vote at the urging of Commissioner Radack so that the court would be unanimous when it sent the letter requesting permission to hold the election to Gov. Abbott.

Because there has been NO groundwork laid, there was only an open ended conversation about which group of identity politics driven activists would get their fair share. It was disgusting. Speaker after speaker lined up extolling the virtues of their particular identity group wanting a share of the bond money, the bigger, the better. It was like watching a litter of kittens lining up in front of mama cat. This is what happens when government is driven by identity politics and activism instead of sound fiscal and engineering policy.

Maybe I’m being too hard on the Commissioners but I don’t think so. Disgusting.

Mi amigo Neal Meyer weighs in on the issue over at blogHOUSTON.

Third, considering that an August election would result in a very lowvoter turnout, there is an issue of legitimacy. If this election results in a turnout of 50,000 voters voting in favor of the bond, while a mere 30,000 vote against, that means only a tiny percentage (like 2-3 percent) of the 2+ million voting electorate of Harris County ends up making the decision that everyone else has to live with. I’ve long gotten tired of this kind of stuff happening, which is why I’ve been pushing for several years now to require voter quorums for bond elections to pass.

Believe it or not, I might actually vote in favor of a bond proposal for flooding, but only after my concerns listed above are addressed. I would like to see a full vetting of the bond proposal, which means delaying the public vote until the November 2018 election. That would give the electorate another 2 1/2 months to analyze and debate the proposal. The November 2018 election will also result in a higher turnout, which will give the bond vote stronger legitimacy.

There is no need to hurry, so why not wait?

Neal is exactly right. Why not have a full vetting before voting on such a nebulous proposition? Note that he doesn’t sound like an angry voter, just a frustrated one that knows full well there will not be a full vetting and most of the bond is simply going to be guess work on the high side of the equation.

There is no need to have the bond election in August. The only reason to do so is a political calculation on the part of the Republicans on the court. Sad.

Clear Lake Tea Party Responds to Citizens for CCISD

By Mary Huls  [Mary Huls is the President of the Clear Lake Tea Party.  She lives in Friendswood, Harris County.]

It seems that Mr. Jerry Smith of Citizens for CCISD political action committee (PAC) has asked the Clear Lake Tea Party (CLTP) to adhere to values of transparency, honesty, and accountability.  Okay, let me answer that challenge.

The Clear Lake Tea Party has been working for traditional conservative values since 2009 by championing fiscal responsibility, limited government, personal accountability, and free market solutions for the many challenges of our time. Continue reading