Black Elected Officials Condemn Proposition 1 Supporter’s Remarks
October 21, 2010

I posted earlier about the letter sent by Proposition 1 supporter Bob Jones to  Council Member Wanda Adams.

Jones, an engineer and RENEW Houston contributor,  is upset that Adams has voiced her concern to the proposed drainage fee.

But some say he crossed the line when he questioned her leadership in the African-American community and whether she is putting personal ambition over the community’s needs.

Today some elected officials are condemning the letter:

  (news release) 

We, the undersigned elected officials, are incensed at the inappropriate remarks made by J.R. (Bob) Jones, P.E., President of Jones and Carter, Inc.  (See e-mail below.)  Whether we support, oppose or take no position on Proposition 1, we find these comments counterproductive to healthy public discourse.

Mr. Jones has taken it upon himself to criticize “our African American council members” for their opposition to Proposition One, the drainage fee issue on the current ballot.  He criticizes a well-thought-out op-ed piece by these Councilmembers opposing Proposition One not by arguing facts but by attacking them for their supposed lack of leadership because they have taken a position opposite of his.

Criticism is fair game and to differ with the Councilmembers or anyone else on policy is legitimate but to castigate them for not supporting Proposition 1 and to say further that this confirms his view that “we do not have any leadership from our African American council members” is insulting and arrogant by a key supporter of Proposition 1 and typifies the kind of attacks that are leveled when people do not agree with this measure.  This was also demonstrated when supporters of Proposition 1 viciously attacked the Houston School District Board when it requested that the district be exempted from this fee.

Some of these Councilmembers were elected by voters in their districts and some were elected at-large.  They have a responsibility to speak and vote in the best interests of their constituents and the City.  The people, not Mr. Jones, will hold them accountable, as they should all elected officials.

For Mr. Jones to say that these Councilmembers have placed their own political interests above the needs of the citizens for voicing their opposition to Proposition 1 would be laughable if it were not so offensive.  Mr. Jones, as one of the many engineers supporting this measure, will potentially financially benefit by the billions of dollars in contracts that will be produced.  Proposition 1 will supposedly tax Houston homeowners about $5 a month (if not more) for at least 20 years, raise $125 million dollars a year for at least 20 years and will generate  $8 to $10 billion, much of this money raised from people who are struggling now to stay in their homes.

And since no plan for spending these billions of dollars has been put forth, it is disingenuous to say that these Councilmembers will be at fault for continuing drainage and flooding problems if the measure fails.

Lastly, Mr. Jones writes that he hopes that the “community” and their districts will be able to find some leadership in the future since it is “certainly lacking right now.”  We are offended by his statements.  Today we stand in solidarity with the right of these members of City Council to exercise their responsibility to act and speak in the best interests of their constituents.  They have every right to express their concerns as others have expressed their support of Proposition 1.  Disparaging comments like those found in Mr. Jones’ e-mail serve no useful purpose and can only be intended to intimidate and to avoid a legitimate debate on Proposition 1.  We call on Renew Houston to debate this issue on its merits or lack thereof.

Sylvester Turner                                                          Al Green

St. Rep., District 139                                                   Congressmember, District 9

Chair, Texas Legislative Black Caucus

Sheila Jackson Lee                                                      Rodney Ellis

Congressmember, District 18                                     State Senator, District 13

Alma Allen                                                                  Garnet Coleman

St. Rep., District 131                                                   St. Rep., District 147

Harold Dutton                                                             Al Edwards

St. Rep., District 142                                                   St. Rep., District 146

Borris Miles                                                                Ron Reynolds

St. Rep.-Elect, District 146                                          St. Rep.-Elect, District 27

Senfronia Thompson                                                   Ron Green

St. Rep., District 141                                                   City Controller, Houston

Carol Mims Galloway                                                 Paula Harris

HISD Board Trustee, District II                                    HISD Board Trustee, District IV

Prop. 1 Campaign Issues Apology to Council Member Adams
October 20, 2010

 Is saying sorry enough to stop the outrage over a controversial email sent to city council member Wanda Adams by a leading supporter of the Proposition 1/ReNew Houston campaign?

As I blogged earlier, several prominent community leaders and elected officials plan to speak out later today against the email written by engineer Bob Jones.

Adams, has joined with the three other African-American council members to oppose Prop. 1, out of fear that it will hurt non-exempt houses of worship, school districts and their constituents.’

In addition to questioning Adams’ leadership in the email, Jones also accused her of putting her personal and political goals above the community needs.

Here’s the VOTE FOR PROP 1 CAMPAIGN STATEMENT

Today, we learned that one of  our supporters sent an email to Councilmember Wanda Adams containing inappropriate remarks that in no way represent our campaign.
 
We apologize to Councilmember Wanda Adams and her colleagues, and to the entire community for the email.
 
We respect the opinions and leadership of all members of City Council and believe each of them is doing the best job possible representing Houstonians. Even when – especially when – people disagree on important issues, they deserve our utmost respect.
 
Despite differences of opinion about Proposition 1 and its approach to streets and drainage, we have and will continue to work with all Houstonians to find solutions that are fair and beneficial to everyone.
                                

Has RENEW Houston Crossed The Line?
October 19, 2010

2 On The Beat has learned that several prominent African-American leaders will demand an apology Wednesday from one of the leading supporters of RENEW Houston/Proposition 1.

That’s the issue on November’s ballot that will let voters decide if property owners should pay a monthly fee to help fix some of Houston’s drainage problems.

On Tuesday, a controversial  email  was sent to Houston city council member Wanda Adams questioning her leadership and  accusing her of  placing her political interests above the needs of the community.  

You may recall that Adams and the three other African-Americans council members have raised questions about the implementation of  Prop 1 if it passes. They’re  worried about the impact on schools and churches, which will be non-exempt,  and the financial drain on their constituents.

I’ve posted the letter below. I’ll keep you posted on what happens on Wednesday: 

Dear Wanda, 
 
I am flabbergasted by the position that you and three of your fellow council
members have taken on Proposition 1. Listening to your press conference last
week and reading the editorial below confirms my concern that we do not have any
leadership from our African American council members.
 
The idea that you would all place your own political interests above the needs
of the citizens of the City is appalling. Proposition 1 is the ONLY effort that
I have seen in the past 40 years that provided a solution and help for ALL
neighborhoods in the city.  This is your only chance to help your
neighborhoods.  Without Prop 1, we will be back to small bond issues and no
predictability to our system.  Most neighborhoods will be left out of the bond
issues.
 
The idea that you are concerned City Council has not adopted an ordinance
detailing all of the things you want to know is comical.  That’s the job of city
council.  In fact, it could have been the job of City council without the
charter amendment, except for the fact that we don’t have a council, now or in
the past, with any political will to solve these problems.  After this amendment
passes, as a council member, you will be charged with the responsibility of
determining how to set the rates and who, if anyone, you want to exempt within
the limits of what the law allows.
 
When your term is up and you haven’t provided a solution for your neighborhoods
I’m sure that I will hear you say “It’s not my fault!” Right or wrong, your
neighbors will continue to live on decaying streets without adequate drainage,
and that will be your fault.
 
Hopefully your community and your district will be able to find some
leadership.  It is certainly lacking right now.
 
Bob

J. R. (Bob) Jones, P.E.
President 
 
JONES & CARTER, INC.
ENGINEERS · PLANNERS · SURVEYORS

New TV Ad Urges You to Vote For Proposition 1
October 11, 2010

These new ads begin as opposition mounts to Proposition One:

On Monday morning, the Harris County Republican Party announced it’s against the fee to rebuild streets and fix drainage and flooding problems.

I blogged about that earlier:

https://2onthebeat.wordpress.com/2010/10/11/harris-county-gop-against-prop-1/

Here is the news release from RENEW Houston:

 Vote FOR Prop 1 Campaign Begins Television Ads

Watch the ad online at: http://www.voteforprop1.com/media

New campaign television ad features powerful message to voters to support Prop 1 as a fiscally responsible solution to fix Houston’s street and drainage problems   

HOUSTON – The Vote FOR Prop 1 Campaign enters a new phase with the release of a television ad on local stations today to expand our message to voters that this ballot measure is a fiscally responsible way to repair Houston’s aging streets and drainage system.

The 30-second ad explains why Prop 1, which would rebuild our city and halt the decay and blight caused by crumbling streets and drainage systems, is so necessary.

Houston needs a dedicated fund for streets and drainage that can’t be used by politicians for any other purpose. We need to rebuild our streets, help prevent flooding and create badly needed jobs in this tough economy. And we need to save millions of dollars for taxpayers by converting from wasteful deficit spending to a pay-as-you-go plan for these critical projects.

 

Election Day is November 2, early voting begins October 18.

  

To learn more about Proposition 1, visit www.VoteFORProp1.com.

CITY SECRETARY VALIDATES RENEW HOUSTON PETITION
August 2, 2010

Residents of Houston, who are tired of street flooding and the city’s aging drainage system, are another step closer to voting on some relief .

Pending city council approval, the proposed city charter  amendment will be placed on the November ballot.

ReNew Houston has issued the statement below. There is expected to  be some opposition to this plan from some who view the proposed  funding mechanism as another tax.

Houston Voters Can Now Choose to Rebuild City’s Crumbling Streets and Drainage System

Houston, TX – The ReNew Houston Campaign is pleased to announce it has met state requirements for qualified signatures from registered Houston voters to call for a charter amendment to create a dedicated funding source to improve and renew Houston’s decaying streets and drainage system.     In other words, ReNew Houston is certified!    

City Secretary Anna Russell has checked and validated 21,197 signatures, which is more than the 20,000 required by the state for a petition to call for a city charter amendment. In a letter July 30, 2010, to Mayor Annise Parker and Members of City Council, Russell says, “A sufficient number of valid signatures were checked without the necessity of checking the balance of the submitted signatures.”  City Council must now approve placement of the ReNew Houston charter amendment on the November 2, 2010 ballot for consideration by Houston voters.

During the next three months ReNew Houston will continue efforts to educate Houston voters and gain their support for the charter amendment, which provides a responsible solution to pay for fixing Houston’s crumbling streets and drainage system.  Most Houstonians understand that our drainage and street problems contribute to costly flooding which threaten our homes and property.  Most Houstonians don’t want to wait decades to solve this problem, while city streets and drainage systems continue to deteriorate and lessen the value of Houston’s neighborhoods.

Funding for the Dedicated Drainage and Street Renewal Fund would come from development impact fees, a new drainage fee, conversion of current street and drainage bond expenditures to a pay-as-you-go system, and the use of third party revenues that are committed to drainage, streets and mobility improvement project purposes.  

For more information on ReNew Houston go to: www.renewhouston.org.