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Jim Guidry Commentaries
Harris County
Houston-Galveston Area Council Board of Directors
by Jim Guidry
Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Houston-Galveston Area Council Board of Directors on Tuesday held extensive discussion of the previous vote of the board to negotiate with AECOM rather than AmericaSpeaks to coordinate public engagement activities in preparation of the Regional Plan for Sustainable Development.

Randall Butler, CEO of the Institute for Sustainable Peace, and Rogene Calvert, director of Outreach Strategies, both members of the AmericaSpeaks team, appealed to the board to reconsider. Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

H-GAC Executive Director Jack Steele explained that AmericaSpeaks has filed a procurement protest, which he is reviewing; and Steele called on representatives of the H-GAC Coordinating Committee who had requested reconsideration to explain their position. Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

Several members of the board of directors said that their vote had been based on the contention that AECOM has local representation but AmericaSpeaks does not; which is not correct.  Some members, including Houston Mayor Annise Parker were concerned that a record vote had not been taken at the previous meeting of the board.
L
isten:
MP3  RealPlayer

Steele said his review of the issue should be completed in time for next month’s meeting.

The board voted unanimously to amend existing Social Services Block Grant disaster recovery contracts incorporating reallocated unspent funds, despite a concern raised by Galveston County Commissioner Ken Clark. Listen: MP3  RealPlayer

“These are funds, not to deal with infrastructure, not to deal with housing, but to deal with providing social services and other support to individual victims of Hurricane Ike,” Steele said, explaining that the project was interrupted for several months and when it resumed, funds were reallocated to existing contractors who were ready to move forward.  Although Clark complained that potential Galveston County recipients were not contacted about the availability of the funds, Steele insisted they were.

“Something’s wrong here, because either my folks are lying to me or you’re not being truthful with me” Clark said.  “My people tell me we were never contacted.”

All other agenda items were approved unanimously.

Friendswood Council Member Deirdre Carey Brown, Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, Missouri City Council Member Bobby Marshall, Pasadena Council Member Darrell Morrison, Texas City Commissioner Dee Ann Haney, and Louis Tucker representing the independent school districts of the region, were absent.   Waller County Judge Glenn Beckendorff was represented by Commissioner Frank Pokluda and Wharton County Commissioner Chris King was represented by County Judge Phillip Spenrath.




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