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Jim Guidry Commentaries
Harris County
Houston City Council
by Jim Guidry with photo by Tony Morris
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

photos by Tony MorrisHouston City Council today voted 14-1, with Helena Brown opposed, to confirm Mayor Annise Parker’s reappointment of C. David Schwab, Jr., Catherine M. Barchfeld-Alexander, Victor Alvarez, Mauricio Valdes and Dan Silvestri to the Spring Branch Management District Board of Directors; and the appointment of Thomas G. Sumner and Sherri Oldham to the board.
Listen:
MP3 RealPlayer

Brown had first moved to replace Alvarez with Randy Sim, a leader in the Korean community, on the board.

“Council member, I’m going to rule that motion out of order,” Parker said.  “It’s a mayoral appointment.”

Before the final vote on the appointments, there were motions by Brown, which were supported by Oliver Pennington, to delay the vote for two weeks and to divide the motion to vote on Alvarez’s appointment separately.

“I am shocked at this,” complained Council Member Melissa Noriega, complaining about the disregard for normal protocol on confirmation of the mayor’s appointments.  “This is not appropriate.”

“To try to pit two different cultures against each other is just unprofessional,” agreed Council Member James Rodriguez.  “I’m not going to support that motion.”

Brown said she brought up the issue at the city council table because she was not successful in gaining the mayor’s support for a delay so that the substitute appointment could be discussed.  Parker took issue with Brown on that also.

“Council Member Brown, I’ve been attempting to schedule a meeting for about two and one-half weeks now,” Parker said.  “I’ve made multiple requests and I’ve resorted to communicating with you by email in order to discuss a range of items.  You have consistently refused to meet with me, and if you had the opportunity to meet with me we may have been able to deal with this privately.”

“Mayor, I will not be bullied,” Brown responded.  “You made a request via one of your assistants for a meeting two weeks ago for which I specifically asked for specifics so I can decide whether the meeting is to be merited.  I do not appreciate you announcing what was supposed to be our business before the whole city of Houston.  And until I get the specifics about what this meeting you need to discuss with me about – for which you mentioned something regarding possible legal issues – I will at that time determine whether that meeting should be merited.  But I am a duly elected council member and I will not be bullied!”

“Council member, I certainly apologize if you feel in any way bullied by my request that you meet with me privately in my office,” Parker said.

The city council voted unanimously to confirm the mayor’s appointment of Texas State Representative Douglas Erwing to the Board of Directors of the Midtown Redevelopment Authority.

The city council voted 12-3, with Jack Christie, Pennington and Brown opposed, to approve a $388,918 contract with the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston for behavioral surveillance services. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer

“I don’t think we should be in the business of monitoring behavioral trends, behavioral surveillance,” Christie said.  “I think if the University of Texas Health Science Center wants to do this by themselves it would be good, and I don’t care where the funds come from, It’s just I don’t think we should be partners with that business.”

“Council members these are federal funds designed to track STD transmission, tracking that is done all over the country,” Parker responded.

Several items were delayed for one week by individual members of the city council using the tag rule.

Council Member Wanda Adams tagged:

  • a proposal to increase spending authority from $9 million to $10.08 million for the purchase of chemical, liquid polymer flocculent from Polydyne, Inc. for the Department of  Public Works; and
  • an amendment to the Master Classification Ordinance to add three new job classifications and adding one job classification title.

Brown tagged:

  • an ordinance enlarging the boundaries of Reinvestment Zone Number 13, the Old Sixth Ward Zone; and an amendment to the project plan and reinvestment zone financing plan for the zone;
  • an ordinance adopting a three-year annexation plan;
  • an ordinance approving a master contractor agreement with Altural Homes DFW, LP for the reconstruction of up to 40 single family homes; and
  • an ordinance appropriating $1.5 million out of the Airport Improvement Fund and authorizing a contract with Netversant Solutions, LLC for telecommunication services for the Houston Airport System.

On a motion by Brown, the city council voted unanimously to delay for one week an amendment to the city’s contract with BL Technology, Inc. for security system installation and repair services for the General Services Department.  Mayor Parker had ruled that the item was not eligible for a tag.

A proposed ordinance to increase the maximum contract amount for a contract with Texas Correctional Industries Darrington Tire Retreading Facility for services for the Fleet Management Department was removed from the agenda and was not considered for action by the city council.

All other agenda items were approved, but there were some negative votes.

In addition to her previously reported negative votes, Brown voted against:

  • a final contract amount of $6,853,926.26 and acceptance of work by JFT Construction, Inc. for Market Street Reconstruction from North Wayside to Lockwood Drive;
  • the purchase of a full cabin boat from Safe Boats International, LLC for the Houston Police Department;
  • an ordinance appropriating $2,192,164.33 for the purchase of automobiles, vans, utility vehicles and light-duty trucks for various departments; and the purchase of those vehicles from various dealers;
  • a $350,000 contract with Easter Seals of Greater Houston, Inc. for respite services provided through the Harris County Area Agency on Aging of the Houston Department of Health and Human Services;
  • an ordinance appropriating and transferring $400,000 for services under the Care Houston Program for the health department;
  • a grant agreement between the city and the Star of Hope Mission to provide $300,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds for the renovation of the Women and Family Emergency Shelter facility at 419 Dowling Street;
  • award of a contract with Commercial Chemical Products, Inc., doing business as Poolsure, for swimming pool maintenance for various departments;
  • award of a technical and installation services agreement to Triumph Cabling System, LLC for the Houston Public Library Broadband Technology Opportunities Program; and
  • a recommendation to increase the award amount from $10,268,000 to $13,068,000 for the purchase of fuel cards and related services from the Texas Facilities Commission, formerly known as the Texas Building and Procurement Commission’s contract through the State of Texas Cooperative Purchasing Program, for various departments.

Council Member Al Hoang was absent for the entire meeting and Council Member Michael Sullivan arrived late and did not vote on any of the action items.

During her news conference following the meeting, Mayor Parker reported that the Farmers Market is back at City Hall on Wednesdays and also reported on a trip she took to Chicago with the Greater Houston Partnership on Tuesday to meet with a large group of site selection professionals. Listen: MP3 RealPlayer

“We continue to work hard to bring jobs and business to Houston,” Parker said.




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