Houston Flood History 1900-2010
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.
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 will be a long process.
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.
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.