Vote NO on PropA
Renew Houston/Rain Tax/Drainage Fee is set for the November ballot, this time as Prop A. I am voting NO on Prop A for many reasons.
In 2010, Stephen Costello and Annise Parker worked hard to pass Prop 1, the original version of the rain tax. In fact, Costello originally ran for city council in order to push the engineering agenda with the city. I fought against the initial rain tax campaign because I recognized that it was a disingenuous plan that promised a flooding remedy. Now, we know that the city has used the majority of these funds for non-flooding prevention purposes.
In 2010, Prop 1 proponents filled Houstonians with [broken] promises to solve flooding. This is one of the disingenuous commercials from 2010.
Renew Houston Commercial
There is no question the rain tax was one of the most false campaigns ever run and supported by elected Houston officials. Andy Taylor and Joe Slovacek successfully litigated the deceptive ballot language, which resulted in the Texas Supreme Court overturning the original vote. SCOTX ordered a new election with honest ballot language. After some wrangling, the city agreed to put the issue on this November’s ballot, now as Prop A.
After the original election, the city added a drainage fee to the water bill of every Houstonian, hence the term “rain tax.” The rain tax concept is devoid of logic. How can you charge Houstonians to drain water from streets they already own to carry water to the Harris County maintained bayou system? Mind you, the county is in charge of flood control and the COH rain tax was never anything more than a money grab by Houston officials. The source and use of funds has became an eight year long “I told you so.”
The rain tax has always been surrounded by false and misleading information. For example, proponents claim that rain tax funds would be used to reduce bond debt. WRONG. Nevertheless, this false claim is once again being promoted by city officials on their town hall tour to promote Prop A [and demonize firefighters and Prop B]. Bill King wrote a very detailed explanation debunking the pay-as-you-go scam.
Another false claim is that city bond debt has been reduced by $1.8 billion since 2010 [the original election]. This is very Enronesque lie. Any citizen can go look on Page 238 of the 2017 Certified Annual Financial Report (CAFR) and see that it shows public improvement bonded debt was $2.3 billion in 2010 and $2.4 billion at the end of 2017. This was an increase, not a $1.8 billion reduction. This is financial fraud.
The city continues to promote false rhetoric about the rain tax through the communications department. You can watch Sylvester Turner’s PR folks, including Alan Bernstein and Mary Benton, spread #fakenews through social media, including Twitter. Unfortunately, a lot of this fake news is picked up by local news outlets without any verification. The mayor’s PR folks have become particularly aggressive and are in a full out negative campaign sprint to November. It is all very obnoxious and a good example of what is wrong at city hall.
In 2010, I led one of the two PACs that fought the rain tax. Bruce Hotze led the other PAC. My PAC included a bipartisan group, including [now HCC Board Member] Robert Glaser. Robert felt strongly that the tax was unfair to disadvantaged communities. Bruce Hotze did a wonderful job of mobilizing the rain tax opposition, which included churches, HISD, and many institutions of higher learning.
Recently, Joe Slovacek came to Barry Klein’s group recently discuss the SCOTX victory. Both Joe and Andy Taylor knew all too well the importance of laying the ground work in the beginning of the process and were involved in the opposition from the very beginning. Admittedly, I initially opposed the idea of litigation. After some convincing words by Dr. Ed Young, I changed my mind. It is only this litigation that afforded the opportunity to re-vote on this ballot language. We have another chance to defeat this atrocious proposition that does absolutely nothing to keep us safe.
This charter amendment will be on the November ballot as Prop A. Do not be fooled by the mayor’s arguments that Prop A somehow creates a lock box. This is WRONG. The so-called lock box is actually prevented by state statute.
It is also important to note that the Harris County Republican Party Executive Committee voted to oppose Prop A.
Inside Loop 610 –
1. Downtown: Harris County Law Library – Conference Center
1019 Congress Avenue, Houston, 77002
2. Moody Park: Moody Park Community Center
3725 Fulton Street, Houston, 77009
3. Kashmere: Kashmere Multi Service Center
4802 Lockwood Drive, Houston, 77026
4. Downtown-East: Ripley House Neighborhood Center
4410 Navigation Boulevard, Houston, 77011
5. Southeast Houston: H.C.C.S. Southeast College
6960 Rustic Street, Parking Garage, Houston, 77087
6. Palm Center: Young Neighborhood Library
5107 Griggs Road, Houston, 77021
7. Astrodome Area: Fiesta Mart
8130 Kirby Drive, Houston, 77054
8. Near Town: Metropolitan Multi-Service Center
1475 W. Gray Street, Houston, 77019
9. Galleria: Harris County Public Health
2223 West Loop South Fwy, 1st Floor, Houston, 77027
10. The Heights: SPJST Lodge #88
1435 Beall Street, Houston, 77008
Outside Loop 610 –
11. Northeast Houston: Northeast Multi-Service Center
9720 Spaulding Street, Building #4, Houston, 77016
12. Galena Park: Galena Park Library
1500 Keene Street, Galena Park, 77547
13. Hobby Area: John Phelps Courthouse
101 S. Richey Street, Pasadena, 77506
14. Sunnyside: Sunnyside Multi Service Center
9314 Cullen Boulevard, Houston, 77051
15. South Houston: Hiram Clarke Multi-Service Center
3810 W. Fuqua Street, Houston, 77045
16. SW. Houston: Bayland Park Community Center
6400 Bissonnet Street (near Hillcroft), Houston, 77074
17. Near West Side: Tracy Gee Community Center
3599 Westcenter Drive, Houston, 77042
(One block East of Sam Houston Tollway)
18. Spring Branch: Trini Mendenhall Community Center
1414 Wirt Road, Houston, 77055
19. Victory Center: Lone Star College – Victory Center
4141 Victory Drive, Houston, 77088
20. Acres Homes: Acres Homes Multi Service Center
6719 W. Montgomery Road, Houston, 77091
21. North: Hardy Senior Center
11901 West Hardy Road, Houston, 77076