Last month the Texas Supreme Court limited the public’s right to know how private groups operating as chambers of commerce and economic development councils spend your tax dollars. Today, a most bizarre email from the campaign of Bill King came into my inbox.
On June 26 in a 6-3 decision with the majority opinion written by Justice Eva Guzman, the Texas Supreme Court decided the Greater Houston Partnership is not a “governmental body” for the purposes of the Texas Public Information Act and ruled the Partnership does not have to release the check registers sought by the requestor under the Act.
Under its 2007 and 2008 contracts with the City of Houston, the Greater Houston Partnership received quarterly payments of $196,250.00 contingent upon delivering reports to the City detailing the services rendered during the prior quarter.
Thanks to Justice Guzman though, the Greater Houston Partnership gets to keep THEIR books closed and keep secret how they spend your hard-earned taxpayer money.
So what’s with this bait and switch?
From the Bill King “Back to Basics” campaign:
The Greater Houston Partnership, Houston’s preeminent business group, issued a white paper on the City of Houston finances last Friday. It is a sobering, must-read work for anyone concerned about the future of our City. [Click here to read the report.]
This authoritative report raises many of the same concerns that I have been sharing with you since I first became alarmed about the City’s financial trajectory in 2007. It outlines the serious challenges facing the City financially, at a time when City Hall is collecting record tax revenues. In fact, the City will collect over $1 billion more in taxes and fees from Houstonians than it did just six years ago, while going an additional $3.3 billion more in debt during the same time.
These challenges will only become more acute with the recent downturn in oil prices.
While there are a number of reasons for the financial straits in which the City currently finds itself, the GHP report accurately shows that the principal driver is unsustainable pension promises previous mayors have made to City employees — something I have written about many times both in these missives and my column in the Houston Chronicle.
The report’s conclusion most succinctly states the challenge before us:
“What we cannot do is wait. The nature of these problems is such that the financial issues become much more difficult, and perhaps impossible, to resolve if the attempt at resolution is deferred (as the experience of other cities has shown).”
All I can say is “amen.”
So the GHP sought a way to keep THEIR books closed and THEIR finances hidden from public scrutiny but they expose Houston’s finances?
Will Bill King express “alarm” over how the GHP spends your hard-earned tax dollars?
All I can say is hypocrisy thy name is the Greater Houston Partnership.