Bizarro endorsement from the HRBC, which bills itself as Houston’s Premier Business Coalition.
HRBC announces its endorsement of Mayor Sylvester Turner in the upcoming run-off election
Houston – Mayor Turner took office four years ago promising to tackle the City’s formidable challenges. HRBC worked with Mayor Turner and state leaders to dramatically improve Houston’s severely underfunded pension system and will continue to engage in public policy to ensure Houston remains an economic leader.
“Drawing on his legislative experience of coalition-building to effect good public policy, he has already delivered on his promise in highly significant respects, by reducing the city’s unfunded pension liability by half, holding firm on an affordable raise for our firefighters, and negotiating an affordable solution to the longstanding issue of sanitary sewer overflows,” said HRBC Chairman Alan Hassenflu.
“We believe Mayor Turner has the experience, courage, and is the most fiscally responsible choice to lead our City for the next four years, and we encourage all Houstonians to vote in the run-off election for Mayor Turner,” added Vice Chairman Brad Freels.
To receive an endorsement from HRBC, candidates must receive a 2/3 majority of Trustee votes. No money was accepted from candidates in our endorsement process.
What a freaking joke. Of course, this is the same outfit that endorsed the latest METRO boondoggle. If they think that they are really going to ‘get a seat’ at Turner’s table, they are seriously misguided. Sylvester Foster is still alive, by the way.
Former Houston City Council member Bert Keller wrote this on Gary Polland’s Texas Conservative Review website. It’s mostly Bill King’s talking points but worth a read to remind you of who the HRBC endorsed.
1. Turner has spent around $400 million of tax payer money without city council’s approval (up to $50,000 maximum). This happened during a so-called budget crisis. After being asked to provide documents related to this spending (legally required under the Texas Public Information Act when requested), Turner insisted it would take 150,000+ hours to assemble the documents (equivalent to 75 people working full time for a year) and the cost of copying the contracts would be at least $2.8 million.
2. Turner gave health insurance provider Cigna information about medical claims during the open bidding process for Houston’s healthcare plan but failed to share that information with competitors. Cigna was eventually awarded the contract. Turner’s close personal friend, Cindy Clifford, who is the lobbyist for Cigna, according to city records. Cindy has been seen in photos visiting with Mayor Turner and his family, despite swearing in lobbying reports that she hasn’t given or gifted them. The budget for health benefits for Houston in 2019 is $435 million. That’s big money.
3. Turner was unable to manage the city budget after voters overwhelmingly passed Prop B, a voter approved referendum to pay firefighters equal pay with police as defined under the Texas Local Government Code. Turner instead used Prop B to manufacture a budget crisis. Now proposing lay-offs and demotion of Firefighters that Houston spent millions of dollars training these firefighters. Now hundreds of them will lose their jobs because Turner would not manage our city’s budget in an effective manner. In the entire history of Houston we’ve never laid off firefigthers until now (including during the Great Depression).
Side Note: Firefighters block walked to get Turner elected. Promising to give Firefighters a contract under Texas Collective Bargaining law (which hasn’t happened since 2011.) Turner instead introduced Pension reform, gutting the Firefighters pension system to pay back the failed city management of the police and municipal pension funds. Because Turner told the firefighters not to fight him on pension reform, he swore he would make sure they would get the worse deal possible.
4. During a “hiring freeze” in response to voter approved equal pay for Police and Fire (Prop B,) Turner hired almost 900 new city workers despite claims we didn’t have enough funds to pay firefighters. Many of those employees still had their jobs in April.
5. Turner’s Communications Director used a city facility (with his knowledge) to work on her personal pet project: a reality TV show concept that had nothing to do with Houston residents or tax payers. This is the local government equivalent of taking the company car on a road trip with all your friends and charging them for its use.
6. In 2015 Turner campaigned on the promise to fix Houston’s potholes. Since then little to nothing has been done to fix the potholes and more recently Turner actually instructed a city employee to create a new pothole with a jackhammer so Turner could participate in a photo-op in which he pretended to fix the recently created hole-in-the-street. Amazingly, there were thousands of real potholes he could have used for the photo but he chose to create a new one instead.
Turner has consistently misused funds from the Rebuild Houston infrastructure plan for non-relevant spending on pet projects.
7. Theft crimes in the city has spiked despite a thriving economy. Historically crime usually goes down when the economy improves, but not under Turner’s watch He continues to give raises to police instead of proportionally growing the police for as needed. All while claiming financial crisis and unwillingness to fund voter approved laws.
8. Turner gave a $6.735 million contract to his “former” law partner, Barry Barnes. This contract wasn’t assigned to handle legal matters. Instead it was for “outreach, intake and case management services” related to “potential not actual” applicants for the Federal Housing Disaster money.
9. Turner spent a half a million to hire a team of lawyers (more of the mayor’s personal friends) to fight the firefighters in court. All while city legal staffs 200+ attorneys. (Side note – Houston lawyer and mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee offered his services pro bono to Houston firefighters if the city proceeded with litigation against them.)
10. And let’s not forget the insurance fraud allegations…While we’re on the subject, here are a few more notable moves from the Mayor’s office that should make us question his ability to effectively do his job.
11. During a budget crisis Turner hired Houston a “poet laureate” – someone who writes poetry for a living. The “poet laureate” receives $20,000 from the city. How many potholes could you fix with $20,000? At least a few. Some of you will probably read this and say, “Yeah, but isn’t poetry an important part of our city’s art and culture?” If you honestly believe the answer to that question is yes, name a poem you’ve recently read. Go ahead Take your time…We’ll wait.
12. A family friend of Sylvester Turner named Maya Ford secured a $5000-a-month job with a company that wanted the Houston bullet train deal.That’s not a coincidence.
Turner is the co-chair of a group called the “Climate Mayors” – a group of over 300 mayors from across America who support efforts federal efforts to increase regulations on the energy industry. That might sound good to some people on paper, but Turner is the Mayor of Houston – the energy capital of the world. He’s the member of a group who supports efforts to suppress the businesses and companies who employ people in his city. Think about how dangerous that notion is for the thousands of Houstonians who do business with the energy industry.
13. Turner spent $3 million to hire live music to perform at the airport. Live music is great, but Houston isn’t considered to be a major destination for live music tourism or the audio recording industry. If the city had a surplus, $3 million for live music would be no big deal. But we’re having a budget crisis, right? $3 million would have helped provide the salary for a lot of Police, Municipal workers and Firefighters who actually get paid to serve the public daily.
This isn’t a short list, Houston. Mayor Turner has been in office for one term and this is the mess we’re dealing with under his leadership. Does this sound like someone you trust to run our city for four more years? Who is the real victim here…Turner? Or is it the citizens of Houston whose tax dollars are spent by Turner on his friends, family and business associates. I don’t think you qualify as a victim when you spend over $5 BILLION with a B, budget of other people’s money. Then they demand to see where it is going. Houston deserves better!
Here is next year’s endorsement from the HRBC: Houston’s Premier Business Coalition endorses Biden (Warren, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, whomever the D nominee is)!
And we wonder why the city is in such a mess.