Parker To Pull Item From Council Agenda
Houston Mayor Annise Parker does an about-face on her proposed ballot measure calling for closed-door sessions at city council. Spokeswoman Janice Evans emailed KTRH News on Friday saying, "The mayor decided not to put it on the council agenda. It is dead for now."
The city's attorney had floated the idea so council could discuss lawsuits, contracts, real estate transactions, security and personnel matters behind closed doors.
Every school district in the state of Texas -- 1,040 school districts -- we operated under executive session with these items for the benefit of the taxpayer, not to hide anything," says Council member Jack Christie who supported the measure. "It's mandatory for efficiency in government, it doesn't hide one thing. If there wasn't full transparency, I wouldn't be in favor of this."
Council member James Rodriguez argued that trying to put on the November ballot in August doesn't give members enough time to vet it. He points out there already are five other ballot propositions that would ask voters to approve $410 million in borrowing for parks, public safety, libraries, affordable housing and other purposes.
"I just hate to see our ballot cluttered," Rodriguez told KTRH News. "We really haven't had a lot of time to roll this out and take a look at it or see what impact this would have on staff time."
Councilman Mike Sullivan supports closed-door meetings at the school level, but not at Houston City Council, not under Parker's administration.
"We had this bond referendum coming up and council members were asking what's in the bond so we could be thinking about it," says Sullivan. "The mayor said she would release it at city council on a certain date, so there's a track record of a lack of cooperation with city council already."