Blog Posts

City Council Approves $152 Million in New Debt Without Voter Knowledge or Approval

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With little fanfare and without voter approval, Houston City Council recently signed off on $150 million in new debt, divided up among the over two dozen Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones or TIRZ. The Uptown and Memorial City TIRZs budgets provide for a combined $118 million in new debt in 2017. The new debt will generally need no further council approval, with total TIRZ debt rising to $620 million during this fiscal year alone.  This seems to stand in contrast to

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Spike in Chinatown Robberies drives Citizens to Protest

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A dozen leaders of an assortment of Chinese community organizations rallied in protest on Saturday near the Galleria to bring attention to a string of violent crimes that appear to target Asians. One of the most recent and high profile incidents was the robbery of attorney Jessica Chen as she was leaving her southwest Houston office, in the heart of Chinatown. With Chen on the ground, two male suspects succeeded in stealing her purse, phone, and BMW SUV. She was

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TIRZ Funds, Redirected to Balance City Budget, threatens Southwest Houston Projects

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SHARPSTOWN ZONE AMONG HARDEST HIT With renewed attention on the structure of city finances, Mike Morris and Rebecca Elliot penned an enterprise story in Sunday’s Houston Chronicle about the challenges of city investment zones. (City development zones face scrutiny for trapping tax revenues) This is an excellent piece which simplifies a complicated subject. They reveal that in order to balance this years overall city budget, Mayor Turner (with likely no other option) redirected almost $20 million from TIRZ zones across

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City Officials, Media, and Public Now talking About Three Core Issues

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It’s great to see the Houston Chronicle and city officials get on board the train. Six months after the city election we’re beginning to see the introduction and discussion of several topics that were the focus of our city council campaign. We may not get credit for bringing these issues to the public’s attention, but make no mistake, we’re making a difference. TIRZ accountability, slum apartments, and shoddy conditions at most city parks outside the loop have made it on

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Houston Press: Neighborhoods like Sharpstown are “Essentially Ignored”

Houston Press TIRZ SNIP

The Houston Press today published a lengthy piece on Tax Increment Zones, Management Districts, and their impact on city operations. The story includes a replay of the successful Sharpstown Section Two annexation by the TIRZ No. 20, but the opening this time is in Montrose. As noted previously, former council member Sue Lovell learned of the Midtown attempt to annex valuable parts of Montrose, a few days before the council vote and was able to rally enough people to squelch

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Why I Am Not Supporting Mike Laster for Another Term: Part Three

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                  Unlimited Dogs Next Door: Supporting the Administration at all costs Being a nice guy and having a pleasant persona is all well and good I suppose, but what most voters are looking for are results. So when issues facing our neighborhood arise, we look to our elected officials and our District J Council Member Mike Laster to be in the middle and protect our interests. Such is the case with three

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Why I am Not Supporting Mike Laster for Another Term: Part Two

Neighborhood Civic Association (almost) Collapses: Broke, No Staff, No Goodwill My first look into how Mike Laster operates occurred in early 2012, shortly after attending my first few meetings of the SCA Board as a new Director. These meeting dates were never announced to the membership but I attended, receiving a copy of the “financial report” for 2011. It seems that in Sept. of 2011 the SCA Board began paying just the late charges on the Constable patrol contract, deferring

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Why I Am Not Supporting Mike Laster for Another Term on City Council

The Way the Wind Blows (First in a five part series) Citizens of Sharpstown must have confidence that elected officials will listen and work in their best interests. In the case of Mike Laster’s representation of Sharpstown at City Hall, disappointment and the status quo might best describe the situation. After over dozen years of neighborhood involvement, and in his fourth year on City Council, Mike simply will not or cannot make the choices and provide the leadership we need.

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