Issues

Flooding

It’s a fact that in the future there will be additional storms; we must prepare now. We have to get smarter about how we prepare for storms. We have some of the smartest and most creative people in the country. I will engage them to come up with tangible things we can do right now to make Houston less vulnerable to future storms. We all remember the ravages and devastation of Hurricane Harvey. But the truth is, the overwhelming majority of the flooding that has occurred in the Houston-area since 1979 happened outside of the defined hurricane season. The floods will worsen, and although we will continue to implement solutions to mitigate the damage, we must also do things in the short term to protect ourselves. Everyone in the Houston area should consider purchasing flood insurance no matter what “zone” you live in. We must learn to protect ourselves when the storms occur, including the use of apps that show areas that are passable and those that are not, and the use of devices that can be purchased to protect our cars. There are many more basic things that can be done. My campaign will roll them out once our comprehensive white paper is complete. Many of the solutions are ones we have known about for some time, and, indeed, many have been included in at least THREE past City Councilmans’ transition reports, yet we have not had the leadership to implement them. I will do so.

There are three types of flooding that we must address in Houston and the surrounding areas: 1. Storm surge, which is an issue we are absolutely going to have to address with regard to Clear Lake, the industrial areas around the Port, and other southern parts of the Houston area. Failure to develop a plan to address storm surge involving the ship channel will kill the economy in Houston. We know that although it has been said that Harvey was a rare storm, we will have more and more of such “rare” storms; 2. Sheet flow, which is the flooding that routinely occurs in places long before the bayous are full or the tributaries flow over their banks; and 3. River overflow or detention overflow, which is our lack of capacity that results in Buffalo Bayou leaving its banks, or uncontrolled releases from the reservoirs. Each is a major problem that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner. And, like each of the types of flooding, solutions to flooding are specific and as unique as the areas in which flooding in Houston routinely occurs.

West Houston: With regard to West Houston, it is clear we need more capacity. We must lobby the Corps of Engineers to start creating that capacity now. And, we must be mindful of when releases are made from both Barker’s and Addick’s reservoirs. During Hurricane Harvey, many that live on the west side felt they had survived the storm with little to no damage, only to awake the next morning with flooding in their homes. These people lost cars and other valuables they might not have lost, had they known the gates would be opened. But, unfortunately, the Corps of Engineers decided, in the middle of the night, to open the floodgates. The current City Councilman was aware when this decision was made, yet no warning was given. I would never allow that to happen. Who knows what personal items or vehicles could have been saved had someone bothered to alert the residents?

Kingwood: Kingwood was annexed by Houston, yet the residents that live and work there get only a fraction of the services they deserve, especially when you compare the revenues Kingwood generates against the value of the city services they receive. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to Kingwood residents, and I know they feel ignored. It’s time they are no longer ignored by the city. One resolution is to have a city office in Kingwood with a representative to interact with the residents. We need accountability. With regard to the repeated flooding that has occurred in the Kingwood area, for years the San Jacinto River has needed dredging. The City Councilman has not once been a voice for these residents. A lack of dredging, and rampant sand mining immediately adjacent to the river, contributed greatly to the impacts of Harvey. Since Harvey, the lack of capacity of the river has worsened due to sand. And, although some dredging is being done, the area that most needs dredging–the mouth bar–isn’t being dredged! In addition to the dredging that is desperately needed, the flood gates need to be upgraded and replaced. Finally, there has to be detention built outside of Kingwood. Most of the water that comes into Kingwood is from outside. Kingwood needs a City Councilman who will advocate for its interests. That will include interaction not only with Harris County Flood Control District, SJRA, the Corps of Engineers, but also with Montgomery County. In addition to the issues discussed above, we also need to deal with the outdated storm and drainage infrastructure that causes parts of Kingwood to routinely flood. Areas flood due to sheet flow that simply should not flood. We have to directly deal with those areas in a methodical manner. That, of course, will include actually using monies collected from the Rebuild Houston drainage fee and ad valorem tax on drainage projects, rather than diverting it to other projects or to the general fund to balance the budget. Finally, Kingwood needs a City Councilman who understands that some of the current development plans that are to come before council for approval will exacerbate Kingwood flooding. We have to be mindful that development is not good if it detrimentally impacts the surrounding community. Kingwood has been ignored for years. As City Councilman, I will be a strong advocate for Kingwood and bring more attention to these issues. I will put in place short-term solutions, while working towards long-term ones.

Almost a decade ago, Houston voted in favor of a drainage fee and an ad valorem tax. That vote was reaffirmed in the last election. Since that initial vote, the city has collected more than a billion dollars. But only a small percentage of those monies have been actually used on drainage projects. This must end. As City Councilman, I will ensure that our drainage fee and the accompanying tax are actually spent on drainage instead of being siphoned off into the general fund to pay for city operations. Houston stands poised to receive almost $1.18 billion in federal aid. We have waited more than 18 months and many people are still out of their homes after Harvey. This aid is intended to help uninsured people get back into their homes or apartments and to buy out those who are in areas prone to flooding. We must ensure that every penny of those monies is spent for that purpose—and that purpose only. Everyone agrees Houston has a flooding problem. There has been much talk about it, but very little has been done. Indeed, Houston’s own “Flood Czar” admits we are in no better condition to face the next storm than we were before Hurricane Harvey. We have to get serious. Did you know that when the current City Councilman came into office, his transition team laid out multiple, tangible things that could be done to eliminate or at least mitigate the impact of flooding? Almost none were accomplished. We need to be aggressive and realistic. It’s time to do something. Read more >>

Corruption

The practice of City Hall insiders and friends of the City Councilman having more influence at City Hall than Houston Taxpayers must end. It serves only the select few that seek to profit not those who seeks to serve.

As your City Councilmen, I will support a measure that allows Houston Taxpayers and Voters to end the practice of rewarding city contracts to big campaign contributors. Contracting with the city should be based on merit, and the benefit to the taxpayers, not who you know or who gave money to the City Councilman or council. Simply put, If you donate to a politician at City Hall, for one year you will not be permitted to enter a contract with or work for the city – period.

Furthermore, I will ask the New City Councilman to Support the following changes in City Hall Budget Operations.

  • Appoint a fulltime independent Auditor to provide a publicly accessible website that tracks pothole repairs, the permitting process for homeowners, and a regularly updated real-time report of live animal adoptions from our City Animal Shelters.
  • Change the law so that Lobbyist are required to register and that any dollars spent to inform or educate your public officials must be reported. Any violation of this will result in that lobbyist being banned from doing business with the City and this should include public action against the Elected or City official if they don't report the event.

Again, As your City Councilmen, I will call for an end to the current practice of pay to play politics at City Hall.

Firefighters & Our Police

City of Houston Voters have already spoken on the issue of PROP B and Pay Parity. We must respect the will of the Voters, too many have paid the ultimate price to protect the democratic process for me there is no room for debate on this issue, the Prop. B election was the debate.

As the son of a Firefighter, I am well too aware of the risk these men and woman take every single day along with all of their fellow first responders. Our Current City Government neglected this issue for too long. Current and past administrations ignored this issue for too long, this issue will not go away if we act as if its does not exist. And City Councilman Turner's political solution to pit the Police and Firefighter Unions against one another is wrong. We should do what we can to give both our men and women in the Police and Fire Departments the money they need to raise a family in this great City.

We need to address the critical shortage we are facing in personnel in both departments. This will require that your City Councilman tell you the taxpayer the truth. That this can be accomplished not by raising taxes but by making smarter decisions.

Crime

To be clear our City faces a serious crime problem. A significant contributing factor is that we have too many officers on desk duty and not enough out on our streets. Only 2,3000 officers are on regular patrol of the almost 5,200 police officers; What this means is that if we are lucky we may only have 500 officers on patrol. In a city that is 664 square miles. We need more police officers. We also need to provide them the proper training so they can better serve in the most diverse city in the United States, We must also do whatever it takes and whatever the cost to protect them while they protect us. We must switch from reactive policing to proactive policing. That is a process where the Community and the police building better relationships and that is a commitment I will make as your City Councilmen.

Additionally, as a City, we should fully commit to the following.

Employ the Comp-stat (link)system of policing. And work with the Polic Department leadership to make it official policy.

Make a fully committed fight against Human Trafficking in the area. To cooperate at all time with local, State and Federal Government to end the Crime and modern slavery. As a husband and father and as a brother this is something we must eradicate wherever and whenever we can.

As a part of the new community cooperative protective policing we can do more and do better in the wat against Gangs and Gand Violence in our City. Gan Crime is everywhere but it is a greater threat on many of our at-risk and underserved communities. These gangs often prey on the Immigrant community and hide their illegal activity in plain sight using the fear of those most at risk for cover.

Also working with the new City Councilman I will seek to examine the following practices to see how Houston can employ Best Practices to make us even better

Body cameras on all officers in the street, even when executing a warrant

Address a command structure that appears to be bloated.

Better recognition of officers who demonstrate heroism or outstanding police work.

Outsource vehicle maintenance.

Revise the current chase policy.

Civilian police academy with certified, trained officers patrolling underserved areas on a volunteer basis

Reinstitute neighborhood watch programs, but provide them support.

Stray Dog Population and Animal Control

Did you know that 54% percent of residents in Harris and surrounding counties say that stray dogs and cats are a problem, and that 1 out of 4 people in Houston say that stray dogs and cats are a very serious problem? Stray animals are not only a humanitarian issue, but also a safety and quality of life issue. In some neighborhoods, packs of wild dogs run free. We have heard reports of wild dogs attacking pets in the Third Ward. We’ve heard of children being chased by dogs in the East End. We have to do something.

Innovation

One Bin Concept. We can make Houston completely waste-free in four years. The City of Houston collects waste, recycling, and yard waste for approximately 376,000 single-family residential households. More than two-thirds of our residents use our city’s waste service. Those that use the city’s service have their solid waste picked up once per week—when it is actually picked up. And, again, when it actually picks it up, the city picks up the recycling twice a month. And, of course, the city picks up yard waste once per month. All of the solid waste picked up by the city goes into landfills. Less than 30% of the “recycling” picked up by the city actually gets processed and recycled; the rest goes into landfills. (It has recently been reported that all of our recyclables are being buried in a landfill.) Around the perimeter of the city, we have multiple landfills and multiple transit stations for this trash—all operated by private companies. What if we could put in place a system such that we recycle almost all of the waste that the city produces and sell it ? Believe it or not, the technology exists to do so. As City Councilman, I will put in place a system such that we pick up waste once per week, with all waste going into the same bin–NO MORE WASHING PLASTIC CONTAINERS OR SORTING TRASH. Such waste will be then taken to what is known as an Ecohub, where it will be sorted and turned into various products that can be sold. This will not only reduce the amount of trucks and personnel we need for waste disposal by a factor of three, but it will also save the city more than $40 million a year. The company that has this proven technology presented this idea to the city several years ago. But, due to lobbyists and the City Councilman’s friends who are connected to the current waste companies doing business with the city, the proposal went nowhere. That will change! We can be the first waste-free city in the United States. That’s something we can all be proud of.

Repurposing our libraries. The city has 44 libraries. We need to make sure we are getting the most out of our libraries. Too many times, we have more staff in the library than there are patrons. And, we are not providing a relevant service. We all know HISD is going through some very difficult times; we cannot let HISD fail. One way we could help is by repurposing our libraries and making sure they are being used for our youth. Whether it be pre-school programs or after-school programs, we can support the school system and help give the kids something worthwhile and educational to do, all the while keeping them off the streets. I already have experts coming up with a plan on how we can do better with our libraries. The city employs more than 460 people at our libraries and spends more than $40 million per year on operating costs. This is an important service that the city provides. We can do it much better.

5G. A lot has been said about 5G. We don’t need to put base stations all over the city, in neighborhoods that don’t want them. If we use what I call REAL 5G, we would need very few base stations and yet we will have connectivity that would allow you to download your favorite movie in less than three seconds. So far, the large companies have failed at real 5G. But, winning technology is currently being tested right now in various countries that will completely change the landscape of how we communicate with one another–with no danger to our health! I’ve met with those on the forefront of this effort – they are Texans. We can make Houston the leader in real 5G.

Self-driving cars. The day will come when we will all utilize self-driving cars. Houston is perfectly poised to lead this effort. To accomplish this, we have to be forward thinking, change the way we do business and be open to new ideas. Imagine if we had driverless buses and cars taking us around Houston. This would be a dramatic paradigm shift. The technology exists now. The only impediment is outdated thinking, and lobbyists and businesses who are worried about losing market share and money. As City Councilman, I will lead the effort to put Houston on the map with regard to developing technologies.

Unions and Collective Bargaining

My father was a union meat cutter. I have always believed that there are only two places a worker has a chance to get a fair shake: in a court room or through the union. The current City Councilman has sought, in court, to declare collective bargaining unconstitutional. When I’m City Councilman, I will immediately drop that suit, not only because it has no legal merit and is a waste of taxpayer money, but also because I know the importance of unions in the workplace. We shouldn’t have the city engaged in litigation with firefighters, period.

A Renewed Sense of Nuts and Bolts Volunteerism

We live in a dynamic, entrepreneurial, diverse, can-do city. I believe Houston has some of the most creative and generous people in the United States. We are all in this together. For several years, I attended the various galas and balls that occur in the city each year. The people who throw these galas are wonderful people who are trying to raise money for many important causes. I applaud them and encourage them to keep up the fight! As City Councilman, I will encourage a new type of volunteerism. I believe that if you ask, people will help.

Here are a few examples that will foster a renewed sense of volunteerism and bring us together to do something good, as well as help the city save money:

As City Councilman I will be asking citizens to help with the clean up of the city. We will create and put in place a system to do what I will call “pop-up clean-ups.” Organized by the citizens themselves, when a citizen spots a particular area of the city in need of cleaning, through the city and sanctioned by the city, that citizen can organize a clean-up effort. The city will provide security and water for the effort, as well as receptacles for the trash. Think of how we could clean up this city together!

The city has 370 parks and 200 green spaces. The city employs more than 700 people in the Parks Department, with a budget of more than $70 million yearly. Parks and green space are very important. But, we can do better. I believe that we can maintain our parks better, with fewer people. I believe that we could create a nonprofit for each park, where it makes sense, and have the people who live in the area of the park maintain and improve that park. I know Houstonians. If you ask them, and lead by example, they will help. Think of the improvements we could see in our parks and the money we could save.

Houston is home to many families who have lived here for generations. Many of these families have been very fortunate and control endowments and foundations that, by law, must donate millions yearly to charitable causes. I believe we could and should pool these resources for the great benefit of the city. As City Councilman, I will go to each of the major foundations across the Houston area (I’ve already started!) with a comprehensive plan. We are calling it “Moonshot.” I believe we can choose an underserved area in our great city and do a complete needs assessment, as well as an assessment on what services are already in place. Imagine if we could put together a comprehensive program where we choose a defined area and, using private funds, ensure that prenatal care, resources for children from age 0-2, Pre-K, and after-school programs focusing on vocational training and tutoring STEM subjects are all in place. On top of that, ensuring that adequate housing is available will drastically reduce truancy, and that the police who work in the community actually live in the community as well. And, we can also make use of our local educational institutions, churches, and civic associations to assist in the project. Is this idea too “pie in the sky?” I don’t think so. We put astronauts on the moon! Surely we can dramatically change for the better areas of our city that need extra help. I think that with private funds pooled in this manner, we could make transformational change in some of the traditionally underserved areas of our great city.

Whether it be holiday lights or blight removal, helping the homeless or cleaning up City Hall, Houstonians will pitch in and help if asked. The answer isn’t always hiring more people and spending more money. Houstonians are yearning to be proud of their city. We must lead the way and bring this city together. The way to do that is to engage all residents in making Houston a better place to live.

Creating Jobs

As City Councilman, I will aggressively seek out businesses that are considering moving to Houston. The only way to do this is to make Houston a preferred place to live. This means, of course, that we cannot let HISD fail, and we have to do a much better job at providing the core services that residents expect. This means dealing with flooding head on, picking the trash up on time, reducing and solving crimes, making sure our fire department is adequately staffed and that firefighters have the right equipment, and making sure we can drive down the street without blowing out a tire.

Due to my background and experience, I know key people in most industries. We need to get the word out that the City of Houston is open for business. The best way to do that is to make the city work for all its residents. I will aggressively seek out those businesses that are appropriate for the city and that the city has the infrastructure to support. In addition to making our city work again, I will create panels of subject matter experts to help us make our city more efficient.

Waste and Inefficiency

Let me start with this: I’m against raising the revenue cap. It’s not needed. The city wastes millions of taxpayer’s dollars and public monies. The money is there to put more police on the streets and pay the firefighters, as well as to efficiently and promptly provide the core services that residents expect.

Recently, it was revealed that the Airport Enterprise Fund had spent $85 million in the intended renovation of the international receiving terminal. Unfortunately, only $11 million of that was spent on actual brick and mortar. The rest was wasted on a plan that all of those involved agree was “flawed.” We have to do better. There should be immediate accountability of all of those involved in this debacle, including the City Councilman himself. The current City Councilman is frequently prone to calling himself the “CEO” of the city. We all know that any CEO who oversaw a debacle similar to what is happening at the airport would have already been fired.

The current City Councilman offered up, and pushed through, a spending item that the city would spend $3 million to hire performance bands for the airport. Why? This is a colossal waste of money. There are individuals in this town who would provide this service for free. We have to do better in the way we spend money.

The current City Councilman offered up, and pushed through, a spending item that the city would spend $3 million to hire performance bands for the airport. Why? This is a colossal waste of money. There are individuals in this town who would provide this service for free. We have to do better in the way we spend money.

Every year the city spends upwards of $500,000 on holiday lights at City Hall. Again, in light of the current budget situation, we simply can’t afford that. There are many light companies in this town that, if asked, would likely provide this service for free in exchange for the name recognition. Houston needs a City Councilman who is cognizant of the fact that every dollar spent doesn’t belong to the city; it instead belongs to the taxpayer. The answer to a need or problem is not always to spend more money!

Similarly, it is my belief that every department of the city is overstaffed. Have you looked at the various departments within the city? When I’m City Councilman, department heads will have to justify the necessity of every employee, detail what that employee does for the city, and why that employee is needed. They will also have to justify the existence of their very department. I believe in motivating and keeping good personnel. I also believe that in any organization there are those who do not pull their weight and don’t really provide a service. We all have to understand that the existence of a city job is not to provide an income for the employee, but is instead to provide a service for the citizens. With regard to personnel, of course, I will start with the City Councilman’s office itself. Currently, the City Councilman has—in his personal office—almost fifty individuals. If you count the other offices of which the City Councilman has direct control, that number is more than 100. That is too many! As City Councilman, I will make it clear to city employees that we work for the citizens of Houston, not vice versa.

We currently employ an individual whose entire job is to encourage moviemakers to come to Houston to shoot their movies. We pay this individual more than $150,000 yearly and provide her a fully paid for condo in Los Angeles. Do you know how many movies she has convinced to film in Houston? ZERO. We cannot keep spending money irrationally. This will end when I’m City Councilman.

City Budget & Finance

Third-Party, Independent Financial Audit. Over the past three years, City revenues have increased by $450 million, yet spending has increased by $570 million. Are services any better? No. Are the streets better? No. Do we have more police on the streets? No. We have to get a handle on spending in the city. When I am City Councilman, we will have a third-party, independent audit of the budget. This audit will include the budgets of all TIRZ’s, Enterprise and other dedicated funds, as well as the General fund.

Process Audits. We must ensure that the way we perform city functions is the most efficient and productive way. I will encourage subject matter experts to assist me for the good of the city (free of cost) in performing process audits of every single department. Can you imagine how we could improve the way we do permitting or the way we repair potholes? Through process audits, we will be looking for ways we can do things more efficiently and for duplications and ways to save. Moreover, through such audits, every department and every position will be carefully analyzed to ensure it serves the residents in an efficient manner.

Zero-Based Budgeting. Houston needs a City Councilman who knows how to effectively deploy resources and get the absolute most for our public dollars. We must be more efficient. Because I’m not taking campaign donations and am not actively seeking endorsements, I will have the freedom to do what is necessary to ensure we provide core services and also balance the budget. All too often, a candidate promises to do something but does not follow through once in office because it is contrary to his/her campaign donors’ interests or to those who endorsed him/her. Not me. And, too often politicians and government bureaucrats complain that they don’t have enough money for core city services yet they have no problem finding money for a pet project – or worse – they give multi-million dollar contracts to their friends, donors, or former partners.

I’ve overseen big budgets as a Texas A&M Regent. I’ve learned all the tricks of how large government organizations spend money. As chair of the audit committee, I oversaw the processes and budgets of 11 universities and 7 state agencies. I know where to find the inefficiencies and wasted monies. As the owner of a large, successful law firm, I know how to hire, train, motivate and manage employees. I’ve owned shopping centers and apartment complexes, and I know about capital projects, permitting, construction, and renovation. I’ve built retail businesses from the ground up, staffed them and sold them. Over the years, I’ve come to understand budgets, management, and how to keep a business going and make it successful. For every expenditure, I’ve learned to ask “why,” and if we can do it for less. And, the most important thing I’ve learned is to surround myself with smart budget experts and verify their recommendations. I won’t have all the answers myself, but I do know how to find the answers.

Homelessness

We can be fiscally conservative and still care about the homeless and those that need help. We have a homeless epidemic in this city. We have to address it! It is not only an issue in every major artery entering and leaving downtown, but it is also an issue in many neighborhoods. We need a plan. Whether you see it as a humanitarian issue as I do (I don’t see people who are down and out as an “eyesore”; a health and safety issue; a public safety issue; or an optics issue that reflects poorly on our city, we MUST do something. One caveat: homelessness and panhandling are two different issues. I intend to end panhandling, period. Many aggressive panhandlers are simply not homeless. We have rules in place with regard to panhandling and I intend to enforce them. No one should be accosted at a stoplight, or trying to walk down the street or going to the store. We will end that immediately when I’m your City Councilman.