The Prop. 2 tall tale that won't go away

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In a Chronicle story by Ron Nissimov on the expansion progress at Bush Intercontinental and Hobby airports, there’s a bit of misinformation toward the end. Here’s the relevant part:

Airport expansion became a talking point for Mayor Bill White during the recent referendum on competing city revenue-cap proposals.

White said airport expansion, which typically occurs in spurts, would be difficult to achieve under the revenue-limitation proposal called Proposition 2, which he opposed.

White proposed an alternative revenue cap, Proposition 1, that would cap tax revenue but not limit annual growth in so-called “enterprise funds,” including airport funds, that generate their income from user fees rather than general taxes.

What Nissimov is trying to write about, in a poorly worded way, is the little untruth the mayor told about Proposition 2 in October. The FAA sent the mayor a letter saying that airport revenue could not be used for property tax refunds. Mayor White took this letter and used it as an opportunity to do some Proposition 2-bashing.

The problem is that Proposition 2 would not have used airport revenue for property tax refunds, according to Paul Bettencourt, Harris County Tax Assessor. And this was discussed by Bettencourt and Frank Michel, Mayor White’s communications person, back in October. (The link includes scans of the letters in question.) Michel agreed with Bettencourt that the FAA’s letter was not based on the facts, but that didn’t stop the mayor from repeating the false assertion and it hasn’t stopped the media from spreading the misinformation, either.

But, then again, the Chronicle opposed Proposition 2.

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Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.