Every once in a rare blue moon, perhaps once in a century, the Houston Chronicle editorial board manages to get something right. Amazingly, the Chronicle did in fact manage to pull off this rare feat recently, when the editors published an editorial inveighing against Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of her partner / wife Kathy Hubbard to the newly expanded Montrose TIRZ. Word has it that soon-to-be-former councilman Stephen Costello, he of drainage-fee fame, was also put on the board. One can think of these appointments as just another piece of business that Mayor Parker had to take care of, before she’s termed out of office.
As the Chronicle editorialists point out, Parker already saw to it that Hubbard sits on the hotly contested Montrose Management District Board, and that the proliferation of TIRZs and management districts (there are now 27 TIRZs in Houston!) offers the political classes lurking down at City Hall an easy way to reward their families, friends, and supporters. They also correctly point out that bad policy decisions are harder to fight against, if they are also abetted and promoted by your friends on these boards (like the Post Oak bus lane, for example).
It’s rather rare that I tip the hat to the Houston Chronicle, but this time I’ll wish the boys and girls at 801 Texas Avenue a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in 2016 for publishing this. Good work!
PS: Now, if the Houston Chronicle editorial board (and the rest of Houston’s media for that matter) really wanted to improve their watchdog street cred with Houstonians, they might decide to do a polite inquiry on why the soon-to-be-former Mayor Parker was in such a rush to get this district pushed through before she left office. One reason might be because she and her partner Ms. Hubbard would stand to benefit personally from living and owning property within the boundaries of the newly expanded TIRZ, and would therefore stand (along with their neighbors) potentially to capture tax monies for the improvement of their own neighborhood, rather than see any increased tax monies resulting from any property value increases go to street repairs or filling up potholes throughout the rest of Houston.
Just a thought. And with that, Happy New Year!