Abbott Criticizes Houston's Harvey Efforts

posted by iHeartMedia's John Labus and KPRC Channel-2 -

The City of Houston gets a stinging rebuke from Governor Greg Abbott.

Mayor Sylvester Turner joined with other political leaders to request future help with Hurricane Harvey recovery. 

"What came back was quite frankly very surprising."

According to the governor's office, Houston officials haven't spent - or haven't applied for - money that is already available to them.

"The tone was certainly very disappointing and I just want to simply say I think a staffer wrote it and did not reflect the sentiments of the governor."

... But an Abbott spokesperson says the governor signed off on the letter.  Mayor Turner tells our TV Partner KPRC Channel-2 Houston rebounded from the storm quicker than any city could have done.

The letter said, "...it has come to my attention that of the $50 million loaned to the City of Houston from the State of Texas in September 2017 to cover emergency costs in the aftermath of Harvey, less than $5 million has been expended. This is shocking considering your insistence on the necessity of the funds for immediate needs."

Governor Abbott also wrote that matching money for federal grants is already set aside but has not been requested. The governor’s office said Houston has not applied for that available money, despite many reminders.

The letter continued, "All of the above funding that is already available to you, coupled with the absence of requests for those funds, shows that you have yet to even identify what you want to spend money on. It is perplexing that you are seeking more funding when you have shown no ability to spend what you already have access to."

Ciara Matthews, deputy communications director for Abbott tells Channel-2:

“It is becoming clear that the demands for more money before identifying how the money will be spent are nothing more than an attempt to distract from the fact that city leaders are hindering the ability of Houstonians to recover from Hurricane Harvey... Jurisdictions like Houston continue to ask for more money despite refusing to identify how that money is intended to be spent. They seem to be seeking a blank check with no identified purpose for the money and no accountability for how it will be spent."

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