Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday held the first of ten public informational meetings he plans to hold on the two referendums city voters will decide in November.
The first involves the Rebuild Houston program to fix the city's flood issues. But as Rice University's Bob Stein points out, the so-called drainage fee would remain in place regardless.
“What we will be voting on is to suspend and end the Rebuild program, and many as the mayor will point out would say 'well, that doesn't mean very much because we still have the drainage fee and we could use that money for some other purposes,'” says Stein.
Then there's the pay parity issue for Houston firefighters, who are asking voters for a 25 percent pay hike after failed contract negotiations with the city.
“No one really wants to disagree with the firemen, but I think the mayor feels it will be a financial difficulty the city can't weather.”
The mayor warns of drastic cuts across city services if the plan is approved.
“How do you talk about heroic people who a year ago you were praising and at the same time say you can't give them a pay raise?” asks Stein.
“I suspect you'll hear a lot about we don't need as many firemen, firemen aren't putting out as many fires as they are EMTs, but that kind of rhetoric may not be well-received.”