As always, readers are cautioned that I delete what I judge to be extraneous text, and often paraphrase in order to make the legalese a lot more readable; also that comments added are a mix of my own opinions, best guesses, snarking, and judgments, and therefore may not be entirely accurate. Such deletions may accidentally result in a key omission; if you wish to read the original text, please follow this link to the posted agenda.
Edit: It's an agenda of contrasts. Pay particular note to items #5 & 48; #10 & 33. #45 is mildly humorous and #47 will be the next big city-wide political battle.
AGENDA - COUNCIL MEETING - TUESDAY - AUGUST 15, 2006 - 1:30 P. M.
COUNCIL CHAMBER - SECOND FLOOR - CITY HALL
901 BAGBY - HOUSTON, TEXAS
PRAYER AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE - Council Member Lovell
1:30 P. M. - ROLL CALL
ADOPT MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING
2:00 P. M. - PUBLIC SPEAKERS
5:00 P. M. - RECESS
RECONVENE WEDNESDAY - AUGUST 16, 2006 - 9:00 A. M.
MAYOR’S REPORT - Initiatives to reduce street solicitation and homelessness
ACCEPT WORK - NUMBERS 1 and 2
1. RECOMMENDATION from Director Building Services Department for approval of final contract amount of $431,960.09 and acceptance of work on contract with JERDON ENTERPRISE, L.P. for Sylvan Rodriguez Park, - 02.38% over the original contract amount -
2. RECOMMENDATION from Director Building Services Department for approval of final contract amount of $520,608.00 and acceptance of work on contract with ROYAL AMERICAN SERVICES, INC for Roof Replacement for La Nueva Casa de Amigos and Sunnyside Health Center, - 00.20% over the original contract amount -
The first item is for landscaping services, including benches, trails, a sidewalk, and changing two soccer fields into lacrosse fields. I didn't think we had that much demand for lacrosse, but hey, I suppose a city of this size could support it. Overrun was due to change orders, mainly dealing with irrigation and drainage. The second item was for roof replacement (with some electrical system upgrades), and required four change orders, every one of which included granting more time "due to inclement weather conditions."
PROPERTY - NUMBER 3
3. RECOMMENDATION from Director Department of Public Works & Engineering for approval of motion declining, the acceptance of, rejecting, and refusing the dedication of a 15-foot-wide alley, between Stassen Street and DeBois Avenue.
Mt. Vernon Baptist Church requested permission for a 2,000 sq.ft. encroachment into this utility easement. On examination, the city found that it had no use for it, never had used it, and didn't see actually needing to use it at any time in the future. Nor did any other utility company. As an easement, it existed only on paper. Rather than go through the process of either allowing the encroachment or abandoning the property, the city is simply going to revoke the acceptance.... which was probably about 50 years ago, if it ever was accepted.
PURCHASING AND TABULATION OF BIDS - NUMBERS 4 through 9A
4. TEXAS YAMAHA SOUTH for Personal Rescue Watercraft for Houston Fire Department $58,614.00 - Grant Fund
For six new watercraft to be used in rescue and evacuations. To be placed at stations 10, 11, and 42.
5. ORDINANCE appropriating an additional $500,000.00 out of Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) Affordable Housing Fund and authorizing spending authority to use the TIRZ Funds to continue to Repair Homes as mandated by the U. S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), through the Texas Local Government Purchasing Cooperative, for the Housing & Community Development Department
a. JAMAIL CONSTRUCTION for Home Repairs for the Housing Program in the HOME Program through the Interlocal Agreement for Cooperative Purchasing with the Texas Local Government Purchasing Cooperative for Housing & Community Development Department
Okay, this is a very long and complicated subject about which I have an article pending. As simply as I can state it, HUD has had an ongoing battle with the City of Houston over deficient inspections for lead in houses that were partly financed (closing and some other costs) by HUD. They've cut federal funding to Houston on multiple occasions, and in findings issued back in 2004 (some related or similar findings date to 2001), HUD demanded that the city rectify the situation using non-federal funds.
In the meantime, the mayor is proposing use of half a million dollars worth of local tax money to abate lead contamination in 39 homes. That's 39 out of potentially over 4,000 such homes that were sold with deficient inspections for Lead Based Paint (LBP). Jamail has already done 44 other homes at a cost of about $472,000. Note that if this cost of roughly $1,000,000 per 90 homes continues, the potential cleanup cost runs to over $44,000,000. Not all of that has to be local; the city has gotten some concessions on the funding, and $4,000,000 from HUD earlier this year. Mayor White clearly hopes to gain further advantage through the hiring of lobbyists. Item #48 of this agenda concerns hiring a D.C. legal firm to lobby HUD on the city's behalf, at a cost of $200,000. However, the potential loss to the city caused by any lawsuit for damages because someone is raising their kids in a house they thought was LBP-free has been estimated at $250,000,000. Tom Bazan already has a Qui Tam lawsuit pending that involves an estimated $35 to $50 million in damages before tripling kicks in.
6. ORACLE USA, INC for Software License and Support Service through the City’s Master Agreement with the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) for Texas CISV Master Catalog Purchases under Chapter 2157 of the Government Code for Information Technology Department - $389,075.58 - Central Service Revolving Fund
Gotta hope Oracle does a better job than they did for Philadelphia. I know it's not for utility billing in this case, but the backup fails to note exactly what it is this stuff is supposed to do.
7. AMEND MOTION #2005-358, 4/20/05, for Change Order in an amount not to exceed $130,424.00 for Purchase of a Four-Person Turbine Helicopter for Police Department, awarded to MD HELICOPTERS, INC
Back in April 2005, we awarded a bid to MD Helicopters, Inc., but they failed to deliver the helicopter by January 2006 as promised, owing to a reorganizaton. In return for not assessing the penalty for failure (I have visions of a force choke here..."You have failed me for the last time"), MDH has offered to toss in a Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) camera system at $72,000 off the usual price. "The FLIR System will enable the flight crew to effectively see in the dark." As opposed in ineffectively seeing in the dark, I guess.
I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don't need to see any more
To know that
I can read your mind, I can read your mind
8. MAGNA FLOW ENVIRONMENTAL for spending authority to address Emergency Removal of Sludge at the Southeast Water Production Plant for Department of Public Works & Engineering $391,000.00 - Enterprise Fund
The Southeast Water Production Plant has been run for years as a joint project between the City of Houston and around a dozen other water districts to the south and east. I think Pasadena used to administer it, but in June, Houston took over, and one of the less-pleasant and better-forgotten jobs is trucking away all the junk that came out of the water during the purifying process. This contract is for an "emergency" six-month term while the city works up a long-term agreement.
9. ORDINANCE appropriating $4,800,490.00 out of Equipment Acquisition Consolidated Fund for the Purchase of Equipment for the Solid Waste Management Department.
a. HOUSTON FREIGHTLINER, INC - $2,228,847.00 and MCNEILUS TRUCK AND MANUFACTURING COMPANY - $1,360,108.00 for Cabs & Chassis and Refuse Collection Bodies through the Interlocal Agreement for Cooperative Purchasing with Houston-Galveston Area Council for Solid Waste Management Department
This is the second of three contracts for vehicles and infrastructure necessary for the Solid Waste Department to serve 85,000 additional customers, after outbidding Republic Waste Services ("Where we bill for services we didn't deliver!") Thirty-one trucks were purchased in the first contract. Thirty more are in this contract. The third contract will come up for a vote in four or five weeks.
ORDINANCES - NUMBERS 10 through 45
10. ORDINANCE amending the City of Houston Construction Code, the City of Houston Fire Code, and the Local Amendments to the International Residential Code for One- and Two-Family Dwellings; containing findings and other provisions relating to the foregoing subject; providing for severability; containing a savings clause
There are dozens of changes here, dealing with both indoor and outdoor code items, but the description above is highly misleading. Only one portion of the ordinance deals with one or two family residences. I think the most significant item included is the fee overhaul. From the RCA:
Also recommended is a revision of the building permit fees recently adopted to reduce the fee for construction valuations above $5M. Upon closer examination of the impact of the use of construction valuation and the imposed fees on projects of that magnitude, it was determined that a lower fee more accurately reflects the cost of service. The prior action set the fee for each $1,000 of construction valuation above $5M at $2.00 per thousand. It is proposed that the fee for each $1,000 of construction valuation between $5M and $50M be set at $1.50 and that a new tier be established for projects whose construction is over $50M. The fee for each $1,000 of construction valuation above $50M would be $1.00.
So the fee is being halved on any project over $50,000,000. Who in the world would come up with an idea that involves reducing city revenues? This is Houston, where Mayor White is all about new revenue streams!
These fee revisions were reviewed and approved by the Steering Committee, which includes representatives from Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA), Associated General Contractors (AGC), American Institute of Architects (AIA), and Houston Council of Engineering Companies (HCEC).
No wonder Mayor White is so popular over at the Houston Architecture Info Forum.
11. ORDINANCE consenting to the creation of the BAYBROOK MANAGEMENT DISTRICT and inclusion of certain land within the district -
12. ORDINANCE consenting to the creation of the SPRING BRANCH AREA COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT and inclusion of certain land within the district -
13. ORDINANCE consenting to the creation of the GREATER SHARPSTOWN MANAGEMENT DISTRICT and inclusion of certain land within the district -
14. ORDINANCE consenting to the creation of the HARRIS COUNTY IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT NO. 5 and inclusion of certain land within the district -
15. ORDINANCE relating to HARRIS COUNTY MUNICIPAL MANAGEMENT DISTRICT NO. 1; consenting to the inclusion of certain land within the district; providing conditions for consent of the city to the creation of, and inclusion of land within, the district -
A management district is not the same as a TIRZ, as I once thought -- the management district can only assess fees on businesses, and is unable to assess ad valorem taxes. Nevertheless, they can perform many similar functions in practice, such as spending on improvements--including, mentioned prominently in every one of the RCA's, "public safety."
16. ORDINANCE consenting to the addition of 15.2657 acres of land to HARRIS COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT NO. 5, for inclusion in its district
17. ORDINANCE consenting to the addition of 19.639 acres of land to HARRIS COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT NO. 64, for inclusion in its district.
18. ORDINANCE consenting to the addition of 0.926 acre of land to HARRIS COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT NO. 185, for inclusion in its district.
19. ORDINANCE consenting to the addition of 7.89246 acres of land to HARRIS COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT NO. 230, for inclusion in its district.
20. ORDINANCE consenting to the addition of 1.0130 acres of land to HARRIS COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT NO. 233, for inclusion in its district.
21. ORDINANCE consenting to the addition of 99.80 acres of land to HARRIS COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT NO. 238, for inclusion in its district; containing findings and other provisions relating to the foregoing subject; repealing City of Houston, Texas, Ordinance No. 2004-1253
In the last case, the area was to be created as HCMUD #417, but the developer never carried through. Instead, the area will be added to the adjacent district #238.
22. ORDINANCE consenting to the creation of HARRIS COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT NO. 465
23. ORDINANCE consenting to the addition of 0.9787 acre of land to MONTGOMERY COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT NO. 60 OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY, TEXAS, for inclusion in its district
24. ORDINANCE consenting to the addition of 23.532 acres of land to PARKWAY UTILITY DISTRICT, for inclusion in its district
25. ORDINANCE consenting to the addition of 228.101 acres of land to PORTER MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT, for inclusion in its district
You know, I just had a weird thought.... if the city council really wanted to stop sprawl, increase inner city population and tax revenue, forcing the density to build up to the point where rail was a viable option -- shouldn't they stop authorizing all these utility districts in the ETJ? Sort of makes you wonder if there's, you know, a whole different agenda at work here, doesn't it?
26. ORDINANCE establishing the north and south sides of the 2300 block of Addison Road within the City of Houston as a special minimum lot size requirement area pursuant to Chapter 42 of the Code of Ordinances, Houston, Texas -
27. ORDINANCE establishing the north side of the 600 and 700 blocks of East 19th Street within the City of Houston as a special minimum lot size requirement area pursuant to Chapter 42 of the Code of Ordinances, Houston, Texas -
28. ORDINANCE establishing the north and south sides of the 300 block of East 24th Street within the City of Houston as a special minimum lot size requirement area pursuant to Chapter 42 of the Code of Ordinances, Houston, Texas -
29. ORDINANCE establishing the north side of the 700 block of East 26th Street and the north and south sides of the 800 block of East 26th Street within the City of Houston as a special minimum lot size requirement area pursuant to Chapter 42 of the Code of Ordinances, Houston, Texas -
30. ORDINANCE establishing the north and south sides of the 4400 block of McKinney Street within the City of Houston as a special building line requirement area pursuant to Chapter 42 of the Code of Ordinances, Houston, Texas -
I hope someone's keeping track of all these restrictions. At this rate, every block in the city is going to have a different rule.
31. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing acceptance of Buffer Zone Protection Program Funding from the U. S. Department of Homeland Security, as subawarded to the City of Houston through the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management
Federally funded program to study buying up land around critical infrastructure to better secure it. Yes, study buying it, not actually buying it.
32. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing the Mayor to act as the City’s Representative to approve and accept funding from the United States Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration in the amount of $16,400,000.00, if awarded, for the In-Line Baggage System, utilizing Explosive Detection Systems at George Bush Intercontinental Airport/Houston (“Project”); declaring the City’s eligibility for such funding; and further authorizing the Mayor to apply for and accept all subsequent awards of funding, if any, pertaining to the project -
This would be the equipment for which we had to modify the FIS, right?
33. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing amendment to Municipal Maintenance Agreement between the City of Houston and the TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION for the furnishing, installing, operation and maintenance of cameras on State Highway rights-of-way to monitor compliance with traffic-control signals
You see, the recent opinion by the Attorney General only said that TXDOT could allow it. Now they're working out the details on how, and who's responsible for what. So rest assured, any revenue lost from halving the fees for large construction projects in Houston will be offset by increased revenue from drivers, er, sorry, vehicle owners cited for red light violations.
34. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing Grant Agreement between the City of Houston and the FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION to receive and utilize funds from the Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program (TCSP) for Houston Computerized Traffic Signal System
This is a two-year project to replace hundreds of traffic and crossing lights with modern LED-type lights.
35. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing Interlocal Cooperation Contract between the City of Houston and the TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE for the provision of Death Certificates for people who have died while on parole in Houston
TXDOCJ will reimburse the city for issuing the death certificates. I suppose the city complained that if DOCJ was going to dump its parolees on us, we ought to get reimbursed for the paperwork when they get shot committing new crimes.
36. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing contract between the City and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for an Air Monitoring System related to Biowatch Activities - $906,000.00 - Grant Fund
The Biowatch program was established to watch for airborne contamination that might indicate a terrorist biological attack. This will increase the number of sampling sites from 8 to 27.
37. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing contract between the City and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for an PM2.5 Air Monitoring System - $68,000.00 - Grant Fund
For monitoring of fine particle matter in the air.
38. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing International Facilities Agreements between the City of Houston and CHINA AIRLINES LTD and KLM ROYAL DUTCH AIRLINES at George Bush Intercontinental Airport/Houston
The rental and landing fee agreements run into the millions per year. No wonder airlines can't make any money.
39. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing agreement between the City of Houston and COMMUNITY FAMILY CENTERS/CENTROS FAMILIARES DE LA COMMUNIDAD, to provide $500,000.00. in Community Development Block Grant Funds for partial funding of the construction of a gymnasium to be located at 7318 Avenue F, Houston, Texas. The project will consist of the construction of a new gymnasium building, a tennis classroom, regular classrooms and office space. The gymnasium will contain a regular sized basketball court with two fixed basketball hoops and four adjustable/retractable hoops. The gym floor will be a multi-purpose floor. The total area of the building is to be approximately 17,000 square feet.
40. ORDINANCE appropriating $303,201.91 out of Water & Sewer Consolidated Construction Fund and $210,000.00 out of Affordable Housing Uptown Series 2004D Fund and approving and authorizing Developer Participation Contract between the City of Houston and HOUSTON HABITAT FOR HUMANITY, INC for Construction of Water, Sanitary Sewer and Storm Sewer Lines for Section One of the Umland Park Subdivision.
41. ORDINANCE appropriating $189,194.47 out of Water & Sewer Consolidated Construction Fund and $106,740.96 out of TIRZ Affordable Housing Fund and approving and authorizing Developer Participation Contract between the City of Houston and HOUSTON HABITAT FOR HUMANITY, INC for Construction of Water, Sanitary Sewer and Storm Sewer Lines for Section Two of the Umland Park Subdivision.
Research time ... I may have some further observations on this later in the week.
42. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing contract between the City of Houston and AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVEL RELATED SERVICES COMPANY, INC, for Charge Card Processing Services for Various Departments
43. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing contract between the City of Houston and DISCOVER FINANCIAL SERVICES LLC for Charge Card Processing Services For Various Departments
These two contracts will allow people to pay city bills, fines, and fees with credit cards. People have been demanding this for some time, but there were significant legal and procedural hurdles to clear.
44. ORDINANCE amending Ordinance No. 97-1476 which authorized legal services contract between the City and ZUMMO, SCHIRRMEISTER & AJAMIE, L.L.P., now known as ZUMMO & MIDKIFF, L.L.P., by amending Section 4 of such ordinance relating to the maximum contract amount - $17,000.00 - Property and Casualty Fund.
...to provide legal services to the City in a federal challenge to the City's Minority and Women Business Enterprise (MiWBE) Program, i .e., Kossman Contracting Co. v. City of Houston. Subsequently, the City also engaged Smyzer & Velselka to successfully conclude settlement of suit that resulted in temporary modifications to the MWBE Program pending a new ordinance to be enacted next year after the 2006 disparity study has been completed.
How many law firms does it take to change a light bulb?
45. ORDINANCE appropriating $100,000.00 out of Parks Special Fund and approving and authorizing second amendment to construction contract between City of Houston and CARRERA CONSTRUCTION, INC for Parks Master Plan - Sylvester Turner Park (passed by Ordinance No. 05-911)
The Parks and Recreation Department and Representative Sylvester Turner have secured an additional $100,000 matching grant reimbursement from the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife for Sylvester Turner Park.
I guess you could say he had some interest in the subject....
MATTERS HELD - NUMBERS 46 through 49
46. RECOMMENDATION from Director Department Public Works & Engineering to accept the July 2006 Semiannual Report and Recommendations of the Planning Commission, acting as the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee, relating to the implementation of the Water and Wastewater Impact Fees Program and to transfer revenues and interest generated by the Water and Wastewater Impact Fees in the amount of $9,188,163.69 to Revenue Bond Debt Service as recommended in the Report. TAGGED BY COUNCIL MEMBER WISEMAN -- This was Item 3 on Agenda of August 9, 2006.
47. ORDINANCE ordering a Regular Election to be held on November 7, 2006, for the purpose of submitting to the qualified electors of the City of Houston, Texas, a proposition amending the City Charter retaining certain limitations on property taxes and water and sewer rates, and making certain changes applicable to city revenues. TAGGED BY COUNCIL MEMBERS WISEMAN, HOLM, SEKULA-GIBBS and KHAN -- This was Item 15 on Agenda of August 9, 2006.
COH Translation:"Let's gut Proposition 2."
48. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing contract between the City of Houston and AKIN GUMP STRAUSS HAUER & FELD, LLP, for Professional Legal Services; providing a maximum contract amount - $200,000.00 - Property and Casualty Fund. TAGGED BY COUNCIL MEMBER SEKULA-GIBBS -- This was Item 21 on Agenda of August 9, 2006
COH Translation: "Hey, HUD, ol' buddy, ol' pal, you weren't really serious when you cut off all the HOME and CDBG funding, now were you?"
In November 2003, HUD suspended the City's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funded housing repair program. The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development has directed the City to review all repair work performed by the Houston Area Urban League, National Association of Minority Contractors, Sheltering Arms, and Houston Housing Finance Corporation/Private Sector Initiatives since 2000. As a condition of program reinstatement, the City must address repair work not performed, not performed properly, or overpriced by the contractors and sub-recipients.
More COH: "Aw, come on, we're good guys, right?"
In December 2004, HUD suspended the City's HOME Program . Finding No. 5 of HUD's HOME Program monitoring report requires the City to inspect all properties that received down payment and closing cost assistance from 2001-2004. As a condition of program reinstatement, the City must demonstrate that all units met applicable property standards at the time the assistance was provided . If the City cannot demonstrate that applicable property standards were met, repair work to bring them into compliance must be done or the initial amount of assistance must be reimbursed with non-federal funds to the City's HOME Treasury Account.
Yet More COH: "Gosh, that's just MEAN! Well, talk to our high-powered lobbyists, maybe they can change your minds, okay?
49. RECOMMENDATION from Director Department of Public Works & Engineering that City Council declare surplus and authorize the sealed bid sale of the following properties:
Parcel SY6-107 - Oak Meadows at Howard -
Parcel SY6-111 - 12949 Westella -
and authorize the City Secretary to advertise the properties for sealed bid sale to the highest bidder at the minimum appraised bid amount - APPOINT TWO INDEPENDENT APPRAISERS and ONE ALTERNATE APPRAISER. TAGGED BY COUNCIL MEMBERS WISEMAN and HOLM -- This was a portion of Item 29 on Agenda of August 9, 2006.
MATTERS TO BE PRESENTED BY COUNCIL MEMBERS - Council Member Sekula-Gibbs first
And that, as they say, is that. See you next week, same Bat-station, approximately same Bat-time!