Response to Houston Chronicle Editorial, "Vote for Proposition 1 to fix a broken drainage system"
"Shut up, he explained," That is Kevin Shanley's October 22nd response to the thousands of concerned citizens, businesses, non-profits, churches, and school districts who have dared to criticize or oppose "Proposition 1."
Apparently, we should be ashamed of ourselves for opposing this measure when its supporters cannot document any of their answers to very simple questions: 1. What will it cost Houston residents? 2. How will the money be spent? and 3. How will the City be held accountable for spending the money on its intended purpose? Proposition 1's proponents at City Hall cannot prove their answers to any of those questions, but according to Mr. Shanley, we are the ones who should be red-faced. I beg to differ.
Mr. Shanley likens this vote to a decision about whether to build a new house. He says, "First you have to know how you are going to pay for it, then you work out the basics, how many rooms, etc., then you dig into the details." Well, that only works when the home-builder already has the cash he needs to build the house. Getting the money from a bank is going to require some details. SHAME ON THAT BANK! Even after a 40% increase water and sewer fees, the City still does not have the money it says it needs to fix our drainage problems. So, it wants more of our money. Well, Mr. Shanley, we would like some details please.
First, how about telling us the rates that will be used to assess this fee? Unlike the City of Houston, financially responsible individuals, businesses, and nonprofits have to keep budgets. They would like to know how much more a year this will cost them. Shame on us, but none of the rates are defined in the charter amendment. We are supposed to trust our current Mayor to set the rates for the next forty years!
Second, how will this money be spent? At least METRO offered a plan that showed us where the new rail lines would go and how much they thought each would cost. Prop 1 supporters could extend the same courtesy to Houston taxpayers. Shame on us for wanting to know!
Third, State law allows municipal drainage fees to be transferred to the municipality's general fund, so what guarantees that will not happen with Proposition 1? Oh, that's right. We are just supposed to TRUST you. Again, shame on us.
Mr. Shanley, I think if you actually had answers to these questions, you would have given them somewhere in your lengthy editorial. Instead, you gave us a good scolding. Well, I hope and pray that on November 2nd, Houston voters demand more from their City servants and send them back to the drawing board. Maybe next time they can come up with some specifics!
VOTE AGAINST PROPOSITION 1!
Norman E. Adams
Assistant Treasurer, No Rain Tax PAC