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Change the Players

Change The Players!

The emerging City employee emperors have no vision!

Strong opposition is gaining momentum against the proposed Wal-Mart Store in the Heights Area. To our surprise, two familiar officials from the past administration, as we posted earlier, have now been promoted to the position of Chief Development Officer in the Mayor’s office and Deputy Director in the Public Works and Engineering Department, respectively, despite the budget shortfall.

This is laughable! The city has not learned her lesson as it continues to rely on these two “wise guys” for operational advice.  These two were the main architects for selling the Summit below market value and denying the driveway permit for the ASHBY HIGH RISE APARTMENT development that brought a lawsuit against the city for over $ 40 million in damages. The most astonishing and disturbing information from the Houston Chronicle newspaper, May 7, 2011, indicates that the City is looking to privatize the operation of the Convention and Entertainment Center as a means to offset the budget shortfall.

First, the city sold prime property at below market value and now they’re proposing a viable city business for sale. What is going on? Who in the world is making such decisions?

The convention and entertainment facilities are an integral part of Houston. It should neither be for sale nor be allowed to become a privately owned company.  City administration must not make this grave mistake of handing over such an important cultural heritage site to some private party who is lobbying to take control of the city’s backbone for revenue generation as it provides quality entertainment to millions of people. This is a symbolic landmark in the cultural and entertainment landscape of Houston.

It appears that the advisors to the Mayor are taking advantage of City’s budget shortfall and making very poor recommendation to sell this and sell that for whatever personal gains at serious and lasting cost to the citizens of Houston! What’s next? Outsourcing the drainage system to private firms?

There’s an interesting re-engineering to a very powerful position of City Engineer at play where, traditionally, the City Engineer used to be the ‘Sidekick’ for the Director of Public Works and Engineering Department. But now this high position is under the Deputy Director. And this is where the problem exists! Many ‘kingdoms’ of Deputy Directors are popping up within the Public Works and Engineering Department.

The following sequence shows that all six Deputy Directors have highly paid positions under their stools: Assistant Directors, Deputy Assistant Directors, Managing engineers, Supervising Engineers and Managers - all making SIX FIGURE SALRIES! If the City can afford these high officials salaries running in the millions, why lay off the general work force, which makes very little money, in order to protect a highly paid money guzzler group? 

WE WONDER WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC WORKS?

As we posted earlier that the city’s code enforcement building at 3300 Main Street is for sale below its market value price for about $ 5 million. Why sell the building and move well-established employees unnecessarily to an isolated place.  Why are the Mayor and Council not looking into this serious WASTE BASKET decision? Why is this deputy director involved in planning projects rather than engineering projects?

Shouldn’t this engineer be designing the DRAINAGE SYSTEM for the Houston Metropolitan Area?

An ordinance was adopted this April to implement more than $5 Drainage Fee to improve drainage problem. We believe that city Engineers should get involved in designing the drainage system. They are getting paid handsome salaries. The City should put them to work rather than OUTSOURCING engineering work! We believe that these highly paid engineers must function in their job classification and do in-house engineering design work rather than getting involved in land use planning projects which is the responsibility of the planning department.

AGAIN, WHAT IS THE RESPONSIBILTY OF PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR?  Or, should we ask, what is the role of the Planning Department’s Director?  Don’t we have a seventy years old PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT equipped with a director and experienced planning staff? Their basic responsibility is to execute all planning & development projects according to planning rules and ordinance.

What is the role of REAL ESTATE’S Assistant Directors and Managers?  

  • Why does this all powerful Deputy Director have control over real estate functions along with traffic and urban development projects?
  • Isn’t the responsibility of the Planning Director to oversee all urban development projects and the Real Estate Director’s responsibility to oversee land transactions or acquisitions?
  • Why does the City need a planning and development department and the real estate section when the decision maker of planning and real estate deals  is the deputy director of public works & engineering department? Why spend tax dollars for their salaries?

IT IS TIME TO CONSOLIDATE THE PUBLIC WORKS AND ENGINEERING DEPARTMENT. Shift planning activities back to Planning and Development Department and make the Director of Planning accountable for urban development and related functions.  Engineer should do engineering design work and let planners do the planning work. Eliminate the individual kingdoms, because the EMPERRORS HAVE NO PUBLIC INTEREST VISION!

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