As I foreshadowed yesterday, the City Council today discussed creating “passport kiosks” at customs lines in the airport. These machines would allow for US Citizen to complete several tedious, mundane tasks (such as scanning their passport) at a machine, minimizing the amount of time spent with an actual agent. The process cuts down the time spent in customs lines significantly, as evident by identical programs recently enacted in New York and Chicago.
Anyways, this measure passed the City Council today, though I am not familiar with when the machines will be installed. I am not an international traveler, so once again, this will not affect me in the slightest, but I suppose it will help many others.
In other news, the controversial “wage theft ordinance” came before the Council today. As the astute may recall, Parker raised eyebrows when –somewhat abruptly– after her re-election last week, she told Mike Morris at the Houston Chronicle that the wage theft ordinance would be on this week’s agenda. Wage theft, of course, is when a company or individual knowingly promises wages in bad faith to employers. This includes not paying promised overtime pay as well.
When this item reached the horseshoe, Mayor Parker announced it would be delayed by one week. The announcement was done much to the disappointment of the audience, which was heavily in favor of the measure. The specific ordinance would have created a “Wage Theft Czar” to oversee a database that keeps track of –and blacklists– firms that engage in wage theft.
This issue is actually causing national coverage (I refuse to use the word “news” considering which source this comes from), being featured in a prominent Salon Magazine article today. Typical of lazy reporting on anything coming out of the Lone Star State, the writer seemed flabbergasted that anything so progressive could dare occur in Texas (ESPECIALLY outside of Austin).
However, this issue actually is pretty avant-garde for Houston, which unfortunately does still lag behind on many marks of a civilized city (Non-discrimination ordinances being one example). The new vote date is November 20th for the Wage Theft ordinance.