As was noted last week, the City Council delayed a proposal to approve an advertising contract at the airports for one week, until today’s meeting. Today, after brief discussion, the Council decided to refer the decision back to the Mayoral administration. Not much else about this item came up for public consideration this week, as the original controversy revolved around both Clear Channel and another firm fighting over the contract.
Next, the City Council discussed hiring “advisory counsel” for a planned new Courthouse and Justice Complex. Specifically, the firm of Hawkins, Delafield & Wood was retained, out of New York City. Only Councilmember Oliver Pennington voted against this arrangement, noting that the City should have hired more local counsel. Of course, Pennington was a high-profile attorney at Fulbright & Jaworski, but his criticism is nonetheless valid. I would have probably joined him in raising my eyebrows, though that is neither here nor there.
Perhaps most importantly, the City Council discussed selecting an administrator for its new health benefits, specifically Cigna. The agenda item, somewhat contentious, should have been like any other low-profile event. It should have been tagged by a wayward Councilmember, then to be approved with little noise a short seven days later. However, while this item did get tagged, it could represent the beginning of what could be a miniature revolt among Councilmembers.
As Mike Morris at the Houston Chronicle notes, Mayor Parker’s continued untethered leadership style has begun to alienate many on the City Council. Councilmember Oliver Pennington, a tepid friend of the Mayor’s, cast this off as a venial offense related to her excitement over what he called more high-profile issues: “I’d say it’s probably a little bit worse right this minute, but it goes on all the time. She’s more aggressive on the issues she’s interested in. Because she’s in her last term, I presume she’s going to try to get as many of those things done as she can,” he said.
Councilmember Mike Laster was even more supportive of the Mayor, but Councilmember C.O. Bradford was not, calling this style of leadership an “ambush.”