Council update, 1/29

The Houston City Council finalized two major contracts this meeting, both in rather uncontroversial votes despite rather tumultuous and often uncertain paths to day. First, the Council passed a new contract with a more local advertising to provide advertising at the airport. Two weeks ago, the Mayoral administration removed this issue off of the agenda after incessant complaints from Clear Channel communications, who had originally bargained for the contract themselves but had later been cut out of the dealings. Unless the details of the calculation has changed in the last few days, the contract will generate upwards of $10,000,000.00 from advertisements at both Bush and Hobby airports.

Second, the Council unanimously approved a contract to select a health and pharmacy benefits administrator. Specifically, the City chose CIGNA to accomplish this goal. The otherwise mundane, miniscule agenda item recently flared tensions between the City Council and Mayor Parker, as Mike Morris at the Houston Chronicle had described in great detail. Ultimately the critics, be it C.O. Bradford or Oliver Pennington, showed their qualms may have just been political posturing, as Jayme Fraser at the Chronicle noted that there was not a single ‘no’ vote at the final tally.

The City Council also passed an ordinance that appropriates hundreds of thousands of dollars for homeless transportation projects. Specifically, a contract was reauthorized with an organization named Healthcare for the Homeless, which will provide transportation services for the homeless who seek “healthcare and supportive services.”

The ordinance, which is routine business for the Council, was briefly tagged by Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez. However, soon thereafter, the tag was removed and the ordinance passed unanimous. The fleeting tag (which is a one-week delay that any individual Councilmember may place on pending legislation) has been attributed to confusion over important details of the ordinance’s implementation, which caused some concern among some of Gonzalez’s constituents. Accordingly, the issue was resolved when Gonzalez cleared up issues that would have probably been resolved before the Council meeting if yesterday’s incident of inclement weather did not occur.

I fully support the work of Project Access and temporarily placed a friendly tag on the item while making arrangements to visit with their team,” Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez said. “One of the drop off points used by their service is in District H and community members have voiced concerns about it’s proximity to a nearby elementary school. I’m looking forward to visiting with Project Access early next week and discussing potential alternate drop off points in the area. I’m very appreciative of the Administration for their support on the matter.”

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