Newport named Parker’s Chief of Staff

The Houston Chronicle reports that Chris Newport, the director of the regulatory department at City Hall, will become Mayor Annise Parker’s newest Mayoral Chief of Staff. Newport will replace Waynette Chan, a longtime Parker veteran who retires next week. Meanwhile, Harry Hayes –the Solid Waste Department Director– will become the Chief Operating Officer of the city while continuing, for the time being, in his current capacity. The COO post was freshly minted following the announcement of Chan’s impending retirement; simply put, they had to divvy up her responsibilities into two offices.

Mike Morris, who wrote the aforementioned Chronicle article, compiled a short biography on Newport, who will only be Parker’s second Chief of Staff while Mayor. Newport is a navy veteran and has an origin around these parts. While the Chronicle article notes Newport’s recent experience with both the Animal Shelter and the 311 question system, I frankly think his biggest impact upon the political zeitgeist in recent months has been his vociferous contributions to the debate over Uber and Lyft. Since this issue predominantly revolves around updates to the City’s taxi regulations, the Chief Regulator has been at the forefront of the debate.

Click here to read more!

Belated council update

The biggest news out of City Hall yesterday was that the contentious fire union contract was unanimously approved by the Council in order to prevent brownouts from occurring. As I noted about a week and a half ago, the Mayor and the Firefighter’s Union reached a comprehensive agreement to avert looming brownouts caused by the HFD going over budget for the fiscal year as a result of massive overtime pay paid through a generous union contract. As Off the Kuff notes, the Firefighter’s Union has already overwhelmingly ratified this agreement, meaning it is now slated to go into effect.

Mike Morris at the Houston Chronicle has the full story on this issue, including the fact that the Firefighter’s Union approved the compromise by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. The article also has a comprehensive summation of the other major actions taken by the City Council throughout the course of the day. First and foremost, a major proposal to combat blighted buildings was tagged for another two weeks. Second, the long-awaited joint-processing-center finally received appropriations from City Hall. Third, a new development has occurred in the Uber/Lyft issue, specifically pertaining to safety records.

Click here to read about all these developments!