Save the Dome!

The Houston Chronicle reports that a Political Action Committee (PAC) has been formed to fight to save the Astrodome, pending a ballot measure on the November ballot. Not too long ago, the Commissioners Court approved placing the $217M bond issue this November, concurrent with the municipal elections and Statewide ballot measures.

The PAC is receiving endorsements from an all-star cast that includes current officers such as County Judge Ed Emmett and County Commissioner El Franco Lee, as well as former County Judges Jon Lindsay and Robert Eckels. Dene Hofheinz, daughter of former Mayor Roy Hofheinz and sister of former Mayor Fred Hofheinz, also made statements in support of the group.

The article in the Chronicle mentions the Offshore Technology Conference, which has historically met at the George R. Brown convention center Reliant stadium. The group now pledges that they would host the conference at the Astrodome, giving some business and economic opportunity to the project.

The article also mentions other opportunities for an Astrodome Convention Center, including the possibility of a political convention. The astute will remember that the 1992 Republican Convention was held at the Astrodome, so the idea is not truly unprecedented.

This group is giving a small bit of backing to the idea that Emmett & Co actually want the Astrodome to be saved.

Budgets, domes and energy

First up, today was a big day for the City. The 2013/2014 Budget was approved by the Houston City Council in an unanimous vote. Dos Centavos has a very detailed, quality piece on the process and the outcome, so I suggest consulting it if you want to see exactly what happened and come about from it. I want to –just briefly– discuss some of the political ramifications thereof. Helena Brown, nor Andrew Burks, voted against the measure, which means they are tied to it. They can’t run against the institution in their re-election bids, though I suppose they still could, it would just make them a hypocrite (like that doesn’t happen in politics).

Second, the Houston Chronicle reports that the Harris County Sports & Convention Corporation has announced they will not be following any of the 19 proposals submitted by the public for dealing with the Astrodome. Instead, they will be going their own way. The board advocated turning the Astrodome into a new convention and event center. They estimated it would cost nearly $200 Million and would be ready by the start of 2016.

The proposal will be confirmed or rejected at a Harris County Commissioners meeting on June 25th (next Tuesday). However, passage looks somewhat likely, as County Judge Ed Emmett was an enthusiastic supporter of the idea. The “perfect solution,” he told the Chronicle. Brains & Eggs has the full story, as does Off the Kuff.

Third, from a Press Release on the City Hall website, the City of Houston has signed a contract with Reliant to purchase 50% of the City’s electricity from renewable, green sources. These include both wind and solar power. The Mayor, in announcing this policy, stated “Houston is already known as the energy capital of the world, but we are committed to becoming the alternative energy capital of the world as well.” This only applies to electricity used by the municipal government, but it will make Houston the “largest municipal purchaser in the nation.”