City Hall to Neuter Term Limits?

In 1994 Houston voters backed term limits on City Hall 79%-21%.  Ever since, ambitious politicos and their patrons have tried to overturn the 3 term, 6 year limitation. 

Unable to roll back term limits locally, mayors and council members enlisted friendly legislators such as Garnet Coleman to carry bills that would have had the State of Texas force Houston voters to revisit what we had already decided.  These efforts failed, but City Hall was not ready to give up.

Along with skyrocketing debt, Bill White dropped a ‘term limit commission’ in our laps as he departed Bagby St.  This commission, comprised of assorted insiders, former officeholders and chaired by former Ambassador/current well connected lawyer Arthur Schechter will issue ‘recommendations’ no later than  July 1, 2010.  The recommendations would appear on the November ballot or possibly as a charter change in ’11.

The commission’s first public session is set for Wed. Feb 10, 7pm at City Hall council chambers, 901 Bagby.

A good guess would have the commission recommend either additonal terms, lengthening existing terms or letting officeholders sit out a term and then come back.

This is not the time to extend city hall terms.  It may be time to reduce the current 3 term, 6 year limit to 4 years.  There is virtually no competition for any council member or mayor once elected.  Each is viewed as being there for 6 years.  Bert Keller is the only councilman in recent memory to not get his 6 years, but it took a drunk driving incident and some ill advised comments to send him away.

Please give the commission the gift of your good counsel.  Feel free to attend the public meetings, for informational purposes of course. 

Since the current denizens of city hall will have to put the changes on the ballot, remind them that efforts to extend their time at the trough may well have the opposite effect.

link to commission: http://www.houstontx.gov/citizensnet/TermLimitsHearing020510.html

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Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 9:23 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. Here is a copy of the email that I sent in response to your notice of the above City Council Meeting, which I was not aware of.

    Attention Council Members:

    Americans are more distrustful of their city, state and national representatives than ever before.
    Extending the terms in office for officials such as mayors, and representatives at all levels is outrageous.
    Citizens of Houston have already spoken on this issue by a vote of 79% to 21% AGAINST extending term limits.
    In light of the corruption in Washington D.C. it is no wonder that citizens everywhere trust government less, and wish to get rid of the President and the entire Congress, plus shorten, NOT lengthen ALL elected and appointed officials. WHY are you trying to do this at a time when it is obvious that government officials EVERYWHERE are held in LOW ESTEEM?

    Term limits should be shortened to a three-year term, with a 2 term limit for ALL city officials, and their appointees. Stop the madness. Return honor and dignity to the office by minimizing time for our political leaders and lobbyists to get into bed with each other. ENOUGH of the corruption! Eliminate the temptation. Enact 3-YEAR terms, with a 2-TERM LIMIT!

    John Noble

    4803 Ramus Street
    Houston, TX 77092-8016

  2. I so agree with you that the term limits should be shortened. Most of us are getting tired of these people becoming dependents of the city of Houston. I would not be opposed to them serving only one term. That way, they would not have the time to figure out ways to “steal” more of our money under the pretense that they need these additional services. When will “we the people” realize that the longer they stay in office the more they figure out how to add new programs that continue to cost the citizens. We need people in office who “want” to figure out how to combine services and cut the staff, like a business, to reduce costs. They need to “stop taking care of us” with their new programs, let the people take responsibility for themselves.


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