- Establishment of an upgraded, enhanced office of Economic Development to report directly to the Mayor. This needs to be a nimble, aggressive group that will recruit national and international companies to relocate to Houston. These companies should be focused in the technology sector, as well as light/clean manufacturing. This Eco Dev group needs to do what it takes to make it attractive to to relocate in underserved areas of Houston and work closely with housing and development groups. Houston proper needs rooftops to continue to provide services.
- Houston needs to recruit 69 billion dollars of new business to Houston to generate 200 million dollars of additional revenue. This goal is possible, and Marty McVey has the national and international relationships to help bring those businesses to Houston.
- As part of the Office of Economic Development, there needs to be a centralized department that seeks every available federal grant dollar for Houston’s police, fire, education, housing, parks, infrastructure and mobility. Houstonians have all paid tax dollars to contribute to those funds and too many dollars are going to other cities and states. A primary focus will be to work with departments and across silos to bring those dollars back to Houston.
A Whole of Government Approach--Break down the Silos:
- Let's streamline city government, as when new management goes into a company that has serious financial problems. Let's consider an aggressive change management program that the Obama administration called a “whole of government” approach. Departments work together combining resources, manpower, and brainpower to deliver more efficient city services that tax payers deserve.
- McVey thinks it is just wrong to pay twice or three times to deliver services that we can pay for once. InterGovernmental “turf wars” are paid for by taxpayers.
Strike Teams to Address Crises with a Sense of Urgency:
- We need strike teams to take urgent action--to fix potholes, repair streets, make permitting efficient: user-friendly, accountable and accessible to you the customer. City services should serve the taxpayer, instead of the customer serving city departments. It’s good business and Houstonians deserve it, as investors. They are your tax dollars and you deserve better, more efficient service because you are a Houstonian.
For Traffic, too:
- Houston need the strike team approach for traffic, as well – Houston traffic currently grows at a rate of 6% a year – and we have not kept up. What we must do is be innovative, as a community and a city. We can partner with Tx Dot, Harris County and TranStar and make available new apps that route you around traffic.
- We need to expand rail (not strangle it) and within our neighborhood have alternative means of transportation like mini buses that travel in a neighborhood to business centers. We need more bike lanes that are safe and secure for mobility. Biking promotes good health, helps our air quality and gets Houston moving.
- This may be difficult politics, but we should address commuters who travel into the City of Houston, using Houston roads and highways, lowering air quality, congesting traffic arteries and not paying taxes. We need commuter hard rail from outside the city to bring workers into the city to work and we need expanded commuter buses while we work on it.
- Houston must have more rail--we are slated to double in population by 2035. Houston has had political squabbles preventing funds for mobility to route to Houston for years--this has been bad business and affects our quality of life. I will not sit silent and watch traffic back up because politicians want to play a tax funded turf war. This is just wrong.
- The airports need to be connected into the system. Taxis and ride share companies roles are going to change. There is no major international metropolis that doesn't plug the public transportation system, usually rail, into the airport. We are blessed with two major airport hubs; they need to both be connected.
- New incentives and approaches could route trucks outside or around the city, instead of clogging our traffic arteries with freight. Collaborating with the Port to adjust hours of opening and closing to avoid dumping freight trucks onto freeways at peak times, discounting trucks on tollways, stepping up enforcement of truck regulations already in place all would improve the traffic problems.
- The whole region needs a comprehensive review and a new plan, with goals and objectives for new technology, apps for phones to keep consumers aware of alternatives, sports and other event coordination, synchronized lights and collector analysis, and well as strike teams to fix problems quickly, both in incident scene management and infrastructure emergency repairs.
Houston’s Pension Situation:
Firstly, we have nothing but admiration for the men and women who serve as Houston Police Officers and Houston Firefighters. Unlike the rest of us, these men and women place their lives on the line everyday as they perform their duties.
The concern is that the current pension systems for Houston Police Officers and Firefighters are not sustainable for the future. Having said that, a deal is a deal. So what can we do?
Some solutions might include:
1) Bond the debt over a longer time period--smooth the impact
2) Stop digging the hole--the City needs to make the payments required, as much as it is able.
3) Police officers and firefighters currently serving should draw the pensions they agreed upon.
4) Going forward, negotiate a sustainable pension for future employees and recruits.
some people talk glibly of bringing control of the firefighters pension back to the city. Currently it is under the jurisdiction of the state Legislature. This needs negotiating the next time the contracts are discussed, but is not the simple or easy solution presented.
Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO):
Why does Houston need HERO? ...So that you "don't have to file a federal case about it." It's a tool to allow regular Houstonians the opportunity to seek justice when they have found discriminations. This is for all Houstonians--disabled, women, ethnic minorities, veterans, seniors.
The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) is about equal protections under the law. It is extremely unfortunate that the conversation has been hijacked by a discussion about bogeymen in bathrooms. That's not what HERO is about.
McVey supports HERO because, frankly, the "arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." Equal protections in renting apartments, jobs, acceptance to schools, bids on work are all part of that arc toward justice.
In addition, we do not want Houston to go on record nationally as supporting discrimination. The Greater Houston Partnership supports HERO because it is good business. The price of voting down HERO could be as much as $800 million, just in sports events alone (according to the former chair of the Sports Authority.)
Not only that, the Supreme Court has already ruled that the government can no longer discriminate against same sex marriage; progress in rights for the LGBT community has become part of the national conversation and is bigger than this ordinance. Dragging in the specter of transgendered perverts lurking in ladies' rooms is just ridiculous. And wrong.
No business the size of Houston would operate without a detailed, thought-through plan. While the Planning Department and Plan Houston have recently come out with something they call the city plan, it is really more of a strategy framework. It can be found at
The Plan Houston document certainly could be used as part of the process to create a plan, but it is not a general plan and is certainly not a business plan. It describes where this community thinks it would like to go. It is a description of where we might head, but it's not a map to get there.
A plan needs actionable, specific goals, with timelines and action steps. It must be enforceable. It must hold staff and departments accountable. A business the size of the city of Houston needs more than a visioning document and a Capital Improvement Plan for infrastructure expenditures that changes every election cycle.
What impediments does Houston face in addressing infrastructure and sustainability? How do we resolve these issues?
The biggest issue w crumbling infrastructure is resources--there aren't enough. Over the years, there hasn't been enough money; previous administrations have deferred maintenance, trying to conserve our scarce tax dollars, and it has caught up with us, plain and simple.
ReBuild Houston, sometimes derisively referred to as the "rain tax," is the tool that the City has to use to fix the streets and repair and extend appropriate drainage--nothing more and nothing less. Repealing this mechanism leaves us with the same potholes and problems, without a fix.
ReBuild is not a quick win. The process is paying debt that was used to fund things in the past, and as that accelerates, more funds will become available to sustain construction. The next few years will see more projects started and progress made.
There is no question that deferred maintenance, the drought, and general wear and tear have created the need for more infrastructure investment. There is no free lunch--fixing these problems takes resources, and ReBuild was and is a mechanism to do that.
Houston Police Department (HPD):
Policing is an art and a science. It takes experience and training. It takes sufficient staffing. It takes new cadet classes feeding into the system and experienced officers retire. It also takes rapport and trust with the community it serves.
McVey favors neighborhood policing, with incentives for officers living in the community they serve. He favors body cameras, and a more transparent system. He favors more mental health crisis management training. He also favors more officers and two officers per patrol car--McVey believes this reduces violence and improves outcomes.