By Mary Alys Cherry
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner wants everyone to know he had nothing to do with Houston’s annexation of Clear Lake, getting quite a laugh as he addressed Councilman Dave Martin’s Town Hall at Space Center Houston.
Attempting to be honest and forthright with the Clear Lake crowd of about 200, he pointed out the many problems he faces – such as 10,000 potholes and other street deterioration, financial problems because of a $126 million deficit and an aging police force with 1,900 out of 5,300 eligible for retirement.
But he wanted Clear Lake residents to know they are a part of the City of Houston – a part of its 640 square miles — and have not been forgotten. While there are currently no city projects planned in the area, he asked for patience, promising to work with Councilman Dave Martin to rectify the problem. “I don’t want Clear Lake to feel left out,” he said, asking residents “to give me some time. We have some tough issues to address, but working collectively, I believe we can get it done.”
As for the financial problems, he said he hopes to come up with an answer by the end of the year. Meanwhile, as he looks for a new police chief, he is using overtime to have enough officers on duty and asking for their shared sacrifice, he said. “I’m asking them not to retire.”
One man in the audience told of a burglary across the street from his home, adding that it took 3 and ½ hours for the police to arrive to investigate, telling the mayor that his No. 1 job should be public safety. The mayor agreed, adding that public safety was his No. 1 priority and that he already was meeting with other law enforcement agencies to accomplish this. “But it’s going to take the HPD, the sheriff’s deputies, the constables, the metro police – all on deck.”
Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership President Bob Mitchell was the next speaker, discussing at length the lack of action on a storm surge protection plan for the prevention of future hurricane damages. An editorial outlining his thoughts may be found on page 13 of this issue.
Afterwards, several city officials spoke, describing the work of their departments. Unfortunately, none of their projects involved the Clear Lake area, leaving residents a bit puzzled as to why they were overlooked but hopeful they might be remembered in the future.
Martin spoke at the end of the town hall, wondering out loud how old does a district have to be to get some funds and telling the crowd that the city’s treatment of Clear Lake was “fundamentally not fair,” saying he had asked for equal distribution of funds over all districts.
“The mayor realizes the distribution has been unequal in the past and has promised to try to correct this,” he added.