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County Commissioners

Meeting notes - Jan 26, 2010

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Harris County Commissioners Court
January 26, 2010, 10 am

Meeting agenda

Houston Tomorrow publishes notes from public meetings to help local governments in their mission to provide transparency and to allow a greater pool of citizens to participate in important policy discussions. These notes are not official meeting minutes, nor do they necessarily record every agenda item.

Note: The Commissioners Court covers a wide variety of topics. Questions or comments regarding agenda items are discussed during the meeting, and some items may be removed. At the end the commissioners vote on the agenda as a whole.

Page 22 of agenda - item c, #4 - Commissioner, Precinct 2
Following Commissioner Sylvia Garcia’s December 2009 request that Harris County join the Gulf Coast Community and Recovery District with five neighboring counties to begin studying solutions (including an “Ike Dike”) to protect the Gulf Coast area from storm surges like Hurricane Ike and Commissioner Steve Radack’s subsequent request that the issue be pushed off until January 2010 so that commissioners could find out more about the project, the issue was back on the table for this week’s Commissioner’s Court meeting. 

This time around, Commissioner Garcia was requesting the approval of “revised articles of incorporation and bylaws” for the entity, which was “organized to aid, assist, and act on behalf of the sponsors to accomplish the governmental purposes of planning, storm surge, wind, and disaster mitigation, and other related purposes.” 

Garcia introduced the revisions by saying the “scope of the corporation” had been narrowed down so that it will only be a feasibility study.  Furthermore, they have taken “great pains to make sure its very limited.”

Radack suggested that the county instead look into executing an inter-local agreement with the Gulf Coast Community and Recovery District, Inc., so that the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) and the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission become involved in overseeing the study.  He added that H-GAC’s Executive Director, Jack Steele, informed him that the Council is already set up to take on such a task.  However, Commissioner Franco Lee expressed concern that an agreement with H-GAC might increase the cost of the study.

Commissioners Lee, Garcia, and Jerry Eversole ended up voting against Radack 3-1 to approve the revised articles of incorporation (County Judge Ed Emmett missed the meeting as he was attending a transportation conference).

Page 22 of agenda - item d, #2 - Commissioner, Precinct 3
After the 3-1 vote on the revised articles of incorporation and bylaws of Gulf Coast Community and Recovery District, Inc., Radack withdrew this agenda item, which was requesting a discussion of the aforementioned inter-local agreement.

Page 18 of agenda - item c, #3
The commissioners court unanimously approved this agenda item, which awarded Pierpoint Communications, Inc., with a contract for “communications management consulting services for the 2010 Census.”  However, they deleted a provision for “four one-year renewal options.” 

Commissioner Radack suggested that the county should also look at in-house databases so that the Census accounts for people who may otherwise be left out.  He said, “We have databases that we haven’t really used, such as the Hospital District.  We’ve got 227,000 people out there with Gold Cards, and I would believe there are a lot of these people that aren’t counted.”  He added, “We’re gonna find where people live that aren’t being reported that would bring us tens of millions of dollars more.”

Harris County Community Services Director David Turkel assured Radack that he would look into the various databases available and added, “And of course one of the challenges, Commissioner, is not only identifying where the people are but being able to convince each individual to fill out the necessary forms and get themselves registered.  So it’s a two-step process.” 

Radack responded by saying, “That’s why you have a great smile, so let’s make it happen.”

Public Comments
Finally, Kathryn Hale of the Houston Audubon Society spoke at the end of the meeting, expressing concern that the Ike Dike could leave the Gulf Coast area beach-less and suggested alternatives solutions, such as expanding wildlife sanctuaries that already exist on the coast, to mitigate storm surges.  Commissioner Radack suggested that she may want to talk to the Katy Conservancy about acquiring land as a group to accomplish their goals.

(Photo Credit: stevesheriw)

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