The Metro vote is shaping up to be a battle between powerful moneyed interests and grass-roots citizen activists, according to a story in the Houston Chronicle:
In the “yes” corner are the city of Houston, Harris County, state legislators and deep-pocketed developers and engineers. This camp hosted a fundraiser last week at Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse downtown, with dinners at $10,000 or $25,000 per plate.
In the “no” corner are pro-transit advocates, who hope to raise $10,000 by November.
On paper, it is hardly a fair fight. Voter confusion, however, could pack a hefty punch.
“You have some people who will read it and maybe they don’t like Metro and so they’re going to vote against it, without realizing that by voting against it they’re really going to be damaging the county and the city and everybody else,” County Judge Ed Emmett said earlier this month, after Commissioners Court formally endorsed the referendum. “We need to educate people because it’s a little bit of a convoluted ballot item.”
If the ballot item fails, Metro would keep all of its sales tax dollars for transit.
That is the outcome Jay Blazek Crossley, of the nonprofit Houston Tomorrow, wants. His group and the Citizens Transportation Coalition have raised about $6,000 of their $10,000 goal, he said, acknowledging the money war is lost. Instead, his group is organizing volunteers to post yard signs, campaign door-to-door and speak about the referendum at house parties.
“We think our job is to reach out to Houstonians, talk about transit, and make people understand that we can have a much better transit future. But yes, a lot of people will vote no just because that’s what people do,” Crossley said, adding that some people also may vote yes - mistakenly thinking they’re supporting transit.
Referendum supporters set the ballot language, he said, so if voters are confused, supporters have themselves to blame.