2015 November Election

It’s a Clear Choice for Houston Mayor: HOUSTON’S PENSION CRISIS

king-blk-pastorsFellow Houstonians,

Credit to Greg Groogan and Fox 26 for having the audacity to air this story last night (pasted below) about the single-most important challenge facing our city on Dec. 3, 2015: THE CITY’S PENSION CRISIS – click link to see video).

As you watch this story, remember that, on March 6th of this year, Sylvester Turner stood up with Mayor Parker – who endorsed him on 12/3/15 – and declared he was heading to Austin to solve this problem

Of course, Mr. Turner frequently cites his experience and connections in Austin as a selling point for his candidacy, and Mayor Parker made special mention of that yesterday during her endorsement.

So what happened when Sylvester rode into battle to save our pensions in Austin? Well, his colleagues thought so much of Sylvester’s “leadership” that his bill never even made it to the Texas House floor.

Sylvester had his moment. He failed.

Bear in mind, Sylvester carried the original legislation for Mayor Lee P. Brown – who endorsed Sylvester earlier this week (there’s a trend here) – that created this pension crisis in the first place.

Sylvester’s unique brand of “leadership” helped create the city’s pension crisis, and his failed attempt to fix this mess – his mess – would have made the problem even worse had it passed.

Houstonians cannot afford another four years like the last six – but that’s exactly what we will get if Annise Parker’s candidate carries the day.

It’s time for people who believe in good government to stand up, get out and vote, and save our city before it is too late.


Watch the video here:  http://www.fox26houston.com/news/55621222-story

Which mayoral candidate can solve Houston’s pension crisis?

By: Greg Groogan

HOUSTON (FOX 26) – The irony was pretty powerful.

Candidate Sylvester Turner pledging to solve Houston’s pension crisis while both flanked and endorsed by Lee Brown, the former Mayor experts blame for triggering the problem by bestowing unaffordable benefits.

“We have acknowledged that the system is not sustainable and we are going to come up with something that works in the interest of all Houstonians,” said Turner.

Here are the nuts and bolts.

Analysts say Houston taxpayers will spend six times more on pensions this year than they will repairing their dilapidated roads. Even with that outlay, the City is north of $3 billion in the hole when it comes to funding it’s employee pensions, a deficit that’s getting rapidly worse.

A commonly cited example – Houston Firefighters with 30 years’ service retire at 94 percent pay with the bonus of an additional, one time pay-out of up to $1 million.

Critics like Mayoral candidate Bill King call it a formula for bankruptcy.

“There were 76 firefighters that retired last year. The average age was 54. The average benefit was a distribution of a lump sum payment of $813,000 plus $58,000 a year for the rest of their life and their spouse’s life,” said King.

Backed by firefighters, cops and municipal workers, Turner says only he can broker a solution, leveraging both his credibility with unions and the strength of his long-standing relationships in the Texas Legislature.

“If someone puts forth a plan that does not have any buy in from police and fire it is already a non-starter okay and nothing will come about,” said Turner.

“They won’t get to dictate the terms and that’s what I’m concerned with about Sylvester,” countered King.

King claims salvaging the City’s financial health demands a fundamental change – moving all new hires away from pensions and into 401-k style retirement plans.

“You cannot dodge this bullet long term,”
adds King who, if elected, says he would
honor the pension terms of all existing city employees.

Rebuild Houston Legally DEAD after Court Ruling

Other Mayoral Candidates Continue to Support Voided Funding Mechanism

Businessman and mayoral candidate Bill King joined State Senator Paul Bettencourt, Council Member Michael Kubosh, businessman Joe Slovacek, and attorney Andy Taylor on Thursday to declare Rebuild Houston legally dead following an unprecedented ruling that voided the results of the 2010 election that created the program.

King’s statement follows, and you can watch it here.

“While the Rebuild Houston program was found to be misleading in a court of law today, it was frankly found that in the court of public opinion long ago,” King said. “All during this campaign I have asked people ‘After five years paying an additional $100 million, are your streets and drainage any better than they were five years ago?’ I have yet to find a single person that thinks that is the case. Look, I don’t want to mislead anyone. It costs money to do infrastructure. We are going to have to find a revenue stream to do this. But it needs to be one that is fully transparent, where the voters decide how much we’re going to spend, and what projects we’re going to spend it on — not some revenue stream the administration can use to try to balance the budget. By the way, there are now 550 full-time employees paid out of the dedicated street and drainage fund. It needs to be transparent. The voters should decide what the projects will be, and not decided — literally — in the basement of City Hall by a bunch of City Hall insiders and bureaucrats. We’ve got to get back to basics. We need to get out of the courtroom, and we need to get our streets fixed.”

Fox 26 led both their 5 pm and 9 pm news with a story on the impact of the ruling, which Senator Bettencourt described as “an atomic bomb for the city’s budgeting process” due to the lost revenues it entails.

Yesterday’s judgment marked the fifth consecutive legal defeat for the Parker administration, which nevertheless said they believe the ordinance remains in effect. It is expected that the city will appeal the ruling, which would delay the new election called for in the ruling for a year or more.

Bill King Denouncing Rebuild Houston after Court Ruling

Bill King with Sen. Paul Bettencourt, CM Michael Kubosh, businessman Joe Slovacek, and atty Andy Taylor Denouncing Rebuild Houston after Court Ruling

At the last televised debate of the 2015 election — also on Fox 26 last night — each of the other major mayoral candidates except King continued to express support for the Rebuild Houston program despite the court ruling. Council Member Costello, who has referred to himself as the “godfather” of Rebuild Houston, was not invited to the debate and has yet to issue a statement on the ruling.

Pensions & Voter Guide

KWTP Voters Guide for Nov. 2015 City of Houston and Harris County election

To fix our underfunded Pensions, we need to:

  1. Vote for Bill King – Mayor;
    Bill Frazer – Controller; and
    Councilmembers Dave Martin, Michael Kubosh &  Jack Christie!
  2. Help us fight in the TX Legislature for Houstonians’ Local Control of Pensions in 2017!
  3. Mayor and Council must commit to fully funded, transparent pensions that are honest about returns.

Radio Spot by TexansforLocalControl.org

Why “Meet & Confer” Is NOT Local Control

There has been some (largely purposeful, sowed by the opposition) confusion over local control and meet and confer. 

“Meet and confer” simply means that if the city and pension plans agree on changes to retirement benefits then those changes go to Austin to be implemented by the legislature. The Police and Muni plans have “meet and confer,” but Fire does not. “Meet and confer” falls far short of real local control because the citizens of Houston do not have a say in the process (i.e., the initiative process) and any changes, even for new employees, require the full sign-off of the pension plans (note, this process is currently separate from all other negotiations with each of the employees’ unions). And even in the case of “meet and confer,” any deal between the city and retirement plans still has to go through Austin. In practical terms, all three of Houston’s plans have the same governance structure.

Local control would establish appropriate roles for the city, retirement plans, and the state. Below is a description of what those appropriate roles should be.

  • City – Municipalities should be able to negotiate all aspects of compensation, including retirement benefits, within the same negotiating process, and should be able to implement any changes locally. And city leaders’ decisions should be subject to referendum to allow citizens a voice in the process.
  • State of Texas – The state should set minimum funding requirements, reporting standards, and remedial actions that would occur in the case of mismanagement. The state should not control retirement benefits levels or plan design just as it does not currently dictate other elements of employee compensation.
  • Retirement Plans – Pension boards should simply administer the plan and manage plan assets for the sole benefit of plan members. Retirement plans should not have the authority to negotiate benefit levels or reduced government contributions, and certainly should not lobby the legislature.

KWTP Proudly Supports Bill Frazer for Houston Controller

Visit Bill’s site for even more reasons to support him!