Three times in the past few weeks Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has chosen secrecy over transparency. It is time for Houstonians to start demanding answers. It is time for Houston reporters to demand the access to records they are now being denied.

The latest example…

The widening controversy over the White Oak mosh pit, the outdoor concert hall that has become a weekly nuisance to hundreds of Houston taxpayers.

Forget what side you are on. All Houston taxpayers have a fundamental right to know how the deal went down. Here’s why.

The few documents the City of Houston has released prove the secret investors would only do the White Oak deal if City Hall promised a tax kickback of some of the revenues, a rarely used
economic deal called a 380 agreement. A million dollars of tax money may be shared with the White Oak investors, who don’t live in the neighborhood they are now assaulting.

Apparently. the Mayor thinks it is OK to pledge your money and then keep you in the dark about whether the deal was on the up and up, regardless of when it was hatched. Turner uses the ole “the deal went down before I was Mayor story.” In fact, pictures prove the Mayor has met with developers at least twice since he has been in office and knew residents were growing outraged at the school night rock shows keeping their children up.

Now the City is trying to use the complaints of residents as a pretense for hiding public records.

In a letter to the Texas Attorney General, the City complains the records should be kept secret because residents are now suing White Oak to stop the noise, and city lawyers go farther, using
complaints residents made to Houston City Council in a public session against them. That’s just wrong!

At the last City Council meeting, Turner promised his administration would take a deep dive into the 380 agreement as more City Councilmembers started rightfully questioning the deal.

Just for the record Mr. Turner, taxpayers have a right to their own deep dive, especially the families around White Oak whose tax money is being used to ruin their evenings. I don’t know
of anyone in the neighborhood that has been contacted since to offer evidence, or a time frame for this “deep dive” to be completed.

Members of City Council should demand full disclosure, and voters should wake up. This is your money.

On January 19th , Houston Attorney Cris Feldman will go to court to try to stop the noisy outdoor concerts. White Oak families are having to hold fundraisers and use their hard-earned money to
fight a battle that Mayor Turner could, if he wanted to, stop today.

A photo op while you are fixing potholes is neat Mr. Turner. Transparency is too.

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