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Ben Hall says it is outrageous that Sylvester Turner has to lie about his support in the religious community.

Pastor Walter August is among those speaking out after Turner falsely claimed support of his campaign.

“I don’t like my name being used when I have not endorsed Mr. Turner,” says Pastor August of the Bethel Family Baptist Church. “I have a responsibility to educate my congregation on the issues in this race, and Proposition 1 is something I feel strongly about.”

Turner is an advocate of the bathroom ordinance that will let men use women’s restrooms. He has been endorsed by the same Gay Caucus that endorsed Mayor Annise Parker. Those policies have divided this city and attacked churches.

Turner has also claimed the support of the first ladies of many churches, including First Lady Yolanda Bryant of the Island of Hope Church of God in Christ. Bishop Phillip Bryant’s family took to Facebook to complain.

“She is in full support of Ben Hall. We pray that this Mayoral race will continue to be clean and honest and focused on the issues.”

Ben Hall has opposed the bathroom ordinance from day one, and has garnered the support of more than 2,000 pastors and churches.

Speaking of Turner’s actions, Hall said, “This is what a career politician does. They exaggerate what they have done for the community and they claim support that doesn’t exist. Houstonians must reject this conduct. To falsely claim support of pastors is a huge insult that should outrage the faith community.”

The legal battle over the huge oyster beds in Galveston Bay escalated again this morning. Galveston County Judge Lonnie Cox approved a temporary restraining order to protect companies with oyster leases now trapped in a fight that could affect public health.

The ruling will stop a Chambers County company called S.T.O.R.M (Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management, LLC) from touching the oysters in these state approved lease areas. It is the latest salvo in a legal battle that now involves Judges in Galveston, Chambers and Travis Counties.

“These oyster families have invested years of blood, sweat, tears and a lot of money to cultivate these oyster reefs,” says Attorney Dave Feldman. “We will fight to stop this takeover because it will endanger the public health. Galveston Bay belongs to the people of Texas.”

In April of last year, STORM got a 23,000 acre sweetheart deal from the Chambers-Liberty County Navigation District and says it now controls half the oyster population in Galveston Bay, including public and private reefs approved by the State. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has sued CLCND and STORM on behalf of the People of Texas, claiming the lease is illegal, warning STORM they will pay for any damages to the oysters.

Last week, Chambers County Judge Randy McDonald helped the politically powerful STORM owners, by stopping the state from allowing oyster companies to transfer oysters to safer waters, jeopardizing the safety of the oysters and risking public health.

Oyster companies then went to Galveston County for help.

The next hearing is Thursday morning (Oct. 8, 2015) in Chambers County, where the state will fight to save the oyster population.

uptownbusThe Mayor of Houston had some choice words about the Commissioner for the Texas Transportation Agency. Of course, Annise Parker must not have been thinking about public records when she sent the e-mail to her Chief Development Officer Andy Icken.

Her target was Commissioner Jeff Moseley, who along with Congressman John Culberson was standing in the way of what the Mayor and her Uptown friends said they really wanted, a light rail line down Post Oak Blvd.

“Moseley is still pimping for the congressman,” Parker wrote. “BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) is supposed to look like rail. I assume the ROW, station spacing and turns will still allow conversion if desired in the future.”

“Pimping?” Wonder what the commissioner thinks about that? Or the Congressman?

The backroom deal on the Uptown dedicated bus project is now coming to light. The Mayor and Uptown clearly wanted language that would leave open the chance to eventually turn the bus lanes into a rail line, but without a prohibition against rail Moseley wouldn’t clear the way for the state money for the freeway flyover that would take buses from the Northwest Transit Center into Uptown.

In February 2015, Uptown’s boss told the Mayor’s development czar Metro was still asking for a drawing of a potential rail line. Uptown didn’t even want to put their name on a drawing of a potential rail line on Post Oak because of politics.

And now the political deal has been made, long before they bothered to tell you. Voters would have to now approve any move to put rail on Uptown.

We all want the oysters we eat in our favorite restaurant to be totally safe. Now you can thank a State District Judge in Anahuac if they aren’t!

Judge Randy Mcdonald has stopped the State of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department from allowing anyone to touch the oysters in a large swath of Galveston Bay…and he did it without even notifying the State of Texas of the hearing.  

The state had given oyster producers just two days next week to transfer oysters to safer waters to protect public safety so they could be checked out by the health department before harvesting. Judge Mcdonald’s ruling suddenly stops that. Oh, by the way, his ruling also helps another Chambers County Judge heavily invested in the oyster business. Surprise surprise.

S.T.O.R.M, the company owned by Chambers County Judge Tracy Woody requested the restraining order stopping the oyster rescue mission.  S.T.O.R.M claims it is now the boss of Galveston Bay, not the people of Texas or the oyster companies that have paid for the right to harvest oysters.  STORM says it now controls 23,000 acres of Galveston Bay and has issued trespassing letters.

You may remember S.T.O.R.M. got a sweetheart deal from the Chambers-Liberty County Navigation District last year to lease 23,000 acres of Galveston Bay bottom for a small fraction of what it is worth.  The State of Texas filed suit, saying the deal was illegal and warned S.T.O.R.M they would pay if oysters were damaged.

Last week a Travis County judge killed an attempt to move the lawsuit to S.T.O.R.M.’S hometown of Anahuac, The state also issued orders for oyster companies so they could have Oct 5 and 6th to move their crops before the November harvesting season. Then Judge Woody found his Chambers County Colleague Judge Randy Mcdonald.

“We expected this home town ambush,” says Lisa Halili of Prestige Oysters. “It is just one smelly deal after another, but we are fighting with the People of Texas to stop this madness. This Anahuac home cooking will not stand.”

The restraining order by Judge Mcdonald calls for a hearing Oct 8th, but expect the State of Texas to go to court in the next 48 hours to try and stop the Judge.

Of course, this is Chambers County where the home cooking runs deep. Stay tuned.

uptownbusA once secret e-mail shows City Hall and Uptown officials are hiding the true escalating cost of a controversial project to tear up Post Oak Blvd for dedicated bus lanes.

Dolcefino Consulting spent months fighting for the release of e-mails sent or received by Andy Icken, the powerful development czar under Mayor Parker. It is clear Icken is helping push the Uptown project, which will financially benefit several members of the neighborhood board, especially the Chairman Kendall Miller.

This e-mail should be explained immediately because it could dramatically affect the costs of the bus project. The project makes up most of the quarter of a billion dollar Uptown Capital Improvement Budget up for approval Wednesday at Houston City hall.

On February 2015, John Breeding notified Icken there were multi-million dollar unresolved questions, including who will pay to maintain transit centers. Metro wants Uptown to pay for riders who get on and off in Uptown, construction of a road for buses to access the Bellaire Transit Center and removal of utilities under the bus lanes. There is also debate about making the right of way so that someday it can be converted from bus to rail.

Icken response. How much of this to we have to resolve now?

Uptown Chairman Kendall Miller tells Icken the list is “very expensive” but suggests a negotiation after all the funding is secured. In other words, don’t trouble taxpayers with the multi-million dollar fine print of a project they are totally paying for. It is now October, and the bottom line is still being kept from taxpayers on the eve of a key vote!

“Houston City Council should demand all the numbers now,” says Jim Scarborough of the Uptown Business and Property Owners Association. “They are playing hide and seek with the
taxpayers. That is no way to spend public money.”

In the e-mail, Miller suggests Icken handle negotiations later to figure out how much TIRZ money needs to flow to Metro. This is what happens when you have too many city bureaucracies. If this is such a great transit idea why isn’t the transit agency running the whole show? Why is Uptown, not Metro, building transit centers that will only use Metro buses?

We know budget documents show the cost to buy the land needed to tear up and widen Post Oak has gone up 70% since Houston City Council approved the project. Uptown is now refusing to say how much they are having to pay for land, which could drive the final cost much higher. The vast majority of the property needed for the project has not been bought and lawsuits are promised.

And now we know the proposed Bellaire Uptown Transit Center will barely have any parking, reducing projected commuter ridership by 50%. Why isn’t City Hall crying foul that those transit centers are a mere shell of what they were supposed to be? Why are they so afraid to slow this project down?

And why does the Mayor refuse to wait until the Texas Attorney General rules on whether Metro can legally participate in this “transit project.”. Is the Mayor willing to refund our tax
dollars if she is wrong, like on the rain tax and HERO?

Maybe we should just do what Parker, Icken, Miller, and Breeding want. Approve the money before these multi-million dollar disputes are settled and before we know the real cost.

P.S. Uptown money and Metro money may sound different to politicians, but they are both tax money to the folks paying the bill!

Read the K. Miller Email or see it embedded below.

logo-benhall01 Houston Mayoral Candidate Ben Hall wants the Mayor and City Council to delay votes approving budgets for TIRZ zones across the City.

“In less than six weeks, Houstonians will elect a new mayor and new members of City Council,” says Hall. “These budgets should be approved by the new city leaders moving Houston forward, not those who are leaving office. The rush to approve them this week smacks of bad judgment.”

Hall is the only mayoral candidate who has been arguing the huge stockpiles of cash in some of these rich neighborhood tax havens should be redirected to help the city deal with financial problems, public safety, and street repair needs across Houston.

Among the budgets on the council agenda is TIRZ #16 in Uptown, where the unelected board is trying to tear up Post Oak Blvd. for a $200 million bus project that virtually no Houstonians will use. Hall has criticized this project as an unwise expenditure of tax dollars.

Hall says the Uptown TIRZ is an example of financial mismanagement at a time when limited public dollars can be better utilized. The Uptown TIRZ now has nearly $5 billion in tax value they get to keep in just one neighborhood.

“Voters hear the city is in financial trouble and then they see this type of waste,” says Hall. “Voters have a right to be outraged and demand this project be stopped. I will.”

Hall is sending a letter to Mayor Parker and the members of City Council to do the right thing for Houstonians–let the newly elected mayor and council consider and vote on the TIRZ budgets.

Houston City Council needs to say NO now

uptownbusIn 2012, Uptown said it would cost $30 million to buy the right of way necessary to tear up and widen Post Oak for dedicated bus lanes. Houston City Council approved the project.

Houston City Council members should look at the proposed 2016 Uptown TIRZ budget they are voting on Wednesday.

Buried in the paperwork is the cost for right of way acquisition, now at $51 MILLION. That is a 70% INCREASE in the cost for the real estate, and it is likely to go much higher.

“It is time for Uptown to tell the truth about the numbers,” says Jim Scarborough of the Uptown Business and Property Owners Association. “City council members were lied too and need to wake up and stop this nonsense.”

Mayor Parker is asking for council members to approve a budget for Uptown when Uptown refuses to disclose the details of their few completed real estate deals. Uptown won’t even tell the public who has been willing to sell land. Council members don’t know how much per square foot Uptown is even paying, the status of the real estate deals, and how much Uptown Board Members with financial interests on the street will benefit from the deal. If that is transparency, then we are all in trouble.

It is becoming increasingly clear this is a smelly real estate deal, and not really about transit and helping people get to work quicker. In 2013, City Council was promised Uptown would build huge transit centers. The proposed Bellaire Uptown Center will hold at least 700 cars. Now that plan has been scaled back to 100 cars, and Metro says that will cut suburban commuter bus trips to Uptown by half. Really? Get the picture now.

What is most outrageous is that City Council may rubber stamp this insane spending before the Texas Attorney General rules on whether Metro can even be part of this project.

Over the next 48 hours, City Council members should read what they are asked to vote for and ask themselves a question. Is this the best use of taxpayers’ money in a town with so many pressing needs?

Every month taxpayers write a check for $893,000 to the Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services (CCEMS) for 911 service from Tomball to Spring. CCEMS makes millions more from that government contract, keeping the millions from the extra bills they send.

911 service is life and death and that is why taxpayers spend so much money on it.

Now CCEMS has a big decision to make. How much is a secret worth?

This morning, CCEMS Boss Brad England was told this month’s check was the last he would get unless the secretive ambulance service turns over the payroll record’s England wants to keep secret. He was also told Cypress Creek will not get another penny in the new budget unless they cough up the records.

This ultimatum comes as CCEMS has three lawsuits against the Texas Attorney General, and faces criminal charges by the Harris County District Attorney for violating charity laws. This week the CCEMS Criminal lawyer Dan Cogdell tried to quash a subpoena for the payroll records on the grounds it could incriminate the ambulance service.
Dolcefino Consulting has been battling CCEMS secrecy for more than a year, but records already show England wines and dines on money that could buy medical supplies.

“Cypress Creek is spending what must be hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect Brad England,” says Wayne Dolcefino President of Dolcefino Consulting. “Taxpayers won’t get that money back, and I applaud the ESD for finally seeing the light.”

In recent days CCEMS has argued that they do not need the government contract to sustain the charity, even though the $20 million budget is virtually entirely paid for by taxpayers through property taxes and medical bills.

Looks like Mr. England has a choice. Let the sunshine in, or good luck paying the bills.

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There is a growing backlash to the false attack on Ben Hall by the chairman of the Harris County Republican Party.

Today, Steve Riggle, the founding pastor of Grace Community Church joined other faith leaders in denouncing the blatant lie that Ben Hall ever supported the bathroom ordinance.

“What the Harris County GOP has done to Ben Hall reflects on the integrity of every person in the Republican Party. That is why I am urging every Republican office holder and party member to publicly condemn this outright lie.”

Riggle is one of five pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by Mayor Parker, part of the city hall campaign against the religious community that Ben Hall has pledged to end on day one.

“Ben Hall has stood with us in fighting HERO from the very beginning,” says Riggle. “I should know. As you are aware I have been helping lead the effort to defeat this ordinance from the beginning.”

Ironically, the chairman of the Republican Party ought to be chastising Bill King and Steve Costello. King doesn’t think it is the voter’s business how he will vote, and Steve Costello supports letting men go into restrooms with teenage girls. Why didn’t he attack
Sylvester Turner, the gay caucus candidate who promises to be a fourth term of Mayor Parker?

“I have promised voters that I will not play politics with the truth,” says Hall. “I will protect their public safety. I will make sure tax money isn’t wasted. And I will stand up to the backroom deals. That is why I am getting attacked.”

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Houston Mayoral Candidate Ben Hall challenged Republican Party Chairman Paul Simpson to face the media and apologize for a blatantly false attack about Ben and the HERO ordinance.

The ad, paid for by the Republican Party is a lie. Every Republican in Houston should be outraged.

At an afternoon news conference, Hall acknowledged the attack is designed to stop his growing momentum, especially among Republican women.

“I am putting together a coalition of faith voters, fiscal conservatives and men and women who want this city to stop the attack on the church. A coalition that wants to stop the career politicians who ignore our streets and safety. A coalition of voters who simply want the Mayor to tell them the truth,” says Hall.

Ben Hall is the ONLY candidate, Democrat or Republican, who has been opposed to the HERO ordinance from the very beginning, long before the campaign began for Houston Mayor, long before the court put it on the November ballot.

Ben Hall has been crystal clear. He is opposed to discrimination, but he believes the proposed Houston ordinance is intentionally dangerous.

“Men are not going to be allowed in restrooms and showers with our wives and daughters in Houston, Period,” says Hall.

“I challenge Mr. Simpson to face me and let us talk about HERO in front of the TV cameras. Let’s talk about Bill “Waffle” King, who told a forum it was none of their damn business how he would vote on the HERO ordinance. Let us talk about the other Republican Steve Costello who favors the bathroom ordinance and raised our taxes.”

Stop hiding.

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