Establishment of the office of Election Administrator in our County

Dear Harris County Election Administrator:

I am writing to recap and expand on my recommendations to the Harris County Commissioners Court, regarding the establishment of the office of Election Administrator in our County.


By Carroll G. Robinson

First, under the law, once the Commissioners Court creates the office of Election Administrator, it will be the Harris County Election Commission that will have the power to hire and fire the election administrator, not Commissioners Court.

The members of the Election Commission are the County Judge, County Clerk, Tax Accessor Collector, Harris County Democratic Party Chair and Harris County Republican Party Chair.

Four of the five members of the Harris County Election Commission are Democrats and include Ann Bennett the Tax Accessor-Collector and Chris Hollins the Interim County Clerk. Once a new County Clerk is elected, they will replace Chris Hollins on the Election Commission. This is why I am supporting Teneshia Hudspeth for County Clerk. I hope that all the Harris County Democratic Party Precinct Chairs will also support putting her on the November ballot as the Democratic Party candidate for the job.

Second, Commissioners Court and the Harris County Election Commission should create a 15-member Community Advisory Board composed of both Republican and Democratic precinct chairs and other community leaders to participate in the hiring process for the election administrator.

This process should be similar to the process utilized by community colleges and universities when they hire a new President or Chancellor. There should be community forums to introduce the top two or three candidates to the public so that voters can ask the candidates questions and the candidates can understand that public interaction with voters would be an essential part of their duties.

Third, the Advisory Board should remain in place after the hiring process and the Election Administrator should be required to meet with the Advisory Board on a quarterly basis every year.

Fourth, the Election Administrator should be required to report to and brief Commissioners Court at least thirty (30) days before all elections and provide an after-action report to both Commissioners Court and the Advisory Board within sixty days following an election.

Fifth, the County Attorney should specifically be designated General Counsel for the office of Election Administrator. The County Attorney should be required to designate an Assistant County Attorney to work full time in the office of the Election Administrator.

Sixth, any and all changes in election polling locations proposed by the Election Administrator must be discussed in advance with the Community Advisory Board and be subject to pre-clearance by the County Attorney before any such changes could be implemented.

Seventh, the Election Administrator and their office should be subject to an annual performance evaluation and a sunset review every five (5) or ten (10) years.

Finally, the office of Election Administrator should be charged with the responsibility of achieving 100% voter registration among the voter eligible population of Harris County by 2025.

It is my belief that if these structural safeguards are adopted and implemented as a part of the creation of the office of Election Administrator, in Harris County, the voice of the community will be enhanced and the rights of the voters elevated and better protected.

Thank you and God Bless Houston. For constructive dialogue, you may contact me directly >>>

Carroll G. Robinson, Esq.

Hon. Robinson is the former Chairman, City of Houston Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee; Former Vice Chairman, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) and Associate Professor of Public Administration, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University.

African Americans and Clean Climate: Texas Coalition of Black Democrats must step up

We need an organization strong and powerful enough to hold elected leaders accountable for protecting our health and environment, and advancing our interests.

There has been a major divide between the Republican and Democrat lawmakers when it comes to voting on measures to tackle the climate crisis.  It is true that the fossil fuel industry now almost entirely favors Republicans in campaign contributions. However, the truth remains that at this point, the Black community should prioritize health over material electioneering support.


By Carroll G. Robinson

Studies by researchers with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reveal that Black Americans are subjected to higher levels of air pollution than their white counterparts irrespective of social status.  Most such mucky pollution comes from burning fossil fuels. The study published in the American Journal of Public Health explains disparities in distribution of particulate matter emission sources by race and poverty status. It suggests that black Americans were exposed to significantly more of the small pollution particles associated with various long and heart-related disease and untimely death.

To this end, Black Democrats must be environmentalists. Protecting our planet matters to our health, our children, our seniors, our safety and our prosperity. Climate change, environmental injustice, air pollution, water pollution, flooding and contaminated land are all on-going threats to the health, safety, quality of life, prosperity and the future of Black America. So too is transportation, infrastructure and economic inequality, the education and wealth gaps and food deserts.

The Texas Coalition of Black Democrats must remain a leader in the fight for environmental justice and to end climate change and environmental health disparities. The Texas Coalition of Black Democrats must be not just the leading defenders of our voting rights, but also our health, our children, our elders, our families, our neighborhoods and our planet.

There should be no more crushed concrete plants, landfills or illegal dumping of old tires, garbage and broken furniture in our communities. These are public health, safety, quality of life and environmental justice issues.

Without more explanation about significance of a clean and safe environment, l must conclude; it’s not enough for us to just elect Democrats to public office. We need an organization strong and powerful enough to hold them accountable for protecting our health and environment, and advancing our interests. That organization must be the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats.

Thank you and God Bless Houston. For constructive dialogue, you may contact me directly >>>

Carroll G. Robinson, Esq.

Hon. Robinson is the former Chairman, City of Houston Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee; Former Vice Chairman, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) and Associate Professor of Public Administration, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University.

Intimidating Progress: Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg got it totally wrong

This blatant attempt at intimidation of advocates for reform, a federal judge and the Democratic members of the Harris County Commissioners Court won’t work.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg is wrong for attacking cash bail reform in Harris County. Her attacks are made doubly worse by trying to enlist the help of police chiefs and officers to boost her attacks.


By CARROLL G. ROBINSON

“Harris County is not Hong Kong right now or Alabama in the 1950s.  Intimidation can’t stop the march towards progress for Black, Brown and  poor people, in Harris County, who have to navigate our criminal justice  system”


Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg is wrong for attacking cash bail reform in Harris County. Her attacks are made doubly worse by trying to enlist the help of police chiefs and officers to boost her attacks.

This blatant attempt at intimidation of advocates for reform, a federal judge and the Democratic members of the Harris County Commissioners Court won’t work.

It’s long past time to reform and fix the criminal justice system so that it stops destroying the Black and Brown community.

Decriminalizing poverty is not a threat to public safety. DA Ogg’s arguments against the bail reform plan are nonsensical. She is essentially arguing that people, out on bail, will commit crimes therefore poor people should be denied bail while rich people, who can afford it, should be granted bail. That is the illegal and unconstitutional status quo that those of us for bail reform are trying to fix right now.

The only other way to reasonably understand DA Ogg’s claims is that though she says she supports bail reform, she is in reality opposed to bail for all defendants. That too is illegal and unconstitutional.

It’s long past time to reform and fix the criminal justice system so that it stops destroying the Black and Brown community. If Vince Ryan had stood up to the Republicans on Commissioners Court when he had the chance instead of wasting millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money defending the criminalization of poverty, we would not have to now be treated to this sad spectacle being led by a Democratic DA.

The attacks on cash bail reform by Kim Ogg and Vince Ryan are not progressive change. What we are witnessing is advocacy for the same old double standard where the police are called in to intimidate and oppress the poor.

The old mantra of law and order was both bad policy and immoral. It was used to criminalize and over police Black and Brown communities. Its advocacy extends back to Bull Connor, J. Edgar Hoover and the war on crime that extended from Richard Nixon to Reagan until the opioid epidemic was declared a national medical emergency.

The attacks on cash bail reform by Kim Ogg and Vince Ryan are not progressive change. What we are witnessing is advocacy for the same old double standard where the police are called in to intimidate and oppress the poor.

Harris County is not Hong Kong right now or Alabama in the 1950s. Intimidation can’t stop the march towards progress for Black, Brown and poor people, in Harris County, who have to navigate our criminal justice system.

The moral arch of the universe bends towards justice and reforming the cash bail system in Harris County is a manifestation of justice.

Thank you and God Bless Houston. For constructive dialogue, you may contact me directly >>>

Carroll G. Robinson, Esq.

Hon. Robinson is the former Chairman, City of Houston Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee; Former Vice Chairman, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) and Associate Professor of Public Administration, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University.

Black Voters Make Texas Biggest Battleground State In 2020

Texas is now the Biggest Battleground State (BBGS) in America because it has the largest Black population in America.

If Texas Democrats invest in registering one million new Black Democratic voters for the 2020 General Election, educating them on the need to Vote the Entire Ballot From  Top To Bottom because there will be no straight ticket voting in 2020, and  turnout 1.5 million Black Democratic voters in 2020, Democrats will turn Texas Blue.


By Carroll G. Robinson

If Texas Democrats invest in a Black to Blue strategy of voter registration, voter education and Black GOTV, not only will Democrats win the White House, we will also elect a Democratic United States Senator from Texas, retake the Texas State House, secure a Democratic State House Speaker, send more Texas Democrats to Congress, win statewide executive, regulatory and judicial elections as well as sweep county elections and county judicial races all across Texas.
Black voters, especially Black women, will decide if Texas moves from a battleground state to a solid Blue state in 2020. 

Texas will turn Blue in 2020 if Texas (and national) Democratic Party leaders recognize and acknowledge that Black Voters are the Decisive Voters in turning Texas Blue in 2020.

Black voters have been, and still are, the most loyal voting block and constituency in the Texas and national Democratic Party coalition. 

If Texas–and national–Democratic Party leaders really want the biggest bang for their investment in winning Texas in 2020, then their priority must be investing in Black voter registration, education and turnout because it will produce the best and highest return on their investment. Black voters vote 90% or more for Democrats. No other group comes close to that level of political support, commitment and loyalty.

It’s time for Black voter loyalty to be fully acknowledged, recognized, rewarded and respected. If Democrats have not already recognized it by now, Democrats can’t win, and won’t turn Texas Blue, without massive Black voter turnout in 2020. To do that, the Democratic Party at the national, state and county levels must all hire local Black consultants, policy advisors and field organizers and also invest in local Black media outlets, radio and newspapers, and in mail, robocalls and door knocking in the Black community all across Texas; rural, suburban and urban.

Thank you and God Bless Houston. For constructive dialogue, you may contact me directly >>>

Carroll G. Robinson, Esq.

Hon. Robinson is the former Chairman, City of Houston Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee; Former Vice Chairman, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) and Associate Professor of Public Administration, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University.

Upcoming Houston City Elections (Part 4) – the Heart, Smarts and Courage Route

Candidates who run on nothing will have nothing to stand on to govern if they are elected

This year’s city elections are around the corner and this is the time for all candidates to reveal themselves. They should not afraid to let us know who they are.  I have always maintained that those who run on nothing will have nothing to stand on to govern if they are elected.

This is one of my series of articles on the upcoming Houston City Elections. The aim is to share knowledge and thoughts with both the candidates and voters regarding crucial issues and interests.


By Carroll G. Robinson

Harvey Recovery

A candidate for City Controller or City Council cannot be afraid to tell us -The voters what they plan to do to help Houstonians who were hurt by Harvey. It has been two years and all the people, in our City, who were impacted by Harvey have still not been helped. That is a failure to focus and prioritize. 

 Helping our neighbors recover from Harvey is a moral issue. Houston Strong must be more than just a slogan. What the people did during the storm must be the baseline, not the high-water mark, compared to what the city, state and county must do.

Which at-large council candidate will make helping Houstonians recover from Harvey their top priority?

City Employees

Which candidates will make paying all city employees fairly their priority? There is no “city services” without city employees-municipal, police and fire.

Modernizing City Government

 Which candidates are going to make modernizing city government their priority? Which candidates have the heart, stamina and courage to review all city programs and policies and tell us which are obsolete and are no longer needed, which need to be updated and modernized and what new policies and programs are necessary for the new needs of Houstonians now (and in the years ahead) as the emerging new economy impacts and undermines the City’s old economy revenue streams?

Finance & Budgeting

 Which candidate or candidates are going to focus on becoming experts on city finances and the city budget so they can protect the taxpayers interest regardless of whether or not the City Controller is utilizing the authority granted to them under the City Charter to protect city taxpayers and ensure fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability at City Hall.

It’s clear that there needs to be another set of fiscal checks and balances at City Hall when it comes to contracts awarded without Council approval, airport expenditures, affordable housing funds, Harvey Recovery Funding, ReBuild Houston drainage fee expenditures, water and sewer funding and managing the city debt (General Fund and Enterprise Funds including Pension Bonds, Houston First and the Tax Reinvestment Zones (TIRZs) all across the city).

 TIRZs and Special Districts’ funds are also taxpayers money that is supposed to be used to help improve Houston and not just to award contracts. Which candidate is prepared to take on this oversight responsibility? This will take political courage and fearless confidence as well as a lot of studying and hard work.

Transportation & Infrastructure

 Which candidates are going to focus on transportation and infrastructure? We need more than just potholes fixed. We need streets rebuilt, transportation construction better coordinated and we need a Metro champion on Council to speak up and speak out for those in our City (and region) who need public transportation.

 Metro

 Metro does not exist to simply help reduce congestion. Metro exists because it is a life line for those, in our community, who don’t have a vehicle to connect them to jobs, healthcare and quality, affordable food for themselves and their families. 

 Metro is a quality of life institution and infrastructure.

 We need Metro Next (and beyond) so that TxDOT can stop destroying Houston neighborhoods to build highways to the suburbs that make both air quality and flooding worse in city neighborhoods – an even bigger threat to the public’s health, safety and welfare. 

We need Council Members who will stand up to TxDOT to protect the lives and property of Houstonians; homeowners, renters, the homeless and business owners and entrepreneurs.

Houston is a great city but to be an even greater world class city, our region must have regional rail and be connected to the rest of the state by rail as well as by roads and airports.

It’s time for the newly elected members of Congress from the Houston area to step up and help deliver the funding we need for regional commuter, light and high-speed rail. 

Housing, Gentrification & Revitalization 

 Which candidates will lead the way on addressing homelessness, hunger and poverty in our City? Which candidates will become experts on housing and community development such that they can lead the effort on the issue of gentrification and putting together the coalitions and public/private/non-profit partnerships needed to build at least 25,000 single family affordable homes a year for the next four years and beyond? Houston needs more housing for working class Houstonians inside the 610 Loop. We also need to better utilize federal funds and the Land Assembly Redevelopment Authority (LARA) and affordable housing funds from our TIRZs to help the working class and low-income residents of our historic neighborhoods remain in their homes.

 We not only have to build more new housing in our City, we also have to help residential homeowners repair and fix up their older homes and show them how they can pass it from one generation to the next as a source of generational wealth. Doing this would help reduce the number of dangerous buildings and weeded lots in our neighborhoods and reduce the city’s expenses for mowing lots and boarding up dangerous buildings.

 Quality of Life

 Finally, who will be the newest champion of public safety, green spaces and quality of life on Council? 

 Building a great city includes but is much bigger than just a great economy and jobs. Those are the starting points and building blocks. A truly smart city is more than just technology; its safety, accountability of police officers, trees and green spaces, bike lanes, a comprehensive public transportation system, quality of life, a living prevailing wage, great public schools, modern infrastructure, environmental justice, resiliency, heart, sustainability and broadly inclusive and shared prosperity. 

 Who Are You?

Candidates, who are you? Don’t be afraid to let us know. If you run on nothing, you will have nothing to stand on to govern if you are elected.

Thank you and God Bless Houston. For constructive dialogue, you may contact me directly >>>

Carroll G. Robinson, Esq.

Hon. Robinson is the former Chairman, City of Houston Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee; Former Vice Chairman, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) and Associate Professor of Public Administration, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University.

This is the time to debate the future

After the 2020 presidential election, even if President Trump is defeated, there are some really tough global decisions that will have to be made.

First, even if Britain does not leave the EU, is the EU prepared to defend itself from internal conflicts and external threats? The reality is that NATO exists to prevent European nations from going to war with each other as much as it exists to defend against Russia. 


By Carroll G. Robinson

Second, can America still afford to be the world’s global police force when Americans and other nations are no longer interested and willing to use military force unless directly attacked? What does this mean for a new President when it comes to dealing with Iran, protecting Israel, fighting terrorism and helping to ensure stability in the Middle East?

Third, can the world live with a nuclear Iran and North Korea? What price are Americans and others willing to pay, if any, to prevent that from happening? If it does happen, if it is not already the reality and we just don’t know, how will it change the existing global balance of power and the current dynamics of the Middle East?

Fourth, how much intellectual theft will China be allowed to get away with to build and dominate A.I. and its global economic impact as well as military might? How far we are from that tipping point is an open question but we are certainly moving in that direction unless something is done and done soon.

The technological interference in the 2016 election was a prelude to a new form of warfare. This new war is coming and America is not fully prepared nor are our allies and corporate enterprises. While we have been distracted playing politics over the past three years, our opponents have been organizing, preparing and growing stronger. Whether Congress impeaches the President or not, time is running out for us to be prepared for the new warfare that will be coming.

Over the past two Democratic presidential debates these major issues have not been the focus of discussion and debate but they must be a part of the conversation going forward.

Technology is not only changing our economy and the global nature of work, it is also reordering the old global order. 

It’s time for a bigger and broader debate in the Democratic Presidential Debates focused on the future of work and the future of the global order from economics to foreign and military affairs that is bigger than simply just breaking up big tech.

Thank you and God Bless us. For constructive dialogue, you may contact me directly >>>

Carroll G. Robinson, Esq.

Hon. Robinson is the former Chairman, City of Houston Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee; Former Vice Chairman, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) and Associate Professor of Public Administration, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University.

Toward 2019 city elections – What Houston would need in a Mayor

City employees, not a Mayor or Council Members, are who deliver city services. They need to be respected, supported and properly compensated. It’s not too late for the candidates running for City Council, Mayor and Controller to lay out detailed substantive ideas to better protect our City against crime and flooding and their policy propels for making city government work better for all Houstonians. 

Below is what I would like to hear from the candidates running for Mayor and City Controller.


By Carroll G. Robinson

THE SPEECH

I am running for Mayor to fix our city budget and to help make things better and safer for all the families, entrepreneurs and businesses of our entire City.

Fixing the City’s General Fund budget is bigger than both pension reform and pay parity.

Fixing the city budget starts with prioritization and transparency.

As Mayor, my first priority will be fiscal responsibility and accountability to ensure that we properly fund public safety and quality of life services from police protection and firefighters to timely trash pickup and recycling, in our neighborhoods, to maintaining and improving our parks and modernizing our library services to give all our children and young people as well as all Houstonians citywide digital access to knowledge in all forms.

As Mayor, I will work with Metro to not just build a more modern and comprehensive city and regional public transportation system, but to also better rebuild city roads and to partner with the city, county and TXDOT to better coordinate road and flood control construction projects.

Improving our transportation system and better protecting our city and region against flooding should not increase your frustration, commute or congestion on city streets and local highways.

Building a better city must include input from our civic clubs and Superneighborhood Councils to help reduce crime, mitigate against gentrification and find long term solutions to help the homeless and ensure that Houston remains an affordable city for working class Houstonians and the long-time residents of our inner-loop neighborhoods, especially our senior citizens.

As Mayor, I will work to help our senior citizens and their families to repair and hold on to their homes. 

Homeownership is not just a source of shelter, it is also source of generational wealth for many Houstonians. 

If our city is to have the revenue it needs to pay for city services and fairly compensate all city employees, including our municipal employees, we must hold on to and attract more homeowners, businesses (both small and large) and attract more tourists to our city to collect more in sales taxes.

We can do these things with focused leadership.

As Mayor, we will not spend hundreds of millions of dollars without a Council vote. 

As Mayor, I will use technology to improve police protection, fight gang violence and empower all Houstonians to be a part of the solution. We started with 911, then added 311, under my leadership we will take technology based security to the next level and put neighborhood watch on your smart phones and tablets. 

We are going to create a high-tech security Next Door type app in Houston. You will not only be able to write about what happened, you will be able to see in real time what is happening in the streets of your neighborhoods and help prevent crimes in real time also whether you are at home, at work or just out and about. This technology is already available to individual homeowners from private companies. As your Mayor, I will work with our civic clubs to help bring a citywide system to all Houstonians who want to utilize it.

I am running for Mayor to fix things. To meet head on and solve the big problems and challenges facing our City right now to make Houston better, in the present, for our children and grandchildren and their future.

There will be people who say that we can’t fix things in Houston. I am not one of those people. 

Anyone who can only see the problems and can only give you slogans should not be the next Mayor of your city.

I am personally asking you for your vote, support and prayers to be our City’s next Mayor.

Thank you and God Bless Houston. For constructive dialogue, you may contact me directly >>>

Carroll G. Robinson, Esq.

Hon. Robinson is the former Chairman, City of Houston Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee; Former Vice Chairman, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) and Associate Professor of Public Administration, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University.

It is time to legalize gaming in Houston, or what do you think?

Four years ago, when I ran for City Controller, I argued that the City of Houston should take the lead on legalizing gaming in Texas to capture more revenue for city services from all the money leaving our community and going to casinos in Louisiana and Nevada.


By Carroll G. Robinson

In 2018, the United States Supreme Court legalized sports betting nationwide.  If Houston had lead on legalizing gaming we would have the money to afford Pay Parity between Firefighters and Police Officers. We would also be able to hire more police officers and pay to upgrade our water and sewer system without a rate increase.

 It’s time to bring poker rooms and eight liner slot machine operators (and others) out of the back rooms and into the light to help reduce crime, properly regulate these establishments and allow the city to collect its fair share of revenue.

 I am once again calling for the legalization of gaming in Houston. It’s time for a voter referendum to allow Houstonians to generate more revenue for the city without having to raise our property taxes or our water and sewer bills.

It’s time for us-the people of our city-to lead the way on a solution for pay parity and reducing crime and finally benefit from the gambling already going on in our city.

 If you are willing to sign a petition to legalize gaming and vote for a referendum to do so in Houston, please let me know and share this message through your social media. Contact me directly >>>

Carroll G. Robinson, Esq.

Hon. Robinson is the former Chairman, City of Houston Transportation, Technology and Infrastructure Committee; Former Vice Chairman, Houston-Galveston Area Council Transportation Policy Council (H-GAC TPC) and Associate Professor of Public Administration, Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University

Time to Get Real – African Americans and the realities of political interests

By Hon. Carroll G. Robinson, Esq

There is an old saying that “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”. The election of Donald Trump may be such an opportunity for African Americans to hold the Democratic Party more accountable to the black community, if they are willing to do so.

Democrats can’t win in 2018 or retake the White House in 2020 without major support from African American voters.

Will African American elected officials, community leaders and academicians take advantage of this opportunity to hold Democrats accountable based on a substantive policy and political agenda?

When Democrats retake the House or Senate or both, will issues of importance to the African American community and minority business owners and entrepreneurs be at the top of the agenda?

Even though they are now in the minority, will Democratic members of Congress hire more African Americans in leadership positions on their personal and committee staffs? Will Democratic campaign committees and PACs at the federal, state and local levels hire more African American political consultants, campaign advisors and vendors? Will these entities deposit funds in black owned banks and financial institutions? Will they invest in year round voter registration and education activities in African American communities across the country through existing African American led grassroots community based organizations?

Democratic campaign committees and PACs also need to advertise through the black media year round not just during the last few weeks of an election cycle.

Democrats need to understand that they can’t take it for granted that black millennials will be voting for Democrats in 2018 or 2020 just because of Trump. Opposing Trump alone is not going to be enough.

Democrats need to understand that they can’t take it for granted that black millennials will be voting for Democrats in 2018 or 2020 just because of Trump. Opposing Trump alone is not going to be enough.

Where do Democrats want to take our nation in the coming years and where do African Americans fit in?

If a Democrat is elected President in 2020, will she (or he) nominate an African American woman to serve on the United States Supreme Court?

Would the new Democratic President nominate an African American to serve as Treasury Secretary?

If either of these were to occur it would be a first in our nation’s history.

What about access to federal contracting opportunities? Would a new Democratic President be willing to hold A National Black Entrepreneurs and Business Owners Summit? Would she or he be willing to develop a Wealth and Prosperity Public Policy Agenda for the Black Community? Black America needs policies focused on lifting our community into the Middle-Class and beyond to upward economic mobility. This is not a special request or unique situation. This has been the reality of government decision making from the drafting Constitution and its protection of intellectual property and private “property” to government contracting from The Black Codes to Jim Crow and beyond.

African Americans need Democrats to put the same level of policy innovation, creativity, energy, imagination and intensity that they are putting into the fight for Sanctuary Cities and against Trump’s immigration ban, Betsey DeVos and Jeff Session into rebuilding inner city communities, reforming the criminal justice system, strengthening public schools in black neighborhoods and eliminating the racial wage and wealth gaps.

If Africans Americans don’t take advantage of this opportunity to get A Better Deal from Democrats when it comes to public policies and contracting as well as political opportunities during Redistricting in 2020, whose fault will it b

♦ Carroll G. Robinson is an Associate Professor at the Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University. He is a former General Counsel of the Texas Democratic Party, a Past President of the Texas Association of Black City Council Members and served as an At-Large Member of the Houston City Council.

More articles by Carroll G. Robinson ►►►

Op-ed: City of Houston, Harris County – We could do better

By Hon. Carroll G. Robinson, Esq

It is anticipated that the 2020 Census will show that more people live in unincorporated Harris County than live inside the City of Houston. If this expectation turns out to be correct, unincorporated Harris County would essentially be the largest “city” in Texas.

Some of the reasons why more people are living outside of the City are: the cost of housing for low income and working class individuals (including the annual increases in property taxes as a result of annual property valuation increases), access to good paying jobs that provide a wage that lifts full time employees above the poverty line and the cost of transportation as a result of an inadequate citywide public transit system. Some people would also include on this list the perception of the public education system and concerns about crime in Houston.

Former Houston City Council Member Peter Brown was one of the first people to write about the city of Houston shrinking in size relative to the rest of the county and what that could possibly mean for the future of Houston. (See Michael Nichols and Peter Brown, Exodus to suburbs has Houston holding the bag, Houston Chronicle, August 30, 2013, pg. B7.)

Change is coming and it’s time for our community to have a foresighted conversation about the future.

City residents are both city and county taxpayers. It’s time for a serious conversation about consolidation of city and county services to reduce duplication and provide taxpayers with better services and property tax relief.

Part of this consolidation conversation must include expanding the size of Commissioners Court to six (6) Commissioners and the County Judge. The goal should be getting this expansion of Commissioners Court in place for redistricting in 2021. That is just four years from now and will require being prepared to go to the Legislature in 2019 to get this done.

It’s time for the County to stop building new Toll Roads. They contribute to flooding throughout the County and City of Houston.

Instead of building more Toll Roads, the County should use excess toll revenue, after debt service, to fund flood control projects and help Metro expand better bus service and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) countywide and regionally to those cities and counties in the Houston-Galveston Area that wish to participate. We also need to connect the City’s two airports and Southwest Houston/Alief to the Metro Light Rail System.

Vehicles pass through EZ TAG lanes on the Sam Houston Tollway …”It’s time for the County to stop building new Toll Roads. They contribute to flooding throughout the County and City of Houston.”

 

With the widespread use of autonomous vehicles by Uber and Lyft on the horizon, the City of Houston and Metro need to figure out how to integrate those new services (as well as traditional cab companies) into our region’s public transit system. (See generally, John Zimmer, The Third Transportation Revolution: The Road Ahead, Medium, September 18, 2016.)

The City and County need to work together with the Houston Technology Center, cable and phone companies and technology innovators such as Google, Amazon and IBM Watson to make our entire county and all the cities in it “smart cities”. We need to do this not just for countywide Wi-Fi and high speed 5G broadband services for faster internet and cellphone service, but for better emergency preparedness, resiliency and recovery as well as to implement cutting edge consumer services technologies to help improve the overall quality of life for all who live, work and visit our community.

If done correctly, this technological transformation could do more than just help synchronize our traffic lights and reduce congestion on local highways; it could create new well paying jobs and help reduce economic inequalities across our region.

It’s time for us to once again lead the way in our nation.

We can’t keep doing the same old things and expect things to get better in Houston or the County.

We have more pressing problems in Harris County that go far beyond spending taxpayers’ dollars to fix up the Astrodome. Those tax dollars would be much better spent investing in flood control projects and expanding all day, quality Pre-K countywide.

We have a broken bail system that needs to be reformed to help stop the criminalization of poverty in Harris County. We need to deepen and expand the Port of Houston to ensure that our region continues to benefit from international trade.

Environmental justice and reducing air pollution and other health hazards in minority neighborhoods across the city and county are also issues that must be priorities for all local elected officials. So too must be addressing homelessness and the poverty across Harris County and in Houston. (See, e.g., Isabel Soifer, Facing up to grinding poverty, Houston Chronicle, September 5, 2015, pg.B7.)

It’s time to eliminate the Harris County Treasurer’s Office and turn its responsibilities over to the Harris County Budget Office. We should also eliminate the Harris County Department of Education and invest those savings in flood control projects and countywide all day Pre-K.

 Streamlining, Consolidating and Modernizing local and county government in Harris County deserves an open, honest and transparent community-wide conversation ahead of the next round of city and county elections. Let’s not wait until redistricting in 2021 to debate the future of governance and public policy priorities in our County.

Hon. Carroll G. Robinson, Esq. is a former Democratic candidate for Congress and General Counsel of the Texas Democratic Party who has served as an At-Large Member of the Houston City Council as well as a Houston Community College Trustee. Robinson is also an Associate Professor who teaches at a School of Public Affairs and has taught at two Texas law schools.

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