Welcome to The Knox Report – June 2020
Thank You, Houston
Thank you to the thousands of Houstonians, first responders, people from across the country and around the globe who sent my family and me heartfelt condolences for the untimely tragedy which fell upon the Knox family on May 2 — the loss of our beloved son, Jason, who passed away in the line of duty with the Houston Police Department from injuries sustained after his HPD helicopter crashed. Whether it was receiving a hug, a handshake, a thoughtful note, or a prayer, we sincerely thank you for the incredible and countless ways in which you have celebrated Jason. My son was a special man, and our love for him lives on eternally.
God has a plan for all of us, and our faith in Him provides us comfort in knowing that Jason is in the arms of Jesus and that one day we will be reunited.
Please keep Chase Cormier and his family in your daily prayers as he recovers.
I returned to Council Chambers following Jason’s funeral to do the job Houstonians elected me to do, and I could not be more proud of serving this great city of ours which we call home.
Thank you for your support and may God bless you.
June 1st marks the beginning of Hurricane season. It is very important to have a plan in place for you and your loved ones in the event of a hurricane, flooding or other natural disaster. In order to help you plan, Ready Houston
has published several useful resources including a Disaster Preparedness Guide and an Emergency Plan Checklist. For more information on how you can become better prepared, visit readyhoustontx.gov
The Slider’s New Home
The Slider family had been living in a deteriorating home ruined by years of storm damage. Upon learning of the Slider’s housing predicament in 2018, my staff and I assisted Mrs. Slider in navigating through the bureaucracy. Thanks to the city’s Housing Department, we were able to provide the Slider family a new home utilizing federal funds.
Congratulations to the Sliders!
Administrative Policy 3-39
On May 26th, Mayor Turner signed Administrative Policy 3-39 (AP 3-39) to be in effect starting June 1st, 2020. This policy states that all persons entering any City premise (excluding Bush and Hobby airports), including but not limited to City employees, City contractors, tenants and guests (including members of the general public) will be required to wear a face covering and conduct a body temperature reading. While the rest of Texas is in the process of opening up and reducing restrictions, Mayor Turner apparently believes the city needs to increase restrictions to gain access to your government.
City Employee Furloughs
On May 27th, Mayor Turner informed council, by an interoffice memorandum, of the details regarding the Mandatory Furlough Program (MFP) of all general fund city employees. The program will begin on July 1st and extend through June 30th, 2021 and will require employees to take a total of ten unpaid days off during the twelve month period. However, no furloughs shall be taken during the months of November and December 2020. Classified Police and Fire Fighters, Police and Fire Cadets and Solid Waste Management Department Operations responsible for trash and recycle collection are excluded from the program.
Houston – We are Better Than This!
I understand many in our community are upset and angry about recent events surrounding the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officers. I share this same concern and absolutely respect the right of citizens to peacefully gather and redress their grievances with their government. However, the destruction or damage of personal or public property, the violence perpetrated on others, who had nothing to do with the events in Minneapolis, are counter-productive to the cause of justice. I encourage everyone who participates in any form of protest to be respectful of the rights of others as you demand the respect of your rights by your government. Houston is not Minneapolis. We are better than this.
COVID-19 Helpful Information
Houston Health Department COVID-19 Assistance Center
Mayor’s Citizens Assistance Office
Harris County Essential Business Inquiries
Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle
Community Assistance Department
May Council Highlights
Council approved allocating $15 million from the federal CARES Act fund and HUD dollars to provide two months worth of rental relief for those Houstonians whose jobs were impacted by COVID-19. A rigid set of criteria were established to ensure these funds are directed to low, or no income, renters. For more information, go to www.houstonrentassistance.org
Council approved spending $17.4 million to reconstruct and reduce flooding on Kirkwood between Buffalo Bayou and Briar Forest. This project has been on the Capital Improvement Projects plan since 1998. The project is expected to begin later this summer and be completed by the end of 2021. Once this project is completed, your vehicle will thank you.
After lengthy discussion, Council approved a monthly fee of $1.14 for Houstonians to lease the black and green garbage bins. I, along with five of my colleagues, opposed this fee. It ultimately passed by a council vote of 8-6. Houstonians who have city garbage service are required to use these city-provided black and green bins and are prohibited from buying their own bins for city service. This fee will take effect July 1, 2020 and will appear on Houstonians’ water bills.
Council approved changing the date for the city’s annual budget to be discussed from May 27 to June 3. It is expected that the city’s annual budget will most likely be voted on by council on June 10.
Council voted to fund this summer’s Hire Houston Youth program for $1.2 million. This program administers a seven-week summer jobs program for Houstonians 16-24 years of age. This program provides up to 10,000 persons to work for the city of Houston and Houston-area companies. These funds cover the administrative fees as well as the salaries for these Houstonians.
Council voted to spend up to $700,000 to hire outside legal services to represent the city regarding its dispute with the General Land Office over managing Hurricane Harvey recovery. I, along with two of my colleagues, opposed this item which ultimately was approved by council.
Council approved purchasing a new helicopter for the Houston Police Department using grant funds provided by the state of Texas.
Council approved amending various provisions of the ordinance regulating “vehicles for hire” – taxis, limos, private buses, pedicabs. These changes will provide relief to these companies while dealing with the COVID-19 situation. The demand for these vehicles has been drastically reduced over the past few months. The most important change allows companies which have suspended operations to allow them to suspend their insurance coverage for a maximum of six months. Once they resume operations, the companies would be required to have insurance.
Council approved extending a janitorial contract for one year. While reviewing the multi-million dollar contract, I discovered the Administration inappropriately planned to spend $134,640 of drainage fee funds to pay for a portion of this contract. After informing the Mayor of my serious opposition to this proposal, the Mayor agreed to revise the contract and not use any drainage fee dollars for this item. I will continue being a watchdog for the taxpayers.
Council approved street and drainage projects located on Neuens Road between Gessner and Blalock and a project on Cullen Boulevard between North MacGregor Way and I-45. These two projects are a collaboration between the City and Harris County. The Neuens project contains $15.5 million from the City and $3.2 million from Harris County Commissioner Cagle. The Cullen project includes $4 million from the City and $15 million from Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis. The Neuens project is a multi-year project consisting of 5 phases of which phase 1 has already begun.