City of Houston Agenda 6-27(28)-06

It’s a short agenda this week, what with little business compared to the budget over the last two weeks. However, the backup with RCA’s comes in at 21MB this time. Still trying to work out a way to get it off site for inspection.

Readers are cautioned that I delete what I judge to be extraneous text, and often paraphrase in order to make the legalese a lot more readable; also that comments added are a mix of my own opinions, best guesses, snarking, and judgements, and therefore may not be entirely accurate. Such deletions may accidentally result in a key omission; if you wish to read the original text, please follow the link in the sidebar to the posted agenda.

Public Comment, 6/27, 2-5 pm: Citizens desiring to address the council must register in advance with the City Secretary.

Action Meeting: 6/28, 9:00 am, COUNCIL CHAMBER – SECOND FLOOR – CITY HALL – 901 BAGBY

Mayor’s Report:
No subject listed.

Items 1 & 2: Miscellaneous
Nominations to local Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones. Remember that such nomiations actually come from the committee itself, and can only be voted up or down by the council.

1. REQUEST from Mayor for confirmation of the appointment of the following to the EAST DOWNTOWN ZONE (Zone #15):
· Position Four – MR. JOSHUA ESPINEDO, for a term to expire July 6, 2008
· Position Seven – MS. JESSICA ROSSMAN MARTIN, for a term to expire July 6, 2007

2. REQUEST from Mayor for confirmation of the appointment or reappointment of the following to the UPPER KIRBY REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (Zone #19):
· Position Two – MR. SYDNEY (BUDDY) S. BAILEY, appointment, as Chair, for a term to expire July 20, 2008
· Position Three – MR. MORRIS C. CHEN, appointment, for a term to expire July 20, 2007
· Position Four – MR. EMIL PEÑA, reappointment, for a term to expire July 20, 2008
· Position Five – MS. MONIQUE WARD, appointment, for a term to expire July 20, 2007
· Position Seven – MR. CHARLES N. PENDERGRAFT, appointment, for a term to expire July 20, 2007
Ah yes, our good friends in the UKMD (Hail, komrade!) who claimed that they had the power of intimidation eminent domain even before the injustice and tragedy that is Kelo was bequethed to us by the SCOTUS. Along with no knock raids.

Items 3 & 4: Property

3. RECOMMENDATION from Director Department of Public Works & Engineering for approval of payments for appraisal services for the ALDINE-WESTFIELD PAVING PROJECT.
How much in payements? Why is that information missing?

4. RECOMMENDATION from Director Department of Public Works & Engineering to purchase land on the south side of Tidwell Street along the west side of White Oak Bayou, owned by Barbara H. Look (AKA Barbara H. Pratt), for the WEST WHITE OAK BAYOU TRAIL HIKE AND BIKE TRAIL EXTENSION
Oh joy, another nearly unused bike trail. Hey, wait, we didn’t have to condemn this one? How much are we paying for it anyway?

Items 5-11: Purchasing and Tabulation of Bids.
Is it just me, or do these items seem…. briefer than before?

5. ANALYTICAL COMPUTER SERVICES for License Upgrade and Maintenance Agreement for Veritas Software through the City’s Master Agreement with the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) for Texas CISV Master Catalog Purchases under Chapter 2157 of the Government Code for Information Technology Department (ITD) – $605,015.00 – Central Services Revolving Fund.
Veritas Software was acquired by Symantec. This contract is to ensure security of our hardware, software, database, and email solutions. Until someone puts critical data on a laptop, that is.

6. RANGE KLEEN MFG. INC for Vinyl Magnets, Universal Lids, Fat Trapper Bags and Holders for Department of Public Works & Engineering – $54,750.00 – Enterprise Fund.
The first, second, and fourth are items that we give away to promote water conservation, or other causes, possibly including employee donations to the Combined Municipal Campaign (United Way–assuming they don’t supply them instead.) The third, I’ve never heard of, but would like to get a couple….

7. ORDINANCE appropriating $299,250.00 out of Water & Sewer System Consolidated Construction Fund to R & B GROUP, INC for Valve Replacement Project for Public Works & Engineering Department. $285,000.00 and contingencies for a total amount not to exceed $299,250.00.
That’s not going to be a lot of valves. Depending on what it’s for, it might be a single large valve. Unfortunately, our infrastructure has been allowed to deteriorate badly under Brown, and I don’t know if we’re getting much better under White. At least I don’t see the same water main leak for eight months under the SW Freeway any more.

8. ALLIED TUBE & CONDUIT CORPORATION (Bid No. 21) for Signposts and Associated Hardware for Department of Public Works & Engineering – $285,810.00 minus a commission fee for Internet-based reverse auction services for a net award not to exceed $280,093.80 – General Fund.
In other words, we bought these signs through the public works equivlent of Ebay. I wonder if any of those signs say “High Water — Train Closed”

9. JERZY INDUSTRIES, INC dba JERZY SUPPLY for Hoses and Fittings for Various Departments $608,662.35 – General and Enterprise Funds

10. MSE ENVIRONMENTAL for spending authority for Household Hazardous Waste Collection, Transportation and Disposal Services through the Interlocal Agreement for Cooperative Purchasing with Houston-Galveston Area Council for Various Departments – $1,846,219.00 – Storm Water Utility Fund
I’m confused by this. If it’s household waste, why isn’t it coming from the Solid Waste department, or Public Works? In other words, was it trash or sewage? Why is the Storm Water fund being used?? What sort of household waste qualifies as “hazardous?” (Besides baby dipers, heh.) Also, what’s with the Interlocal agreement? Group bidding?

11. AMEND MOTION #2004-1004, 9/15/04, TO INCREASE spending authority from $2,635,239.03 to $3,294,048.79 for Scott Air Paks & Replacement Parts Contract for Various Departments, awarded to ORR SAFETY CORPORATION.
Sounds like a contract extension. Not sure what this is, but the “air paks” makes me think Fire Department supplies.

Items 12-46: Ordinances Ah, the good stuff.

12. ORDINANCE relating to the City’s Civic Art Program; AMENDING CHAPTER 2.
Chapter 2 outlines the basic structure of the city, insofar as its departments, boards, commisions, and authorities are concerned. See page 8 of this .pdf. Personally, I am of the opinion that any art wanted by the citizens to make our city “World Class” should be paid for by those citizens and those citizens alone, not all the taxpayers. Especially when we’re robbing the Streets and Bridges fund to put a bunch of not-a-cops on the street.

13. ORDINANCE AMENDING SECTION 12-63 OF THE CODE OF ORDINANCES, HOUSTON, TEXAS, relating to Fees for Parking at the Theater District Garage.
Oh look, it’s a revenue stream!

14. Gobbledygook that basically says “We’re going to issue a bunch of utility bonds, and we’re going to use the ‘emergency’ provisions to do it on the first week it appears on the agenda. It’s just business as usual, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, and you can’t understand all this high finance stuff anyway.”

15. ORDINANCE relating to the Retail Water & Sewer Rates of VERGIL D. MARTIN dba H&J UTILITY aka MATCO within the City of Houston, Texas; finding that the existing rates are in violation of law and ordering production of water tariffs and completed TCEQ Form 10432.
See, here’s one of the weirdities…. The city of Houston has actually practiced limited annexations for years, and there are now (I think) a few dozen of these private districts within the actual city limits. It causes confusion, because no one in Public Works seems to know where they are all located. So new residents call the city, thinking they’re going to get water service, and get upset at the water department’s call takers, who can’t find their address in the computer. And if it’s not within Harris County, they can’t even find the district. Anyway, under Chapter 35 (or 36?) of the Code of Ordinances, the city retains the right to tell the districts that they’re overcharging or in violation of state or local laws. Not the PUC. Like I said, weird.

16. ORDINANCE selling a small amount of land to Harris county for $3,276.00, and other consideration. Purpose is to extend Southwood Trace Lane over and across a portion of the West Canal located in the John Anderson Survey, A-97, Harris County, Texas (Parcel SY6-065).
West Canal is actually far east of the city; it’s one of several major canals delivering water to industries and treatment plants on the eastern and southeastern side of town. IIRC, this one comes down by the Lynchburg ferry and is pumped under the ship channel to Pasadena.

17. ORDINANCE selling a small amount of land to the State of Texas from the Hiram Clarke Drainage Ditch Site for the completion of West Airport Boulevard, from Hiram Clarke Road to FM 521. Payment is $500.00, and other consideration to the City,

18. ORDINANCE consenting to the addition of 1.2167 acres of land to BRIDGESTONE MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT, for inclusion in its district

19. ORDINANCE consenting to the creation of HARRIS COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT NO. 406

20. ORDINANCE consenting to the creation of HARRIS COUNTY MUNICIPAL UTILITY DISTRICT NO. 422

21. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing contract between the City and the GREATER HOUSTON CONVENTION AND VISITORS BUREAU for the Promotion of Tourism and the solicitation of convention business.
So, who pays whom?

22. ORDINANCE adopting first amended and restated Administrative Guidelines for the City’s Good Neighbor Next Door Housing Assistance Program.
Whatever this is….

23. ORDINANCE adopting second amended and restated Administrative Guidelines for the City’s Homebuyer Assistance Program.
Um….. wait, what? Isn’t this that program with the little problem about confessing to LEAD PAINT in the homes? Honestly, I still have an issue with the idea of the city “helping people attain their dream of home ownership.” What it really amounts to is helping developers attain their dream of making money hand over fist. But hey, it’s the banks and S&L’s that are left holding the bag if the buyer can’t make payments. One hopes it doesn’t still amount to a “personal fiefdom” of the director, in any case.

24. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing interlocal agreement between the City of Houston and METROPOLITAN TRANSIT AUTHORITY OF HARRIS COUNTY (METRO) for Metro’s participation in the Major Accessory Shop Enforcement/14 Grant.
I have no idea what the hell this is about, but seeing as it involves Metro, my question isn’t whether it’s a waste of money and/or whether the taxpayer is getting screwed, but instead, “how much of each?”

25. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing interlocal agreement between the City of Houston and the FORT BEND COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE for their participation in the Major Accessory Shop Enforcement/14 Grant and substituting it for the interlocal agreement approved by Ordinance No. 2006-0413

26. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing interlocal agreements between the City of Houston and the FORT BEND COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE and the METROPOLITAN TRANSIT AUTHORITY OF HARRIS COUNTY (METRO) for their participation in the Major Accessory Shop Enforcement/15 Grant and substituting them for the interlocal agreements approved by Ordinance No. 2006-0414
Boy, these Major Accessory Shop Enforcement grants really get around. One thing that does occur to me is that it might be to trace and bust ‘chop-shops’ and sellers of hot parts, but then I don’t get Metro’s involvement?

27. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing interlocal agreement between the City of Houston and the CITY OF SPRING VALLEY for the Replacement of the Pech Road Footbridge –

28. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing compromise and settlement agreement between the FORT BEND SUBSIDENCE DISTRICT and the City of Houston to settle a claim – $65,500.00 – Enterprise Fund –
FYI, the FBSD and Harris Galveston Subsidence District handle tracking all water wells drilled in the area, as well as enforcement of the state requirements to move away from ground water to surface water. Not sure why FBSD would have a claim on he city…

29. ORDINANCE relating to Energy Legal Services; amending an agreemeents with ANDREWS KURTH L.L.P. and LOCKE LIDDELL & SAPP LLP; providing maximum contract amounts – $310,000.00 – Central Services Revolving Fund.
What are Energy Legal Services, and does this have anything to do with the Mayor’s hot air windmill plan?

30. ORDINANCE appropriating $996,800.00 out of Water & Sewer System Consolidated Construction Fund for a contract between the City of Houston and ADS CORPORATION d/b/a ADS ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES for Hydraulic Modeling Field Support.
Computer modeling is used to determine lots of things to do with water mains and sewer laterals. The expertise to write these programs means hiring the company to run them doesn’t come cheap, unfortunately.

31. ORDINANCE appropriating about $8 million in bonds, plus cash from the Water & Sewer System, plus an agreement with TxDOT for Edgebrook Drive from IH 45 to SH 3.

32. ORDINANCE awarding contract to RLS INTERESTS, INC dba PRIME SYSTEMS, INC for Computer Repair Services for Houston Police Department; providing a maximum contract amount 3 Years with two one-year options – $1,436,625.00 – General Fund
This better be for repair of systems in police vehicles, because if it’s for desktop PC’s, I am so going into that business.

33. ORDINANCE to increase the maximum contract amount between the City of Houston and ARCH WIRELESS OPERATING COMPANY, INC for Pager Rental Services for Various Departments – $143,429.16.
I find it amazing we are still using pagers. Aren’t those, like, soooooooo 20th century now? I suppose they make sense in jobs where a cell phone would not be usable or even a liability.

34. ORDINANCE approving and authorizing Professional Services Contract between the City of Houston and CALICHE LTD. for Air Permitting, Storm Water Permitting, and other Environmental Services for various Wastewater Treatment Facilities – $330,000.00 –
You mean to tell me the city hires outsiders to fill out the paperwork for our permits with the state, EPA, & etc.? Oh wait, I just remembered the writing skills of our average city clerk. Never mind. (Sigh. I hate sounding like I’m bashing my co-workers, but I have to admit, we don’t want some of the lower-paid “barely-got-the-diploma” types working on this stuff, and that’s what would happen if we didn’t hire outside help. Makes you wonder if paying city employees so little is such a good deal after all, though.)

35. ORDINANCE appropriating $498,300.00 out of Street & Bridge Consolidated Construction Fund for services of COBB FENDLEY & ASSOCIATES, INC for Design of Long Point Road at Wirt Road intersection and approach and Long Point Road from Hollister Road to Pech Road.
Well, it’s good to see there was a little money left in it after The Great White Raid of FY ’07.

36. ORDINANCE appropriating funds from just about everywhere to pay for the first amendment to a Job Order Construction Contract between the City of Houston and WILLIAMS & THOMAS, INC dba JAMAIL CONSTRUCTION, GFS D-0108-01-3, F-0585-01-3, R-0268-47-3, C-JOC, G-JOC.
I left in all the references this time because the agenda doesn’t say anything about what this project is.

37. ORDINANCE appropriating $559,690.00 out of Parks Consolidated Construction Fund and awarding construction contract to CARRERA CONSTRUCTION, INC for Hermann Park Electrical Upgrade.

38. ORDINANCE appropriating $7,113,217.00 out of Drainage Improvements Commercial Paper Series F Fund and $1,931,783.00 out of Water & Sewer System Consolidated Construction Fund, awarding contract to REYTEC CONSTRUCTION RESOURCES, INC for Central Park Subdivision Storm Sewer Facilities (Phase II).

39. ORDINANCE appropriating $490,005.00 out of Drainage Improvement Commercial Paper Series F Fund and $91,995.00 out of Water & Sewer System Consolidated Construction Fund; awarding construction contract to ACM CONTRACTORS, INC for Cambridge\Browning Elementary Paving and Drainage Improvements.

40. ORDINANCE appropriating $8,485,334.05 out of Drainage Improvements Commercial Paper Series F Fund, $1,016,420.65 out of Storm Sewer Consolidated Construction Fund, $1,454,762.80 out of Commercial Paper Storm and Overlay Fund, and $834,482.50 out of Water & Sewer System Consolidated Construction Fund, and awarding contract to JALCO, INC, for West Little York Road Drainage Improvements from Hardy Toll Road to Hall’s Bayou.

41. ORDINANCE appropriating $939,000.00 out of Street & Bridge Consolidated Construction Fund, awarding contract to TIKON GROUP, INC for Safe Sidewalk Program.

42. ORDINANCE appropriating $4,476,692.48 out of Series E Commercial Paper Metro Projects Fund, $449,711.00 out of Water & Sewer System Consolidated Construction Fund, awarding contract to CONRAD CONSTRUCTION CO., LTD. for Paving Extension of Buffalo Speedway from West Orem Drive to West Airport Blvd.

43. ORDINANCE appropriating $200,000.00 out of Street & Bridge Consolidated Construction Fund as an additional appropriation for Professional Engineering Services Contract between the City of Houston and PTI, INC for Design of West Little York Paving from Wheatley to T.C. Jester (approved by Ordinance No. 98-1185).
That’s Ordinance 98-1185, as in “the 1185th ordinance of 1998.” Taking their time on this one, eh?

44. ORDINANCE appropriating $849,096.00 out of Street & Bridge Consolidated Construction Fund, $135,474.00 out of Water & Sewer System Consolidated Construction Fund and $250,000.00 out of Harris County Construction Fund; awarding construction contract to SOUTH COAST CONSTRUCTION, INC for Reconstruction of West Little York Bridge at Vogel Creek.

45. ORDINANCE appropriating $5,134,102.00 out of Series E Commercial Paper Metro Projects Fund No. 49M, awarding contract to ANGEL BROTHERS ENTERPRISES, LTD. for Generic City Wide Overlay Package #10,
Random blacktopping, no doubt immediately before the street is dug up for water main repairs. Fifteen years ago, that didn’t make any difference, as they rebuilt the road base. Now they just throw dirt in the hole and slap a little blacktop over it; within a year you’ve got potholes you could lose a kid in.

46. ORDINANCE appropriating $1,626,969.97 out of Street & Bridge Consolidated Construction Fund (Number N-0420-01-1), and approving and authorizing purchase of easements and other interests in real property and payment of the costs of such purchases and/or condemnations of such real property and associated costs for Appraisal Fees, Title Policies/Services, Recording Fees, Court Costs and Expert Witness Fees, for and in connection with, and finding a public necessity for, various Hike and Bike Trail Program Projects identified in the body of this ordinance.
Wait, did I read that right? Enough money to finance an ENTIRE police cadet class being spent out of the Street and Bridge fund… for yet another hike and bike trail of limited utility? You know, I’m beginning to understand why the not-a-cop program was a “last-minute add in.”

END OF CONSENT AGENDA

Item 47: Property

47. RECOMMENDATION from Director Department of Public Works & Engineering, reviewed and approved by the Joint Referral Committee, TO AMEND MOTION #2003-267, 3/12/03, Item 1 to include the conveyance of two easements and Item 7 to appoint independent real estate appraisers – TWO APPRAISERS and one ALTERNATE APPRAISER –
Note the date. Looks like there might be a dispute here?

Items 48 and 49: Matters Held

48. MOTION by Council Member Khan/Seconded by Council Member Alvarado to adopt recommendation from City Attorney to deposit the Award of Special Commissioners, into the Registry of the Court, pay all costs of Court and not file any objections to the award in connection with eminent domain proceeding styled City of Houston v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, a, Delaware corporation, et al., Cause No. 849,401, for acquisition of Parcel AY2‑172C; for the COLUMBIA TAP HIKE AND BIKE TRAIL PROJECT (Polk St. – Dixie Dr.); CIP/GFS N‑0420-22-1 – $354,567.00 – This was Item 11 on Agenda of June 21, 2006
There’s not much more I can say about the amount of money we are spending so a few people can “hike and bike” their way to healthiness, but I’ll state my opposition rather than just snark this time. Where such amenities do not take away from existing traffic lanes for automobiles or compromise their safety by narrowing lanes, I don’t have a problem with the concept; it’s just that — face it — these are luxuries. Such should be budgeted only after the necessities are taken care of, and it’s terribly obvious from the crime rate that they haven’t.

49. ORDINANCE amending Exhibit “A? of City of Houston Ordinance No. 90-1292 (as amended by City of Houston Ordinance No. 2006-165), to amend the Master Classification Ordinance to add, revise and/or delete certain classifications substituting the amended exhibits as part of the current master classification listing, POSTPONED BY MOTION #2006-512, 6/21/06 This was Item 58 on Agenda of June 21, 2006.
Ok, I’m starting to get curious about this one. I thought it was routine fluff, but the fact that it’s gotten tagged, and then formally postphoned makes me think there is a significant issue at stake here. Maybe not as significant as “not-a-cops” on patrol, but something’s causing some wrangling.

MATTERS TO BE PRESENTED BY COUNCIL MEMBERS - Council Member Lovell first.

End of Agenda

Remember what I said about passing things on “an emergency basis, business as usual, nothing to see here?” Bear in mind that all agendas have the following statement near the end:

“ALL ORDINANCES ARE TO BE CONSIDERED ON AN EMERGENCY BASIS AND TO BE PASSED ON ONE READING UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED, ARTICLE VII, SECTION 7, CITY CHARTER”

So if you’ve ever wondered if the city is sliding into chaos, rest soundly at night, knowing that the city is always in an emergency–it’s nothing unusual.

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