The State of the City Address

Today I had the privilege of attending Greater Houston Partnership’s State of the City Address.  I have to say that I was quite impressed by Mayor Parker’s speech.  I’ll be the first one to admit that I have been critical of her from the beginning.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as it is important for all of us to be critical but respectful of our elected officials; however, I do want to point out when our elected officials are doing something right.  So here are three reasons why I really liked what she had to say:

– In her speech, Mayor Parker spoke about the budget problems facing our city but promised that she will not raise our property taxes.  It is important to note this because raising our taxes would be the easy way out of this mess.  Instead, she is going to look for budget cuts.  She also talked about lobbying to keep NASA running and increasing our international business ties, both vital for our economy.  Many people continue to say that Mayor Parker got us into our mess with the budget because she did not stop the spending as Controller; however, A controller can only make suggestions.  It is up to the mayor and city council to make those changes.  So I don’t blame her for this.  I’ll reserve my judgment until I see a little more from her as mayor.

– Mayor Parker knows what it is like to struggle and save, and she plans on using those experiences to benefit Houston.  Here is an excerpt from her speech:

“My dad wanted to be his own boss.  When I was about 12, my father invested all his savings to buy a fishing camp.  He moved us to Biloxi, Mississippi.  It was a success, going great…then one day a runaway barge knocked down the only bridge to the peninsula where we were located.  Through no fault of his own, overnight he lost 80% of his customers.  He struggled for months to keep things going, waiting for the state to step in and complete repairs.  Ultimately, the wait depleted all our savings.  We lost the business.  We lost our home.  He lost his dream.

My parents did not give up.  They did not walk away from their responsibilities.  We moved into a tiny rent house.  He took the only job he could find, as a night watchman.  He and my mom contacted their creditors and worked out a payment plan.  It took a very long time, but they ultimately paid back every dime they owed and restored their credit. This story is part of me.  I share it only because it helped form my world views and is central to how I approach the financial challenges facing our city:

I know that circumstances beyond our control can suddenly and irrevocably change life as we know it.  I know to work hard, accept responsibility and always put something aside for emergencies. I know that government must meet its obligations too.  I know that you face problems head on and do not avoid the hard decisions.  But I also know that if you do those things, you can succeed, and you can build a new dream.

Today in Houston, and all around our country, there are too many hard working families whose livelihoods have been suddenly taken away.  There are too many of our neighbors who are desperate for a good job, but who can’t find one.

I want Houstonians to know that I get it.”

– Finally, I really liked her speech because I could tell how much she loves Houston and loves being the mayor.  She has been very hands-on, and I can tell that she is working as hard as she can and putting everything she has into her job.  You might not agree with everything that she has done or will do, but I really believed her when she said “This is really an amazing job you have given me.  There isn’t a day I don’t wake up excited to go to work.  I love this city!”

You can read the full speech on Houston’s website: http://www.HoustonTX.gov

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