Today is International Women’s Day.
Today is also National Peanut Cluster Day.
Commentary is hearing the HISD takeover will be announced on Friday.
We will know later this morning if Pappas wins the Hobby Airport concessions contract. Meanwhile, the Chron’s Mike Morris and Dylan McGuinness have a detailed article today on the players involved in the concession contracts and how they are politically connected. Nice work by Morris and McGuinness. Here are parts:
Michael Harris, a lawyer and former Houston police sergeant, also has known the mayor for decades and is included in the Areas deal. He has less concessions experience, but has operated four Starbucks locations at Bush Intercontinental for about three years under an agreement with United Airlines, which does not go through the city procurement process. He said he has been representing concessionaires as an attorney for 20 years.
After Harris graduated from law school at Texas Southern University in 1996, he said he worked in (Mayor Sylvester) Turner’s law office for more than five years. Also in 1996, then-state Rep. Turner hired Harris’ mother as a part-time aide in his district office, paying her $600 a month from late October 1996 through late April 1997. He said he did not recall his mother working for Turner.
Sources with knowledge of the situation said Turner urged the city to add Harris to its team of lobbyists in Austin during former mayor Bill White’s tenure. Such recommendation calls, they added, are common. Records show Harris was paid between $25,000 and $50,000 to lobby for the city during the 2007 and 2009 legislative sessions.
Harris adamantly denied that he got the lobbying job because of Turner, calling such a suggestion an insult. He said it was his qualifications, not Turner’s recommendation, that got him the job. Records show he had begun lobbying in Austin in 2005, representing 22 clients, including some local governments.
Turner also paid Harris about $5,600 from his campaign account between 2000 and 2009 for consulting and catering and, in 2008, bought the furniture for his Capitol office from Harris’ law firm. Turner also contributed $1,150 to Harris’ unsuccessful 2004 campaign for Aldine ISD trustee.
Harris got some city work before Mayor Turner took office, records show, mostly collecting delinquent tickets and water bills. During Turner’s tenure, he has added roles as counsel on city bond sales, and was an unpaid mayoral appointee to the board of the Houston Housing Authority from 2018 to 2020.
Turner is not the only city official with ties to Harris. Councilmember Ed Pollard worked in Harris’ law office before starting his own firm, according to his campaign website.
Turner, (former State Rep. Helen) Giddings and Harris all denied in strong terms that their friendships had any influence on the competitive process used to award the contract.
Here is the entire Chron read: Mayor Turner has deep ties with bidders on $470M Hobby Airport deal (houstonchronicle.com).
Commentary really does not have a favorite in the dispute.
The 2022 World Series Trophy is coming to the Heights tomorrow and Friday. On Thursday, March 9, it will visit Christian’s Tailgate on White Oak from 4-5 pm, Drift on W. 20th from 5:30-6:30 pm, Moonshine Deck on W. 19th from 7-8 pm, and Austin’s Backyard on W. 20th from 8:30-9:30 pm. On Friday, March 10, the trophy will visit Total Wine, right next to the Kroger on Studemont, from 4:30-5:30 pm.