ChronBlog ran TWO editorials today (a terrible bit of horrible writing from the ChronBlog Caucasian Think-Tank and a formulaic plea from Patrick Oxford head of the Greater Houston Partnership) designed to accentuate the curves of Houston to the prospective leadership team of the soon-to-be newly formed airline created by the merger of Continental and United. (Mr. Smisek, we're ready for our close-up!*)
Unsaid amongst the lack-of-status hue & cry are the very things that Houston's struggling with in the first place. Namely: The City's government, over the span of the last decade, has hardly been "business friendly"
From selective application of ordinances to satisfy wealthy, politically connected constituents to filing lawsuits against the region's largest employers to marketing for most-favored customers while not doing the same for those in 'unapproved' areas, Houston's recent business friendly reputation has taken a high-profile hit or two.
Why is this? Part of the reason lies in the incompetence of the Brown administration followed by a White administration that tuned out the nuts and bolts of infrastructure and economy. The remaining cause lies with a power structure that's been bent on satisfying transplanted progressives who give heartily to political campaigns. The concern wasn't building a Houston that creates jobs, it was for building a Houston that has downscaled facsimiles of things found in other "world class" cities in the North East.
In short, Houston needs to get it's pro-business, pro-jobs mojo back. Early returns suggest that the Parker administration grasps this, and is willing to make (at least some of) the tough choices required to make it happen. What businesses want, more than parks, or stadiums or anything, is a consistent structure that allows for long-term planning. If Houston wants transit, then it needs to approach the citizens with a long-term plan for transit that's not deviated from as the political winds shift, overseen by a transit organization that's transparent with how it's spending taxpayer dollars. If Houston wants increased land-use restrictions, then it needs to bring a comprehensive plan to voters to enact said rules, not choose to apply them piece-meal when a favored group gets their knickers in a knot. And finally, if Houston wants to keep it's remaining corporations, then it needs to go back in time and revisit what made it so attractive to them in the first place.
Until we have that conversation with Corporate Houston, then all we're going to be left with are bad editorials and jingoism as one company after another looks for a way out.**
*Of course, they also ran a anti-merger piece by former anti-trust lawyer (and current UH Law Professor) Darren Bush which probably reflects their real sentiments more closely)
**It's probably too late to do anything about Continental leaving as that ship has sailed, but the object should be to strengthen our business chops to save the companies that are still here