Sunday, October 3, 2010

What the Apple Dumpling Gang Missed....

...regarding Proposition 1,

(Rainy Day Fee: Houston needs a dedicated fund to improve streets and drainage. The Apple Dumpling Gang, ChronBlog)
The cash-strapped municipal government does not have the revenue to keep up with that growth, and the result is an increasing backlog of badly needed projects to alleviate flooding and upgrade deteriorating roadways. The city's capital improvement program, which issues debt-incurring bonds to fund construction, is far behind the curve in dealing with the situation. According to at-large City Council member and engineer Stephen Costello, 65 percent of the city's drainage and street infrastructure — valued at over $10 billion - is beyond its useful life.

Is that most of the reason the city's infrastructure is in such a mess is that it's been placed lower on the priority totem pole than vanity projects backed by the very establishment that The Gang has never ran counter to.

It's the same establishment that put the financing of stadiums in front of infrastructure, of building parks for the well-to-do over drainage, that building amenities for the world classiness set instead of ensuring middle-and lower-income neighborhoods stay above the water line during a mild rain.

The result? Houston has a lot of stuff for the so-called "creative class" who use it up and then abandon it as tragically un-hip in a relatively short period of time. Houston has 7 miles of light rail that doesn't do anything to reduce congestion and a bunch of decoration and garland hung on a tree whose roots and trunk are rotting.

I'm not necessarily against Proposition 1 per se. I've always been a fan of infrastructure spending and I believe that it, rather than chasing pipe-dreams of trendy new industries, is truly stimulative in nature. However, blind spending without realizing the steps that led a city to this mess is nothing more than a waste of time and resources.

And that's why I'm almost hoping City voters vote this down. Not because it's not needed and not because it's not worthwhile, but as a message to the establishment that blank checks with no real improvement plan outside of a "trust us" just aren't going to cut it any longer. Houston has trusted the establishment for long enough. Look where it's got them.

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