On Wednesday, the Turner Administration’s final city council hearing was held at Houston City Hall.
It was mostly business as usual until the second-to-last agenda item, which had been characterized as unusual business for the council for weeks.
“We don’t renegotiate a contract here in the chamber on the last day of the council,” Council Member Robert Gallegos explained.
However, this is precisely what the Houston City Council did on this particular day. By amending an agenda item, the Houston Airport System’s contract with a few food suppliers would be changed. According to Council Member Martha Castex-Tatum, amending the language regarding a contract being canceled for “convenience” is basically about treating everyone fairly.
“No other revenue contract in the City of Houston has a termination clause for convenience besides these four,” Castex-Tatum claimed in a press release.
The amendment was approved by only two votes in favor of Mayor Sylvester Turner. Over the last eight years, votes at the city council have not been this close on a regular basis.
This said, there was still the issue of voting for the item itself which was focused squarely on a select group of vendors, primarily the battle between the Pappas family and a group out of Miami called Areas. Pappas is suing the city for what they believe to be a defective process in awarding the contract to Areas last winter.
When this debate originally erupted, KPRC 2 Investigates found and highlighted numerous red flags in the area proposal.
“The people who are at the airport now have a contract for ten years, the only people who are objecting here are speaking for one vendor, Pappas,” Turner went on to say.
However, while Houston City Council debated whether a future mayor could cancel the Areas deal for “convenience,” one topic went unasked: How is business at Hobby since the change?
“I’m not certain. “I’m not sure,” Council Member Letitia Plummer stated.
It’s worth noting that if any vendor fails to fulfill their minimums, a future Mayor can still cancel for “cause.”
The agenda, like the amendment, was approved by only two votes after significant discussion and debate.
This means that if the city council decides to cancel a contract with one of these vendors in the future, the mayor will no longer be able to do so. Keep in mind that a new city council or mayor can always submit and reverse an agenda item addressing today’s change in city policy. Yes, the new mayor has the authority to do whatever he wants because he is still the Mayor of Houston,” stated Council Member Mike Knox.
John Whitmire, the newly elected Mayor of Houston by a landslide, enters office at midnight on January 1st.