Part 1 - Cites
are created by charter, like a corporation. Citizens form a city to provide
services the private sector can't efficiently provide on its own - water and
sewer service, fire and police protection, parks and libraries, streets and
city is a public services company that you own. The city council is your board of
directors. In Houston, the mayor is your chief executive officer.
does your company make decisions on your behalf?
to the Houston City Secretary's website:
week (with a few exceptions), a Houston City Council meeting starts on Tuesday
afternoon with something called "public session." That's where
citizens take turns griping about potholes or police brutality for three
minutes apiece. The stranger ones tend to go last.
on "Current City Council Agenda," and you can see how the meeting is
on "Archived Agendas and Minutes" and you can see what they've done
at previous meetings.
on a date under "minutes" on any given two-day meeting and scroll
down past the people griping about potholes... past the unhappy tow truck
drivers... past the recognition of Mrs. Smith's 2nd grade class for the poster
they made for National Milk Week.... just past the part where "President
Joseph Charles" is complaining that the city is conspiring with the mafia
and space aliens to remove all of his internal organs with lasers. Shortly
after that, you'll see where they recess until Wednesday. Wednesday is when the
important stuff starts.
a real agenda item from a Wednesday session at least a few weeks ago, where the
minutes are online (but not before July, 2015), something where they're
changing a city ordinance or spending a lot of money. Pick something where
there was some council discussion, preferably some disagreement, and a recorded
Write a 3-5 page
college-level essay about the item, telling me what the item was about, who
was for and against it, what happened, and what you think about it.
(Please find an item with enough information that gives you something to write
about. Do NOT submit a three sentence essay that says they proposed buying some
orange construction cones, everybody voted for it and you think it's nice
because safety is good. Find something
where there was some disagreement, or at least some serious discussion. If you
don't see that, keep looking.)
Part 2 - Counties
County Commissioners Court meets every Tuesday. Remember from your reading how
counties are “general law” forms of government? They have much less rulemaking
power than cities, and much less authority to spend money without specific
approval from the governing body. When you look at a Commissioners Court
agenda, it’s always surprising – at least to me – to see what is essentially
the board of directors of a billion-dollar corporation voting on whether or not
to pay sixty-three dollars to let some employee go to a seminar. But… rules are
to the Harris County Commissioners Court website:
up the current agenda.
what I mean?
Write a short paragraph
giving one example of an item on the Commissioners Court agenda that you would
NOT find on the Houston City Council agenda, and explaining why it's different
from something you would find on a city council agenda.
for the fun part...
Part 3 - Property Tax Bills of the Rich and Famous
you have noted in your reading, local government is funded largely by ad
valorem (property) taxes. Property owners pay this tax based on the value
of their property, which is determined by the Harris County Appraisal District.
you know you can look up any piece of property in Harris County on the HCAD
website and see how much the county thinks its worth? Here's the HCAD website:
Search," you can search by owner name, or by street address. Look up all
of the following prominent Houstonians. For each, tell me
1. Name and property address.
2. Square footage of the "improvement"
(that's the house or condo - not the land that it's on).
3. The current appraised value of their combined
land and improvement.
List of Houstonians;
Houston Astro Hall of Fame member Craig Biggio (under "current
owner") - 6520 Belmont St
Former Astros first baseman Lance Berkman - 5 Farnham Park Dr
Houston Texans owner Bob McNair - 1807 River Oaks
NBA Hall of Famer Clyde "The Glide" Drexler, 11635 Versailles Lakes
Former United States President George Bush - 9 S West Oak Dr
Four-time Indianapolis 500 Winner A.J. Foyt, 3330 Del Monte Drive
Former Astros pitcher Andy Pettitte, 2214 E. Lawther Dr
Former Astro pitcher Roger (W Roger) Clemens - 11535 Quail Hollow
Super Lawyer Joe Jamail - 3682 Willowick
Channel 13 Anchorman Dave Ward- 5403 Broad Oaks Park
Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker - 428 Westmoreland Street
Restaurant owner (Landry's, etc) Tilman Fertitta - 3800 Willowick
Restaurant owner (Pappasitos, etc.) Chris Pappas - 7 Patrick Ct
Criminal Defense Lawyer Rusty Hardin - 2740 Barbara Ln
Former New Jersey mob boss Vincent
"Vinny Ocean" Palermo (witness protection program name
"Vincent Cabella") - 9105 Memorial Drive
*** Submit this assignment
in one Word file. Cite your sources.