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Mayor to Chamber: “This is Houston’s Time”

GREENSPOINT– Mayor Bill White stepped to the microphone with confidence and good humor, as he addressed the luncheon group of the North Houston Greenspoint Chamber this week.

In general, his talk was very upbeat. He said “It is a Great Time to be in Houston Texas”.
He cited the net job growth in the last 12 months as a strong indicator for our future.

“We are in a place to ‘Fulfill the Dream’ and we should work hard to achieve that.”

He spoke about the goals and accomplishments of his administration since he took office in January.

He outlined four areas which are his goals for having an impact on the city:

One, Economic Development. Noting the unique diversity of Houston, and the high quality of life including low living costs, he cited these as strengths which have attracted many people and corporations to the city. In particular, he mentioned Chevron Texaco’s International operations, and Citgo Corporation. He also wants to encourage growth from local businesses, and cited a new speeded up permitting process for construction, which he plans to implement. This process would be radical, and allow design professionals instead of city plan reviewers to certify drawings for construction.

Two, Mobility. White said he was trying to do simple things first, that would have greater impact, and cited the retiming of traffic lights throughout the city as an example. This program has received an overwhelming response, much to his surprise. By Dec. 15th he expects 2/3 of all traffic lights in the city to be retimed.

Another initiative that has now been worked out, and will be fully effective by January, he said, is the towing of accidents off the freeways to keep traffic moving. This should result in faster service and lower rates, he said.

Mobility plans also include new Mass transit alternatives, which are being studies. He has also asked METRO to coordinate construction so less inconvenience to street traffic occurs.

Three, Quality of Life. Especially in neighborhoods, White thinks there is much room for improvement. He said the city will provide more hours for libraries to be open, and more swimming pool hours, as well as build more bike trails.

Flooding, a major campaign issue, will be addressed with a special dedicated fund. It will be financed by a bond issue.

He cited subsidence as a major Houston problem, and noted that the intersection at Beltway 8 and Hwy. 290 had sunk 2’ in the last 10 years. The switch from well water to surface water throughout the city is expected to alleviate much of this problem, White said.

Four, Government reform. White will implement many reforms to customer service and personnel matters that he used in private business, he indicated.

He feels that the city could be more responsive, and more efficient.

For the first time ever, there will be an employee Performance Evaluation city-wide. And, he will try to implement a scheme with more pay for better performance on the part of city employees.

In response to questions, he indicated the city will work in closer collaboration with non-profit existing non-profit agencies, to deliver social service, health care, parks, and after school programs.

In other Chamber business, Marilyn Bayless reminded the group of the upcoming Murder Mystery Theater on July 9th at the Greenspoint Club, and the July 8th luncheon that will feature Roundtable discussions. Call 281-872-8700 for reservations or details.