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Council appoints HFC/GHCVB Board, prepares for sale of Fire Museum

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At a relatively brief City Council meeting on August 13, Houston City Council appointed 4 new members and re-appointed 4 members of the realligned Houston First Corporation/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. The two organizations are re-organizing with a joint Board of Directors so that their overlapping functions can be accomplished more efficinently. The four new members were recommended on Tuesday by Nickei Keenan on Tuesday. Harry Greenblatt, Chris Pappas, C. Fernando Cuellar, and Phyllis Baily appeared with Deyre Morgan and Harry Greenblatt. Some were reappointed to complete the expiration of terms on December 31 2014. Mayor Parker expects all 4 to be reappointed.

Another change will be the appointment of 2 City Council members to serve as ex officio members of the new board. In prior years, there was one ex officio City Council member, usually the District Council member representing the downtown area (District I). Mr. Rodriguez served in that capacity until he was term-limited out last year. Mr. Gallegos, who was initially nominated for the position (Item 42) agreed to decline in order to allow others with an interest to serve. Item 42 was referred back to the administration. Then the nomination of Council Members Martin and Robinson (Item 2) was tagged by Council Member Cristie. All meetings are open to all Council Members, and Mr. Gallagos plans to attend all meetings as well.

The Council voted to declare the property at 2403 Milam Street, the current headquarters of the Houston Fire Museum, as surplus property. The designation allows the property to be sold at market value. The property has been appraised, and the Fire Museum has sold another piece of property, so it will be in a position to purchase its current location. A deed restriction will require the continued use of the real estate as a museum for the next 20 years.

Almost all of the 45 items on the agenda were passed without debate or with brief supportive remarks. Item 14 amends Chapter 34 of the Code of Ordinances concerning the way the City of Houston disposes of abandoned, unclaimed, and stolen property in the posession of the police department. The changes were required as a result of changes in state law.

In a complex offer for contracts for supplying Lawn, Garden, and Insecticicde Chemicals for various departments with up to 60 groups, 6 bids were identical. The procedure for resolving tie bids is to draw lots. The Council member sitting closest to the Secretary in this case, Mr. Costello) draws the bidder's names from an envelope. Winners are included in the vote on the entire item in the minutes.

As Mayor Parker pointed out, this meeting was the first in which City Council operated with paperless agendas. Using a new software system, the agenda will be available with an option to select and download attachments and cover notices, formerly included in the “Agenda Backup.” City Counsellors will have access to a different version allowing for more markups and notes, and printed agendas will be available for the public for those who do not have access to a computer or cell phone. Whether due to the relatively non-controversial items on the agenda or the easier access of explanatory documents by the media, there were no questions for Mayor Parker at her press conference following the “Healthy Selfie” announcement in the rotunda after the meeting.

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