|Who gets the George R. Brown?|
Fiscal Affairs Committee Meetings of Houston City Council are among the last places you go expecting to see a first-rate tirade, complete with a door-slamming storming-out, but that was just what Hair Balls found there yesterday.
It happened when city Development Director Andy Icken (of Heights Wal-Mart email leak infamy) and Houston Convention Center Hotel Corporation Board Chairman Ric Campo briefed the committee on the proposed consolidation of the city's Convention & Entertainment Facilities Department with Campo's HCCHC.
You can read all about the ramifications of that deal here, here, and in the mayor's office's own words, also here.
Basically, the merger would create a non-profit organization called the Houston First Corporation. Pending council approval on May 18, Houston First would lease out the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Wortham Theater, Jones Hall, Jones Plaza, Miller Outdoor Theatre, Sesquicentennial Park, Root Memorial Square and several other smaller park and performing arts facilities from the city for a one-time cash payment of $8.6 million, followed by yearly payments of $1.4 million over the next five years.
Amid the drone of acronym-laden, jargon-heavy talk that followed (amid the alphabet soup, we got to hear the word "visioning" quite a bit), and a few questions from mostly contented council members, there suddenly erupted a volcano in the form of Councilman James Rodriguez, whose District I encompasses downtown, the site of most of the venues and the home of many arts donors and patrons.More »