A handful of people clustered in the dim hallway outside room 100 in the building that houses the Harris County Flood Control District.
The clock nosed to 2 p.m. and everyone allowed in the meeting -- the members of the Harris County Flood Control District Task Force, each of whom are allowed one guest -- slid past two deputies from the Precinct 4 Constable's Office and into the room. In the minutes leading up to the meeting,a man was questioning everyone (or so it seemed) that walked into the door, politely but firmly informing each that this meeting was not open to the public.
The door swung shut behind them leaving about half a dozen people in the hall.
"So what are we going to do now?" A.C. Conrad, a longtime environmental activist, says.
"Well, we could sing a song?" Olive Hershey, a longtime activist on behalf of Buffalo Bayou, stared over at the door with narrowed eyes, looking unamused.
The door was thick and heavy, the kind you couldn't have heard through if you'd had your ear smashed against it. Of course, due to the officers standing in front of the door, no one was getting anywhere close to it.
The task force was slated to vote on whether to support the Memorial Demonstration Project, previously reported on by the Houston Press. "The task force wasn't elected. No one voted for them. They don't have the right to make decisions about our bayous," Hershey says.
While the whole thing was being sold officially as a completely run-of-the-mill non-public meeting, it was weird to see people questioning everyone who pulled into the parking lot, to see law enforcement watching everyone walk into the building and then settling in to guard the door of a meeting that is usually so sparsely attended that the matter of whether it's public has never been an issue until now.More »