Houston’s contentious fight over firefighter pay may not end when polls close on Tuesday. As this week’s city council agenda rolled out, many took notice of a $1.34 million contract proposal to hire the firm of Norton Rose Fulbright to represent the city in litigation over “the potential passage of the Pay Parity Charter Amendment” better known as Prop B.

Turner seems to be hoping to win in the courts if he can’t win at the polls.

If approved on Wednesday, this move will further increase the cost that taxpayers have spent to challenge the firefighters’ effort.

When the petition was initially submitted, Turner launched a tax-funded fight to defend his administration’s lawless attempts at delaying the verification of the petition.

Then, when that attempt proved fruitless, he held campaign stops disguised as public town halls. He visited each council district, extolling the virtues of the drainage fee and begging for voters to reauthorize it while lambasting the pay parity measure and arguing that it would hamstring the city.

These examples don’t even consider the numerous times he electioneered from his seat in city hall.

Now, bringing the cost to oppose the measure well into the millions, he’s asking council to prepare for a legal fight.

The agenda item says he selected the firm because “of its unique history and knowledge regarding the City’s pension reform and firefighter collective bargaining agreement …”

Turner is not only using public funds for political purposes, but he’s using them to oppose members of his own workforce. Despite the outcome of Tuesday’s election, the continued breakdown of the relationship between Turner and firefighters is not in the best interest of those they both serve.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.


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