Business

Greater Houston Partnership Cancels $1 Million Worth Of Local Government Contracts

The move comes in the wake of a legal battle over whether the Partnership must disclose how it spends public funds.

20130621223918_GHP-color_logo_1_.png

The Greater Houston Partnership has decided to cancel contracts with the City of Houston and other local governments, worth roughly $1 million a year. The move comes in the wake of a legal battle over whether the Partnership must disclose how it spends public funds.

The case stems from a request to see the Partnership’s check registers, filed under the state’s Public Information Act by a private citizen. The request applied to the years 2007 and 2008. During those years, the Partnership received $1.67 million in public funds from the City of Houston. In return, the partnership provided a range of services, including research, advertising, and economic development.

“They’re getting money from the public coffers, and the law says you’ve got to account for that” says Peter Linzer, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center. “And the courts have said that. The Texas Supreme Court hasn’t wanted to hear the case, but that means the District Court and the Court of Appeals have ruled on it — you know, that’s it.”

Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack says the Partnership shouldn’t expect further taxpayer funds if it’s not willing to disclose how those funds are spent. “It’s insulting,” Radack says. “I have no desire nor intention of ever voting to give the Partnership a single penny.”

According to Harris County records, this fiscal year, the county has paid $570,000 in contracts to six economic development organizations. Radack says the Partnership is the only one of these unwilling to comply with the Public Information Act.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s office issued a statement saying that the Partnership’s move would actually result in a cost savings for the city. It notes that Houston has already begun shifting its economic development resources to Houston First Corporation. Earlier this week, the Houston City Council adopted rules requiring greater transparency in the spending of public funds.

In its own prepared statement, the Partnership says these are annual contracts, which it has chosen not to renew for 2015. It hopes to keep working with the City of Houston and surrounding governments into the future. 

 

Harris County records on economic development spending

 

Share

Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

More Information