The HFRRF is in better financial shape than the other pension funds, and firefighters donât want to bear what they believe to be an unfair share of the burden. Thereâs also a question of controlÂ — the firefighters fund sets its own actuarial assumptions for its benefits system and doesnât want to give that up.
What happens if the firefightersâ opposition scuttles the bill? What then? Investor services like Moodyâs have already downgraded the cityâs credit rating to a negative outlook, and now Moodyâs is warning it could downgrade the credit rating further. What does this all mean for the future financial health of the city? Should lawmakers take the firefightersâ concerns into account, or just pass the bill regardless of the opposition?
We talk with Bill Fulton, director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, who’s organization has studied the city’s pension issues. And we seek out perspectives from City Controller Chris Brown and David Keller, chairman of the Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund.
Also this hour…
Pulitzer-Winner David Fahrenthold
Houston native David Fahrenthold recently won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for his investigations regarding then-presidential candidate Donald Trumpâs claims about his donations to charities. He talks with us about his career and the work that won him the highest award in print journalism.
Muslim Women and Veiling
Should Muslim women be banned from wearing the hijab in the workplace? A recent ruling by the European court of justice says the answer is âyesâ in that continent, as long as such a ban is part of a companyâs policy barring all religious and political symbols. Many have called such a ban an attack on Muslim women and a sign that certain faith communities were no longer welcome in Europe.
A professor at the University of Houston-Downtown has co-edited an anthology of personal stories about the practice of the hijab and veiling. It contains stories from Muslims and non-Muslims, including two from Houston. Nausheen Pasha-Zaidi talks with us about the collection, called Mirror on the Veil: A Collection of Personal Essays on Hijab and Veiling,Â and we hear from contributors Saadia Faruqi and Rev. Nell Green.
Buffalo Bayou Poet Trees
Last April,Â during National Poetry Month, Writers in the Schools began a new project around Buffalo Bayou called the Poet-Trees, where people could write poems or messages and attach them to trees in the area. This year, theyâre doing it again, with the hope of expanding the trees in a DIY format for anyone who wants to create their own poet-tree. One boy scout from Sugar Land did just that for his Eagle Scout project. We learn more about the project from some people involved.