While I was off dealing with life and death issues, literally, a major seachange occurred in City of Houston politics. A federal judge ruled that the time limits placed on fundraising for city offices was not valid.
While I noticed the Chronicle wrote a story on the subject, for the most part, I nearly missed the topic when I was out. There was not much buzz about it. Of course, the incumbent elected officials at City Hall are thrilled. It means they can build war chests and strong-arm donors all year long. It brings the permanent campaign to City Hall.
Passed back in the early 90’s, shortly after the adoption of term limits, the time limits allowed Council Members basically one year without fundraising. During that year, everyone at City Hall could focus on the issues and handling the city’s business. Of course, it is always political.
Now, City Hall will be no different than the U.S. Congress. Every day, incumbents will be thinking about their war chests and check lists of donors will be maintained. Before a meeting, a staffer will check to see if the visitor is in “good standing”. Granted, this blogger may be a little cynical but we’ve been around for a long time, before the limits were imposed on donations and before term limits.
Even term-limited Council Members will be able to raise money on their way out the door that they can use for their next campaign or to support other candidates.
Probably one of the most corrupting factors in American politics today is the influence of outside money and the ever-escalating costs of campaigining to a dwindling pool of voters.
The City of Houston has now fallen backwards in a critical ethics path. We can’t blame City Hall but we can ask that our Elected Officials remember the folks in their governing and not just those who can afford to play the game of politics.