HPOU PAC Votes To support Turner For Mayor

Ray Hunt

Houston city elections will take place in seven months for the mayor and council races.  The HPOU Political Action Committee (PAC) has met twice this year and made endorsements in many of the races.

Mayor Parker is term-limited and Houston will have a new mayor in January 2016. Several candidates are seeking to succeed her. The PAC screened the six announced viable candidates on March 20, including former Houston city attorney and mayoral candidate Ben Hall, current term-limited city Councilman Stephen Costello, current term-limited city Councilman Oliver Pennington, former Kemah Mayor and Chronicle columnist Bill King, former Councilman and Congressman Chris Bell, and current Houston attorney and state Rep. Sylvester Turner.

After careful consideration, every HPOU PAC member in attendance voted to endorse Sylvester Turner to be the next mayor of Houston. Rep. Turner cannot accept PAC donations until the end of the legislative session in June. The HPOU joins a list of supporters of Rep. Turner, including the dean of the Texas Senate, John Whitmire, the Houston Firefighters, Houston Metro Fraternal Order of Police, and HOPE, which represents City of Houston municipal workers.

Rep. Turner is serving his 26th year in the Texas Legislature. He has a long record of support for labor issues and is respected by members of both political parties. His leadership in the Texas House and the Houston community, along with his unwavering support for public safety, led the PAC to make this endorsement. We are proud to support Sylvester Turner for mayor!

At the March 20th meeting, the PAC also screened the viable announced candidates for at-large Position 1 on City Council, which is an open seat. After the screenings, the PAC members in attendance voted unanimously to endorse Harris County Democratic chairman and pro-police candidate Lane Lewis. A PAC donation of $2,500 also was approved.

The other endorsements made for the upcoming election were the friendly incumbents at City Hall, including councilmembers Brenda Stardig, Jerry Davis, Ellen Cohen, Dwight Boykins, Dave Martin, Richard Nguyen, Robert Gallegos, Mike Laster, Larry Green, David Robinson, Michael Kubosh and Jack Christie. The PAC approved $10,000 donations for each of these candidates, which will be distributed between now and November.

Finally, HPD officer and HPOU Board Member Jeff Wagner was endorsed for Pasadena City Council. The PAC approved a $500 donation to his campaign.

The election will be held on Nov. 3. PAC Chairman Dwayne Ready extends thanks to the 60 percent of HPOU members who give each month to the PAC and make the HPOU endorsement one of the most sought-after endorsements in the Harris County area. Members give anywhere from $5 to $100 per month to PAC and no membership dues are used for any PAC expenditures.

If you are not a PAC contributor, please consider signing up at the HPOU. PAC pays dividends!

Open Enrollment

I recently advised the director of Human Resources that if I die of a heart attack or stroke, it will most likely happen during open enrollment. The process each year seems cumbersome and unnecessarily difficult.

Our phones at the Union rang off the hook when a circular was sent out advising that open enrollment for HPD would be one week long, during Spring Break!

That week was actually the week that HPD was encouraged to sign up. The actual enrollment period is from March 16 until April 15. It was so much easier when one had to do nothing in order to keep the plan they were currently in, but that has not been the case for the last few years and IT’S NOT THE CASE THIS YEAR.

This is an active enrollment, which means anyone who is not retired must re-enroll in a medical, dental, and vision plan by April 15 EVEN IF YOU WANT TO KEEP WHAT YOU CURRENTLY HAVE.

If your dental and/or vision is with the Texas Police Trust (HPOU), those plans are not affected, but you still must re-enroll in a medical plan with the City of Houston at www.houstontx.gov/oe by April 15.

Please do not wait until April 15 to attempt this re-enrollment as the system is not user-friendly and has been down several times during the open enrollment period. You must have an active password to log on to the Employee Self Service (ESS). If you need to reset your password, contact client services at 832-394-4487.

Legislative Update

The 84th session of the Texas Legislature is at the halfway point and the number of committee hearings each week keeps our representative in the Capitol very busy. To date, there has been 6,138 individual pieces of legislation in the House and Senate. While not all of them deal with issues that impact Houston police officers and their families, there is a significant number that do.

HPOU Executive Director Mark Clark is in Austin on a full-time basis to protect and improve the interests of our organization. I have also been spending a lot of time in the Capitol to visit with elected officials and provide testimony on key bills that impact our organization.

During the course of the session, Mark has been scheduling and chairing weekly legislative meetings in the Capitol each Monday through our membership in the Texas Law Enforcement Council (TLEC). In addition to TLEC groups, many other groups from law enforcement, pension systems, district attorney’s offices, firefighters, and organized labor participate in the meetings. The weekly meetings have been a very helpful avenue for those who attend to discuss bills that are scheduled for hearings each week, plus they enable the concerned groups to coordinate organized plans regarding how to support or combat legislation.

It is also important to note that we work closely with our Department’s representatives, Assistant Chief Don McKinney and Lt. Jessica Anderson to jointly work on issues related to any issue impacting HPD or its officers. It is a great working relationship that is due in large part to the city of Houston and HPOU being committed to the Meet and Confer process of handling issues at the bargaining table. In exchange for that commitment, the city of Houston, our Pension System HPOPS and HPOU have contractual agreements to oppose any measure that impacts our benefits agreed to in HPOPS’ and HPOU’s Meet and Confer contracts.

Remember, our focus each session is to protect the interests of working law enforcement officers and their families, to promote legislation that makes our job safer, and to prevent legislation that adversely affects law enforcement.