Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
by David Stanowski
25 September 2013
For an entire year, contrary to the wishes of the voters, the Gang of Five (G5) has supported a public housing rebuilding plan that will continue to trap poor minorities in isolated segregated reservations of poverty in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA). After every vote, they attested to the fact that it was only valid if it Affirmatively Furthered Fair Housing (AFFH) as though merely saying those magic words would make it so.
Obviously, they knew all along that what they were doing would NOT AFFH, but they are not cursed with a moral compass, because they feel no sense of shame over what they have been doing. They simply made the cynical political calculation that sacrificing the future of public housing residents is a small price to pay to repave some streets.
On September 19th, Dr. Kirk McClure, one of the most qualified fair-housing experts in the country, left no room for doubt when he told the G5 that building at Cedar Terrace and Magnolia Homes would definitely NOT AFFH and that the mixed-income schemes slated to be built there have a very little chance of working.
The G5 did not even feign surprise at Dr. McClure’s findings which completely supported what the GOGP has been publishing for the last four years. Now, they no longer need to pretend that they don’t know that they shouldn’t build in these locations, they will simply rely on the Nuremberg Defense that they are just following orders, because HUD is “making them do it”.
The “legal scholars” in the G5 believe that since HUD is “forcing them” to violate the law, the City Council has no liability. This is not an informed analysis; it is simply wishful thinking on the part of Councilmembers who ignore the FHA at their own peril.
Now that the Terry Morgan memo has been made public, it has exposed the fact that the G5 is willing to rebuild large developments in poor minority neighborhoods while they search for ways to challenge the building of scattered sites in White neighborhoods. This moves their violation from disparate impact to intentional discrimination. If they are somehow successful in implementing their plan, their myriad of unlawful acts will leave this city exposed to legal challenges from residents of public housing and civil rights groups for years to come!
The G5’s indifferent response to Dr. McClure’s presentation was an embarrassment to the residents of this city. It had to make him wonder what kind of people live in a city that would elect them to serve on its City Council when they have no concern for fair housing and civil rights laws. The G5 has betrayed the public trust with their support of this unlawful plan.
Since the G5 is not going to do it, the GOGP must continue its consistent and steadfast efforts to force the City to build any additional public housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods in order to provide its residents with the opportunity to escape from a life of intergenerational poverty.
Addendum for voters:
What did the candidates pledge to do regarding Public Housing?
Click here to review
What is the word that best describes someone who pledges to do something and then does just the opposite?
Addendum for legal scholars:
Dr. Kirk McClure’s fair-housing presentation to the City Council:
30:50 – 31:06
Councilmember Norman Pappous: “The GHA plans for Cedar Terrace Affirmatively Further Fair Housing, yes or no?”
Dr. McClure: “I would say it does not. The answer is no.”
Councilmember Norman Pappous: “The GHA plans for Magnolia Affirmatively Further Fair Housing, yes or no?”
Dr. McClure: “I would say no.”
44:30 – 44:55
Dr. McClure restates his opinion that Cedar Terrace and Magnolia Homes do NOT AFFH.
Watch the presentation
Terry Morgan Opinion:
Attorney Terry Morgan was handpicked by the City Attorney to give the City Council legal options to challenge the Public Housing rebuilding plan.
What does he say about the mixed-income developments?
“To avert loss of grant funds, the City Council passed Resolution No. 12-033 (Exhibit A) on September 28, 2012 agreeing to a proposed Plan, conditioned on the requirement that the Plan AFFH.”
“The City pursuant to its charter has conditionally approved the reconstruction of Cedar Terrace and Magnolia projects, as long as the mixed income developments AFFH and that the City's Round 2.2 funds be released.”
Terry Morgan begins his analysis by reminding the City Council that they only agreed to move forward on September 28, 2012 on the condition that the plan AFFH. They have just been told that it does no such thing and yet they continue to move forward anyway.
What does he say regarding legal challenges to building the mixed-income developments at the proposed sites? NOTHING!
Apparently, someone told him to concede the mixed-income developments and just look for arguments to move the scattered sites to the Mainland.
Read his opinion
Contrary to the wishful thinking of the G5, the Texas Municipal League (TML), in its Home Rule Handbook, Chapter 10, “Personal Liability of Councilmembers” clearly states that not only does the City of Galveston have liability for constitutional violations, including “race discrimination”, but Councilmembers have personal liability for such acts:
“The literal language of Section 1983 (of Title 42 of the U.S. Code) makes all persons, Councilmembers included, personally liable for damages if their acts result in depriving others of their civil rights, regardless of whether such acts were reasonable and made in good faith. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that Section 1983 does not require proof that a defendant deliberately intended to deprive the plaintiff of his legal rights; the mere deprivation is itself a violation.”
Trapping people at the Cedar Terrace and Magnolia Homes sites clearly deprives them of their civil rights.
Read the Home Rule Handbook Chapter 10