Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
It's Time to
Abolish the GHA!
by David Stanowski
23 August 2010
One of the primary obstacles to effective governance of this city is the use of agencies. These entities insulate the management and governance of their niche of city government from the direct oversight of the voters, and even the City Council. If the voters are unhappy with how the Park Board, the Wharves Board, or the Galveston Housing Authority are being run; what can do they do about it? They only get to vote for the Mayor and City Councilmembers, but since Council has little control over these agencies, what these entities do is not their responsibility; so no one is directly accountable to the voters. All that Council can do is to appoint the board members and hope for the best. Voters have now had many years to see just how badly “hoping for the best” has worked out.
Section 392.011 of the Texas Code creates a housing authority in each municipality in this state, but these housing authorities are not active and can not “transact business” until “the governing body of the municipality declares by resolution that there is a need for the authority”.
On 21 March 1940, the Board of Commissioners of the City of Galveston passed such a resolution authorizing its “housing authority” to transact business. The City then created a public facility corporation, governed by Section 303 of the Texas Code, for the operation of the GHA.
The recent history of the Galveston Housing Authority is certainly nothing to be proud of as was reflected by the investigation of the Ventana Group in 1996, the Consent Decree in 1997, and their actions after Hurricane Ike. Their actions and policies since Hurricane Ike are sufficient reason to question the advisability of allowing GHA to continue as a separate entity, because they have been totally unresponsive to the wishes of the voters, but the unethical and corrupt back room deal to send federal funds directly to GHA, circumventing any oversight by City Council, leaves no doubt that this agency must be shut down immediately, and its function transferred to city government.
Section 303.101 of the Texas Code provides for the dissolution of public municipal corporations by written resolution. The Galveston Board of Commissioners created this entity by resolution in 1940, so there is no reason why the Galveston City Council, which replaced the Board of Commissioners, can not dissolve it by resolution in 2010.
If the public housing function were to become a city department, subject to the direct control of City Council, we have to believe that the decisions made about public housing would better reflect the wishes of the majority of the residents who are searching for ways to rebuild their fragile city, rather than the politicians, bureaucrats, and members of the Poverty Industry who have a completely different agenda that will halt, or at least delay, healthy growth for many years to come.
It’s time for the voters to demand that Council shut down this runaway agency, and assume the responsibility for public housing itself!