Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
by David Stanowski
07 March 2014
The GOGP filed its original complaint on December 03, 2013. It was quickly followed by a barrage of procedural challenges from the Defendants, because the last thing that they want the court to do is to decide this case on its merits. Obviously, these government agencies do not want to be forced to defend their rebuilding plan that clearly seeks to maintain segregated Public Housing in the City of Galveston for many years to come. Their hope is that their culpability and responsibility for this plan will disappear with a dismissal.
Their primary challenge is to the standing of the GOGP and the individual Plaintiffs to bring the case, but the selectivity with which they employ this tactic needs to be carefully examined.
The present case began when Lone Star Legal Aid (LSLA) challenged the demolition and rebuilding plans of Defendant GHA. They filed an Administrative Complaint with HUD and threatened to sue if they did not get the rebuilding plan they wanted. LSLA did not represent individual minority or disabled plaintiffs, and the organization did not offer any evidence that they suffered an injury in fact, which is essential to gain standing, and yet Defendants HUD, the City of Galveston and the GHA did NOT challenge their standing! Why? The LSLA did NOT demand an end to racial, ethnic and economic segregation, in Galveston Public Housing. Their demands were much more superficial. These Defendants not only did not challenge their standing, they quickly agreed to their terms.
Later, Texas Appleseed and TXLIHIS filed an Administrative Complaint with HUD and threatened to sue if they did not get the rebuilding plan that they wanted. Texas Appleseed and TXLIHIS did not represent individual minority or disabled plaintiffs, and their organizations did not offer any evidence that they suffered an injury in fact, and yet Defendants HUD, TDHCA, the City of Galveston and the GHA did NOT challenge their standing. Why? Texas Appleseed and TXLIHIS did NOT demand an end to racial, ethnic and economic segregation in Galveston Public Housing. Like LSLA, their demands were much more superficial.These Defendants not only did not challenge their standing, they quickly agreed to their terms.
The Defendants seem to be willing to make many superficial changes to their rebuilding plan, to avoid litigation, if the essential element is maintained; they must continue to be built in impoverished minority neighborhoods in the City of Galveston. However, they are completely unwilling to consider building Public Housing in high-opportunity neighborhoods throughout the County which would end racial, ethnic and economic segregation in this city and county. The nature and scope of the requested change seems to be what determines whether the Defendants will mount a standing challenge.
On March 5, Plaintiffs' counsel filed a Brief in Support of our Standing to bring the case. The research that was done to prepare the Brief confirms that both the GOGP and the individual Plaintiffs are on very solid ground!
They also filed a Second Amended Complaint that added two individual Plaintiffs.
One of the most revealing aspects of the numerous Motions to Dismiss, generated by the Defendants, is that none of them will take any responsibility for this plan. They all point their fingers at the other Defendants. Their rebuilding plan is an "orphan" without a "parent" that will claim it. They all vigorously defend it, but none of them want to own it. Ownership reflects very badly on the owner.
The Defendants' case has also been made dramatically more difficult to defend by the fact that HUD and the GLO have denied the Beaumont Housing Authority approval to rebuild Public Housing in similarly "impacted" neighborhoods, because it would "fail to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing", while they demand that it be built in "impacted" neighborhoods in Galveston. Like Galveston, Beaumont is also subject to the Conciliation Agreement.
This is still another reason why the Defendants are so anxious for a dismissal. They don't want to be forced to explain this dramatic discrepancy to the judge!
The Plaintiffs' primary case was filed on February 17 as an Application for a Preliminary Injunction attempting to halt this plan that seeks to continue segregated Public Housing in the City of Galveston. It was supported by 44 exhibits, encompassing about 1,900 pages, and a video of Dr. Kirk McClure telling the Galveston City Council that the Defendants' rebuilding plan would fail to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing.
The GOGP remains very confident in the substance of its case, and the standing of all the Plaintiffs to bring it before the Court, and will continue to move forward for a judgment on the merits regardless of Defendants' vigorous attempts to derail it with procedural roadblocks.
In an Order released on March 6, Judge Costa told the Defendants to:
File their briefs on the Plaintiffs' standing by March 14.
File their response to the Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction by April 7.
He told the Plaintiffs to:
File their response to HUD's Motion to Dismiss addressing the procedural challenges other than standing, i.e. ripeness and sovereign immunity by April 7.
Yes, HUD is claiming that the case is not yet ripe, because they have not yet officially approved it; regardless of their continued demand that Public Housing has to be rebuilt at Cedar Terrace and Magnolia Homes!