Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
The Final Brief
by David Stanowski
22 February 2015
There are some who must surely believe that the GOGP's "favorite issues" are public housing and concentrated poverty, so we must enjoy writing about them; but nothing could be further from the truth. This is not because they are difficult, if not impossible problems to solve, but because every time we find it necessary to write about them, we are forced to remember the blatant corruption and treacherous betrayal visited upon the City by the government agencies that so desperately want to keep warehousing poor minorities in this city.
Once you understand that poverty, and housing for the poor, are not simply part of the human condition, but problems that have been made infinitely worse by those who gain political power and personal financial benefit from luring the most vulnerable members of society into lives of perpetual helplessness and dependency; it is difficult to describe how truly unpleasant it is to write about these issues. For this reason, we hope that this is our last article, on this subject, for a very long time!
HUD has supported the warehousing of the poor, in isolated reservations of racial segregation and extreme poverty, from its inception, as numerous studies have found and court cases have affirmed. And yet, THEY are allowed to determine what is and is not "fair housing"! Clearly, allowing a corrupt federal agency to perform this function is insane.
Is HUD lax on ethical and legal violations?
HUD paid $37 million a month in subsidies to ineligible households
The fact that this city can no longer find a sufficient number of people to serve on its City Council and GHA Board who have the character and courage to stand up to the threats from this corrupt agency, and their agents in the GLO and the TDHCA, is further confirmation of just how far this city has declined.
When a city is blessed with 32 miles of beaches, and is situated only 50 miles south of the Houston metro area, but it still cannot grow or even maintain its population, over the last 55 years, it should be no surprise that it has become inhospitable to the middle class. It is the health of the middle class that determines whether a city is prosperous or declining. And, it is the middle class that must act as a city's conscience. Without a strong middle class, a city loses its moral compass.
As the City became more and more hostile to the middle class, many of its best and brightest residents; and those actually possessing courage and character, fled in search of more fertile environments and more abundant opportunities elsewhere. This means that many who are left are simply not up to the job of providing a moral compass for the City.
Some people who want to serve on various committees and boards, as well as the City Council, see these positions as a means of self aggrandizement, and as way to insinuate themselves into the most "prestigious" social circles, i.e. the "In Crowd" where they can become part of the local glitterati.
In a city where many people have given up and withdrawn from civic life, the level of power available to those who serve on committees, boards and Council can be intoxicating; because residents provide little or no accountability and oversight. Some also use these positions as a stepping stone to become the sycophants and Apparatchiks of the ruling Oligarchy and willingly do their bidding.
An Oligarchy is an unelected power structure where power rests with a small number of people; i.e. a privileged group. Such cities are often controlled by a few prominent families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next.
Apparatchik is a Russian colloquial term meaning "agent of the apparatus". It often carries negative connotations in terms of the quality, competence, and attitude of a person thus described. Here being used to describe those put into positions of power out of loyalty to the City's ruling Oligarchy and their grand plans.
In retrospect, it should have been no surprise that the City's Apparatchiks quickly agreed to continue warehousing the poor in exchange for federal money to re-pave the streets. Streets that should have been re-paved with local money years ago. Making the City a Federal Colony, that is dependent on federal money, allows them to ignore their responsibilities to make the City self-reliant, self-sufficient, and sustainable using its own resources.
It should also not have been a surprise that the "brilliant deal" that these Apparatchiks made was too clever by half. It has resulted in a flurry of activity to rebuild Cedar Terrace and Magnolia Homes, but a complete absence of activity in re-paving the streets. Clearly, they were bamboozled! They were simply not up to the job!
After the Apparatchiks made this deal, we had no choice but to take this matter to court. At first, we were very optimistic and hopeful, because we filed a case with hundreds of pages of evidence detailing how the GHA plan would violate the Fair Housing Act. Since building at Cedar Terrace is one of the most blatant violations of the FHA that can possibly be imagined; it should have been obvious to any court.
We were deeply disappointed and profoundly discouraged when the District Court chose not to even consider one scrap of our evidence. It simply agreed with the corrupt government agencies that highly subjective technicalities should be used to allow them to continue warehousing poor minorities, in isolated reservations of poverty, in a city that has lost its moral compass, and sense of shame, and would provide absolutely no resistance.
When the Oligarchy and their Apparatchiks and sycophants celebrated the ground breaking at Cedar Terrace, it was an act of "spiking the football" after a truly shameful "play" allowed them to get into the "end zone". There was nothing at all to celebrate unless a second Sandpiper Cove is good for the City. The elites have a party as public housing residents prepare to spend several more generations living in the same old reservations of segregated concentrated poverty. What can the middle class do except prepare for the next wave of poverty to wash over the Island or call their Realtor?
After the District Court ruling, our supporters told us that they felt morally obligated to take this matter to the Appellate Court as a public demonstration that some in this city still have a sense of right and wrong.
We filed our second and final appellate brief, on February 4th, so the appeal is now in the hands of the judges. Our attorney reminded us that only 14.5% of civil appeals are reversed by the 5th Circuit, so the odds are stacked against us. We knew this going into the appellate process, but our supporters felt that we could not let the cavalier dismissal of our case by the District Court go unchallenged.
Our supporters are more painfully aware than most of what lies ahead for this city, if we do not beat the odds and get a reversal by the Appellate Court. The City is already struggling to deal with a poverty a rate of 25%. Adding an additional 1,500 to 2,000 more impoverished people into the City will raise the poverty rate to about 28% which will put a tremendous strain on GISD and an additional burden on police, fire and EMS.
This is not the portrait of a city that can attract new middle class residents, let alone retain its current middle class population!
Some of our friends have already packed up and left town, because of the corrupt deal that was made on public housing. Without a reversal by the appellate court; others will surely follow. In addition, we are hearing from people that we don't even know that they plan to begin selling properties and vacating the City.
What lies ahead?
If the District Court is not reversed by the Appellate Court; more concentrated poverty and dysfunction will flow into the City.
Any city that CHOOSES to grow its level of concentrated poverty is not a hospitable environment for the middle class; and, clearly, the growth of concentrated poverty will not abate unless and until there is a drastic change in City government policy.
The current City Council ignored our letters on how poverty is engulfing the City and have chosen to focus on "far more important" issues like digital signs, party houses, and feral cats, so a solution to the poverty washing over the Island is certainly NOT "in the cards". This Council thinks that they can regulate the City into prosperity rather than addressing its fundamental problems. That hasn't worked for the last 50 years, but they chose to double down on a "losing bet".
Click here to read our Final Brief.
“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”