Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
The Lawsuit is
Ready to Go!
by David Stanowski
07 September 2012
The City Election:
Everyone agrees that the recent City election was a referendum on Public Housing. The voters soundly rejected the policy of the prior regime, and clearly stated that they no longer wanted to be the Poverty Capital of the State. There is a now a broad consensus that Public Housing should be the responsibility of the County, and the entire region; not just this city, so it’s time for other cities to accept their share.
To one degree or another, six of the seven new Councilmembers ran on a platform that promised voters three things:
1. No ADDITIONAL Public Housing in this city.
2. Oleander, Cedar Terrace, and Magnolia would be sold.
3. They would fight the Conciliation Agreement, i.e. the document that allegedly requires rebuilding on the Island.
Like everyone else, the GOGP assumed that there would no longer be any need to file our lawsuit, once the election results were in. The ultimate responsibility to solve the City’s Public Housing problem shifted back to the newly-elected Council where it belongs, so voters should be looking to their elected leaders, NOT the GOGP for the solution.
However, the inaction since the election casts grave doubts on whether this new Council will be able to deliver on the campaign promises listed above. We do not believe that “negotiations” can produce the solution that the voters expected on Election Day, because the City has nothing to bargain with, at this time. We continue to believe that the only way the City Council can produce an acceptable solution is by aggressively defending the City in court, so they should be encouraged to quickly explore this option. The clock is ticking, and the Council has not even hired an attorney, yet.
Voters seem to be stunned, disillusioned, and disappointed by the way the new Council has dealt with the Public Housing issue, so it is difficult to get a sense of what their current expectations are. Hopefully, they will communicate them to the Councilmembers.
The National Election:
Many people have told us that they believe that a Romney victory in November will create such a dramatic change at HUD that the new HUD Secretary will almost certainly recognize the illegality of their current policy for this city and instantly change course. This is certainly a possibility, but, if Romney wins, will there be time and access to the new administration to make the necessary changes in time to prevent any planned construction?
The latest timetable from MBS shows construction beginning in February 2013 which means that the national election is still a possible way to alter policy in favor of the City; but far from a certainty.
The GOGP Lawsuit:
The path that the new City Council is on does not inspire a great deal of confidence that they will meet the voter’s expectations, and Romney winning office, and then revamping HUD sufficiently to help this city is a real long shot, so many people have already turned to the GOGP lawsuit as the only hope for the City.
But, exactly what is “the GOGP lawsuit”?
This lawsuit will ask the court for a declaratory judgment stating that the HUD/GLO plan to flood the Island with hundreds of new Public Housing units will concentrate poverty and segregate minorities in violation of the Fair Housing Act, and it will also ask for a preliminary injunction to halt the process of implementing their plan until the court can oversee a suitable remedy.
The GHA has conducted three surveys of the 569 former Public Housing residents. All three showed that about 65% did NOT want to return to Galveston! The plaintiffs, in this lawsuit, are a part of that group of Public Housing residents. They are people who don’t want their families to be trapped “North of Broadway” for five more generations just to rebuild a voting block in the City, and to be the pawns in a political struggle that seeks to help the Poverty Industry generate profits at their expense. The plaintiffs represent just a portion of the hundreds of Public Housing residents who want to escape from poverty by asking the court to give them the chance to live in high-opportunity neighborhoods.
The GOGP is NOT a plaintiff in this lawsuit. We would like to be, but we do not have standing. We have been the “sponsor” and “organizer” of the lawsuit. We did all of the initial research, we found the lawyers, and we raised the money to pay the lawyers, but the actual plaintiffs are Public Housing residents who do NOT want to be FORCED to live in Galveston, just because the Poverty Industry wants them to be.
Now that the GOGP has completed its mission to organize and sponsor this lawsuit, the lawsuit has a life of its own. The plaintiffs have an attorney-client relationship with the lawyers, so the case will be filed on their behalf, when the attorneys decide that it is “ripe”, regardless of any actions or inactions by the GOGP. In other words, the lawyers are working for the plaintiffs, NOT the GOGP, so what happens from now on is strictly between the lawyers and the plaintiffs.
At this point, it is time to give this lawsuit a new name, or at least think of it in a different way. It is no longer “the GOGP lawsuit”; it will be Jane Doe, et al v. HUD, the GLO, the City of Galveston and the GHA.
Many people are certain to ask us, so let’s be clear. It will be the lawyers’ decision when to file this case, not the GOGP’s, because, as stated earlier, everything that happens, from now on, will be between the plaintiffs and their lawyers.
The Committee for Opportunity-Based Housing (COBH):
This new committee has been formed by a group of citizens who want to provide support for the lawsuit. The COBH will take the lead role in any fund raising efforts that may be needed to complete the case. They will also provide “moral support” to the plaintiffs from now until the court makes its ruling, and will assist them in making the transition to the high-opportunity neighborhoods selected by the judge.
The COBH is not a group that was formed to conduct research, to publish articles, or to communicate with the general public like the GOGP, so this committee plans to keep a very low profile in order to make themselves much less of a target for the Poverty Industry than the GOGP has been.
Those who wish to join their mailing list should contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how they might help.
A great weight of responsibility has been lifted off of our shoulders, because the COBH stands ready to assist us during this transition period, and what happens from now on is up to the lawyers and the federal court.
We believe that our research and “legal opinions” have successfully prevailed in the court of public opinion, so there is less and less need for us to publish articles on this topic which will allow us to focus more of our attention on other issues while the City Council decides what to do, and events run their course.
In short, our research methods and conclusions have been attacked and vilified by those who were unable and unwilling to debate them on the merits and offer any evidence to contradict them. For this reason, we believe that we have clearly won the debate, so we are declaring victory and moving on.
It has been an honor and a privilege to provide the vehicle and the leadership to get the process this far. We have met and come to know many extraordinary people who have a great love and concern for the future of this island, and who have made the ordeal of enduring the attacks from the Poverty Industry worth the effort. The "ball is on the two-yard line", and we have a great deal of confidence that the lawyers will be able to "take it into the end zone", and achieve the goal of securing opportunity-based housing for their clients.