Open Government Project
A Government Watchdog Group
State of Texas
City of Galveston
Public Interest Groups
by David Stanowski
09 April 2012
The Conciliation Agreement (CA) was executed on 25 May 2010, just 17 Days after the election of Mayor Joe Jaworski. Shortly thereafter, the debate began about its demands on the City of Galveston. The Mayor claimed that it mandated the rebuilding of 569 Public Housing units in the City of Galveston, and that the failure to do so would result in the loss of all of the City’s disaster recovery funding. The GOGP, and many others, said that the CA says no such thing! The sections concerned with Public Housing in Galveston, on page 16, merely allocate money for the rebuilding, IF it is actually done, but do not specify where any rebuilding must take place.
The debate raged on for several months until the Mayor asked the TDHCA to support his interpretation of the CA with a “legal opinion”. The memorandum began with the admission that, “There was no direct mention in the letter of where the units were to be built.” Unfortunately, after some additional tortured and convoluted reasoning it ended with, “…the Conciliation Agreement appears to direct that the intent was to require the 569 units to be rebuilt within the city limits of Galveston…”. The key word is “appears”, because the CA does NOT actually say what the Mayor wants it to say; it just “appears” to say that when you have an ally do the “interpretation”!
So from June 2010, until 04 April 2012, the Mayor has consistently reiterated that the CA mandates what the City must do and the consequences of not doing it in spite of the fact that there are no words on paper that support his claim. However, since most people have never read the CA or the TDHCA “interpretation” of the CA, many have accepted his version of the truth.
The fact that anyone even believes that the CA actually mandates the rebuilding of 569 Public Housing units in the City of Galveston, and that the failure to do so will result in the loss of all of the City’s disaster recovery funding, can be credited to propaganda technique known as “The Big Lie”. "It employs the use of a lie so colossal that no one would believe that someone could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously!"
On 24 December 2011, the Mayor wrote,
“Housing choice vouchers are not an option for replacing Galveston’s public homes. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state of Texas and housing advocates who enforce the Conciliation Agreement intend that 569 identifiable homes be replaced.”
“…the 2010 Conciliation Agreement signed by the State of Texas, both approved by HUD, require 569 hard units, not transferable housing choice vouchers, to replace homes formerly at Magnolia Homes, Cedar Terrace and Oleander Homes. The parties will enforce those agreements.”
On 15 February 2012, the mayor wrote,
“MYTH: We can rid ourselves of public housing by issuing 569 Housing Choice Vouchers.
FACT: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the state of Texas and housing advocates, all of whom will enforce the Conciliation Agreement, flatly rejected the Galveston Housing Authority’s proposal to use Housing Choice Vouchers to replace some or all of the required 569 public homes.
If any candidate suggests we should try our luck in court to overturn the agreement, look for state and federal authorities to freeze $1.9 billion in regional disaster funds while we get beat in court.”
After all the propaganda supporting this position, on 04 April 2012, the GHA Board suddenly voted to reverse itself and substitute vouchers for some of the Public Housing units that they want to build in this city! How can that be?
The Mayor’s 09 April 2012 explanation is, “The Galveston Housing Authority commissioners I appointed amended their redevelopment plan, and you can bet I had something to do with that. The housing authority’s new plan meets the spirit of the agreements to rebuild Hurricane Ike-damaged affordable housing in Galveston,…”
Are you kidding me!
When other people wanted to substitute vouchers for rebuilding Public Housing, the Mayor told us that it would violate the CA, and the City would lose all of its Disaster Recovery Funding, but when it becomes politically advantageous for him to do the same thing; it “Meets the spirit of the agreement?”
So, what is the truth about the Conciliation Agreement; what we have been told for almost two years, or what we are being told now?