A special City Council meeting requested by some of its members was unable to proceed today because it lacked a quorum. Afterward, some members made public statements about Mayor Sylvester Turner's plan to schedule a Nov. 6 referendum election on a salary petition by the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association. Below is a response from the mayor, who was in Argentina as part of a South America trade mission to further boost the Houston economy:
"A proposed meeting called by a few council members while the mayor is out of town on official business is wrong on so many levels.
"The firefighters' referendum needs to be vetted by council committee.The initial estimate is that it will cost taxpayers $236 million over 3 years at a minimum -- about $79 million a year. Council members have a responsibility to their constituents and people in the city to justify these costs and explain how it will be paid for.
"Now that we have reformed the city pension system, it is unthinkable that these council members would put us right back in deep financial turmoil.
"The public has a right to the facts about the referendum before it votes. Council members should not want to hide the facts from them."
At the mayor's earlier request, the council's Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee will conduct a special meeting at 10 a.m.Thursday in council chambers about the substance of the petition. Last week the mayor's staff started preparing documents for an Aug. 8 council vote to schedule the election.