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By: Roy Douglas Malonson, Publisher of African-American News & Issues & Author of column series We MUST Understand

For over thirty-years, I have been telling anyone that will listen to me, the power that we possess as citizens of this nation. “Your money” and “your vote” are two of the most powerful tools that you have. Therefore, you should be careful who you give them to. Whoever you freely give, “your money” and “your vote” to, are amongst those whom you empower. This statement is applicable to any registered voter or any person who spends even a penny in this country, regardless of what race, ethnic group or culture you belong to.

Oftentimes, voters tend to show more interest on heavily publicized elections, such as the: presidential, governor’s and mayoral races. For some reason, they consider these races as more of a priority, in regards to whether or not; they will exercise their right to vote. However, history has shown that voter turnout is not as heavy, as it relates to voting on elections that are primarily focused on bonds and propositions within citizen’s perspective counties and local jurisdictions. Nonetheless, it is important for us to understand that voting on bonds, proposed by local officials are just as relevant as other elections.

We MUST Understand that voting on propositions within your county are, issues that directly impact and affect you as a resident and your family. Anytime a voter lives in a specified county and propositions are on the ballot in that district, then officials are requesting your permission, by way of voting. So when voters choose not to vote, then in essence what they are telling their elected officials is, “do what you want and spend “my money” as you see fit.” This is one of the main reasons, why I stress emphasis on members of the African-American community, taking control of the power that lies within “your vote”.

To that regard, we are approaching the upcoming bond elections on November 7. For our readers understanding, it is vital that the term “bond” is understood, as it relates to the type of “municipal bonds” that are being presented. According to the, U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s, investigator.gov, municipal bonds are, “debt securities issued by states, cities, counties and other governmental entities to fund day-to-day obligations and to finance capital projects such as building schools, highways or sewer systems. By purchasing municipal bonds, you are in effect lending money to the bond issuer in exchange for a promise of regular interest payments.”

These bonds are proposed by our local elected officials and voters are given the right to approve them by voting, “yes” or “no”. Once these bonds are approved through, “your vote”, it is, “your money”, that is responsible for paying them. In this election there are several propositions that will be on the ballot for the City of Houston residents. Hence, I would like to encourage the audience of African-American News & Issues, to go out and vote! There was a time when Black folks didn’t have the right to vote on anything, less known how their money would be spent.

Continuing, I would dare not impose my beliefs on the propositions that are up for voting, in the upcoming election. But, I want our readers to have the knowledge of the items that are being proposed, in regards to how “your money” is being proposed to be utilized. As such, here is a brief overview of the Bond Election and Local Option Election, as it relates to qualified voters within the City of Houston. For our readers’ reference, I have included the ballot language, as it will be written for Propositions A through E. This information has been retrieved from the City of Houston’s website, houstontx.gov. Each proposition is listed as follows:

Proposition A: The issuance of $1,010,000,000 pension obligation bonds for the purpose of funding a portion of the unfunded liability of the City with respect to the Houston Police Officers’ Pension System and the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System as contemplated by the pension reform plan contained in Senate Bill 2190 (adopted in the 85th (2017) Texas Legislature, Regular Session), and the levying of taxes sufficient for the payment thereof and interest thereon.

Proposition B: The issuance of $159,000,000 public safety improvement bonds for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation and equipment of public safety permanent improvements for the police and fire departments and the levying of taxes sufficient for the payment thereof and interest thereon.

Proposition C: The issuance of $104,000,000 park improvement bonds for the conservation, improvement, acquisition, construction and equipment of neighborhood parks, recreational facilities and bayous, including such green spaces along all bayou walking, running and bicycle trails to enhance, preserve and protect the health of citizens, water quality, natural habitat and native wildlife and the levying of taxes sufficient for the payment thereof and interest thereon.

Proposition D: The issuance of $109,000,000 public facility improvement bonds for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, remediation and equipment of permanent improvements that support public health and wellness, sanitation and other essential governmental and general services of the City and the levying of taxes sufficient for the payment thereof and interest thereon.

Proposition E: The issuance of $123,000,000 library improvement bonds for the acquisition, construction, rehabilitation and equipment of the public library system and the levying of taxes sufficient for the payment thereof and interest thereon.

Concluding, our local elected officials are requesting your permission to use your money for the purpose of, the pensions of police officers and municipal employees. They also are asking you to authorize funds be allocated to the improvement of: public safety, neighborhood parks, public facilities and library improvements. Make note of the amounts that are being proposed to finance these efforts. And remember, it’s “your money” and “your vote”, you need to decide how you want it to be used.

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