Houston Woman Wire

NEWS Court of Appeals affirms city's historic preservation ordinance

The Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas today affirmed the decision of the trial court that the city’s historic preservation ordinance (HPO) did not violate the ciity charter’s prohibition against zoning or the state’s Zoning Enabling Act.
In 1995, City Council adopted the HPO, which provides for the creation of historic districts and requires property owners in those designated districts to apply for “certificates of appropriateness” before demolishing, modifying, or developing property in a historic district. The law was amended in 2010 to eliminate the waivers that were available under the 1995 law and its amendments.
In 2014, homeowners in Heights East, a designated historic district, filed suit to have the HPO declared void and unenforceable as prohibited zoning. After hearing all of the evidence at a bench trial, the trial court rendered judgment in favor of the City. The homeowners reasserted their claims on appeal. The court of appeals rejected them as well, holding that the HPO does not create regulations based on geographic district, as zoning does, but on the historic significance of a small number of neighborhoods.
“This decision reaffirms the City’s rights as a home-rule city to protect its precious heritage,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said.

NEWS MFAH announces major acquisitions for new gallery

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, today announced three significant acquistions of Medieval art, now on view in the European Art Galleries of the museum's Audrey Jones Beck Building. A large, rare Hebrew codex, known as The Montefiore Mainz Mahzor (circa 1310-20); a rare surviving silver-gilt and enamel Spanish provessional cross (circa 1400); and one of the a handful of surviving architectural drawings for Rouen cathedral, attributed to its architect, will form the core selection for a newly conceived presentation of Medieval art. Each was a purchase, funded through dedicated MFAH acquisitions endowments.

"These three remarkable objects, in tandem with our significant and growing holdings of art from Asia and the Islamic worlds, will enhance the museum's ability to tell the story of pre-modern art and culture across cultures and continents," commented Gary Tinterow, MFAH director."I am delighted to announce these exceptional additionals to the collections, from among the hundreds we acquired during the last fiscal year."

The new acquisitions will be presented with a late-15th-Century Flemish tapestry depicting Hercules slaying Laomedon, which was acquired two years ago, and a number of artworks that have long been in the collection but that have not been on view in many years, including liturgical objects given in the 1930s by Annette Finnigan, Houston philanthropist and suffragette, and a reliquary monstrance from the Guelph Treasure, acquired by then-director Phillipe de Montebello in 1970.

For more information, please visit http://www.mfah.org/.

EVENT Romney to speak at Rice

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will visit Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy on Monday, Oct. 1 for a conversation on leadership, public service and the responsibilities that come with both. The event starts with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the program from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Romney was the 2012 Republican nominee for president and was a candidate for the 2008 nomination. He served as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, and he is currently running for a U.S. Senate seat in Utah.

The cost of attendance is $15 for the public, and registration is at www.bakerinstitute.org/events/1964. This event is part of the Baker Institute’s 25th anniversary commemorative programs featuring its centers and research.

The Baker Institute at Rice University is located at 6100 Main Street.

NEWS Houston City Council approves new budget in record time

By unanimous vote and in record time, Houston City Council today approved Mayor Sylvester Turner’s first City budget. In stark contrast to budget discussions of years past that lasted into the wee hours of the next morning, the vote came just before noon today and nearly a month ahead of the normal schedule. 

“Passage of this budget sends a strong message to the credit rating agencies about the importance we are placing on City finances,” said Mayor Turner. “This was accomplished not by putting hundreds of hard-working City employees in the unemployment line or by cutting critical services that Houstonians rely on and deserve. Instead, it was done via shared sacrifice and laser fine attention to fiscal management.”

Cost increases, voter imposed revenue limitations, a broken appraisal system and the economic downturn combined to create a $160 million budget shortfall, the worst fiscal challenge the City has faced since before The Great Recession when hundreds of City workers had to be laid off. The mayor’s budget eliminates the shortfall, maintains the City’s healthy savings account and cuts overall spending by $82 million, when compared to the current budget year. Library and park services were maintained and there were no layoffs of police and fire fighters. There is also funding for an additional police cadet class, for a total of five classes, the most in recent memory. For the first time in years, the number of police officers at HPD is starting to inch up.

“Each City department, the employee unions, City Council, the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones and various other parties worked together to identify cost savings and efficiencies while also minimizing employee layoffs and maintaining the critical services our residents rely on and deserve,” said Turner. I want to thank everyone for coming to the table to work together.”

Early in the budget process, Mayor Turner asked City Council not to tinker with his budget proposal, warning that even one small change could upset the delicate balance achieved as a result of shared sacrifice and put the City at risk for a credit rating downgrade.  In the spirit of working together, council heeded his request, submitting very few amendments, none of which had a budgetary impact. This also contrasts with previous years when there have been dozens of amendments put on the table.

The budget adopted today is for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2016. 


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