Oct. 25, 2014
The chairman of the Harris County Flood Control Task Force has closed the upcoming Monday afternoon meeting during which the task force will vote on the project to destroy the last natural stretch of Buffalo Bayou in Houston.
Task Force Chairman Ranney McDonough said in a phone call late Thursday afternoon that the doors to conference room 100 in Flood Control District headquarters, 9900 Northwest Freeway, will be closed to the public and anyone who tries to attend the meeting without authorization will be turned away.
The Sierra Club representative on the little-known 31-member task force said she was surprised by the move. “I never heard of the meetings being closed,” said Evelyn Merz, chair of the conservation committee of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Most often they have difficulty getting enough people to attend to have a quorum.”
McDonough’s legal authority to close the meeting is dubious, based on the Texas Open Meetings Act. The task force, appointed by the Harris County Commissioners Court, makes no binding decisions, and the vote Monday is symbolic. The purpose of the task force, founded in 1973 as a result of citizen activism, was to balance the interests of flood control, economic development, and preservation of our diminishing natural resources.
Opponents of the $6 million project, officially known as the Memorial Park Demonstration Project, will be attending the 2 p.m. meeting despite McDonough’s declaration. All are urged to attend to witness the proceedings in defense of the bayou. We must shed light wherever we can on the absurdity of this wasteful enterprise and those who are responsible for it.