Houston mayor fires back against allegations of environmental racism

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is expressing both disbelief and outrage after Federal prosecutors allege the City of Houston has not done enough to stop the illegal dumping, which has long plagued minority neighborhoods.

"That's the investigation, whether or not the City of Houston, this administration, is actively discriminating against communities of Color," Mayor Turner said. "Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me?" 

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Turner coupled his outrage with immediate action, announcing a multi-million dollar expenditure for independent contractors to haul away garbage along with the deployment of more surveillance cameras to catch perpetrators in the act.

The Mayor also re-issued a plea to the public.

"This is not a concierge service," Mayor Turner said. "So, you have to help us out. If you know of persons who are doing it, businesses, people, you name it, help us out."

Triggered, as it was, by the DOJ discrimination probe, the Mayor's reaction, nonetheless, drew vocal support from many on Council.

"The Department of Justice’s accusation is off-base and out of touch," Councilmember Carla Cisneros said.

"A sign of blight in our neighborhoods only brings more blight and blight brings crime," Councilmember Robert Gallegos added.


Some, like Councilmembers Tarsha Jackson and Abbie Kamin, went further, proposing the City impose a new garbage fee to fund a Solid Waste Department, which they claim, is under-equipped after being starved of resources for decades.

"A trash fee. We need a trash fee because right now we only get trash picked up once a week," Councilmember Jackson said.

"We need the money to address the issues that the City continues to be faced with," Councilmember Kamin said.

Also drawing a finger of blame were local judges, who councilmember Michael Kubosh claims too often assess "little or no" punishment to those caught in the act of of illegal dumping.