HOUSTON - In the nation's 4th largest metropolis, the power to place a measure on City Council's agenda for debate and possible adoption - lies exclusively with the mayor. It is "extraordinary" authority that may soon slip away.
FOX 26 has learned the necessary 35,000 signatures have been secured by a coalition of groups seeking to offer voters the option of whittling down the mayor's power through passage of a ballot initiative.
Former Mayor Pro-Tem Sue Lovell is among those supporting the initiative, which would allow three members of Council in agreement to place an issue on Houston's agenda.
"I think all around, it's better government, more effective Council members and as I said, it's just too much power for any person to have in a city this big and diverse," said Lovell.
For example, council members currently seeking police reform must wait on the mayor to decide if he deems any of dozens of recommendations worthy of a vote.
If voters approve the ballot initiative, a trio of council members in agreement can push a reform item onto the agenda for full consideration and potential passage into law.
"This would be a tough initiative to campaign against because you would be campaigning against transparency. What it does is force elected officials to deal with issues they find uncomfortable or not politically convenient and at least allow some sunshine to come in," said Rice political analyst Mark Jones.
And yet Councilman Greg Travis contends the cost of that sunshine will be chaos, grandstanding and wasted time.
"I think what you are going to find out if you open up this Pandora's box is that you are going to have a lot of irrational or unreasonable, illogical and unjustifiable items on the agenda," said Travis who prefers strengthening Council's current system of considering issues in committees.
The Houston Charter Amendment Coalition will deliver the signatures to City Hall on Monday for counting and verification.