Republican, Houston, 63. Long before Jon Lindsay came to the Senate, Houston-area legislators had an unfortunate penchant for wanting to settle local disputes—or unsettle them—in the Capitol, much to the dismay of every lawmaker from outside Harris County. Once, when former lieutenant governor Bill Hobby concluded a particularly torturous Senate debate over a Houston problem that would have been best left to local officials, he announced with a swing of the gavel, “That concludes the meeting of the Houston City Council. The Texas Senate will now convene.”
Sad to say, those days are back. Lindsay, a former Harris County judge, appears to have great nostalgia for his old job. He just can’t keep his hands off Houston Metro, the Harris County Hospital board, airport sites, water boards…You name it: If it’s a local Houston issue, Jon Lindsay wants to file a bill on it and substitute the opinions of senators from Laredo, Wichita Falls, and El Paso for those of local officials. This is bad government. The officials who make policy for Houston ought to be accountable to Houston voters. But Councilman Lindsay takes a different view. One week before the Houston City Council was scheduled to vote on a plan to dedicate West Houston land for environmental purposes as a swap for allowing the addition of a runway at Bush Intercontinental Airport, Lindsay filed a bill to preempt them. Unhappy with the management of Houston’s transit system, Lindsay tried to require the election of Metro board members, even though, as a Houston Chronicle editorial pointed out, this was an invitation to corruption; candidates would likely have no campaign contributors other than Metro contractors. Then Lindsay took aim at Houston’s water supply system by attempting to create a gargantuan new water district with taxing authority and the power to condemn land. Fortunately, the Legislature killed Lindsay’s airport and Metro schemes and severely scaled back the water bill.
Lindsay isn’t evil, just parochial. If he were in the House, he would be considered furniture. But in a Senate of 31 members, he occupies valuable space and wastes valuable time. If he really wants to be a Houston city councilman, he should run for the job.