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Houston's Drainage Controversy Isn't Unique

Houston faces political conflict around a new drainage fee, meant to fund efforts to fix the city's crumbling infrastructure. Other cities could soon find themselves in a similar predicament.
October 26, 2015, 10am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Keoni Cabral

Rachel Dovey describes the growing importance of infrastructure (crumbling infrastructure, to be exact) in Houston municipal politics. "Houston's drains — and the crusade to fix them — haven't just made an appearance at the Texas Supreme Court, they're also helping to guide November's election."

Like many of the nation's largest cities, Houston suffers from obsolete roadside drainage systems. "In short, as Mayor Annise Parker recently told NPR affiliate WBUR, the city had multiple decades of deferred maintenance 'coming home to roost.'" When the city floated a measure to fund repairs, protesters later alleged that the ballot initiative did not clearly describe a new drainage fee.

Dovey sees Houston's problems replicating themselves across the country. "All of these pieces, from the history of deferred maintenance to the allegedly misleading ballot, are specific to Houston. But it's impossible not to view them against national data and headlines from other cities."

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Published on Wednesday, September 30, 2015 in Next City
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