Conroe, September 27 – The San Jacinto River Authority Board of Directors will hold its first meeting since the Tropical Storm Harvey flood exacerbation on Thursday, September 28, 2017, at what seems like the purposefully-inconvenient time of 7:30 a.m.
Business as usual: la-dee-dah, la-dee-dah
There is nothing on the agenda posted for the meeting which even mentions the terrible flooding which occurred after Tropical Storm Harvey. Rather, the agenda appears to be a “business as usual” agenda, since the SJRA seems far more focused on maximizing profits from monopolistic water sales than providing the “flood control” which its 1937 Enabling Act mandates.
In fact, the first agenda item – after the SJRA’s lengthy consent agenda (another one of those secretive agendas so they don’t have to discuss or deliberate embarrassing items) – is to consider approval of the SJRA’s Fiscal Year 2018 Operating Budget. SJRA’s budget projects revenue of $126,447,918 and expenditures of $100,626,449, which would seem to be an approximately $25 million profit for a government agency! Don’t worry, SJRA has no intention whatsoever of making those funds available to the taxpayers who suffered at its hands during the recent flood, as SJRA has denied responsibility for “flood control purposes” in a September 8, 2017, Press Release and further stated:
“Despite the misinformation and speculation that has been circulated in the media, in the pending lawsuit and elsewhere, the actual facts are that the Authority’s operation of the Lake Conroe dam was in accordance with both the law and a carefully prepared engineering plan that, among other things actually has the effect of reducing downstream peak flow as water passes through the lake from the San Jacinto River. In fact, those same claims were litigated after the October 1994 storm, a case in which the Authority was successful in having the suit dismissed shortly after it was filed.”
SJRA, are you serious?! You’re still using the same engineering plan that you had in October 1994 despite all of the changes in the hydrology and development around the Lake Conroe dam?!
Remarkably, although probably expectedly, SJRA seems to intend to conduct most of its business in “executive session” by posting a broad, sweeping, non-specific notice that it will hold a group of executive sessions at the end of the meeting. The notice requirements of the Open Meetings Act also apply to executive sessions, and the notice must be sufficiently specific to alert the general public to the topics to be considered, pursuant to Section 551.041 of the Texas Government Code and Court of Appeals’ decisions applying that statute.
Nevertheless, SJRA intends to meet in secret for purposes undisclosed to the public. The following is the portion of SJRA’s agenda item concerning Executive Sessions which fails to identify any specific purpose for those items whatsover: