I want to start off this post by apologizing for writing it.  It’s low to start finger-pointing while a crisis is underway, I know.  I didn’t like it when it was done to Bush during Hurricane Katrina and I hate to be doing it now.  Surely there’ll be time for a reckoning down the road.

It’s just that…well…crap.  Mayor Sylvester Turner seems to have graduated from the Ray Nagin Academy of Ethical and Capable Statesmanship with a minor in Effective Disaster Management.  I don’t think it’s too soon to say so.

First off, you could possibly excuse the failure of the city to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Harvey by considering Turner’s argument that evacuating Houston would have been a logistical nightmare.  Yes, it would have resulted in massive traffic backups and all sorts of injuries and illnesses, unless the city opted for a limited evacuation rather than putting 6 million people on the roads at once.  Wouldn’t it have been a better outcome than leaving people stranded in the city?  Couldn’t the mayor have at least encouraged people to self-evacuate as Governor Abbott had been doing all week?

Well, maybe the mayor didn’t know the disaster would be that bad, right?  If this woman is to be believed, he did:

Rebecca Reisig’s reward for accurately describing the scale of the destruction to come and wisely advising people to evacuate was to be branded a fake news hoaxer and I hear that her Facebook account was deactivated.  The city government pushed back hard against Reisig’s claims, but she was right.  She even correctly pegged the rainfall amount.

If Mayor Turner knew that this disaster was going to be so terrible, he has no excuse.  This is Nero grade negligence.  If Reisig is right that the mayor knew what was coming, refused to tell the public, attacked her for speaking the truth, and decided to just hope for the best instead of evacuating then I think he should be charged criminally for each death that results from this disaster.  Hell, if he conducts business in this way, I have no doubt he’ll end up in prison for something sooner or later.  So far, it’s 15 counts of manslaughter as far as I’m concerned and it’s going to get worse.

The other story that’s emerged that makes me wonder if Houston is in the grip of a deranged supervillain is Mayor Turner’s comment about Houston remaining a sanctuary city during the disaster.

“There is absolutely no reason why anyone should not call [for help]. And I and others will be the first ones to stand up with you,” Turner, an attorney, said to reporters. “If someone comes and they require help and then for some reason [someone] tries to deport them, I will represent them myself.”

This is where I should say that law enforcement shouldn’t be worrying about immigration status at this moment.  They have much more important things to worry about with rescue efforts, stopping looters, and secretly executing gang members.  It should be common sense, but maybe it isn’t.  I agree with Turner that it would be a horrible tragedy if an illegal immigrant chose not to contact law enforcement to get help for a family member out of fear of deportation.

That said, if I were in Houston right now I’d be begging to be deported just to get out of there.  I mean, never mind that many vulnerable people are only there because Mayor Turner refused to evacuate the city.  Worth keeping in mind that he bears some measure of responsibility for this state of affairs.

This is the worst disaster in his city’s history, possibly the worst urban disaster since 9/11 (if not ever), and the mayor is talking about taking time away from dealing with it to personally attend to the needs of illegal aliens.  The payoff from speaking this drivel, I guess, is to score political points against the governor (whom he apparently refused to take phone calls from or coordinate with over the weekend) and the new Texas law that blocks sanctuary cities from existing.  It’s for this reason that I don’t feel the least bit bad for condemning him mid-crisis.

Mayor Turner is a bumbling asshole, maybe even an evil one.  If this event doesn’t terminate his political career, there is no justice.  Should he somehow escape prosecution for his depraved negligence, the City of Houston owes it to itself and to the rest of us to ensure that he is never placed in a position of trust or responsibility ever again.

8 comments

  1. One thing that Atlanta/Georgia does tolerably well is natural disaster response. Silly partisan politics seems to be put aside for a coordinated response between the R Governor and the D Mayor. They all get up and do press conferences and the general message is “if ice storm is coming stay home”. This puts the onus on the idiots that actually get out in that crap. We get laughed at for our skittishness in the ice but I challenge anyone to drive on that shit once and then do it again.

    The point is, politics needs to be put aside for these events. The Mayor sounds like an idiot but he clearly doesn’t trust the Governor. I have no idea why, but I don’t live in Texas.

    Would it have been a cluster fuck if they had evacuated the city? Possibly, if people were still stuck when the storm hit. It is my opinion only, but no one should have been on the coast of Texas when that storm hit. There were huge warning signs days before. All of the news outlets were reporting that the storm was going to park itself over the coast for days and dump up to 50″ of rain and that is what it did.

  2. Oh, and I am not sure that I completely understand supervillian status for Mayor Turner because he tells illegals that he has their backs and that they should call for help if they need it. It seems to be the only thing he got right so far, IMO.

  3. He said he’d personally represent them. He does not have the time for doing that. ALL of Houston needs his undivided attention and that he wants to directly intervene on a super divisive issue when he should be unifying the response across the board makes him look like a partisan madman.

  4. The question of whether Houston should’ve been evacuated to some degree will be probably the most controversial topic in that city until the end of all things.

    What I can’t excuse is that he appears to have downplayed the impact the storm would have and even discouraged people from voluntarily evacuating. He left vulnerable people in danger and helped silence people who were accurate about the threat and encouraged them to leave.

  5. We’re just reading it differently I guess. There are some trust issues that I confess I don’t know anything about. I just don’t think it deserves an “evil” label slapped on it just yet. It would seem unlikely that anyone will be deported for calling 911 in a historic flood, but Turner seems to think it could happen for some reason. I certainly hope no one is asking for papers during a rescue.

    I think that we are in agreement that partisanship should take a back seat for now and that all displaced Houstonians will need support. The coast of Texas is a ruin. The guy down the street just took in 20 of his relatives that fled early enough. The neighborhood is getting some things together for them since they will be here for awhile. They enrolled their kids in the schools and he is looking for a job. There will probably be Katrina levels of resettlement with people not returning to Houston for some time.

  6. It is funny, I never saw anyone on the ground discussing it, I just saw the standard cable news sources. I understand turning to leadership in the city for guidance, but everything else belied what he was saying. At some point I expect that there will be an investigation into what he was saying and what literally everyone else was saying.

  7. I think he’s just like Nagin who shudders at the thought of coordinating with republicans who must all obviously hate minorities. Just like in Katrina where help was offered multiple times, it wasn’t taken due to who was offering it.

    It’s disgusting, but unfortunately rewarded behavior. And remember how republicans are hammered for using crisis for political gain? That’s exactly what this dude is doing. His entire city is basically Atlantis right now, but hey, anything I can do to show my liberal bona fides is good, right?

  8. He had 3 days in which he could have made the case for and organized a relatively efficient evacuation of the lower lying ares, but no, he had to spend time telling ppl that the Governor was nuts to want a evacuation…

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