Best Thinker: Flood Control Innovator (2011)

City Councilman Stephen Costello

No one who lives here needs to be told that Houston can flood every now and then. Doing something about it, though, can be intimidating — drainage and flood projects can be hugely expensive, take years and years to plan, approve and build, and only affect limited areas. Stephen Costello and others decided to take a big-picture approach and rolled the dice on a referendum called Renew Houston, which takes the financial strain of flood projects largely off the city budget. Voters approved a monthly fee that will eventually fund $10 billion in improvement projects and nothing else. It will be a while before we see any results, of course, but flood planning and prevention in Houston is suddenly looking a lot brighter.