Robert Dejean came to yesterday's City Council meeting to express his frustration at not being able to carry out the remainder of the Little League season with proper lights at Smokey Jasper ball field. See, vandals, he said, ripped the copper out of the light poles some time ago and the city has yet to fix them.
This delay signaled frustration, particularly from Councilman Dwight Boykins, who said, "Two-point-five billion in our general fund and we can't fund some lights for some kids? It doesn't make sense, man." "It's an insult," he said.
The issue of discretionary money to help out the community was followed up by Councilman Jack Christie. "This is a very legitimate complaint. Why don't we each take $1,500 out of our budget?" he asked.
It was the second time the lights, needed for night games, were destroyed at the Smokey Jasper Park baseball field, an important stop for Houston's young baseball fans.
"Mayor Pro Tem, what kind of power do you have?" Christie asked Ed Gonzalez.
"They rip out the copper in our parks, too," Gonzalez replied with a chuckle.
Mayor Annise Parker was on a trip to Houston's sister city of Perth, Australia, and didn't attend this week's meeting.
Councilman Michael Kubosh reiterated the question of who has shot-calling power when the mayor is away.
"You brought up a good point, Mr. Christie," Kubosh said. "Who's in charge when the mayor's absent. That brings up a serious question."
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We contacted the mayor's office seeking an explanation on that matter, but they haven't gotten back to us.
As for Dejean, who's a coach in the northeast Houston Little League, he left and spoke with Lucy Correa of the parks department, but said he didn't feel they were any closer to a solution ahead of the Little League playoffs coming up. In his testimony before council, he suggested council help pay for rental lights that were around $1,000 a pop.
"I left there with the impression that they are going to do the best that they can." But time isn't on their side, since playoffs are set to begin next month.
"From what I understand, they're doing their best effort to alleviate the problem, trying to repair all the lights. They were going to go back and discuss it with their maintenance department," Dejean said.