June 29, 2020

Upgraded Threat Level a Step Back for Non-Essential City Services

In response to an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases throughout our area, Judge Hidalgo and the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management have upgraded the current public threat level to Severe (Level 1).  Hospitals have been reported to be at full ICU base capacity, and the numbers of daily cases and hospitalizations are at their highest since the beginning of the pandemic.  Level 1 signifies a “severe and uncontrolled” outbreak, prompting the County to reurge its Stay Home, Work Safe guidelines in an effort to flatten the curve once again.  For his part Governor Abbott has announced a temporary pause in his strategic plan to reopen Texas, and has rolled back some of the activities he’d previously allowed to resume.  Because of this change in circumstances and in keeping with now more restrictive guidance, the City is reverting back to the suspension of certain non-essential services.

June 24, 2020

Transition at the Top as City Manager Accepts New Opportunity

Last night, the Bastrop City Council publicly announced their newly hired City Manager, Paul Hofmann.  By all accounts Bastrop is poised to take their city to the next level, with a clearly defined and well-supported vision for its continued growth and future direction.  They specifically sought out, and found in Paul, an experienced and capable administrator to help them implement their vision and make it a reality.  He’ll do great there, and we wish him and the City of Bastrop all the best.

June 8, 2020

Continuous Improvement and Best Practices in Police Use of Force

It’s not often I find myself at a loss for words.  Like so many of our fellow Americans, and people all around the world, as I’ve read the accounts and watched the footage of George Floyd’s final moments I’ve struggled to make sense of it.  How could the excessive and dangerous neck restraint have been allowed to go on for nearly nine minutes, and long past the point Floyd was even capable of resisting?  Knowing how the story ends, it’s particularly painful hearing Floyd’s voice as he begs for his life, handcuffed and motionless, pinned facedown on the ground.

What happened to George Floyd while in the custody of those entrusted and sworn to protect him—and all of us—must not be tolerated anywhere.  At the same time, the repugnant actions of the very few must not be allowed to diminish our respect and gratitude for law enforcement generally.  It behooves officers everywhere to learn from this and other incidents of excessive force, to embrace all efforts for continuous improvement, and to commit to open dialogue and to working together toward regaining the public’s trust.

June 5, 2020

In-Person Public Meetings to Resume, With Precautions

Our local approach from the outset of the COVID-19 crisis has been to follow as closely as possible state and federal public health guidelines, with a bias toward maintaining services where safe and responsible to do so.  As the situation has progressed, we have increasingly relied upon the executive orders of the Governor as he implements his strategic plan to reopen Texas.  On Wednesday he announced the start of Phase III, and his accompanying order is much different from previous orders and significantly expands permissible activity, though still subject to health protocols like social distancing.

We’ve been looking forward to returning to in-person City Council meetings, and following this latest order are now preparing do so beginning with our next Regular Session on June 15.  City boards and commissions may soon start meeting in person again as well.  Specific arrangements are still being worked out, but will include capacity limitations to ensure appropriate distancing, plexiglass separators at the dais, and perhaps the use of alternative venues such as the Civic Center for more space.  Everyone present will be asked to wear face coverings in common areas and to avoid close contact with others.

We recognize that some members and attendees may not yet feel comfortable coming to meetings in person, especially those at higher risk who are still strongly encouraged to stay at home as much as possible.  For so long as the Governor's temporary Open Meetings Act suspension remains in effect, which allows us to give them the option, we will accommodate their continuing to participate remotely.  We’re still working out those details, as well, but what you can expect is a hybrid meeting of sorts with some in person and some by phone.

This public health emergency is by no means over, and Phase III is not an immediate return to business as usual.  It’s an initial step in that direction, and as restrictions have been relaxed somewhat we’re pleased to be able to make your local government more accessible again, with appropriate safeguards.  We thank you for your patience, and hope to see you in person soon.

June 3, 2020

2020 Hurricane Season is Upon Us

On top of everything else we have to worry about these days and with life already upended by the pandemic, this week marks the official start of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.  Tropical Storm Cristobal, currently in the Bay of Campeche, could pose a threat to our region by the beginning of next week, which only heightens the importance of being ready.  Since we can’t have our annual community preparedness program in person, Bellaire’s Emergency Management Coordinator, Fire Chief Deacon Tittel, brings this year's presentation to you.

In his video message, Chief Tittel provides an overview of hurricane preparedness and what residents should be doing to protect their families and properties before, during and after a storm.  The City offers many resources to assist you and will communicate emergency information to the public in a variety of ways, including through the PrepareBellaire mass notification system.  Chief Tittel also describes the City’s own preparations, from clearing street gutters and drains to securing facilities and construction sites, and our continuous emergency management training.

Other informational videos on the City’s hurricane preparedness resource page include a tour of the Bellaire Emergency Operations Center and an introduction to the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR) for individuals who may require special assistance in the event of an emergency.

Hurricane season is June 1 through November 30.  The time to prepare is now.