Bellaire Mayor Andrew Friedberg wrote the following letter to the editor of the Southwest News in response to a previous editorial by Bellaire Resident Mike Jacobs and subsequent postings on social media. The Mayor explains that “under our Council-Manager form of government, mayor (and Council) have no role in operational matters and are in fact prohibited by the City Charter from interfering in them.”
Letter to the Editor:
Thank you for your coverage of the temporary downgrade of Bellaire’s CRS classification and loss of flood insurance discount for the coming renewal year. It’s an important issue residents need to know about and to take the time to understand, including whom they should contact with their questions and concerns.
Unfortunately the public discourse, including remarks printed in the Southwest News, has perpetuated common misunderstandings and, frankly, a false narrative about the workings of our local government, and in particular the role of mayor and Council. Let’s at least keep it honest.
Having been unfairly accused of shirking my responsibilities by ignoring a warning notice, I take this opportunity to point out that lots of official mail sent to the City is addressed to the mayor as the head of the governing body. Things like water quality reports, certified tax rolls, and yes, letters from FEMA concerning the City’s CRS rating. But that doesn’t mean they’re actually delivered to the mayor. They’re routed to the appropriate staff for handling. Under our Council-Manager form of government, mayor (and Council) have no role in operational matters and are in fact prohibited by the City Charter from interfering in them.
To his credit, upon first being informed of the issue the interim City Manager immediately stepped up and took ownership of it, acknowledging the buck stops with him. And he and staff have been working tirelessly ever since to solve the problem. In the Open House and Community Discussion held September 8, the FEMA representative specifically praised the staff for their response efforts. No doubt this whole affair is a disappointing debacle; but thanks to staff’s swift and effective action it’ll at least be short-lived and the impact minimized as much as possible.
While I—along with the rest of the City Council—share in residents’ anger at this situation, which is indeed entirely unacceptable, I do appreciate all that the City is doing about it. I encourage everyone interested in getting accurate information to view the recording of the Community Discussion presentation, available online at https://www.bellairetx.gov/1756/Flood-Insurance-and-the-Community-Rating, and to contact the City’s CRS team with questions and concerns, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I know they would enthusiastically welcome the opportunity.
Andrew S. Friedberg
City of Bellaire