Pillow Talk – The Loneliest Number 

by Perry Pillow, AATC 

Boy hand showing number one gesture symbol isolated on white background. Gesturing number 1. Number one in sign language. counting down One concept. One fingers up. man hand sign victory gesture.

Last month, we started a series on advocacy numbers. We began with  1/3. The President and the governor are 1/3 of the legislative process. This month we examine the loneliest number in politics: 1. 

It is lonely at the top; especially if you are President of the United States (POTUS)As the often-quoted Capitol political adage says, “if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” POTUS leads the executive branch; they are the nation’s CEO, the Boss, Head Honcho, Commander in Chief, Big Cheese, Top Dog, Chief Diplomat, the ultimate Power Elite, and final decision-maker. 

From life and death military actions to press conference frequency, the POTUS constantly makes major and minor decisions throughout the day:  some public, some private, some trivial, some profound, some right, some wrong—all the POTUS’ alone to make. 

President Truman famously displayed the sign The Buck Stops Here” on his desk in the Oval Office. Truman stated that too many folks in Washington were good at second-guessing decisions and assigning blame, but Truman asserted that the President must decide—they cannot pass the tough calls to anyone—the President’s job is to make decisions. 

2021 TEXAS LEGISLATURE SESSION UNDERWAY  The 140-day Texas Legislature session began Tuesday, January 12, and ends Monday, May 31st.  This year’s session will be dominated by two issues:  the budget and redistricting.  Texas currently faces an approximately $4 billion budget shortfall in its $250 billion biennial budget.  This funding gap means lawmakers will need a combination of accounting adjustments, additional revenues, and/or cuts to achieve a constitutionally mandated balanced budget. Redistricting occurs every ten years (post-U.S. Census).  Drawing Congressional, State Senate, and State Representative districts is the most politically charged task the legislature undertakes.  No one fully grasps how COVID-19 will impact the legislative process.  TAA friend Dade Phelan (R  Orange) is the new Speaker of the House.  

Despite new leadership, COVID-19, redistricting, and financial pressures, AATC members’ interests are extremely well represented in Austin.  AATC members Craig Goldman (R – Fort Worth) and Stephanie Klick (R – Fort Worth) serve in the Texas House and TAA’s government relations team:  Chris Newton, Sandy Hoy, David Mintz, and Kyle Jackson are top-notch.  While TAA will not be pursuing affirmative, industry-related legislation this session, TAA members and staff will work tirelessly to prevent adverse industry-related legislation from becoming law. 

FEBRUARY 12 CANDIDATE FILING DEADLINE– The filing deadline for candidates running for mayor, city council, or school board is February 12 for the May 1 elections.  AATC anticipates more than 100 candidates to file throughout AATC’s service area.  Fort Worth Mayor and AATC friend Betsy Price announced on January 5th that she will not be seeking re-election. Due to term limits, Arlington Mayor and AATC friend Jeff Williams also is not seeking re-election.  Mayors Price and Williams have been very, very good friends to our industry and they both have been outstanding leaders for the two largest cities in Tarrant County. While Price’s decision is disappointing, it was not unexpected.  Williams is being forced out due to the 2019 city referendum that imposed city-council term limits.  As always, AATC has been pro-active in developing good relationships with several potential Fort Worth & Arlington mayoral and city council candidates. Follow is the timeline for 2021 municipal elections and AATC’s next steps.  

2021 Municipal Elections Key Dates: 

  • Election Date:  May 1 
  • Candidate filing period:  January 13 – February 12 

AATC Next Steps: 

  • AATC local advocacy teams and staff will meet with potential candidates,
  • AATC Government Affairs Committee will meet in March 2021 (post candidate filing deadline) to review candidates. 
  • AATC Government Affairs Committee will meet in April 2021 (post-AATC Spring Fling PAC Golf Tournament) to make campaign contribution recommendations to AATC PAC trustees. 

Tarrant County Cities May 1 Election Contests: 

  • Arlington: Mayor, D3, D4, D5, D8
  • Bedford: Mayor, P1, P2
  • Burleson: P1, P3, P5
  • Cleburne: D2, D3
  • Colleyville: P5, P6
  • Euless: P5, P6
  • Fort Worth: Mayor and all council positions
  • Grand Prairie: D5, D6, D8
  • Grapevine: Mayor, P1, P2
  • Greenville: Mayor, D5, D6
  • Haltom City: Mayor, P1, P2, P7
  • Hurst: P1, P2, P6
  • Keller: P1, P2
  • Mansfield: P3, P4, P5
  • North Richland Hills: P1, P3, P5, P7
  • Southlake: Mayor, P2
  • Weatherford: P3, P4 

In addition, numerous school board seats are up for re-election including: 

  • Arlington ISD: P1 & P3 
  • Birdville ISD: P3, P4, & P5 
  • Fort Worth ISD: P1, P4, P7, P8, & P9 
  • HEB ISD: P2, P3, P4, & P5 

CDC EVICTION ORDER EXTENDED UNTIL JANUARY 31ST  Congress has extended the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium until January 31st.   

The order: 

  • applies to virtually all rental housing providers.  
  • prohibits any eviction action during the covered period; and 
  • states that any person or organization that violates the order may be subject to up to $500,000 in fines per violation and/or jail time. 

The order DOES NOT: 

  • prevent evictions based on the lawful reasons articulated in the order.  
  • prevent housing providers from charging late fees and penalties; and 
  • eliminate the resident’s obligations under the lease,  

For renters to be eligible for the order’s protections, they must provide a declaration under penalty of perjury to their housing provider indicating the following: 

  • The individual has used their best efforts to obtain rental assistance. 
  • The individual expects to earn no more than $99,000 (no more than $198,000 when filing jointly); was not required to report income in 2019 to the IRS; or received a stimulus check pursuant to the CARES Act. 
  • The individual is unable to pay their full rent due to several factors that remain unconnected to COVID-19. 
  • The individual is using best efforts to make timely partial payments; and 
  • Eviction would likely render the individual homeless or force the individual to move into and live-in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting because the individual has no other available housing options. 

This guidance is not intended to be state-specific and should be used in conjunction with advice from local legal counsel to interpret these requirements considering existing federal, state, and local eviction laws. 

RENTAL ASSISTANCE FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS- Just a reminder, if you or your residents have questions or concerns about the status of rental assistance payments, you can use the below links to contact the City of Arlington, City of Fort Worth, and Tarrant County housing officials.  https://www.aatcnet.org/coronavirus.html. If your property is in Fort Worth, call Sonia Singleton at sonia.singleton@fortworthtexas.gov or (817)392-5774.  For Arlington properties, contact Love Kelly at love.kelly@arlingtonhousing.us or (817) 276-6762.  For all other properties in Tarrant County, contact (817) 850-7940. 

SAGINAW – $75 PER UNIT PER YEAR INSPECTION FEE – The city of Saginaw has enacted a $75 per unit per year inspection fee and an inspection regime that inspects 100% of the units (occupied and unoccupied).  AATC members and staff are working with Saginaw officials to address this onerous fee and program.  

Perry Pillow is AATC’s Director of Government Affairs. For more information, contact Perry at ppillow@aatcnet.org  or call 817-616-0354.