Two new lawsuits aim to reverse GOP convention cancellation

The Texas Republican State Convention was set to be held July 16-18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. (Courtesy Visit Houston)
The Texas Republican State Convention was set to be held July 16-18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

The Texas Republican State Convention was set to be held July 16-18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. (Courtesy Visit Houston)

updated: July 10, 10:10 a.m.:

Harris County District Court Judge Larry Weiman denied requests from both lawsuits seeking an injunction allowing theTexas State Republican Convention to continue July 16-18. The state Republican Party plans to appeal the case to the Texas Supreme Court, a statement from the party read.

original post: July 9, 7:02 p.m.:

Two new lawsuits filed July 9 aim to reverse a decision to cancel the Texas State Republican Convention.

The first was filed by Republican donor Steve Hotze, Texas GOP Secretary Josh Flynn and other party members, and the second was filed by The Republican Party of Texas. They both center around the use of the “force majeure” clause in the original contract signed by convection organizers and representatives of Houston First Corp., the public-private entity in charge of the George R. Brown Convention Center, where the event was set to take place July 16-18.


Critics of the event, including the city’s lead health authority, Dr. David Persse, have said that hosting the event indoors with an anticipated 6,000 attendees creates a high risk of transmission of the virus among both attendees and workers.

Both parties argue that the clause, which allows for the termination of the contract in the event of an emergency, was relied upon improperly.

“Mayor Turner may not treat the RPT convention differently from that of the recent public protests that the mayor supported,” the suit filed by the RPT stated. “Political viewpoint cannot be the basis for unequal treatment.”

Persse said July 8 that canceling an outdoor protest presented more logistical challenges than canceling an indoor convention. Instead, he said he chose to work with organizers by giving out safety supplies and guidance because protests are protected under the First Amendment and would likely change location if banned from any specific area.

“It’s just not practical,” Persse said in regards to attempting to ban a protest.

Turner instructed the city attorney to review the contract July 8 after days of public debate put the fate of the event into question. Later that day, under guidance from city legal counsel, Houston First Corp. terminated the contract.

In response to the lawsuits, Turner told reporters July 9 that the party should consider hosting its convention in neighboring Montgomery County, referencing recent comments from Montgomery County Judge Mark Keough, who said he would welcome the event.

Meanwhile, some area Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, made statements in support of the event's cancellation.

"This is a prudent move for public health," a July 8 tweet from Crenshaw stated. "I’m glad Mayor Turner finally stepped in to make this call, which also means the TX GOP will not be on the hook for half a million dollars for cancelling the event - as they would have been if asked to cancel it themselves."

Harris County reported 700 new coronavirus cases July 9, and based on current trends, the Texas Medical Center projects those surge capacity beds to be fully occupied by July 19, at which point a new wave of temporary ICU beds would be activated.
By Emma Whalen
Emma is Community Impact Newspaper's Houston City Hall reporter. Previously, she covered public health, education and features for several Austin-area publications. A Boston native, she is a former student athlete and alumna of The University of Texas at Austin.


MOST RECENT

Levi Goode, chef and president of Goode Co., has signed a lease to occupy the former Down House location in the Heights. (Courtesy Goode Co.)
Restaurant roundup: Goode Co. to occupy former Down House site on Yale Street

Restaurants have recently opened or reopened or are in the works in the Heights, River Oaks and Post Oak areas, including a new ranch-to-table experience in Garden Oaks and a new tenant at the former location of Down House in the Heights.

As variants are isolated and identified, Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass believes the vaccines available can handle identified variants (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'The vaccines we have are effective against all the variants out there': Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass discusses variants, vaccinations

As Houston Methodist identified its first case of the lambda variant July 19, Dr. Glass believes vaccines can handle known variants.

The Houston City Council approved spending $19.6 million on the development of Caroline Lofts, a planned affordable rental home community that will go in Midtown at 2403 Caroline St., Houston. (Courtesy City of Houston)
City of Houston approves $19.6 million investment for new affordable rental homes in Midtown

The 119-home project is meant to ensure the availability of housing for low- and moderate-income families in Houston's burgeoning Innovation Corridor.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

port of houston
Port of Houston sets new diversity standards for business contracts

The port is joining a growing number of local and regional bodies interested in updating policies to increase participation from minority and women-owned businesses.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is pleading with residents to be more vigilant, asking all residents to start wearing masks again in indoor settings and asking those who are vaccinated to urge their friends who are not to get the shot. (Screenshot Courtesy Facebook)
Harris County raises coronavirus threat level as Hidalgo asks all residents to mask up indoors

Although those who are vaccinated are very unlikely to end up in the hospital, officials said wearing masks in certain situations could help reduce transmissions to the more susceptible unvaccinated.

Memorial Hermann has locations throughout the Greater Houston area, including Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. (Courtesy Memorial Hermann)
Memorial Hermann visiting policies change as COVID-19 cases rise

As of July 21, Memorial Hermann has changed its visitor policy in light of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Greater Houston area.

drainage
Houston launches revamped 3-1-1 system

City staff have been in the process of updating the system over the last nine months.

Houston unemployment is above state and national levels, while home sales in the region continue to be strong, according to a July 21 economic update from the Greater Houston Partnership. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Unemployment, strong housing sales mark 2021 Houston economy, Greater Houston Partnership says

While Houston job recovery lags due to the pandemic, area home sales are strong, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

In a late-night amendment addition, Harris County Commissioners Court denied an original resolution aiming to increase restrictions on nonmonetary pretrial release bonds in a split vote after hearing over two hours of public testimony July 20 for and against the resolution. The amended resolution, which was approved in a second split vote, favors focusing on criminal court backlogs and funding alternative public safety solutions. (Courtesy Pexels)
After hours of debate, Harris County commissioners oppose resolution restricting felony nonmonetary pretrial release bonds

In a late-night amendment addition, Harris County Commissioners Court denied an original resolution aiming to increase restrictions on non-monetary pretrial release bonds in a split vote after hearing over two hours of public testimony July 20 for and against the resolution.

The restaurant serves a variety of Indian appetizers, entrees and sweets. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
A1 Choice Indian Cuisine opens in Cy-Fair; Torchy's Richmond taco shop coming this week and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Greater Houston area, including a Ross Dress For Less store opening in Cy-Fair.