County passes burn ban, ethics reform plan

June 23, 2009 3:32:52 PM PDT
Commissioners Court in downtown Houston was a busy place today. The ongoing drought conditions caused commissioners to unanimously pass a burn ban for the county. It will be in place for 90 days. Less certain, but more contentious, is what will happen with your Fourth of July fireworks. [WATCH IT: Fireworks stand owner gets emotional during commissioners court]

County Judge Ed Emmett is considering a wide ranging ban on the use and sale of fireworks. The concern, obviously, is that amateur fireworks can be a big fire hazard given the dry spell. However, the people who run these fireworks stands testified emotionally at Commissioners Court that they don't wan the ban to happen.

The fireworks stand operators also brought along a bunch of kids from area high school bands. Many of these kids volunteer to sell fireworks during the summer. In return, the fireworks operators give a percentage of those profits to the band booster clubs. It's a major fundraiser for the bands, who use the money to pay for school trips, etc. Judge Emmett says he'll be making the decision soon, but it will be based on safety, not what is good for business.

On a different note, the Court did pass an ethics reform plan. There's been much controversy over the lack of ethics standards in Harris County ever since the scandals over former District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal as well as questionable emails from the staff of former Sheriff Tommy Thomas. Since then, ethics reform has been a stickler in the County, but with very little movement. The formation of an ethics review committee and the promise to put more data online for the public are important changes.

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