Debate over debris turns heated during city council meeting in Houston

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Mayor Sylvester Turner takes on debris removal in Houston. (KTRK)

Houston City Council debris debate turned heated after a council member delayed a funding vote.

On Wednesday, council was expected to vote on a new $60 million contract to increase funds to pay a current contractor, and attract others to help with Harvey debris piles.

But Councilman Larry Green tabled the vote until next week.

"I just want information," Green said. "If we are in everybody's district, then tell us. Let me know where you've been in my district!"

The decision sparked debate and Councilman Dave Martin even swore at one point.

Right now, Mayor Sylvester Turner told council there are 300 crews clearing debris. He wants the number to reach 500.

Instead of telling people where the trucks are, he said his team is focused on luring contractors to Houston, but he said Wednesday's delay jeopardizes that.

"It is important to for us to say, 'Look. We want this debris up. We're going to conduct business, and your money is not going to slow down.' This was just not a good message to send, and quite frankly, it was not prudent," Turner said.

For those needing cleanup, the trucks bring a mixed emotions.

"I mean, I'm glad, it's starting to smell a little bit, but it's good that it's going, but it's heart wrenching," flood victim Michele Nicely said.

But Nicely is baffled over why a delay would take place when so many people need help.

"I can't believe they'll let that happen," Nicely said. "They can't. They've got to pay these guys. Everybody is working hard."

Council will discuss the contract next week.

While it was explosive at times Wednesday, leaders said they'll regroup to focus on the task.

"Even though every now and then we try to make it exciting for you all because we're on television, but behind the scene we'll hug it out," Turner said.

Mayor Turner said his goal is to have debris cleaned by Christmas.

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politicshouston politicssylvester turner
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