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Abbott tied their hands.  But this mayor of Texas is defending himself.

Houston, however, has increased funding for its police department using pandemic relief funds. Why do that?

I marched in the biggest protests, a march that we had after the murder of George Floyd. Frankly, I didn’t hear people say “fund the police”. I heard them say that we should not just be spending our funding on law enforcement, but that we should be investing in communities that have been underserved, underfunded for decades. And that’s what we do in this city.

When I arrived, I said I didn’t want to be mayor of two cities.

At the same time, in the city of Houston we have 5,300 police officers. We still need more. The goal is to ensure that our communities have the police resources and presence to serve them. And the two need to be on the same page and work together to fight crime and other elements.

I tell people, let’s not be confused. This is not about dismantling or downsizing law enforcement, but about making sure that we are making real investments, in real dollars, in underserved and underfunded communities.

Houston is the energy capital of the country and you mentioned the importance of the switch to renewable energies. But jobs in renewable energy are often less profitable than in oil and gas. How do you think Houston will drive this change and are you worried about the political consequences of the disruption of the city’s economy?

This is to ensure that we are able to continue to wear the crown of energy capital. Yes, we are the energy capital of the world, we are proud of it. I am not running away from the energy industry, but it is about working together to move the energy sector forward. We don’t bury our heads in the sand.

Today, we want to lead an energy transition. There are a number of things going on here because we recognize that some of the biggest emitters in the world are headquartered in Houston.

Our Resilient Houston plan has been subscribed to by Shell. Our climate action plan has been endorsed by CenterPoint Energy. In one of our low income communities, there was a landfill that left 240 acres contaminated over the past 50 years, which destroyed this mostly African American community. We are working with our energy sector to turn those 240 acres into the largest urban solar farm in the country, enough to power 5,000 homes, extract 120 million pounds of carbon from the air each year, invest $ 70 million in these communities and provide green, equitable jobs in this low income community.

What is happening here may not only have local benefits, but the benefits can be global. [We] have nine to eleven major energy companies that are now engaged in the use and storage of carbon capture and storage that can literally remove millions of tonnes of carbon emissions from the air. I’m also working with a number of these energy companies to embark on a major recycling program when it comes to plastics.

Have you spoken to Beto O’Rourke about whether he will run for governor?

You know, he actually called me about a week ago. I have been busy, but I intend to call him back.

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