Ron Green vs M. J. Khan Who Will Be Houston’s Money Man?

Pamela Crawford | 12/3/2009, 10:33 p.m.
Council Member Ron Green points to a number of reasons why he’s the best candidate for the job. They include ...

Council Member Ron Green points to a number of reasons why he’s the best candidate for the job. They include his education, background as a public servant and as a small business owner.

Green has his supporters and detractors. Supporters mention his Houston Chronicle endorsement. Mayor Bill White recently weighed in as a supporter when he condemned anonymous calls made to voters attacking Green. Making anonymous calls is a telling sign, and I think those who are responsible should be ashamed.

Detractors mention his resignation as the chair of the Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee. Some think he resigned because he thought the workload and responsibilities were too great. Others say he resigned because wanted to be appointed Mayor Pro-Tem. I would think chairing this committee on budget and fiscal issues would be an important journey on the road to being the city’s controller.

The detractors also mention his IRS problems. Some say he’s a tax cheat who is not fit for the job. I wanted to ask him about these things, but my calls/emails to his handlers were unanswered. Maybe he knew I was going to ask about. I guess I will have to assume he resigned from the committee to learn another part of city government. I guess I will also have to assume that he’s in an “honest dispute” with the IRS and that it will be resolved soon. Yeah, I know what they say about assumptions.

I am not as swayed by his resignation from the committee, but this IRS dispute really looks bad. However, I don’t think you can ignore his education and record on city council. I believe that rather than judging him solely on something that’s still disputed, we should focus on his ideas, track record and ability to get the job done.

M.J. Khan wants to run the city like a business. Khan did not chair the city’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Committee, but he points to some other achievements. They include zero-based budgeting, lower property taxes and preferences to qualified local vendors for city contracts.

Pam Holm endorsed Khan. She’s a fellow Republican and city council member who placed third in the general election for the position of city controller. Her support might help him gain more conservative voters. That conservative vote will be one of the keys to winning the runoff.

There is a big problem with Khan. He says he lives in a 2-bedroom condo in Alief. Tax records show his wife owns a 6-bedroom mansion in Piney Point Village, which is a separate city just northwest of the Galleria. What’s odd is that both M.J. and his wife were reported as owners from 1992 until 2002. Then records changed and she was listed as the sole owner. Meanwhile, he was listed as the new owner of the Alief condo in 2004 and just after he was elected to office in 2003.

What does it mean? If I had to choose between living in a condo and in a mansion, I’d live in the mansion. That makes sense to me, and I don’t think he lives in the condo.

Although I have my opinion, I did ask him. He told me the allegation is a “lie.” He also said Green is the first to raise the issue. He believes Green is just “desperate.”

Not so fast. This issue did come up during the 2003 election. Terry McConn, a former city council candidate, did raise the issue. Nothing ever came of it. Part of that is because the state law has some relaxed rules about residency.

Prediction: I like Ron and M.J. and think they’ve served the city well. Green’s resignation from the committee chair and the IRS problems for four separate tax years gives me some heartburn. However, I am not convinced M.J. Khan resides inside city limits. While M.J. meets the legal definition, he doesn’t pass my smell test.

Council Member Ron Green is my choice for city controller. If he wins, we’ll know in short order if voters made the right choice. At a minimum, he hopefully will have settled his dispute with the IRS by then.

Disclaimer: All articles are written by Houston Style Magazine political writer Pamela Crawford and are highly opinionated. It is important to note, however, that Pamela Crawford is not a resident of Houston, TX and therefore cannot vote for any candidate seeking a city of Houston elected position.