Houston First declines to pay for Mayor Turner’s book

HOUSTON — The head of Houston First, the city’s official destination management and marketing organization, said no taxpayer money will be used to pay for copies of books about Mayor Sylvester Turner.

Copies of “A Winning Legacy” were handed out during Turner’s final State of the City address in September.

More than 1,500 people attended the luncheon, which was sponsored by Houston First.

On Thursday, the Houston First board was set to approve paying a local firm $124,000 for design and printing services but at the last minute, the chairman reversed course.

The CEO and president of Houston First said the mayor’s office didn’t pressure them to pay for the printing.

“I would not agree with the characterization that there was pressure. I know there’s been some media reports that the mayor and I had difficult conversations. That’s not true. The mayor and I have an excellent relationship, as we have my entire time as CEO,” Michael Heckman said.

Houston First leaders said they’ll fundraise from private donors to make up a nearly $55,000 revenue shortfall from the event.

Turner’s office sent this statement:

“The Mayor’s Office was informed that $540,000 was raised to cover all expenses associated with the State of the City luncheon. Houston First collected the revenue and was responsible for paying the expenses, including the book, production costs, and other items that accompany hosting an event.

“Mayor Turner has asked Houston First to provide a full accounting of all expenses and explain why it chose to single out the cost of the legacy book.”

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