Lately 34-year-old Helena Brown has taken quite a beating in the local press. The self-proclaimed uber budget hawk has been labeled both a hypocritical penny pincher and the bumbling puppet of a shady financier.
Today the first term Houston city council member from Spring Branch offered to answer our questions.
Fox 26: Why did you run for office? Why did you want to be a member of this council?
Brown: Business as usual at City Hall is creating a problem that is very dire. $2.4 Billion dollars in debt. That's a serious problem.
Fox 26: Some of your critics say you take your austerity too far and that you actually cut necessary services, services that are necessary to the well being of so many Houstonians. What do you say to that?
Brown: The Mayor's own financial management task force leader said that this time next year we are going to have zero in the general revenue fund. We can't move forward as usual. We have to stop and assess what we are doing. Austerity, what ever you want to call it, is necessary to stop where we are headed.
Brown's lonely "no-votes" on a slew of programs like emergency care and employee pensions have drawn a chorus of boo's from those who see here as a radical obstructionist.
Those same critics were eager to pounce when news broke of Brown's five figure fact finding mission to Korea at taxpayer expense.
Fox 26: Here's the warrior for fiscal austerity and yet she goes to Korea spending $11,000 plus of our dollars. What do we have to show for it?
Brown: We will see a return on that investment, not only that, the money was spent out of district A surplus funds.
It is a surplus Brown readily admits accumulated because nearly her entire staff works part time and receive city no benefits.
Brown: My staff and I are fiscal conservatives and we walk our talk and early on we all agreed to this 39 hour part time schedule. That saves a bankrupt city serious money.
Brown is under fire for allegedly altering the pay records of he staff members.
And then there's Brown's senior advisor William Park, who the Houston Press reported was banned from the financial securities trade and has since become a film producer.
Former staffers have claimed Park is pulling Brown's strings and injecting his own radical agenda.
Fox 26: Are you your own person or is your senior advisor William Park actually making the calls?
Brown: I am very much my own person and as many who know me and watch me on city council I stick by my principles and I do not get bullied. I do not get pressured.
William Park is a trusted advisor. He has an impressive resume. This is a gentleman that's rung the opening and closing bell on Wallstreet. He's helped privatize social security in Mexico.
Fox 26: Did regulators pull any of his licensing?
Brown: I would have to get back with you on that. I'm not familiar with the specifics of that.