31 October 2009

TIRZ 17 chairman channels Captain Barbossa

THEY'RE MORE WHAT YOU'D CALL "GUIDELINES" THAN ACTUAL RULES: The Examiner's Rusty Graham notes that a Houston councilmember and local residents are questioning how TIRZ 17 operates. Councilwoman Jolanda Jones thinks there's a contract involved, but the board's chairman says it's more like an outline...you know, a guiding principles kind of thing.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/31/09 10:33 AM |

Eversole will run for re-election

THE CHRON reports what many of us learned via social networking sites yesterday: Embattled Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole will be running for re-election. The Chron version does offer comment from the usual go-to sources (Democrats Richard Murray and Bicyclist Bob Stein), however.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/31/09 08:01 AM |

30 October 2009

NYT covers Houston mayoral race (superficially)

FOR SOME REASON, THE NEW YORK TIMES decided Houston's mayoral race merited a story. To summarize: There's not much difference among the three major candidates, one of them is a lesbian but it's not that big a deal to most Houstonians, Republican voters appear to be up for grabs, and the NYT likes one of the same dull go-to sources that local media always uses.

Oh, and the Gray Lady says Mayor White "is stepping down to run for the United States Senate," when he is actually leaving office because of term limits (and hasn't let his current job get in the way of his Senate campaigning around the state).

UPDATE (10/31/09): Did the Gray Lady "borrow" from Mike Snyder and the Chron? A person could make that case.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/30/09 06:08 PM |

Back to you, Raequel

YESTERDAY KEVIN WHITED NOTED that METRO VP Raequel "9-volt battery" Roberts gave a snippy response to Texas Watchdog's Jennifer Peebles who was inquiring about media access to METRO Chairman David Wolff's upcoming speech to the Greater Houston Partnership. Roberts said that Wolff was just following the lead of other local leaders, including Mayor White and Judge Emmett. That prompted a response today from Joe Stinebaker, Judge Emmett's communications director:

As the communications director for Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, I can speak only to The "State Of The County" Address. We provide a free area in the room for the public and media to hear the address (sorry, no meal), and we actively encourage both to attend through news releases and public alerts. Afterward, Judge Emmett makes himself available at a publicly accessible news conference. In addition, the entire speech is videotaped and made available for some time on the judge's Web site (and GHP's, I believe). We try to ensure that the public is not only welcome, but encouraged, to hear what the judge has to say.

The ball is back in Roberts' court. Will METRO ensure that the media has access without paying for a (discounted!) $65 ticket?

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/30/09 05:55 PM |

Astros County: Alyson Footer calls out Chron's Jesus Ortiz

AT LEAST ONE COLLEAGUE of Chron baseball reporter/McLane PR man Jesus Ortiz apparently isn't impressed with his work either. Astros County posts the details.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/30/09 05:42 PM |

The Holm KCOH-1430 gambit

CONTROLLER CANDIDATE PAM HOLM has purchased a 30-minute block on KCOH-1430 to allow opponent Ron Green "to explain his more than $120,000 federal income tax debt to you and to Houston voters." We don't expect Green to take the bait, but we do plan on tuning in.

So what do you think: Is this maneuver a political masterstroke or looming disaster for Holm? Or for Green?

UPDATE: Green IS on the show. Good for him and good for us. This should be an interesting conversation.

UPDATE 2: That was a civil and informative discussion. For those of you who listened, what do you think?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/30/09 08:53 AM |

City of Houston hypocrisy

SO THE CITY OF HOUSTON wants Harris County to go after vehicle owners who haven't paid red light camera tickets, but the city is unwilling to pay county toll fines incurred by drivers of city cars (via the Chron's James Pinkerton):

"Harris Co. have (sic) been sending individual tickets without pictures (no proof) and expecting someone to pay," finance department employee Al Owens wrote. "That someone would be the driver and not the City of Houston. The City of Houston is not responsible for tickets incurred by employees with city vehicles."

As is often the case when government is involved, there are two standards: one the political class foists on average citizens, and one the political class saves for itself.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/30/09 04:28 AM |

29 October 2009

Dolcefino on Spring ISD spending, part 3

KTRK-13 UNDERCOVER MAN WAYNE DOLCEFINO offers Part Three of his investigation into allegedly wasteful spending by Spring ISD administrators. This time, he looks at more travel boondoggles and an expensive consultant named Spence Rogers (no word on whether the consultant refers to himself as "The One.")

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/29/09 06:45 PM |

Ho, ho ho, it's magic!

WHICH OF HOUSTON'S MAYORAL CANDIDATES promises magic? Slampo has the answer.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/29/09 06:10 PM |

State of METRO

STATE OF METRO: METRO's expensive blogger notes that Chairman David Wolff will be speaking at the Greater Houston Partnership next week:

If you want to find out exactly what's going on at METRO, our current condition and where we're headed, come listen to METRO Chairman David S. Wolff.

We highly doubt the TRUE state of METRO will be presented.

KEVIN WHITED ADDS: The address will set you back $65 if you want to attend, which is outrageous. Check out the testy exchange Texas Watchdog's Jennifer Peebles had with METRO spokeswoman Raequel Roberts on this topic. It says a great deal about that organization's arrogance and unprofessionalism. Some mayoral candidates have promised to fire METRO bigwigs. We'd suggest there are some more good candidates in the organization's bloated media shop.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/29/09 06:09 PM |

On "Write on METRO" we concur with the mockery

CORY CROW mocks this ongoing waste of tax dollars. Chron.com's whimsical opinion-section linkblog also linked it, sans mockery.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/29/09 05:57 PM |

Ortiz: Drayton, my Drayton!

ASTROS OWNER DRAYTON MCLANE'S REPUTATION has been taking a justified hit of late, over everything from front-office/coaching instability to high concession prices to incessant meddling to poor results on the field to the bungled attempt to hire top managerial choice Manny Acta.

Fortunately, McLane's PR man at the Chronicle Jesus Ortiz (who poses as the baseball beat reporter) has had the owner's back for years. Here's the latest effort, which emphasizes that McLane is a "proud man" who really is in tune with fans' pain.

A better sports section would force rewrites of this sort of source-worship posing as beat reporting.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/29/09 05:49 PM |

TW: HISD issues credit cards to employees with bankruptcies

TEXAS WATCHDOG'S STEVE MILLER reports that over a thousand HISD employees have been issued district credit cards, despite the fact that some of those cardholders have serious credit issues.

Perhaps it's time for HISD's new superintendent to reconsider this program, or at least to beef up the internal controls (beyond the cited 96-page user's manual) and external accountability.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/29/09 09:28 AM |

Serial arsonist strikes again?

ANOTHER SUSPICIOUS FIRE occurred this morning in the Heights (KTRK-13, Chronicle).

Maybe the crack HPD leadership should deploy its new Plainclothes/Vagrant Battalion to hold up "Please don't burn buildings" signs in the neighborhood?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/29/09 06:14 AM |

Austin "reality based community" attacks HC Tax Assessor, endorses Parker (updated)

THE AUSTIN-BASED LIBERAL BLOG BURNT ORANGE REPORT (which recently endorsed Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker, lately the hot pick of liberal bloggers) has posted a scorching critique of the Harris County Tax Office, contending the office admitted to "voter suppression" and other wrongdoing in its recent settlement of a lawsuit initiated by Texas Democrats.

Certainly, the Ed Johnson situation raised questions of propriety and opened the office to criticism, but we don't find the alleged admissions of wrongdoing in the Harris County Tax Office's press release or the settlement agreement (although we do find some good policies that Democrats, Republicans, and others ought to support). Your mileage may vary.

UPDATE: The Chron's Caucasian Think Tank interprets the matter much as we did (as opposed to the Austin Reality-Based Community). We didn't necessarily see THAT coming.

UPDATE 2: Cory Crow's perspective is eminently sensible (and efficient).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/29/09 06:07 AM |

28 October 2009

HPD rolls out innovative new revenue stream (sans acronym, sadly)

KTRK-13 reports that HPD is rolling out a new program "to crack down on aggressive drivers."

One element of the program will involve plainclothes police officers standing on the sides of surface streets, creating a distraction for drivers by holding signs that say things like "Buckle Up" (and radioing ahead so tickets can be issued to those who aren't, of course).

An HPD officer poses as vagrant, says Buckle Up!

Apparently, nobody has told the geniuses who designed this innovative new municipal revenue stream that there is a manpower shortage at HPD and officers might be put to better use.

Image courtesy of Houston Police Department.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/28/09 08:03 PM |

Dolcefino on Spring ISD spending, part 2

KTRK-13 UNDERCOVER MAN WAYNE DOLCEFINO offers Part Two of his investigation into allegedly wasteful spending by Spring ISD administrators, who still don't want to talk to the reporter.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/28/09 02:41 PM |

Casey: Seeking salvation or votes?

CHRON METRO/STATE COLUMNIST RICK CASEY follows up today with more discussion of area black churches and campaign finance, raising questions about various candidates' donations to black churches and how campaigns/individuals account for the same (the questions are bigger than Peter Brown, in our view, although he is the one seemingly in Casey's crosshairs).

Frankly, we'd like to see much more detailed reporting on this seemingly taboo local topic.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/28/09 12:52 PM |

Chron: Flooding is an issue with no cheap solution

THE CHRON'S MIKE SNYDER reports on an increasingly important topic in Houston, Texas: Flood control.

As the subheadline notes, it's "an issue with no cheap solution." And as Houston continues to grow, our flood-control issues will grow also (and may already be more critical than, say, traffic congestion, which we have managed relatively well given our growth). Further complicating matters, Houston is broke.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/28/09 08:09 AM |

Because there's so little going on locally

INCREDIBLY, THIS IS A CHRON EDITORIAL: "Social science research recently revealed a connection that we, at least, had never made: The more housework you do, the more often you're likely to have sex with your spouse."

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/28/09 04:35 AM |

No decision on red light camera tickets

ONCE AGAIN, COMMISSIONERS COURT has postponed a decision on the city's request that the county block vehicle registrations for those who don't pay their red light camera tickets.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/28/09 04:30 AM |

27 October 2009

Chron/Hearst sue Gov. Perry over clemency report

CHRON REPORTER R.G. RATCLIFFE, apparently charged with the task of turning a press release into a news story, writes that the Chron/Hearst will be suing Gov. Rick Perry to try to obtain a legal report given the governor before he denied clemency to Cameron Tood Willingham.

As a matter of law, Perry may well prevail. However, Perry could surely release the report as a matter of policy. He should.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/27/09 09:24 PM |

Houblog on Houston finances

UBU ROI posts his thoughts on the Lemer/Farb/Roberts analysis of Houston's poor financial situation.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/27/09 09:15 PM |

Our conversation with Mike McGuff

MIKE MCGUFF posts our recent email conversation about the recent changes here, local blogging, and other stuff.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/27/09 09:13 PM |

Chron: Sports Authority may still need a public bailout

THE CHRON'S BRADLEY OLSON follows up on his earlier reporting today by noting that the Harris County Sports Authority is still on a financial course that could lead to a bailout from taxpayers.

Officials with the organization continue to deny that this is the case.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/27/09 08:51 AM |

Sheriff Garcia continues to favor 287g participation (updated)

LAST WEEK, KHOU-11'S ALEX SANZ reported that Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia continues to support the department's participation in the 287(g) federal immigration program (which Senate Candidate/Mayor Bill White has waffled on). KPRC-2's Mary Benton blogs that the issue is scheduled for debate today at Commissioners Court.

UPDATE: Commissioners Court extended participation in the program (KTRK-13, KRIV-26).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/27/09 08:46 AM |

Dolcefino investigates Spring ISD, Part 1

KTRK-13'S WAYNE DOLCEFINO is taking a look this week at wasteful spending at Spring ISD. In this installment, Dolcefino examines travel expenses and quotes unhelpful superintendent Ralph Draper, who told Dolcefino "I'm not going to conduct an inquiry through the news."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/27/09 06:25 AM |

More mayoral polling

ANNISE PARKER'S CAMPAIGN has released an internal poll that *shock* shows Parker leading the mayoral race.

KHOU-11 has released a poll that shows Peter Brown in the lead, which is consistent with the earlier Chron poll that showed the same. KHOU's story also quotes their "political expert" Bicyclist Bob Stein, who says expertly that if the poll holds up, Brown will make the runoff!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/27/09 06:18 AM |

26 October 2009

We worked hard not to invoke a particular deity when cursing about this lawsuit

THE CHRON'S MARY FLOOD reports that a woman is suing City Council because she is "aggravated" and "offended" by the prayers at City Council. The woman singled out Councilmember Anne Clutterbuck. Favorite line from Flood's reporting: "[Clutterbuck] said she's worked hard not to invoke a particular deity."

The woman previously sued (successfully) to have a Bible removed from a County courthouse display.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/26/09 09:40 PM |

TW: Does Pam Holm have an assistant/analyst problem?

TEXAS WATCHDOG asks, "Did Pam Holm inflate her job title in ads for city controller's race?"

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/26/09 09:17 PM |

Dallas Observer interviews Senate Candidate White

THE DALLAS VILLAGE VOICE CORPORATE ALT-WEEKLY'S LIVELY UNFAIR PARK BLOG interviews Houston's own Senate candidate Bill White (hat tip to the Houston Village Voice corporate alt-weekly's less lively blog).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/26/09 09:08 PM |

Chron: Locke/Brown battle for the black vote heats up

BRADLEY OLSON reports on the recently energized Locke/Brown competition for black votes. Bay Area Houston blogs that "the Black community should tell both candidates to grab a pole and go fishing for the next 8 days." Marc Campos wonders "how this feud is playing out among non African American voters."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/26/09 08:54 PM |

We pick the potted plants

SELF-DESCRIBED "INSIDER" NANCY SIMS gives out her latest "Sam" award, this time for mayoral debate/forum performance.

As outsiders, we would have been more inclined to follow Slampo's lead and give a little love to the potted plants.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/26/09 08:45 PM |

Chron circulation plummets again; BH link ban fails to arrest decline

NEWSPAPER CIRCULATION FIGURES for the six-month period that ended in September have been released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and it's more bad news for newspapers overall and the Houston Chronicle especially, which saw a daily circulation decline of 14.24% and a Sunday circulation decline of 6.30%.

As always, we look forward to Chron publisher Jack Sweeney's spin on the numbers (although we have sympathy for the poor reporter assigned to "cover" this news).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/26/09 12:00 PM |

Lemer/Farb/Roberts: The City of Houston is broke

CPAS BOB LEMER, AUBREY FARB, AND TOM ROBERTS have produced an independent, detailed analysis of City of Houston finances. It's not pretty.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/26/09 06:16 AM |

METRO board vote not publicized


At its October meeting, the Metro board gave the go-ahead for the future conversion of highway HOV lanes to so-called "HOT" lanes (high-occupancy toll) like the ones operating on the Katy Freeway. A HOT lane has electronic scanning equipment that allows a solo driver to pay a toll to use a segregated carpool lane during rush hours.

The board vote, which was not publicized by the agency,[...]

Completely transparent!

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/26/09 04:23 AM |

25 October 2009

Dangerous time/place/behavior update: A deadly weekend

JUST A FEW DAYS AGO, LOCAL MEDIA OUTLETS were excitedly regurgitating the HPD press-release news on the city's 10-day murder-free steak (the Chron had a few problems with their reporting and editorializing). That streak ended just about as soon as the press release rolled out.

The news has been somewhat different in the last few days: Three deaths by gunshot at an apartment complex (KTRK-13), a death related to a video-game dispute (KTRK-13), and one death (and several wounded) after a shootout near an apartment complex (KHOU-11).

Not to worry, though. After all, we just had a great 10-day streak. And, as Chief Hurtt says, "If you're not involved in specific types of behavior, not out on the streets at particular times of night and particular areas of the city, you have a pretty good chance of not becoming a victim of violent crime in the city of Houston."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/25/09 09:29 PM |

Slampo on the final mayoral wheeze-off

SLAMPO'S PLACE blogs about last night's mayoral debate and the current state of the campaign.

It's the most entertaining, compelling analysis of this race we've seen to date.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/25/09 11:44 AM |

Chron: Brown continues to outspend others on advertising

THE CHRON'S MIKE SNYDER looks at the coffers of the mayoral campaigns and their related advertising choices. There are also new quotes from the local media's go-to sources on the race, Marc Campos and Nancy Sims (in case their blogs haven't sated your appetite).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/25/09 11:11 AM |

Meyer: Washington Avenue and a real-world dilemma

NEAL MEYER blogs about Washington Avenue, development, and his real-world dilemma:

The planners are going to gripe about how City codes dictate how much parking there is supposed to be. They're going to gripe about strip centers and shopping malls full of acres of concrete. They're going to gripe about off street parking, a lack of sidewalks, and all the rest of it. But it still doesn't erase the dilemma I find myself in - whether to pull the trigger and buy?

Real business decisions involving real money and real consequences for Houston's future are made every single day in the city, even as urban planners produce their colorful maps and plot dress-code redesigns and imagine new bureaucracies to "help" Houstonians with such decisions. The perspective of decisionmakers like Meyer is worth considering every once in a while.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/25/09 09:07 AM |

Morales (quietly) gets HCRP nod

THE HARRIS COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY finally endorsed Roy Morales in the Houston mayoral race. Very quietly.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/25/09 08:45 AM |

Not everyone's a TIRZ fan

MAYOR WHITE may be a big fan of TIRZs, but The Examiner's Rusty Graham reports not everyone is so enamored:

TIRZ 17 and its projects have never been popular with residents of surrounding neighborhoods, many who challenge every move and decision the board makes. They say the TIRZ and its board are tools of Metro National, the real estate giant that owns or controls a majority of the property within the TIRZ.

TIRZ 17 is a city-initiated TIRZ, with a board appointed by the City of Houston.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/25/09 08:10 AM |

24 October 2009

Newman: It's tough being one of the spokespeople for the Lykos Gang

LOCAL ATTORNEY AND FORMER PROSECUTOR MURRAY NEWMAN blogs, "it's tough being one of the spokespeople for the Gang Who Couldn't Shoot Straight."

No doubt. Here is the KTRK-13 story by Ted Oberg that Newman references.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/24/09 11:13 PM |

Bennett: Not every wrong is a crime...

LOCAL ATTORNEY MARK BENNETT blogs, "not every wrong is a crime; nor should it be." That ought to be enough to get you to click over.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/24/09 11:09 PM |

Swamplot: Where floodwaters will park downtown

SWAMPLOT blogs about YOUR tax dollars being used to purchase a 2-acre downtown site that had previously been touted as a great new private development. You'll have to pardon us for wondering if there are Houston Way connections we're missing here...

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/24/09 11:05 PM |

The latest 287g debate

BRADLEY OLSON (WHO ELSE?) AND SUSAN CARROLL report for the Chron that three city councilmembers have dared to challenge Mayor Bill White by trying to force a debate on the city's immigration policies.

Better late than never in trying to force open, transparent conversation about city policies, we suppose, but this one probably ought to be punted to the next mayor/council and a true public debate among leaders who will be around for a while. If all of this is truly about public debate, as opposed to meaningless grandstanding, that is.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/24/09 10:58 PM |

Katz: A police commission for Houston

GUEST COMMENTARY: RETIRED PROFESSOR HOWARD KATZ proposes a police commission for Houston.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/24/09 12:59 PM |

HPD compound?

THIS made me wonder if Chief Hurtt is still pursuing a new $250 million HPD headquarters/compound.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/24/09 11:03 AM |

Park and Ride expansion

METRO IS EXPANDING parking lot capacity at the South Point Park and Ride from 376 spaces to 766. Unlike inner loop light rail, moves like this will actually contribute to a stated METRO Solutions goal of reducing traffic congestion.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/24/09 08:58 AM |

23 October 2009

Dangerous time/place/behavior update: Sheriff Garcia's driveway

HOUSTON NEWS OUTLETS report that Sheriff Adrian Garcia's county-supplied SUV was vandalized. In his driveway. (Chronicle, KPRC-2, KHOU-11, KTRK-13)

KHOU ran this quote:

"I thought having him living across the street would make things safer for me but I guess not," said Jack Castle, who lives in the 700 block of Sue Street near Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

HPD Chief Harold Hurtt would probably give us some sort of time/place/behavior warning, but it's the weekend, and, well....

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/23/09 11:25 PM |

Texas Watchdog on HISD shortcomings

TEXAS WATCHDOG'S LEE ANN O'NEAL explores ethics loopholes and HISD.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/23/09 10:59 PM |

Court orders "transparent" White Administration to turn over info

THE CHRON'S JAMES PINKERTON reports that a court "has ordered the city to release 160 of 208 contested documents" related to the White Administration's effort to withhold public information related to red-light cameras. Strangely, the White Administration has frequently referred to itself as transparent.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/23/09 09:43 PM |

Chron: Locke goes negative on Brown

REPORTERS BRADLEY OLSON AND MIKE SNYDER report for the Chron that the Gene Locke campaign has resorted to negative advertising:

"Peter Brown is spending millions of dollars in this mayor's race because he can't match Gene's longtime record of service," former City Councilman Jew Don Boney, associate director of the Mickey Leland Center for World Hunger at Texas Southern University, says in the ad. "But our community is not for sale."

Is it overly cynical to ask if the ultimate goal of politics isn't to buy more votes than your competitors? That being said, I will concur with Cory Crow's notion that actually asking for people's votes is pretty important, and Brown certainly has been doing that, in abundance. We'll leave it to others to debate the fact he's largely spending his own cash on the race.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/23/09 03:34 PM |

Slampo on Khalid Khan

SLAMPO'S PLACE asserts that "Scooter Khan is still a campaign finance scofflaw."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/23/09 12:55 PM |

Swamplot: Bye bye to El Torito

SWAMPLOT says goodbye to two Harrisburg haunts.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/23/09 12:26 PM |

Houston Strategies and Land Use Prof on HRG conference

HOUSTON STRATEGIST TORY GATTIS blogs about the smart-growth/land-use conference put on by Houstonians for Responsible Growth. He links to another post about the conference on the Land Use Prof Blog.

It's unfortunate that the website of Houstonians for Responsible Growth isn't somewhat more robust.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/23/09 12:09 PM |

Dr. Dickinson blogs about his Afghanistan medical mission

THE CHRON'S MEDBLOG calls attention to Dr. Dickinson's Medical Mission blog. Dr. Robert Dickinson is a local Kelsey-Seybold physician who is blogging about his medical humanitarian mission to Afghanistan.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/23/09 12:03 PM |

22 October 2009

Chron gets scooped (again)

THE LAST TIME TEXAS WATCHDOG beat the pants off the Chronicle on a local story, the news side of the ever-shrinking newspaper never reported it, instead letting Rick Casey do his own noxious form of *ahem* damage control.

The Chronicle took a different approach tonight to getting scooped again, treating the topic as a legitimate news story but neglecting to mention that Texas Watchdog reported it much earlier today. Denial doesn't change reality, though.

Advantage: Texas Watchdog! Can a Chron.com/Dwight Silverman link ban be far away for the Watchdoggers?

UPDATE (10/23/09): Texas Watchdog reports that one of Green's firm apparently also failed to file some tax paperwork with the state of Texas, although Green says there are no outstanding fees as a result of the oversight.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/22/09 10:49 PM |

Harris County Almanac: Who are these fiscal conservatives?

CORY CROW asks, "who are these 'fiscal conservatives' of which you speak?"

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/22/09 10:25 PM |

Unca Darrell calls attention to city's pension mess

"UNCA DARRELL" Hancock calls attention a fine recent Chronicle op-ed by John Diamond on the city's pension mess.

Mayor Bill White couldn't resist writing a letter in response, to disagree with Diamond (of course). We wish Andrew Prieditis would send them a letter on the topic!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/22/09 10:19 PM |

CCTT could use a few copy editors, researchers, fact-checkers

THE CHRON'S CAUCASIAN THINK TANK has had a rough few days.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/22/09 10:09 PM |

Texas Watchdog reports big back tax bill for controller candidate

TEXAS WATCHDOG'S STEVE MILLER reports that controller candidate and current councilmember Ron Green owes the IRS $120,000+ in back taxes. Green says it's an honest dispute that is a matter of public record, that he hasn't tried to hide anything, and that the IRS is a bureaucracy that moves slowly.

Nonetheless, a candidate running for controller (of all offices) may find this one tougher to sell to voters.

UPDATE: We just remembered that this is the candidate the Chron's Caucasian Think Tank endorsed. So, either they knew about this and didn't tell voters or did as lousy a job with vetting as they do writing, reasoning, and editing. Doh!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/22/09 05:12 PM |

Buckhead throws a curveball on Ashby (updated)

SWAMPLOT blogs that the Ashby highrise developers will ask for approval of their original concept, which included street-level retail and other features that the walkable/sustainable planning crowd claims they want (elsewhere). How's that for an interesting twist?

UPDATE (10/23/09): Nancy Sarnoff blogs that the Ashby developers lost their appeal, and the matter will now move to City Council. Will Council try to head off the likely lawsuit by approving, or will a majority on Council jump to the direction of Mayor White and his anti-Ashby puppetmasters?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/22/09 11:55 AM |

McGuff: KHOU Lone Star Emmy success

MIKE MCGUFF posts ABOUT KHOU-11's Lone Star Emmy success. Congrats to all the winners!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/22/09 08:11 AM |

We're stressed

THE HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL reports that a Princess Cruises survey "finds that Houstonians are among the nation's most stressed city dwellers," trailing only Chicago. No details about the survey methodology were reported.

UPDATE: KRIV-26 has more.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/22/09 07:32 AM |

21 October 2009

Arts in Houston: Newly spacious Alabama Theatre wows H Box opening crowd

THE CHRON'S DOUGLASS BRITT blogs about the historic Alabama Theater, post-bookstore.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/21/09 10:34 PM |

Unca Darrell: The whims of the ballot box

"UNCA DARRELL" HANCOCK takes apart a recent editorial from the Chron's Caucasian Think Tank.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/21/09 10:13 PM |

"The truth is that those horrors are their ends"

CLEAR THINKER TOM KIRKENDALL blogs that "an Enron Task Force-induced nightmare" has ended.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/21/09 10:01 PM |

Compounding the error with an update...

CHRON.COM updated their earlier, erroneous murder-free-streak blurb.... with another erroneous blurb. Psst, Chronsters: The murder took place north of downtown Houston, which is part of Harris County (as opposed to unincorporated Harris County, which is referenced in the updated story). Does Chron.com have actual editors?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/21/09 09:55 PM |

The cover is really good even if the candidates aren't

THIS WEEK'S VILLAGE VOICE HOUSTON CORPORATE ALT-WEEKLY has a great cover. The accompanying story doesn't quite live up to it, but it would take a lot to make a long feature about these candidates interesting (too many quotes from self-declared "political insiders" certainly don't help, and don't seem very "alternative"). Maybe Tim Fleck should have been bribed/coerced into ghostwriting something....

UPDATE: KPRC-2's Mary Benton asks, "does this ... cover offend you?" NO! On those rare occasions when the corporate alt-weekly seems a little alt still (and the content isn't being supplied by amateurs), we like it! What say you, BH readers?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/21/09 09:40 PM |

Are YOU reading Matt Bramanti's tweets? We are

NASTYGRAMS from Peter Brown? He doesn't maintain an active architect license? WHAT?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/21/09 07:38 PM |

More good news? Umm....

THE HEADLINES AND BLURBS seem to have a gotten a little out of sync at Chron.com (see bottom left). Maybe the web staff was too busy doing political roundups for online news QA today.

Thanks to eagle-eyed Rorschach for the screencap!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/21/09 04:41 PM |

Heights arson #16?

THE CHRON'S PAIGE HEWITT reports that another suspicious fire occurred in the Heights. An assistant fire chief is calling it the latest arson in the neighorhood.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/21/09 08:36 AM |

Cooking the books at ICE?

THE CHRON'S SUSAN CARROLL reports that an Immigration and Customs Enforcement alternatives-to-detention program isn't working quite as well as the agency claims:

Nearly one in five suspected illegal immigrants who went through an Immigration and Customs Enforcement intensive monitoring program absconded while under supervision during the past five years, newly disclosed records show.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/21/09 08:02 AM |

Vet Shakedown

THE CHRON'S CAUCASIAN THINK TANK approve of Mayor White's new Veterinarian Shakedown Revenue Stream.

KEVIN WHITED ADDS: Blogger Brian Phillips has a different view.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/21/09 04:31 AM |

20 October 2009

County Attorney's office continues dissembling on J. Marcus Hill

TEXAS WATCHDOG has posted the handwritten, undated resignation letter that Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan's office insists that J. Marcus Hill turned in a few days before the nonprofit's story on apparent conflicts of interest. Reporter Steve Miller points out that Texas Watchdog started investigating the ethically questionable behavior in September. Nevertheless, the County Attorney's office continues to dissemble. So much for Vince Ryan's promises to be a beacon of ethical, watchdog government!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/20/09 10:14 PM |

Recyling rewards

HOUSTON announces a "rewards program" for "recycling and other positive environmental behaviors."

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/20/09 06:21 PM |

Grammar police

IF YOU'RE GOING TO critique someone's grammar, it would probably be a good idea to have a grammarian proofread your post.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/20/09 06:11 PM |

KPRC-2 documents parking meter problems

LOCAL 2 INVESTIGATES has done a nice story on problems with the city's parking meters.

Parking Management Busybody Lilianna Rambo told reporter Stephen Dean that the city only has four mechanics total to repair broken meters, and it's not practical to bag every broken meter.

We're sure it's not about the revenue, though! *wink*

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/20/09 12:23 PM |

When pols say it's not about the money.... it usually is

KUHF-88.7'S LAURIE JOHNSON reports that City Council this week will continue efforts to get Harris County to help enforce Mayor White's red-light-camera revenue stream. There's just one tiny problem: Harris County officials are balking:

"The downside is becoming a tool of the city for their incredible revenue grab," Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Radack said. "It's come to look like it's more of a revenue situation than trying to change people's behavior" (James Pinkerton, Houston Chronicle).

Moreso even than Mayor White, Harris County Commissioners oversee their own little fiefdoms and probably aren't all that interested in helping Houston collect revenue. Unless the pot is sweetened for them of course.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/20/09 12:09 PM |

Keep Houston Houston: Obsolete transportation standards

KEEP HOUSTON HOUSTON blogs in praise of obsolete transportation standards (and indirectly slams planning committees tinkering from a distance).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/20/09 08:21 AM |

Newman: A tale of two cases

MURRAY NEWMAN blogs a tale of two cases in the Harris County District Attorney's Office:

While Miss Montgomery's talking on the cell phone got her a conviction and some nasty names from the D.A.'s Office, apparently the fact Mr. Gonzalez killed not one, but two people (who were leaving church) while speeding in a tow truck, and had cocaine metabolite in his system was somehow less egregious.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/20/09 08:17 AM |

19 October 2009

Fun with campaign finance reports

WHICH HOUSTON MAYORAL CANDIDATE loaned his campaign money at usurious interest rates?

Click here to find out. It's not the first time it's happened.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/19/09 11:35 PM |

Day of the dead

THE CHRON'S ALISON COOK blogs about Hugo's and Houston's Day of the Dead festivities.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/19/09 10:29 PM |

A BH Public Service announcement

GINA GASTON, DAVE WARD, AND A KTRK GRAPHIC couldn't quite decide tonight when the Houston Marathon will be run. They intruded on Tim Heller's weather time to announce, finally, that it's January 17th. You probably needed to be watching to be amused by any of this (some KTRH-beat reporters may even question our amusement tomorrow. *shrug*)

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/19/09 10:21 PM |

Tech blogger picks up the local politics blog beat

THE CHRON'S DWIGHT SILVERMAN has apparently mastered the tech beat and is now interjecting on the Houston Politics blog, at least through the local elections.

Do you think he'll disclose to readers that his bosses won't let him link to some blogs? We're guessing not.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/19/09 10:08 PM |

"You have children who are being exposed to direct traffic"

DAVE FEHLING REPORTS THAT a re-developing Houston neighborhood has a sidewalk problem -- mainly because a city department allowed developers effectively to ignore the rules (KHOU-11 News).

Some planning fans are touting a new poll allegedly showing support in the city for more planning. Will more planning help if we can't sensibly enforce the many rules we already have?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/19/09 06:40 PM |

Kirkendall's latest football review

CLEAR THINKER TOM KIRKENDALL'S LATEST WEEKLY FOOTBALL REVIEW is a good lunchtime read, for those lunching in the office (or just needing a quality local sports fix).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/19/09 11:36 AM |

Somebody has been overseeing METRO?

THIS LINE IN BRAD OLSON'S CHRON STORY on Houston voter preferences struck us as odd: "The sunny outlook for White does not translate to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which he has played a major role in overseeing."

Major role? Hasn't Mayor White largely deferred to Frank "Procurement Disaster" Wilson and crew, in contrast to much greater involvement from Mayors Lanier and Brown?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/19/09 09:27 AM |

Yes we can.... abuse private property

THE OBAMA MURAL AT HIS FORMER CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS near the Breakfast Klub in Midtown was apparently defaced over the weekend (KTRK-13 and KPRC-2). The taggers had more of a sense of humor than most, but the blog still hates graffiti.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/19/09 09:19 AM |

Heights serial arson #15?

IS A HEIGHTS SERIAL ARSONIST just taunting HPD at this point? KTRK-13 reported last week that the latest incident took place the same night as an HPD neighborhood town hall about the issue.

Time to call in these guys?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/19/09 06:20 AM |

18 October 2009

What the heck is going on here?

WHAT IN THE WORLD has happened to the blog? Short answer: We got tired and decided to change things.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/18/09 08:20 PM |

Prop 10

ONE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS on the November ballot is Proposition 10 which would extend the terms of emergency service districts commissioners from two years to four years.

Last May, KPRC-2 ran a multi-part investigation on local ESD 1, raising questions about how that district awarded a big dollar contract, and how the district was spending tax dollars. KPRC's story highlighted the need for voters to hold all governmental entities accountable.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/18/09 05:01 PM |

Slampo's no fan of the Caucasian Think Tank's move either

SLAMPO calls the Chronicle's endorsement in the mayor's race "a weak, meaningless gesture by a fading institution...."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/18/09 04:24 PM |

EADO Palooza!

EADO PALOOZA! Be sure to mark next Saturday on your calendar for East Downtown's big rebranding party. Hopefully the cleaning up will be done before the coming out party begins!

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/18/09 01:58 PM |

Chronically lame and useless editorial board

THE CHRON CAUCASIAN THINK TANK today "co-endorsed" Gene Locke and Annise Parker for mayor.

That's about as lame and useless as usual. Here's a thought: Maybe the newspaper should follow the lead of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and drop endorsements. Even better, get rid of chronically lame and useless staff editorials altogether, and redeploy the resources in the depleted newsroom.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/18/09 12:02 PM |

Peter Brown, Architect

THAT'S PETER BROWN, ARCHITECT: "He suggested his professional background would help him broker compromises between developers and neighborhood leaders. 'I would sit down, as I have before, with a yellow tracing pad and come up with some ideas for how we could agree on a design,' Brown said."

Of course!

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/18/09 06:27 AM |

17 October 2009

How about that?

YESTERDAY, WE speculated that Peter Brown might just be leading Annise Parker in the mayoral race.

Today's Chronicle confirms our speculation: Peter Brown leads Annise Parker, Gene Locke, and the trivial candidates.

Not Sure holds a commanding lead in the race. blogHOUSTON favorite Don't Know apparently was not part of this polling.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/17/09 10:58 PM |

No more ICE

THREE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT BROTHERS are sentenced for holding smuggled illegal immigrants against their will; in other news, HPD pulls out of the federal 287g screening program.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/17/09 01:35 PM |


A LOCAL MEDIA EDITOR/OPINIONIST doesn't know what to think about objective journalists offering their opinions.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/17/09 01:28 PM |

Up, down, who can tell?

HOUSTON'S job losses are decreasing. Or maybe not.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 10/17/09 01:26 PM |

16 October 2009

Parker blasts Brown

MAYORAL CANDIDATE ANNISE PARKER has swung into attack mode against Peter Brown. Hmm, you have to wonder if her internal polling shows a big lead for Brown. He was on television by himself for a long time, after all...

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/16/09 10:08 PM |

Alyson Footer calls out shoddy Cruz reporting

ONE OF HOUSTON'S BETTER SPORTS REPORTERS calls out* lesser reporters over weak coverage of the Jose Cruz reassignment (not firing).

* See Graf #8

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/16/09 09:22 PM |

Mayor Bill White's new Vet Shakedown Revenue Stream

ACCORDING TO THE HOUSTON PRESS' CRAIG MALISOW, the White Administration has apparently concocted a new Vet Shakedown Revenue Stream. Here's one vet's explanation:

"Basically, what was told to us by Alfred Moran [was] 'This, BARC, is the last black mark on Mayor White's record, and he wants it fixed before he runs for Senate. And he wants it cleaned up -- and he wants it cleaned up, ASAP. And that's why he's removed it forcibly from under Health and Human Services.' I mean, that was word-for-word, basically."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/16/09 09:13 PM |

Live Oaks on the White Administration's funny math

LOCAL BLOGGER BRIAN PHILLIPS demolishes the White Administration's argument in favor of a massive "affordable housing" giveaway: "I don't think one needs to be an accountant to realize that spending $45 million to save $1.7 million is not a very good investment. Yet, this is the justification offered by our 'businessman' mayor."

Don't look for Phillips to be quoted by Chron urban affairs reporter Mike Snyder any time soon.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/16/09 09:08 PM |

And they wonder why circulation keeps declining

CHRONICLE REPORTER JEANNIE KEVER follows up on her last dreadful effort at reporting for and of the newspaper's niche education sources with.... more dreadful reporting for and of other niche education sources.

Why do Chron editors think a general readership cares about this niche, inside-baseball stuff?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/16/09 09:01 PM |

TW's Seibert corrects the Chron's lazy plagiarist

LAZY, PLAGIARIZING CHRON COLUMNIST RICK CASEY tries to slime Texas Watchdog over their clear conflict-of-interest story involving Harris County Dems that they nailed down cold. Texas Watchdog's Trent Seibert schools the old boy.

Advantage: Texas Watchdog.

Psst, Chron -- maybe it's time to hire that Harris County beat reporter, so you stop getting scooped by feisty internet startups on local stories!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/16/09 08:51 PM |

Chron's Olson shoots down Locke on jail funding

MAYORAL CANDIDATE GENE LOCKE says he can pay for more cops by getting the city "out of the jailing business." The Chron's Bradley Olson calls BS on that claim.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/16/09 08:41 PM |

A crush on San Fran's mayor?

SELF-DESCRIBED "SEASONED, CYNICAL POLITICO" NANCY SIMS appears to be quite smitten with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome. Strangely, she seems to think that Newsome's heavy-handed regulation has resulted in growth in San Francisco and would be a good fit here! No thanks.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 10/16/09 08:35 PM |


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