30 November 2009

Texas Trib email exchange: How good a mayor was Bill White?

TEXAS TRIBUNE is running an email exchange this week between local bloggers David Benzion and Charles Kuffner. The topic: How good a mayor was Bill White?

Readers here probably have some thoughts on that topic, so be sure to drop in on Texas Tribune and leave some comments.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/30/09 09:59 PM |

Slampo on being sensible

SLAMPO blogs about the mayor's race and "being sensible."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/30/09 08:30 AM |

Bill King calls for more HPD investigators, smarter policing, and better metrics

PUBLIC POLICY PUNDIT BILL KING writes that an undermanned Houston Police Department needs more of the right "boots on the ground" in an op-ed that appeared in Sunday's Chronicle. He also favors smarter policing and better metrics (and gives a too-casual nod to CompStat, in our view).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/30/09 08:24 AM |

Newsbusters mocks Chron editorial on threat of global warming

LAST WEEK, WE noted the faith-based global-warming paradigm that continues to prevail at the Chron's Caucasian Think Tank, which apparently missed the ClimateGate scandal.

The Newsbusters site mocks the editorial further, highlighting some of the responses from Chron.com commenters.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/30/09 08:18 AM |

28 November 2009

MayorWhiteLilianaRambo's valet company revenue stream


Liliana Rambo issues permits to valet companies and says the city has never received a complaint against Courtesy Parking Service, the valet company responsible for parking Zambas' car. Rambo said, "We have 29 valet companies that have a permit."

Rambo says valet companies seeking permits must fill out an application- and provide a background check and fingerprints for each of its runners. Runners must have a valid Texas driver's license and insurance of half a million dollars. The company must also pay a $1,000 fee to apply. While companies are required to renew annually, updating their work sites and employee turnover, that may not always be the case.

"It would very hard to try to police every single valet operator with the amount of people and the amount of valet that happens," Rambo said.

So what purpose does regulating valet companies serve, other than to provide revenue for the city?


Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/28/09 06:35 AM |

Will Joe Martin become the new Bob Stein?

HOUSTON HAS TIGHTENED UP RULES FOR BOOTING CARS, according to KHOU-11's Lee McGuire, and look who is quoted in the story:

Joe Martin, who operates the parking lot enforcement company Equipark, said most lot owners allow drivers some time to move their cars after rates change. "Normally, there's a grace period that is self-imposed," he said. "The reality is, we're not treating people any different than they are being treated by the city of Houston when a parking meter expires."

Yes, it's Joe "Average Citizen" Martin, Parking Commission board member turned booting entrepreneur.


Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/28/09 05:35 AM |

27 November 2009

Downtown offers free trolley rides this weekend

THE HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL reports that the Houston Downtown Management District will be sponsoring free trolley rides around downtown destinations this shopping weekend.

The old, free downtown trolleys were once a helpful downtown amenity, but they did not fit METRO's vision of urban-rail Houtopia and were killed some time ago.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/27/09 09:16 AM |

26 November 2009

Chron headline writers strike again

HEADLINE from the print and e-edition versions of today's Chronicle: "Rivals agree on key points"

HEADLINE from the same story on Chron.com: "District A rivals agree on few points"

The Chronicle headline writers do seem to have the possibilities covered.

UPDATE (11/27/2009): A Chron.com editor apparently read the little blog and corrected their headline. Instead of taking their editing cues from the little blog they are not supposed to link/read, though, wouldn't it be better to read their OWN copy more carefully to start? Hmm?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/26/09 07:41 PM |

Unca Darrell on the Chron's love affair

"UNCA" DARRELL HANCOCK asks "How can you explain a four-column banner headline for a column about Mayor Bill," and then answers his question.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/26/09 07:40 PM |

Mike McGuff on Eric James

MIKE MCGUFF posts an update on former KTRK-13 reporter Eric James, who claimed to be a carjacking/kidnapping victim this summer.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/26/09 07:39 PM |

Hair Balls: Toyota to reshape pedals in effort to curb "sudden acceleration" errors

VILLAGE VOICE HOUSTON mocks Toyota for its recent announcement that pedals on some vehicles would be reshaped in response to recent reports of "sudden acceleration" (caused most frequently by drivers stomping the wrong pedal).

The publication ran a story on the same topic earlier this year, neglecting to identify the wife of a Village Voice staffer as such. She apparently had an arbitration claim against Toyota at the time due to her "sudden acceleration" incident, but we have not seen an update from Village Voice whether their consumer-advocacy journalism helped produce a favorable outcome for her.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/26/09 07:38 PM |

Another turkey candidate was closer to home

VILLAGE VOICE HOUSTON announced their 2009 "turkeys of the year" awards this week.

They might have considered giving one to themselves for the ongoing amateurization of a publication that once produced interesting journalism from real journalists.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/26/09 07:35 PM |



Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/26/09 07:41 AM |

25 November 2009

Texas Watchdog visits Locke campaign event, queries candidate (updated)

SINCE CANDIDATE GENE LOCKE'S STAFF wouldn't return Texas Watchdog's calls about his tax returns, Texas Watchdog dropped by a campaign event to get candidate Locke on the record. Locke tells the nonprofit journos he will release his tax returns "soon." And we bet he later told his staff to return their calls/emails moving forward!

The Locke campaign still has a few hours left to drop those returns in the Wednesday pre-Thanksgiving news black hole. Will they behave as predicted?

UPDATE: Texas Watchdog and Miya Shay both tweeted about 4:00 pm that Gene Locke had released his tax returns. Can we call 'em or what?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/25/09 01:01 PM |

Houston Arts Alliance: Some things never change

KTRK-13's WAYNE DOLCEFINO CHECKS BACK IN with the Houston Arts Alliance:

Last November we questioned why the city had spent $69,000 on city art and then put it inside a poop plant. One piece of art was near the coke machine in the employee breakroom.

"I also think in that case we should probably move the piece," said Glus.

A year later, Aqua Profunda Est Quieta is still here.

Of course there's more at the link. And Part Two airs tonight.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/25/09 04:19 AM |

Cy-Fair ISD's overhead

AT THE END OF THIS CHRON STORY about how local ISDs are having to face new economic realities, is this eye-opening sentence: "Besides delaying school construction, Cy-Fair cut $41 million by eliminating 450 positions primarily through attrition last year, then cut another $14.5 million by deleting another 100 positions this year."

Wow! Cy-Fair sure has been generous with taxpayer dollars!

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/25/09 03:53 AM |

24 November 2009

Just one question.... Did Bernstein write the CCTT's editorial? ;)

HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT PR MAN (AND FORMER CHRONSTER) ALAN BERNSTEIN and Grits for Breakfast blogger Scott Henson have an interesting back-and-forth on the proposed Harris County jail booking facility expansion.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/24/09 07:05 AM |

23 November 2009

Bill White channels Ross Perot, asks the folks to weigh in on gubernatorial race

Houston Mayor Bill White: "I'm running for the U.S. Senate.... Yeah, I'm running for the U.S. Senate" (KVUE News, 20 November 2009).

Houston Mayor Bill White: "Today I agree to consider running for Governor, and shall make a decision by Friday, December 4th." (Bill White for Texas, 23 November 2009).

We're sure he'll bring decisive leadership to whatever race he eventually decides is the one he wants to run.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/23/09 09:08 PM |

Texas Watchdog on parking commissioners and conflicts

TEXAS WATCHDOG reports interesting details on the vague "conflict of interest" aside raised by the KPRC-2 story on the Parking Commission that Anne Linehan posted about yesterday:

Joe Martin and Bruce LaPree were on the appointed parking commission last year when the booting ordinance was created, asking questions and applying their expertise to the proposed ordinance. Records show that even before the Houston City Council approved the panel’s booting suggestions on Sept. 9, 2008, the two men had taken steps to create a company called Equipark....

[Martin and LaPree] said in separate interviews with Texas Watchdog last week that they immediately advised the city of their new business once it was beginning to take shape, but that the city attorney’s office simply advised that they get an attorney and present their case at a later date.

That was in September or October, LaPree said; according to Martin and LaPree, after numerous meetings with city officials and Houston’s ethics committee, the two were asked to step down from the parking commission late last year.

That is certainly an interesting twist! Mayor White's office, which likes to call itself transparent, had no comment for Texas Watchdog about the matter.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/23/09 01:34 PM |

Clearing up confusion on financial info and political candidates

SELF-DESCRIBED "POLITICAL INSIDER" NANCY SIMS admits confusion on a local campaign topic:

Texas Watchdog is calling out Locke for not releasing his income tax returns. Parker has released hers. Locke might as well. This issue has always confused me. We require candidates to file detailed financial statements and you can view those on the City Secretary’s website. Yet, it has become common practice in campaigns to pressure candidates to release their income tax returns as well.

I'm just an outsider who doesn't attend Thanksgiving parties with mayoral candidates like some insiders, but I'll take a stab at this and suggest that income-tax information, tax liens, and financial/legal information beyond the basic required campaign-finance documents give voters (outsiders!) a much fuller picture of candidates for public office. The more information, the better (says the outsider with the Ph.D. in politics)! If candidates don't want the public scrutiny, then maybe it's best they remain in the private sector.

Now, why hasn't Gene Locke followed Annise Parker's lead and released his tax returns?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/23/09 09:23 AM |

One faith-based paradigm the Chron loves

THE CHRON CAUCASIAN THINK TANK warns ominously today that "evidence continues to accumulate that the threat [of man-made global warming] is accelerating," and something must be done!

Apparently, the CCTT took a cue from faith-based man-made global-warming enthusiast and amateur weather forecaster SciGuy, and decided it would be best to ignore the revelations last week about the faith-based scientific global-warming community. Because "science" is all about ignoring facts that don't confirm your faith. *wink*


Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/23/09 09:03 AM |

Chron readers: Don't try the recipes, and don't trust the lottery numbers

The Chronicle ran an embarrassing correction last week: "The Mega Millions lottery numbers were incorrect in Wednesday's editions. The correct numbers are in today's lottery information on this page."

It's not the first time the newspaper has managed to get the lottery numbers wrong.

We've long warned Chron readers not to try the recipes without checking the corrections. Better not throw away your lottery tickets based on what the newspaper prints either!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/23/09 08:26 AM |

Hair Balls: La Plus Ca Change At BARC

LAST WEDNESDAY, a dog managed to strangle itself at BARC while an employee cleaned its cage. Unsurprisingly, White administration flacks delayed releasing any info until Friday, typically the day where news goes to die in this town. Craig Malisow posts several questions Elena Marks and White administration officials should have answered, but haven't.

UPDATE: Malisow has posted an update to the original post.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/23/09 08:18 AM |

22 November 2009

Houston's Parking (and Pillaging) Commission

THE CITIZEN-LED PARKING COMMISSION: KPRC-2 recently ran a story about drivers complaining how their cars were being booted even though they had paid to park. Color us unsurprised; after all, Liliana Rambo's Parking Commission has been a disaster pretty much from the get-go. But buried in KPRC's story was this gem:

A company called Equipark is among the new players in the arena. Chief Executive Officer Joe Martin said, "We're doing anywhere from 30 to 60 boots a day."

He admitted that he helped craft the city's boot ordinance while serving on the city of Houston Parking Commission.

"It kind of dawned on me that there may be a business opportunity here," he said.

Martin said he stepped down from the Parking Commission before the City Council passed the law to avoid a conflict of interest.

Back in 2006 when Mayor White announced the formation of the Houston Parking Commission, he made a big deal of calling it a "citizen-led" commission, with nine mayor-appointed members. Joe Martin was one of those average citizens. And after Joe "Citizen" Martin helped create the city's boot ordinance, a little light bulb went off in his head and he said, "Aha! I can make some money!"

Why in the world didn't the city have commission members sign something akin to a non-compete clause? Or at least an I-will-not-benefit-off-my-insider-knowledge-clause?

We wondered back in 2006 why no local media was interested in checking out the new Parking Commission members, and now we are wondering HOW Mayor White chooses the commission members.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/22/09 04:29 PM |

Economic realities invade Klein ISD

VOTERS WHO SUPPORTED Klein ISD's bond referendum last year are now dismayed to learn the district has begun rethinking how to spend the bond money:

Klein ISD says the new scenarios are being presented because the economics of the original bond plan have changed in a down economy. Klein ISD spokesperson Trazanna Moreno says their analyses have shown a large impact by decreases in property values and a slow-down in the growth of the student population.

The biggest boondoggle in the bond proposal was the plan to raze and rebuild Klein High School. Thankfully, that stupid idea is at the top of the list of reconsiderations.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/22/09 01:22 PM |

21 November 2009

Credit where due on McGrady reporting

THIS BLOG POST by Chron basketball writer Jonathan Feigen (he of the sometimes tortured prose) explains the latest Tracy McGrady controversy in detail, from an informed perspective. In contrast, here's a blog post from KTRK-13 sportsreader Tim Melton.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/21/09 11:19 AM |

Chron Caucasian Think Tank endorses Parker

THE ANNISE PARKER CAMPAIGN emails that they've secured the endorsement of the Chron Caucasian Think Tank*.

We're disappointed. We were hoping for another lame dual endorsement that we could mock.

* Cory Crow's moniker for the current iteration of the Chron editorial board.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/21/09 10:58 AM |

Dangerous time/place/behavior update

WE HAVE A NEW DANGEROUS TIME/PLACE/BEHAVIOR UPDATE, via KPRC-2: Weekends, Eleanor Tinsley Park, visiting a park.

Remember Chief Hurtt's motto -- you're pretty safe in Houston, except when you aren't.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/21/09 09:08 AM |

Another example of Mayor White's lack of follow-through

REMEMBER ONE AND A HALF YEARS AGO when the Chron's Matt Stiles investigated dangerous apartment buildings, and the city began "in earnest" to crack down on slum-like properties? You'll recall state Rep. Hubert Vo was exposed as a serial slumlord, and Mayor White announced the city would set aside $1 million annually for "a new team of multifamily inspectors."

Well. KHOU-11 is reporting that city is REALLY going to get serious about it...in April 2010:

After an apartment stairwell in the 9400 block of Concourse collapsed and killed two young boys last year, we all learned just how little is being done to check the safety of apartment communities.

The city admitted the apartments where the two boys died hadn’t been inspected in 12 years.

The new program will be managed by Public Works. Beginning in April 2010, the department says it will take a proactive, instead of just a reactive approach.
“We are going to periodically cycle through all of the apartments through the city of Houston doing an inspection to be sure we’ve got compliance with the city codes,” said Andy Icken, Deputy Director of Public Works.

So, the city didn't start investigating and citing run-down apartments in 2008 as Mayor White said it would?

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/21/09 06:06 AM |

20 November 2009

Harris County Almanac: The Bill White-a-Palooza

CORY CROW comments on The Bill White-a-Palooza.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/20/09 11:43 AM |

You can't have your cake and...

BEST EXCUSE FOR A CRASH we've seen in a while: "'She told the officer and the officer relayed to me that she was coming home and was eating cake and that she lost control of her car,' said Stidham" (KTRK-13 News).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/20/09 07:53 AM |

19 November 2009

"Sources" tell KPRC Locke tax returns coming soon; campaign still won't respond to Texas Watchdog

TEXAS WATCHDOG can't get a response from the Gene Locke campaign about the candidate's tax returns, but apparently "sources" have told KPRC-2's Mary Benton that they will be released in a few days.

We're expecting them to come out about 4:30 pm next Wednesday, just before Thanksgiving. But that's okay -- it will give watchdogs a nice long holiday to comb through them.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/19/09 09:24 PM |

Humor files: Locke powerbrokers try not to beg (too much) for Morales endorsement

KTRK-13'S MIYA SHAY blogs about the big meeting between Roy Morales, Allen Blakemore, and Christian Archer.

We LOVE reading stories about Gene Locke power brokers groveling for the support of the guy who finished fourth AND loaned his campaign money at usurious interest rates. More of the same, please!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/19/09 09:17 PM |

BAR: Still not ready for primetime

DAVID BENZION blogs that Texas voters should not allow Houston's Barbara Ann Radnofsky "anywhere near the AG's office."

We don't expect there's much chance of that.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/19/09 09:05 PM |

Speaking of disconnects...

THE CHRON'S "SCIGUY" blogs about the "disconnect between TV meteorologists and climate scientists on the issue of global warming."

For our part, we are frequently amused by the disconnect between faith-based global-warming enthusiasts who play meteorologists on their blogs, and... actual trained meteorologists.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/19/09 09:04 PM |

Chron Caucasian Think Tank: "Backlash" mellows to "fears"

THE CHRON (and other media outlets) love the "Muslim backlash" meme.

When the backlash never materializes, the natural followup is "[LATEST NEWS EVENT] raised fears."

Why does the newspaper waste its ever-shrinking print space with this?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/19/09 09:03 PM |

One Texas Monthly column that should count as a political contribution

If you like your storytelling exaggerated and are a fan of Mayor Bill White, then you're probably going to love the latest Texas Monthly tribute to the man.

On the other hand, fans of high-quality Texas journalism may question the outright, unbalanced cheerleading. Maybe Texas Monthly is aiming to be the new Mrs. White?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/19/09 09:02 PM |

A Casey clone on the political beat? Whee!

NEW CHRON POLITICAL WRITER JOE HOLLEY blogs about... speculation that Mayor Bill White might run for governor instead of Senate.

Count us underwhelmed by this sort of thing. If the Chron is even going to bother with a "political writer" when the newsroom is so depleted, surely it would be nice to get beyond lazy Rick Casey-style rehashes of the obvious.

UPDATE: This appears to be his first column for the big newspaper, on that [sarcasm] little-covered topic of Mayor White's run for a Senate seat that isn't yet open [/sarcasm].

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/19/09 08:57 PM |

18 November 2009

Who cares if the city's broke so long as there's a Bill White boondoggle to approve?

THE CHRON'S BRADLEY OLSON reports on Mayor Bill White's latest boondoggle: a $600,000 payoff to developers to build 10 single-family homes as part of the "Houston Hope" program. The story has slightly more balance than the Chron's more typical cheerleading/reporting on such urban boondoggles, so that's an improvement we suppose.

UPDATE: Cory Crow astutely points out that the same Mayor Bill White who is promoting this spending boondoggle recently warned the current mayoral candidates about the dangers of spending. Or maybe that was Senate Candidate White trying to sound good for rural Texas folks. It's so hard to keep straight!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/18/09 09:41 PM |

McGuff: KTRK updates web layout

MIKE MCGUFF posts a mini-review of the new ABC13.com layout (a subject he certainly knows something about).

It's definitely an improvement over the old site, although the recent KHOU web redesign appeals to me more (as TV news sites go). What do you think?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/18/09 06:53 PM |

Unca Darrell: More good news about Texas

"UNCA" DARRELL HANCOCK finds "more good news about Texas for the Chronicle to ignore."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/18/09 06:46 PM |

Meyer: On jitneys and elevated busways

NEAL MEYER posts some interesting thoughts on jitneys and elevated busways.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/18/09 06:43 PM |

METRO adds Facebook, Twitter presence

METRO quietly announced yesterday (via press release) that it now has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Back when the Houston Press was mainly the work of professional journalists, those journalists dug up interesting facts, like the exorbitant salary of the woman responsible for METRO's insipid blog. Now that Village Voice has turned over the shop mainly to amateurs in an effort to generate pageviews (we guess), readers are instead served this sort of nearly unreadable dreck from the amateur clique.

Too bad -- we're kind of curious if METRO had to hire yet another PR person to handle the additional social media load.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/18/09 06:40 PM |

Although.... perhaps "less" is more in the case of these two.

One Chron diarist is out for three months on maternity leave, apparently not to be replaced during that time. And an editorial in today's Chron offered readers a note that it was *ahem* recycled content:

EDITOR'S NOTE: This editorial also appeared in the early edition of Sunday's paper.

Does the Houston Chronicle really expect subscribers to continue to fork over $22/month for shrinking/recycled content?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/18/09 08:02 AM |

Big Jolly: A Harris County ethics Q&A

DAVID "BIG JOLLY" JENNINGS posts about Jerry Eversole, ethics violations, and the Harris County Republican Party (here, here, here, here, and here).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/18/09 07:47 AM |

17 November 2009

Continental, United rolling out reciprocal frequent-flier benefits

CONTINENTAL AIRLINES has posted interesting news for Continental and United frequent fliers: Elite members of the airlines' frequent-flier programs will be enjoying some nice new reciprocal benefits, which will start to roll out in mid-2010. Elites from both airlines will enjoy space-available, complimentary upgrades on the other company's metal (with a slight advantage to United elites in terms of pecking order), as well as reciprocal access to preferred seating (a definite advantage for Continental elites, since it gives them access to Economy Plus on United, a seating product that does not exist on Continental).

Unsurprisingly, the Chron business section doesn't have anything posted about this news (which, in my view, aligns the two airlines to re-enter merger talks by the end of 2010, which is reported -- by newspapers other than the Chron -- to interest Jeff Smisek).

UPDATE: Bill Montgomery, the Chron's frequent-flier blog guru, posts more at Houston Departures.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/17/09 12:08 PM |

Chron catches up on the campaign press releases and commentary

THE CHRONICLE updates the latest mayoral campaign press-release charges and responses (with a poor headline as a bonus, but no input from Bob Stein, sadly).

Did the newspaper finally ask Gene Locke for his tax returns? If so, they apparently haven't gotten them either.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/17/09 08:18 AM |

16 November 2009

Houston's Clear Thinkers: Fertitta gets squeezed this time

CLEAR THINKER TOM KIRKENDALL blogs that Tilman Fertitta is getting "a bit of his own medicine" about now.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/16/09 11:23 PM |

Sit and Spin: Party Time at Airport Direct!

METRO's EXPENSIVE BLOGGER informs that it's time for another celebration:

You're invited to join us at an open house at Passenger Plaza, celebrating Airport Direct - a convenient and fast way to get from downtown to IAH.

The band Mango Punch will provide live salsa music. We'll also have refreshments and giveaways. The event is free and open to the public.

It all takes place this Thursday, Nov. 19, from noon to 3 p.m. at 815 Pierce, across the street from the Downtown Transit Center.

But... but.... but where are the scratch-off cards?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/16/09 11:03 PM |

Slampo does the work of (nonexistent?) Chron editors

SLAMPO posts more about that Sunday Chron story on the soccer stadium and mayoral candidates, noting several problems with the reporting:

1) Gene Locke was never chairman of the Sports Authority (an error that has not been corrected by the newspaper as of this morning).

2) The story didn't bother to report that Dynamo ownership have donated to Gene Locke's campaign.

3) Houston's expert-on-everything, Bob Stein, apparently must always be quoted by the newspaper.

Further to (3), here's a helpful hint to local journos/editors: When a sentence quoting a nonessential source begins, "As Rice University political science professor Robert Stein (who discloses that his son-in-law works for Locke) pointed out..," find another source. It really is that simple.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/16/09 08:16 AM |

Analysis you just can't get from political outsiders

Self-described "political insider" Nancy Sims blogs that the mayoral runoff "is a very close election." And that turnout will be important.

BH PSA: Don't try analysis like that at home, from the outside.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/16/09 07:36 AM |

15 November 2009

Lame duck mayor stalls soccer stadium progress

THE MOST INTERESTING PART of today's Chron story about the soccer stadium and the mayor's race is at the end:

At times, officials have declared that they're "in the home stretch" on a deal, but election season has all but stopped serious talks.

David Turkel, the county's point man on negotiations, said the city has lost several TIRZ experts in the past few months as White's staffers leave for new jobs in advance of the Dec. 31 expiration of his term.

And the two county commissioners whose precincts overlay the stadium area have endorsed one of White's opponents in the Democratic primary election for U.S. Senate in March.

"I personally feel nothing is going to happen until we have a new administration, and then we may have to start all over again. We don't even know who we'll be dealing with," Turkel said. "On Jan. 2, I'll be calling, saying, 'Who do I talk to?'"

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/15/09 03:45 PM |

This calls for a new skating rink!

IF WE FOLLOW THE RATIONALE, we may need another taxpayer-funded venue soon.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/15/09 03:37 PM |

14 November 2009

All of that was predictable and lame. Can we get back to important issues now?

THE HOUSTON CHRONICLE TODAY reported that some local social conservatives may make a big deal* about Annise Parker's sexuality. Rumors have swirled for a while that Gene Locke is courting the support of those same social conservatives. The next "story" will be**, of course, that Gene Locke has disavowed the divisive tactics. That way, Gene Locke gets the benefit (if any exists) of the negative attacks, AND gets the benefit (if any exists) of criticizing them. That's so nifty that it may have been the brainchild of an expensive political consultant!

During her 12 years of public service, Annise Parker has not pursued a "radical gay agenda" (whatever that is), and her campaign this time around has given no indication that it's suddenly become a priority for her. To her credit, however, Annise Parker has always been forthright about her domestic situation, including the release of her and her partner's tax returns earlier this week to Texas Watchdog (apparently the only media outlet to ask for and get them, which does not reflect well on other news outlets in town). Annise Parker has not tried to hide who she is over her political career.

In contrast, Gene Locke would seem to have numerous Houston Way connections that are hardly transparent, and unlike Parker he has thus far refused to release his tax returns or even return phone calls about them. Maybe THAT is a story for local media to pursue (instead of of getting played by Gene Locke, fringe social conservatives, and their slimy attack politics) -- because so far, only a nonprofit news startup has shown much interest in that story. Gene Locke's potential conflicts of interest and ties to various powerbrokers are hardly trivial matters for the unknown who would be mayor!

* Or at least as big a deal as a fringe minority in Houston can make.
** Seriously, how predictable was that? And yet, it works in this town.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/14/09 07:22 PM |

Where's the transcript?

FINALLY, METRO posts Chairman David Wolff's State of METRO speech.

Here's an idea: If METRO is so determined to end the General Mobility Contract with local cities (and we don't even know if METRO has paid the millions it owes the city), why not put it to a vote? And while we're at it, since METRO completely changed the METRO Solutions that voters approved, let's put that to a vote again as well. Wouldn't it be interesting to see what voters think of METRO's plans and financial stewardship these days?

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/14/09 12:26 PM |

Expensive condos aren't selling

SAD NEWS FOR THE NEW URBANISTS: "It's not housing you're selling, it's a lifestyle," Borlenghi said. "And when you're selling a lifestyle, it's an even smaller market."

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/14/09 08:02 AM |

13 November 2009

Transparency: Parker releases tax returns; Will Locke?

IN RESPONSE TO LAST WEEK'S REQUEST, ANNISE PARKER has released her tax returns and those of her partner to Texas Watchdog.

Will fellow mayoral runoff candidate Gene Locke follow suit and release his joint tax returns?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/13/09 06:29 AM |

Liliana Rambo's at it again

CITY COUNCIL is considering letting Liliana Rambo's parking enforcement employees and the Mobility Response Team authorize tows of illegally parked cars.

The genius who thought her expertise could get Houston a bargain price of $7,500 for each new smart parking meter (whoops -- they cost Houston $10,000 each), and who now complains that too many of the expensive meters are broken and her employees can't keep up with repairing them; the genius who decided to solve downtown's parking problem by eliminating free parking for people with legitimate handicapped placards; the genius who held town hall meetings with suburbanites to teach them how to park downtown correctly; the genius who handed out parking citation books to volunteer citizens with predictable results; and the genius whose department stopped monitoring the parking meters in a five block area around HPD headquarters...THAT genius's employees will now have the authority to tow vehicles.

What could go wrong?

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/13/09 04:43 AM |

12 November 2009

WashTimes: Garcia/Napolitano to discuss HC 287(g) program

SHERIFF ADRIAN GARCIA will hold a press conference this morning with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in Washington to discuss the (quiet) success of Harris County's participation in the 287(g) program over the past year.

The Washington Times has posted a nice story on the matter. Maybe the Chron D.C. bureau will cover it! (UPDATE: They did.)

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/12/09 09:50 AM |

Slampo on John O'Quinn and the National Enquirer

SLAMPO blogs about John O'Quinn's post-mortem National Enquirer appearance.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/12/09 09:48 AM |

Carey: Crime surges downtown, HPD still undermanned

KRIV-26'S ISIAH CAREY reports* that crime has spiked in downtown Houston since the HPD overtime budget was cut, beats are going unprotected and cases are going uninvestigated, and Chief Hurtt contends (in a letter to the Chronicle that was not published) that HPD is still short 1,400 to 5,000 men. These problems will all be inherited by the next mayor (along with serious financial issues).

* Thanks to Rorschach for the link.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/12/09 07:44 AM |

The Chron's editors have tried walking in this city -- really!

THE CHRON'S CAUCASIAN THINK TANK is "furious." Oooooo, transportation planners and local pols beware!

KEVIN WHITED ADDS: So, the Chronicle follows Carolyn Feibel's typically dull, incurious reposting of advocacy group findings and quotes from favorite sources with.... an even more dull, incurious editorial? All that's missing now is a DwightBright inveighing similarly!

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/12/09 04:17 AM |

Frank Michel is moving on

THE CHRON'S HOUSTON POLITICS BLOG notes that Mayor White's spokesman Frank Michel has himself a new gig.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/12/09 04:09 AM |

11 November 2009

$37k here, $50k there, pretty soon you're talking real money

KHOU-11'S SHERRY WILLIAMS posts a cheerleading-style report on a City of Houston program that paid roughly one-third of the cost of a $110,000 home for a new homeowner.

A Houston Hope executive tells Williams that "qualifying" candidates can obtain up to $50,000 in assistance in purchasing a home.

Those numbers are simply mind-boggling.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/11/09 07:43 AM |

We wish they would concentrate on the jobs they already have...

TEXAS MONTHLY'S PAUL BURKA followed the lead of other bloggers in noting that Houston Mayor Bill White still has no plans to shift from his quest for a U.S. Senate seat to the Texas governor's race. Two things did make Burka's post interesting, though -- the fact that he relied upon Mimi Swartz (who is based in Houston, married to Chron opinion director John Wilburn, and generally plugged in) instead of picking up the phone himself, and the fact that it was the mayor's communications director Frank Michel who provided Swartz/Burka the information.

It's generous of City of Houston taxpayers to pick up the tab for Senate Candidate White's campaign communications, no?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/11/09 07:20 AM |

Commissioners question County Attorney role in pollution prosecutions

THE CHRON'S HOUSTON POLITICS BLOG reports that Harris County Commissioners Court yesterday questioned County Attorney Vince Ryan's decision to assist the City of Houston with its air pollution prosecutions (which apparently came without input from the Court). Commissioner El Franco Lee commented as follows:

"I perceive [Ryan] as being the county attorney for the departments and for the court. If he sees himself as an advocate and the watchdog role, then we'll have some differences going forward."

Certainly, we can understand that commissioners would not be accustomed to watchdogs looking very closely at how they run their fiefdoms, although the notion of Ryan-as-Watchdog is amusing given the difficulties he's had watching over his own office.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/11/09 07:02 AM |

10 November 2009

Newman: What to do with Susan Wright

ATTORNEY MURRAY NEWMAN, who sat second chair with Kelly Siegler during the 2004 trial, blogs about what to do with Susan Wright.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/10/09 04:00 PM |

The latest Sam Malone tease

MIKE MCGUFF blogs that the stars may be aligning for a Sam Malone/Maria Todd reunion on Houston radio.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/10/09 01:24 PM |

Chron Eye: Yosvanis Valle edition

A CONVICTED MURDERER is set to be executed in Huntsville tonight. Even with its depleted local newsroom, the area newspaper of record was able to put together a new Chron Eye for the Death Row Killer Guy several days ago.

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

Perspectives on Houston walkability

THE CHRON'S TRANSPORTATION REPORTER informs today that two advocacy groups have released a report that gives Houston poor marks for walkability. There's no link to the report or the organizations, minimal discussion of the methodology, and really only the vaguest of citations -- intelligent readers wouldn't want to have a look for themselves, after all. On the other hand, the story did serve as a vehicle to quote Robin Holzer, and that's a priority.

In contrast, Houston's ranking in the Walk Score Top 40 (#26) provides somewhat more fodder for discussion, given the interesting (and fairly compelling) methodology used. Indeed, the detailed, zoomable maps tend to illustrate the walkability of certain neighborhoods across our sprawling city (which, combined with the lack of zoning, allows citizens to choose neighborhoods based on walkability, if that's a priority, across varying price ranges).

Please discuss!

BLOGVERSATION: Harris County Almanac, TBIFOC, Swamplot.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/10/09 09:39 AM |

09 November 2009

Locke pushes soccer stadium

BREAKING ITS RECENT SILENCE, the Chron.com Houston Politics blog links to a post by a local lefty blogger on Gene Locke's support of the Houston Dynamo and its new stadium. The Locke campaign has apparently been trying to draw a contrast on this issue with fellow liberal Democrat Annise Parker, who has at least expressed skepticism about the city's role in funding stadium expansion boondoggles during the current economic crunch.


Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/09/09 05:15 PM |

Sixel: Chicago "organizing" tactics extend to Houston

CHRON COLUMNIST L.M. SIXEL reports that all those SEIU employees that have been much more "organized" in Houston in recent years are "represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 1 in Chicago." Sixel also notes that Chicago "organizers" temporarily relocated to Houston three years ago when SEIU was making its big push here (by shipping in bodies to protest outside buildings and disrupt busy intersections).

Perhaps my memory is faulty, but I don't remember local media reporting the Chicago origins of SEIU's "local" organizing several years ago. Do you?

UPDATE (11/11/09): Unca Darrell posts on SEIU and the current Houston mayoral race.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/09/09 03:03 PM |

Tameez proposes mayoral candidate social-media days

LOCAL DEM POLITICAL CONSULTANT MUSTAFA TAMEEZ suggests the mayoral candidates devote one day per week to answering social-media questions personally in the leadup to the runoff.

I'm all for greater interaction with the public, but I'd honestly prefer more intelligent sit-down discussions like the one controller candidate Pam Holm sponsored on KCOH-1430 (not that it worked out so well for her).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/09/09 08:07 AM |

Chronically lazy

LAZY CHRON COLUMNIST RICK CASEY summarizes a forthcoming academic journal article on the death penalty and crime deterrence. That's apparently much easier than staying attuned to city news, working sources, making phone calls, requesting public information, and breaking real news or covering important local issues like a good, energetic metro columnist might.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/09/09 07:29 AM |

Does anybody edit Chron.com (cont'd)?

HERE IS THE LEDE for the Move It column currently on Chron.com:

Or "womyn" or "mneatr" or whatever strikes your fancy.

Obviously, something has been omitted. Does anybody edit Chron.com (aside from, you know, removing links to a blog they don't like yet still visit many times per day)?

UPDATE: A Chron.com editor apparently struck that erroneous lede (*wave* thanks for reading!), which means that the online version is now missing the first TWO grafs from the print edition. Since the online editors are having *ahem* difficulties, here are the missing two grafs:

VANITY (plate), thy name is woman.

Or "womyn" or "mneatr" or whatever strikes your fancy.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/09/09 07:19 AM |

07 November 2009

That's still better than running and resigning a week later...

KTRK-13 REPORTER MIYA SHAY blogs about Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman's efforts to boost deputy Kevin Mauzy's profile.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/07/09 12:15 PM |

Something for METRO's expensive blogger to do

HAS ANYONE seen the full text of METRO Chairman David Wolff's speech to the Greater Houston Partnership? I've looked but can't find it posted anywhere. Maybe the communications department is too busy dreaming up new bus line names or gardening themes.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/07/09 09:38 AM |

Bennett: Tyler Flood, the drunk driver's lawyer?

BLAWGGER MARK BENNETT, commenting on the recent Houston Press article featuring DWI attorney Tyler Flood, asks "why wouldn't Tyler want to tell the story of bad arrests and junk science, to the benefit of each of his clients and of society generally?"

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/07/09 07:14 AM |

06 November 2009

"The thing he attacked... is civilization itself"

HOUSTON CHRONICLE HEADLINE: Some Muslims fear backlash after rampage.

There was no mindless "backlash" after 9/11. There will be no mindless "backlash" after 11/5.


"Unca" Darrell Hancock has the answer.

And if the local newspaper had any sense, Unca Darrell would be a staff columnist (or at least a DwightBright).

UPDATE: KUHF-88.7 took a different approach with their story: Local Muslims don't expect any threats after Fort Hood.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/06/09 09:34 PM |

Harris County "voter suppression" meme takes another hit

IN AN OP-ED TODAY, FORMER HARRIS COUNTY TAX-ASSESSOR COLLECTOR Paul Bettencourt follows up on the Chron's recent correction of both a news story and an editorial with the account of how his office processed tens of thousands of new voter registrations (with 3,518 lawful rejections).

"Facts are stubborn things," writes the (former) Tax Man. Even for the reality-based community.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/06/09 06:16 PM |

Texas Watchdog on Council's shower follies

TEXAS WATCHDOG'S STEVE MILLER posts an entertaining story (on a slow news day) about Councilmember Jolanda Jones' efforts to install a shower at the City Hall Annex, and the reaction by Councilmember Mike Sullivan. Councilmember Sullivan told Texas Watchdog the proposed project is now dead.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/06/09 05:51 PM |

Barron: KILT retakes morning drive lead from KGOW

THE CHRON'S DAVID BARRON reports that KILT-610 has regained the sports talk radio lead during morning drive (men, 25-54) that had been held by KGOW-1560's John Granato and Lance Zierlein. The shift coincides with the addition of John Lopez (and subtraction of Andre Ware) from the KILT morning show.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/06/09 10:43 AM |

KHOU posts Top 20 hotspots for Houston tows

KHOU-11'S DAVE FEHLING reports on Houston's aggressive towing companies and some of the towing hotspots in town.

If you've lived in Houston for a while, you're probably aware that parking in a marked tow zone -- even a poorly marked one -- can turn into a costly error. This story is a good reminder, though, and also includes information on how to seek reimbursement for an improper tow.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/06/09 07:45 AM |

05 November 2009

Local home builder (and award winner) charged with drug trafficking

KPRC-2 reports that a local homebuilder and his wife have been arrested on drug trafficking charges (involving some 24 kilograms of cocaine confiscated by authorities). Here are two seemingly disconnected grafs:

Jerry Heaton said by all appearances, Adrian Mosley was a pillar of the community and a quiet neighbor.

"You'd just see cars going in, staying about 15 minutes, then they'd leave," he said. "It's not like you see running in there, a gang shooting, stuff like that. It was just -- they keep a low profile."

Perhaps he served a high-end clientele?

Here's one more tidbit from KPRC:

Adrian Mosley received a Pinnacle Award from the Houston Chronicle in 2003 for giving back.

Oh my!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/05/09 09:37 PM |

KUHF: METRO still doesn't like General Mobility obligations

KUHF-FM'S LAURIE JOHNSON reports that METRO chief David Wolff told the Greater Houston Partnership today that he favors abolition of the general mobility agreement that requires METRO to allocate 25% of sales tax revenues to area road maintenance. It's not clear if Wolff mentioned that it remains a disputed matter as to whether METRO has actually fulfilled its obligations to the City of Houston.

We look forward to hearing our remaining mayoral candidates further discuss their views on General Mobility funding before the runoff.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/05/09 09:29 PM |

Return of the Chron eye

AFTER THE MASSIVE LAYOFFS at the Chronicle this spring, some of the pet projects of the newspaper (or at least the newspaper's editor and his wife) were curtailed: the Chron Eye for the Death Row Killer Guy has appeared much less frequently.

Today, though, the Chron's arts columnist (and editorial board member) took up the old cause with a special "arts" edition of the Chron Eye. Nevertheless, the death-row killer guy departed this world earlier tonight.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/05/09 08:54 PM |

Chron Caucasian Think Tank covers for mayoral waffling on 287g

THE CHRON'S CAUCASIAN THINK TANK took some time, but they have finally found a defense for Mayor/Senate Candidate Bill White's waffling on the 287(g) program: He really had a better program in mind all along (which doesn't explain the waffling, but hey, it's ChronBlog). Here they are quoting their man:

"The Secure Communities program is faster and more automated because ICE computers make the identification instead of relying on local resources and the interview process," says the mayor. "We want something fast and complete that does not require us to take officers off the street who could be solving crimes."

They can stay on the street posing as vagrants along roadways and holding up "Please buckle up" signs!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/05/09 08:26 PM |

Lawrence won't challenge Eversole, can ditch the sham "residence"

THE CHRONICLE'S CHRIS MORAN reports that Councilmember Toni Lawrence will not be running against embattled County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, now that he has decided to run for re-election.

Councilmember Lawrence must be relieved that she can now "move out" of that 648 square-foot shack of hers, hmm? Because we're sure she's been living there like a real resident, right? *wink*

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/05/09 08:43 AM |

KHOU rolls out new website

MIKE MCGUFF posted yesterday that various Belo affiliates were rolling out new websites.

KHOU-11 has joined the party with a new site that is, on first impression, a nice improvement over the old one. Just don't forget to add the "www" to the web address, or you'll get an error page.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/05/09 08:33 AM |

04 November 2009

Texas Watchdog asks for mayoral runoff candidate tax returns

THE FEISTY JOURNOS at Texas Watchdog have wasted no time in asking for the tax returns of mayoral runoff candidates Annise Parker and Gene Locke. This could prove interesting.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/04/09 12:21 PM |

The blogger election roundup(s)

DWIGHT SILVERMAN posts a roundup of liberal blogger commentary on yesterday's local elections. The tech columnist had promised daily poliblogger roundups, then neglected to post one since 23 October. Some people are easily distracted.

Now, what else were we going to add?

Oh yeah, notably missing was the best writeup of the election so far (certainly better than the lazy plagiarist's), at Slampo's Place. It's a rollicking good read, as usual.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/04/09 11:31 AM |

More effective than a "Please don't break into cars" sign

KTRK-13 REPORTED YESTERDAY that a pregnant woman fatally shot a man after observing several men breaking into a neighbor's car, then turning to hers. "The man still had a screwdriver in his hand when the woman opened fire with a shotgun," reports the Chronicle. "The door lock to her car also had been popped open, officers at the scene said."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/04/09 09:51 AM |

Meanwhile, in the Houston sports world...

TIRED OF ALL THE ELECTION CHATTER? Today's Houston FaF (sports) Smear could be just the ticket!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/04/09 09:41 AM |

03 November 2009

Newman on the DA Office's budget problems and broken promises (updated)

MURRAY NEWMAN blogs about budget difficulties and broken promises in the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

UPDATE: Newman posts more on Budgeting, Lykos style.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/03/09 11:10 PM |

Gattis on the coming rail/traffic congestion

TORY GATTIS calls attention to a Dallas Observer blog post on the congestion that rail expansion may produce in downtown Dallas. "My understanding is that Houston may face the same risk when the east-west line opens downtown," writes Gattis, "It will take some amazingly sophisticated train and traffic signal synchronization to keep things running smoothly down there. Same for the Uptown/Galleria line on Post Oak."

The coming light rail congestion in Downtown and Uptown isn't going to be pretty, although it is going to come as a surprise to most (since the topic doesn't seem to interest most media outlets in Houston).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/03/09 11:06 PM |

So much for that "voter suppression" meme advanced by liberal bloggers

THE CHRONICLE was forced to issue a lengthy correction to both a news story and staff editorial today:

An Oct. 24 story about a settlement reached in a federal lawsuit against former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt quoted Harris County Democratic Chair Garry Birnberg using an incorrect figure regarding the number of voter registration applications rejected in 2008. That figure was repeated in a subsequent editorial. According to the county attorney's office, during 2007 and 2008 the voter registrar's office rejected 3,518 persons who applied for voter registration cards. During the same period, the tax office also sent 64,036 notices to voters who had submitted incomplete applications; of those, 29,386 registered, according to county records.

Does the newspaper employ any fact-checkers these days? At least they issued a correction, which is not always the case when errors are pointed out.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/03/09 10:28 PM |

Bloomberg and Plain Dealer report Continental news of interest

SINCE HOUSTON-BASED CONTINENTAL AIRLINES switched alliances a few days ago, newspapers in Continental's other hub cities (Newark/NYC and Cleveland) have reporting interesting news from President Jeff Smisek, who takes over for CEO Larry Kellner next year.

Bloomberg reports that Smisek envisions more a-la-carte fees for Continental fliers. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Smisek may re-open merger talks with United if the Delta-Northwest merger proves profitable. The Houston Chronicle.... hasn't reported either bit of news.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/03/09 09:24 PM |

Crow: Announcing the Significant Houston Internet Triumph Awards

FOLLOWING THE LEAD of Nancy Sims and her Sams (awarded to all three major mayoral candidates -- no need to offend a potential future client after all!), Cory Crow has posted his own Significant Houston Internet Triumph awards. Well played, sir!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/03/09 01:13 PM |

Walsh: From professional food critic to Village Voice blogger

LONGTIME HOUSTON PRESS FOOD REVIEWER ROBB WALSH has ditched the whole anonymity thing. In part, he's just following the lead of the New York Times and its new reviewer. In part, he says the job has changed:

But I didn't decide to ditch my anonymity just because everybody else was doing it. The fact is, my job is changing. I was hired as a newspaper restaurant critic and feature writer. Today I am, first and foremost, a blogger. It's a little ludicrous to try and maintain your anonymity while you are photographing your plate. And sometimes you need to identify yourself to get a interview. The time has come to adjust to fit my new job description.

The shift from anonymity doesn't bother us so much as the ongoing Village Voice shift towards amateurization, but kudos to Walsh for his honesty about the changes.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/03/09 12:48 PM |

LST: Chronically neutral

LONE STAR TIMESMAN DAVID BENZION complains about "mainstream journalists confusing 'objectivity' (striving to be fair and accurate) with 'neutrality' (refusing to acknowledge reality because it means one side in a debate is closer to the truth than the other)," then offers an example.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/03/09 12:38 PM |

A minor digression from all things Houston-area...


Their site is crisp, informative, mobile-friendly, and full of content (on Day One) from professional journalists (not amateurs) -- a real contemporary "newsie's" news site, in other words. Local sites like Hearst-Houston and Village Voice-Houston should take notes. The latest non-profit online news competitor has hit the ground running.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/03/09 10:15 AM |

Election '09 open comments

THE BIG ELECTION is likely to dominate the news coverage today, so we're going to throw open the comments.

Please feel free to discuss the election, candidates, voting, etc.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/03/09 06:04 AM |

02 November 2009

Tech geeks rejoice: CompUSA retail store returning to Houston

THE HOUSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL reports that CompUSA will re-enter the Houston market, with a store expected to open by Black Friday at I-10 and Bunker Hill. This is good news for tech geeks (such as myself).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/02/09 02:36 PM |

Harris County Almanac: Third Ward news repurposed

CORY CROW comments on Third Ward news, repurposed.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/02/09 08:11 AM |

KHOU: Harris County man sentenced for voter fraud

LATE LAST WEEK, KHOU-11 REPORTER COURTNEY ZUBOWSKI reported that an area man had been prosecuted for voter fraud. Jack Crowder, who was not registered to vote, apparently used his deceased father's identity to cast a ballot illegally.

Crowder's name was on a list of potential dead voters compiled last fall by Texas Watchdog. It will be interesting to see if they follow up on this development.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/02/09 06:02 AM |

01 November 2009

In defense of growth in Houston

KEVIN KIRTON presents his perspective on Houston growth and planning in a Chron op-ed today. Here's an excerpt:

People often assume there is no plan, and nearly any discussion of this topic these days includes a reference to our project at 1717 Bissonnet, mislabeled by opponents as the "Ashby high-rise," as an example of the need for more rules. What is often overlooked is that there is a plan; there are chapters of existing development regulations. The problem is that, in our case, city leaders have chosen simply not to follow them.

In a letter published in the newspaper earlier this week (scroll down), Kendall Miller of Houstonians for Responsible Growth offered related thoughts:

When it comes to land-use controls, Houston relies primarily on deed restrictions and lets the marketplace steer growth. This seems very odd to those who believe government knows best, but in every other city where land use is strictly controlled by government, three things happen: Prices go up dramatically, unexpected development occurs outside boundary lines, and corruption at City Hall finds an incubator.

Please be sure to click over and read both. These perspectives are sometimes underrepresented in straight news stories, so at least they are getting some play on the Chron opinion page and blogs. It's still surprising that the HRG website hasn't been a more active outlet.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/01/09 09:50 PM |

"There is no tunnel bureau...."

THE CHRON'S DAVID KAPLAN takes a look at Houston's highly successful downtown tunnel system, which continues to evolve nicely without the help of urban planners or bloated bureaucracies.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/01/09 08:48 PM |

Right, and new revenue streams are never about the money....

IN RESPONSE TO RECENT NEGATIVE NEWS COVERAGE FROM THE CHRONICLE AND BLOOMBERG, Sports Authority Chief J. Kent Friedman took to the Chron editorial page today to repeat, again, that taxpayers won't be on the hook for any shortfalls at the Sports Authority. If you just repeat it enough times...

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/01/09 07:54 PM |


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