27 February 2010

Train wreck: Sports Authority wants in on soccer stadium deal

THE ALREADY FINANCIALLY-CHALLENGED SPORTS AUTHORITY changes its mind and now wants to become a player in the Dynamo stadium deal. However, Fox 26's Mark Berman notes there are some obstacles to overcome, and the Chron's story notes the political undertones running through the latest development in the ongoing soccer stadium drama.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 02/27/10 09:30 AM |

26 February 2010

Houston natural gas bills going up


Centerpoint Energy asked for an increase last year, partly to help cover pensions. The City of Houston asked for -- and got -- a smaller increase than Centerpoint requested.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/26/10 08:35 PM |

METRO ShredderGate (02/26/2010 Update)

LOCAL TV NEWS REPORTERS continue to probe further into ShredderGate, METRO's apparent effort to shred certain documents and purge legal personnel related to the same.

KTRK-13's Jessica Willey broke some interesting news last night on the timing of attorney Pauline Higgins' departure from the organization:

Eyewitness News has also learned that Mayor Parker met with Higgins regarding her concerns with METRO over the weekend, just a couple of days before she was fired.

Willey also points out that Mayor Parker's transition team has had difficulty obtaining public documents from METRO, which won't come as any surprise to anyone who has tried to obtain documents from the agency.

KRIV-26, KHOU-11, and KPRC-2 have additional coverage of ShredderGate, including comments from Lloyd Kelley (whose public information request sparked this controversy), from Rusty Hardin (who is representing Pauline Higgins, and who promises that six months from now, David Wolff's confidence in Frank Wilson may seem very misplaced), and from Mayor Annise Parker (who stated forcefully that it's time for a change of leadership in both positions).

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle, long a METRO cheerleader/enabler, led its story today as follows:

Faced with a lawsuit, an increasingly critical mayor and lingering questions about document shredding and high-level firings, Metro board chairman David Wolff took steps Thursday to prop up public confidence in his embattled agency.

With regard to the bolded excerpt, that ship has already sailed. Talk about burying the lede!

Between "SciGuy" Eric Berger's meltdown over the collapse of the man-made global warming apocalyptic "consensus" and the increasing realization by more and more people that the area's transit organization is not only arrogant and nontransparent but possibly corrupt, we're hoping that Hearst has a good grief-counseling package as part of its Houston employee healthcare coverage.

In the meantime, we'll be looking forward to the TV news reporting of this developing story. If it's anything like Lloyd Kelley's last big foray into public documents, heads are eventually going to roll.

BLOGVERSATION: Harris County Almanac, Bay Area Houston, Campos Communications.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/26/10 07:24 AM |

25 February 2010

Pot, meet kettle

HOUSTON'S VILLAGE VOICE CORPORATE ALT-WEEKLY discusses the Chronicle's latest foray into nonprofessional content.

As Cory Crow points out, the Press does have some knowledge about amateurish dreck posing as journalism.

MORE: Mike McGuff.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/25/10 09:40 PM |

METRO transparency: Court orders agency not to shred requested public docs

NEWS BROKE FROM VARIOUS SOURCES yesterday that METRO has been barred by court order from destroying public records requested by former city controller Lloyd Kelley, and two METRO attorneys who reportedly objected to the destruction of public records are no longer employed by the organization (KRIV-26, KHOU-11, KTRK-13, Chronicle).

As reported by the Chronicle, METRO chief Frank "Procurement Disaster" Wilson said, "I'm not sure there was anything sinister about it ... It may be very innocent and very coincidental."

Right! And we are sure METRO's "internal investigation" will reflect Wilson's perspective.

As a refresher, here are some fibs told by METRO executives in the past:

David Wolff: “We are transparent. We are accountable. Those who say we are not are not well informed...."

Frank Wilson: "We operate the METRO organization in a completely transparent manner."

We certainly hope that Mayor Parker has seen enough from this crew to make some significant changes at this rogue public agency.

BLOGVERSATION: Harris County Almanac, Musings, TBIFOC.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/25/10 07:55 AM |

24 February 2010

Study: DFW most traffic-congested city in Texas

TEXAS WATCHDOG'S Jennifer Peebles notes that Dallas-Fort Worth has taken over from Houston as the most traffic-congested city in Texas, according to a new study.

But how can this be, since Dallas has a more robust light-rail system (the answer to all problems, according to some Houtopians)?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/24/10 05:03 PM |

State fire marshal raises questions about HFD firefighters' deaths

EARLIER IN THE WEEK, THE CHRONICLE reported on a 47-page report by the state fire marshal's office that noted six "factors that, when combined, may have contributed to the deaths" of two HFD firefighters.

After reporting that news, the Chron story immediately quoted HFD's interim fire chief to the effect that the officers did everything according to department guidelines.

That leads to some fairly obvious questions, which regular BH commenter FilioScotia emailed us:

I looked in vain for some sign that the reporter asked the obvious followup questions, such as: If they did everything according to guidelines, why did they get killed?

If they did everything according to guidelines, why did the state fire marshal, and the HFD's own internal report, find fault with the way this particular fire was handled?

If firefighters follow guidelines and still get killed, isn't it possible that the guidelines may be at fault and might need to be changed?

One suspects that the reporter was trying to avoid coming off as insensitive to two firefighters killed in the line of duty, but those questions should have been asked of HFD's interim fire chief. And those are questions that Mayor Parker may need to ask the interim fire chief herself.

UPDATE (02-25-2010): The Chron Houston Politics blog reports that Mayor Parker has asked HFD for a briefing on the discrepancies. The public deserves that briefing as well (no thanks to the original reporter who downplayed that part of the story).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/24/10 04:52 PM |

Big Jolly Politics: Terry Lowry Watch (update)

DAVID JENNINGS has updated his list of "candidates that enable Terry Lowry to distort records, spread rumors, and give false teachings about the Bible."

RELATED: Your Philosophy Sucks.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/24/10 04:24 PM |

23 February 2010

Harris County Almanac: Underwear optional

DID CORY CROW spot a wardrobe malfunction on Chron.com earlier?

It certainly seems that way.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/23/10 11:21 PM |

Houston's best metro writer on the Miles/Edwards "blood feud" rematch

SLAMPO turns his attention to the "blood feud" rematch race for HD 146 between Borris Miles and Al Edwards.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/23/10 11:12 PM |

Mike McGuff interviews Mayor Annise Parker

MIKE MCGUFF posts an excellent interview he conducted with Mayor Annise Parker.

That sets the bar pretty high for audio/video bloggers (and pro journos for that matter), and it's a very good appearance for the mayor.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/23/10 07:48 AM |

22 February 2010

Seibert: Walking about Eastwood

TEXAS WATCHDOG'S TRENT SEIBERT posts about his weekend stroll about Eastwood.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/22/10 09:37 PM |

The Chron resumes its sanctuary city advocacy

FORMER MAYOR BILL WHITE NEVER ALLOWED a public Council debate over a past police chief's unilateral implementation of sanctuary city status.

When the issue occasionally came up during the White era, proponents of sanctuary status would all assert that it was imperative never to debate this policy decision made in 1992 by an unelected official, lest illegal immigrants stop talking to the police.

Perhaps for the benefit of our new mayor, America's worst big-city daily has rolled out a story asserting that illegal immigrants here have stopped talking to authorities, due to the 287(g) jail screening program. Hard to see that one coming, huh?

Cory Crow properly deems this advocacy journalism, because it doesn't even attempt balance, instead selectively quoting "immigrant advocates" to assert what the story-tellers (journalists would be a stretch) want to assert. Why can't they confine this editorializing to the opinion section, and have journalists go gather/report some actual news?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/22/10 09:33 PM |

21 February 2010

Houston Politics: METRO covers its coverage

THE CHRON HOUSTON POLITICS BLOG notes that METRO's bloated media relations/PR department regularly produces an in-house assessment of media coverage of the transit organization.

It would be nice to know how much this level of detail costs taxpayers, but that wasn't part of the post.

METRO critic Paul Magaziner asked us why METRO board members like automobile huckster George DeMontrond allow the organization to divert precious resources to analysis like this, as opposed to spending as much as possible on transit for area residents.

Good question!

We look forward to Mayor Parker restocking METRO's board (and administration) with some folks outside of the usual "Houston Way" network, which has served Houston transit users poorly over the last 12 years.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/21/10 10:06 PM |

HISD outdoes METRO on expensive "state of" presentation

NEW TEXAS WATCHDOGGER LYNN WALSH reports on HISD chief Terry Grier's "state of the schools" talk, and the $80 price tag for what was described as a fundraiser.

Here's our quaint notion: "State Of" speeches by leaders of public entities ought to be priced affordably (or free!). If it costs more than a Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo show, it's not priced affordably. And if a public organization wants to have a high-priced fundraiser, it should be an "extra" sort of presentation, not a "state of" presentation.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/21/10 09:52 PM |

Chronically out of touch

NOT-QUITE-RETIRED BLOGGER UNCA DARRELL mocks the Chron editorial board for the lesson they took from Scott Brown's election.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/21/10 09:36 PM |

Your money: A new $2.3 million soap box derby park!

THE CHRONICLE'S CHRIS MORAN writes about Steve Radack's new $2.3 million soap box derby park.

We are fairly green conservative types here at the little blog, and we like public parks, but I can't come up with any great defense of this one. Knock yourself out in the comments if you can help clarify our thinking on what seems like an expensive boondoggle on its face.

Incidentally, the article points out that Radack's original vision had a pricetag of $300,000. We wish Chron scribes were as diligent in pointing out METRO rail's escalating costs! But kudos to Moran for noting the great power commissioners wield in spending on boutique parks (and other boondoggles).

UPDATE: Cory Crow writes this.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/21/10 09:33 PM |

Why turn over so much content provision to amateurs?

THIS POST AND THE COMMENTS illustrate the ongoing amateurization of what was once a compelling alt-weekly better than anything we might compose tonight.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/21/10 09:20 PM |

Slampo: Wait, wait.... Please tell us!

SLAMPO blogs about the new book from anti-death penalty crusader David Dow.

If any professional publication in town had any sense, it would be paying this guy whatever he wants to write as many words as he could put out for their rag. It's so much better than the dreck turned out by Falkenberg/Casey at the Chron or most of the Village Voice amateurs. So if you didn't click that link above, we really encourage you to do so.

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

Area blogs on the vileness of Terry Lowry

MURRAY NEWMAN blogs on the Vileness of Republican "activist" Terry Lowry.

David Jennings has also blogged about Lowry.

We're curious how the folks competing to be HCRP chair feel about the vileness of Mr. Lowry.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/21/10 09:01 PM |

Kuffner: You are undertaxed

CHARLES KUFFNER, one of 35 people who will shape the future of Texas according to Texas Monthly, restates his notion that you Texans* among our readership are undertaxed.

A Future of higher taxes and greater copyright abuse doesn't sound so great to us, but your mileage may vary.

* That would be most everyone, aside from an odd relative or friend, we suspect.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/21/10 08:51 PM |

Dynamo fan: We're gonna do it until we get a new stadium

RALLY FOR DYNAMO STADIUM: Channel 11 reports "dozens" showed up. And why should taxpayers give millions of dollars to fund another sports stadium? "'It’s an eyesore to come down Harrisburg,' said Gallegos."

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 02/21/10 11:33 AM |

19 February 2010

Beldar: Press and public mostly misunderstand Keller judicial issues

WILLIAM DYER blogs about the latest developments in the Sharon Keller judicial proceedings.

The substantive posts at the Beldar Blog on this subject so far have treated the legal/judicial issues with much greater precision than partybloggers looking to score political points or even so much of the MSM coverage.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/19/10 08:11 AM |

18 February 2010

Main Street Houtopia: "The vision remains unfulfilled"

THE CHRONICLE'S PRIME PROPERTY BLOG had an interesting post just before Valentine's Day on the Fannin Street "flower district," long one of Houston's cheapest places to pick up fresh flowers. Mike Snyder reports that where there were once a dozen or so shops, the number has dwindled to less than half a dozen (sadly, my favorite place to buy roses closed a couple of years ago).

Interestingly, some years back, cheerleaders for the Main Street light rail line promised all sorts of wonders for the coming Main Street Houtopia, including an enlarged flower market as centerpiece of the Fannin "flower district" (see Snyder's original coverage of the cheerleading here).

As noted in the blog post, the "vision remains unfulfilled."

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/18/10 11:22 AM |

16 February 2010

HBJ readers: Free Metro rides not an incentive

CORY CROW notes an unscientific online poll about METRO that the Houston Business Journal posted for its readers:

Houston Business Journal ... asked readers if Metro eliminated fares, would they consider riding the bus?

More than 670 people responded, with a majority — 59 percent — saying “no.” Thirty-two percent said “yes.”

Most readers who commented said that even with free fares, the city’s transportation system did not go where they needed to go, or that it took too long to get there. Others said they liked certain aspects of the light rail system, but that the plans as a whole for Metro were moving too slow.

That last graf sounds very much like the 420/30 comment on Chron.com we blogged about previously.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/16/10 10:26 PM |

McGuff: HMEPS chief David Long is retiring

MIKE MCGUFF informs that David Long, the head of the Houston Municipal Employees Pension System (HMEPS), is retiring in a few weeks.

Long, an effective advocate for HMEPS, seemed not to be Mayor White's favorite person in recent years, probably because Mayor White knew very well that the pension plan's underfunded liability -- a problem he punted to the next mayor, just like it was punted to him from Lee Brown -- remains a ticking time bomb.

Come to think of it, retiring instead of fighting with the mayor who eventually will have to deal with this problem is probably a pretty good deal for Long. Maybe some intrepid watchdog journalist will even tell us how good a deal at some point.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/16/10 09:16 PM |

The first stage of grief, SciGuy blog-style

THE CHRONICLE'S RESIDENT FAITH-BASED GLOBAL-WARMING ENTHUSIAST seems still to be in the first stage of grief (denial) over recent developments in the global-warming debate:

Climate change is now firmly a plank of the Republican party, that is, I believe it is now something of a litmus test for Republican candidates. ClimateGate has legitimized climate contrarianism.

Actually, reality has legitimized healthy skepticism towards climate scientists with political agendas (and not a small number of believing "journalists" for that matter). Three cheers for reality!

That the Chron's global-warming true believer seems to be in something of a shocked state of denial over the effective collapse of the global-warming charade is further illustrated by this bizarre exchange with a reader:

Eric wrote:
What does all this mean? Well, even if every country met its pledge from Copenhagen, according to the Sustainability Institute global temperatures would still rise by 3.7 degrees Celsius
Hmmmmm, why is Eric quoting this "prediction" as fact???? We can't even predict weather, much less climate............

Posted by: Old Gringo Stan at February 16, 2010 01:55 PM


Hmmmmm, why is Eric quoting this "prediction" as fact???

I'm not quoting the statement as fact. It was merely to illustrate that even if all of the proposals on the table are acted upon, according to climate scientists, they would not have a significant effect.


It's not a fact, merely an illustration assumed to be a fact to make a point.... Got that?

If not, you're probably just a captive of the skepticism plank of the Republican Party!

Let's hope the next stage of grief (anger) over the collapse of the manufactured global-warming consensus is brief (since the newspaper is already bleeding readers, and we prefer that enough ads can continue to be sold to keep paying for those remaining metro desk reporters gathering actual news).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/16/10 09:10 PM |

15 February 2010

He did WHAT?!

UNCA DARRELL spotlights a laugher from the Chron editorial board's endorsement of Bill White.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/15/10 09:36 PM |

Area transit asides

THE CHRON'S INSIDE EAST HARRIS COUNTY blog reports on increasing ridership on three circulator bus routes started by Harris County Transit Services at the beginning of the year.

Elsewhere, Houston Strategist Tory Gattis offers his advice to the committees appointed by Mayor Parker to study METRO.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/15/10 09:26 PM |

Amateur hour in the Dem primary for county judge

THE CHRONICLE recently profiled the two Democrats trying to unseat Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

Former Council backbencher Gordon Quan, the preferred candidate for some local lefty bloggers, may need a little help with his website. Although it contains the expected "Gordon Quan for Harris County Judge" text in various places, the header graphic gives the impression that Mr. Quan is already County Judge.

Surely that's just an oversight that Mr. Quan will get corrected. And while he's at it, he might take a crack at revising his website's description of the job he's seeking:

What Does the County Judge Do?

Even though the Harris County Judge doesn’t wear a black robe or preside over trials, he or she does go to court every day: to the Harris County Commissioners Court.

Hmm, well, Commissioners Court doesn't actually meet every day. Whoops!

We suspect Harris County voters will agree with Quan's conclusion, though:

Decisions made at the Commissioner’s Court directly affect you. It’s vital that we have a leader at the Court that is experienced, energetic, and effective.

And maybe even one who knows how often the Court meets!

UPDATE (02-17-10): Quan's website has been updated and now reflects the changes we suggested. The campaign can feel free to send our consulting fee to the blogHOUSTON PO Box! :)

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/15/10 08:00 PM |

A day late and a dollar short?

Sunday's Chronicle had an "exclusive" for subscribers (available online today): A look at the city's abandoned/derelict buildings.

The poor writing notwithstanding, the "exclusive" really wasn't even much of an enticement to subscribe to the declining news source, since two TV stations have already covered very similar ground.

We can't wait to see next Sunday's "exclusive" content!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/15/10 07:40 PM |

14 February 2010

Bill White's never-ending introduction

THE CHRON'S JOE HOLLEY provides a little contribution to the Bill White campaign: White works on introducing himself to Texas.

Going into his second year of state-wide campaigning, White is still introducing himself to Texas voters?

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 02/14/10 09:47 AM |

METRO's generosity

CHANNEL 11 REPORTS that METRO has allocated $5 million to give to businesses suffering due to light rail construction:

Business owners adversely impacted by light rail construction will be asked to submit an application for assistance. Final details of the plan are still being worked out but an initial requirement includes that a business would need to have at least a three-year track record at the location in question. Officials said $25,000 is the maximum amount each business could receive, but the grant amount will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Wow -- $25,000.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 02/14/10 08:39 AM |

Sales tax allocations continue to decline

HOUSTON'S JANUARY SALES TAX ALLOCATION DOWN 12.4%: "The city will receive $51.4 million, down 12.4 percent from $58.7 million in January 2009. This is the third straight month of double-digit declines in the Bayou City’s portion of sales tax revenue." Tom Bazan's latest email blast notes that METRO's allocation was down 14.67%.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 02/14/10 08:07 AM |

11 February 2010

KRIV: Houston Housing Authority has closed only 7 homes since July

KRIV-26's RANDY WALLACE posts a nice investigative report on recent failures at the Houston Housing Authority. Homebuyers who qualify for assistance complain of moving goalposts and ridiculous red tape. The Housing Authority offers any number of excuses.

Bottom line: Only seven homes have closed since July 2009, according to KRIV, making this one ineffective agency even by quasi-governmental standards.

Interesting tidbit: None other than David Mincberg, who did such a fine job in his last housing post, was appointed by then-Mayor Bill White to chair the organization's board in.... July 2009!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/11/10 10:50 PM |

The poor voters in this district deserve some good drugs

BORRIS MILES, the erratic character who once successfully beat State Rep. Al Edwards, behaved like a buffoon in office, lost his re-election campaign against Edwards, and is now challenging Edwards again for the seat, took a drug test on the air (KCOH-1430) today as a campaign stunt to answer definitively the question of whether he's on drugs (Isiah Carey's Insite, Texas Tribune).

The test came back negative.

Unfortunately, the poor voters in the district must surely wonder if they are somehow under the influence as they watch these two clowns vie to represent them.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/11/10 08:55 PM |

1717 Bissonnet high-rise developers sue City of Houston

BUCKHEAD INVESTMENT PARTNERS, the group hoping to develop a mixed-use high-rise property at 1717 Bissonnet (the so-called Ashby high-rise) sued the City of Houston today (KRIV-26, Chronicle).

The Chronicle story ends in a curious manner:

The dispute over the project came to symbolize land-use controversy in Houston, the nation's only major city without zoning, and led to the creation of a political action committee aimed at preserving a business environment friendly to developers.

Is that how the group describes itself, or is that more editorializing in a Chronicle news story? *gasp* A good editor would clean that up. Maybe the Chron story will "evolve."

If this lawsuit gets very far, the testimony over the city's (ab)use of an archaic driveway ordinance to stop a development that bothered people with Bill White's cell phone number ought to be entertaining!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/11/10 08:26 PM |

No IAH EZ Tag parking, but $50k for a Robert Eckels boondoggle

THE CHRON'S CHRIS MORAN reports that Harris County Commissioners Court has decided to pay a $50,000 bribe in hopes of improving Harris County's chances in the great high-speed-rail-the-federal-government-can't-afford boondoggle. Well, he framed it a little differently, but we like to cut to the chase here.

Here's a fun excerpt from the story:

About two years ago, the county dropped out of the corporation and two other transportation groups at County Judge Ed Emmett's recommendation. At the time, Emmett said, he did not believe membership was worth the $200,000 it was costing the county.


The nonprofit rail corporation brings together local governments pushing for high-speed rail and is now chaired by Robert Eckels, Emmett's predecessor as county judge.

Judge Emmett probably had it right the first time -- unless, of course, the feds really do come through with some funding, in which case the bribe will have been worth it we suppose (and we should all remember to send China a thank-you note for underwriting all that federal debt).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/11/10 08:25 PM |

Faith-healing: Is there an app for that?

KTRK-13'S DEBORAH WRIGLEY reports that the Lakewood/Osteen self-help congregation has started a drive-through faith-healing service.

Can the Lakewood Remote Faith-Healing editions for the Wii and iPhone be far behind?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/11/10 08:23 AM |

10 February 2010

The 420/30 view of METRO's mission, courtesy of Chron.com

ON MONDAY, THE CHRONICLE reported that Mayor Annise Parker is open to rethinking area transit issues, including a proposal pitched by Bill King roughly two years ago to eliminate METRO fares altogether. As we suggested then, we do not think that the fare structure significantly dampens area transit utilization, making this a solution in search of a problem. On this particular story, we'll defer to commenter RebellionRevolution to make the case:

With all due respect, it isn't the fares that are keeping people from riding Metro. It's Metro's lack of providing a consistently dependable product to it's customers that keeps people from riding Metro. Free fares aren't the solution,. Getting people to work on time, everyday, is.

That comment, incidentally, has generated 420 "thumbs ups" to only 30 "thumbs downs," an impressive ratio.

Turning back to the story, we find this interesting graf laying out one of several of the mayor's upcoming "choices on a number of difficult policy questions":

What should the city and Metro do to encourage dense, walkable development along rail lines that could absorb growth and spare prairies and fields from being paved over with subdivisions and shopping centers?

We don't have much evidence in Houston that rail lines "absorb growth and spare prairies and fields from being paved over." Rather, if one rides the Main Street rail line, one sees "development" in the form of parking lots and fields where buildings once stood, not to mention a few derelict buildings, all still awaiting the promised transformation to Houtopia if we would just build rail.

So, we would suggest that if Mike Snyder is the one who provided that editorial comment in a news story, it should have been struck. And if that's how Mayor Parker's advisors are thinking about this issue (since it's really not clear who was editorializing in the news story), we would suggest that the mayor might want to go read the comment above (with the 420/30 positive ratio*) and ask if METRO-as-Smart-Growth-Developer fits commenter RebellionRevolution's sensible, popular view of the mission of the area's taxpayer-supported transit organization.

* We expect pols and journos alike can understand math that is so simple.

BLOGVERSATION: Rhymes with Right.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/10/10 09:44 PM |

Iceberg? What iceberg?

SS CHRON PRIORITIES: Editor Dwight Silverman conducts an in-house class on "advanced Twitter usage." Editor Kyrie O'Connor attends but gets distracted analyzing what the men in the room are wearing.

Apparently, this is not a joke.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 02/10/10 07:13 PM |

KHOU: City can take months, even years, on blight complaints

KHOU-11's Jeremy Rogalski follows up on previous reporting on the area's problems with abandoned buildings with a nice analysis of City of Houston response times to citizen complaints about the same. The results are not impressive (even though we seem to remember the last mayor talking tough about addressing this problem).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/10/10 07:08 PM |

09 February 2010

KTRK, KHOU on abandoned properties

KTRK-13'S TED OBERG reports that the City of Houston is taking action to tear down a derelict building, "two weeks after Eyewitness News" reported on it as part of a story on the demolition backlog.

In a related story, KHOU-11's Jeremy Rogalski reports that the city and county own a large number of those run-down, neglected properties that so many pols (including the current and former mayor!) criticize.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/09/10 07:48 AM |

08 February 2010

Danger Train, METRO bus collide near the METRO Palace

THE DANGER TRAIN AND A METRO BUS collided downtown earlier today, right near METRO headquarters (Chronicle, KPRC-2, KHOU-11, KTRK-13, KRIV-26).

Remind us again why so many smart Houtopians think building rail at grade down busy streets is such a good idea?

The spin that eventually comes from METRO's massive PR shop should prove interesting, at least.

ANNE LINEHAN ADDS: Maybe Chief Lambert can explain why METRO's own bus drivers don't understand safety.

UPDATE (02/09/10): Chron print editors thought the story so important they buried it on B3 (with a B1 photo refer).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/08/10 06:24 PM |

Slampo on The Good Life (Part Two)

SLAMPO recounts his conversation with the Chronicle's erratic features editor, Kyrie O'Connor, over the newspaper's new "The Good Life" gambit, which he posted about previously. That man deserves some sort of Blogurbatin'-hazardous-duty pay (or at the very least, a good stiff drink on us at a future meetup).

As for The Good Life, we noticed while walking the dog last night that the rag was still littering many driveways in our west-Houston neighborhood. The visual clutter is not world-class.

MORE: Harris County Almanac.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/08/10 09:58 AM |

07 February 2010

Wall and Burton: Public safety matters

BLOGHOUSTON FAVS JAY WALL AND STAN BURTON offer Mayor Parker a number of public-safety recommendations in this op-ed in today's Chronicle.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/07/10 08:09 PM |

METRO Airport Express, Airport EZ Tag fuel debate

METRO says it will continue its Airport Express bus service despite a KTRK-13/Ted Oberg story this week criticizing the per-passenger cost of the service (caused by low ridership so far).

Count me among those who thinks the city could use affordable airport transportation options besides the ones dominated by Yellow Cab (whose Super Shuttle, readers may recall, was "given" the exclusive IAH shuttle franchise by Richard Vacar, Bill White, and Council, who shamefully put an existing shuttle service out of business). Indeed, perhaps METRO should even consider cutting the cost of the service to boost ridership (which probably won't happen, because Yellow Cab wouldn't like that), or should run small vans instead of more expensive large luxury buses when there are only two passengers. Do we really want to return to the days of the METRO 102 "Express"?

In related airport news this past week, the Chronicle's Chris Moran posted an analysis of the EZ Tag Airport Parking program that was recently killed by Harris County Commissioners Court. The deal negotiated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority never quite lived up to expectations, and will wind up costing taxpayers some $3-3.5 million before it shuts down, according to Moran.

Still, the service was/is a convenient one for travelers, and we'd like to see it return under a deal that allows it to sustain itself. Like Charles Kuffner (who posted most of the story, just in case it rolls to archives or you'd rather click there than Chron.com), we're not sure why this turned into such an expensive fiasco.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/07/10 08:02 PM |

So much better than the amateur blog content

THIS WEEK'S HOUSTON PRESS features a really solid local story by an actual professional journalist*: John Nova Lomax takes a look the sharp change in the prosecution of vehicular crimes under Harris Country District Attorney Patricia** Lykos. The story features commentary from local blawggers Murray Newman and Mark Bennett.

* The Village Voice Houston corporate alt-weekly occasionally throws a curveball.
** We've noticed that many publications have started referring to our media-obsessed DA as "Patricia" rather than "Pat," the name that seemed to work just fine for years.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/07/10 07:31 PM |

We would have liked rapping topiary bunnies

METRO'S MARKETING DEPARTMENT WANTED to do something that showed "METRO isn't just a government entity," so they thought and they thought, and shazam! it hit them: Let's make a rap video with kids. As the video's director said, "It's a subtle and unique way to get people to pay attention to METRO and its services without following the same old route." Uh, okay.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 02/07/10 06:47 AM |

04 February 2010

Say it ain't so, Unca

YESTERDAY, UNCA DARRELL skewered the Chronicle editorial board, as he is wont to do on his intelligent blog.

Today, he announced that he's shutting things down.

Unless he's becoming the Chron's conservative staff columnist (right!), we think that's a real drag. Take a break and reconsider, Unca Darrell!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/04/10 10:24 PM |

McGuff on the Mia Gradney Chron profile

MIKE MCGUFF thinks CW39 should be pretty happy with the Chron's glowing profile of Mia Gradney, even if the timing is a little puzzling.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/04/10 10:14 PM |

Just another day at America's worst big city daily

THE CHRON'S JUNIOR METRO/STATE COLUMNIST returns to the print version of the newspaper today with an essay not about metro/state matters... but about herself.

Congratulations go out to the new mother, of course. But we can't quite comprehend why any editor at America's worst big city daily thought this dreck should actually make it to print in the metro/state section.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/04/10 10:09 PM |

Saturday blogger/beer/BS gathering

IT'S BEEN A WHILE, so we thought we'd have one of our blogger/beer/BS gatherings.

We'll be hitting the Stag's Head Pub on Saturday from 2pm - ????

Come on by, have an adult beverage, and say hello if you have time Saturday.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/04/10 08:36 PM |

03 February 2010

Water rate increase discussion moves to the Chron

THE MOVE TO INCREASE WATER RATES* that blogger Ubu Roi has been warning about for some time has finally spilled onto the pages of the Chronicle. Here is the ominous warning from our mayor:

“Council members are going to have to make some hard choices,” Parker said. “This is a problem that's been out there for a very long time.”

Too bad effectively dealing with that longstanding problem (and the crime lab, pension underfunding, HPD understaffing, etc) wasn't a priority of the mayor who purported to "run the city like a business" (although a better description might have been, "run the city like a big statewide campaign prop, while punting hard decisions and problems to future administrations").

It is no secret that we have been highly critical of Clarence Bradford over the years. But we'll give the councilmember (!) points for this sensible (if slightly ineloquent) defense of fiscal conservatism:

“Our economy is now sagging terribly down,” Councilman C.O. Bradford said. He added that he opposed any increases in taxes, fees or rates, “particularly when we haven't had a healthy, productive broad discussion about reducing spending. ... We must start with reducing spending and looking at core services.”

* As Cory Crow properly notes, you can regard it as a tax increase.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/03/10 09:34 AM |

01 February 2010

On The Good Life

SLAMPO POSTS about the Chron's latest effort to generate some interest (while apparently littering driveways of non-subscribers).

We're a little more bullish on the enterprise -- maybe with the addition of some reader party pics and excerpts from the online blogs, The Good Life could be made even better!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/01/10 09:38 PM |

Chron: "Troubleshooter" moves from Public Works to Mayor's Office

ANDY ICKEN, quaintly described as former Mayor Bill White's City Hall "troubleshooter" by the Chron.com Houston Politics blog, will be moving from Public Works to Mayor Parker's office.

Since so much of his *ahem* troubleshooting for the previous administration gave the appearance of politicizing an ostensibly technocratic agency, moving him to a more purely political *ahem* troubleshooting role seems appropriate.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 02/01/10 09:16 PM |


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