30 November 2010

Merely cautious or cleverly duplicitous: What are the City's red-light-cam plans?

TheNewspaper.com makes an interesting connection regarding the City's curious behavior on the red-light camera controversy:

[Federal Judge Lynn] Hughes had called a colloquy among lawyers for the city -- David Feldman and Hope Reh -- and the lawyers for ATS -- Andy Taylor and George Hittner -- on the day after Thanksgiving. Although the city technically filed suit against ATS, the city staff do not want to see the cameras removed any more than ATS does. The parties hashed out a compromise that happened to give ATS everything the firm wanted.

"ATS requests the court to preserve the status quo by enjoining the city from terminating the public safety program or otherwise implementing Proposition 3, pending an adjudication of these fundamental issues of law affecting not only these parties, but the general public at large," Taylor wrote in its brief to the court filed Wednesday.

The actions in Houston track what happened last year in the city of College Station after voters approved an anti-camera referendum. Attorneys for the city attempted to lose the lawsuit that ATS filed to overturn the result of the public vote. Ultimately, public pressure on elected officials forced the College Station cameras to come down, even though a local judge ruled against the vote. ATS is hoping it can win this time by arguing not only that voters have no right to overturn a city council decision through the charter amendment process, but that no power can take down the red light cameras.

The Newspaper goes on to point out that the City of Houston purposely removed an opt-out provision from the contract with ATS previously*, in an apparent effort to make the agreement bulletproof against legislation then being debated in the Texas legislature.

Various councilmembers have said they intend to honor the will of the voters, whatever may come of the legal wrangling. Councilmembers Jolanda Jones and Anne Clutterbuck have been very clear in that regard.

Mayor Annise Parker -- who communicated effectively in her successful mayoral campaign -- seems unwilling to provide an equally definitive statement about the cameras, deferring instead to the city's equally cryptic attorney and refusing interview requests (the mayor was much too busy to talk about the will of the people on this matter today, it seems). Perhaps she's merely being cautious, but it does invite speculation about her intentions.

* Another headache passed on from Bill White to the Parker Administration?

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/30/10 09:26 PM |

29 November 2010

Unhappy neighbor

One of the residents on a major cross street in our neighborhood apparently isn't very happy about the ongoing massive water leaks in his/her yard over the past few weeks:

Water leak in Westmont

What a mess! The repairs seem to be taking a while each time (lots of water being wasted in our green city, hmm).

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/29/10 08:58 PM |

Somebody apparently missed the "DO NOT POST!!!!!!" title

Here's an interesting item from the Chron's John McClain that just appeared in our feed reader:

DO NOT POST!!!!!! Texans WR Johnson fined, not suspended for fighting

This is the lede:

Texans receiver Andre Johnson found out today that the NFL has fined him $25,000 but will not suspend him for his role in the fight with Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan on Sunday.

And then when that story finishes, here's the next lede:

The NFL has suspended Texans receiver Andre Johnson and Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan for their fight in the fourth quarter of the 20-0 victory over the Titans on Sunday at Reliant Stadium.

Johnson will miss Thursday’s nationally televised game at Philadelphia.

Thanks, Chron.com!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/29/10 11:34 AM |

News and views roundup (11/29/10 edition)

Did everyone get enough turkey?

If not, we have a few turkeys in today's catchup news and views roundup:

* Hat tip to Slampo.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/29/10 08:32 AM |

23 November 2010

Have a great Thanksgiving

The blog is likely to be quiet over the next few days.

We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving break with plenty of quality time with family and friends.

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

News and views roundup (11/23/10)

Here's a final pre-Turkey Day roundup:

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

21 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/21/10)

Time to clear out the weekend links:

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/21/10 09:27 PM |

More METRO service improvements!

A NEW ROUND OF METRO SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS: If you have any interest in giving METRO your opinion on the proposed "improvements," December 1st at noon is your time. If you can't be at METRO's under-utilized downtown headquarters on a workday, you can call in or log your opinion online. Just another example of why METRO is the Gold Standard in transparency.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/21/10 09:07 AM |

It's not their hard-earned money so they don't really care


Sports Authority Chairman J. Kent Friedman on having to use reserves to cover a debt payment:

"It doesn't cause me any concern at all," he said.

Port of Houston Chairman James Edmonds on a generous severance package given to a former PR executive:

"I think she provides value. I'm comfortable with the agreement..."

Just remember, these (unelected) elites know better than you how to spend your money. Since they don't work for taxpayers, they have no incentive to be responsive to taxpayers. Here's an idea: Anyone who can spend taxpayer dollars should have to be elected by voters.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/21/10 07:49 AM |

18 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/18/10)

It's your Thursday night edition of news and views:

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/18/10 09:17 PM |

17 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/17/10)

The seemingly unfocused Parker Administration hits political turbulence in today's edition of news and views:

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/17/10 09:09 AM |

15 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/15/10)

It's your "busybodies, fibbers, and hypocrites" edition of news and views:

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/15/10 08:57 PM |

14 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/14/10)

A friend requested we do SOMETHING to get that Chron.com "unicorn vomit" Disney screen to scroll down the page, so here's a weekend roundup:

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/14/10 09:30 PM |

12 November 2010

Disney: Where Chron.com lives?

WHERE HOUSTON LIVES* may not yet be A Place Called Perfect, but, well, we'll just let this screencap from yesterday speak for itself:

Disney - Where Houston Lives?

* Chron.com's nifty little motto.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/12/10 11:09 PM |

11 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/11/10)

THANKS to all of our veterans! On to the news and views roundup:

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/11/10 10:27 PM |

10 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/10/10)

It's your Wednesday evening edition of news and views:

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/10/10 08:59 PM |

The pipeline from the Chron to government agencies is still open


To: HISD Employment Office
Re: PR Spokesman position

To whom it may concern:

Hi -- Jason Spencer here. I'm inquiring about the opening in your Communications department for a spokesman. Yes, I'm THAT Jason Spencer, former reporter/current editor covering education for the Chronicle, but I'm hoping we can let bygones be bygones. You know, times are kinda tough in the newspaper industry and I hear that government jobs are where the money is at.

Anyhoo, I may have had some challenges when I was a reporter getting everything right (the Chron's layers of editors sometimes let me down), and then when I became an editor, I may have still had the occassional oops, but in the long run, I think I helped HISD. I gave the Communications department PURPOSE back in the day! And just because I wrote a blog post complaining about former spokesman Terry Abbott's salary and PR tactics doesn't mean I don't want to get in on the action.

So, I was hoping we could get together and chat about what I can do to help METRO, er HISD. (Sorry, momentarily forgot which local governmental agency I was applying with.)

Looking forward to hearing from you,

P.S. I would prefer a position with the title of Public Information Officer as opposed to Press Secretary. I don't want Terry Abbott's former title (that would be awkward), but I wouldn't mind his salary!

Hair Balls: The Chronicle's Jason Spencer: From Covering HISD To Promoting It

** For any literal readers, we kid.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/10/10 01:35 PM |

09 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/09/10)

It's your Tuesday edition of news and views:

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/09/10 09:53 AM |

07 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/07/10)

Time to clear out some links and get ready for next week:

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/07/10 08:51 PM |

Because he was so successful as police chief...

THOMAS C. LAMBERT, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER: Did you know that METRO's hapless police chief is no longer police chief? I've been out of the loop, so I'm not sure when that happened, but it doesn't inspire confidence in the "New" METRO that Lambert is now the CAO.

The guy was so clueless about security at Park and Rides that they turned into Park and Pillages; he berated Houston drivers for every Danger Train accident even when the accident was METRO's fault; METRO PD gave up patrolling bus stops because officials said there were too many of them -- METRO reminded bus riders that if they had a concealed carry permit, they could legally carry a gun on the bus -- yet METRO has an elite counterterrorism unit for the downtown (key word) light rail.

And now he manages METRO's daily operations.

Posted by Anne Linehan @ 11/07/10 01:37 PM |

04 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/04/10)

HERE'S an early-morning edition of the roundup:

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/04/10 08:14 AM |

03 November 2010

Local blogger recap of the election

THANKS AGAIN to the folks who dropped into the BH election live chat last night. We had a good time with it, and hope others enjoyed it as well.

We expect the usual news sources will be dominated by election recaps/analysis over the next few days, but here are some very good early recaps by local bloggers:

For those who haven't gotten enough of the election yet, feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/03/10 01:03 PM |

02 November 2010

blogHOUSTON Election 2010 chat

WE'RE going to copy our friends at Brothers Judd tonight, and host a live chat during the election coverage this evening. We'll be hanging out with fellow poligeeks as we do every two years, but we should still be able to check in and discuss the election from time to time. Anything election-related is fair game, although obviously this audience probably follows Harris County and Texas politics more closely than most (so please share any tidbits or results you'd like). Also, please try to keep your discourse substantive (not personal) and your language clean (same as with the forum).

We'll get underway about 7pm.

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/02/10 12:24 PM |

News and views roundup (11/02/10)

Here's your "Election Day" news and views roundup. Thanks to everyone participating in the political process today, and especially to Harris County poll workers for their hard work in pulling it off despite a fire that wiped out all the equipment just a short time ago!

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/02/10 10:40 AM |

KTRK's Dolcefino looks at HPD's speeding ticket operation

KTRK-13'S UNDERCOVER MAN WAYNE DOLCEFINO has run a few stories on HPD and speeding tickets in recent days (which we were a little slow to notice, since Dolcefino's stuff inexplicably does not show up in KTRK's main RSS feed. UPDATE: We're now also using the separate Dolcefino feed):

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/02/10 07:59 AM |

01 November 2010

News and views roundup (11/01/10)

It's Election Eve, so the roundup is election heavy:

* Effective political rhetoric is frequently exaggerated, which is why we are so often amused by PolitiFarceTX announcing that some political statement is exaggerated (in excruciating detail). No, really?! *laugh*

Posted by Kevin Whited @ 11/01/10 12:22 PM |


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