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#1 2012-03-19 21:19:26

Kevin
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From: Tanglewilde
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 6,929

News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

The last week or so sort of got away from us, so here's a quick link post to catch up:


* Housing authority paid thousands to employees' friends, relatives, records show - Mike Morris and Susan Carroll, Houston Chronicle

Harris County Housing Authority executives have doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal taxpayer money to the friends and relatives of employees without formal contracts or board approval, the agency's financial records show.

Some of the authority's handshake deals extended to convicted criminals with dubious qualifications for the jobs they were paid to perform - including working on complex, multimillion-dollar federal housing programs, according to an examination of the agency's records and background checks on people paid during the past five years.

The authority cut checks to the spouses, siblings, children and other family members of several employees in recent years, paying some of them through subcontractors, public records and interviews with their relatives show.

That certainly sounds like The Houston Way!


* International flights out of Hobby? - Miya Shay, KTRK-13 News

Former Continental Airlines CEO Gordon Bethune says he and past Houston mayors developed IAH specifically as the city's international gateway, and it's a key reason for Houston's economic success to date.

"It's going to pop an economic balloon, which has been Houston's economic growth," he said. "It's going to split a big city -- six million people -- into two small cities. So we're going to have transportation like Austin."

So far as we can tell, Miya Shay beat everyone on this story last Friday.

Perhaps a commenter can convince me otherwise, but it strikes me that the decades-long designation of IAH as Houston's international gateway and HOU as a domestic airport has served the area well. Southwest chose not to compete out of IAH years back (and Continental decided the same out of Hobby). If Southwest really wants to fly international, then they ought to head back to Houston's international airport, shouldn't they?


* War between United, Southwest looms over Houston - Kiah Collier and Chris Moran, Houston Chronicle


* United vs Southwest in Letters - Houston Politics/Chron.com


* Emmett staffer fired after misusing funds - Mike Morris, Houston Politics/Chron.com

A staff member for Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has been fired, accused of using money from a private nonprofit corporation for his personal use.

Kirk A. Boudreaux, 49, has taken money from the corporation, formed by the judge, since 2008, Emmett said. Boudreaux has repaid some of the money but currently owes more than $40,000, Emmett said.

Emmett hired Boudreaux in late 2007 to serve as budget and finance adviser at an annual salary of about $90,000. He also served as volunteer treasurer of HC Events Inc., a nonprofit registered to Emmett’s office that collects donations, sponsorships and registration fees for Emmett’s annual Trade & Transportation Conference. The event this year was held Jan. 31.

Emmett called the news “sickening” and “completely shocking,” and stressed that only the nonprofit’s revenues, not county tax dollars, were misused.

That, and another associate's (alleged) boorish behavior, almost certainly will detract from the county judge's efforts to push his ethics agenda.


* More on permits for feeding the poor - Tom Bazan, Boondoggles


* Let's work together to solve HCC's problems - Caroll Robinson, Houston Chronicle


* Did HCC lose sight of its mission with Qatar contract? - Patricia Kilday Hart, Houston Chronicle


* Homeless Hotspots: Worst, or best idea ever? - SciGuy/Chron.com

[This] rubs me the wrong way. Jon Mitchell, at ReadWriteWeb, articulates some of the reasons. It has to do with digital divides, haves and have nots, and the idea that a fellow human being is of no more use to you than as an Internet jack.

Hmm, closer to home -- we wonder how Berger feels about the Chronicle's longtime treatment of similarly situated fellow human beings as newspaper vending machines (placed on the road, among dangerous moving traffic)?


Please discuss!



Link to post:  http://www.bloghouston.net/item/8913

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#2 2012-03-20 01:54:23

Sedosi
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From: Hanging with the road kill
Registered: 2005-05-04
Posts: 1,011
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Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

I know we disagree on this, but I'd be happy to see International flights out of Hobby.  Competition is a good thing.


Taking long walks off the short pier of sanity.

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#3 2012-03-20 05:44:52

Factotum
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From: Kingwood
Registered: 2007-11-27
Posts: 173

Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

Re: the airports...let's be done with it and sell off HAS.  The artifice of 'domestic'/'int'l' is as ridiculous as the restrictions at Love Field Dallas.  I don't think Bethune was running CO when these 'deals' were made anyway, and now he's just the former big dog of a fallen flag.


If you can force me to pay your med expenses I bet you can make me pick your cotton too.

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#4 2012-03-20 08:19:02

Kevin
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From: Tanglewilde
Registered: 2004-09-08
Posts: 6,929

Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

Sedosi wrote:

I know we disagree on this, but I'd be happy to see International flights out of Hobby.  Competition is a good thing.

If the numbers truly support the growth thesis, then I would be more open to this. I just know how cheerleader consultant reports tend to be in this town (pkf hotel estimates are a good example), and am skeptical. I'm much more inclined to bethune's notion that houston benefits from one great international gateway as opposed to two middling ones.

Of course, that's leaving aside the question of whether cities and feds should be micromanagijg these entities in the first place, but that's the system in place and I don't see it changing...

I wish some journo would get vacar (former has director) to comment. He ran things during a tremendous period of growth..

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#5 2012-03-20 12:35:17

9HlpHouHomeless
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Registered: 2012-03-06
Posts: 10

Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

Housing Authority is out of control with no bid process in place for service contracts this leaves the door wide open. IT also is a gross conflict of intrest to say the least.

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#6 2012-03-20 21:44:54

Ross
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Registered: 2010-08-31
Posts: 61

Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

Vacar was the one that told me that it was OK to escort City Council Members through the airport, helping with luggage, and going around the lines, simply because of their elected role. Vacar is a simpering suckup in my book.

If Southwest thinks they can do well flying to Latin America out of Hobby, more power to them, as long as they are paying for the expansion.

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#7 2012-03-21 10:42:34

rorschach
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From: Spring, Texas
Registered: 2005-01-05
Posts: 3,926
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Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

I'm aghast! Ross and I agree on something! =b. the government (fed state and local) should not be dictating the terms of competition because that picks winners and losers. SWA should be able to flay any dang place they like whenever they dang well please and it is no business of the government's when and where they do.


http://redinktexas.blogspot.com/
"If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
Samuel Adams

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#8 2012-03-21 22:54:20

Sedosi
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From: Hanging with the road kill
Registered: 2005-05-04
Posts: 1,011
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Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

Kevin wrote:
Sedosi wrote:

I know we disagree on this, but I'd be happy to see International flights out of Hobby.  Competition is a good thing.

If the numbers truly support the growth thesis, then I would be more open to this. I just know how cheerleader consultant reports tend to be in this town (pkf hotel estimates are a good example), and am skeptical. I'm much more inclined to bethune's notion that houston benefits from one great international gateway as opposed to two middling ones.

Of course, that's leaving aside the question of whether cities and feds should be micromanagijg these entities in the first place, but that's the system in place and I don't see it changing...

I wish some journo would get vacar (former has director) to comment. He ran things during a tremendous period of growth..

Sure, I agree, if the City is on the hook for the expansion then my default would be no.  However, from the article (and with the understanding that you have to take everything business reported in ChronBlog with a huge grain of salt) it doesn't appear that Southwest is looking for much aid, that they're willing to shoulder much of the construction burden themselves.  Now, granted, the Airport is likely to have to pony up for increased staffing etc. but if the business DOES increase then I don't see the problem.

Sure would be nice to see some competition on the routes to the Caribbean etc.  We've been wanting to fly down there, but the price hasn't seemed right in a while.  Wouldn't mind a rate fight to Buenos Aires either. smile


Taking long walks off the short pier of sanity.

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#9 2012-03-21 23:23:38

Ross
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Registered: 2010-08-31
Posts: 61

Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

BA's probably a stretch. It's over 5,000 miles, which is beyond the range of the 737's SWA flies. None of AirTran's planes can fly that far either. I also wonder if the 7600 foot runways at Hobby are long enough for the planes that have the range to get as far as BA.

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#10 2012-03-22 07:37:46

rorschach
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From: Spring, Texas
Registered: 2005-01-05
Posts: 3,926
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Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

Ross wrote:

BA's probably a stretch. It's over 5,000 miles, which is beyond the range of the 737's SWA flies. None of AirTran's planes can fly that far either. I also wonder if the 7600 foot runways at Hobby are long enough for the planes that have the range to get as far as BA.

the 737-700 and -700ER have intercontinental range (over 5500 NMI for the ER version about 3400NMI for the standard version) AND when SWA bought out AirTran, they acquired a number of MD-80 aircraft as well. but that is also assuming that the flight doesn't stop in panama city for refuelling and passenger reloading before continuing the flight. SWA is really focusing on building up it's Houston to Panama City route. And they may be looking down the road a few years for when Cuba becomes a regular tourist destination as well. Also Boeing will start delivering the 737 MAX series in 2017 which the 737 MAX -7 will replace the 700/700ER with an equivalent aircraft with 16% better fuel economy and similar fuel capacity thereby extending it's range even more. SWA has 150 of them on order.

Last edited by rorschach (2012-03-22 07:44:51)


http://redinktexas.blogspot.com/
"If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
Samuel Adams

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#11 2012-03-22 18:26:33

Ross
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Registered: 2010-08-31
Posts: 61

Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

I would hate to fly to BA in a 737 or MD-80/B717. That's an 8 or 9 hour flight. For something that far, you really need a wide body plane for comfort and service. Heck, that's farther than flying to London.

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#12 2012-04-01 08:53:10

rorschach
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From: Spring, Texas
Registered: 2005-01-05
Posts: 3,926
Website

Re: News and views roundup (19 March 2012 edition)

Swa is about cheap not comfortable. And given the number of seats crammed into widebodies these days I don't see much difference.


http://redinktexas.blogspot.com/
"If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
Samuel Adams

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