News and views roundup (25 September 2011 edition)
Here are a few stories that caught my eye upon returning from vacation, in addition to the ones Anne Linehan blogged about in my absence:
- VA agrees not to censor prayer at Houston cemetery - Lindsay Wise, Houston Chronicle
The documents state that VA will pay attorneys fees and expenses of $215,000, but the government admits no liability or fault, and stresses that some provisions of the agreement already were policy or practice at the department.
Under the settlement, VA would agree "not to ban, regulate or otherwise interfere with prayers, recitations, or words of religious expression absent family objection" and to allow veterans' families to hold services with any religious or secular content they desire.
So, one asinine bureaucrat -- who apparently still, inexplicably, has her job -- cost taxpayers a cool $215K. Nicely done.
- FBI investigates possible corruption at HCC - Ericka Mellon, Houston Chronicle
Another Houston-area quasi-governmental agency, another scandal. That's the Houston Way
- County attorney blasts the way Port does business - Mike Morris, Houston Chronicle
- Harris County releases Port of Houston report - Wayne Dolcefino, KTRK-13 News
- Houston ISD postpones strengthening ethics policies - Jennifer Peebles, Texas Watchdog
- Port Authority shake-up doesn't appear forthcoming - Chris Moran and Mike Morris, Houston Chronicle
- Houston housing model attracting worldwide attention - Houston Strategies
Wait, Houston has done something right historically? One would hardly know from the writings of the "smart" crowd in town (Chron columnists, Houston Tomorrow and other Houtopians).
- Houston, We Have a Solution - Mario Loyola, NRO
- Metro clears federal hurdle for $900M in rail grants - Carol Christian, Houston Chronicle
"A year after blocking $900 million in Metro light-rail grants over a botched rail-car procurement, the Federal Transit Administration has told Congress it intends to approve the grant agreements.
Most of the money is still subject to annual congressional appropriations....
That last is the kicker, really. In case some of the light-rail utopians haven't noticed, the federal government is broke.
- President touts Houston transit in jobs speech - David Crossley, Houston Tomorrow
A failing president touting a failing transit organization (with its disgraced, child-porn-viewing CEO). How fitting!
- Controversy continues to dog BAT vans - Anita Hassan, Houston Chronicle
- Houston councilwoman cleared of charges that she abused her position - KHOU-11 News
- Mayor jumps on 'jobs' narrative for rail projects - Mike Snyder, Chron Houston Politics
Only an economic illiterate -- or a cheerleading Chron editor -- would buy the assertion from a Dem pol that government borrowing to fund unneeded, expensive projects somehow produces net jobs or sustains net economic growth.
- On Ponzi schemes, Charles Krauthammer is right and Bill King wrong - Unca Darrell
The Chronicle has always been a sucker for the trust-fund con.
- Super Collider - Mimi Swartz, Texas Monthly
- HISD hires another ex-Chronicle staffer in communications for $85k-plus - Examiner News
Although some people seem impressed with Terry Grier's resume (see above), more telling are his actions as HISD chief. His choice in communications staff hardly inspires confidence in his leadership in other areas.
- Who's telling the truth about the apology to CM Jolanda Jones? - Isiah Carey's Insite
The Mayor and her staff always seem to be stepping on themselves.
- New Sports Authority Members Appointed - On the Beat with Mary Benton
The organization should be disbanded.
- City hoping to jump-start electric car usage - Chris Moran, Houston Chronicle
The city also has retrofitted 15 of its existing hybrid vehicles to charge off the stations. In addition, the city is installing 56 charging stations of its own - half in the City Hall parking garage to service the municipal fleet, and half for public use at libraries, Hermann Park, the Arboretum and other parks. The city stations are funded by state and federal grants.
Taxpayers at one level or another ultimately fund those "grants" of course. As usual, there is minimal consideration whether taxpayers will get any sort of useful return on their investment in this special-interest niche project.
- Mayor puts thumb on scale; Chronicle cheers madly - Unca Darrell
Houston First is just one more way to enrich local insiders and fixers by imposing a tax on city transactions.
Economists have a name for the gravy: economic rent. Folks who live off the gravy are called rent seekers.
Our local newspaper might know this if it hired one -- just one! -- conservative as a columnist or editorial writer. Instead the Chronicle, as always, sides with politicians and privilege seekers against taxpayers -- and with such innocent good cheer.
- A simple illustration of what's wrong . . . - Unca Darrell
What's wrong here?
What's wrong is that tax collectors; taxpayers. The Houston Chronicle identifies with bureaucrats, not with me or thee.
Unca Darrell is referring to a Chronicle editorial, but the Chron's news stories on such topics almost always have the same problem: They reflect the view of bureaucrats and institutional sources, but rarely include a taxpayer voice. See below.
- Lana Hughes and J.P. Pritchard of 740 KTRH fame together again; Houston's Version of Journo-List outed - Mike McGuff
Wednesday night at the famed Houston Media Round table meeting in Midtown, former 740 KTRH news anchors Lana Hughes and J.P. Pritchard reunited once again.
Famed? Hmm, we thought the organizers of and participants in Houston's very own version of Journo-List worked hard to keep the thing a secret from ordinary Houstonians and news consumers. The secret's out now, we suppose.