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Posts from ‘January, 2012’

Komen outrage

I’m speechless. In a shocking move Tuesday afternoon, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the country’s most famous breast cancer charity, pulled its grants for breast-cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood. Komen claims that their reason is that Planned Parenthood is under investigation from Congress, but as it’s well-understood on both the left and the right that the […]

Grand jury no-bills DA’s office

Thus endeth one of the most fascinating local stories in recent memory. A Harris County grand jury ended its session Tuesday, ending a months-long investigation into the district attorney’s office and the Houston Police Department’s DWI testing vehicles with a blistering report, but no indictments. “There was no evidence of a crime,” said grand jury […]

January finance reports: Harris County state races

In addition to county candidates, my 2012 Democratic primary election page has information about state and federal candidates who will be on the ballot in Harris County. There are numerous contested primaries, and while I’m not tracking information about Republican races on that page, I thought it would be useful to check on the finance […]

More on disciplining deputies

Here’s another long Chron story about disciplinary statistics for Harris County Sheriff’s deputies. Reading through it, I felt like there was some context missing. A Houston Chronicle review of disciplinary records indicates that from 2008 through 2010, more than 200 jail employees were disciplined for various offenses, some serious and others minor. Last year, the […]

Meet the voter ID three judge panel

As you know, the state of Texas has filed a lawsuit in the DC District Federal Court – the same court that is hearing the preclearance lawsuit – to get the odious voter ID law precleared. Michael Li introduces us to the judges that will be hearing this case. Texas’ suit over its voter ID […]

Matagorda smog

I feel like there are some pieces missing in this discussion. The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to add Matagorda County to the list of Texas’ smog violators because Gulf breezes that blow through the area send air pollution toward the sprawling metropolis. Local leaders are pushing back, saying the dubious distinction would lead to […]

Interview with Zack Fertitta

We move on this week to the two top of the ticket races for Harris County, DA and Sheriff, starting today with Zack Fertitta, who is running for the Democratic nomination for District Attorney. Fertitta spent several years in the DA’s office as a prosecutor, and since then he has had his own practice as […]

Non-filers in Harris County races

As of today, the following candidates for county offices in Harris County have not filed campaign finance reports with the County Clerk: Candidates for Sheriff Charles Massey El (D) Guy Clark (R, formerly D) Daniel Lemkuil (R) Candidates for HCDE Jarvis Johnson (D) Silvia Mintz (D) Timothy Rose (R) Tom Cruz (R) Candidates for County […]

On free speech and reproductive rights

I must say, I was a bit flummoxed by this story. The City of Austin might repeal a 2-year-old ordinance requiring some facilities that counsel women with unplanned pregnancies to post signs saying they don’t offer abortions or contraceptive services. The four Austin facilities affected by the ordinance sued the city last fall, saying the […]

New school food coming

No more mystery meat. School lunches, long saddled with an unhealthy reputation, are getting a makeover. Instead of salt-doused fried foods, highly processed white bread and sugar-laden desserts, cafeteria trays will be carrying whole wheat pizza, leafy green and orange vegetables and fresh fruit. The changes, announced Wednesday by first lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture […]

Weekend link dump for January 29

To everything there is a season, and that season starts with pitchers and catchers. “If you are a consumer of conservative media, you get constant reminders — every day, multiple times a day — that you absolutely must not believe anything you hear or read in any news outlet that is not explicitly conservative.” Fans […]

About that “solution” for bike trail obstruction

Me, last month: Meanwhile, two weeks ago there was a story about TxDOT closing the White Oak Bayou Hike and Bike Trail between Ella and 34th streets while there is construction on the service road for 610 North at East TC Jester. The closure was scheduled for two years, without an alternate route that bicyclists thought was […]

SCOTUS declines to hear strip club tax case

The end of the road for this particular bit of litigation. The U.S. Supreme Court will not take up the adult entertainment industry’s lawsuit against the state’s $5-per-patron strip club tax, justices decided Monday. “Texas is now one step closer to a sustainable source of funding for rape crisis centers, and most importantly, for supporting […]

Job growth was good last year

More hopeful news for this year. Boosted by gains in energy, manufacturing and retail trade, the Houston area added 75,800 jobs during 2011, a 3 percent increase over the previous year, the Texas Workforce Commission reported Friday. “The numbers are impressive,” said Barton Smith, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Houston. Improvement appeared […]

Saturday video break: Kiss

Song #84 on the Popsode Top 100 Covers list is “Kiss”, originally by Prince and covered by the Art of Noise with Tom Jones. While I was able to find a Prince song video before, I regret to say that this time I struck out – every one I clicked on had the audio disabled. […]

Update on the redistricting settlement possibility

Late Friday we heard about the possibility of a settlement agreement in the redistricting lawsuit in San Antonio, with the idea of coming up with an interim map in time to keep the primaries on April 6. Here’s an update on that from the Chron. Under the arrangement outlined during the hearing, the parties would […]

You can drive 75

Pedal to the metal, y’all. The Texas Transportation Commission approved 75 mph speed limits for nearly 1,500 miles of interstate in 60 counties. The action follows a state law approved last year providing for the Texas Department of Transportation to see whether 70 mph speed limits safely can be raised to 75 mph, and to […]

The CFPB and payday lending

This ought to be good. Picking his first public fight with the banking industry, Washington’s top consumer cop, Richard Cordray, promised on Thursday that his examiners will scrutinize a handful of big banks that make high-cost loans. Inspection of major financial institutions will be part of a broader review of payday lenders, he said at […]

Sierra Club sues over coal permits

Remember how four coal plants were granted permits to pollute more in December? You probably don’t, because it basically happened under cover of darkness. The Sierra Club found out about it and has filed a lawsuit to call a halt to it. The environmental group is appealing permit amendments approved Dec. 16 by the Texas […]

Could there be a settlement in the redistricting lawsuit?

Maybe. A leading player in the state’s redistricting turmoil said this morning he’s hopeful that both sides are closing in on a settlement that will salvage Texas’ April 3 primary. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has been meeting with representatives of minority groups that sued the state last year to stop new political boundaries from […]

Friday random ten: It’s a nice year for nine weddings

So I guess I’ve sort of settled on a theme for now, which is to do ten actually random songs, then ramble on about one or more of them. With that in mind: 1. White Wedding – Billy Idol 2. Me And Baby Brother – War 3. The Recruited Collier – Paisley Close 4. Dirty […]

Perry’s (lack of) popularity

I have four things to say about this. Gov. Rick Perry’s ill-fated presidential campaign left a sour taste with many Texans and damaged his standing with Republican voters, according to a new poll commissioned by the American-Statesman and other state newspapers. Almost 1 in 3 Texas Republicans said Perry’s performance on the national stage dimmed […]

Tough times for Texas parks

Between the drought and the budget cuts, Texas parks are hurting. Dry weather and depleted lakes and rivers from the prolonged drought mean fewer folks are visiting parks or buying hunting and fishing licenses, the head of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department told a legislative committee Tuesday. If the drought persists, the department may […]

Tomball toll road

They want a toll road in Tomball, and they’re probably going to get it. The Harris County Toll Road Authority is asking that it be allowed to look at State Highway 249, also known as Tomball Parkway, to see whether it would be make sense to build a toll road from Spring-Cypress Road about 10 […]

Navy to join Big East

Another new playmate for UH. Navy has accepted an invitation to play football in the Big East, starting in 2015. “Stability in the Big East was a very important aspect in our discussions with the commissioner,” Vice Admiral Michael Miller, superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy, said during a teleconference. “What we see is a […]

Alford strikes again

Wow. A key witness before a federal three-judge panel considering the Texas redistricting challenge appeared to make a major concession Wednesday to the case made last week by state Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth. The state’s expert witness, John Alford of Rice University, was on the stand to defend the districts drawn by the Texas […]

No action on red light camera settlement yet

Houston City Council voted to wait two weeks before deciding whether or not to accept the settlement agreement with camera vendor ATS. The City Council on Wednesday delayed approval of a $4.8 million settlement with its red-light camera vendor amid questions about the effect of an appeals court ruling that lets two Houston lawyers intervene […]

On taking AP tests

I guess I’m not clear on what the issue is here. Since 2009, the number of AP exams taken by Houston Independent School District students has almost doubled. And last year the district reached its highest number of passing scores, marking a 36 percent increase from two years ago. Still, most students perform poorly on […]

New bike trail into downtown nearing completion

From Swamplot: It looks like large portions of the 2.8-mile-long Heritage West Bikeway connecting Stude Park to UH-Downtown are close to completion, but the path along portions of the former UP railway won’t open until summer, according to the city. One important still-missing link: a pedestrian bridge over Little White Oak Bayou. Past the University, […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of January 23

The Texas Progressive Alliance thanks the state of South Carolina for all the laughs as it brings you this week’s blog roundup.

Interview with Reagan Flowers

Also running for Harris County Department of Education, Position 6, Precinct 1 is Reagan Flowers, who holds a PhD in Education Leadership from the Union Institute and University. She has been a science teacher, dean of students, and School Improvement Facilitator at different HISD campuses in her career, and today she runs an education support […]

The Houston Not-Stros

Oh, hell no. Even more drastic changes could come next year, when the [Astros move] to the American League. Possible transformations include new uniforms and logos, changes to the playing field and “Tal’s Hill” in center field, and even a re-evaluation of the name “Astros,” which the team has used for the last 47 years […]

Parker joins other mayors in push for marriage equality

Good for her. Good for all of them. Houston Mayor Annise Parker seized the vanguard of a drive by 78 mayors Friday to win the equal rights of marriage for gay couples, donning a national leadership role that contrasts sharply with her low-key demeanor back home. “This is an issue whose time has come,” Parker […]

Anti-tax zealots plump for casinos

Gambling yes! Grover Norquist, the nation’s most prominent anti-tax crusader, wrote a letter last week to Texas legislators to call for expanded gambling. “In light of the adverse economic impact that higher taxes would have, it is imperative that lawmakers consider all other options for balancing the state’s budget,” Norquist wrote. “There are a number […]