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Posts from ‘September, 2012’

Weekend link dump for September 30

Is San Francisco too high tech for its own good? Warp speed, Mr. Sulu. A positive solution for plagiarism. I had no idea Sparky Lyle was the (unwitting) pioneer of entrance music for relief pitchers. A candy bar that stays with you long after you’ve eaten it. Stephen King, public intellectual. Data centers are big […]

Yale Street Bridge load limit reduced again

From the inbox, via CitizensNet: Yale Street Bridge Load Limit Further Reduced by TxDOT City of Houston Takes Proactive Steps to Monitor Bridge Usage The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has reduced the load limit on the Yale Street Bridge just south of Interstate 10 from 8,000 lbs. per single axle to 3,000 lbs. per […]

Yet another reason to expand Medicaid

Grits: A friend forwarded me a handout being circulated at the Harris County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council detailing a pair of studies of “Kendra’s Law” out of New York, which provides court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment to a small subset of probationers in the “most desperate need for psychiatric treatment.” According to the handout, “Taken […]

Pauken responds to Hammond

Tom Pauken responds to Bill Hammond on the subject of school accountability. Hammond encourages us to “stay the course” of the existing high-stakes testing system and “4×4” curriculum that have come to dominate public education in Texas. Implicit in this expensive testing system (the cost to Texas taxpayers is an estimated $450 million over a […]

Endorsement watch: HAR for the bonds

The Houston Association of Realtors has announced its endorsement of all of the referenda on the November ballot. The Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) board of directors has approved motions supporting the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, Texas (METRO) General Mobility referendum and bond packages proposed by the City of Houston, Houston Independent School […]

Saturday video break: Black Magic Woman

Song #49 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Black Magic Woman”, originally by Fleetwood Mac, and covered by Santana. Here’s the original: Yeah, I’ve never heard that version before. Of course, most radio stations don’t play anything of theirs prior to 1975, so there you have it. Here’s Santana: Such a pity that […]

No help from SCOTUS on voter registration

Bummer. The U.S. Supreme Court late Tuesday denied an emergency request by a voter registration group that sought to block the state from enforcing changes made last year. The legislation adds hurdles for canvassers or groups that seek to increase voter participation through registration drives. A trial will be held later to determine whether the […]

More on the foodie caucus

The Trib has an update. On a mission to advance the local food movement, a Democrat from Austin is finding common ground with Republicans and rural Texans. When Republicans hear a Democrat saying there’s “too much regulation, their ears perk up,” state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, that Democrat, said with a smile. He founded the Farm […]

Endorsement watch: A useful explanation

The Chron endorsed the two Republican incumbents for Harris County Civil Court At Law – they were both appointed to fill vacancies, so it’s not accurate to say they’re running for re-election – but the interesting thing about the endorsement is the lucid explanation of what exactly the Harris County Civil Courts At Law do: […]

Friday random ten: Back to work

In honor of the now-resolved NFL referee lockout, here’s a ten song salute to working. 1. Dirty Work – Steely Dan 2. Honest Work – Todd Rundgren 3. Let’s Work – Prince 4. Whistle While You Work – NRBQ 5. Work To Do – The Isley Brothers 6. Workin’ Together – Ike & Tina Turner […]

What kind of debt is it?

Comptroller Susan Combs is real worried about city and county debt, y’all. Local governments are loading down Texas taxpayers with debt without providing them enough information about the amount already owed for roads, schools and other public projects, State Comptroller Susan Combs contends in a report released Wednesday. Titled “Your Money and Your Debt,” the […]

It must be time for another Speaker’s Race

Those fun-loving chuckleheads at FreedomWorks are at it again. FreedomWorks, which helped insurgent Ted Cruz snatch the GOP nod for U.S. Senate from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, said Monday it will put its muscle behind toppling Texas House Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio from his leadership post. The group is backing Rep. Bryan Hughes, […]

Texas Freedom Network’s guide to the SBOE elections

The Texas Freedom Network has put out a useful little voter’s guide to the 2012 State Board of Education elections, which covers a range of topics from creationism and climate change to bullying and SBOE procedures. You might look at the answers that the candidates who responded submitted and think “Hey, cool, everyone is basically […]

Sale of Dynamo to Les Alexander falls through

From the weekend: Anschutz Entertainment Group has turned down Rockets owner Leslie Alexander’s offer to purchase the Houston Dynamo and the 30-year lease on BBVA Compass Stadium, effectively ending any further negotiations between the sides. “Ownership evaluated the offer,” Dynamo president Chris Canetti said. “At the end of the day, they determined that they’re not […]

Fifth Circuit upholds Texas Open Meetings Act

Good. A Fifth Circuit federal appeals panel on Tuesday upheld the criminal penalty provision of the Texas Open Meetings Act against a challenge by a cadre of city officials who argued it chills free speech. Texas government officials sued the state, arguing the open meetings act restricts their First Amendment rights. The law requires that […]

Fort Bend ISD goes BYOD

Students in the Fort Bend Independent School District may now bring their own mobile device to class to connect to the school’s WiFi and be part of the curriculum. Fort Bend ISD’s policy allows students to use electronic devices to access the WiFi network in the classroom. Before this year, the district forbade cellphone use […]

Endorsement watch: Criminal district courts

Nine of the 22 Criminal District Court benches are up for election this year in Harris County. Democrats hold seven of those nine positions. The Houston Chronicle has endorsed for of those seven incumbent judges for re-election. 176th Criminal District Court: Since her election to the bench in 2008, Democratic Judge Shawna Reagin has applied […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of September 24

The Texas Progressive Alliance is enjoying the change of season as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Interview with Terry Grier

In addition to the many races for office this year, there are several referenda on the ballot that are worthy of your attention. I will be conducting interviews to discuss them as well. The first one up is the HISD bond referendum, and for that I have a conversation with HISD Superintendent Terry Grier. As […]

It’s all about the pensions

I didn’t stay up to see the end of the Monday Night Football debacle. Whether you endured it or not, perhaps you’re wondering what exactly this particular labor dispute is about. To be blunt, it’s about the NFL attacking the referees’ retirement plan. The referees’ union and NFL team owners remain at odds on several […]

A national view on redistricting

The Atlantic has an interesting view of the redistricting process. Every 10 years, after U.S. census workers have fanned out across the nation, a snowy-haired gentle­man by the name of Tom Hofeller takes up anew his quest to destroy Democrats. He packs his bag and his laptop with its special Maptitude software, kisses his wife […]

Doesn’t he know that Valjean was French?

Poor, pitiful Tom DeLay. DeLay, and his attorney, Brian Wice, are hoping to get his convictions overturned. On Oct. 10, they will finally get a chance to make their case to the 3rd Court of Appeals, arguing the once-powerful Republican leader did nothing wrong and is the victim of a political vendetta, a claim that […]

Judicial Q&A: Michele Petty

Note: As I have done in years past, I am conducting written Q&As with judicial candidates. This one is a little different in that the questions were originally asked by someone else, but the idea is the same. Further explanation after the post. 1. Please explain why voters should elect you over your opponent. Justice […]

It’s usually a bad idea to bet on any kind of overhaul in the Lege

I agree that it’s a sucker’s bet to think that the Lege will try to fix Texas’ tax code in any meaningful way. Nobody likes having to take votes that may later be used as clubs against them in a campaign, and the lobbyists swarm like no other time when someone’s tax break is on […]

The case against the food trucks

Reggie Coachman, president of the Greater Houston Restaurant Association, tries to make a case against giving food trucks freer rein downtown. Currently there are more than 939 active mobile units permitted in the city of Houston, including 774 trucks and trailers equipped with kitchens. The Mobile Food Unit Coalition primarily represents a small number (less […]

Will voters understand the Metro referendum?

That’s the question that people on both sides of the issue are asking themselves. “You have some people who will read it and maybe they don’t like Metro and so they’re going to vote against it, without realizing that by voting against it they’re really going to be damaging the county and the city and […]

Interview with Brad Neal

Also up in the northern parts of Harris County is HD150, home of the notorious Rep. Debbie Riddle, for whom I trust no introduction is necessary, though this is a good start if you need it. Opposing The Riddler for a third time is Brad Neal, whom I interviewed in 2010 after not having the […]

YouGov: Romney 52, Obama 41

Another new poll of Texas, from YouGov: Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney holds a solid, eleven-point lead over Democratic President Barack Obama in Texas, 52% Romney to 41% Obama, in a poll of 1,254 registered voters statewide, conducted by YouGov. In the race for Senate, Republican Ted Cruz holds a 50%-31% over Democratic candidate Paul […]

What the microbreweries want from the next legislative session

Scott Metzger of Freetail Brewing has an update on what he and his craft-brewing colleagues have been working on. Brock Wagner (of Saint Arnold of course) and I have been Co-Chairing the Texas Craft Brewers Guild Legislative Committee and have come a long way. There is still a ton of work to do, and nothing […]

The “dead voter” saga still has some life in it

Looks like I spoke too soon when I said that the “dead voter” purge story was over. Remember that lawsuit filed by four voters and the temporary injunction granted by a Travis County judge forbidding the Secretary of State from further instructing the counties to remove any other names from the voter rolls? On Friday, […]

Weekend link dump for September 23

Let judges perform weddings. Who cares if they’re active or not? Making it easier to fire teachers has no effect on student performance. I want to ride my tricycle, I want to ride my trike. What Faith The Vampire Slayer’s mom has to say about Mitt Romney. Are Apple products not so easy to use […]

Poll claims lead for Gallego in CD23

A poll commissioned by the League of Conservation Voters shows Democratic challenger Pete Gallego with a lead in CD23. Democratic challenger Pete Gallego is leading Republican incumbent Quico Canseco (43% Gallego / 38% Canseco) in the race to represent Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. The 23rd is a swing district that is very competitive at the […]

Once more with the margins tax and the Supreme Court

Here we go again. The Texas Supreme Court could blow a hole in the state’s budget if it finds the business tax unconstitutional, as pressed Tuesday in a lawsuit led by food giant Nestlé USA. “The Legislature can’t violate the constitution to promote even a legitimate interest,” said attorney Peter A. Nolan, arguing on Nestlé’s […]

Bike maps

The Chron has a request about bicycle trails. Unfortunately, navigating via bicycle can sometimes be a difficult feat for people unfamiliar with these neighborhoods – especially downtown. While the central business district’s grid of one-way streets is easy enough, the bicycle routes for getting out of downtown are less obvious. The ideal solution would be […]