Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

October 5th, 2012:

Friday random ten: Bad habits

For your Friday listening pleasure, ten behaviors to avoid.

1. Smoke Smoke Smoke That Cigarette – Elena James
2. Smoke – Eddie From Ohio
3. Gettin’ High – Asylum Street Spankers
4. Too Much Barbecue – Big Twist and The Mellow Fellows
5. One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer – John Lee Hooker
6. A Case Of Coors Beer – Austin Lounge Lizards
7. Beer And The Belly – Deryl Dodd
8. Unfit To Drive – The Auto Body Experience
9. Let’s Go Get Stoned – Ray Charles
10. Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll – Ian Dury & The Blockheads

Well, okay, maybe not “avoid” so much as “do in moderation”. You know what I mean.

What comes after the Metro referendum

I hope you found my series of interviews on the Metro referendum to be useful. I think there’s plenty in those four interviews to bolster your support of or opposition to the referendum. The referendum question is simple – do we or do we not want to continue the General Mobility Program? but the issue is complex, and I could probably do at least one more week’s worth of these without exhausting the subject. But at some point you have to make a decision. I said several weeks ago that I intended to vote for the referendum, and I am still going to vote for it, but I have to say I definitely understand the opposition’s perspective a lot better now.

The one thing I believe now that I hadn’t thought about before I began this process is that in a sense it doesn’t matter what happens with the referendum. Pass or fail, it’s just a step along the way towards the region’s transportation future, and pass or fail it’s up to all of us to work to make that the best it can be. Going forward, the main thing I want to see is better cooperation and coordination among the stakeholders on transit and transportation. Getting the University line built will benefit the entire region. It’s high time all of our local officials recognized that, and stopped tolerating the shenanigans of certain members of Congress who have so tirelessly worked against the region’s interests on this. The city and the county should work with Metro to do what they can to help facilitate University Line construction. David Crossley made the point that the city could help pay for the road and utility work that will need to be done for this, as that will reduce Metro’s total cost and make them that much less dependent on federal funding. I say Harris County can and should contribute in a similar fashion. Commissioner Radack may believe that rail lines are more expensive than they’re worth, but a significant portion of the University Line – and the Uptown Line for that matter – runs through Precinct 3, and I know if he were to ask the business interests in the affected areas, they’d tell him how much they want this built. Surely the parts of his precinct that are inside the city limits deserve as much attention paid to their mobility needs as those out near Hockley. Having those lines in place will make any future commuter or passenger rail line along 290 that much more valuable as well. We’re all in this together, and it’s way past time for us to act like it. Whatever the fate of the referendum, and however you vote on it, this is what we need to be working towards.

Dewhurst prepares to ditch public education

This tells you all you need to know about his priorities.

Sad Dewhurst is sad

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is poised to announce Senate leadership changes today that could have a profound effect on Texas education policy — including giving fuel to a push for school choice.

Dewhurst plans to name Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, as chairman of the Senate Education Committee, according to the lieutenant governor’s office.

Patrick, who will replace retiring Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, already has said he would push a voucher program that parents could use to send their children to alternatives to public schools.

“To me, school choice is the photo ID bill of this session,” Patrick said in August. “Our base has wanted us to pass photo voter ID for years, and we did it. They’ve been wanting us to pass school choice for years. This is the year to do it, in my view. That issue will do more to impact the future of Texas and the quality of education than anything else we could do.”

Note Patrick’s words here. This isn’t about what the best policy is, it’s about what the small portion of the Republican base that drives their primaries wants. Dewhurst, who as Robert Miller notes would like to win the primary challenge he’ll face in 2014, can’t afford to care about what anyone other than those voters think. Note that there is no possible outcome of the 2012 elections that will change this. Obama could carry Texas, Democrats could win every election they have a candidate in, none of it will matter. It’s about feeding the beast. Are we looking forward to the next legislative session yet? See this later version of the Chron story for more.

Making the case for the parks

Ed Wulfe advocates for the parks-related referendum on the ballot.

Over the past several months, multiple organizations dedicated to Houston’s Bayou Greenway Initiative and a new organization, ParksByYou, have been uniting parks and bayou enthusiasts. Their work aims to mobilize all of us to vote “yes” for Proposition B on the ballot, a parks bond referendum that will pump $166 million into our parks and bayou properties – all of it targeted at real construction and capital improvements. While $66 million will be used to make critical improvements to existing neighborhood parks all across the city, $100 million of those funds will be matched with private dollars to finally close the gaps along our bayou system and create continuous parks and trails. In less than a decade, with these bond dollars, Houston will have more than 150 miles of trails and a park system like no other in America. Our bayous are Houston’s unique natural feature and will be improved, enhanced and expanded, rather than paved and neglected as in the past. Proposition B is a way to create parks and green space for all of us to experience and enjoy with no increase in taxes.

Our bayous meander through almost every neighborhood, and by building a system of connected linear parks along their banks, we will ensure that a majority of Houstonians will have access to green space within just a few miles of work or school or home. It’s been shown that regular physical activity reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other diseases, and there is strong evidence showing that people exercise more when they have convenient access to parks and recreational opportunities. A vote for the parks bond will contribute to the overall health of Houston’s population while simultaneously enhancing our quality of life.

Parks along our bayous will inspire and energize economic development, increase property values, improve flood control and help manage water quality. The desirability of property located near parks and green space is high because people are attracted to inviting and pleasurable places to play and exercise, resulting in stronger and more active neighborhoods with appealing places for people of all ages.

Here’s the Parks By You website, if you want to learn more. As Wulfe notes, there are five city of Houston propositions on the ballot, each relating to bonds for different purposes. In addition to the parks referendum, there’s one each for public safety, “general government” which I believe has to do with the Solid Waste department, libraries, and housing. I think it’s an easy call to vote for them all, though only the parks issue has an active campaign promoting it. I’ll have an interview next week with Mayor Parker to discuss what these bonds are for and what they will do.

Canseco’s poll response

Rep. Quico Canseco has released his own poll in CD23.

New polling data released by Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco’s campaign shows the freshman congressman with a 10-point lead on his Democratic challenger, Pete Gallego. The new poll is radically different from the one released by Gallego’s campaign last month. That poll, conducted by the Democratic-leaning League of Conservation Voters, had Gallego with a five-point lead.

Canseco’s new poll, conducted by On Message, Inc. between Sept. 23 and 25, shows the Republican incumbent with a 47 to 37 percent advantage. Independent polling has been hard to come by in the race for the 23rd congressional district seat.

“All critical indicators of the political environment clearly demonstrate that the 23rd is headed our way from the top of the ticket on down,” said Wes Anderson of On Message, Inc., in a memo to the Canseco campaign.

The Gallego campaign said the Canseco-backed poll has a smaller sample size than polls their campaign conducted.

“The Canseco poll defies credibility and logic,” said Gallego campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna. “The fact that they’re just now releasing a poll taken a week and half ago is a telling sign of trouble for their campaign.”

Acuna also said the poll likely under-samples the Hispanic vote.

As with the Gallego poll, I have no further information than this, so I cannot analyze it in any depth. My gut feeling is that a ten-point spread is unlikely in this swing district, but more than that I couldn’t say. Since I did mention when I wrote about that Gallego poll that one could draw an inference from the lack of response on Canseco’s part, I am obligated to note that he has now responded. So there you have it.