Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts from ‘December, 2012’

So how’s public education doing under the Republicans?

Well, for starters, there’s larger class sizes. Northside’s predicament mirrors that of several other local districts with expanding enrollments. It’s part of the argument hundreds of Texas districts are making in an ongoing school finance lawsuit against the state, blaming lawmakers for a funding scheme that doesn’t keep up with growth. Administrators say larger classes […]

Yet another Planned Parenthood ruling coming today

Today is the last day that federal money will be sent to Texas for the Women’s Health Program – it officially gets cut off on January 1. The state tried and failed to get an injunction forcing the feds to keep the spigot open even as it barred Planned Parenthood from participating. For its part, […]

Compost that Christmas tree

Let your Christmas tree do some good after you get rid of it. When that Christmas tree comes down this year, take a moment to imagine its next incarnation: Chipped up and mixed into soil, it might soon secure new grasses along some South Texas highway or sustain vegetable starts in someone’s garden. Adding weathered […]

Weekend link dump for December 30

I don’t know about you, but this was one of those years that I thought would never end. America’s worst bosses. All are responsible for at least one large payout of a discrimination-related lawsuit. The worst columns of 2012. I have no idea how they managed to stop at 50. The top physics breakthroughs since […]

Everybody hates the STAAR test now

In reading this story about the flood of legislation being filed to scale back or defer the STAAR tests, I am struck, but not surprised, by the genesis of this activity. The clamor for change may have more to do with who’s finally speaking up, said Patricia López, a research associate at the Texas Center […]

The payday lenders won’t go without a fight

Where there’s a fight, there’s sure to be lots of money. Payday lenders were big spenders in the most recent Texas political campaigns – contributing more than $1.6 million to state races in the 2012 election cycle and giving most generously to Republican committee members who soon will be reviewing proposed reforms for their industry. […]

Your one-minute real estate update

I just have one mostly tangential thing to say about this. Houston will see a modest and steady growth in retail activity in 2013, according to Ed Wulfe’s annual retail forecast. And the following year should be much better, said Wulfe, who is chairman and CEO of Wulfe & Co., a retail development, brokerage and […]

Saturday video break: Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon

Song #38 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Now”, originally by Neil Diamond and covered by Urge Overkill. Here’s the original: To borrow from Linus Van Pelt, of all the Neil Diamond songs in the world, that one may just be the Neil Diamond-est. I can’t believe Dave […]

There are eight candidates who have filed for SD06

Yesterday I made an inquiry with the Elections division of the Secretary of State’s office, to ask how many candidates had filed for the special election in SD06. They kindly forwarded me a scan of all eight candidate applications, which you can see here. (Stace and PDiddie reported on this yesterday afternoon. The only mainstream […]

Dewhurst campaign aide accused of stealing contributions

Oops. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst’s campaign manager is under criminal scrutiny, suspected of stealing at least $600,000 — and possibly more than $1 million — from the Republican’s political accounts over the past several years. Kenneth “Buddy” Barfield, a longtime GOP consultant who most recently managed Dewhurst’s failed run for the U.S. Senate, has been […]

It’s a dog eat donut world

What interested me the most in this story about the locally-based Shipley’s Do-Nuts is what wasn’t said. The changes are coming at a time when competition in the breakfast industry is stronger than ever. Coffee chains are offering more breakfast pastries, and even ethnic bakeries are gaining favor with the general public, said Chris Tripoli, […]

Friday random ten: Gone too soon #3

After a recent Coverville episode on Jimi Hendrix, who would have been 70 years old this year, I thought I’d take another trip down Gone Too Soon lane, in which I highlight musicians in my library who died at too young an age. My first two entries are here and here, which I suppose means […]

So who’s in for the SD06 special election?

As noted, yesterday was the official filing deadline for the SD06 special election. I didn’t have the chance to call the Secretary of State’s office to ask what filings they had received, and as of last night I had not seen any news accounts of who was in and who was not. In addition to […]

Time once again to talk about expanded gambling

There’s a legislative session coming up, right? That can only mean one thing: A new effort to expand gambling in Texas. Track and gaming interests say voters should be allowed to decide whether to give Texas a shot at the benefits of $2.5 billion they say is wagered in surrounding states annually by Texans. “They […]

You can donate your jury duty pay to charity

As you probably know if you have been called to jury service in Harris County, jurors get paid $6 for showing up, and $28 per day after the first day if they are selected to serve on a jury. What you may not know is that you can donate that pay to charity if you […]

CompSci in the curriculum

HISD Trustee Paula Harris coauthors an op-ed in the Chron advocating computer science to be part of the standard school curriculum. While STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education is a hot topic in education circles these days, only math and science courses are required for graduation from high school. The few computer science courses […]

Guest post: Gun control realities and fallacies; is there a way forward?

Note: The following is a guest post, written by regular reader Peter in Houston. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, but he makes some good and provocative points, and I’m a believer in having thorough discussions of complex issues, so I present this here for your consideration. I have been a gun owner […]

Metro moving forward with advertising

This has been in the works for a long time. Depending on what Metropolitan Transit Authority officials decide regarding a new revenue plan, your light rail trip could end at the Taco Bell Station, or some similarly named stop. Officials in early 2013 are expected to receive more information on a revenue plan exploring potential […]

Soot

We have it. What are we going to do about it? Harris County, long known for smog, will need to clamp down on another harmful type of air pollution for the first time under new rules imposed by federal regulators Friday. The Environmental Protection Agency set a stricter standard for tiny particulate matter, or soot, […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of December 24

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday as it brings you this week’s roundup. Off the Kuff discusses where the redistricting and voter ID lawsuits stand with the Supreme Court. BossKitty at TruthHugger enjoyed a fiery sunrise on Apocalypse Morning. But, the Sunday morning talk shows laid the cat’s ears back […]

Trib overview of SD06 special election

For all the delays in getting this called, the special election in SD06 is one month from today. The Trib takes a look. State Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, and Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat and former Harris County commissioner, are vying to replace state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston. Gallegos, the first Hispanic senator to represent Harris […]

When is a surplus not a surplus?

When any extra money you might have is already accounted for, due to unaddressed needs, accounting shenanigans, and shortsighted cuts. Some lawmakers and budget experts expect to have as much as $8 billion to $9 billion more in general revenue in this fiscal period, which ends Aug. 31. Some are guessing lower. Combs will give […]

The Houston Food Bank could use your help

Times are tough, y’all. Despite a growing demand, food banks, charities and pantries face a dwindling supply of products to distribute to Houston’s hungry this holiday season. Food banks in Houston and across the country have less to give away because the federal government is purchasing fewer excess farm products to stabilize agricultural prices. At […]

Keep Houston hip

Y’all ready for this? 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the GHCVB and the fifth anniversary of the MyHouston campaign, which according to vice president of marketing Holly Clapham, is “the most successful image campaign in Houston’s history.” As part of the second iteration of MyHouston, the GHCVB has created a series of five print […]

Have yourself a Mel Torme Christmas

Every year on Christmas Day, I link to my favorite Christmas story, which stars Mel Torme. Apparently, this story is so popular now that it gets ripped off a lot, which sure seems to be contrary to the Christmas spirit if you ask me. But let’s not worry about such things this morning. Merry Christmas […]

Get well soon, Elf Louise

If you’ve ever lived in San Antonio, you are undoubtedly familiar with the Elf Louise Christmas Project. I’m sad to say that “Elf” Louise Locker has suffered a heart attack, but thankfully appears to be recovering nicely. The woman behind one of San Antonio’s most prolific Christmas-based charities, Louise Locker, had a heart attack Sunday […]

Monday video break: Tonight’s the night

I’ve posted this video before, and here it is again: I’m nowhere close to being tired of this, so look for it again next year. Happy Christmas Eve!

City wins access to firefighter pension information

From the Inbox, late Friday afternoon. Mayor Annise Parker today announced Judge William Burke of the 189th District Court of Harris County has mandated the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund (HFRRF) Board to provide and disclose information requested by the independent actuary retained by the City of Houston. HFRRF has refused to provide data […]

Houston’s BikeScore

Some parts of Houston are very bike friendly. Others, not so much. Houston ranks in the middle of the road when it comes to overall bike friendliness, but some local neighborhoods are cycling nirvanas, according to BikeScore.com. The company, which uses census and area commercial information to assess how bike-able communities are, recently updated its […]

Weekend link dump for December 23

“Just as the calendar you have on your kitchen wall does not cease to exist after December 31, the Mayan calendar does not cease to exist on December 21, 2012. This date is the end of the Mayan long-count period but then — just as your calendar begins again on January 1 — another long-count […]

State fails to get injunction against terminating Womens Health Program funds

As you know, last year the Lege passed a law that forbade Planned Parenthood from participating in the Women’s Health Program on the grounds that PP does abortions even though none of the PP clinics that participate in the Women’s Health Program perform abortions – they’re in a separate organization all together. The federal government […]

Three things in life are certain

Death, taxes, and Bruce Hotze filing a lawsuit every time he loses an election. A local anti-tax activist filed a lawsuit Thursday to block the city of Houston from borrowing $410 million to add, expand and repair parks, libraries, police and fire stations and other government buildings. Bruce Hotze’s suit says the bond measures, which […]

Reliant gets its new scoreboard

As expected, and in time for the next push to get a Super Bowl in Houston. The state-of-the-art digital scoreboards will be manufactured by Mitsubishi Electric’s Diamond Vision Systems Division and installed for the 2013 season in place of the current end-zone scoreboards. County and Houston officials, as well as Texans owner Bob McNair, believe […]

Saturday video break: The Charlie Brown School of Dance

Just watch: Admit it, you always wondered what those dances were called.