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Posts from ‘December, 2012’

Happy birthday, Lady Bird

Lady Bird Johnson would be celebrating her 100th birthday today if she were still with us. Catherine Robb’s eyes blurred with tears and she paused, overcome by the emotion of trying to find the right words to express how much she misses “Nini” – the affectionate name she called her grandmother, Lady Bird Johnson. After […]

Are two courts better than one?

Why exactly do we need two top courts in Texas? A proposal for the upcoming legislative session is resuscitating a debate that goes back to the writing of the Texas Constitution in 1876. The bill, authored by state Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo, would abolish the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest court […]

Greanias officially resigns, interim Metro CEO named

George Greanias may have stepped down as CEO of Metro, but he’ll still be around for awhile, as Metro searches for his successor. Metropolitan Transit Authority board members on Thursday accepted Greanias’ resignation, named an interim replacement and approved a six-month, $117,500 contract with Greanias – equivalent to half his annual salary – to consult […]

Friday random ten: The annual Christmas list

The staff of Popdose has their fifty favorite holiday songs for your consideration. Those of you familiar with the Mellowmas tradition will note with amusement a few crossovers, but theirs is a pretty solid collection. As is my tradition, here are ten songs from their list in my iTunes library: 1. Christmas Wrapping – Waitresses […]

One year of Helena

The Observer‘s Emily dePrang takes a look at CM Helena Brown, one year after her upset win in District A. When she took office, Brown made waves for her nearly satirical level of budget hawkery. She made simplistic government-bad, free-market-good speeches that evoked The Colbert Report to justify voting against funding meals for the elderly, […]

Former HPD lab supervisor files sues Lykos, county

Here’s a nice little going away present for District Attorney Pat Lykos. Two former Houston Police Department crime lab supervisors have filed a federal lawsuit against Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos, saying the county’s top prosecutor retaliated against them after they spoke out about problems with HPD’s breath-alcohol testing vans. The lawsuit, filed Monday, […]

City-county cooperation

It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it? At 9:27 p.m. on Election Day, when it was clear a Metro referendum crucial to both of their road-building budgets had passed, Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack’s phone buzzed with a text message from Houston Mayor Annise Parker: “Maybe we can tackle world peace next.” The note hinted at […]

Craft versus crafty

Just because that beer you’re drinking has a quirky name and a whimsical label on the bottle doesn’t mean it came from a microbrewery. In a biting opening salvo, a trade group for the nation’s craft brewers on Thursday accused Anheuser-Busch InBev and other major manufacturers of “deliberately attempting to blur the lines between their […]

Not just vouchers, corporate-sponsored vouchers

You can’t make this stuff up. Speaking in a Catholic school classroom in Austin, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state Sen. Dan Patrick gave the first details of what they promised would be a wide-ranging set of proposals for public education policy during the upcoming legislative session. Patrick, a Houston Republican who chairs the Senate […]

Responding the only way they know how

That’s our Legislature. In response to last week’s Connecticut school shooting, state Rep.-elect Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, says he will file legislation to allow public school teachers to carry concealed weapons while on campus. The bill, which Villalba is calling the Protection of Texas Children Act, would permit Texas schools to appoint a member of their […]

Transition, schmansition

Don Sumners, ladies and gentlemen. “There is no transition,” said lame-duck Tax Assessor-Collector Don Sumners. The occasionally cantankerous 73-year-old anti-tax taxman said he and his two predecessors came in cold, and [Tax Assessor-elect Mike] Sullivan will have to do the same. “Frankly, I guess, it’s a little bit of bitterness on my part that he […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of December 17

The Texas Progressive Alliance sends its deepest condolences to the people of Newtown as it brings you this week’s roundup. Off the Kuff says that the voters have done a pretty good job of imposing term limits on the Legislature. BossKitty at TruthHugger asks when is enough enough? What is it with sick white boys? […]

A personal view of judicial elections

I’ve mentioned in this space before that my father Charles A. Kuffner, Jr. was a Supreme Court justice in New York. (Note: The Supreme Court in New York is basically the equivalent of a District Court in Texas. The top court in New York is the Appellate Court.) He was elected to that position in […]

Chapter 42 is back

This is going to be fun. Sprawling, boomtown Houston may be in for another battle over land use and development, this time driven by the most significant changes proposed to the city’s building rules in 13 years. The rewrite would further a push for density in single-family development, begun inside Loop 610 when the rules […]

Student RFID case in federal court

Good luck sorting it all out, Your Honor. Because she has a religious objection to Northside Independent School District’s new student tracking system, Andrea Hernandez and her father testified in federal court Monday, she should not be transferred to another school for refusing to carry a student I.D. badge. Hernandez, 15, a sophomore in a […]

SCOTUS voter ID update

The matter is officially with the Supreme Court now. A federal court deferred further proceedings in a lawsuit filed by Texas over the state’s voter identification law until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on whether part of the Voting Rights Act is constitutional. A three-judge panel in Washington said today that “in the interest of […]

Where redistricting stands with SCOTUS

From Texas Redistricting: What happens now in the Supreme Court? With the filing of motions to affirm or dismiss last week by the Justice Department and intervenors, Texas’ appeal of the preclearance ruling is now ready for review by the Justices. Under Rule 18 of the Supreme Court rules, the clerk of the Supreme Court […]

Rodeo buys part of old Astroworld site

Unclear what this means. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is acquiring half of the old Six Flags AstroWorld property for $42.8 million. The organization’s board of directors on Thursday authorized show officials to acquire 48 acres of the former amusement park site to diversify its investments, the nonprofit announced in a news release on […]

Dude, I’m serious!

House Speaker Joe Straus is ready to have a “serious” legislative session. You know, totally unlike the last one. Despite organized efforts to unseat him, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said Wednesday he is confident his colleagues will re-elect him to the post so he can focus the 2013 legislative session on “serious issues” for […]

You can have a say on how the Railroad Commission conducts its business

From Texas Sharon: STEPS TO CHANGE THE RRC. The Sunset Advisory Commission is the agency that regulates all Texas agencies.ONCE EVERY 12 YEARS, they examine the agencies and decide what needs to be changed and if the agencies should continue. This year it’s the RRC’s turn for examination. How to Participate. On Wednesday, December 19th, you can […]

Once more to the judicial elections well

I swear, I thought I was done talking about judicial elections, at least for now until one or more of the bills that would affect them comes up in the Lege, but then there was this op-ed in the Chron, and I just couldn’t help myself. In states across the country, the selection of judges […]

Early extension for Grier

This was a surprise. The Houston school board gave Superintendent Terry Grier a big but not unanimous vote of confidence Thursday, extending his contract through 2016 and awarding him $115,000 in bonuses for the last year. The board voted 6-2 to approve the surprise two-year extension, and the lone absent trustee said later that she […]

The Controller’s travels

This is me shaking my head. Houston controller Ron Green, the city’s top elected financial watchdog, has flown first class and frequented high-end hotels in New York and Chicago at taxpayer expense for more than two dozen publicly funded excursions, booking lodgings that cost as much as $460 per night and often exceeding maximum rates […]

The Municipal Equality Index

From the inbox: A new report on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality in America’s cities by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Institute,  rated 137 cities across the nation, including seven Texas cities.  TheMunicipal Equality Index (MEI), the first ever nationwide […]

Weekend link dump for December 16

Happy birthday, Aunt Judy! More apps = less television. I don’t think this is what all those people with the “Kill Your TV” bumper stickers had in mind, though. Less whining about Christmas is a good idea in general. Ten ways to reduce inequality without raising tax rates. Which does not mean that raising tax […]

On school shootings

I have four things to say about this. In the national collective grief rising from Friday’s mass shooting in Connecticut, one apparent trust seems to have completely shattered: that an elementary school was sacred and safe ground. Left in the wake of 20 children and eight adults massacred by a lone gunman is a renewed […]

Greanias to step down from Metro

Bummer. George Greanias, appointed to lead the Metropolitan Transit Authority in September 2010 after political squabbling and inefficiencies led to widespread criticism of the bus and train system, is resigning, a Metro spokeswoman confirmed Friday. Greanias has stated his intent to resign from his position as president and chief executive officer, but a formal letter […]

Two minus five is still less than zero

It’s nice that Speaker Joe Straus wants to restore public education funding, but let’s be clear about what that means. Texas House Speaker Joe Straus said Friday he’s committed to pumping billions of dollars back into the state’s public schools, even though the Legislature approved historically deep cuts just last year. In an interview with […]

Craft beer is good for Texas

Because it can’t be said too often, am I right? Here’s a brief Q&A with Charles Valhonrat, the executive director of the Texas Craft Brewer’s Guild. Q: What are your goals for the 2013 legislative session, and how do you plan to get lawmakers on board? A: There are two primary goals we are driving […]

Saturday video break: Without You

Song #39 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Without You” by Badfinger, and covered by Harry Nilsson. Here’s the original: Another song I didn’t recognize by the title, but once it started playing I knew what it was. Of course, it’s the cover version I’m familiar with, so here it is. I suspect […]

The Big East is imploding

I never really believed that the reconstituted Big East was going to be viable in the long term, but I didn’t see its demise happening in this fashion, nor this quickly. The Big East is headed for another break up. This time, the seven prominent basketball schools that don’t play FBS football are planning to […]

Council approves Washington Avenue parking benefit district

We’ll see how this works. The Houston City Council on Wednesday formed a special parking district along Washington Avenue, intended to ease the woes associated with the bustling corridor’s mix of bars, restaurants and residential streets. The plan will add parking meters on about 350 spaces along Washington, and will make it easier for residents […]

TAB yields on testing

Retreat! Some of the strongest advocates for high-stakes testing, Texas business leaders now want to cut the number of exams students must pass to finish high school, the latest attempt to ease tougher graduation requirements that went into effect last year. The number of high-stakes tests would fall from 15 to as few as six […]

Friday random ten: Did the Mayans predict the fiscal cliff?

One more week till the end of the world, which one must admit would be a neat solution to the so-called fiscal cliff. Here’s a Friday random ten that combines the two: 1. Close To The Edge – Yes 2. It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – […]