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Posts from ‘April, 2013’

Look out, Lamar

There’s big money coming after you. The anti-incumbent super-PAC Campaign for Primary Accountability is coming back for 2014 after shutting down last election cycle — and it’s already making a wish list of targets, including Reps. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas). 

 The organization, which targets long-serving House incumbents in safe districts, spent […]

Questions about the Memorial Park part of the Uptown/Memorial TIRZ

Lisa Falkenberg reports that some people have raised questions about the Memorial Park part of the Uptown/Memorial TIRZ. Reforestation is sorely needed in a park devastated by hurricane damage and drought. This is a great deal, city leaders and supporters say, a great way to restore our crown jewel to its former beauty. And we […]

Abbott opines against domestic partnership benefits

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. The state Constitution prohibits government entities from recognizing domestic partnerships and offering insurance benefits to those couples, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote in an opinion on Monday. In the nonbinding opinion, Abbott determined that local jurisdictions that offer such benefits “have created and recognized something” […]

UH goes smoke-free

Good for them. The University of Houston, which educates more than 40,000 students each year on its 667-acre campus, will become tobacco-free June 1, school officials announced Thursday. The new policy, approved by UH Chancellor Renu Khator, bans the use of tobacco products in all university buildings and grounds, including parking areas, sidewalks and walkways. […]

Not just Austin, dammit

What Flavia Isabel says: The single purpose of this post is to eradicate the phrase “Oh yeah, Austin is a blue dot in a sea of red” from the vocabulary of anybody who cares about turning Texas blue. I am so incredibly sick and tired of hearing this refrain. It’s part of the Austin mythology. […]

The 2013 Houston Area Survey

The 2013 Houston Area Survey shows that tolerance is prevalent in our region. The results, according to institute co-director Stephen Klineberg, may reflect the region’s growing ethnic diversity, younger residents’ acceptance of change and the emergence of live-and-let-live “tolerant traditionalists.” Part of a larger survey of attitudes in the 10-county Houston metropolitan region, the 32nd […]

HISD to begin laptops for all program

Starting small, and presumably growing from there. Houston ISD officials announced Thursday that they are prepared to give students at up to 18 high schools their own laptops next school year, becoming among the first big-city districts to launch a one-to-one computing program. “This is a way of transforming what and how we teach,” HISD […]

Statement from Jim Henley

On Sunday afternoon, I received the following statement from Jim Henley, who submitted his resignation as HCDE Trustee earlier this year: I submitted my resignation as Trustee of The Harris County Department of Education in January of 2013. The Texas Constitution requires that I remain in office until the HCDE Board of Trustees appoints my […]

Weekend link dump for April 28

Better music through data. Metadata, that is. It’s hard to find a scripted drama that hasn’t used rape and/or murder as a plotline at least once. I will note that their list is incomplete – by my reckoning, “Royal Pains” and “Veep” are not listed, and there may be others. But you get the point. […]

HCDE Trustee Jim Henley to resign

Got this in my inbox late Friday afternoon: Trustee Jim Henley (Democrat at-large) submitted his resignation from the Board earlier this year.  The Harris County Department of Education Board will have an open application process to fill the remainder of his term that goes until January 2015. The HCDE advertisement and FAQs regarding filling a […]

Veasey v Garcia, Round Two?

Looks like we’ll have at least one high profile Democratic primary next year. Domingo Garcia’s pursuit of the national presidency of the League of United Latin American Citizens has just as much to do with politics as activism. The former state representative is considering whether to seek a rematch against Rep. Marc Veasey in the […]

Check this out

Scan while you shop, and other technological advances to get you checked out faster. In February, San Antonio-based H-E-B invited customers to try out a new scanning “tunnel” for the first time at its McCreless Market location on South New Braunfels Avenue. The company spent about three years developing the so-called Fast Scan technology, which […]

Saturday video break: You Really Got Me

Song #22 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “You Really Got Me”, originally by The Kinks and covered by Van Halen. Here’s the original: Man, I love these old black and white videos – you can tell this one was dubbed from a VHS tape. And I have no idea what that was […]

Tweet My Jobs Houston

On Friday, Mayor Parker delivered the State of the City 2013. Her address was heavy on accomplishments from the past year – there are a lot of them, and there is an election coming up – but there were also announcements of new things to come. One is Tweet My Jobs Houston, and I’ll refer […]

Weekend legislative threefer

That sound you heard on Friday was Rick Perry stamping his feet if he doesn’t get his way. Gov. Rick Perry is warning state legislators that it could be a long, hot summer in Austin if they don’t pass his top priorities: funding water and transportation projects and cutting business taxes. With a month left […]

Senate examines pensions

This sort of thing always makes me nervous. Legislative proposals to shore up Texas’ two largest public pension funds could require teachers and state employees to work years longer than they must today to get full retirement benefits. For example, a teacher who started in the classroom at age 23 may now take full retirement […]

Who’s afraid of Battleground Texas?

The Republican Party of Texas for one, if you believe their fundraising appeals. In a heated fundraising letter sent this week to donors statewide, the Texas GOP calls the new Democratic voter-mobilization effort “a clear and present threat to you and your family.” “They’re coming to take away your guns,” the letter signed by GOP […]

Friday random ten: The city never sleeps, part 3

Just a city boy with some city songs… 1. Dallas, Texas – Austin Lounge Lizards 2. Detroit Rock City – KISS 3. Do You Know The Way To San Jose? – Dionne Warwick 4. The Duke of Dubuque – Manhattan Transfer 5. Dusty In Memphis – Dusty Springfield 6. East St. Louis Toodle-Oo – Duke […]

Revamped Chapter 42 ordinance finally passes

Strangely enough, in the end it was not very contentious. Houston City Council on Wednesday voted 14-3 to allow greater single-family home density outside Loop 610, while also strengthening the proposal’s already robust protections for neighborhoods concerned about unwelcome development. Council voted to drop the threshold of support needed to impose a minimum lot size […]

MBIA lawsuit against Sports Authority dismissed

I haven’t seen a story about this in the print edition for whatever the reason. A state district court judge on Tuesday ruled that the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority cannot be sued by the company that insures the $1 billion in debt that the agency services on local sports stadiums. Bond insurer MBIA, with the […]

Improved payday lending bill passes the Senate

Good news, if it goes anywhere. The Texas Senate approved a bill to regulate short-term lenders on Monday night, a milestone some thought the chamber wouldn’t reach after a personal and divisive floor fight on Thursday. But with the measure’s author, state Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, calling the highly-altered bill an “ugly baby,” it remains […]

For the Uptown/Memorial TIRZ

Ed Wulfe never mentions Mattress Mack or his recent diatribe in the Chron about the proposed Uptown/Memorial Park TIRZ, but his op-ed in the Chron is clearly aimed at countering naysayers like Mattress Mack. Uptown is one of the most successful mixed-use urban environments in the United States and a leading economic driver of Houston; […]

Senate officially taps the Rainy Day Fund

Well done. Texas senators hammered out a sweeping deal to increase state funding for water and transportation projects and schools on Tuesday, tackling some of the thorniest issues of the legislative session all at once. The senators voted 31-0 for Senate Joint Resolution 1, which would ask Texas voters to approve taking $5.7 billion out […]

Medicaid “expansion” bill passes out of House committee

Forgive me for tempering my excitement about this, but it’s not that much to be excited about. Despite opposition from conservative Republicans, the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday advanced a proposal that would reform Medicaid by allowing the state to request a block grant from the federal government and expand coverage to low-income Texans. “This […]

Legislative quick hits

This is the time of the session where there’s lots happening, and there isn’t always the time or space to stay on top of it all. So here are a few quick updates on things that are happening in an attempt to at least not be too far behind. A bill to give Tesla Motors […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of April 22

The thoughts and prayers of the Texas Progressive Alliance are with the people of Boston and West as we bring you this week’s roundup.

On HCAD and rigging the system

This Houston Press cover story on the Harris County Appraisal District is provocative, to say the least. A months-long investigation by the Houston Press finds that Brookfield isn’t the only mega-dollar company that’s sitting pretty with a momentous tax break. According to a June 2012 Service Employees International Union report, corporate giants such as Chevron, […]

Today is Chapter 42 day

Actually, today is almost certainly the day that the Chapter 42 revisions get tagged by multiple members of Council, thus pushing it back for a week. Nonetheless, this is the beginning of the end of a long, long journey. Here’s another story about what that will mean. The Fourth Ward would not look quite the […]

Texas Lottery Commission dies and is reborn

And we have our first curveball of the legislative session. The House voted Tuesday to defeat a must-pass bill reauthorizing the Texas Lottery Commission, a stunning move that casts doubt on the lottery as a whole and may potentially cost the state billions in revenue. House Bill 2197 began as a seemingly routine proposal to […]

Craft beer bills pass out of House committee

From Open The Taps. After waiting in a long queue of bills that were sent from the Senate to the House, the Craft Beer Bills (SBs 515-518 and 639) should see some movement again this week. Our team in Austin has been in regular communication with the House sponsor (Chairman Wayne Smith) and his committee […]

Who resigns after a DUI arrest?

The Statesman asks the question and gets some answers. In 2006, District Attorney Tim Cole had a decision to make. The then-chief prosecutor for Montague, Clay and Archer counties had been arrested for drunken driving after a day of July Fourth celebrating at a lake across the state line in Oklahoma. It didn’t take him […]

That’ll just about do it for gambling this session

Sen. Carona calls the chances “slim”, but it sounds like slim just left town to me. [Sen. John] Carona, chairman of the Senate’s Business and Commerce Committee, said last week he expected to vote his sweeping gambling bill out of his committee Tuesday. But the morning committee hearing came and went, and Carona declined to […]

SBOE passes anti-voucher resolution

Good for them. The Texas State Board of Education voted 10-5 on Friday to urge the Legislature to reject proposals that would result in public funds being allocated for private educational institutions. The resolution, authored by Board of Education member Ruben Cortez, Jr., D-Brownsville, asks the legislature to “reject all vouchers, taxpayer savings grants, tax […]

Online voter registration bills advance

Some good news. House Bill 313, which received praise from committee members in a Monday hearing, and Senate Bill 315, which was voted out of committee Thursday, propose allowing voters to register online and have that application automatically authenticated rather than having to wait on local election officials to reenter the data in their systems […]