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August 3rd, 2014:

Weekend link dump for August 3

An older link, but since I’ve been seeing the question come up, here’s why grocery store rotisserie chickens are cheaper than uncooked chickens.

A little mockery can go a long way.

The state of California is doing just fine, thanks for asking.

Dogs get jealous, too.

How to raise kind children.

“Like I said, I haven’t heard there’s an epidemic of arrests of parents who let their nine year olds play alone in the park. What I have heard is far too many stories of poor working parents who got in trouble for leaving their nine year olds and younger kids alone at home while they were at work because they couldn’t find or pay for competent childcare.”

Confused cats against feminism. And one confused dog.

I don’t know that I approve of all of these ways to speed up baseball games, but on the whole I’d say the Atlantic League is on to something.

The Sarah Palin Channel is a thing that could happen.

Why lonely people tend to stay lonely.

Satanists are master trollers.

Maybe George R.R. Martinwill actually finish writing the “Game of Thrones” books.

Fist bumps spread fewer germs than handshakes.

“The effect of massing a medical marijuana law on youth consumption appears to be zero across the board.”

Congratulations to Michele Roberts, the new Executive Director of the National Basketball Players’ Association and the first women to hold such a position in the US.

Want more Fargo? You betcha.

“So the moral of the story is: Things suck but whatever you don’t try and make it better with a higher minimum wage. Go sell a kidney or something.”

The Pope is now too liberal for House Republicans.

The case for banning marijuana is pretty weak.

“But because we live in a culture that values independence and strength and negates the agency of victims – wrongly conflating victimhood with weakness instead of directing our opprobrium at those who victimize – the label will automatically have detractors.”

The GOP position writ large is still that we should deport all the DREAMers, block Obama from any further executive action to ease deportations, and not act in any way to legalize the 11 million.”

Got a home alarm system? Might want to click that link.

RIP, Theodore Van Kirk, last surviving crew member from the Enola Gay.

The demand for Sharknado movies has not yet been slaked.

“Remember: Billions of dollars were at stake and everybody was watching. If the costs of Obamacare subsidies could shift by billions of dollars depending on whether a state built its own exchange or instead used the federal exchange, the CBO would have been the one to know about it.”

I agree, it’s time to put a woman on the $20 bill. I’ll nominate Margaret Chase Smith as a good first choice.

Laura Murillo

Campos tosses a hat into the ring for Mayor 2015.

Laura Murillo

Laura Murillo, CEO and President of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is telling folks she will be running for H-Town Mayor next year. I said this yesterday:

She would certainly be a fresh face. Being a Latina and the only woman in the race would help her. I think she could raise the money – certainly as much as the other three could. She is smart, articulate, and bilingual.


Here in H-Town we kind of know who is seriously thinking about running for Mayor. Council Member Stephen Costello, State Rep. Sylvester Turner, and former Congressman Chris Bell are the ones most mentioned. We pretty much know what to expect from these three. They have all been around for a while if you know what I mean.

I can see folks getting excited about a Laura Murillo candidacy. She goes into the race with a built-in relationship and record working with hundreds of Latino business owners and professionals. They know her well.

Her going up against three veteran male politicians would certainly provide voters with a choice. A Murillo candidacy also means that the other three candidates will probably not be doing a whole lot of Latino voter outreach.

As noted, he teased this the day before. I’ve met Dr. Murillo a couple of times – I’ve been to at least one candidate forum at the HHCC – and I’m sure she’d make an interesting candidate. There are a lot of people who are at least thinking about running for Mayor next year – Campos’ list doesn’t include CM Oliver Pennington, who is as out there as any of the other three he mentioned. I don’t plan to spend too much time thinking about it until after this year’s elections are over. I will say that all of the wannabees will have lots of challenges to deal with, but also lots of opportunities. I’m going to need to see some big ideas from them if they want me to take them seriously. But not today. Y’all have till December or so to start getting it together. Be ready to hit the ground running.

At an impasse

Doesn’t look like there will be any new collective bargaining agreement between the city and the firefighters this year.

Houston’s firefighters union declared an impasse with the city over a new labor contract, which a union negotiator called a “slap in the face” on Thursday.

The deadlock comes less than a month after Mayor Annise Parker announced the union was coming back to the bargaining table despite overwhelmingly defeating the city’s last proposal.

That rejected contract would have given the firefighters a 4 percent raise starting in 2015 but limited when they could take time off. City officials came back Thursday with essentially the same offer, but dropped the 4 percent raise to 3 percent. That’s likely because council members amended Parker’s budget, which set aside money for the proposed contract and effectively “spent the raise.”

“So now I’m looking at a 3 percent offer that reduces the cap on holidays, reduces the cap on vacations and I’m not supposed to take that, or have these members take that, as, in essence, a slap in the face,” union negotiator Michelle Bohreer said.


The city has looked to scale back overtime costs, which earlier this year almost drove the department over budget. During the budget crisis, HFD had to pull ambulances and engines from duty some days to keep costs down.

A March contract temporarily resolved that problem, with firefighters agreeing to give up some freedom to take time off in exchange for a 2 percent raise and a $975 lump-sum payment. Those scheduling restrictions expired at the end of June.

See here, here, here, and here for the background; Mayor Parker’s statement is here. The city has a legitimate interest in managing vacation time and overtime pay, as any private sector business would have. By the same token, I understand why the firefighters would be reluctant to give up something that they now have. Given the current budget situation and the overwhelming rejection of the first agreement, I have no idea how much room there is to negotiate at this point. The one thing I am sure of is that all this will be a prominent feature in the 2015 Mayoral race. It will be very interesting to see which candidates stake out which positions.

Biking in Dallas

They’re pretty far behind other Texas cities in infrastructure and general bike-ability.

City leaders, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, are eager to boost Big D’s cycling options — and soon. They’re looking at everything from more bike lanes to off-street trails, from bike-sharing programs to raising awareness about how bikes and cars should share the road.

What caused a 36-year-old engineer who’s lived in the bike-loving cities of Austin, Portland, Ore., and Tucson, Ariz. — but who’s also tackled major highway projects for the Texas Department of Transportation — to become the bike czar in car-centric Dallas?

The Dallas Morning News pedaled alongside [Ashley] Haire to find out.

Like most non-natives living in Dallas, she was lured here by a job.

Haire had been doing postdoctoral work at Portland State University. Portland was where she “drank the Kool-Aid” on biking, she said. In the 21/2 years she lived there, she put only 6,000 miles on her car.

“It became the lifestyle, in every sense of the word,” she said.

But TxDOT had an opening for a project manager on the massive reconstruction of Interstates 30 and 35E in downtown Dallas. Her education is in civil engineering, with degrees from the University of Arizona and the University of Texas at Austin.

And so, a couple of years ago, she came to Dallas to make the jump from bikes to freeways.


What are Haire’s thoughts on Dallas’ hot-button biking topics?

The helmet law? Haire wears a helmet whenever she hops on a bike, but she supported the City Council’s decision to repeal the helmet requirement for riders older than 17. Adults can make their own informed decisions, she figures.

Expanding hike-and-bike trails? She’s all for it, even though she notes that hike-and-bike trails come under the park department, not her office. She said the Dallas system is quite good. The key, she said, will be better connecting those off-street trails with on-street infrastructure.

Bike-sharing? She’s a fan of those programs, which feature rental stands at various locations where people can pick up or drop off a bike. But she worries that Dallas doesn’t yet have the biking infrastructure to support a citywide program.

Dallas is the only one of Texas’ five biggest cities to not already have a bike sharing program, and El Paso is working out the details with B-Cycle as we speak, with a goal of beginning operations early next year. I don’t know what the specifics are for biking in Dallas and the challenges that Ashley Haire will face, but some things like sharing road space and motorists’ attitudes are universal. I wish her and her city the best in getting up to speed.