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Posts Tagged ‘Harris County’

Here come the lawyers

I don’t see how the squadron of anti-equality attorneys has a case in the wake of Obergfell, but they’re gonna try their best to muck things up anyway. Now, conservative attorneys are gearing up to defend [government employees who refuse to recognize gay marriage because of religious objections], saying they are confident existing laws will […]

Outsourcing inmates again

We’ve been down this road before. For the first time in three years, the Harris County sheriff began transferring busloads of inmates this week to other correctional facilities to avoid overcrowding at the state’s largest jail. The jail population is currently at 93 percent of its 9,434-bed capacity, Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said Monday. […]

Bail reform for Harris County?

This would be a big deal. In jails across the country, including Harris County, a majority of the people behind bars have not been convicted of a crime. In the jail complex on the north side of downtown Houston, more than 6,600 people, about three-quarters of the prisoners there, are waiting to go to trial. […]

Harris County road bond

Harris County voters may be asked to vote on a bond issue this fall. Rapid population expansion and development in unincorporated areas of Harris County have strained roads, facilities and infrastructure so much that for the first time in eight years the county is considering a major bond referendum for the November ballot. Harris County […]

SCOTUS rules for marriage equality

Boom. Handing gay rights advocates a monumental victory, the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday ruled that marriages between couples of the same sex are constitutional, a decision that overrides Texas’ long-standing ban on gay marriage. In a 5-4 ruling, the high court found that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and that states […]

Lawsuit against county by former crime lab supervisor partially reinstated

It’s a bit of a convoluted story. A federal appeals court has reinstated portions of a lawsuit filed by two former Houston Police Department crime lab supervisors who contended that Harris County prosecutors retaliated against them after they exposed problems with the city’s breath-alcohol testing vans, or “BAT vans.” In a 36-page opinion issued on […]

A whiter shade of male

Sheriffing is a man’s job, ladies. I’m sure you understand that. One month into his job as Harris County sheriff, Ron Hickman has filled his roster of top commanders, a new hierarchy marked by one omission: There are no women. Hickman picked 19 men and also scrapped the role of a liaison for lesbian, gay, […]

Houston’s transit deserts

From the Kinder Institute’s Urban Edge blog: A new study suggests that despite METRO’s launch of several highly-touted and publicized improvements, the agency is still struggling to address the needs of some communities that depend heavily on transit. With operations beginning on METRO’s two new light rail lines and the reimagined bus system set to […]

Abbott signs pollution enhancement bill

Still sucks to be us, Harris County. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed legislation that could make it tougher for local governments to sue big-time polluters – an effort that largely targets Harris County prosecutors. House Bill 1794, set to become law on Sept. 1, will set a five-year statute of limitations and cap payouts at […]

No more LGBT liaison at the Sheriff’s office

So according to the Houston Press, it would seem our new Sheriff is not exactly comfortable with gay people. First, he told to his surprise at a Republican club meeting that the HCSO website has a small rainbow flag tucked into a corner: Needless to say, that rainbow flag is now gone. What’s more worrisome […]

Don’t expect the Harris County Clerk to be ready for the SCOTUS same sex marriage ruling

The Press follows up on a question that we have examined before. [Harris County Clerk Stan] Stanart isn’t planning on staying open later or doing anything to prepare to handle an influx of same-sex couples should the Supremes decide in favor of gay marriage, and he doesn’t seem concerned about getting the right application forms […]

One Ratliff wants to come back

Rubber match in HD115. Bennett Ratliff will run for the Dallas-area House seat he lost to state Rep. Matt Rinaldi by just 92 votes in the 2014 GOP primary, the Coppell Republican announced Monday. “What the district has noticed is that there is a huge contrast between our records,” Ratliff, a civil engineer and longtime […]

On the environmental challenges to the Houston region

I turn the mic over to Jim Blackburn, in a reprint of an article he wrote for Offcite in 2014. The future of the City of Houston might be more affected by extreme weather events than by any other factor. The impacts of these extremes are well known but not well addressed. Our ability to […]

Now how much would you pay to drive on that toll road?

How about ten bucks each way at peak times, beginning on May 30? Toll rates on the I-10 lanes, also known as the Katy Managed Lanes, will increase as officials seek to ease congestion by reducing use of the lanes during peak hours through a process called congestion pricing. The rates will go up by […]

Questioning the new Sheriff’s staff

That didn’t take long. Among Ron Hickman’s initial moves as sheriff was filling each of his first eight command posts with white males, a choice critics said shows a lack of vision in a jurisdiction as diverse as Harris County. These employees range from a major in charge of criminal investigations to an assistant chief […]

HCDE happenings

The Chron paints an unflattering portrait of the Harris County Department of Education. HCDE has operated in relative obscurity for decades, fighting off lawmakers’ occasional efforts to eliminate it by bankrolling lobbyists and political consultants. Advocates for the agency say it provides indispensable support services to the 25 independent school districts in Harris County. But […]

Local control still under assault

Sucks to be us, Harris County. With Harris County in its crosshairs, the Senate on Wednesday tentatively approved legislation that could make it tougher for Texas Counties to sue big-time polluters. If finally passed, House Bill 1794 would notch another victory for a wide range of business groups in a legislative session that’s been kind […]

New Precinct 4 Constable chosen

Now that Ron Hickman is Sheriff, that left a vacancy in his old job as Precinct 4 Constable. Commissioners Court has now filled that vacancy. At a special meeting Tuesday morning Harris County Commissioners Court selected Mark Herman, assistant chief deputy in Precinct 4, to fill the spot vacated when Constable Ron Hickman was tapped […]

More on Sheriff Hickman

A profile of appointed Sheriff Ron Hickman that’s long on biography but short on policy. Hickman is 63 and has spent his entire career doing police work. No step on his path has been sudden or unanticipated. Hickman expressed interest in the sheriff’s job when there were hints of a vacancy, before Garcia had announced […]

Metro and Culberson announce the terms of their agreement

Gotta say, this all sounds pretty good. First, Congressman Culberson supports METRO’s proposed legislation pending in the State Legislature that expands the size of the METRO Board, increases the eligible length of Board member service and allows the existing board to elect a chairman in October with an odd initial term. These changes will help […]

Montgomery and Fort Bend

The Houston Area Survey covered a bigger area than usual this year. One is mostly white and mostly Republican. It hasn’t backed a Democratic presidential candidate since native Texan Lyndon Johnson a half-century ago. The other is as racially and ethnically diverse as any place in the country, swelling with black, Asian and Hispanic residents […]

Point/counterpoint on online voter registration

Point. Texans can use www.Texas.gov for nearly 1,000 services, such as applying for concealed handgun licenses and driver records, and renewing driver licenses, vehicle registrations and many state-required professional licenses. It is time to allow Texans to use this proven, secure online portal to register voters. Online voter registration does not allow online voting. Under […]

Sheriff Hickman

Here’s your new Sheriff, Harris County. Commissioners Court named Precinct 4 Constable Ron Hickman the new sheriff of Harris County to replace Adrian Garcia who resigned last week to run for mayor of Houston. The county leaders took a formal vote Tuesday on the appointment after a brief closed-door session to discuss candidates to fill […]

Separating the Sheriff and the jail

As Commissioners Court prepares to name a replacement Sheriff, they have some bigger plans to discuss as well. A revolutionary idea is being pitched that would reshape the law enforcement agency by removing the troubled jail from the sheriff’s responsibilities. One county commissioner is leading the charge to create a new jail administrator who would […]

Senate passes Metro board expansion bill

From the inbox: The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) today applauded the unanimous approval of transit legislation by the Texas State Senate, that is designed to enhance Board stability, provide for an orderly transition of Board members and initiate continuity from year to year. Currently, the Texas Transportation Code provides for the appointment, […]

The Euro-Dome

What can the Germans teach us about saving the Astrodome? For years, Ed Emmett has been trying to figure out what to do with the Astrodome, one of the world’s grandest and wackiest-looking civic arenas. This week, he is on an expedition to see another of the world’s wacky wonders, a massive blimp hangar at […]

Fletcher will run for Sheriff in 2016

Not unexpected. The day after Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia announced he is running for mayor of Houston, Republican state Rep. Allen Fletcher of Cypress said he would abandon his House seat for a bid to replace Garcia. “I will not be filing for re-election. I will be filing to run for sheriff of Harris […]

Gay acceptance in Harris County

Not too shabby. Harris County, once known as reliably conservative, has become increasingly progressive on social issues such as same-sex marriage and the death penalty, according to a new poll by Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research. The shifting cultural consensus reflects changes in public attitudes across the country but stands apart from Republican-led […]

Adrian is in

Speculation time is over. Ending months of speculation, Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia has declared his candidacy for mayor of Houston Wednesday. Garcia, whose strong name recognition and deep law enforcement experience make him a likely frontrunner, will make his formal announcement at 2 p.m. at the Lindale Park Civic Association, in north Houston. His […]

Online voter registration bill appears to be dead

Alas. A group of Harris County officials have succeeded in scuttling a bipartisan bill that would have made Texas the 27th state to let citizens register to vote online. The proposal was co-sponsored by a majority of the House, but stalled in the chamber’s Elections Committee after the Harris County Clerk and the Harris County […]

Not everyone likes the idea of online voter registration

And most of them are from Harris County. A House panel got a taste late Monday of the deep skepticism toward bringing online voter registration to Texas, skepticism coming from at least one population-rich part of the state. It was mostly shared by a handful of Harris County officials who expressed concerns the practice could […]

Jailhouse woes for the Sheriff

Been a bad couple of weeks for Sheriff Garcia. A year and a half after a mentally ill inmate was found festering in squalor in a Harris County jail cell – apparently for weeks – Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia on Friday fired six jailers and suspended 29 others, the largest disciplinary action within the […]

Early voting for May elections begins Monday

From the inbox: Almost one million of Harris County’s registered voters will be eligible to vote in elections conducted during the May 9, 2015 Uniform Election, according to Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, the chief elections officer of the county. Early Voting begins Monday, April 27th. “Fifty political entities whose boundaries are solely or in […]

Who will pay for Super Bowl stadium improvements?

Gotta say, I’m with Steve Radack on this one. If the NFL has its way, luxury boxes and club seats at NRG Stadium will undergo major upgrades at the expense of Harris County or its tenants before Super Bowl LI arrives in Houston in 2017. But if the decision is up to Harris County Commissioner […]