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Posts Tagged ‘Harris County’

Is this the plan that will save the Dome?

Maybe. A few months ago Ed Emmett had a breakthrough moment about how to save the Astrodome, a goal he’s been chipping away at for the better part of eight years. The Harris County judge was driving out of the county administration building lot headed straight for the historic 1910 courthouse in downtown, and he […]

BP settlement cash

Nice. The city of Houston, Harris County and Metro netted $23 million in compensation from BP for revenue they could not collect in the wake of the company’s 2010 Gulf oil spill, officials announced Thursday. Houston will pocket about $12.2 million from the costliest environmental lawsuit in U.S. history to cover hotel and sales tax […]

Auditing HCDE

We’ll see about this. Later this summer, state auditors are expected to release their final report on the Harris County Department of Education. They’ve been examining the agency since last December. Superintendent James Colbert told lawmakers about it at a hearing in April. “We should have absolutely nothing to hide as far as I’m concerned […]

The future of Fort Bend transit

Public transportation in Fort Bend County has grown quite a bit since its inception, and there’s a lot of potential for future growth if the pieces can be put into place. On Tuesday, county leaders, staff and transit partners gathered in Richmond to celebrate the rapid evolution of the Fort Bend Public Transportation Department since […]

More allegations against Kelly Siegler

Here they come. Howard Guidry was 18 years old when he was charged being the triggerman in a 1994 murder-for-hire case that involved a Missouri City police officer and his estranged wife. Twice he was convicted and sent to death row, and both times the prosecutor who sent him there was Kelly Siegler, the legendary […]

The David Temple case

I have not followed this very closely, but it definitely deserves all the attention it has received. There’s a 1,300-page offense report detailing the investigation into the fatal shooting of Belinda Temple in 1999. There are audio tapes of witnesses who saw the pregnant teacher at Katy High School on the day she was killed […]

Our forthcoming early voting problems

This is the view in front of the West Gray Metropolitan Multi-Service Center, also known as the busiest early voting location in Houston. 8,390 people voted early here in the 2013 election. There was a water main break there, which caused foundation damage, and as you can see it is closed for repairs. Given the […]

Sheriff asks for more funds for body cameras

Good move. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office recently applied for a grant from the Department of Justice to purchase 750 wearable body cameras, a new technology aimed at improving government transparency and accountability after a year of high-profile police-involved shootings around the country. A 30-day trial run with body cameras by a few dozen deputies […]

What Dallas County can teach us about jail overcrowding

Why can’t Harris County be more like Dallas County, at least in this regard? Dallas County’s jail population has hit an all-time low. That means more spacious jail tanks and fewer bologna sandwiches. If the trend continues, it could add up to big savings for taxpayers. The jail, the seventh-largest in the country, is the […]

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, […]