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Posts Tagged ‘Houston’

Gary Elkins thumbs his nose at local payday lending ordinances

Such a fine example he sets. As a member of the Texas House of Representatives, Houston Republican Gary Elkins helps make laws. As a businessman, he is an owner of a chain of payday lending stores accused of breaking them. Elkins opposed payday lending regulations during the 2011 and 2013 legislative sessions, arguing members should […]

Downtown dedicated bike lane delayed a bit

Aiming for the end of the year now. Conversion of a traffic lane on Lamar into Houston’s main bike route through downtown has been delayed as officials finalize plans and wait for in-demand humps known as “armadillos” to arrive. Department of Public Works and Engineering officials initially said work would start on the lanes in […]

More lot protections

Good luck. A stretch of Riverside Terrace, a rebound neighborhood known for its “large lots, mature trees and a view of the downtown skyline,” will be the first residential pocket in Houston where homeowners can use a new city code provision to fend off unwanted townhome, condo or residential tower developments. The City Council [recently] […]

KHOU: Abbott 47, Davis 32

A new poll to open Early Voting. As early voters head to the polls for a landmark election in Texas, a new survey conducted for KHOU-TV and Houston Public Media shows Republican Greg Abbott with a commanding lead over Democrat Wendy Davis in the race for governor. Abbott’s supported by 47 percent of likely voters […]

Time to comment on the proposed high speed rail routes

Check ‘em out, and tell ‘em what you think. Observers have long known that only a few options were available for the route of the privately funded high-speed train line between Houston and Dallas. Now a firmer picture of where the trains might run is emerging. As part of the federally required process to evaluate […]

Mayoral fundraising 2015

Yeah, I know, another post about the 2015 election. I sure am doing a lousy job of not thinking about that just yet, but this raises an interesting point. Likely mayoral candidate Chris Bell is asking the city of Houston to reconsider its interpretation of an ordinance that would give Sylvester Turner a major fundraising […]

Classic hip-hop

I got a good chuckle out of this. News 92 FM, which until last week was the home of veteran newscasters J.P. Pritchard and Lana Hughes, is now Boom 92.1 FM, home of Geto Boys, Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg and Run-D.M.C. Radio One, which owns three FM stations in Houston, at 5 p.m. Monday launched […]

City files amended petitions

From the inbox: As follow up to a promise made earlier in the week, the City of Houston has revised its subpoenas in the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) repeal petition case. The disputed request has been narrowed to focus solely on communications related to HERO and the petition gathering process. There is no mention […]

The outrage machine is fully engaged

We’ll see how long they can keep it up. A legal battle between the city of Houston and religious leaders has erupted into a national debate this week about religious liberty and freedom of speech, even as Mayor Annise Parker argued the controversy was based on a misunderstanding. Conservative lawmakers and activists expressed outrage upon […]

Subpoenaing sermons

Not sure about this. Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists who have sued the city. Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are […]

Making open data better

Some positive news. Houston leaders in the last year or so have cheered the promise of “civic hacking,” pushing to make the mountains of data the city collects accessible to tech enthusiasts capable of building programs to help citizens better understand and interact with their government. Two “hackathons” and a few dozen “app” ideas later, […]

HISD Board approves one cent tax rate increase

Still a low tax rate, just slightly higher now. As architects prepare designs for dozens of new campuses, the Houston school board on Thursday approved a 1-cent tax rate increase to help pay down debt from the largest school district construction bond in Texas history. The board voted 7-1 to raise the tax rate, the […]

Chartering

There will be more than just the Mayor’s race going on in 2015. Houston is guaranteed a frantic 2015 political season with an open mayor’s race on the ballot, but it could get busier still with growing talk of placing the city charter before voters for possible changes to term limits, the city revenue cap […]

Reminder: Uber and Lyft aren’t legal yet in Houston

Drive for ‘em at your own risk for the next month or so. New entrants into Houston’s paid-ride market can’t be licensed to operate for another month, but the transition is proving problematic as the companies and drivers rack up citations and the city impounds vehicles. Since Aug. 6, when the City Council approved changes […]

Smoking ban extended to pedestrian plazas

I’m okay with this. Main Street Square is now a smoke-free zone following the City Council’s decision Wednesday to expand Houston’s smoking ban to pedestrian plazas, marking the latest effort from the Parker administration to curb lighting up in public places. The changes to the smoking ordinance are twofold: it expands the ban to Houston’s […]

More suspects arrested from the rape kit backlog

More good news. Houston’s effort to test a nearly three-decade backlog of sexual assault kits has resulted in new charges filed against 19 people, city officials said Monday, including 10 suspects identified and arrested for the first time. One of the new suspects has been charged in connection with two assaults; another remains at large, […]

Mayors against climate change

From the Think Globally, Act Locally department. Mayor Annise Parker briefly took center stage Monday in the campaign against climate change by pledging to make America’s energy capital a laboratory for experimentation and action. Frustrated with the congressional response to global warming, Parker and the mayors of Los Angeles and Philadelphia vowed to set more […]

More on the new Crime Lab boss

Meet Dr. Daniel Garner, the CEO and president of the Houston Forensic Science Center. Daniel Garner was ready to drift quietly into retirement after decades on the forefront in the field of forensic science. The last part of his career had the 66-year-old on the go, traveling to foreign countries for the U.S. Department of […]

911 to text is here

As expected. Text-to-911 service is available now in Harris and Fort Bend counties for Verizon and T-Mobile wireless customers. “This is not to be used just because people like to text, but when people cannot make a voice call,” said Sonya Clauson, spokeswoman for the Greater Harris County 911 Emergency Network. The service for Verizon […]

Austin gives early approval to Uber and Lyft

It’s temporary pending a second Council vote and further study. After nearly four hours of testimony and debate, council members gave initial approval shortly after midnight to new rules that would temporarily legalize ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft, whose drivers have been providing rides-for-hire for months in defiance of city code. The measure, […]

Like a bridge over Memorial Park

Some fascinating ideas for ensuring the long-term health of Memorial Park. Today Memorial Park is a land divided. The city’s premiere park stretches across 1,500 acres, almost twice as large as New York’s Central Park. But to Thomas Woltz of the internationally renowned landscape architecture firm Nelson Byrd Woltz, it feels much smaller. Over time […]

And we’re still talking about the 2015 Mayor’s race

Here we go again. The mayor’s race may be more than a year away, but nearly all candidates have launched shadow campaigns – and not all shadow campaigns are created equal. [State Rep. Sylvester] Turner and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, considered early frontrunners if both launch bids for City Hall, already have the name […]

Food trucks arrive downtown

Welcome. Houston’s foodie community rejoiced Friday as Mayor Annise Parker welcomed propane-fueled food trucks downtown after a years-long ban, but more plans to loosen the city’s mobile unit rules are not likely to meet the same fanfare at City Council in the coming months. Parker bypassed council to remove the restriction on propane-fueled food trucks […]

Metro board approves updated bus reimagining plan

With some provisos. Despite vocal opposition, Metropolitan Transit Authority board members tentatively approved sweeping changes to the bus route system that restructure routes and change daily habits for nearly everyone who uses a bus today. The approval authorizes staff to move forward with scheduling and other features, but it doesn’t close off public comment. “We […]

Free WiFi finally comes to Houston’s airports

Hallelujah. Travelers to Houston’s largest airports will now have access to free WiFi. The service will be available in all terminals at Hobby Airport and in Terminals A and D at Bush Intercontinental for the tens of millions of travelers through the airports each year, the Houston Airport System announced Monday. The service will roll […]

Firefighter pension board makes an offer to the city

This was unexpected. The trustees of Houston’s firefighter pension, who for years have fought the mere mention of changes to benefits as Houston’s enormous pension burden has continued to grow, now are shopping a compromise proposal. Fire pension leaders say they simply are trying to save the city money as it approaches several years of […]

Public meetings coming for Texas Central Railway

Part of the process of getting the Houston-to-Dallas line built. A proposed high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston, already the subject of a federal environmental review, will soon be the focus of a series of public meetings in Texas, according to the president of the firm looking to build the line. The Texas Department […]

The Historical Commission, the expert panel, and the Dome

And Judge Ed Emmett, the connection between them all. As a group of national experts convenes to figure out what is best to do with the Astrodome, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Tuesday briefed the chairman and staff of the Texas Historical Commission about his proposal to turn the vacant stadium into an indoor […]

Empower Texans to spread its virus to Houston

Try not to get infected. Empower Texans said Sunday it will open a political outpost in Houston, a signal that the conservative political action committee may emerge as a player in upcoming municipal elections. [...] On Friday, Empower’s fiscal policy analyst Christopher Paxton criticized Houston’s elected officials for complaining about having to rein in government […]

More on Early Matters

Scott McClelland, president of H-E-B Houston and also the chair of the Greater Houston Partnership Education Advisory Committee, pens an op-ed about the importance of pre-kindergarten and the latest effort to provide for it. It’s hard to believe, but more than 60 percent of children in Houston start kindergarten lacking basic letter identification skills and […]

Southeast and Harrisburg line openings delayed again

sigh Metro acknowledged Wednesday that it will be unable to open its two new light rail lines this year as promised, the latest in a series of delays and controversies associated with the rail system. Less than two months ago, Metropolitan Transit Authority officials said the agency’s Green and Purple lines would open in December […]

Steven Hotze in his own words

Media Matters sat in on a conference call of professional haters, and, well, see for yourself. Fox News hero and prominent Texas conservative Dr. Steven Hotze warned supporters during a conference call that gay activists want to overturn laws prohibiting pedophilia, calling gay people “perverted and deviant.” On September 10, Conservative Republicans of Texas leader […]

HISD should not be on the hook for North Forest’s liabilities

Come on! Fourteen months after the Texas Education Agency ordered Houston ISD to take over the long-troubled North Forest school district, some unexpected disputes over funding have surfaced. The Houston school board has authorized its attorneys to challenge a Texas Workforce Commission ruling that the district owes more than $3.7 million in unemployment benefits to […]

Metro still tweaking its reimagined bus plan

Still a work in progress. Sweeping changes to Houston’s bus system are on pace for approval later this month, though some features of the new routes and schedules will be a work in progress. Five so-called “flex zones” planned in areas where ridership is low but service is crucial will undergo further study and another […]