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Posts Tagged ‘Houston’

Interview with Melissa Noriega

We round out the county races this year with the Harris County Department of Education, a seven-member board that handles federal grants and provides various programs for the many independent school districts in Harris County. It’s hard to believe, but six years ago today there wasn’t a single Democrat on the HCDE. That started to […]

Rest of the single stream bins to be distributed

All Houston homes will be covered. All Houston residents who get city trash service will be able to roll their recyclables to the curb in 96-gallon green carts by the start of 2015, a milestone that has been years in the making as the city slowly expanded the program, frustrating neighborhoods that sought to be […]

Text to 911 option coming locally

Ever wonder why you can’t text 911? Well, in Harris and Fort Bend Counties, you will soon be able to. By the end of the year, millions of Houston-area residents are expected to have a silent alternative: the Text-to-911 option for emergencies. Despite the popularity of messaging, the service hasn’t been available in most of […]

On Gene Green and representing Latino districts

I’ve been meaning to blog about this story about Rep. Gene Green and CD29 and how the Houston area has never sent a Latino to Congress, but I kept getting stuck and I finally decided I was overthinking it. Two decades after local political leaders thought they had solved the demographic puzzle with a new […]

HISD approves its redistricting plan

As we know, HISD now includes all of the former North Forest ISD, and with that new territory came the need to reapportion its Trustee districts. They completed that task last week with a minimum of fuss. The Houston school board Thursday unanimously approved a redistricting plan that changes all nine trustee districts to accommodate […]

Rearranging the traffic

Not sure how much of an effect this will have. Among the 200,000 motorists who traverse Interstate 45 just south of downtown every day, a fair number find themselves weaving frantically from lane to lane as they approach the connection with U.S. 59. State transportation officials hope to reduce the stress felt by these drivers, […]

UberASSIST and UberACCESS

As I’m sure you recall, access for the disabled was a major point of debate in the vehicles for hire saga. There was a lawsuit filed by a coalition of Texas disability advocates against Uber and Lyft over their lack of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. I have wondered more than once how […]

HISD’s volunteer reading army

HISD’s number one priority is, or at least needs to be, improving reading performance. I really hope this will help. Leaders of the Houston Independent School District turned to the community on Thursday, launching the district’s largest volunteer recruitment effort in recent years – all to help solve HISD’s intractable literacy problem. The nation’s seventh-largest […]

Art Car Parade to move to April

Adjust your calendars accordingly. The 28th annual Houston Art Car Parade is now set for April 11, 2015, The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, producers of the annual Houston Art Car Parade Weekend, announced today. This year’s past parade was May 10. In the past festival goers had expressed that that rain, heat, and […]

Davis’ internal poll

I had been wondering if Wendy Davis was going to release one of these. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis is trailing Republican opponent Greg Abbott by single digits for the first time this year in her campaign’s internal polling, according to a copy of it obtained by the Chronicle. The Davis campaign’s latest survey, which […]

The revenue cap has already hit

Lovely. Houstonians will see their first property tax rate cut in five years as the city runs up against a revenue cap imposed by voters a decade ago. The modest rollback works out to $12.27 a year for the owner of a $200,000 house with a standard homestead exemption. [...] The city’s current property tax […]

Revising the historic preservation ordinance

Gird your loins. Houston officials are preparing to revise the city’s historic preservation ordinance, a signature issue for Mayor Annise Parker that spurred a prolonged and divisive fight over property rights in her first term. That contentiousness has never fully subsided in some neighborhoods, most notably the Heights, where redevelopment had seen numerous original structures […]

The trouble with the Southwest Freeway

I think the problem is easy enough to identify. The solution is another matter. Houston-area transportation planners are considering some novel strategies – at least for Texas – for managing traffic to ease congestion on U.S. 59 between downtown Houston and the Sam Houston Tollway. Among the steps that may be considered are clearing accidents […]

Two data points on e-cigarettes

The World Health Organization wants them to be regulated more strongly. Governments should ban the use of electronic cigarettes indoors and in public places and outlaw tactics to lure young users, the World Health Organization said in a report released on Tuesday. It also raised concerns about the role of big tobacco companies in the […]

The Third Ward

Good story about a great historic neighborhood. In 1872, four influential African-American ministers and businessmen pooled $800 to buy 10 acres of land along Dowling Street. That was the birth of Emancipation Park, a safe place to celebrate Juneteenth and freedom from slavery. TSU, still thriving in the Third Ward today, got its start as […]

A bike lane to connect to bike trails

Makes sense. Houston may get its first protected on-street bike route as early as October, as city officials prepare to convert a lane of Lamar Street downtown into a two-way cycling path connecting the popular Buffalo Bayou trails west of downtown to Discovery Green and points east. The nearly three-quarter-mile connector, from the east end […]

Body cameras for HPD

I’ll be very interested to see how this goes. Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland is asking City Hall for $8 million to equip 3,500 police officers over three years with small body cameras to record encounters between law enforcement and residents as a way of improving accountability and transparency. Last December, McClelland announced a pilot […]

All married city employees may continue to receive spousal benefits for now

Good news. Married same-sex couples will continue to receive health and life insurance benefits from the city of Houston, a federal judge ruled Friday, pending the outcome of an appeal in a separate lawsuit. [...] [Mayor Annise] Parker’s policy change spurred two lawsuits. The first lawsuit came from conservatives, who argued the policy change violates […]

It’s a great time to be a construction worker

For most people, anyway. On a conference call earlier this month, the president of Houston-based developer Camden Property Trust described what it’s like building apartments in markets where construction is booming and skilled workers are in short supply. “It’s a catfight to get subcontractors to fully staff at your jobs,” said D. Keith Oden. He […]

Lawsuit over same sex benefits for city employees moved back to state court

The passage of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance and the efforts to put a repeal referendum on the ballot have been one of the big local stories this year, but you may recall that before we were all talking about HERO there was another big story relating to equality in Houston. Last November, Mayor Parker […]

AirBnB in Houston

When people talk about “the sharing economy” for good or ill, the main players that get named tend to be Uber, Lyft, and AirBnB. We’ve heard a lot about the first two in Houston lately, but prior to this Chron story I can’t say I’d heard anything about the latter. Airbnb launched in 2009 as […]

More on the Emmett Astrodome Park plan

Good to know that an architect thinks its feasible, but it will need more than that to become reality. Kinder Baumgardner, president of SWA Architects, the firm behind several public projects in Houston involving parks, said plenty of big-idea architectural concepts that have been successfully carried out around the world initially were dismissed as impractical, […]

HERO repealers try their luck with the Supreme Court

Because sure, why not? Opponents of Houston’s equal rights ordinance have asked the Texas Supreme Court to force the city secretary to certify the signatures on a petition they submitted seeking to trigger a repeal referendum on the law. Houston’s 14th Court of Appeals denied a similar request on Aug. 15, ruling that the emergency […]

Teachers are doing it for themselves

I know this is intended to be an upbeat story, but I can’t help but find it a little depressing. Some tech-savvy teachers turned to the Web this summer to try to offset the nearly $500 typically spent to ready a classroom for the first day of school. Numerous Houston-area educators posted pleas on social […]

How about Astrodome Indoor Park?

County Judge Ed Emmett gives his vision for the Astrodome. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Tuesday proposed turning the Astrodome into “the world’s largest indoor park” and recreation area, a concept he said would honor the reason his predecessor built the iconic stadium 50 years ago: “To provide for traditional outdoor activities in an […]

Trying again with pre-K

Different approach, hopefully a different result will follow. On the first day of school for most Houston-area children, a coalition called “Early Matters” organized by the Greater Houston Partnership announced Monday it would release a 10-year “game plan” at a summit next month to expand pre-kindergarten and child care programs and assist parents so they […]

No one gets to dictate that the Uptown line must be BRT forever

So as we know, the Uptown line is moving ahead as BRT. It will be paid for with a variety of funds, coming from the city, from an Uptown/Memorial TIRZ, from grants, and so forth. A key component of this is an HOV lane on 610 for the buses that will carry the passengers for […]

“Environmental tort reform”

Oh, hell no. After failing in their attempt to limit cities and counties’ ability to take industrial polluters to court, some Houston businesses and statewide lobbyists now want to limit how much local governments can collect in penalties, a sort of environmental tort reform effort aimed squarely at a Harris County Attorney’s office they say […]

The limits of lobbying

They do exist, as Houston’s cab companies recently discovered. More than a year of intense lobbying by established cab companies and tens of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to City Council members were not enough to hold off a pair of upstart tech-taxi firms that now can operate legally in Houston. In the end, […]

Astrodome Park proponents tout a survey showing people like the idea of Astrodome Park

How can you argue with that? The NRG Astrodome should be turned into a green space similar to Discovery Green downtown, said a majority of people recently surveyed about the future of the former sports arena. The survey, ordered by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and conducted by the University of Houston Hobby Center […]

The downside to downtown’s boom

More traffic, less parking, and lots of construction. Where have we heard those complaints before? Construction crews are clearing city blocks once dedicated to surface parking, readying the sites for multistory office buildings, hotels and residential towers. Adjacent sidewalks and traffic lanes are cordoned off, and two major downtown cross-streets are tied up with light […]

Some Republicans really want to make Uber a partisan thing

A little adorable, and a little desperate. Uber hired political strategist David Plouffe this week to run what amounts to a national political campaign against the taxi industry. Ostensibly, this is a fight between large taxi medallion investors and a multi-billion dollar tech startup, between cab companies and everyday Uber drivers, between entrenched power and […]

Parker proposes new firefighter pension plan

We’ll see about this. With the city of Houston facing huge and rising pension costs, Mayor Annise Parker on Thursday unveiled a proposal to put new firefighters in a separate, less generous plan that would do away with expensive automatic cost-of-living adjustments. The move would not affect current firefighters covered by the Houston Firefighters Relief […]

Bringing commuter rail into downtown

From The Highwayman: As has been reported, the Gulf Coast Rail District is studying the best possible routes for commuter rail in the Houston area, and one of the biggest challenges is bringing the trains into downtown. From the looks of the initial analysis of the U.S. 290 corridor, the trip to the central business […]