Catching up on all sorts of things

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I’ve returned to Houston after a successful (but sometimes soggy) camping/canoe trip to a bloglines folder full of interesting Houston news and such that I missed while unplugged.

There’s not time to do it all justice, but here are a few items that caught my eye.

Gangs threaten Houston cops (Rucks Russell, KHOU-11 News)

That’s brazen.


Vandals hit Houson museum (KTRK-13 News)

Gang problem? We don’t have a gang problem! *sarcasm*


Fake parking attendants plague downtown drivers (Brad Woodard, KHOU-11 News)

That fellow in the downtown parking lot taking your money may not be a real parking attendant. Even worse, the real parking lot owners have taken to booting cars of owners who thought they paid. What a mess! One suspects that won’t help the Ghost Town. But hey, at least MayorWhiteChiefHurtt have made the place safe from the renegade jaywalkers!


New CVS store in Midtown raises issues (Jennifer Friedberg, Houston Chronicle)

Barnum said representatives of the Midtown group asked CVS to reconsider their drawings, specifically how the building was sited on the property.

“We asked it first of all to face Main Street instead of Fannin, that it be brought to the corner of Main and Elgin so it have a pedestrian orientation rather than an automobile orientation, and to dramatically change the character of the architecture,” Barnum said.

CVS asked the Midtown group to produce drawings of the building’s desired exterior, and Barnum’s firm, Hall Barnum Lucchesi Architects, created new drawings.

“We sought to invoke the civic responsibility of CVS that ‘if you do it this way, the people who live here will admire that and they will be more likely to use your store,’ ” Barnum said.

“We felt it was very important they make a statement to Houston that they recognize the importance of downtown and an urban environment and they were willing to make some adjustments,” said Ed Wulfe, chairman of the Main Street Coalition.

“We presented these to them and they basically were rejected,” Barnum said. “They did agree to some minor upgrades of landscaping.”

While CVS added landscaping and glass storefronts to the building’s Main Street side, it rejected Midtown’s proposals to orient the front of the building to Main Street and bring the building up to the sidewalk.

Barnum’s drawings also included a second story above the CVS for residential space, which CVS did not like.

“We had asked them to add a second floor that would contain 10 to 12 apartments,” Barnum said. “That was not in their business model.”

The dilemma that has come to light is that CVS has followed all city ordinances with regard to new development.

It was apparently such a dilemma for some of the utopians that METRO had to go into the real estate business to “protect” land from developments that the utopians consider un-urban and undesirable. Speaking as someone who lives in Midtown near the CVS that’s under construction, I can’t wait until it’s finished! My immediate neighborhood is really lacking in amenities of any sort, to be quite honest.


Join debate on University rail line, speaker urges (Douglass Britt, Houston Chronicle)

Wasn’t it nice of the Chronicle to devote an entire story to the preferences of Richmond-rail activist Robin Holzer, with no balance at all, and no editor thought this odd?


Inmates, call home (Houston Chronicle)

Inmates in Texas prisons are among the most restricted in the nation in telephoning family and friends. The situation makes rehabilitation and reintegration into free society after serving their sentences more difficult.

The Editorial LiveJournalists lament that prison is… mean!


A crisis at public access TV (Lisa Falkenberg, Houston Chronicle)

White could find the money in the city’s $3 billion budget if he wanted. He could start by restoring $279,000 cut from the channel’s budget last year.

The city’s decision sends a message about Houston’s commitment to free speech and First Amendment expression. Maybe if Channel 17 disappeared from your TV tomorrow, you wouldn’t notice.

Or would you?

It’s strange that I made it through years of grad school in political science, and even managed to get a dissertation in the area of American political thought and constitutional law approved — and yet, I missed the amendment that delineates the right to have the public subsidize public-access television.

This was an interesting column until that bit of inanity. Public access television can become more self-sufficient via sponsorships (UH, TSU, or HCC anyone?) and user fees. If the city can legally put that money to work on shortfalls in public safety and the pension, most Houstonians aren’t going to object.


Court gives Houston strip clubs a reprieve (Matt Stiles, Houston Chronicle)

The shakedown is postponed, again.


Merchant seeks to bar METRO projects without vote (Rad Sallee, Houston Chronicle)

Quick thoughts on this can be found in the comments section here.


Procedures apparently not followed in Metro incident (Rad Sallee, Houston Chronicle)

You don’t say?


Power outage shuts down METRO’s light rail (KTRK-13 News)

(5/23/07 – HOUSTON) – METRO has restored power to its light rail line between the Preston station and the Ensemble station.

Officials say the line lost power for almost 45 minutes this morning. METRO is still trying to figure out what went wrong.

It’s a good thing they had buses ready to help out.


Funny Business (Dusti Rhodes, Houston Press)

Once upon a time Houston was a hot spot for comedy clubs. Now it’s anybody’s guess on who’ll turn out on any given night.

Interesting story on Houston’s comedy club scene.


Serious slacking (Lisa Gray, Houston Chronicle)

This was a decent article on UH’s master plan, which envisions the development of a more residential campus, but there was one notable omission — the driving force behind that plan, former chancellor Jay Gogue, recently left to take over at his alma matter. That departure could have a detrimental effect on actually moving this plan forward. UH is often cursed with this sort of bad luck.

But hey, why worry about that when you can quote a utopian on how wonderful it will all be?


Houston’s Mecom Fountain had its lights stolen (Christine Dobbyn, KTRK-13 News)

Way to be two weeks behind on the story!


Metro bus crashes through fence into backyard of home (KHOU-11 News)

A Metro bus made an unscheduled stop Sunday in the backyard of a home on Houston’s south side.

Best lede of the week!


Lucy Noland pulls up the anchor chair (Andrew Guy, Houston Chronicle)

Guy is much better suited for fluff profiles like this than attack pieces on Rush Limbaugh.

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX