Weekend brunch for 20 January 2019

News and views from around the web

Image credit: Pixabay

[WB1] The Houston mayoral campaign is already in full swing. This week, Bill King announced his new pay-to-play initiative, End Pay to Play. A few days later, Tony Buzbee held a press conference in which he condemned Sylvester Turner’s pay-to-play operation, encouraging local media to dig a little deeper with regard to the City Hall money trail. Not to be left out of the candidate coverage, Paper City notes that Buzbee throws quite a party!

[WB2] Mayor Turner also drew criticism from Wayne Dolcefino for trying to withhold details about how the City of Houston has spent hurricane recovery money with outside contractors (including Tetra Tech and DRC). In other Tetra Tech news this week, the company was sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for alleged fraud in its cleanup of a California Superfund waste site.

[WB3] Despite promises that the Houston “pension solution” would fix the city’s problematic finances, Mayor Turner this week announced that the city will face an FY 2020 budget shortfall between $92 and $144 million dollars without including the voter-managed Proposition B raises for firefighters. And the city is having trouble managing basic waste collection. But be sure to apply for the city’s Poet Laureate position!

[WB4] Meanwhile, one mayoral aide focuses on other important issues on twitter, as does Councilmember Amanda Edwards.

[WB5] Houston-area insider Ric Campo was appointed to be the new Port of Houston chairman. As Tony Buzbee noted in his press conference this week, Campo has given a LOT of money to the Sylvester Turner campaign.

[WB6] Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale will close his Gallery Furniture location on Post Oak. He told the Michael Berry Show that METRO’s Post Oak bus lane madness (my characterization) contributed to his decision. Thanks to typical governmental ineptitude, the Post Oak Bus Rapid Transit system won’t be operating as envisioned until at least 2020, if then. The entire fiasco is the epitome of the expensive, wasteful sorts of insider boondoggles that need to end in the City of Houston.

[WB7] The City-owned downtown Hilton Americas hotel will be getting a $37 million, $31,000/guest room refresh. Upgrades will include barn-style doors for all bathrooms and art! Jim Bigham wonders if it isn’t time for a closer look at the operations of Houston First, which manages the operation.

[WB8] Reason checks in on Harris County’s bail-reform efforts, noting the jail death by suicide of Tracy Whited [not a relative so far as I know], who was being held on a misdemeanor charge with bail of $3,000.

[WB9] On Thursday, Buzzfeed published a poorly sourced, poorly vetted story that President Donald Trump directed his attorney to lie to Congress. On Friday, the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office issued an unusual denial of the claims in the Buzzfeed story (a story that was picked up by the Houston Chronicle). Undeterred, a really bad editorial board (the Houston Chronicle’s) used the highly questionable Buzzfeed story (absent any mention of Mueller’s debunking) this Sunday to INSIST that the GOP “must find their voice, and use it” (whatever that is supposed to mean).

Laughable, really, as we tend to expect from this newspaper’s editorial board. Of course, partisanship drives so much of what people believe when it comes to Trump/Mueller, a point made in a thoughtful piece by Jonathan Turley before this latest story.

[WB10 ] Let this be an occasional reminder that the Houston Tomorrow fringe still doesn’t like automobiles, or all the people who drive them around the Houston-area.

[WB11] Tory Gattis’s roundups are always worth a read.

[WB12] Despite mayoral pronouncements about a “unified” MLK parade, two parades will take place again on Monday to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., one downtown and one in midtown.


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