Weekend brunch for 24 February 2019

News and views from around the web

Image credit: euthman/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

[WB1] The fallout from HPD’s fatal botched raid on a couple at 7815 Harding St. continued to accumulate this week. HPD Chief Art Acevedo told media that the FBI has opened its own civil rights investigation into the conduct of HPD officers involved in the fatal raid (which Mayor Sylvester Turner inexplicably denied during an interview with KPRC-2 News). Acevedo also appeared to back away from an earlier statement that “no-knock warrants are going to go away like leaded gasoline in this city” to explain that there will be a high-level requirement for approval going forward. Perhaps, as Houston attorney Mark Bennett suggests, HPD might also need to reconsider its confidential informant policies and safeguards (which contributed to the apparent death of two innocents in this case – although Houston municipal court judge Gordon Marcum is not blameless either, given his apparent rubber stamp of the warrant), although

The Harris County DA’s office announced that it is conducting a review of some 1,400 cases that involved officer Gerald Goines, the officer responsible for the problematic search warrant in this case, and local TV reporters have already begun sharing early findings from their reviews; we expect the investigative/data team at the Houston Chronicle will soon have a more comprehensive look at cases affiliated with Goines’s. In the meantime, the Harris County sheriff’s office has revised its policy on no-knock warrants, and a Houston Democratic lawmaker has introduced relevant reform legislation at the Texas legislature.

[WB2] KPRC-2 news reports that a 17-year-old suspect was shot by an off-duty HPD officer after allegedly pointing a gun at the officer. Jim Bigham thinks HPD needs to be more forthcoming with some details of the case. ADDITIONAL: Houston Chronicle.

[WB3] KHOU-11 news reports that the City of Houston quietly settled a federal lawsuit in which a civil rights attorney was jailed on what appears to be a ridiculous charge of interfering with a police investigation. Just a reminder that this is the department that Chief Acevedo insists is fully capable of investigating itself on life-and-death matters.

[WB4] HPD has arrested and charged a third suspect in the deadly June 2017 shooting of a toddler. The person arrested was not a 40-something white male who owns a red pickup truck (we call attention to this as a reminder of the Jazmine Barnes story, as media and celebrity interest in that one seems to have faded).

[WB5] Ted Oberg reports that crime is up around METRO stops.

[WB6] Greg Groogan reports that Harris County’s new Democrat-majority government may be considering a re-prioritization of flood protection projects going forward. An interesting discussion ensued on twitter.

[WB7] Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick sought and received a retraction of the Houston Chronicle’s inaccurate “gotcha” story about his personal property taxes.

[WB8] Former mayor Annise Parker was quick to claim her share of credit for a report that describes how Houston “has virtually ended homelessness among veterans”. While we don’t want to criticize any progress being made with any segment of Houston’s homeless population, surely we can agree that the “man on the street” experience is that Houston’s homeless problems are getting worse – or at least not appreciably better?

[WB9] Mayor Sylvester Turner sent out a media release this week with the title “Please report potholes to 311, Mayor Turner’s initiative is working” and then proceeded to stage a pothole-repair press conference to say the same. Apparently, criticism of the sad state of Houston’s roads from mayoral candidates Bill King and Tony Buzbee has rankled our thin-skinned mayor, but to apply the “man on the street” experience again: Does it feel like Houston potholes and overall road quality are getting better or worse?

[WB10] Charles Blain checks in on Mayor Turner’s “war on voters.”

[WB11] Some people love METRO’s squeezy buses, although it’s not clear they represent a great use of public funds.

[WB12]  It’s rodeo time, which means politicians must dress ridiculously. Yee haw!

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