[WB1] The fallout continues from the Houston Police Department’s fatal botched raid that killed two people and their dog at 7815 Harding Street. Despite HPD and other city officials’ best efforts not to talk about the matter, The Houston Chronicle reports that the Harris County DA’s office is now reviewing 800 or so cases of officer Steven Bryant. And, he’s also apparently in the process of retiring. Along with other HPD narcotics officers, who may have some understanding of where this is headed. Will they get to tap million-dollar pension DROP accounts (courtesy of the pension obligation bonds generously provided by Mayor Sylvester Turner and Houston voters)? We (taxpayers) don’t know, because state and muni pension dealings are so opaque.
[WB2] Over the last week, the Houston Chronicle has been sharing its investigation into the less-than-stellar returns and lack of transparency provided by state officials entrusted with managing the Texas Permanent School Fund, the state’s large endowment that was intended to fund public education in Texas. Of course, this is not the only state or municipal trust fund that should be accountable and transparent to Texas citizens and taxpayers (here in Houston, think about the lack of transparency with regard to the major pension funds, particularly the ones that received pension obligation bond funding). Here is hoping that the Chronicle reporting drives some serious reforms to all of these funds in the state legislature. The lege could do much worse than studying the history of Norway’s Pension Fund Global for ways to improve the transparency, accountability, and governance of all such public trust funds in the state.
[WB3] Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is apparently planning to follow through on threats to lay off firefighters as part of implementing Proposition B and balancing yet another massive Houston budget deficit (apparently, that pension obligation bond borrowing wasn’t quite the Houston pension/budget fix that was promised). He also launched his re-election campaign this week, and saluted a bunch of new hires at the Houston Police Department.
[WB4] Mayoral candidate Bill King is critical of the “mess” that Turner has created with the firefighters. And Councilmember Dwight Boykins also signaled his displeasure with Mayor Turner’s behavior.
[WB5] Councilmember Greg Travis is not impressed with Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s flood re-prioritization plans (for background, see WB3) or the lack of inclusion of representatives of District G (which was hard hit by Harvey) in Ms. Hidalgo’s equity/stakeholder communications.
[WB6] One liquor store in Houston this week employed a highly effective robbery defense tactic.
[WB7] Many years after the United-Continental Airlines merger, the new United has mostly gotten its operational act together and is in growth mode. It’s probably as good a time as any to refresh the branding/livery that emerged after the merger, which was about as bad as the product was for many years afterwards.
[WB8] We are going to miss Swamplot.
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