Weekend brunch for 12 May 2019

News and views from around the web

Image credit: L.A. Foodie - flickr (CC BY 2.0)

[WB1] Reason and KPRC-2 News both updated their audiences on the status of HPD’s 7815 Harding Street Massacre this week. According to HPD Chief Art Acevedo, the department will be handing over the findings of its internal investigation to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office by 15 May (Wednesday).

[WB2] Local law enforcement finally arrested Derion Vence this Saturday in connection with the suspicious “disappearance” of his stepdaughter, Maleah Davis. Vence initially spun a fantastic tale of the girl being kidnapped by three Hispanic men who allegedly assaulted him and caused him to black out for 24 hours, and HPD initially indicated he was not a person of interest despite the unbelievable story. Eventually, law enforcement officials found enough forensic evidence to charge him with “tampering with evidence-human corpse.” The poor girl has still not been found.

The story should have set off alarm bells for everyone after the bizarre story of a witness to the tragic Jazmine Barnes shooting, who initially indicated (read: lied) that a 40-something white man with blue eyes driving a red truck was the culprit. Interestingly, that story has gone very quiet in recent months.

[WB3] Bill Frazer analyzes Mayor Sylvester Turner’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which closes a projected $179 million shortfall (although Don Hooper contends the gap is really larger if one considers ongoing pension underfunding). Following budget hearings, Council will vote on the budget in early June.

[WB4] The City of Houston issued back pay to firefighters this week, contending it has now fully implemented Proposition B. Fire union president Marty Lancton contends that the implementation was faulty, and that the Turner administration should more completely open its books. City Controller Chris Brown also claims to need more information from the administration to verify the cost of Prop B implementation, according to the Chronicle.

[WB5] Mayor Turner, apparently peeved at the social media response of firefighters to his poor treatment of HFD, threw one of his occasional temper tantrums this week, vowing a crackdown on (alleged) political activity at fire stations:

“It has gotten out of hand and I’m stopping it right now. If there is any campaigning at fire stations or on city property or city buildings, people will be disciplined. I am not going to tolerate it. And being disrespectful, all these comments being made, it’s gotten out of hand and this culture has to stop and it’s going to stop,” said Turner.

Past photos of Sylvester Turner himself campaigning at fire stations immediately began circulating on social media, as did numerous photos of firefighters posing with Tony Buzbee campaign volunteers (who showed up at various stations offering food and support to firefighters).

[WB6] Of course, Turner mayoral staffers regularly tweet at/about rival mayoral campaigns during what most would consider the workday. Here are a couple of recent examples. Will Boss Turner also crack down on this behavior? (Don’t hold your breath!)

[WB7] The Turner administration suffered a setback on one of its legislative priorities this week, as telecommunications legislation that would scale back fees charged by municipalities to internet and telephone providers moved forward. The impact of the legislation is not reflected in the mayor’s proposed budget, and could produce an additional shortfall of $17.1 – 27.5 million.

[WB8] METRO, which will be asking voters to approve billions of dollars in borrowing this fall, was forced to suspend service along its newest rail lines this week due to “wire fatigue.” Fortunately, buses are available to take up the slack while the light rail is shut down.

[WB9] KTRK-13’s Ted Oberg reports that the geniuses who constructed a new $18 million “project management building” in order to manage $1.2 billion worth of construction projects for the Houston Airport System mishandled one important element of planning: securing a water source. You can’t make this stuff up.

[WB10] This week’s heavy rains caused raw sewage to overflow again in Houston — a problem for years.

[WB11 ] The Houston Chronicle reports that fire inspectors must be on watch constantly at the dilapidated Harris County Family Law Center, although officials insist the scheme is safe (if not ideal). *wink*

[WB12] The Texas Observer checks in on recent legal action by local activists to overturn the City of Houston’s unconscionable ban on feeding homeless people.

Last but not least: Happy Mother’s Day to all our moms out there!

Kevin Whited
About Kevin Whited 4241 Articles
Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX