[WB1] KTRK-13’s Ted Oberg reports that just four Hurricane Harvey victims have received federal assistance via the City of Houston, nearly two years after the storm devastated large parts of the area. The city’s housing director was quick to blame federal and state officials for the delays, but apparently did not dispute the following observation from Oberg:
The four people who have received aid is a far cry from what McCasland said in November when he told city council that staff was prepared to work long hours to “have reimbursement checks out by Christmas and hammers swinging in January.”
Oberg notes that the firms hired by the City of Houston to run their programs (ICF Incorporated and APTIM) have already been paid $1.7 million and $4.6 million respectively.
[WB2] Over at Reduce Flooding, Bob Rehak has posted a four-part series on Where Flood Mitigation Money Has Really Gone (One / Two / Three / Four). Be sure to bookmark these posts as a useful reference when “equity” inevitably returns to our twenty-something county judge’s flood control agenda and grad school discussion forum.
[WB3] This headline in itself should, but probably won’t, ensure defeat for METRO’s expensive bond referendum that is likely to be on the ballot this fall: Houston’s long-range transit plan could go to voters without some specifics
What could possibly go wrong?
Meanwhile, safety remains a concern along METRO’s rail lines despite promises to boost the visibility of METRO personnel.
[WB4] The dysfunctional Houston ISD board passed an irresponsible deficit budget this week, overruling the balanced budget presented by the interim superintendent. Some trustees couldn’t even be bothered to vote, according to the Chronicle:
Trustees Wanda Adams, Jolanda Jones and Rhonda Skillern-Jones were not in attendance for the budget votes. Adams and Skillern-Jones joined the beginning of the meeting but left before the vote due to prior commitments. Both said they tried to re-join the meeting via video conference but were unable because of technical difficulties.
[WB5] Mayoral candidate Bill King comments on the city’s ongoing budget imbalances.
[WB6] The Dwight Boykins mayoral campaign is in freefall as a result of unusual remarks and behavior by Boykins at a Youth Advocacy Summit and almost certainly an effort by Boss Turner’s political machine to crank up the pressure on Boykins (despite the fact that the remarks didn’t even register with one prominent progressive/feminist blockquoter at the time). Of course, some unusual and erratic behavior is fine among local progressives (see Miles, Borris) – but an African-American challenger to the incumbent mayor? Nope. The Turner machine’s earlier efforts to hang Boykins’s opposition to the HERO ordinance around his neck didn’t seem to have much impact. This probably will.
[WB7] The Turner political machine was probably pleased with this Chronicle profile, but is it really healthy to have craved and sought political power for one’s entire life? We would suggest otherwise.
[WB8] City attorney Ron Lewis put out a memo to the mayor, council, and department heads on “permissible” and “impermissible” election season activities this week. Somehow, we don’t think mayoral staffers on twitter will pay much heed
[WB9] Harris County Commissioners Court rejected District Attorney Kim Ogg’s latest effort to add more staff to her office (this time, the reason was to expedite work on HPD’s Harding Street Massacre). In the process, the office also tried to smear Keri Blakinger, one of the best reporters in town (which drew heavy criticism on twitter). That office is not functioning well, to say the least.
[WB10] Constitutional law is a bit more complex than one contributor to the mediocre Chronicle editorial board would have you believe. Just another data point in the argument to shutter that editorial board and redeploy the resources to the newsroom. (Also, some free advice: When a dignitary graces your operation with a visit, consider dressing like a professional!)
[WB11] KHOU-11 reports that a Harris County woman hid in a closet after hearing an apparent break-in in progress – and then shot dead the intruder when he opened the closet. Well played!
Have a great Fourth of July, everyone!