Weekend brunch for 14 July 2019

News and views from around the web

Image credit: Robin Kowalski (CC BY-SA 4.0)

[WB1] City of Houston “flood czar” Steve Costello admitted this week that the city of Houston is not any more prepared for another hurricane than it was for Harvey, but he was quick with the Turner administration’s favorite excuse:

When people ask us today if we’re more prepared now than we were prepared for Harvey, the answer, unfortunately, is no, because federal dollars are slow in coming in….

That’s with nearly two more years of drainage tax revenues (some of which continue to be diverted to other purposes). This stunning admission is as poor a reflection of the administration’s flood control policies as it is federal disbursement policies.

[WB2] Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle reports that Houston-area developers and engineers, who supported Ed Emmett’s $2.5 billion flood bond, are now “quietly lobb[ying] Houston and Harris County officials to delay implementation of new building rules developers say will increase housing costs but county engineers insist are needed to protect neighborhoods from future storms.”

No blogHOUSTON reader will be surprised at these latest installments of The Houston Way. Nevertheless, a petition drive aimed at reining in the City’s pay-to-play culture failed to round up sufficient signatures to make the November ballot and one of the most ethically questionable leaders in Harris County government this week proposed new ethics “reforms” that he knows very well Harris County Commissioners Court has no power to enact. You can’t make this stuff up.

[WB3] Kingwood residents who flooded in May have filed a lawsuit against a Perry Homes affiliate, claiming their flooding is a direct result of builder negligence.

[WB4] Bob Rehak of Reduce Flooding notes the madness of ongoing development adjacent to the West Fork of the San Jacinto, in the flood plain, subsidized by taxpayers in the form of underpriced flood insurance.

[WB5] Some people remain obsessed with spending money to redevelop the Astrodome rather than focusing on making the area more resilient to flooding.

[WB6] Houston water rates, already high as a result of the fiscal policies of the Parker administration, will be heading up steadily under a consent decree that the Turner administration negotiated with the EPA that will govern improvements to the City of Houston’s substandard sewer system (a problem neglected for many years by successive administrations). True to form, the Turner administration held a press conference to celebrate itself for the decree, and also announced that it considers the details confidential and that anyone (else) who mentions the contents will be subject to fines. Again, you can’t make this stuff up.

[WB7] Various City of Houston mouthpieces and cheerleaders had virtually nothing to say about a new report from the Greater Houston Partnership that shows at its current pace, the Houston-area won’t overtake the Chicago-area in population for 25 years (despite that city’s considerable challenges and ongoing decline).

Just read through our Weekend Brunch items 1-6 above for this week’s stories that underscore why this should surprise nobody in our area – and that doesn’t even cover problems with crime and education (which are considerable). Forget about Chicago; Area leaders may soon want to concern themselves with re-prioritizing the basics that allowed this region to thrive for so long, lest other growing regions pass Houston for #4 on the population list.

[WB8] The Chronicle’s transportation stenographer notes that TXDOT has asked un-elected, largely unaccountable Houston-area appropriators (read: HGAC) to commit $100 million to the proposed rebuild of I-45 that seems to have displeased just about everyone so far. In a sane universe, this would be the opportunity to decline said funding request and go back to the drawing board. Unfortunately, we probably are not residents of that universe.

[WB9] If you missed Neal Meyer’s insightful critique of the notion that Houston/METRO needs to spend billions to connect Houston’s “activity centers” with expensive, high-quality transit, be sure to give it a read before it scrolls away. Indeed, based on this tweet, we would suggest that Councilmember Amanda Edwards ought to click over pronto!

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About Kevin Whited 4306 Articles
Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX