Weekend brunch for 21 July 2019

News and views from around the web

Image credit: Pixabay

[WB1] Fifty years ago, the Houston-area helped put man on the moon for the very first time. Now, unfortunately, we have difficulty managing potholes, sewer lines, and proper disbursement of drainage and hurricane recovery funds.

[WB2] KHOU-11 investigative reporter Jeremy Rogalski followed up on his earlier reporting on Houston Public Works mixing garbage and recycling with an in-depth analysis of public records that illustrate the problem is far more extensive than initially reported:

Mayor Sylvester Turner’s ill-tempered communications director Alan Bernstein has not tweeted about this latest round of reporting, after he dismissed the earlier reporting with one of his usual bilious tweets:

[WB3] Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s office is something of a mess (Poker Room/Consultant Conflict of Interest Fiasco edition).

[WB4] METRO conveniently decided this week that METRO Next plans to extend rail to the airport will cost $400 million less than originally anticipated, which will allow them to add several Park-and-Ride projects (that tend to draw ridership and support outside Houston’s urban core) to the massive borrowing proposal they will take to voters in November. The Chronicle’s transportation stenographer did not report what changed to account for so much newly discovered “savings’” in the plans, when most experience in the United States with rail construction has been one of growing, exorbitant costs (not unexpected savings).

[WB5] Unsurprisingly (see WB8), an H-GAC committee (of un-elected, largely unaccountable administrators) voted to commit $100 million in local funding to TXDOT’s heavily criticized plan to update I-45 in Houston. The appointed bureaucrats did, however, raise “concerns” according to the Houston Chronicle’s transportation stenographer, which is what bureaucrats tend to do when they don’t really want to rock the boat by actually making a tough vote. H-GAC’s Transportation Policy Council will render its final decision on 26 July (prediction: expect a yes vote with more “concerns” raised).

[WB6] Local officials are displeased that the state of Texas is not providing them funding for 2020 census outreach/educational efforts:

“Harris County … has a high hard-to-count population, a high number of folks who generally are less likely to participate in the census,” [County Judge Lina] Hidalgo said. “We need to make sure that every single person who lives in Harris County participates, and that’s what this effort is about.”

[WB7] Councilmember Amanda Edwards, who has a compelling personal story and educational background but a thin list of actual accomplishments on City Council, threw her hat into the ring this week to be the Democratic nominee to take on U.S. Senator John Cornyn.

[WB8] City Council is considering raising the fees it charges for the popular Wings over Houston Airshow. Mayor Sylvester Turner insists he’s heard no complaints about the planned increase, but apparently one councilmember and airport system director disagree, according to reporting by Urban Reform.

[WB9] The City of Houston eliminated minimum parking requirements for east downtown and part of Midtown this week, a move lauded by urban reformers.

[WB10] Planning for the so-called Ike Dike drew some attention this week, in the form of an overly long Texas Tribune article with the encouraging news that planners are looking to the Dutch for their experience in such matters (as opposed to relying solely on the “expertise” of the Army Corps of Engineers) and a Chronicle op-ed arguing the merits of investing in such a coastal barrier.

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