Weekend brunch for 28 July 2019

News and views from around the web

Image Credit: Adrian Black/flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

[WB1] Even though both Mayor Sylvester Turner and the Houston Police Department remain tight-lipped about the no-knock raid that killed two civilians on Harding Street six months ago (and led to a wave of retirements from HPD’s narcotics division), more details were revealed by private investigators this week that continue to paint HPD in a very bad light. Here is a key excerpt from the Houston Chronicle reporting:

Particularly troubling to the families and their lawyers were the two lone gunshots about 30 minutes after the raid ended.

Minutes after those final shots, police on the scene repeatedly said, “Both suspects down.”

To Doyle, that didn’t square with the official narrative about a gunbattle that ended “almost as soon as it started,” according to the new court filing.

“There is no explanation at this point for that,” he said Thursday.

Radley Balko, a journalist who follows cases of police abuse, tweeted that the Harding Street fiasco “is starting to look like an execution.” Hard to argue with him at this point.

While the mayor and his police chief continue to duck any substantive comment on the Harding Street Massacre, embattled Harris County DA Kim Ogg decided to seize this latest opportunity to ask Commissioners Court for more funding (yet again). Such profiles in courage and leadership!

Additional reporting/commentary: Houston Chronicle, TexasCHLforum (discussion thread), Washington Post, Reason

[WB2] Democrats on Harris County Commissioners Court have lauded a bail reform settlement that will be voted on this Tuesday. The reform, which is aimed at reducing incarceration of low-level offenders who are unable to afford bail, drew criticism from the remaining Republican members of Commissioners Court. Harris County has been involved in expensive litigation over the constitutionality of its bail procedures.

[WB3] Despite overwhelming public testimony against committing $100 million to TXDOT’s controversial, expensive I-45 “modernization” plan, the largely unaccountable bureaucrats at H-GAC voted in favor of committing the $100 million to the project this week – just as we predicted they would. It’s very difficult to beat this particular patronage machine.

[WB4] Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, the only “NO” vote on the $100 million expenditure, raised $319,000 in campaign contributions in her first six months on the job, according to the Chronicle. Hidalgo made some waves earlier this year when she declared she would not take contributions from country vendors. Law firms and related political action committees contributed roughly one-third of Hidalgo’s take. Hidalgo’s colleagues have thus far not followed her lead on apparent “pay-to-play” contributions.

[WB5] The architect of Houston’s most recent pension plan can-kicking almost always neglects to elaborate on his role in putting the plan together, which might be useful for readers of his assessments to know.

[WB6] The Chronicle notes, as we have previously, that water bills will be increasing significantly as a result of Houston’s recent deal with the EPA. The neglect of this problem for years by successive mayoral administrations only delayed the day of reckoning, and represents yet another setback to the affordability of living in Houston (once a strength, now a factor that is surely going to limit the rate of growth).

[WB7] Apparently, home buyers across Houston are snatching up newly remodeled properties despite the fact that they flooded in Hurricane Harvey. While this seems perplexing on its face, the explanation is pretty simple: Taxpayer-subsidized flood insurance encourages this otherwise perplexing behavior. Oddly, that explanation does not appear anywhere in the Chronicle story – a truly baffling omission.

[WB8] Bob Rehak posted an interesting article on Subsidence in 1974 and 2019.

[WB9] The mayor’s communications staff are (still) not great at their jobs (part whatever).

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