[WB1] The big story in the Houston-area and southeast Texas this week was, of course, Tropical Storm Imelda. For the Houston area in particular, the storm’s circling back on Thursday became historic as it dropped enough rain to become the area’s fourth 500-year flood event in the past four years.
Despite assurances from Mayor Sylvester Turner at a forum on Saturday that the city is moving forward on flooding (and his urging voters to support the METRO Next referendum), the Chronicle noted this weekend that repeated flooding “has residents asking: Is Houston worth it?”
Mayoral candidate Bill King was more realistic than the mayor about the significance of the problem:
“Flooding is really starting to damage our national brand,” he said. “It’s an existential threat to the prosperity of our region.”
One local Democratic political consultant echoed King:
People who assume the Houston area’s continued growth is a foregone conclusion should take a hard look at the four 500-year flood events we’ve had in four years. This is a huge threat to the health and vitality of this community.
— Keir Murray (@houtopia) September 20, 2019
Another local Democratic political consultant, Marc Campos, was outspoken about the need for Houston to refocus its priorities from METRO spending to addressing flooding, as was our own Neal Meyer.
This problem isn’t getting better. Maybe it’s time to start thinking of the problem in terms of “moonshot” and leave aside METRO boondoggles and Astrodome parking garage nonsense?
[WB2] Former METRO chairman Gilbert Garcia continued his criticism of the METRO Next borrowing “plan” this week, but the bigger news may be the non-transparent organization’s announcement that it would potentially be stealing toll lanes to move a planned BRT line to the west Sam Houston Tollway from Gessner:
Even with the ballot language settled, Metro still is moving lines on the map. Wednesday, after hearing from concerned business leaders and residents, officials agreed to shift a planned north-south bus rapid transit line from Gessner to the Sam Houston Tollway.
Gessner, officials said, seems an unlikely and unpopular spot for the bus line because the street is not wide enough to add dedicated lanes without significant disruption to homes.
Still, there is no guarantee the bus line will use the tollway. Doing so would need approval from Harris County, which owns it, and pose traffic challenges of its own on the west segments of the tollway.
Who knew about ANY of this? What a mess. Voters should tell METRO no thanks.
[WB3] The Chronicle originally reported that HISD enrollment is on track to decline for the third year in a row (which seems borne out by the numbers). Then it changed the story to suggest that maybe, perhaps, hopefully the district will wind up “very close to where [it was] last year”. Okay then. HISD is not so great for Houston’s national brand either.
[WB4] The Chronicle profiles a brash, rich, successful trial lawyer who hopes to buy City Hall (which would arguably become the ugliest piece of his renowned art collection). He may just succeed.
[WB5] Urban Reform urges Harris County Commissioners Steve Radack and Jack Cagle to take advantage of a provision in state law to nix the hefty tax increase the Tiny Judge and her Democrat colleagues have planned.
[WB6] Flashback: The satirical site Babylon Bee tracks Joel Osteen’s yacht during the Harvey flooding.
[WB7] Congrats to the Houston Astros, the town’s best-run sports franchise, for winning its third straight AL West title today!
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