[WB1] The Astros’ exciting victory in the American League Championship Series was quickly overshadowed this week by some very bad behavior by the team’s assistant general manager apparently aimed at a female reporter. The team initially stood by their guy, questioning the reporting. Major League Baseball became involved in the investigation, the Astros eventually fired the assistant GM, and finally managed to issue a proper apology after many missteps.
Meanwhile – which is a TERRIBLE way to open a sentence about your team when it’s in a championship series – the team managed to even the World Series at two games each on Saturday, after losing the first two games at home. Game Five takes place Sunday night.
[WB2] After a week of early voting, the Houston Chronicle ran a story today that recaps some of the most interesting political donations that Mayor Sylvester Turner has managed to obtain from people with a vested interest in doing business with the City of Houston under his leadership. The mayor denies this is “pay to play” but rather it’s just the way Houston leaders have done business forever.
In all honesty, it’s both – though probably more brazen and worse than ever now.
One does wonder why the area newspaper of record waited until a week of voting had taken place before providing this summary.
[WB3] Two Houston residents filed suit against Mayor Turner and council at the start of the week, contending that city leaders are disregarding a charter amendment that specifies how the city’s drainage account is to be funded.
[WB4] On Tuesday, a citizen group calling itself Concerned Citizens of Houston called on City Controller Chris Brown to resign over a secretive real estate deal that gave the appearance of insider profiteering. Rice University professor Mark Jones doesn’t think the accusations will resonate with voters. Sadly, he’s probably right – it’s the Houston Way for insiders to profit at the public’s expense, usually with little (or no) exposure.
[WB5] Steve Hotze, an outspoken, longtime area social conservative activist, had a meltdown of sorts this week over mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee, withdrawing his group’s mayoral endorsement while denouncing Buzbee as a “charlatan and liar.” Buzbee initially contended in a mayoral debate that he didn’t know Hotze, but facts later emerged that Buzbee had met multiple times with Hotze and that (according to Hotze) he had actively sought the endorsement. Buzbee has recently appeared to waffle on his support for a new version of the HERO ordinance, which Hotze helped to defeat by a large margin.
For good measure, Hotze also blasted all the municipal candidates endorsed by Houston’s Log Cabin Republicans, urging voters to reject them.
[WB6] In what feels like a throwback to the 2000s, Microsoft and METRO are providing free Wi-Fi on two buses and two light-rail routes as a pilot program, roughly 10 months after the program was announced.
If Microsoft and local governmental agencies REALLY want to innovate, how about convincing the tech giant to help us rebuild our traffic light equipment and fix our sequencing? The mistimed and malfunctioning lights are as bad as they have ever been in the City of Houston, which contributes to pollution, delays, and bad vibes. It’s probably not going to happen, of course, unless someone figures out a Houston Way insider profiteering angle for it.
[WB7] The Bayou City Initiative, a local nonprofit, called on various highway authorities to improve their planning when it comes to freeway flooding.
“We are going to have to quit accepting that our freeway system gets shut down during floods,” said Rice University Professor Jim Blackburn, who formed the Bayou City Initiative. “It may take years to get out of this mess, but we need to start thinking about it right now.”
[WB8] Longtime local columnist Ken Hoffman notes the sad state of the Astrodome in a column for the Washington Post.
The city faces three options: spend hundreds of millions to renovate the Astrodome; spend an estimated $35 million to tear it down; or continue to let it stand abandoned and decaying while taxpayers pick up the annual $165,000 electric bill, mostly to operate pumps that keep the sub-ground-level floors dry, and $5,500 for flood insurance.
Remember how local officials used to inflate the demolition costs in an effort to convince voters (or investors, or anyone really) that the public should invest a quarter-billion dollars in remaking the thing? It was one (all too rare) case where the public saw through the lies and rejected a Houston Way boondoggle.
Yet here we are. We should still get that demolition done. $35 million sounds about right.
[WB9] NBC News has posted an interesting story on Asian-American activists in Houston who have rallied behind Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s support of Hong Kong protestors (even though Morey was forced to back away from his tweet and the NBA quickly went into China apology mode). Interestingly, Houston fans appear to have been allowed to bring supportive signs into the Toyota Center. Other teams have reportedly removed fans with such signs.
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