Weekend Brunch for 15 March 2020

News and views from around the web

The importance of "flattening the curve" during a pandemic. Image credit: NPR

[WB1] COVID-19 became ever more real to Houstonians this week, as local officials canceled the remaining days of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

In reality, the large public event should have been canceled at the beginning (just as CERAWeek was canceled) given what we already knew of COVID-19, but local leaders and opinion shapers seemed more more fixated on downplaying the threat to Houston and encouraging irresponsible food gatherings than effecting sound public policy in the face of an impending pandemic. COVID-19 cases almost certainly spread through the area as a result of the decision to let the rodeo go on as long as it did; that was entirely preventable unfortunately.

Now we know that social distancing/contact reduction is our chief weapon in trying to slow down the pandemic, although some foolish politicians were still promoting restaurant meetups as recently as Saturday.

This is a local website, and we try to focus on local issues. But a global pandemic IS very much a local issue, as this week’s events made clear. We are likely to see even more stringent recommendations (even edicts) on public gatherings and social distancing/contact reduction in the coming days and weeks, so this is a good time to offer some links as to WHY the concepts of social distancing/contact reduction are so very important (and articles like this are so irresponsible – just keep in mind that we do not want Houston or any Texas or US city to become Italy, and that means we must do our best to stop the exponential growth in cases). blogHOUSTON readers have probably seen a lot of this material, but maybe not – or maybe you know people who would benefit from reading them. Please do feel free to share. We’ll have some links to non-COVID-19 news below, but this issue is likely to dominate our lives for a while. Please be safe (and kind) and stay HOUSTON STRONG (and HOUSTON INFORMED).

[WB2] City Controller Chris Brown notes in a recent study that the City of Houston’s finances remain precarious. The COVID-19 crisis will, of course, deprive this study of the attention it deserves.

[WB3 ] Texas Monthly observes that Houston is not prepared for the coming oil bust (but, when has it ever been?).

[WB4] Nevertheless, City Council did find the time this past week to address the major problem of downtown luxury hotel deserts (that’s sarcasm, in case it doesn’t read that way), by approving $43 million in subsidies for a new W Hotel. Houston Way priorities.

[WB5] And it seems likely (to us) that a connected Houston Way insider must have decided to try to get a cut of a city trash pickup contract that benefits people with disabilities.

[WB6] The election for Council B may be delayed past May because of ongoing legal wrangling.

[WB7] Harris County officials rejected Commissioner Adrian Garcia’s effort to take a closer look at the county’s constable contract program.

[WB8] Houstonia profiles one of the Harris County judges who has taken on the county’s cash-bail system.

[WB9] Erica Grieder takes a closer look at the strange circumstance of the “ghost candidate” for Texas House district 142.

[WB10 ] Lawmakers asked Art Acevedo to release his department’s audit on HPD’s narcotics division, which he is holding back from the public despite earlier pledges of transparency after HPD’s Harding Street Massacre.

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Kevin Whited
About Kevin Whited 4241 Articles
Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX