Weekend brunch for 12 July 2020

News and views from around the web

Image credit: Sean Loyless/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

[WB1] Houston-area and Texas COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to increase over the last week, leading local media and their favorite arm-waver, Dr. Peter Hotez, to wave their arms ever more furiously and amp up the apocalyptic rhetoric.

Hotez’s only real policy prescription has been to tweet in favor of full national lockdowns, presumably to be enforced by the U.S. military, which is effectively not a useful policy prescription since that will never happen.

Local elected officials, who apparently believe the public is still paying any attention to their antics after they endorsed and even marched in the massive George Floyd demonstrations during the pandemic, want another two week lockdown. They may just get it from our increasingly beleaguered governor, although it’s not at all clear that citizens are going to pay much attention to any such order, or that it would be effective anyway. This is what happens when so many leaders foolishly squander their credibility during a pandemic.

[WB2] Mayor Turner did save determined Republicans from themselves by cancelling their political convention at the George R. Brown convention center. Yes, the mayor’s double standards on what activities involving the masses are to be promoted or disallowed during a pandemic are really something (as are Dr. Hotez’s – the media’s favorite apocalyptic academic did not once criticize the Floyd mass gatherings, for example). But in this case, the mayor made the right call (and more than likely with the blessing of more than a few Republican leaders). Mass gatherings during a pandemic are simply not a good idea. The virus does not care about the righteousness of your cause or your political affiliation.

[WB3] State Rep. Gene Wu tried to promote a mass gathering during a pandemic, but from the photos it appears maybe a dozen people showed up, which seems like an accurate reflection of his effectiveness as a leader. At least it was outdoors, unlike the viral restaurant meetups he was promoting a few months ago.

[WB4] It seems like as good a time as any to share this useful primer on R, one of the metrics that is key to understanding pandemics.

[WB5] Murders in Houston are on track to hit a 5-year high, according to KTRK-13, which quotes victims’ rights activist Andy Kahan’s observation that so many violent crimes can be traced to our area’s new, easier bail policies.

[WB6] Based on his reading of the recently released, heavily redacted HPD audit of its narcotics division, Scott Henson of Grits for Breakfast suggests that the best fix is to disband the division.

[WB7] HPD’s police chief drew the ire of several members of City Council this week.

[WB8] Meanwhile, the Houston Fire Department is struggling to maintain staffing levels across the city, with many firefighters sidelined by COVID-19 infections and manpower continuing to decline as a result of the mayor’s hard line on firefighter salaries.

[WB9] The City of Houston brought legal action against the General Land Office this week, in an effort to prevent the office from taking control of over a billion dollars in Harvey grant funding.

[WB10] This is our occasional reminder that no profession gives itself more awards (participation trophies, really) than journalism and government.

[WB11] This is also our occasional reminder that the Houston Chronicle’s Austin-centered business columnist, who so frequently roots for the end of Houston’s most important industry, rarely discloses that his wife is a renewable energy evangelist/executive.

[WB12] Astros shortstop Carlos Correa has asked his wife to stay out of beauty salons until the end of the baseball season. Perhaps, in return, she should ask him not to gather with Dave Ward and other self-styled Houston mini-celebrities without wearing masks any more.

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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