Weekend brunch for 20 September 2020

News and views from around the web

The longer the county judge's backwards gage thingie remains at red alert, the more it comes to resemble the now retired Homeland Security threat level indicator

[WB1] As noted in last weekend’s roundup, the City of Houston and Harris County were finally shamed into reporting their COVID positivity by test/specimen collection date (see WB1). The state of Texas, similarly shamed, announced a change in their reporting this week. Backlogs account for an enormous number of “new” cases that are not new at all, making this reporting misleading at best. It’s hardly surprising that it’s taken government so many months to improve their basic reporting (which is used to guide the executive edicts that tell free people in the state of Texas what they are “allowed” to do during the pandemic), but we really should expect better.

[WB2] Undeterred, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo remains adamant that she is NOT lowering her backwards gage red alert thingie from its highest level, because not all of her conditions have been met to do so. To recap, when Hidalgo’s backwards gage thingie is at “Red Alert”, this “signifies a severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 in Harris County, meaning outbreaks are present and worsening….” Clearly, that has not been the case for weeks in Harris County, which many have been pointing out (see Bill King, Joe Wohleber, Alex Rodriguez, and David Heidt for a few). Between the terrible data reporting that persisted for months and clinging to a “Red Alert” that is clearly no longer justified, local officials seem determined to continue to squander their credibility. Hidalgo’s backwards gage thingie has come to resemble the old Homeland Security threat level indicator that most people learned to ignore before it was finally, mercifully, retired.

[WB3] Another example of someone seemingly determined to squander credibility (apparently for the sake of continuing to appear on left-leaning cable TV shows) is local vaccine expert Peter Hotez, whose hatred of President Donald Trump seems to be getting the best of him. Recall that just a few weeks ago, this academic who tweeted in February that “there’s zero risk of contracting #coronavirus” was advocating nationwide lockdowns (to be enforced by the military?) to fight COVID. You can’t make this stuff up!

[WB4] So far, Houston-area schools have reported fairly positive results after reopening, with no large outbreaks.

[WB5] The Rodney Ellis stealth plan to remake Harris County continued apace this week, with the Democrats who control Harris County government voting to “sell” Harris County toll roads to a new corporation as a way of circumventing restrictions on how toll road funds can be used, so that the funds can be redirected towards other priorities favored by the Democrats who now control Harris County government.

This is another significant move that never went before voters – or even received any real public debate, despite Lina Hidalgo’s transparency pledges – and is only being realized because of straight ticket voting and the fact that Ed Emmett didn’t bother to run any sort of re-election campaign last time. Elections matter.

[WB6] Harris County continues to spend big (on legal fees and actual print costs) to print mail ballots for Harris County voters. Recall that Diane Trautman was pushed aside (err, left for health reasons) and Chris Hollins was installed in order to pursue this priority (among others).

[WB7] Why aren’t we any further along on the Ike Dike?

[WB8] The Houston Chronicle published a useful roundup of the many transportation projects slotted for our area over the coming years and a less useful “rah RAH” story on plans from Houston Public Works to improve road repairs (reminder: This is Year Five of the Turner administration, so probably what you are experiencing now is what you’re going to continue to get).

[WB9] The newspaper also published an explainer on why progress on post-Harvey flood control efforts remains slow. We wish there was more “accountability journalism” rather than “explainer journalism” that too frequently reads like excuses for why institutional sources have so much difficulty delivering on public priorities expeditiously, on budget.

[WB10] RIP to Rich Connelly, a local journo whose Hair Balls column for the Houston Press was, for many years, a must read.

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