[WB1] The Leader runs an op-ed by crime victim rights advocate Andy Kahan on the ramifications of Rodney Ellis’s Harris County criminal justice “reforms” that the Houston Chronicle editorial page refused to run.
[WB2] Also this week, a federal judge urged Harris County to find some way to release another 2,000 inmates because of COVID concerns. Jim Bigham notes that this is likely to put more felony criminals back on the streets.
[WB3] The Houston Chronicle continues to run almost hysterical “news” pieces insinuating that Governor Greg Abbott has some magical power to “stop” COVID-19 that he has neglected to use. The sad reality is that stricter non-pharmacological interventions (NPIs) do not seem to have had an appreciable effect in controlling the virus in the United States (or most anywhere else that isn’t a relatively isolated island-nation), although that fact never finds its way into these lengthy Chronicle pieces. There is a lot we still don’t understand about the virus – and perhaps never will – hence the phrase, “the virus is gonna virus.” Journalists who imply they have superior knowledge of the virus and how to control it (and then use their assumed superior knowledge as a cudgel against politicians they don’t like) are hard to take seriously.
[WB4] Tom Kirkendall notes that despite the newspaper’s frequent criticism of Abbott and other state officials their journalists dislike, Texas is actually doing a good job administering vaccines compared to other states. The big problem is that Texas has been short-changed, bigtime, on a per capita basis. Amazingly, some Houston-area Congressional offices told Bill King they were too preoccupied with impeachment to worry about this problem. We wish he had named/shamed them.
[WB5] Notwithstanding the state’s relative success in distributing the vaccines, the City of Houston had a fiasco this weekend at their major vaccination site. Although the city health department took reservations, apparently many walk-ups were allowed to skip the line, thereby causing many who had appointments and waited for hours to leave without their shots (quite upset). In typical fashion, the tone-deaf mayor initially praised the city’s effort, while some of his lackeys (like Bill Kelly, who pulls a six-figure salary from the City of Houston) berated upset constituents on twitter. Later, our thin-skinned mayor issued a lengthy set of tweets that only seemed to draw more criticism.
It would be a LOT better if the City would allocate more of its doses to hospitals (Methodist and Memorial Hermann have done good work so far, though only for their patients) and more dispersed sources like HEB, Kroger, CVS, and Walgreens. This is too important to have a repeat of Saturday’s city-led fiasco, when there are much better, more capable entities available to assist.
[WB6] Perhaps it’s worth reminding people you know that gatherings of family who do not live in the same household risk turning into COVID-19 spreader events. When this seems to happen even to journos tasked with informing us of these facts, it would seem that quite a few people just have decided to hell with it (hence our current infection and hospitalization numbers).
[WB7] The mayor has criticized a downtown club for hosting its own apparent superspreader event this weekend, although he dishonestly implies that Governor Abbott and TABC are to blame. The fact is that after-hours clubs have proliferated in Houston since the start of the pandemic (and restrictions were imposed on legitimate restaurants and bars despite a lack of any evidence that those establishments have contributed in any significant manner to local COVID spread). This particular club regularly operates until 5am (check its hours on Google) and this particular event was billed as lasting until 5am. State law specifies limited hours during which alcohol may be served (certainly not until 5am!). The mayor has tools at his disposal to combat these sorts of clubs, which are thriving. He doesn’t need permission from TABC or from Governor Abbott – he just needs to act. Many years ago, Mayor Bill White made curtailing the bad behavior of after-hours clubs a mayoral priority. The current mayor could do so as well.
[WB8] As has become custom, the City of Houston quietly released its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) over the holidays. The overall assessment of the city’s health is not good.
[WB9] James Harden’s restaurant hasn’t opened yet, but that hasn’t stopped “fans” of the recently traded NBA player from leaving reviews of the establishment.
[WB10] Sports Illustrated checks in with another damning expose on the dumpster fire that is the Houston Texans braintrust/prayer circle. Deshaun Watson appears to be a once-in-a-generation talent at the NFL’s most important position who is going to be moved out because the owner is very attached to his prayer buddy. It’s a truly bizarre situation.
Take care of yourselves, everyone!