Weekend brunch for 12 December 2021

News and views from around the web

Image credit: Katie Haugland Bowen/flickr (CC BY 2.0)

We’re back, after an unexpected weekend off. With the holidays approaching, we may miss another one here or there (without any more warning than this). Now, on to some happenings:

[WB1] In local school board elections marked by extremely low voter turnout, two area Republicans knocked off two sitting Democratic HISD board members by a small margin.

One Democratic-leaning media personality tried to downplay the outcome, but the fact is that it’s unusual for two incumbents to be booted in this manner absent some personal scandals (not the case here).

One of the Houston Chronicle reporters doesn’t seem entirely objective about the subjects he covers, which is entirely unsurprising (we’ll leave it to interested readers to figure out which candidate he was attacking, rather than contributing to his “reporting”).

[WB2] In recent days, the area newspaper published its latest “investigation” – this time, a multi-reporter story based on religious properties that get tax exemptions in the state due to what they call an “obscure” law (this state’s laws and property tax regulations are all published, and since many are taking these credits, it’s all apparently not that “obscure”).

A Chronicle editor (!) posted this on twitter to promote the story: “We found almost 2,700 homes in Texas, many of them lavish, worth at least $1 billion and owned by religious organizations. The owners pay no property taxes.”

The way he worded that, it sounds like he’s describing 2.7 TRILLION DOLLARS WORTH of properties in Texas. In reality, this editor (!) just writes imprecisely. There apparently aren’t any homes worth $1 billion, and in fact the story suggests a much lower level of lavishness: “At least 28 of the clergy residences were worth more than $1 million.”


Now, maybe some were prosperity gospel types living their best life off the generosity of donors (not unlike Rodney Ellis, see WB4), or maybe some were actually monasteries and other congregant living facilities. We didn’t bother to delve deeply into the “data” as there was some good college hoops action this weekend.

One Chronicle writer posted excitedly about the Chronicle photographers (yes, plural!) who went out and spied on church properties with drones as part of the investigation. Not creepy in the least, right?

And one more thing – while the newspaper seemingly wants YOU to be very upset about churches and how they are allegedly robbing the public of needed funds, their journalists neglect to mention the newspaper’s own sales tax exemption OR the curious state of its recent property tax appraisals:

[WB3] Two local media personalities have some definite opinions about “sensational” crime reporting (drawing on the far-left Nation publication).

In contrast, the Wall Street Journal calls out progressive gaslighting of the public when it comes to crime reporting.

Meanwhile, a female guard at the county jail was (allegedly) brutally sexually assaulted by an inmate who was, according to a deputies’ union representative, “allowed to walk freely” about the jail.

Is the real problem sensational reporting, or crime so violent and prevalent it begins to numb the senses?

[WB4] Harris County will be spending another $300 million on its Ship Channel Bridge project after identifying all kinds of flaws, and effectively deciding to scrap what has been done so far and start over.

[WB5] A progressive Houston nonprofit thinks Houston is close to ending homelessness. Our government(s) have trouble building bridges and keeping the water and electric systems functioning during weather events, but we’re on the verge of ending homelessness? Consider us skeptical, especially given the connection to the meth crisis (which nobody is claiming to be close to solving).

[WB6] Robert Bradley Jr. calls out the Houston Chronicle’s ethically challenged business columnist Chris Tomlinson.

[WB7] Harris County’s new “administrator” – a previously unneeded executive brought in both to execute the will of the Democratic majority on Commissioners Court and to handle tasks once overseen by county judges with actual experience running things – plans to modify the formula for allocating flood-bond spending (again), according to Bob Rehak (who continues to cover area drainage policy and issues more comprehensively and, arguably, better than local media).

[WB8] Houston’s poker rooms – of questionable legality but going stronger than ever since DA Kim Ogg’s botched efforts to shut one down some years back – have experienced some turbulence of late.

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