Weekend brunch for 1 May 2022

Image credit: The Public Domain Review / flickr

 I intended for the Weekend Brunch spring break to end LAST weekend, but the hit pieces against Crime Stoppers of Houston appeared, and it seemed a little more important to comment on those. So, after roughly a month out of action with these roundups, here’s a bit of a “catchup” on some stuff we missed and the ongoing discussion over the media attacks on Crime Stoppers of Houston.

[WB1] The fallout from multiple mainstream media hit pieces on Crime Stoppers of Houston continues.

My article from last Monday has all the links to the initial hit pieces (and my assessment of their deficiencies at that time).

Since then, the key Houston Chronicle hit piece has been updated in a number of ways following its initial publication (it was clearly not ready for publication, and arguably still isn’t).

Local attorney Charles (Big Angry Law) Adams remains a forceful critic of the hit pieces, and hosted main Chronicle author St. John Barned-Smith on his radio program to discuss them. The lengthy discussion is worth your time (Part One, Part Two). It’s Adams’s program, and so he enjoys an advantage in the sense that he controls the microphone – but (in my view) he makes many salient points about all the authors failing to demonstrate their key points (that Crime Stoppers of Houston has turned partisan – meaning Republican – and to extend that case, that Crime Stoppers of Houston is now robotically carrying out the will of Gov. Greg Abbott because of financial or other need).

Barned-Smith shouldn’t be held to account for the Marshall Project’s advocacy journalism, of course (they can try to defend their own hit piece, which Adams also takes to task), and he’s done good work for the Chronicle. But this piece fell short. Way short. As did a followup from a Chronicle columnist that began this way:

If you have criticisms of Crime Stoppers of Houston, or questions about the nonprofit organization, you must be playing politics-or, perhaps, you don’t care about victims of violent crime.

That, at least, was the impression the organization’s leaders gave Tuesday at commissioners court.

That was not true, which is probably why the author did not supply any quotes in support of the assertion. It was just another hit on an organization that did choose to defend itself.

The way the whole “Crime Stoppers BAD” thing played out was entirely predictable, of course – so much so that it resembled a progressive political operation (op).

These hit pieces were obviously pushed by progressives unhappy with the effectiveness with which Crime Stoppers of Houston has exposed the failings of their preferred policy approach to criminal justice. It’s doubtful the media outlets outright colluded with those sources (or each other), but they certainly did run with the narrative, and not all that critically. These things ALMOST ALWAYS go in one direction, which probably does reveal something about the leanings of journalists and the problems of groupthink and bubbles. In any case, progressive politicians then weighed in, as these sorts of political ops tend to go.

[WB2] Unsurprisingly, progressive politicians along with other progressive advocacy outlets began treating the largely unsubstantiated insinuations of partisanship and partisan financial relationships in those sloppy hit pieces as “fact” – so Democratic Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis seized the opportunity to call for audits of Crime Stoppers of Houston (a revered local institution prior to and following these sloppy media hit pieces).

Yes, the same Rodney Ellis who has been living his best life courtesy of his campaign war chest, and he of the mysterious art collection being stored at taxpayer expense.

Incredible, isn’t it?

[WB3] Following the indictment of three aides of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo in conjunction with bid-rigging for a “COVID Outreach” contract, Grieder along with the Chronicle editorial board weighed in with a bit of counter-investigative journalism (lest citizens draw the wrong conclusions about blatant bid-rigging by the county judge’s close aides and the likelihood a progressive and journalist-favored politician played SOME role in the same). Plus there was this piece on Hidalgo’s diet.

As noted above, these things ALMOST ALWAYS go in one direction.

Kudos to The Texan, however, which broke the original story on the problematic contract (see WB1). Consider subscribing if you don’t already.

[WB4] The unqualified recipient of the rigged (patronage) contract was, inexplicably, paid nearly a million dollars – even though no services were rendered. Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be much outrage from the regional newspaper of record.

Weird, right?

[WB5] The Democrats on Commissioners Court approved another no-bid contract this past week to fund private security for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. The security was previously provided by a constable (who is a Democrat), but apparently that was no longer sufficient.

As Bill King noted (and KHOU-11 later reported), the security firm seems a little… sketchy.

Surely it’s not another patronage deal, though. Surely.

The Houston Chronicle story did not mention the sketchy details of the security firm. Weird how curiosity about such political affairs almost always seems to go in one direction, hrm?

[WB6] Reporter Jay Root will be leaving the mighty Houston Chronicle “investigative journalism” team to head to Albany. Root was part of the newspaper’s team that “investigated” Texas churches that get tax exemptions (see WB2). Have we mentioned these things often seem to go in one direction?

[WB7] One Hearst Texas newspaper writer authored a hit piece on Buc-ees this week (based on complaints to the BBB about the revered Texas institution). Oddly, the reporter of the error-riddled piece neglected to mention the BBB problems of Hearst newspapers in Texas.

An earlier Hearst hit piece on Buc-ee’s noted that the owner donates to Republican candidates.

One direction. Almost always.

[WB8] Vidal Martinez’s campaign for Harris County Judge unofficially ended on 7 April 2022 at a debate in Tomball, when he tried to go negative on GOP runoff rival Alexandra Mealer, who fileted him.

Martinez’s runoff campaign seemed to be based on an odd mix of “electability”, being a US attorney in his 20s, sitting on board after board after board, and sometimes donating to Democrats (because that’s how political “bidness” works *wink*).

His attacks were WAY off the mark (along with his judgment – it means something that this guy and his allies thought those attacks on Mealer, and Mealer’s GRANDFATHER, were salient).

Harris County GOP voters will not reward this. Martinez campaign, RIP.

[WB9] Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo made yet another funeral about herself, rather than a fallen law enforcement officer. Contrast with the tweet from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez recognizing his fallen deputy.

[WB10] Bob Rehak lays out the personnel turnover within Harris County’s various service departments since the highly partisan trio of Rodney Ellis, Lina Hidalgo, and Adrian Garcia took control of Harris County Commissioners Court.

Harris County once did an excellent job of delivering services despite the high influx of new residents. Now, the county can’t even run successful elections (or, eventually, other services, as the brain drain is felt across departments).

[WB11] City of Houston controller Chris Brown warns that Houston’s budget remains unsustainable, and potentially faces a $300 million deficit when COVID funds expire.

[WB12] Based on this story, we can surely expect some councilmembers and activists to argue that HPD should end traffic chases altogether (further ceding our increasingly lawless streets to the bad guys).

Instead of that, why can’t we fund and deploy “grappler” technology to ensure these chases can be brought to a quick, decisive, safe conclusion?

[WB13] This sympathetic portrayal of two Houston parents by Houston Public Media is really something:

Susan and Brian are parents of 5-year-old twins, including a transgender girl. (Sources in this story have requested we only use their first names, due to fears of being reported to state authorities and online harassment.) Over the past few years, they have been affirming their daughter’s slow steps toward socially transitioning….

That’s not a typo. The “transgender” child is five years old.

[WB14] Far-right activist Steven Hotze has been indicted over his role in a contract employee rear-ending a service truck and holding the driver at gunpoint, contending it was all part of an illegal voting scheme. He has since concocted a highly entertaining story for Katy Christian News about the indictment.

Unfortunately, some people still seem to take the guy seriously.

[WB15] Finally, our deepest condolences to the family of Paul Magaziner, a tenacious advocate for transparent, accountable government, and a longtime friend of various folks involved with this little website over the years. RIP

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


  1. Whew–so is this supposed to be objective commentary? Have you had any education in critical thinking? This just seems another right wing rant..

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