in Houston, Texas
Austin officials escape charges in open meetings case, pledge to follow law in agreement with Travis County DA
Thursday, Oct 18, 2012, 12:42PM CST
By Curt Olson
Austin City Hall

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and Austin City Council members will avoid being charged with criminal violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act by agreeing to conditions of future behavior.

The move by some city leaders to sign a “compliance agreement” seeks to end the long investigation into accusations city officials violated the open meetings law. Leffingwell and Councilman Mike Martinez signed the agreement this week, and former Councilwoman Randi Shade signed it during the summer, the Austin American-Statesman reports.

Under the agreement, city leaders admit no wrongdoing. They will take open meetings classes and have pledged to follow open meetings laws.

“We said from the beginning that (council members) did not do anything sinister or improper. They are hardworking and have made every effort to be transparent, to go beyond what they think is required in the Open Meetings Act, because they all agree open government is a good thing,” Martinez’s attorney, Joe Turner, told the Statesman.

Austin resident Brian Rodgers filed a complaint with Travis County District Attorney David Escamilla in January 2011, contending council members routinely gathered in small groups to discuss city business prior to council meetings, the newspaper reported. A “walking quorum” is a violation of the state open meetings law.

As part of his investigation, Escamilla asked the officials to turn over notes and e-mail records. Media outlets including the Austin Bulldog, an investigative news website, did as well.

The Bulldog sued the city and council in March 2011, arguing officials failed to disclose all emails and other messages regarding city business sent on private accounts and mobile devices. That lawsuit is pending.

By June, the investigation had cost Austin taxpayers $344,000 to hire three separate Austin law firms to advise city officials on the investigation and open meetings issues, according to the newspaper.

***
Contact Curt Olson at curt@texaswatchdog.org or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of Austin City Hall by flickr user Michael Connell, used via a Creative Commons license.

God save the Queen -- and our tax dollars; Austin junket event 'chaos,' a 'nightmare'
Friday, Jul 06, 2012, 04:51PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
queen

Bloomin’ g’day and right ho to all you chappies and birds, crumpets and nabobs. Texas Watchdog is coming to you live from Silverstone Raceway in Jolly Ol’ England.

Well, not exactly. We weren’t offered the same last minute, all expenses paid junket the blokes from the city of Austin got.

Just imagine, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, City Manager Marc Ott, Police Chief Art Acevedo and Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr getting all knackered collecting facts about Formula One racing to bring back to the hoi polloi here in the Colonies.

But, blimey, if we didn’t do the next best thing, checking up with the Northampton Chronicle & Echo website. Seems our right honorable Safety and Security Measures Research Mission ran into a bit of a gullywasher.

Looks like it’s all mackintoshes, galoshes and bumbershoots this weekend, wot? Just don’t seem cricket, what with all the money put up by Circuit of the Americas, builder of a Formula One track in Travis County, and the $5,556 generously donated by the taxed class.

Katie Tyler, Silverstone’s director of communications, is calling it a disaster. We e-mailed Katie this afternoon, hoping to find out what our intrepid racing explorers might be doing to stay dry.

We also e-mailed Jeremy Casey, the sports editor of the Chronicle & Echo, and John Harrison, who is covering the raceway deluge, confident that they had at least been introduced to our Austin VIPs.

More than likely we will get an up-to-the-moment report after tea time.

Rest assured our intrepid expedition will return with everything needed to conduct a race in a flood. Only a tosser or plonker would think that’s not money well spent.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of Queen Elizabeth via the Official Website of the British Monarchy.

Austin officials to see F1 racing in England; city taxpayers get $5,556 bill
Friday, Jun 29, 2012, 02:07PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
F1 car

Not crazy enough to let a perfectly good junket go to waste, Austin’s top city officials will be going to England courtesy of a Formula One racing company.

Oh, and city taxpayers, who will be picking up $5,556 to send four other city officials, in what has become a sprawling junket saga for the Austin American-Statesman.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell and City Manager Marc Ott, who are getting their travel and board paid for by Circuit of the Americas, whose offer to do the same for two Travis County officials was spurned the other day by the Commissioner’s Court.

The gracious, normally secretive Circuit folks are also paying to put up Police Chief Art Acevedo, Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr and two other city officials, whose airfare taxpayers will be footing.

Calm down, you fiscal worrywarts out there. The tickets are coach.

Although the short notice was one of the reasons the county turned down the free trip, city officials are making time to spend July 5-9 at Silverstone, where racing entrepreneurs have crowned the lovely English countryside with a jagged 3.2-mile ring of asphalt.

As was the excuse proffered by county officials, Austin’s leaders are going to take an eyewitness look at how a Formula One event is staged. The $300 million Circuit of the Americas racetrack here is hosting racing Nov. 16-18.

City Council member Kathie Tovo, who had been alerted to the trip by the American-Statesman, said, “Public money should not be used to fund trips to England in support of the Formula One race. The City of Austin has many pressing needs, and it would be inappropriate to use our scarce dollars for this purpose.”

Tovo may or may not have been referring to the pressing need for $2.2 million to run the money-losing MetroRail trains on the weekends. Or the $2 million to give away reusable grocery bags to low-income Austinites. Or maybe the $1.2 million to make Austin Energy’s private cleaning service public.

Or maybe she was piqued not having been invited along on the Silverstone junket.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo 'Formula 1: British Grand Prix' by flickr user Alex Basnett, used via a Creative Commons license.

Austin taxpayers footing six-figure bill to investigate possible open meetings violations, little to show for legal work so far
Monday, Jun 18, 2012, 12:01PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
money

After $344,000 in legal fees and the work of eight assistant county attorneys taxpayers are no closer to knowing whether Austin’s elected officials violated the Texas Open Meetings Act than they were when allegations were made 16 months ago.

Not to worry, Travis County Attorney David Escamilla told the Austin American-Statesman. While he wouldn’t say what has been done so far, why it has taken so long and what might yet be needed if a case is to be made, Escamilla says he is sure the citizens paying all the bills will be happy with the results.

While firmly not confirming it, Escamilla and his assistants have been mulling over a complaint made in February of 2011 by a city activist charging that private meetings of individual City Council members and Mayor Lee Leffingwell and individual e-mail exchanges violated the Open Meetings Act.

Local media followed with formal requests to see the e-mails exchanged among officials. To the shock and delight of the community, the e-mails revealed some of the same sort of backbiting and sneering you can hear on a middle school playground every day.

Elected officials then did what any good American would do under the circumstances: get good and lawyered up at taxpayer expense. The individuals named in the complaint got their own lawyers, just for good measure.

What followed was a case with a gestation period almost as long as the challenge to ObamaCare. The Supreme Court will almost certainly make its decision before Escamilla.

Maybe it’s just because Escamilla and his staff haven’t had the practice. A case against members of the State Board of Education, the only Open Meetings Act case that resulted in a prosecution in 10 years, took two years to investigate, the American-Statesman says.

And then there is the possible impact of an interminable case now in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals brought by 15 elected municipal officials contending the Texas Open Meetings Act violates their freedom of speech.

Cost and time have not suppressed the public’s interest in knowing what its government is doing. Requests of Austin’s Public Information Office for public records jumped by 32.4 percent, to 11,621 requests filed in 2011 from 8,779 in 2010, the newspaper says.

Taxpayers can expect to pay that bill, too.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of money by flickr user thekmancom, used via a Creative Commons license.

Plastic and paper grocery bags banned in Austin beginning in March 2013; $2 million to go for reusable bags for the poor, public awareness
Friday, Mar 02, 2012, 09:34AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
groceries

A benevolent as well as unanimous Austin City Council at 2 a.m. today granted its citizens the right to use only reusable bags when they shop and will charge them $2 million to explain why it was necessary.

Little wonder such a decree passed when most of the city was asleep.

Beginning in March of 2013 grocery and other retailers will no longer offer disposable plastic or papers bags, according to a story by KXAN-TV in Austin. Those retailers not following the new ordinance face being charged with a Class C misdemeanor.

Or at least such bagging had been criminalized in one of the many versions of the ordinance. Hoping to keep the process fluid so as not to bother the citizenry with so much detail, much still remains to be worked out, Bob Gedert, director of Austin Resource Recovery, told the Council.

For instance, the education program. Gedert guessed about half of the “educating” would entail distributing reusable grocery bags for free in low-income areas of the city, a response to opponents who said the bag ban would be an inordinate burden on the poor.

And while the benefits of the bag ban were perfectly obvious to the six council members and Mayor Lee Leffingwell, the rest of the $2 million - a figure, given the city’s spending record, that is also fluid - will be spent helping the rest of the community understand.

An effort was made prior to the vote to convince the city’s recyclers to take plastic bags, the cleanup cost of which had been mistakenly and seriously inflated by Gedert. Gedert says the bags are not now recycled because they damage recycling machinery.

All of which is beside the point when your local government knows what is best for you. Or as Stacy Guidry, then-program director for Texas Campaign for the Environment told Texas Watchdog in January: “We support this bag ban no matter what it costs.”

UPDATE: This story was updated Monday, March 5, to make clear that Stacy Guidry is no longer the program director for the Texas Campaign for the Environment.

***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of groceries by flickr user Esther17, used via a Creative Commons license.

Political watchers from all sides criticize Austin City Council decision to keep elections in May
Wednesday, Oct 12, 2011, 02:56PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
voter

Pop quiz: What do you call a measure that could cost taxpayers as much as $1.2 million, reeks of electoral elitism and brings the left, the right and everyone in between together in opposition?

Answer: Typical Austin city politics.

People in the reality surrounding the 271.8 square miles that is Austin are still shaking their heads over a 4-3 vote by the Austin City Council to continue holding municipal elections in May rather than moving them to November.

The conservative Empower Texans today called the vote appalling. The liberal Burnt Orange Report aggregated the outrage. An editorial in this morning’s Austin American-Statesman said the vote showed off the gaping chasm between Austin’s politically engaged self-image and reality.

The reality, tucked in near the bottom of the editorial, is embodied in a three-page letter to the council from Dean Rindy, one of the legions of consultants without which the city of Austin would cease to function.

In the letter, Rindy urged the council to reject November elections, regardless of cost. Yes, more people would come out to vote, Rindy wrote, but the election would not become more democratic, merely more uninformed. And why? Because voters are hard-wired to reason through only so many elections at one time, Rindy said, without punctuating the sentence with a smiley face.

“This would not be the voters’ fault,” Rindy said, making his compassion obvious. “It would be the fault of combining too many elections with too many candidates at too many levels at the same time. People are not computers with infinite capacity on their hard drives. They can only take so much input.”

This much input was clear to city voters long ago. Turnouts for Austin elections have been sliding, so much so that an election drawing 10 percent of the city’s eligible voters is considered spirited.

Bundling the elections in November would save taxpayers anywhere from $784,000 to $1.2 million, the Austin American-Statesman estimated. The City Council had already approved holding a November bond election and a lineup of amendments to the city charter that could include a city-wide vote to make the November municipal elections permanent.

Seemed to make sense to Mayor Lee Leffingwell and two of the council members, Mike Martinez and Chris Riley. Not to Sheryl Cole, Laura Morrison, Bill Spelman and Kathie Tovo.

Not to be outdone by Rindy’s altruism, the majority insisted it would be inappropriate to cast a vote that would not only upend the city charter but add six months to the terms of council members.

Not to mention encouraging all of those uninformed voters who may not be at all familiar with the names Cole, Morrison, Spelman and Tovo on a ballot.
 
***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of voter by flickr user athrasher, used via a Creative Commons license.
Austin City Council punts - for now - on question of grocery bags
Friday, Aug 05, 2011, 10:18AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
bag

An Austin City Council unanimous in their decision to do something about grocery bags is leaving it to city staff to decide what, exactly, the city ought to do.

While their effort began with a proposal by Mayor Lee Leffingwell to stop major retailers from dispensing plastic shopping bags, a ban on those bags alone poses legal and environmental questions.

The council, instead, directed the Solid Waste Services Department on Thursday to explore a ban on plastic bags, a ban on plastic and paper bags, or having retailers charge shoppers a fee for those bags with a portion of the fees collected turned over to the city of Austin, according to a story in the Austin American-Statesman.

The city manager has been asked to return to the City Council with a proposed ordinance sometime in November.

On Wednesday, council member Bill Spelman acknowledged the council was aware that plastic bag bans prompted lawsuits from plastic bag manufacturers, one of the cases making its way to the California Supreme Court.

Not only is targeting plastic bags discriminatory, but such bans ignore what several advocacy groups admit: that the manufacture and disposal of paper bags is a greater environmental burden than the plastic bags, Phil Rozenski, director of marketing for Hilex Poly, a plastic bag manufacturer with a plant in the Dallas area, told Texas Watchdog.

“We’ve talked to activist groups, and they’ve told us picking on plastic bags is just a start,” Rozenski said. “What these people are really trying to do is socially engineer public behavior.”

One of those activist groups, Texas Campaign for the Environment, came out Thursday in favor of a ban on both paper and plastic. Reusable bags, the group says, are better for the environment.

Council members have in the past expressed concerns about other costs of plastic bags. Solid Waste Services in a study released in January estimated that taxpayers pay $850,000 a year to handle plastic bags in the waste stream. The study estimated that retailers use 263 million plastic bags a year to move merchandise in Austin.

Rozenski said citizens who receive a utility bill are already being charged a fee to fight litter, which ought to more than offset the cost of handling plastic bags included in the study.

Should the city move forward charging retailers for every plastic and paper bag they use, any of those fees remitted to the city would be a selective tax, Rozenski said, and a regressive one at that.

“This is a regressive tax that hits low-income families disproportionately,” Rozenski said. “Whatever you charge for those bags is being taken out of the grocery carts of those families.”

Hilex Poly also made a case before the council that a ban on plastic bags would damage its business. Hilex employs about 9,000 people in Texas, Rozenski said.

A ban will also damage retail business within the Austin city limits, he said. “What we have found when cities enact these bans shoppers, if given a nearby option, will simply go someplace else to shop,” Rozenski said.
 
***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of 'BYOB' by flickr user catbagan, used via a Creative Commons license.
Paper or plastic? That could soon cost you in the city of Austin.
Thursday, Aug 04, 2011, 10:00AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
grocery bags

Concerned about lawsuits and a different and, perhaps, more expensive environmental problem, the Austin City Council is likely to call for charging grocery shoppers who ask for paper or plastic.

While much remains to  be decided in scope and detail, a vote today is likely to reflect a consensus reached by Mayor Lee Leffingwell and council members that the best way to reduce disposable bags in the waste stream is to put the burden on grocery stores and their customers.

“Something is definitely going to pass (Thursday), and I believe it will involve a fee of some sort,” council member Bill Spelman said Wednesday afternoon. “I think Bob Gedert (director of the city’s Solid Waste Services Department) has a clear sense of where the council wants to go with this.”

Where the council wanted to go with the resolution was, until the last 36 hours, not readily apparent to the public. Still posted along with the agenda for Thursday’s council meeting is a copy of an unnumbered resolution calling for the city manager to develop by November an ordinance phasing out plastic bags in Austin.

At a work session on Tuesday, however, council members expressed concerns about the fallout from banning only plastic bags. More than a dozen bans in California have been met by lawsuits filed by plastics companies, contending their product was being discriminated against. The California Supreme Court recently ruled that cities were within their rights to impose plastic bag prohibitions.

The City Council would rather avoid those legal difficulties altogether, Spelman said.

Banning plastic bags would also renew the debate over the environmental and cost impact in both the production and disposal of plastic as opposed to paper. Given no choice, a retail grocer would almost certainly pack groceries in paper, which retailers have long complained are more expensive than plastic. Spelman says he isn’t sure if paper bags don’t take a higher environmental toll.

The framework for the ordinance would allow Austin grocery stores to offer to their customers both paper and plastic bags but at a fee to offset the cost of their disposal. What the fee would be, how that fee might be collected by the city and what those fees would be used to offset have not been determined, Spelman said.

“I don’t want us to get bogged down right now by the details of the fee,” Spelman said. “I would prefer to solve the problems and, if we can, solve it fast and easy.”

The open-ended nature of the ordinance discussion has been unsettling for the members of the Texas Retailers Association, which include some of the largest grocery chains in Texas. Until Wednesday, association president Ronnie Volkening said he was not aware that paper bags had been added to ordinance consideration.

Retailers have been working with the city for several years to create voluntary recycling plans to reduce the number of plastic bags thrown away. In April of 2008 retailers agreed to reduce the number of plastic bags they used by 50 percent in 18 months. The city said retailers were able to reduce plastic bag use by only 20 percent.

Volkening countered, saying the city did not include in its calculations what he said was a 74 percent increase in the number of plastic bags recycled at designated spots in participating grocery stores.

“We find that a little frustrating, but we take responsibility for the retailers not doing as good a job as they should telling the public about our recycling programs,” Volkening said. “We need to encourage the secondary use of these bags.”

Without their removal from the waste stream, Solid Waste Services estimated the city spends $850,000 a year on plastic bag removal alone, according to a report Gedert made to the city in January.

By extrapolating from a U.S. International Trade Commission report from 2009, Gedert estimated Austin shoppers need 263 million plastic bags for their goods every year. The cost to create a curbside collection program for plastic bags alone would cost between $1.8 million and $2.7 million a year, the report says.

Should Austin go forward, it would be the first Texas city to include paper bags as a way of getting at the plastic bag problem. Brownsville, the first city to enact a plastic bag ban, charges customers without reusable bags $1 to have their groceries bagged in plastic.

Fort Stockton’s ban on plastic bags will kick in in September, and South Padre Island will impose its ban in January of 2012.

San Francisco and Portland are among the roughly two dozen communities nationwide with bans on plastic bags. Statewide bans in California and Oregon, however, have failed in their respective legislatures.
 
***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org or on Twitter at @marktxwatchdog.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of grocery bags by flickr user sbluerock, used via a Creative Commons license.
Public lawyers hired to defend Austin officials in Open Meetings Act investigation
Thursday, Mar 31, 2011, 10:45AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Austin City Hall

Only in the wild, wacky, wonderful world of government can politicians be accused of committing an illegal act against you and then bill you at $400 an hour for a lawyer to defend them.

City of Austin officials, including Mayor Lee Leffingwell and the City Council, facing the possibility of criminal prosecution for doing the public’s business secretly, have already put on the taxpayer payroll three lawyers to provide counsel on the Texas Open Meetings Act, according to a brow-furrowing story today in the Austin American-Statesman
.

The story says these legal specialists are charging taxpayers between $380 and $425 an hour, but the city was unable by deadline yesterday to provide the newspaper with their total bill.

Not content with this high-priced talent, Leffingwell and at least two council members - Bill Spelman and Laura Morrison - have gotten lawyered up privately in the event they are charged. The other council members reached by the paper say they, too, are considering packing barristers.

Whether or not they are allowed to stick you with their defense bill depends. Then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn ruled in 2000 that a city council battling “an unjustified prosecution for open meetings violations” may present their legal bill to taxpayers, leaving it to be determined just what unjustified prosecution means.

The city can hold off paying the legal fees until the outcome of the prosecution is decided and then tear up the bill for any council member found guilty of open meetings violations, Cornyn’s ruling says.

For now, Leffingwell is paying for his own lawyer, although it is unclear from the lawyer, Brian Roark, why his services are needed. "The mayor has done nothing wrong," Roark told the Statesman. "There have been no secret meetings, no conspiracy to violate the open meetings act."
 
***
Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.

Keep up with all the latest news from Texas Watchdog. Fan our page on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Scribd, and fan us on YouTube. Join our network on de.licio.us, and put our RSS feeds in your newsreader. We're also on MySpace, Digg, FriendFeed, NewsVine and tumblr.

Photo of Austin City Hall by flickr user That Other Paper, used via a Creative Commons license.
  • 1
Video
KTRK: On Big Screens for Billionaires, Comptroller Susan Combs Silent
Related Blogs and Media
Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: The Watering Hole 1114 B Potomac Dr. [HAR] … Read...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Comment of the Day: Still Missing the Good Ol’ Days “I was born in ’91, so I never got to experience the little mom and pop stores (hardware store or otherwise). I wish I could have...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Nothing Really Happens with This Bed Bug Shutdown Notice and Implosion Threat Posted to a Westheimer Strip Center Mattress Store “The movie finally makes a reasonable amount of sense now” after 4 years of work on it, writes producer Joseph Graham on the...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Swamplot Sponsor: Central Bank Swamplot’s sponsor today is Houston’s own Central Bank. Thanks for the continuing support! Central Bank has 4 (central) Houston...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
The Next Food Hall Coming to Downtown Houston Will Be a Storeful of Open Kitchens If you’re just coming up to speed on the whole food hall thing, remember this: It’s not a food court, it’s a food hall....
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Amazon Will Swallow Whole Foods Whole For those who expected Whole Foods Market to shop itself to a fellow grocery store chain and not a powerful company experimenting with...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
This Century’s Rise in Home Prices; Rare Local Air Monitoring Equipment Exhibited at Museum Houston-Area Home Prices Have Increased Nearly 30% Since 2000, Finds Harvard Study [Houston Chronicle] Stream, AMD To Develop 5-Story...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Daily Demolition Report: Feagan, and Again, and Again Swamplot’s Daily Demolition Report lists buildings that received City of Houston demolition permits the previous weekday. Demolition is...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Blessed are the Poor: Examining opposition to debtors-prison legislation Texas State Sen. Paul Bettencourt was quoted by the Associated Press (June 11) criticizing debtors-prison legislation (SB 1913) which...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: The Vault 14759 Oak Bend Dr. [HAR] … Read...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Bones Found in Holdout Heights House Attic Tell No Tales Fox26 has now updated its story from March on the mysterious circumstances surrounding the fate of Mary Cerruti, the former owner of the...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
Fast Indian Comes to the Strip Center End of 19th St. Just opened this week in Re:Vive Development’s new add-on strip center at 721 W. 19th St., just west of Shepherd Dr.: the first...
Update:2 years 9 months
Swamplot
A Personal Big Day at L'Auberge in Lake Charles In previous posts, including in my Lifetime of Running Cold history of my personal gambling, Iit's been mentioned that I've been...
Update:2 years 9 months
Cory Crow
Debtors-prison policies decried, DPS cuts license center hours, and other stories Here are a few odds and ends that merit Grits readers' attention while mine is focused on preparing for a much-need break next week.SCOTUS...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Junk-science based false convictions in Houston lampooned by comedian Someone has finally grokked and managed to convey in an accessible, understandable way the unmitigated travesty of justice surrounding drug...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Just Liberty post-session roundup podcast Here's the latest Just Liberty podcast - this time reviewing criminal-justice reform legislation from the 85th Texas Legislature -...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Governor signs omnibus innocence bill to track informants, record interrogations Governor Greg Abbott today signed HB 34, Texas' latest omnibus innocence legislation. Grits explained in this post why the eyewitness ID...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Houston meeting of Texas Latino GOP PAC tomorrow evening From the InBox: The Texas Latino GOP PAC are the gatekeepers to the conservative Latino Community, for far too long GOP outreach to Latino...
Update:2 years 9 months
Big Jolly Politics
Sen. Joan Huffman to recap the 85th From the InBox: Join us THIS WEDNESDAY, June 14 (Flag Day!), for our meeting with State Sen. Joan Huffman, SD 17, who will be discussing...
Update:2 years 9 months
Big Jolly Politics
Gov. Abbott mistakes incarceration smell for "freedom" Governor Greg Abbott made a speech in Bell County recently declaring that, as one drove north out of Austin, one could notice a different...
Update:2 years 9 months
Grits for Breakfast
Unanswered questions about law-of-parties beyond death penalty In our podcast the other day, Texas Defender Service Executive Director Amanda Marzullo estimated that 10 percent of death-row defendants...
Update:2 years 10 months
Grits for Breakfast
Priorities The headline from the Victoria Advocate declaring that the Texas Legislature prioritized mental health treatment over incarceration is...
Update:2 years 10 months
Grits for Breakfast
Legislative Session The 85th Legislative Session was different in many ways. Two things changed the narrative this session. First, Empower Texans successfully...
Update:2 years 10 months
Big Jolly Politics
Court trends advise tempered enthusiasm for HB 34 eyewitness ID reforms Does this sound like a suggestive photo array to put before a witness?A witness described being robbed at gunpoint by a “[b]lack male,...
Update:2 years 10 months
Grits for Breakfast
MAY 22, 2917 / Theodore Dalrymple on secularization and transcendence THE SECULARIZATION of Europe is hardly any secret. Religion's long, melancholy, withdrawing roar, as Matthew Arnold put it, is a roar no...
Update:2 years 10 months
Unca Darrell
MAY 10 / James B. Comey . . . . . . needed firing. Everything he did during the 2016 election was wrong. He was wrong . . . . . . back in July to release information...
Update:2 years 11 months
Unca Darrell
Droppin' F bombs, Beto O'Rourke style It's not often that a politician decides to start cursing repeatedly during speeches and interviews. But that hasn't stopped...
Update:3 years 1 week
Rick Perry vs The World
APRIL 5, 2017 / Weeding out the audience at the Alley is . . . . . . a feature, not a bug. Houston's Alley Theatre is running "An Act of God," a loosely dramatized collection of irreverent one-liners...
Update:3 years 1 week
Unca Darrell
Statewide primary rumors It's that stage of the election cycle where politicians are trying to figure out if they should run for something else or stay put. ...
Update:3 years 2 weeks
Rick Perry vs The World
Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Is Ted Cruz vulnerable? Not really. Sure, he's not liked, Texans think Ted puts Ted first, his approval rating is upside down, etc...
Update:3 years 1 month
Rick Perry vs The World
MARCH 16, 2017 / Jim Webb on what it means to be a redneck, and . . . . . . why redneck culture matters. In 2004 Jim Webb wrote Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Though the 2016 presidential...
Update:3 years 1 month
Unca Darrell
MARCH 3, 2017 -- Goodbye, and thanks, to Thomas Sowell THOMAS SOWELL, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and one of America's most important public intellectuals, retired from...
Update:3 years 1 month
Unca Darrell
March 2, 2017 / The poem our teachers got wrong TWO ROADS diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. Generations of commencement...
Update:3 years 1 month
Unca Darrell
FEBRUARY 27 / Eric Hoffer on . . . . . . baby boomers and alienated intellectuals. "SCRATCH AN INTELLECTUAL, and you find a would-be aristocrat who loathes the sight, the...
Update:3 years 1 month
Unca Darrell
2017 Project: January “Progress” There are two different ways to interpret my 2017 project: that it's a way more complicated New Years Resolution, or that it is essentially...
Update:3 years 2 months
Greg's Opinion
Ted Cruz's first senate term in a nutshell The National Review's Tim Alberta switched to Politico, and one of his opening pieces put Ted Cruz's first term in a nutshell It...
Update:3 years 2 months
Rick Perry vs The World
Andrea Parquet-Taylor named KTVT CBS 11 news director Former KHOU 11 assistant news director Andrea Parquet-Taylor named Vice President, News Director for KTVT CBS 11 Andrea...
Update:3 years 2 months
Mike McGuff
VIDEO: KPRC 2 10pm newscast (1-24-99) ...
Update:3 years 2 months
Mike McGuff
Democrats actually thought Wendy Davis was a serious candidate? Hat tip to Willisms: VIDEO- Wendy Davis being Wendy Davis: https://t.co/SHq3ACGVDJ #txlege— Will Franklin (@WILLisms) January 24,...
Update:3 years 2 months
Rick Perry vs The World
Luke Bryan to sing National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LI on FOX ​ Country music superstar LUKE BRYAN will sing the National Anthem as part of Super Bowl LI pregame festivities at NRG Stadium in Houston...
Update:3 years 2 months
Mike McGuff
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 7 years 10 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 7 years 10 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 7 years 10 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 7 years 10 months
Tech Snafus Make Bill O'Reilly/Jon Stewart 'Rumble' More of a Stumble http://t.co/4OfeBlrG (@kegill | @pbsmediashift) #rumble2012
Will Sullivan | 7 years 10 months
Great addition, been burned too much by bad subs. "Google Play Announces Free Trials For In-App Subscription Services" http://t.co/TOLgRVak
TxDOT | 7 years 10 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 7 years 10 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 7 years 10 months
Aren't State Dept career people suppose to be non-partisan? Not the political appointees, the career people. #Libya
San Antonio Current | 7 years 10 months
Go ahead, chalk it up http://t.co/YMWpC5wM #satx #chalkitup
Caller.com | 7 years 10 months
Scanner: Bathroom on fire in 600 block of Virginia, CC fire dept. on the way
Ballotpedia | 7 years 10 months
Does your state offer early voting? Do you qualify? Find out! #election2012 http://t.co/eodxBYVD
Dallas Morning News | 7 years 10 months
Why a Dallas-area cycling coach believed Lance Armstrong was drug-free (video) http://t.co/gURdYkj1
Caller.com | 7 years 10 months
Dozens of illegal waste dumpers sentenced in Jim Wells Co.; others on the run: http://t.co/NgerCdsQ
Karen Townsend | 7 years 10 months
Consistently impressed w/raullabrador when I listen to him in Congressional hearings. #Libya
Cory Crow | 7 years 10 months
Diigo: United raises fares by up to $10 per round trip - Business - http://t.co/kWY8gwPV http://t.co/bw25JP5R
News 4 WOAI | 7 years 10 months
If you see news in or around San Antonio 'SEND IT' to @NEWS4WOAI here: http://t.co/uMqbMXQv OR email us at: NEWSDESK@WOAITV.COM
swamplot | 7 years 10 months
Mining Houston Garbage for Recycling and Compost Gold http://t.co/HMMBArMX
swamplot | 7 years 10 months
Daily Demolition Report: Tulane Highway http://t.co/JXmkSx11
KFDA NewsChannel10 | 7 years 10 months
Obama and Romney: Where they stand on the issues http://t.co/y3VrPfkM
Williamson County | 7 years 10 months
Mental Health Awareness Week FREE Webinar:"Understanding Depression-How to Help You or a Loved One" Thurs,Oct 11@1pm-https://t.co/YUWi19WY
© 2020 TEXAS WATCHDOG and USELABS. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Statement