in Houston, Texas
Should TxDOT spend money to replace local bridges with little traffic?
Monday, Aug 06, 2012, 01:04PM CST
By Curt Olson
bridge

Take a 90-minute drive west of the Texas Capitol in Austin, and you could find yourself driving across a bridge over the Pedernales River in Gillespie County.

The bridge at Boos Lane Crossing, with daily traffic of about 25 cars, may emerge as a new symbol of wasted money for Texas’ growing transportation needs. It would cost $370,000 to replace the bridge, KXAN in Austin reports.

The Texas Department of Transportation grabbed recent attention for higher executive pay and more administrative positions. Also, Texas lawmakers have learned this summer the state is approaching its debt limit on transportation projects, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Now KXAN reports Texas spends millions of dollars replacing bridges that have little traffic, and it would be cheaper to repair them.

The money comes from $230 million allocated from the federal Highway Bridge Program. TxDOT directs $170 million to bridges it owns and maintains and $60 million to “off-system” bridges such as Boos Lane Crossing, which counties and municipalities own and maintain, KXAN reported.

Of these local, low-traveled bridges, TxDOT has about 440 bridges with a daily traffic count of fewer than 100 cars that will be replaced in the next five years at a cost of more than $150 million. These bridges are part of the 1,052 statewide that will be repaired or replaced the next five years costing $1.35 billion, according to KXAN. The projects are prioritized based on bridge structure, serviceability and obsolescence, and how essential each bridge is to public use, although this last factor accounts for just 15 percent of the grade, KXAN reports.

(Be sure to check out KXAN’s online database of bridge projects statewide and interactive map of Austin-area projects.)

There’s added pressure on county and municipal officials. Residents travel across these bridges with low traffic counts, and if local officials don’t take the federal money to replace the bridge in question, TxDOT will direct it elsewhere. TxDOT officials told Gillespie County leaders the county would bear the full financial burden to repair the Boos Lane Crossing bridge, and the other option is to close it, which also isn’t palatable.

But don’t tell that to Philip Taetz, a retired Texas A&M civil engineering professor who lives near Boos Lane Crossing and told KXAN replacing the bridge was “waste in the worst possible form.”

***
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 the Regency Bridge by flickr user barron, used via a Creative Commons license.

Reno, Parker County can’t agree on police protection for city residents
Friday, Jul 13, 2012, 12:01PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
cops

Pick the right day and time of night, and you can shoot a man in Reno, take all the time you want to watch him die, and it’s likely you will never end up with the Folsom Prison Blues.

This particular Reno, population 2,500, 35 miles northwest of Fort Worth, has a law enforcement problem or, more precisely, a city government problem, the Fort Worth Star Telegram tells us.

Reno Mayor Lynda Stokes has asked Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler to provide protection for Reno during those times when the city’s tiny police department is shuttered.

While this arrangement is rare in Texas, according to Steve Westbrook, executive director of the Texas Sheriff's Association, Stokes insists that a police force, even one that doesn’t go out at night, is integral to Reno’s identity.

In the minds of Parker County officials, this identity has been forged by Carol Houlihan, the Reno council member who constantly called for increased county services at the same time picketing outside a county office to protest county spending.

Houlihan was charged in May with forgery for falsifying animal certificates, the story says.

Or the time two years ago when the Reno volunteer fire department had to be shut down when the fire chief was arrested.

“Since I've been mayor, we've done nothing but try to mend fences,” Stokes says. “Whatever happened in the past, we'll apologize for, but I'm telling you, we're different. It's not the same."

Try telling that to Fowler, who insists his dispatchers will send a squad into Reno for an emergency.

"The citizens of Reno can rest assured, if an assault is taking place or a crime is in progress of a dangerous nature, if Reno is not there, we will be there," Fowler says. "We always have and we always will. But if it's a property-line dispute or an alarm on a septic system like we once had, we're not going to come."

Or when there is a 911 call from a woman, like Sue Ferrell, who was sure her house was being broken into. The dispatcher said it was Ferrell’s misfortune that there were no Reno officers on duty at the time, and no one would be coming.

Fowler defended the dispatcher’s decision. He has made it clear Reno either needs to build its police force or contract with Parker County for all of its law enforcement.

As of July 9, the Reno website is carrying an advertisement for a certified police officer.

In the meantime, Ferrell and the rest of Reno’s taxpaying citizens can hang their heads and cry.

***
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 Keystone Cops, used via a Creative Commons license.

Keller, Texas - where city manager cut his own job - finds ways to spend the savings
Monday, May 21, 2012, 10:22AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
piggy bank

Thank you, City of Keller, for restoring our shaken faith in government.

The whole world, practically, went all soft and weepy in March when your city manager, Dan O’Leary, said he was leaving his job and his $176,000 a year salary.

To the amazement of the hard-bitten of us in the press, O’Leary said he thought it was the right thing to do because there wasn’t enough work to go around for him and his assistants. O’Leary didn’t even have another job to go to.

What a relief it is, then, to learn that rather than reduce the budget by $176,000,  you gave $75,000 in raises to four of your highest paid employees, including O’Leary’s successor, Steve Polasek, and hired a new management assistant at $55,000-a-year, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting today.

O’Leary was apparently wrong about that municipal workload. Polasek, one of his two assistants, told the City Council O’Leary’s departure increased the responsibilities for the top department heads.

The council obliged by raising Polasek’s salary by almost $40,000 to $169,000 a year. The council promoted Chris Fuller, the other assistant, to deputy city manager with a $15,000 bump to $145,000.

The council gave Police Chief Mark Hafner a new title, director of public safety, and a $15,000 raise to $145,000 a year. And Tom Elgin, the community development manager got a $5,000 increase to $95,000 a year.

"We didn't hand out raises," Polasek told the Star-Telegram. "We gave them new titles to fit the work that they're doing, and then we provided salaries that are commensurate with what the position calls for."

It seems O’Leary, who has since been hired to be the city manager of Duncanville, didn’t fully realize his value, Polasek says. Not only to Keller, but to those who fervently believe it is government’s sacred duty to spend your tax money.

***
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 'Broken Piggy Bank' by flickr user 401K, used via a Creative Commons license.

Fort Worth employees boost pay - and possibly future pension earnings - with OT
Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 10:16AM CST
By Steve Miller
time clock

Sixty-five Fort Worth city employees earned at least $20,000 in overtime last year, according to a report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The top 10 earners of the extra pay were police department employees, including an officer who kicked his pay up 68 percent with the extra shifts.

Here’s the list of those picking up the extra public pay.

As the story wisely points out, a city employee's pension pay is based on his or her largest three years of pay. Often, employees will juice their hours as they head toward retirement and are usually at their highest pay level.

The 68 percenter is officer Howard A. Tokheim, who pulled in more than $52,000 in OT last year on top of his annual salary of  $77,292.80. Well, at least we can be sure he earned it on the mean streets of the city. What’s that? Howard actually works in the commercial vehicle unit of Fort Worth’s finest.

That’s explained by Fort Worth police Maj. Paul Henderson, who first told the S-T that paring back the overtime for cops is tough because "the majority of the officers on the top-earners list are assigned to various task forces and traffic enforcement units that utilize grant or federal funds to pay for overtime. These assignments require specialized certifications and special federal task force agent designations, which limit the pool of personnel capable to work these special enforcement details."

But for commercial vehicle enforcement?

"It is a challenging task attempting to provide safety on our roadways with limited enforcement experts while being awarded grant funding to pay for overtime to do just that, provide safe roadways," Henderson told the S-T. Actually, though, the police do a good job of keeping the city safe; it was declared among the safest in the U.S. in an annual ranking a few years back.

And it’s easy to consider Fort Worth as doing some paltry padding of the pension; according to a 2010 report in Houston, 714 police officers and fire department employees received over $20 Gs in OT.  According to records obtained by Texas Watchdog, Houston PD officers received overtime for work in some tough spots last year, including River Oaks and assignments for Halliburton and Akin Gump.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@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, and tumblr.

Photo of time clock by flickr user Providence Public Library, used via a Creative Commons license.

Texas to cut reimbursement rates to doctors
Monday, Nov 21, 2011, 01:50PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
medical supplies

In a 99 percent:1 percent world, it makes perfect sense to save government health care by going after doctors.

The result of reducing reimbursement rates for occupational therapists, the subject of hearings this week in Austin, will be to further discourage doctors from practicing in the poorest parts of Texas, according to a story posted Sunday in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Overworked doctors in rural south Texas are at the center of a shift to managed care, which the state hopes will save taxpayers as much as $300 million.

The cost of Medicaid, $24.7 billion this year, represents about a third of the state budget serving 3.4 million children, elderly, blind and disabled Texans, the paper says. Roughly two-thirds of Medicaid in Texas is paid for with federal taxpayer funds and the other third from state taxpayers. The program has grown to the point where one in six Texans were benefiting from the entitlement in 2009.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which is conducting the hearings, plans to cut payments to therapists by $150 million a year. The cuts are to be made by bringing reimbursement rates for the Medicaid programs in line with similar services paid for through Medicare.

The state is also trying to save millions more by dropping co-payments to doctors for people eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

"It's another small step in the direction of making it harder to practice medicine in Texas," Dee Dockery, a radiologist and spokesman for the Texas Radiological Society, told the Star-Telegram.

The Social Security Administration recently attempted to make it easier to practice medicine for doctors reviewing federal disability applications by cutting their hourly review rate and ordering them to work faster, according to a sobering story today by the Wall Street Journal.

Although it did nothing for the backlog of disability claims, it did wonders for reducing payroll. Forty-five doctors either quit or were fired. Administrators have tried to make up for the shortage by having doctors review claims outside of their area of medical expertise.

The result, the critics say, will be an increase in awards to people who don’t qualify and denials to those who do.
 
***
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.

Follow Texas Health Care Report on Twitter, and fan us on Facebook. Texas Health Care Report is a project of Texas Watchdog.

Photo of medical supplies by flickr user Cult Gigolo, used via a Creative Commons license.
Law changing payment rules on heart disease tests adds to Texas health insurance mandates
Thursday, Nov 17, 2011, 03:23PM CST
By Mark Lisheron
human heart

The American people do not realize how lucky they are to have Texas Gov. Rick Perry to blame for everything.

No, Perry didn’t write “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” That was Lee Pockriss, who died on Monday. But darned near everything else.

Take this Texas-sized health insurance mandate of Perry’s NPR just discovered. Well, they didn’t actually discover it, The Center For Public Integrity did. And it really isn’t Perry’s, but that’s what makes the story so interesting, at least in an election year.

NPR offers a shortened version of a scrupulously reported story by the investigative non-profit website. The thrust of the story is critical of an ardent small-government champion-in-charge while Texas has become one of the most burdensome states in the country for health care mandates.

Nestled in all the Blame Perry tissue paper is a finely wrought gift of explanatory journalism revealing how government grinds on while the press and the public barely notice.

You have to go back to the 2009 session of the Legislature. State Rep. Rene Oliveira, a Brownsville Democrat, reintroduced a bill he had filed in 2007 calling for insurance companies to pay for CT scans and ultrasound tests to help detect heart disease.

Oliveira had such a scan in 2006 that led to double bypass surgery. He said the scan saved his life. The Legislature passed Oliveira’s bill.

If his colleagues were impressed by Oliveira’s story the public wasn’t aware of it, at least not until after Perry signed the bill. Texas Watchdog did a search of Nexis, a paid service that archives stories from all of the major newspapers in Texas, under the key words “Rene Oliveira” and “heart.” The first mention of the bill is six weeks after the end of the session.

In an editorial on July 16 the Houston Chronicle called Oliveira’s a great story and a lousy law. Ten days later, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported the Legislature was calling for payments of up to $200 each for a test with no scientific support.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, according to the Star-Telegram story, the “gold standard in unbiased health care recommendations,” opposed the regular screening. The American Heart Association declined to support Oliveira's bill.

The bill did, however, have the support of and contained language provided by the Society for Heart Attack Prevention and Education. This lobbying group of cardiologists, funded by the Association for Eradication of Heart Attack in Houston, had financial ties to medical device and pharmaceutical companies that would profit from the increase in scans.

What’s more, with increased screening and its use of radiation comes the increased risk of cancer, the Star-Telegram said.

The story concluded, “The new Texas law is a classic case of marketing and advocacy preceding science. Ideally, medicine should be based on evidence, not belief.”

This sound but brief thrashing convinced no one during the 2011 regular and special sessions of the Legislature to repeal the law.

The Center For Public Integrity recounts all of this in much greater detail and adds to it estimates by Amit Khera, a doctor and professor at Texas’ Southwestern Medical Center, that the bill exposes insurance companies to expenses of up to $120 million for the questionable scans.

And to think, were it not for his decision to run for president, the public might never have known Rick Perry was responsible for all of it.
 
***
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.

Follow Texas Health Care Report on Twitter, and fan us on Facebook. Texas Health Care Report is a project of Texas Watchdog.

Photo 'Human heart, bisected,' by flickr user Carolina Biological Supply Company, used via a Creative Commons license.
Arlington ISD principal resigns following investigation into absences, travel logs
Thursday, Oct 27, 2011, 02:45PM CST
By Steve Miller
absent

The principal of a high school in the Arlington school district blamed a "drug-induced haze” for her failure to report numerous absences following surgery in October 2010. The story of Martin High principal Melinda Reeves reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is one of a hushed investigation that resulted in her suspension in May, her replacement in June, and her resignation in August.

After her failure to report the absences, the district then investigated her travel forms and more absences from March through May. Her attorney, Karl Tiger Hanner, told the newpaper she had committed no wrongdoing.

According to records obtained by the Star–Telegram, which included reports from Rick Tice, Arlington ISD's director of personnel services:

Reeves claimed 41 miles on a travel log to attend a soccer game in Bedford that she apparently did not make because of traffic. (Hanner, her attorney, said that because of traffic delays, Reeves arrived just after the game ended.) Reeves wrote two mileage entries on the same date: 28 miles for a baseball game in Fort Worth and 241 miles for a softball game in Cisco.

Reeves submitted a travel reimbursement form for 280 miles to attend baseball playoffs in Brownwood, while "some information indicates she carpooled" with a couple in their vehicle, Tice wrote.

She requested a check for $517.38 made out to an Austin restaurant to buy dinner for Martin student performers. Tice notes that the students were already given money for expenses and that the check was returned and voided May 13.

Tice also said three of Reeves' half-day absences and one late arrival from late March to early May were "not entered in the system."

"After all the scrutiny in January of this year, it appears that Ms. Reeves continues to be careless about the accuracy of her time and mileage reports," Tice said in his memo.

Reeves was making $127,125. Questions that remain, of course, involve the status of her teaching license – can she teach again after this? Records at the state of Reeves' license show no trouble. And then there's her pension, which is zealously guarded under state law.

***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@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, and tumblr.

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

Problems with transparency, perception of conflicts of interest at North Texas Tollway Authority: Report
Thursday, Oct 20, 2011, 05:30PM CST
By Steve Miller
tollway

An assessment of the North Texas Tollway Authority has found the taxpayer-funded operation needs to be more transparent and has issues with “governance and operational practices that cause frustration, poor morale, and distrust."

The appearance of conflicts of interest at the agency have created "public and internal distrust," and the agency should develop a conflict-of-interest policy, the report commissioned by area county judges says. "Some board members have family or business ties that involve NTTA consultants or right-of-way transactions."


The review found the agency has failed in a number of instances to take action, even as the frequency of board meetings has more than doubled in the past two years. For example, it took seven months for the board to approve a change in administrative fees that are tacked onto fines for failure to pay a toll.


The authority also relied heavily on consultants rather than its employee base for most endeavors, although two areas were exclusively handled by tollway employees: business diversity and audits.


The review notes that a policy for use of consultants, which would broaden the use of in-house employees, was proposed in April by then-Executive Director Allen Clemson but never adopted by the board. Clemson was the fifth executive director in five years.


The revolving door that is the NTTA’s executive director's office may be the result of a number of policy flaws, including the fact that there were no formal goals for the director nor was there any evaluation period other than an annual review, the report says.


The evaluation of the agency was commissioned by the county judges in Tarrant, Denton, Dallas and Collin counties. Those judges also select board members for the tollway authority.


The review was conducted by New York-based Alvarez & Marsalthe same firm that oversaw the dismantling of Lehman Brothers in 2009 and was called on to assist the scandal-ridden HealthSouth in 2004.

 

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which has been covering the tollway authority doggedly, has a story on the firm's findings here.

 

***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@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 MySpaceDiggFriendFeedand tumblr.


Photo 'Tollway @ 635' by flickr user jczart, used via a Creative Commons license.

Potential conflicts of interest at North Texas Tollway Authority examined
Monday, Oct 17, 2011, 10:42AM CST
By Steve Miller
Dallas North Tollway

"Too often, the public's business becomes private business,"  state Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, says in a weekend story about the North Texas Tollway Authority in the Fort Worth Star –Telegram.

He's stating the obvious, but is anyone paying attention?


The context is the tollway authority and its heretofore ability to escape public scrutiny of its cozy relationships with vendors and consultants.

 

There have been issues raised for a while. For starters, as pointed out in the Star-Telegram:

This year, before being appointed chairman of the North Texas Tollway Authority, former Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr disclosed that his brother worked for the Locke Lord law firm, which provides much of the authority's legal services.


Other board members wondered if there was a conflict of interest. Barr explained that he had already sought an opinion from the authority's legal counsel -- who also works for Locke Lord -- and together they had determined it was ethically safe for him to vote on issues involving the firm.

Board member David Denison has a financial interest in a company that owns land in the path of tollway growth. But it’s OK, he said.

Denison wrote in a Feb. 11 memorandum to fellow board members and tollway staff: "There is no scenario under which that acquisition can result in any economic benefit to me."

In the next year, tollway authority revenue is expected to hit $480 million with debt of $9 billion. That’s plenty of authority.


A report commissioned by county judges in Tarrant, Denton, Dallas and Collin counties, set to be released Tuesday, may shine some light on this operation (which has at times displayed transparency). The report could even bring some reform of a board that has grown in both scope and taxpayer spending, although it's important to understand that the judges requesting the audit are the same ones who select board members for the tollway authority.


Other reform efforts have gone nowhere.


The state legislature in this past session considered a bill that would subject the tollway authority to a sunset review. It failed, as did another bill that would have required tollway authorities to undergo an annual financial audit by the state auditor. 


On Friday, the authority’s fifth CEO in five years resigned, claiming he couldn’t get along with the board. Allen Clemson has a deal under which he gets 90 days of severance, but he could request to be paid through the end of his contract, which is May.

 

***

Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@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 MySpaceDiggFriendFeed, and tumblr.

Photo of Dallas North Tollway from North Texas Tollway Authority website.
Fort Worth ISD tech policy raises trustee’s hackles
Tuesday, Oct 04, 2011, 01:47PM CST
By Lee Ann O'Neal
mouse

Fort Worth ISD Trustee Ann Sutherland, who opposes a policy change governing board members’ use of district technology, found herself the subject of a Star-Telegram editorial over the weekend blasting the “whopping problems” with her argument.

The technology policy, approved by the board last week over Sutherland’s objections, outlines acceptable use, limits the district’s liability for a board member’s “inappropriate use,” and makes clear that board members’ e-mail messages “shall not be considered private” and can be monitored by tech staff. For Sutherland, this last detail was the rub.

“I do not think it is proper for staff to have carte blanche to look at our e-mails and our documents, and I do not think it is in the board's interest to require us to keep all our documents in case someone wants to look at them,” Sutherland said. “So I urge a 'no' vote, and furthermore, if it passes, I'm not going to do it.”

Other board members suggested that they simply don’t use their publicly-funded email to send messages that would cause embarrassment, and underscored that the e-mail records are public, anyway, under the Texas Public Information Act.

“Any e-mail I place on the system can go anywhere,” Trustee Christene Moss said. “Any time you're using someone else's system like the taxpayers' dollars, I think it's going to have to be open.”

We think Moss’s framework is a good one, especially given the way that e-mail lapses can distract from the public business at hand. We also recall that e-mail records are frequently important pieces of the puzzle in terms of how the public’s business is conducted.

In watching the full video, it appears that Sutherland is genuinely concerned about some type of nefarious use of board members’ e-mail records, and a commenter on the Star-Telegram site identifying herself as Sutherland expounds on this point.

“There are times that I believe that they have been meddled with inappropriately,” she said during the meeting, adding that she had no proof.

As the Star-Telegram points out, Sutherland’s position is premised on the faulty assumption that the records belong first to her.

“Sutherland apparently has assumed that she has some kind of privacy interest in the e-mails she writes on a computer provided by taxpayers regarding district operations,” the Star-Telegram opines. “She doesn't.”

***
Contact Lee Ann O’Neal at 713-980-9777 or leeann@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, and tumblr.

Photo of mouse by flickr user Ross Franklin, used via a Creative Commons license.
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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 months
Grits for Breakfast
Houston Home Listing Photo of the Day: The Vault 14759 Oak Bend Dr. [HAR] … Read...
Update:2 years 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 8 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 9 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 9 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:2 years 11 months
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:2 years 11 months
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:2 years 11 months
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:2 years 11 months
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:2 years 11 months
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 week
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 week
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 week
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 1 month
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 1 month
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 1 month
Mike McGuff
VIDEO: KPRC 2 10pm newscast (1-24-99) ...
Update:3 years 1 month
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 1 month
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 1 month
Mike McGuff
Tweets
Karen Townsend | 7 years 9 months
"Patrick F. Kennedy is a career foreign service officer" - http://t.co/GOrCe0IS
Peter Corbett ✈ | 7 years 9 months
I'm at McCarran International Airport (LAS) w/ @almacy http://t.co/KvmId07i
KERA Public Media | 7 years 9 months
TONIGHT at 7pm on KERA TV: Presidential Debate: Learn more at PBS NewsHour. http://t.co/Z9kYdun8
PBS MediaShift | 7 years 9 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 9 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 9 months
I-35W/North Tarrant Express #constantcontact http://t.co/QDzrQumu
keyetv | 7 years 9 months
Serial shotgun robbers suspects arrested. http://t.co/ka8T4U9B
Karen Townsend | 7 years 9 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 9 months
Go ahead, chalk it up http://t.co/YMWpC5wM #satx #chalkitup
Caller.com | 7 years 9 months
Scanner: Bathroom on fire in 600 block of Virginia, CC fire dept. on the way
Ballotpedia | 7 years 9 months
Does your state offer early voting? Do you qualify? Find out! #election2012 http://t.co/eodxBYVD
Dallas Morning News | 7 years 9 months
Why a Dallas-area cycling coach believed Lance Armstrong was drug-free (video) http://t.co/gURdYkj1
Caller.com | 7 years 9 months
Dozens of illegal waste dumpers sentenced in Jim Wells Co.; others on the run: http://t.co/NgerCdsQ
Karen Townsend | 7 years 9 months
Consistently impressed w/raullabrador when I listen to him in Congressional hearings. #Libya
Cory Crow | 7 years 9 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 9 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 9 months
Mining Houston Garbage for Recycling and Compost Gold http://t.co/HMMBArMX
swamplot | 7 years 9 months
Daily Demolition Report: Tulane Highway http://t.co/JXmkSx11
KFDA NewsChannel10 | 7 years 9 months
Obama and Romney: Where they stand on the issues http://t.co/y3VrPfkM
Williamson County | 7 years 9 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
© 2019 TEXAS WATCHDOG and USELABS. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use and Privacy Statement