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Archive for September 2nd, 2015

Dropping the Ball

There is certainly no argument here. It is just a matter of priorities. I am talking about the City of H-Town dropping the ball big time on cracking down on cell phone use by drivers in school zones. There is no excuse for not having this in place. Here is from Ericka Mellon of the Chron:

Six years ago, state lawmakers hoping to protect students banned drivers from texting and talking on hand-held cellphones in school zones.

The ban, however, has never been enforced in Houston. City and school district officials have opted not to install the warning signs needed to issue tickets, citing a lack of funds.

The city puts the cost at roughly $2.34 million for about 7,800 signs. Based on estimates from the Texas Department of Transportation, however, the price tag should be significantly lower.

Houston lags behind the state’s other major cities and several of its neighbors, including Bellaire, Conroe and West University Place, which installed the signs years ago and enforce the law. With school back in session after summer break, police in some jurisdictions have started issuing tickets for a seventh straight school year.

If they thought this was important, they could find the money. They just don’t think it is a priority.

And this:

Former state Rep. Dan Branch, who sponsored the 2009 school zone bill, said this week that he never anticipated the sign requirement would make the law too pricey to enforce.

“Active school zones require a driver’s undivided attention,” said Branch, a Dallas-based attorney. “It’s hard to put a price on the life of a child.”

And this:

About two years ago, Mock said, the city clarified that HISD could take on the task. HISD, however, hasn’t budgeted funding, either. Mock estimated that the district would need about 2,000 signs to cover all the school zones.

Price estimates differ. Using the city’s figures of about $300 each, including anti-graffiti coating and mounts, the HISD signs would cost about $600,000.

The Texas Department of Transportation estimates the tab at $100 each, assuming the cellphone notice can be added to an existing school zone sign. The price tag for installing independent signs is $450 to $600.

In Dallas, spokesman Richard Hill said the city’s public works department funded the installation of more than 2,360 signs in 2010. He said the material cost was less than $22,700 – or about $10 each.

And this:

Houston City Councilman C.O. “Brad” Bradford, a former Houston police chief, said the signs should be funded.

“What is a child’s life worth?” he asked. “We do a lot of things at City Hall that cost a lot more money. We have a $5 billion operating budget, and to say we cannot find money to erect signs in school zones to help protect children, that’s unconscionable.”

Councilman Ed Gonzalez, a former police officer, said the city should continue to discuss whether the cellphone ban would have a long-lasting impact on safety or whether other measures such as driver education would be better.

Huh! What is there to discuss? Find the money! Having signs up and enforcing the ban would be pretty effective driver’s education.

Commentary has made it pretty clear that I wouldn’t mind a federal or state or local law banning hand held phone devices while driving. If we can’t get that, we at least ought to be doing what the law says we can do. It is just a matter of priorities.

The ‘Stros have tossed 12 shutouts this season. Name the team with the most shutouts tossed?

It is good to see Lisa Falkenberg and the Chron E-Board today write about toning down the rhetoric. We are a community that has pretty much avoided the strife that has hit other communities across the country. Let’s keep it that way and keep the discussion civil and responsible and based on the facts.

There were not any fireworks at last night’s mayoral candidate forum in Garden Oaks. Another good crowd showed up and I am kind of more convinced that a lot of them have not made up their minds.

The Dodgers of course have tossed 18 shutouts this season to lead MLB.

Tonight is Dollar Dog Night, so expect a lot more than the 18,000 plus who showed up last night at The Yard. Our lead is back down to three and SpringerDinger might be ready to take the field this weekend.

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