Archive for September 3rd, 2015

In Two Months

Two months from tonight the votes will be counted.

I guess it was worth it to get up this morning and head out to the Near Northwest Management District Mayoral Candidate Forum. Ben Hall and Rep. Sylvester Turner mixed it up on pensions.

Council Member Steve Costello started using some of Bill King’s lines on HPD stats.

We found out CM Costello, Adrian Garcia and Marty McVey live inside the loop and Chris Bell, Hall, Bill, and Rep. Turner don’t.

CM Costello hit Rep. Turner’s timeline on adding more police officers.

The HERO was not brought up until Hall did in his closing.

The grub was nice.

Coming back from an eatery on HWY 290 and Bingle was definitely a challenge.

The District H candidates will participate in a forum this evening at Montie Beach.

Which MLB division has the closest race for first place?

Commentary said this yesterday:

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.

Well, the Mayor continues to hold her ground – sort of – according to today’s front page Chron story by Ericka Mellon. Here is the entire piece:

Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday that she is not convinced that installing signs alerting drivers to a 6-year-old state law banning texting and the use of hand-held cellphones in school zones is worth the cost.

The question is whether the city has any choice.

The 2009 law prohibiting cellphone use in school zones states that cities, counties or other political entities “shall post a sign” at the start of each school zone about the ban. Such signs were posted years ago in other major Texas cities – Austin, Dallas and San Antonio – and in Houston’s neighbors, including Conroe, Bellaire and the villages in Spring Branch. Harris County also has put up signs in school zones it covers.

But, citing a $2.34 million price tag for installing the signs, Houston opted not to do so and has not issued citations in the belief that without the signs, the law was unenforceable.

However, in addition to the directive that cities “shall” post signs, the law says that ticketed drivers could defend themselves against prosecution if no sign advising of the cellphone ban was posted.

Former state Rep. Dan Branch, the Dallas Republican who sponsored the bill, declined Wednesday to state whether Houston was violating the state law.

“I think the bill should speak for itself,” said Branch, an attorney.

Parker said Wednesday that school districts could assume responsibility for enforcing the cellphone ban, noting that they have their own police forces.

“They have the ability to do this,” she said. “They have defaulted to the city, and our position has been we want a statewide ban (on texting while driving anywhere). We want a clear and consistent policy, not just in the school zones.”

Parker added that the decision not to mount the signs also comes down to cost. The city estimates the signs would cost $300 each for 7,800 signs in school zones covering numerous districts.

However, the Texas Department of Transportation said the price tag should be about $100, assuming the cellphone notice could be mounted to existing school zone signs. Dallas officials said the material cost for signs installed in 2010 equaled about $10 each, and Austin paid about $47 each for signs and labor, according to city representatives.

Harris County Precinct 4 estimated the material cost for its internally produced signs at $12 each.

The city’s price difference may be attributed to anti-graffiti coating and mounting hardware, said spokesw0man Janice Evans.

State transportation department spokesman David Glessner confirmed that a school district with a police force that enforces traffic laws should be able to place the signs on most roads.

“It comes down to the cost of installing the signs – who bears that cost and whether there’s enough of a benefit to make it worthwhile,” Parker said. “Clearly if it saved one child’s life, it would be a worthwhile investment.

“But we don’t believe that putting up a bunch of signs stops anybody from doing anything. Because if they don’t already know it’s dangerous to do … I don’t think there’s any education we can do to stop people from being stupid. It’s an enforcement issue.”

Houston school board president Rhonda Skillern-Jones said Wednesday that she planned to discuss the issue with her fellow trustees.

“I would like to see there be some cooperation between the school district and the city,” she said. “The safety of our students should be a collaboration between the two entities.”

Marney Sims, general counsel for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, said she was surprised to find out that the district’s three schools under city jurisdiction did not have the cellphone signs. She said she planned to verify that the district had the authority to install them. “If we do,” she said, “then we will pay to add those.”

Parker, talking to reporters after a City Council meeting Wednesday, noted that she had led a public awareness campaign against texting and driving. She wrote a May 2013 opinion piece in the Chronicle calling on the community to work together to end the practice.

“Public safety is the responsibility of local government,” she wrote. “Saving lives is the responsibility of us all.”

Like I said yesterday. It is a matter of priorities and how you go about changing a culture. If we had had signs put up a couple of years ago, I think folks would have gotten the message. And if one thinks banning texting while driving should be law, why not enact it here by ordinance? Counting on state government – good luck!

The closest division race is in the AL East where the Jays lead the Yankees by 1 ½. We are not far behind with our two game lead over the Rangers.

Only 18,000 plus showed up last night for Dollar Dogs. We can do better. What are you waiting on? SpringerDinger?

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