Archive for October 5th, 2017


How many runs did the ‘Stros score against the Royals in the 2015 ALDS?

This isn’t the first time Bill King has talked about the following take he put out yesterday. He brought it up a kazillion times during the campaign in 2015. Here is his take:

Uptown Bus Lanes Already Over Budget 

One of the worst public works boondoggles in our region is about to get worse unless our elected officials step in.  In 2014, the Uptown TIRZ proposed to build dedicated bus lanes down the middle of Post Oak Boulevard.   The cost of the project at that time was estimated to be $196 million, with over half that amount coming from local property taxes and the balance coming from State and federal transportation funds.  Last week, the Uptown TIRZ went to the Transportation Policy Council asking for an additional $30 million for the project.  And trust me, this will not be the last time Uptown comes back with its hand out.

Most of you have probably never heard of the Transportation Policy Council (TPC), but it wields enormous influence over regional mobility projects.  It is a committee of the Houston Galveston Area Council (HGAC), which is one of twenty-four regional councils of local governments that were established by the Texas Legislature.  Transportation policy councils in each of these regional organizations are made up of local officials who allocate State and federal transportation funds to various road and transit projects within their regions.

There are 27 members on our TPC.  Most are elected officials but there are also some appointed positions (such as the Metro chair and TXDOT’s district engineer).   You can see a complete list of the members [here].  

The TPC was notified of Uptown’s request for additional State funds on September 22.  Because of the size of the request, it could not be approved until the following meeting.  Fortunately, both County Judge Ed Emmett and Commissioner Steve Radack expressed concerns about the budget overrun in the meeting.  From their comments, it appears they will likely vote against bailing out Uptown, especially since Emmett voted against the project originally.  You can watch the video of the meeting [here].  Uptown’s request is discussed in agenda item number 5.  

Personally, I am very skeptical that the proposed bus lanes will ever achieve the projected ridership or congestion mitigation Uptown claims.  We have seen time and again that ridership projections are almost always overly optimistic.  Of particular concern is that the project is based on the assumption that commuters will either drive their car or take a park-and-ride to one of the ends of the bus lanes, then switch to the buses for the final leg of their trip.  In the transit world this is known as “two-seat trip”, meaning that the commuter must change modes during trip.  Historically, commuters have been reluctant to take two-seat trips except in the most congested areas, such as Manhattan.

And the project will undoubtedly impede the flow of vehicular traffic in the Galleria.  There is a particularly problematic proposed interchange at Post Oak and the Loop where the bus lanes will transition onto the Loop.  I cannot imagine that traffic will not be permanently snarled at that intersection.  

But regardless of the future effectiveness of the project, it is simply an idiotic use of $200 million of taxpayer money.  I could come up with a list of at least 100 other transportation projects that would represent a better value.  

This project was pushed through by TIRZ bureaucrats trying to justify their existence and special interests along Post Oak, some of whom have received multi-million dollar right-of-way payouts.  It is wildly unpopular with most of the businesses along Post Oak and residents in the Galleria.  Post Oak went from being one of our signature boulevards to a war zone.  I cannot even imagine what a nightmare the traffic is going to be during the holiday season.

Much of the work that has been done so far is utility work and right-of-way expansion.  Almost nothing has been done to actually begin construction of the bus lanes, which means that it is not too late to scrap this project.  A good step in that direction would be for the TPC to turn down Uptown’s request for additional funding.

So, I am encouraging everyone to first call Judge Emmett and Commissioner Radack to congratulate them on questioning the request and to encourage them to vote against it when it comes back to the TPC for final approval.  You might also consider calling Houston City Council Members David Robinson and Larry Green, who also serve on the TPC, and ask them to vote against the increase.   

Finally, it is also time for residents in the Galleria to make it clear to the Uptown board that they are opposed to this project.  You can reach the Uptown office at 713-621-2011 or you can email it [here].   You can see a list of their directors [here].  If you know any of these members, call them and let them know you are opposed to the project.  

This project is crony capitalism at its worst.  TIRZs were originally established to help “blighted” neighborhoods.  This project is using $200 million of taxpayer money to subsidize a project intended to benefit the most expensive real estate in the City.  In the meantime, there are many neighborhoods in our City going begging for basic services, like flood control projects!  

It is time to put an end to this boondoggle.

Bill is right.  With local governmental agencies throughout the region struggling financially, how does one justify this?

If you are not outraged by this then I can’t help you.

Check out this headline from Burkablog:

The Bathroom Bill Might Have Cost Texas 50,000 Jobs

The anti-transgender bathroom bill debate is a strike against any Texas city getting the Amazon HQ2.

Here is R.G.’s piece: https://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/have-dan-patrick-and-greg-abbott-already-cost-texas-50000-jobs/.


A letter to the Chron:

Picking school trustees

Regarding “HISD trustees” (Page A19, Saturday), a member of a school district board of trustees ought to have professional experience in education. Good judges have legal experience; good doctors have medical experience; good CEOs have business experience, and good board members must have education experience. If one group is likely to harm schools now, it is people with no education experience, whose trademarks are being anti-union and pro-charter schools. Charters have a well-documented record of failure across the country, often fueled by corrupt owners who profit from our tax dollars by skimming money after skimping on educational costs.

If you have ever worked in a classroom, run a school or sent your children to a school without proper air-conditioning, then you should understand why a board member would act assertively on behalf of every child in that school.

Every child in HISD deserves their basic human needs to be met, not just test preparation. Air-conditioning is a necessity in the classroom along with proper ventilation, good lighting, clean drinking water, healthy lunches and access to clean air outdoors away from highways and industry. On Nov. 7, consider candidates who will respond boldly to meet these basic human needs.

Elizabeth Spike, Houston

Ok. I really don’t think air conditioners are going to drive folks to the polls to vote on HISD trustee races in a few weeks.

The ‘Stros scored a total of 21 runs in the 2015 ALDS of course.

Well, they are here! The ALDS! If you are not pumped, then I also can’t help you.

This is why we support the ‘Stros and visit The Yard for baseball on October 5.

Tuves, SpringerDinger, Correa, Reddick, Beltran, Keuchel, McCann, Oso Blanco, MarGo, Devo, Verlandia y la Piña!

I’m ready! Listo!

Go Astros!

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