Monday, December 26, 2011

While we were out....

Houston's "Downtown Pavilions" went into receivership....

(Downtown’s Houston Pavilions taken over by receiver, Nancy Sarnoff,

Despite this the City has declared the property (whose anchor tenants are the House of Blues and Lucky Strike Bowling Lanes) a "success". Obviously using some definition of success with which are are not yet familiar....

Houston gets "bike sharing" (at Light Rail stations to boot!)

(Houston to get bike sharing and Nissan Leafs*, Zain Shauk,

This little "newswatch" blog piece wasn't bad, but the 'news' story from Chronblog on this issue should have never made it passed even the most junior editor....

(Bicycle-sharing program will start in downtown Houston, Allan Turner,
Imagine a Houston where you could step from a light rail station, rent a bicycle for a nominal sum and pedal to your destination. The only greenhouse gas you'd emit would be your own carbon dioxide as you huffed and puffed along. Rather than fretting about burning noxious gasoline, you could gloat about burning calories.
Cringe-worthy, and not a word of opposition in what was clearly designed to be an advocacy piece and nothing resembling journalism.

During time when finances for the City are historically tight, it's telling that this bumbling administration and City Council closed the curtain on 2011 with some fiscally questionable decisions. It's almost comical that ChronBlog asked the question whether gridlock has been good for Texas or no.

Given the actions of our local politicians (many of whom share fiscal ideology with many in the National Democratic Party) the more gridlock the better.

*I won't even discuss the "leasing" of Nissan Leafs. I'm sure someone would say this has as much potential to the taxpayer as did Bill White's failure of a Prius purchase plan.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

'Twas the night before, the night before, the night before Christmas

(used via a creative commons license.)

And all through the house, not a blogger was blogging, not even the lightly read and intermittently updated.

In other words: Happy Christmas y'all. Here's hoping you spend it with good times, good friends, all of your loved ones around you safe and happy (and warm) and free from food-borne illnesses.

If you comment on here, don't be surprised if it's not approved until after the Holiday has passed. I've got tamales to eat ya' know?

City of Houston passes High Rise Ordinance, takes first bite of elephant...

Many of my three (or so) regular readers are undoubtedly familiar with the question: "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer of course being "One bite at a time."

Yesterday zoning and land-use advocates took their first bite into the zoning elephant and are already coming back for more.

(Houston City Council OKs high-rise limits, Zain Shauk,
After four years of arguments and delays, Houston City Council on Wednesday approved restrictions on residential towers, passing an ordinance inspired by the so-called Ashby high rise.

The decision came during the final council meeting of the year, giving Mayor Annise Parker a victory as she pushed for two controversial sets of regulations to pass before seven new city representatives are sworn into office in January.

The other proposed regulations stalled, however, with the council voting unanimously to delay a vote on new automobile shop rules until February and leave the issue to the new council in the upcoming term.

The restrictions on high rises, which will require those structures to be built at least 30 or 40 feet from surrounding homes, depending on the street sizes, faced opposition from five council members who wanted it delayed.
In reality, this is a fairly toothless ordinance. One that was undoubtedly crafted to provoke the following response:

(Buffering Ordinance Falls Short, The Apple Dumpling Gang,
Those who endorse incremental change may applaud the Residential Buffering Ordinance as a small step in the right direction. But if the city's goal is to protect neighborhoods against the kind of unwelcome surprises posed by projects like the Ashby high-rise, the Residential Buffering Ordinance falls tragically short. We believe that the city can do better.

By better, the Gang is undoubtedly referring to form based codes which, in reality, are zoning for those who don't like the mean-ol' Government telling them what they can or cannot do with their land. The problem with form-based codes is that the argument based for/against them is based on a false premise.

(Regarding the proposed High Density Ordinance, Andrew Burleson, NeoHouston
A far better and more effective approach to development regulation is form-based code. In a form-based code the scale of a building and the way it relates to its surroundings is regulated, and land-use is not regulated.
Got that? Land-use is NOT regulated, so we're dealing with the much more benign "codes" than a full on frontal zoning ordinance which would tell you at what time you could wake up in the morning to relieve yourself.

At first blush, form-based "codes" sounds much more benign, kind of like a soft summer afternoon at a beach bar on a Sunday evening, rather than the full on Saturday evening rave that zoning is sure to become. The problem with this analogy, is that you're still drunk at the end and wake up with a hangover the next day.

By limiting the form of buildings you also limit the possibilities for their use. While it's true that one can put a restaurant into a converted bungalow, one would have difficulty building a multi-unit residential property in one. You also would have difficulty doing office space of any meaningful size (obviously we're omitting law-offices from this discussion, which (like roaches) can take up residence pretty much anywhere) limits the possible uses for which new construction can be designed. Conveniently, this also ensures that very un-urban suburban plat neighborhoods are allowed to thrive (at now inflated real-estate prices) while low-rent areas are more likely to be re-developed to handle the desire for "urbanism". In short, the wealthy keep their yards while the DINK's get their lofts. Everyone is happy except the poor, who are increasingly driven out to the fringes of town to eek out a living on their own. If you can then eliminate the main arteries that allow the poor to enter urban enclaves to reach employment centers, all the better. By shoe-horning the poor into a few public transit options, you better control and monitor their movement. This is the urbanist' dream. Paris, but without the sense of history, classic beauty and Gypsy beggars.

All of this ignores the "slippery slope" argument, which states that, once form-based codes are in place, Urbanist proponents will then say they're "not enough" and begin the push for full scale zoning. Next is a congestion charge, forced evictions and then? Unfortunately I'm not a creative enough writer to imagine what would come next.

Whatever does come next will be, fortunately, at the behest of the voters. Because to make these changes the City will have to submit them to the public for a vote, which means that City residents will get exactly what they ask for. That's why I don't have a problem with amateur urban-planners making imaginary capital spending budgets with other's money. I might not agree with Andrew Burleson, and find him to be amazingly thin skinned, but I don't begrudge him the right to advocate for his future vision for Houston (a vision, undoubtedly, that would be different than what I described here but which, in my estimation, relies too much on the benign wisdom of the planners to be realistic) as a matter of fact I welcome it. I also welcome articles such as this:

(National Economist puts Houston on Cities to Watch List, Nancy Sarnoff,
Steady job growth and a construction revival make Austin and Houston two of my five cities to watch. Texas isn’t hung over from the housing boom like the other big states of the South and West, so there’s little to hold back growth. Honorable mention to Fort Worth and San Antonio.

Clearly what Houston is currently doing is working out just fine. I've yet to see a good argument as to why we should continue to try and fix what's clearly not broken, only to replace it with items that clearly are?

Until then, we watch with amusement as Houston continues taking bite after bite out of the zoning elephant, all while assuring its residents that it is doing no such thing.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

High bills are one thing.....

....apparent incompetence is another thing altogether.

(Houston hits Harris Co. with huge drainage fee bill, Deborah Wrigley, KTRK 13 News Houston)
County commissioners have yet to recover from the first payment of the city's drainage fee that involves Reliant Park. This latest bill is ratcheting up tensions even more, but this time for good reason.

Reliant Park includes everything from Reliant Center, to the Astrodome, to Reliant Stadium and it's all county property that was built and paid for with county bond funds.

In downtown, there's Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park; both are city-owned properties. And that is why the county is wondering about its latest drainage fee bill.

"It apparently includes charges for both Toyota Center and Minute Maid Park," said Willy Loston with the Harris County Sports Authority.

To make matters worse, the letter states that the $88,000 the county paid in its first fee installment was an under-billing and about $4,000 more is due. And this latest bill is $107,000.
I'm wondering how long it will be until the City of Houston taxpayers realize that their County taxes are going to pay these bills? For County residents, many of whom don't use the stadiums they're now being (double) taxed for, this has to sting twice as hard.

From the beginning this money grab drainage fee has been a poorly implemented, terribly designed mess. One that will only get bigger and bigger as the City's thirst for funds increases.

Until then, there appears to be a lot of work that needs to be done to tie down rates, fees due and what actually needs to be taxed by a municipal works department that's horribly understaffed and overworked. Amazingly, despite no evidence of even the most basic competence, Mayor Parker drew no serious challengers during the last cycle and we're assured of two more years of this wandering mess.

If she doesn't draw a serious challenger in 2013, you have to wonder if Houston's City Government is finished a functioning democratic entity? After all, if the InterLeft has a problem with single-party State rule, then surely they would have a problem with single-party Municipal rule that ensures bad elected officials serve until term limited only because they are aligned with the preferred power brokers?

Sadly, no. The roar you're most likely to hear is them telling the County to "stop whining" and pay up, whether the bills are fair, correct or even for things they don't own.

HISD Must-reads

If you're a resident of HISD's jurisdiction, have a kid in their school, are just worried about where your hard-taken taxpayer dollars are going, or are among the many who claim it's all "for the children" (and the teacher's unions of course), then you should take the time to read these three excellent pieces released today by Texas Watchdog....

Rash of improper influence over high-dollar contracts at Houston ISD -- while teachers are cut and schools are closed, Mike Cronin & Jennifer Peebles, Texas Watchdog

Former Houston ISD procurement chief reveals problems in the agency, talks about his dismissal, Mike Cronin, Texas WatchDog

Houston school district launches two audits, but questions abound on whether either will solve HISD's problems, Mike Cronin, Texas Watchdog

There are some issues one would hope prove to be non-partisan. Somehow I doubt that will be the issue in this case. There are sure to be a lot of politically sacred-cows gored here, be interesting to see who feigns the most outrage over this. The spin should also be good for some clean fun. I encourage you to go read all three pieces and then share them with everyone you know who has a child attending HISD, or who pays taxes to them.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

(New) Metro solution: We'll just wait until the furor dies down

Gotta hand it to the new Metro: They get the whole 'news cycle' thing:

Expect delays: Metro pushes back route changes until February, Caroline Evans, West University Examiner
Bus riders will have a little more time to adjust their travel plans before Metro goes through with route changes and eliminations. Metro announced via Twitter and Facebook Thursday that the proposed changes, which include eliminating the 35 Fairview and the 49 Chimney Rock, will be put off until February so staff can meet with affected communities and try to come up with other options.
What Metro's bloated PR department understands is that, by the time February rolls around, many in Houston will have forgotten that Metro was planning these 'service adjustments' altogether.

If there's any real difference between 'new' Metro and 'old' Metro it's the former's superior ability to properly handle a friendly media. You can be sure that, by February, there will be a laundry list of new, positive, stories about how Metro is squandering spending $900 Million of taxpayer money on an expanded toy train system designed to move the pretty people from haute location A to haute location B thus ensuring that these 'service enhancements' are buried on page 27.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Another scalp for Dolcefino's wall

This time, It's the CEO of the Port of Houston.

According to the story, Mr. Dreyer is saying that he's "had enough" and is resigning. Enough of what is anyone's guess?

My guess is he's had enough of the public demanding to see what's going on over there. For years has given organizations like the Port and Metro a free pass, choosing to forgo their watchdog responsibilities in favor of rah! rah! cheerleader reporting.

What this news hole (journalism desert?) has created is an opportunity for television news to improve ratings on a monthly basis with slickly-produced, high-tech journalism segments that (in Wayne's case anyway) typically get results.

Not thinking it through

Social media. It's tough. Especially Twitter, where there are very few hard and fast rules how to successfully communicate with the masses....

For example, right now I'm guessing the Houston Tomorrow smart dumb-growth, green ecomental set wishes they had timed these two tweets at different times....

Economic and demographic shifts driving Americans to drive less: - Sent at 7:52 PM, 12/13/11

Pedestrian deaths rose in 2010 nationwide: - Sent at 7:52 PM, 12/13/11

This group can't even get social media right, and they think they should be in charge of the Urban planning for Millions of people? The obvious comeback is that they should all take more walks, Darwinism and what-not, but we here at HCA don't want people dead, just proven to be the central-planning, anti-poor, pro-ruling class, Statists they are. So, they can keep driving their SUV's to work, we don't mind....

Thanks to them for keeping the humor going though, as a local blogger it's much appreciated.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Houston Transit Paradox

On the one hand, Houston "world-class transit" proponents LOVE that Metro is being given the keys to the car of $900 Million dollars to do with as they please:

(Metro gets its money (finally, $900 million), The Apple Dumpling Gang,
Houston Metro's success in landing $900 million in federal funds for expanding light rail here is little short of a miracle given the national climate of towering deficits and partisan gridlock.

Congratulations to the transit agency's leadership team of Gilbert Garcia and George Greanias for getting it done. And kudos to old pros inside the agency like John Sedlak for doing their part behind the scenes. Hard to believe, but these are the first federal funds granted for Houston rail. Ever.

On the other hand, shiny new apps are being lauded for that old-fashioned, creaky bus service:

(An app for Houston's bus system, The Apple Dumpling Gang,
The app, which Metro says will be available by the end of the year, will list all the bus stops and schedules. We hope this comprehensive view of the system will help Houstonians see that, yes, their city does have a functioning mass transit system.
The problem with this is that, unmentioned here, Metro is currently slashing that very bus service in order to free up money to pay for the red-ink that has become the new 'transit backbone'. Imagine just how expendable those bus lines will become once the expense of an expanded network is factored in.

The solution? You will not be surprised to hear that Peter "plan" Brown*, feels that Houston just needs a plan:

(Get a plan, Peter Brown, letters)
Essentially, there is no coordinated plan; not for the city, not for the region. Without a goal-oriented plan, backed by clear, sustainable growth policies, Houston tax-payers will be the losers, because scarce public dollars will be wasted.
Of course, the counter-argument is that 'plans' such as the ones that Brown is championing, are big money wasters that involve massive resources but which actually get little done. Fittingly, groups with high-minded names such as Brown's Better Houston and David Crossley's Houston Tomorrow love to promote plans that ultimately involve groups of like-minded people (especially people who think EXACTLY as do they) making life's decisions for the rest of us. These are the same groups of people who promote so-called "green" housing construction standards that make home prices even more prohibitive for the poor, and plans to rip up all freeways that run through cities which would make it prohibitive for the poor to get to work.

After all of that, if you can't see the paradox here it is: Proponents of so-called "world class" transit solutions are actually proposing mass-scale solutions whose real end goal is to push the poor outside of the city center and to the suburbs. The more they call for "transit" the less they are actually hoping to provide.

The core of any urban transit program should be allocate resources to ease the most common type of commute, while also providing transit who are most reliant on it. In Houston that should mean ensuring that car transit is primary, and poor neighborhoods have good strong bus service that gets them to places such as job centers, grocery stores and other community centers. Houston's transit future, as envisioned by the cool kids, is actually a plan that's designed to move upper-class urbanites with excess disposable income from their nice lofts to entertainment areas. Successful cities are not typically planned this way.

*That's Peter "plan" Brown, who garnered the support of a mere 22% of the electorate in the 2009 Houston mayoral election. That's means that just about 4 out of every 5 Houston voters disagree with him, and since his ideas closely mirror those of Houston Tomorrow you could say that they disagree with them as well. Despite this, the Apple Dumpling Gang (the editorial board of what was once the newspaper of record for America's fourth largest city)are willing to ignore the will of a strong majority to back plans like this.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Things (bad) newspapers do (part II)....

Run riveting political analysis such as this:

(Runoffs will decide final makeup of Houston City Council, Zain Shauk,
"The mayor has some real stake in this, of course," said Richard Murray, a political science professor at the University of Houston. "She had a fairly rocky two years, I thought, with council. So, the new council, will it be better for the mayor? Worse?"
Never mind that the Chronicle still can't get Richard Murray's identification correct (He's a Democratic analyst and party activist, not "just" a political science professor as they continually note) but that analysis should have been thrown back into the ocean like a small fish.

Not content to stop there, Houston Democratic political analyst (and bicyclist!) Bob Stein gets his chance to weigh in:
Although Jones often has voted with Parker, she "has never been an easy vote" and likely will become more aggressive in a third term, Rice University political science Professor Bob Stein said.

"She will be term limited," Stein said. "All the gloves will be off with Jolanda. She won't have to worry about appeasing stakeholders or interest groups."
Ummm, the thing with Jolanda has been (whether people have liked it or not) that the gloves were never ON with her.

The problem with over-relying on the same, reliably left-leaning, experts is that eventually, they just have nothing new to add. Curiously absent from almost any story on local politics are voices from Republican poli-sci professors. There are some in Houston, and you don't have to go too far to find them. (St. Thomas University for example) If wanted to include a variety of thought in its analysis it wouldn't be that hard to find. That they don't tells you a lot about the editorial influence over their reporting.

Things (bad) newspapers do....

Assign articles about Playboy magazine articles to the online religion editor.

Things over at the Chron have been declining for a while, but they're really starting to show stress fractures of late.

Friday, December 9, 2011

That's Billion with a "B"

My two (or so) regular readers know that I'm skeptical of so-called "green energy" on a broad scale. The technology, and reliability, are just not there to make this economical when expanded at anything larger than cottage industry levels. Today's story by Texas Watchdog underscores that thought:

(Texas Public Utility Commission pushes for $7 billion transmission lines for wind power, Mark Lisheron, Texas Watchdog)
With a shale oil and gas revolution bringing us an era of inexpensive fuel and greater energy independence, an ever-resourceful state has found a way to add $7 billion to our electric bills.

The Public Utility Commission, chafing because deregulation has left it out of actual power generation decisions, wants ratepayers to pick up the tab to run wind power lines from West Texas to North Texas and Houston, according to a skeptical story today by the Dallas Morning News.

Quite unlike the downward plunge in fossil fuel prices, a project that just a few years ago was estimated to cost $5 billion is now almost $7 billion. And when Donna Nelson, the chairwoman of the Utility Commission who thinks laying the lines is prudent at either price, says the current figure is only an estimate, its track record would suggest the number will not be getting smaller.
All of this money spent for energy that's only expected to satisfy a small slice of Texas' energy needs is ridiculous on it's face. I see a burgeoning role for green energy at a micro level, but when you start to expand the concept the cost/benefit analysis gets very, very unfavorable.

Environmental stewardship is not the problem. It's possible to be green without being a raving ecomental. Really, it is. Let's start by trying to not pollute, recycle what we can, grow some square foot gardens and try and keep our cars in running order. If we choose to install personal solar panels onto our homes that's all the better. Because that's where 'green energy' has a future in my opinion. These pie-in-the-sky, job creating behemoths that are being fed to us from fantasy land are just going to result in the waste of Billions (with a B) of taxpayer dollars that could better be served fueling the real economy.

The backlog that wasn't.

Excellent reporting by the Texas Watchdog today on Sheriff Garcia's on-again/off-again warrant back-log:

(Poof! Harris County Sheriff's Office backlog disappears, Steve Miller, Texas Watchdog)
A reported backlog of warrants at the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has suddenly cleared up, thanks to a statement from the office that there is no backlog.

The Houston Chronicle reported in November that 30,000 misdemeanor and felony warrants were not part of the database that state law enforcement uses to catch scofflaws both casual and serious.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia said at the time he would need a dozen staffers to clear up the problem and that the situation put his deputies at risk in the streets.
I remember when this came out, there were dire predictions of hardened criminals running loose in the streets, Sheriff Garcia all but predicted doom if his department didn't get more money.

But now the office says that some of the numbers it put out were right --- it claims there is still a list of 19,748 misdemeanor warrants yet to be entered --- but that, oops, it made a mistake on the felony number of 10,088.

The article goes on to quote County Judge Ed Emmett, who chastises Garcia (rightly) for playing politics with public safety.

The good thing about Sheriff Garcia's election was that it cleaned out the department which had devolved into a "good ol' boys club" under the rule of Tommy Thomas. The bad thing is that, it appears, Harris County has elected someone into the office who lacks the qualities required for good leadership. This next election would be a good time to fix that, although it's HARD to vote out a County incumbent so I've serious doubts that this will happen.

A more likely result is that the InterLeft, running around with their hair on fire and a fresh dose of daily outrage, will accuse Emmett of 'playing politics' and bemoan the fact that someone more to their liking isn't in charge. (read: A Democrat). For me, I don't care if the replacement is a Democrat or a Republican, just get someone in who can properly administer the department, ensure that public safety levels are maintained, and who is competent. That should be the minimum standard for Sheriff regardless of party. Thomas couldn't do it, Garcia is now displaying the ability, so it's time for someone else.

Thanks to Texas Watchdog for their Community Commons license which allows for ample blockquoting.

You get what you want to get.

Environmentalists are breathless today as a new EPA survey has come out "suggesting" that hydraulic fracturing is responsible for contaminated ground water in Wyoming.

(EPA links fracking to contaminated water in Wyoming, Neela Banerjee, Boston Herald)
The Environmental Protection Agency said that hydraulic fracturing, a controversial natural gas drilling process, likely contaminated well water in Wyoming, a finding sure to roil the debate about expanding natural gas drilling around the country.

EPA’s new draft report found dangerous amounts of benzene in a monitoring well near the town of Pavillion, in central Wyoming.
This Boston Herald article is fairly light on substance, surprisingly, the Houston Chronicle does a much better job filling in the blanks:

(EPA links fracking at Wyoming to tainted well water, Jennifer Dlouhy,
The EPA stressed that the findings are limited to Pavillion, where fracturing has taken place both at and below the level of the drinking water aquifer and close to drinking water wells - conditions that are not common elsewhere in the U.S.

Oil and gas drilling has been conducted in the region since the 1950s, and some of the 169 gas production wells in the area were fractured as little as 1,220 feet below the surface.

By contrast, energy companies are extracting natural gas from Texas' Eagle Ford shale at depths of 4,000 to 14,000 feet.

Elizabeth Ames Jones, chair of the Texas Railroad Commission, said Texas' geology is different than Pavillion's.

"Hydraulic fracturing does not go on close to the surface here and it would be impossible to migrate up from miles below the earth to a water table," she said. She added that Texas also has stringent well construction rules to ensure water safety.
In short, what the EPA has is evidence of something, that hasn't been peer-reviewed, that's of a limited sample size, and for which there's no replication in shale fractured wells anywhere else in the Country, a one-off. A one-off that environmentalists are sure to try and use to stop shale gas development throughout the country.

What this study means is that the burden of proof is now on Encana to demonstrate that their Wyoming property is properly constructed and, if not, that they can mitigate any damage that's conclusively linked to their wells. It would seem that further testing, and tracking is needed, as well as a peer-review of the EPA's findings. What we're likely to get are politicians waving a poorly-developed flag in a rush to judgement. A judgement that many of them were determined to find no matter what. It just took them finding a field with a unique drilling profile. If you look hard enough you can find a data point to support any political agenda. The EPA now has found (albeit tenuously) the environmental argument. That they were looking for just that should give you pause.

The hope would be that this study leads to a cleaning of the water in this region. Instead we're going to hear calls to severely curtail promising energy production in the name of post-normal science. It's one of the biggest problems with Lisa Jackson's EPA, and the reason people are correct in saying that their powers need to be severely curtailed.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Eight Hundred Seventy Thousand

That's the number of jobs US Shale gas, the same gas that Leftist groups (along with the EPA) want to do away with, will create by 2015 according one study by IHS:

(Shale gas will support 870,000 jobs by 2015, study says, Houston Business Journal)
Shale gas plays will support more than 250,000 new U.S. jobs by 2015, according to a study published Tuesday by IHS Inc., an international information company.
The study said in 2010, the shale gas industry supported more than 600,00 U.S. jobs, and by 2015, it will support 870,000 jobs. By 2035, the industry is expected to support 1.6 million jobs.
Think about those numbers the next time you hear politicians talk about how much they want to create jobs, while following policies that won't.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Metro flies route cut balloon, Chron tries to provide cover.

Too bad (for them) the residents aren't buying it....

(Bus riders give Metro an earful on proposed route cuts, Zain Shauk,
Frustrated bus riders gave transit officials an earful Monday at a hearing on proposed bus route cuts, including one that would not be replaced by an alternative.

The changes proposed by the Metropolitan Transit Authority include the elimination of 10 bus routes and adjustments, including a few expansions to 40 others. The agency is proposing to expand service on some routes.
Overall however, the "service adjustments" amount to a severe decrease in service to neighborhoods that most rely on Metro. The neighborhoods that it's Metro's prime directive to provide service. If they fail on this, then they fail on their core mission. And, yes, they are failing on this as we speak, dedicated to building a shiny, fancy toy train that's designed to move shiny, fancy people from shiny, fancy place to shiny, fancy place. If you can keep the dull, plain people OFF the shiny, fancy train then that's all the better.

Meanwhile, you have to feel sorry for the poor. While the left-leaning un-elected Fed bureaucrats in D.C. are trying their best to price cars out of their reach (that's even admitted by the regulations staunchest supporters such as Thomas Friedman*) local, left-leaning un-elected bureaucrats in Houston are trying to take away the very transit that they are suggesting they rely upon. And the supposed "watchdog" media, is cheering them on every step of the way.

The late Marvin Zindler was right: It's HELL to be poor (although he knew very little about that)

*Yes, that's the same Thomas Friedman who chides others for not being 'green' enough while he himself lives in an 11,000 sq ft mansion. Green indeed.

One Bad/One Good

First, the bad:

(Seliger calls out Michael Quinn Sullivan, Paul Burka, BurkaBlog)
The Amarillo state senator published an op-ed piece in the Midland Reporter-Telegram on Sunday called “Who Will Watch the Watchers,” in which he criticizes Sullivan for what he calls “fraudulent misrepresentation of voting records” by him and his “misnamed special interest group,” Texans for Fiscal Responsibility.

Sullivan had lashed out at Seliger two weeks ago, so it’s always good to see someone take on a bully. Since a link is not available to the piece, here are some excerpts from Seliger’s op-ed:

Nice to see Burka openly parroting Democratic Party talking points now. It's long been known that he's a lib/Dem opinion writer, maybe he's gotten tired of trying (unsuccessfully) to hide it?

As for the link not being available?


(Beware of fake fiscal responsibility group lobbyist and his phony Legislative ratings, Kel Seliger,

You'd think MSM companies would be more conscious of poorly attributed blog posts with large swaths of test copied and pasted without proper attribution.

Now, because bad news has been shown to have an adverse effect on the health and well being of those who read it......

As a public service we leave you with this (properly attributed) story:

(Focus on domestic oil will reshape U.S. energy industry,Houston Business Journal)

Originally sourced from:
(Big Oil heads back home, Guy Chazan, The Wall Street Journal)
The dramatic shift by U.S. oil majors such as ConocoPhillips and other exploration and production companies to focus on domestic production in shale plays rather than focus on major projects in the Middle East or Africa will have a key impact on the industry.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the switch to extracting oil and gas from shale will also affect the world's geopolitics, and, ultimately the world's consumers.

For example, while Middle East countries for decades were the frontrunners in oil production, the report said that a new study by PFC Energy, a Washington-based consultancy, predicts that the U.S. will be the top global oil and gas producer by 2020, bypassing Saudi Arabia and Russia.

We're (soon to be) #1!!!!

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