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April 8th, 2016:

Friday random ten: In the city, part 5

A bit of international flair this week.

1. Flowers of Edinburgh – Jim Malcolm
2. From Dacca – Eddie From Ohio
3. Funky Nassau, Part 1 – The End Of The Beginning
4. Gallipoli – SixMileBridge
5. Galveston Bay – Bruce Springsteen
6. Galway Farmer – Ceili’s Muse/Maggie Drennon
7. The Girl From Ipanema – Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto
8. Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland – The B-52’s
9. Goodnight, Houston – Leah White
10. Goodnight, Saigon – Billy Joel

When I was a kid, I remember coming across a “Peanuts” comic from a collection in which Linus tells Charlie Brown that he was the only kid in his class to get an A on their geography test because he was the only one who knew where Ipanema was. Took me years to get the joke. Just don’t answer with Greenland if anyone asks you that question.

Once again with what we want from the next County Commissioner

Campos:

El Franco Lee

The Chron has a story today on County Commissioner Gene Locke changing his mind and now wanting to become the Dem nominee for Commissioner. It looks like a race between Gene and State Sen. Rodney Ellis. The Chron mentions a few others that may be interested though.

Here is from the story today that Commentary finds interesting:

Lane Lewis, Democratic Party county chair, said he does not know which candidate the roughly 150 precinct chairs lean toward. So far, he said, the chairs have expressed concern about two main issues when considering contenders: whether the nominee will invest more within Houston city limits, since city residents also pay county taxes, and whether the nominee will play a more active role in Democratic Party politics.

Get it in writing folks or at least on YouTube. Make the county commissioner candidates say that they will start spending more of our tax dollars on projects within the H-Town City limits. How much? How about proportionately?

On the second point, we all know that county commissioners can raise a ton of campaign funds. Get them to say that in general election years, they will spend ten percent of what they have in their campaign bank account on Dem GOTV efforts in Harris County or at least within their precinct. If they have a million in the bank, then they commit to spend $100,000. No more of this piling up funds in their campaign bank account and hoarding it while the Dem Party continues to hold bake sales.

Make them take the pledge, please. Don’t let this opportunity slip through your fingers.

I’ve already stated my agreement with the second item, though I didn’t specify a number, as well as some other things I’m looking for. I’m happy to include point 1 on my list. The story notes that there will be a forum in May, so perhaps we can get some answers to these and other questions. Clearly, I need to add some candidate interviews to my to-do list. What questions should we add to what we’ve already got?

By the way, as noted by Mainstream in this comment to Tuesday’s post, you can add County Criminal Court at Law #16 to the list of nominations we have to fill. I have no intel on that one at this time, but I’m sure I’ll hear some names sooner or later.

More troubles for the Planned Parenthood video fraudsters

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Right there with them

Right there with them

Investigators with the California Department of Justice on Tuesday raided the home of David Daleiden, the anti-abortion activist behind a series of undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood, the activist said.

Authorities seized a laptop and multiple hard drives from his Orange County apartment, Daleiden said in an email. The equipment contained all of the video Daleiden had filmed as part of his 30-month project, “including some very damning footage that has yet to be released to the public,” he said.

A spokeswoman for California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) said she could not comment on an ongoing investigation. But the raid confirms that California is among the states looking into possible criminal activity on the part of Daleiden and his organization, the Center for Medical Progress, which have been the center of controversy since releasing videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood illegally sells fetal tissue for a profit.

[…]

The National Abortion Federation, a professional organization for abortion providers that was also targeted in Daleiden’s videos, lauded news of the raid.

“We fully support a thorough investigation into the activities perpetrated by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress,” president Vicki Saporta said in a statement. “As the evidence has shown in our case, he engaged in a long-running criminal conspiracy. His actions are not without consequences.”

Saporta said the videos have led to a spike in threats and violence against abortion clinics.

See here, here, and here for the background. Given all that’s been said and done so far, it’s hard not to see that surge in violence directed at the clinics as anything but a planned outcome. I’ll say again, I’m happy for Daleiden to martyr himself for this cause, as long as he really really gets to suffer for it. He’s earned every bit of retribution coming his way. It’s my further hope that the evidence that California authorities uncover can be used to help facilitate those consequences. Daily Kos, Politico, the Chron, and Kevin Drum have.

Lots of people took the train to the games

Nice.

HoustonMetro

After handling more than a quarter-million rail trips over the four-day NCAA Final Four period, Metro is calling it a slam dunk.

“These are numbers are fantastic for us,” spokesman Jerome Gray said.

Metro said 255,700 rail boardings occurred from Friday until Monday. That’s roughly 87,000 more for the four days than the system would typically carry. The figure also does not include about 4,500 people who hopped buses from NRG Park that ferried them downtown to relieve rail demand after the basketball games on Saturday and Monday nights.

The totals are also significantly higher than Metro reported in 2011, prior to opening three new segments of light rail in the area. Five years ago, about 148,300 people used light rail for the four days of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

One reason riders reported a smoother trip to and from the basketball games that increased Metro’s ability to carry people is the light rail expansion, which meant the agency had more cars, Gray said.

In 2011, Metro would have owned 18 rail cars. Today, more than 60 were available, though Metro operates roughly three times as much distance via rail.

Metro’s press release has a bit more detail:

Major events located downtown helped increase ridership on the Red Line by nearly 50 percent. This year the Red Line saw 219,000 passenger trips compared to 148,000 for 2011.

“Seeing 255,000 boardings on rail during the four day event is very impressive and shows what can happen with an expanded system,” said METRO President and CEO Tom Lambert. “This success comes on the heels of record Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo ridership and it shows METRO is a key travel option.”

During the 2016 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, more than 1.5 million boardings were taken on light-rail, compared to 1.3 million last year, a 23% increase.

So that’s 36,000 boardings on the other lines as well. I’m not sure if that includes the North line extension or if that’s counted with the Red line overall. It’s pretty good no matter how you look at it. Honestly, I don’t know why you wouldn’t take the rail to one of Houston’s stadia if it’s at all an option. Park near a station if you need to, or make like you would for the airport and have someone drop you off and pick you up, and ride the rest of the way in. It’s way cheaper than parking at the stadium, and you don’t get stuck in traffic at either end. It just makes sense. KUHF has more.

30 years of “Don’t Mess With Texas”

Happy birthday to one of the greatest public service campaigns of all time.

It seems it’s every Texan’s duty to at least once invoke the slogan “Don’t Mess With Texas.”

You’ll see it on bumper stickers, in the movies, on T-shirts and coffee mugs. You’ll hear it hollered from campaign stumps and in songs. It’s about pride. It’s about bravado.

And it’s about trash.

Today, the Texas Department of Transportation celebrates the 30th birthday of its now-ubiquitous trademarked phrase and one of the most effective marketing campaigns in history — a campaign to rid Texas highways of garbage.

“When this program was created, Texas had a really bad problem of picking up highway litter,” said Jeff Austin, a TxDOT commissioner. “As a seventh-generation Texan, it was really embarrassing.”

Its brand endurance aside, Austin says you can measure the success of the campaign in tons.

The last time TxDOT conducted a study of visible trash the state calculated there were about 435 million pieces of litter — or more aptly, mess — on Texas highways.

That mess was about 34 percent less than in 2009, according to the 2013 study by Environmental Resources Planning LLC.

The commissioner attributes the reduction in mess, despite a booming Texas population, to the staying power of the “Don’t Mess With Texas” brand, which was drummed up by Austin-based marketing giant GSD&M in 1986.

It kicked off with a TV advertisement in which Texas guitar legend Stevie Ray Vaughan played “The Eyes of Texas.” That spot rolled out during the 1986 Cotton Bowl, and the rest is history.

Over the next three decades, Texas icons such as Willie Nelson, George Strait, Warren Moon, Matthew McConaughey – and the list goes on — would volunteer their time and talents in ads meant to keep Texas neat.

But the phrase took on a life of its own, and though many Texans may feel it’s their God-given right to use the phrase just like they do “Come and Take It,” TxDOT lawyers must occasionally remind folks that right rests with the state.

“We’ve sent a couple cease-and-desist letters to some companies that were using it in a negative way, if you will,” said Brenda Flores-Dollar, the program manager for the Don’t Mess With Texas campaign.

For instance, lawyers stepped in when one entrepreneur wanted to add an expletive to the phrase – “Don’t ****ing Mess With Texas” — and print it on T-shirts.

By owning the trademark, the state has been able to strategically license its use to make modest revenue – about $143,000 in royalties since 2004 — but also catapult the brand to heights not usually seen in government campaigns.

I’m a big fan of this campaign as you know, and it warms my heart to know that it is still going strong. You can see a few of the classic ads here – be sure to watch the George Foreman video, it’s wonderful – but the original Stevie Ray Vaughan spot still gives me chills.

God bless you, Stevie. And don’t mess with Texas, y’all.