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May 20th, 2007:

SB419 on the calendar

Pete reports that SB419, the bill that would greatly help autistic children and their parents (see here, here, and here for more), is on the House calendar for next week. It’s not the bill that it should be (thanks ever so much, Rep. Larry Taylor), but it’s still worth passing. One last time if you can, please contact your State Rep and ask him or her to support this bill. Thanks very much.

More money for parks

I like this.

As development drives up land prices and neighborhood leaders beg for more green space, city officials are preparing to create Houston’s first dedicated source of public funds to acquire land for parks.

An ordinance that would require developers to set aside land for parks and green space or pay a fee to purchase parkland should be ready for review within a few weeks, Marlene Gafrick, the city’s planning and development director, said Friday.

Houston historically has relied on private donations for new parks. A sustained public funding source is needed to ensure that parks are accessible to the region’s rapidly growing population, according to a report published last month by the nonprofit Center for Houston’s Future.


While some details of the Houston ordinance must still be worked out, the concept enjoys widespread support among park advocates, neighborhood groups and developers, said Andy Icken, a deputy city public works director who is working on the ordinance.

“In general,” he said, “everyone agrees we should do this.”

Houston has certainly done well with private donations of parkland – think Hermann and Memorial, in particular. Obviously, you can’t count on that sort of thing, and parkland won’t materialize if there isn’t a mechanism for creating it. I applaud this proposal, and look forward to its adoption.

One more thing:

“If we just keep building, building, building on every square inch of green space, then there is no quality of life,” said Lorraine Cherry, who is leading a fundraising effort to preserve a 20-acre park in her northwest Houston neighborhood.

That would be the West 11th Street Park, which really needs the funds. I don’t think this new fund is intended for situations like this, but if it were a possibility, it would be nice.

True Courage Awards

The True Courage Action Network wants to know who you think should receive their first True Courage Awards:

We are honoring the best efforts of legislators and advocates who have shown courage relating to TCAN’s mission to restore strong ethical standards, government transparency, and electoral reform and voter protection during this legislative session. You have nominated those who have advanced this good cause, and while there are many truly deserving of recognition, we present the most nominated.

Read more about the nominees here. Among the choices in the Advocate category are Texas Progressive Bloggers, which is quite a nice honor for us. There’s also a section for naming things like “Best example of bipartisanship”, “Funniest moment during this session”, and “Biggest waste of time”, so go click over and tell them what you think.