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June 9th, 2007:

Early voting: Quote this!

It’s come to my attention that Roy Morales has used a couple of quotes from this blog on his latest mailer. As the mailer was done in the same clownish style as the recent HCRP video, I won’t bother linking to an image of it – it’s nothing you haven’t seen or heard over and over again from Morales. He’s a one-note candidate, and he’s playing that note for all it’s worth. However, since Roy has been citing my blog as an authoritative source in this race, I’d like to offer him a quote he can use in his next mailer. Here it is:

“Roy Morales is a race-baiting fear mongerer who is supremely unqualified to serve on City Council.”

I offer this quote free of charge, though I hope whoever Roy hires to print the mailer for it gets paid in cash in advance.

Now then. For more positive quotage, I submit to you the Chron’s re-endorsement of the one real candidate in this race, Melissa Noriega:

In the runoff election to choose City Council member, At-large Position 3, the Chronicle reiterates its endorsement of candidate Melissa Noriega.

The June 16 election (early voting continues through June 12) will decide a replacement for former Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, who left the position for a brief term in Congress.

The new council member must help guide Houston through public safety decisions, such as how best to deploy our overworked, shorthanded police force, and an immigration debate that reverberates nationally.

Noriega, who impressively filled in for her husband, state Rep. Rick Noriega, when he was deployed with his National Guard unit to Afghanistan, is realistic and informed on these issues.

She gives priority to boosting the number of active patrol officers, ensuring that they are adequately equipped and letting them focus on police duties rather than diluting their efforts by doing the job of federal immigration officials.

Noriega also grasps that quality of life, including a clean, well-planned environment, is not a luxury but a necessity for Houston’s economic future.

Finally, as a longtime school administrator, Noriega has crucial firsthand knowledge of the needs of Houston’s youngest citizens. Voters already recognize Noriega’s promise, nearly handing her a victory in last month’s regular election. The Chronicle encourages even stronger support when voters cast their runoff election ballots early or return to the polls on June 16.

In summary:

Get out there and vote!

An overview of TEAM

In my last post about Texas’ screwed-up statewide voter registration database, Texas Election Administration Management (TEAM), I noted that Racy Mind had promised an in-depth look at how it came to be. She has now delivered on that promise – go here for all posts on the topic, and start here for the newer material. As she says, the Texas Civil Rights Review did a lot of the initial digging, and deserves much of the credit for what we do know. Check it all out.

Tech recycling comes to Houston

This is cool.

Buoyed by new legislation that sets up a program for the recycling of computer equipment in Texas, Round2 Technologies Inc. has opened a Houston branch office.

The Austin-based technology recycler’s new Houston facility at 2121 Brittmore, provides warehouse space for clients wanting to properly dispose of surplus or obsolete electronics.

“Our new Houston warehouse will be more convenient for many south Texas customers who are currently being served through our Austin headquarters,” said Randy Weiss, Round2 president. “The warehouse space is directly tied to our logistics department and can handle up to 15 tons of electronics per day.”

House Bill 2714 was passed by the Texas Legislature and sent to Gov. Rick Perry last week. The bill requires manufacturers that sell products in the state to finance free, convenient and environmentally sound recycling services for televisions, personal computers, laptops and monitors. Manufacturers can create their own take-back program or participate in a common program, but they must pay for collection and transportation in addition to recycling costs.

HB2714 has not been signed by Governor Perry yet, so there’s always that chance he could veto it. Hard to imagine why he would, but you never know, is all I’m saying. Houstonist has more about what you can recycle there, assuming nothing happens to queer the deal. One hopes that will be the case, as more and better recycling options are an unqualified Good Thing.

False alarm clampdown contemplated

I wholeheartedly endorse this concept.

Hoping to curb a growing problem with false alarms, city officials are considering an increase in burglar-alarm fees and fines.

Houston police say false calls cost the city $9 million a year. That’s $5 million more than what the city generates in burglar-alarm permit fees and fines each year, HPD Capt. Dwayne Ready said.

“We’re really trying to look at how to reduce the number of (false) calls because it’s so high,” Ready said.

Under the city’s current ordinance, residents and businesses are not charged for the first five false burglar alarms. The city charges the owner $50 for each subsequent false alarm.

The proposed revisions would limit properties to three free false alarms.

The fourth and fifth false alarms would cost $50. The sixth and seventh would cost $75, and any more would cost $100 each.

The city also is considering a plan to boost the annual residential permit fee to $30 from $15. Commercial permit fees would increase to $70 from $40 a year.

It’s not just the money. As Grits has pointed out, it’s the time and police manpower spent chasing those false alarms. According to the Texas House Law Enforcement Committee (42-page PDF), responding to false alarms is the #1 activity in some Texas cities. Given the current personnel shortage in HPD, this is a no-brainer.

West 11th park officially out of the woods

Though I had already concluded it was the case that the West 11th Street Park was out of the woods, it was still nice to see this post from Jeff Balke, which I had missed during my enforced home Internet hiatus (which has been thankfully resolved):

Woo hoo!

Got this from Nancy Greig regarding the recent concern over matching funds for the park.

I finally spoke “face to face” with Lara Wendler, Sen. Whitmire’s executive director.

She emphatically assured me that the allocation of $3.75 million for the W. 11th Street Park was 1) intended to pay for the PURCHASE (not improvements) of the remaining property of the park and 2) not constrained by any “matching funds” rules. She said that despite language or misconceptions to the contrary out there in the ether that the house, senate, and governor knew the intent of the Senator’s allocation and that she was fully confident that this would happen and that a check would be cut on September 1. (I asked her if she thought there was any chance the governor would strike this/not approve it and she did not)

Woo hoo, indeed! Many thanks to Sen. John Whitmire for making this happen. Now when’s the party to celebrate this victory?