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December 8th, 2007:

Runoff day is today for Council and HISD

The 2007 election season comes to an end in Houston (but not in Texas – see more in a minute) today as the City Council and HISD runoffs take place, with polling places open from 7 AM to 7 PM. To find your voting location, go to, then click on Voting Information…Election Day Voting Info. You can search by precinct number or by address, and see a complete listing of where to cast your ballot. And you can see the candidates’ statements about why you should vote for them before you go. Go do your civic duty, you’ll likely be speaking for about 100 of your fellow citizens when you do. The fact that I can’t even find a mention of today’s election on might have a little something to do with that.

There’s still one more election of interest this year, up in Fort Worth where TPA– and TexBlog PAC-endorsed candidate Dan Barrett will try to pick up another seat in the State House for the Democrats. Early voting starts Monday the 10th, and there are things you can do to help Barrett in this election. The conventional wisdom is that Barrett can’t win this district, which I would characterize as purple rather than Republican. Only one way to find out about that, and we’ll do so on the 18th. If you live in HD97, be sure to vote for Dan Barrett next week.

20 years of Lights in the Heights

It’s Lights in the Heights time again, with today being the 20th anniversary of this most excellent neighborhood festival. I give you Marty Hajovsky for most of what you need to know.

The best place to start is the WHCA’s own site at You can find the map of the route and a very helpful list of frequently asked questions that covers issues such as parking, route, times, how to volunteer, etc. For more information, you can also e-mail co-chair Sharon Greiff at [email protected]

Another good link is the story in the Chron about Unsilent Night and its Houston debut at Lights in the Heights. Check out Charles Ward’s excellent piece here.

We’re in te middle of the last minute rush for volunteers and porches for musical acts along the route. Here’s the list of people to contact to chip in for what is a completely volunteer, free and unsponsored event:

For porches, Alan Harris at 832-661-2819 or [email protected]

For entertainment, Dana Loudon at [email protected]

Melinda Davenport’s About Houston blog at

And for a last-minute check of the weather before heading out, see:

Just remember that the featured blocks are closed to vehicular traffic, so be prepared to park a few blocks away and walk. The official time for the event is 6 to 10 PM. Come out and see the houses and hear the music. I had some help decorating our house this year:

With assistants like these, what more could you need?

RIP, Otto’s Bar B Que

Via Swamplot, the original Otto’s Bar B Que restaurant on Memorial near Detering will soon serve its last meal.

The storied Otto’s Bar B Que & Hamburgers restaurant, known to be favored by former President George Bush, will be demolished to make way for the sale of the high-profile Memorial Drive land.

Otto’s owners June and Marcus Sofka have listed the 1.3-acre tract for sale with Cushman & Wakefield of Texas Inc.

An adjacent 17,000-square-foot shopping center, which is also owned by the Sofkas, is part of the sales package. The center includes a nail salon, a cleaners, a barber shop and Biba’s Greek Pizza.

Cushman & Wakefield broker Dave Cook says he is currently taking offers on the land and hopes to get a deal done soon.

The Chron has more. I’ll be honest, I’ve eaten at Otto’s a couple of times, and was never terribly impressed by it. I’ll take Goode Company any day for my BBQ cravings. I am unhappy to hear about the center that includes Biba’s being sold, however, since I’d hate to see that place go away. Given the development boom on that part of Memorial and in the neighboring West End in general, I’d have to figure that whoever buys this property is going to do so with the intent to build something high-end, very likely a high-rise, possibly a mixed-use kind of thing. So swing by and get yourself some Greek pizza while you can. I have a feeling time is running out for it.

UPDATED: Fixed the verb tense in the first sentence, as per Kevin’s comment.