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June 18th, 2010:

Friday random ten: Who’s your daddy?

In honor of Father’s Day, ten paternal songs:

1. Be My Daddy – Trish & Darin
2. Big Daddy Of Them All – John Mellencamp
3. Daddy And The Thief – team9 vs. Stereogum
4. Daddy Could Swear I Declare – Gladys Knight & The Pips
5. Daddy Said – Marcia Ball
6. Drunk Daddy – Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
7. Get A Haircut, Dad – Austin Lounge Lizards
8. Go Daddy-O – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
9. Mandaddy – Trout Fishing In America
10. My Heart Belongs To Daddy – Julie Murphy

What does your iPod have to say about dear old Dad this week?

Entire song list report: Started with “If I Can’t Have You”, by Yvonne Elliman. Finished with “Industrial Strength Tranquilizer”, by the Austin Lounge Lizards, song #2443, for 72 songs this week. It totally felt like more than that, but that’s what it says. I made it through all of the “If” and “In” songs, with the “It” and “It’s” songs yet to go.

Ripping vinyl report: No vinyl ripped this week. My schedule’s a little more packed than usual over the next couple of weeks, so it may be a bit of a dormant period for the USB turntable. We’ll see how it goes.

Keller hearing today

Today is the day for the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to have its hearing on the Sharon Keller case and to decide what to do with the findings of the Special Master.

Today, prosecutors plan to argue that [Special Master David] Berchelmann’s findings were misguided and that the evidence showed Keller failed to perform her duties and cast discredit on the judiciary – both violations of the canons of judicial conduct.

Keller plans to argue that the special master’s criticism of her judgment were irrelevant to whether she violated judicial ethics, which Berchelmann found she had not.

Her attorney Chip Babcock said in briefs that Berchelmann’s findings “can only be read as an exoneration of her conduct.

We’ll see about that. It will likely be awhile before we hear from the Commission with their ruling. Austin Legal has more.

Greens hire Andy Taylor

Dear Green Party: If you need to hire Andy Taylor to achieve your political goals, then you’re doing it wrong. I just thought you’d like to know that.

EPA goes after more permits

Good for them.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday it was taking over the issuance of operating permits for two more Texas facilities — Chevron Phillips Cedar Bayou and Garland Power and Light — further escalating the federal-state fight over air quality regulations.

“The state has refused up to this point to issue good permits, and we have a legal responsibility … to ensure the Clean Air Act is implemented,” EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz said by phone Tuesday.

If the TCEQ had been doing its job instead of carrying water for polluters, this would not now be happening. If Governor Perry cared a tenth as much for the interests of the people as he does for his corporate benefactors, none of this would now be happening. They may get some relief from the activist federal judiciary, but they have no one to blame but themselves for their predicament.

On a related note, the TCEQ will be making some changes to its permitting process to demonstrate that they are in compliance with the EPA and the Clean Air Act. Assuming this is more than just window dressing, it’s unlikely to have any immediate effect.

EPA officials knew Texas was crafting proposed rule changes, but the agency’s regional administrator, Al Armendariz, said in an interview his focus wasn’t on the proposal.

“Our action is going to be based on those rules that the state of Texas has already been implementing for a number of years,” Armendariz said on Tuesday. “It’s not a high priority for me to engage with the state in a process to create a new version of that program.

“New programs under the Clean Air Act sometimes take years to evaluate and to approve,” he added. “My high priority right now is simply to get the permits that are flawed in Texas corrected.”

I’d say he has their attention. We’ll see about the rest of it.

Metro working on its critics

Now that it has much of its litigation-related unpleasantness behind it, Metro is working on improving its image, both with the public as a whole and with its more persistent critics.

The need to re-brand Metro as an institution worthy of confidence — to nurture good will and respect in place of skepticism and hostility — has been a consistent theme in actions taken by its board since Mayor Annise Parker replaced five of its nine members in March.

“We can’t provide first-rate service if people don’t trust us,” [Metro CEO George] Greanias said.

During her campaign last fall and in the first months of her administration, Parker often spoke of the need for Metro to become more transparent, accountable and responsive. She made this a top goal for the board members she swore in on April 7.

Two months later, some of Metro’s most persistent critics say the agency’s relationship with the community is improving.

“I think it’s night and day,” said former Kemah Mayor Bill King, who frequently criticizes Metro on his public policy blog. “They have reached out to me and asked for input. The attitude is completely different.”

Paul Magaziner, a Houston businessman who opposes Metro’s light-rail system and has compiled a vast collection of documents obtained through public information requests, said he has been impressed with the new leadership as well.

“The new president and board chairman are attempting to improve public relations and transparency. There is no question about that,” Magaziner said. “The needed transparency is a byproduct of six years of a runaway, rogue transit agency.”

I’m certainly glad that Metro is working on improving its image, mostly because it’s doing so by starting to do things it should have been doing all along. But I want to be clear that there’s a limit to how happy they should be making people like King and Magaziner. Stuff like transparency and public engagement, that’s all to the good. On matters of actual transit policy – you know, the delivery of transit services, and the design and direction of future transit services – it’s fine by me of those guys remain unhappy.

Get well soon, Gordon!

I was not aware of this.

Gordon Quan, the Democratic candidate for county judge, had multiple-bypass heart surgery in late May and said today that he expects to be back to campaigning and working after Independence Day.

“My cardiologist says I’m doing great. I hope to be back in the swing of things in a couple of weeks,” said Quan, 62. He said he has known about his heart disease for some time, but decided to have the surgery now to recover in advance of the fall campaign season.

My very best wishes for a full and speedy recovery. Get well soon, Gordon!

Let your cellphone be your guide

Have you ever found yourself walking around downtown Houston and wondering about the history of the place? If you have a cellphone with you, you can take a self-guided tour.

Launched in March, Downtown Mobile Info begins at Wortham Center, winding throughout downtown, hitting spots like Sesquicentennial Park and Sabine Promenade before ending about an hour later. There are multiple access points to start the tour.

“Folks are sort of fascinated because they are finding things down there that they had never seen before,” said John Klumb, Convention & Entertainment Facilities division manager of special events. “In promoting the city, you look to highlight all the attractions that you can, and downtown is a central part of Houston’s history.”

Development and planning for the mobile tour started roughly a year ago.

[…]

Visitors can access a map and audio files of the tour at http://houstondmi.org. Klumb said more sites will be added to the route this summer.

More is available at http://www.downtownhouston.org/guidedetail/audio-walking-tours. It’s not quite what I had in mind when I said I wanted to see Houston-centric smartphone apps developed, but it’s a start. And as a reminder, there’s an app to tell you what building you’re looking at, too.