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March 11th, 2011:

Friday random ten: The top 500, part 16

And so we come to the end of the Rolling Stone Top 500 list.

1. It’s Too Late – Carole King (#469)
2. Where Did Our Love Go? – The Supremes (#472)
3. One Nation Under A Groove – Funkadelic (#474)
4. I Want To Know What Love Is – Big Daddy (#476, orig. Foreigner)
5. Super Freak – Big Daddy (#477, orig. Rick James)
6. White Rabbit – Austin Lounge Lizards & Karen Abrahams (#478, orig. Jefferson Airplane)
7. I’m Eighteen – Alice Cooper (#482)
8. I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll – Hayseed Dixie/The MOB (#484, orig. Joan Jett)
9. Graceland – Paul Simon (#485)
10. I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor (#489)

There were three more songs that appeared on the list after that. Since that’s not enough for a list, I’ll include them here:

Running On Empty – The MOB (#492, orig. Jackson Browne)
Desperado – Clint Black/Johnny Cash/Lager Rhythms (#494, orig. The Eagles)
Shop Around – Smokey Robinson and The Miracles (#495)

Yes, I have three covers of “Desperado” but not the original Eagles version. I think I may have it on vinyl – I’ll need to check – but if so I haven’t ripped it yet. I need to get back to doing that. I do of course have the CAKE cover of “I Will Survive”, which I like better, but since I have the original I’ve listed it, as per my original rules. I’ve linked to a video of the CAKE version before, but it’s worth sharing again:

The MOB recording of “Running On Empty” is from the early 80s. I’ve been a MOBster since 1988 and can’t recall ever playing it. As with U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love)”, I can’t believe “Graceland” ranked this low. I mean, after “I Want To Know What Love Is”? That does not compute.

Anyway. I’ve got another “Top N Songs” type list to work through, one that has a broader focus than the Rolling Stone list, which I’ll get started on soon. I’m going to take a break from that theme for a different theme for a few weeks, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

Entire song list report: Started with “Two Bends In The Road”, by Ellis Paul. Finished with the immortal “Vatican Rag”, by Tom Lehrer. Surely you know this song, right? If not, go here to listen to the version the rest of us are all familiar with, and here to see him sing a slightly different version, with an intro for the live audience. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Okay, now that you’re back, the last T song was “Two Tickets To Paradise”, by Eddie Money. The first U song was “UFO Attack”, by the Asylum Street Spankers. The last U song was “Useless Desires”, by Patty Griffin. The first V song was “Valentine’s Day”, by Bruce Springsteen. We are moving right along, but there are still many W and Y songs, plus song that start with numbers, to get through, then finally all of the songs that got added after they were passed by in the alphabet. Have a great weekend!

Population growth in the Houston suburbs

The Chron’s Newswatch blog had a post the other day showing population changes in different ethnic groups for a number of Houston suburbs between 2000 and 2010. It was done as a chart, and while it was a very nice chart, I’m a numbers guy, not a pictures guy. So I translated it all into something that made sense to me, and here it is.

Bellaire Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 13,030 12,237 -6.1% Latino 1,220 1,601 31.2% Black 125 270 116.0% Asian 985 2,360 139.6% Other 282 388 37.6% Overall 15,642 16,855 7.8% Cinco Ranch Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 9,326 12,536 34.4% Latino 649 2,339 260.4% Black 313 640 104.5% Asian 739 2,339 216.5% Other 168 420 150.0% Overall 11,196 18,274 63.2% Conroe Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 20,062 27,148 35.3% Latino 12,000 21,640 80.3% Black 4,012 5,508 37.3% Asian 331 956 188.9% Other 405 956 136.0% Overall 36,811 56,207 52.7% Katy Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 8,266 8,842 7.0% Latino 2,791 4,090 46.5% Black 530 705 33.0% Asian 59 212 259.3% Other 177 254 43.5% Overall 11,775 14,102 19.8% League City Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 34,810 56,993 63.7% Latino 6,135 14,457 135.6% Black 2,272 5,766 153.8% Asian 1,409 4,429 214.3% Other 818 1,922 135.0% Overall 45,444 83,568 83.9% Pasadena Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 66,870 48,737 -27.1% Latino 68,287 92,705 35.8% Black 1,983 2,832 42.8% Asian 2,550 3,130 22.7% Other 1,983 1,639 -17.3% Overall 141,674 149,043 5.2% Pearland Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 27,628 44,531 61.2% Latino 6,098 18,707 206.8% Black 1,957 14,692 650.7% Asian 1,355 11,224 729.8% Other 602 2,099 248.7% Overall 37,640 91,252 142.4% Spring Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 26,779 25,466 -4.9% Latino 5,822 15,421 164.9% Black 2,511 10,262 308.7% Asian 509 1,629 220.0% Other 764 1,520 99.0% Overall 36,385 54,298 49.2% Sugar Land Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 38,443 34,995 -9.0% Latino 5,003 8,276 65.4% Black 3,230 5,754 78.1% Asian 15,009 27,665 84.3% Other 1,583 2,128 34.4% Overall 63,328 78,817 24.5% The Woodlands Group Pop 2000 Pop 2010 % Diff ==================================== Anglo 48,693 73,670 51.3% Latino 3,673 11,449 211.7% Black 946 2,159 128.2% Asian 1,558 4,505 189.2% Other 779 2,065 165.1% Overall 55,649 93,847 68.6%

Please note that the individual totals may not sum up exactly because of rounding. Charts are nice, but I don’t think you can fully appreciate the huge scope of some of these changes without seeing numbers. Hope it’s as helpful to you as it was to me.

Perry lies about teachers being fired

There’s really no other way to characterize this.

At a press conference this morning to discuss states’ rights, Gov. Rick Perry was asked about the thousands of Texas teachers expected at the Capitol this weekend to protest legislative proposals to cut billions of dollars in funding from school districts. Those proposals have prompted school districts across the state to begin laying off employees, including teachers, and the districts are preparing for many more layoffs to follow in the coming months.

“The lieutenant governor, the speaker, their colleagues aren’t going to hire or fire one teacher, as best I can tell,” Perry said. “That is a local decision that will be made at the local districts.”

He said school districts, like families and businesses, need to set priorities when funding dips.

“Over the course of the last decade, we have seen a rather extraordinary amount of nonclassroom employees added to school rolls,” Perry said. “So are the administrators and the school boards going to make a decision to reduce those, or are they going to make a decision to reduce the number of teachers in the classroom? I certainly know where I would point.”

But data from the Texas Education Agency does not suggest a surge in nonteachers over the last 10 years.

In 2000, according to TEA’s website, 48.7 percent of school employees across the state were nonteachers. In 2010, that number was 49.5 percent.


“I don’t think we’d be talking about layoffs if we weren’t talking about $9.4 billion in cuts in state funding,” said Richard Kouri of Texas State Teachers Association. “It’s disingenuous.”

How totally gutless of Perry, though given his other prevarications about the budget it’s totally unsurprising. I’m sorry, but you can’t claim you were elected on a mandate to cut the budget and then point the finger at others for the consequences of those cuts. This is what he wants, and it’s what he claims the people want. He should be proud of this, not running away from it. One a coward, always a coward. Texas Politics, Veronica Flores-Paniagua, Forrest Wilder, and EoW have more.

Going through the couch cushions

“Taxes” may be a dirty word, but the Lege is busy looking for revenue in other places.

“Right now, there is a tremendous amount of effort being invested in identifying new revenues that avoid being called a tax bill,” said Dale Craymer of the business-based Texas Taxpayers and Research Association.

“Politically, a lot of members have pledged not to raise taxes,” he said. “Obviously, members are seeing the impact of the budget proposal, and there’s a desire to try and raise new revenue to protect the budget without violating the no-new-taxes pledge.”

Some revenue measures already have been filed. Details are lacking on others as lawmakers work to get them in shape in advance of Friday’s bill-filing deadline.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Harvey Hilderbran, R-Kerrville, is having hearings through the next several weeks on measures including his House Bill 257, which would yield $72 million by having unclaimed property revert more quickly to the state.

Hilderbran said he also has legislation to boost Comptroller Susan Combs’ enforcement and that his panel will look at efforts to strengthen audits, hike tax penalties and close loopholes.

Here’s HB257, which has been referred to committee. One revenue-enhancer that has made it out of committee is Rep. Villarreal’s HB658, which is aimed at closing a corporate tax loophole. By themselves, none of these bills adds up to much, but all together they’ll have some effect. Assuming they all pass and get signed, of course, which is far from a guarantee.

In addition to these revenue enhancers, there are the usual accounting tricks that delay payments till the next biennium, of which we saw plenty in 2003. They can save substantial amounts for this budget, but since they do have to be paid, they put that much more pressure on the next budget. The big ticket items are still the Rainy Day Fund – HB275, the bill filed by Rep. Jim Pitts to use RDF funds to balance the prior biennium’s budget, may come to the floor for a vote next week – and fixing the structural deficit. Unfortunately, that and anything else that would have a more significant effect are off the table for the session.

[Rep. Harvey HIlderbran, chair of the Ways and Means Committee,] said he sees opportunity in some of the recommendations made by the Legislative Budget Board that could generate $500 million or more by better enforcing existing law, closing some loopholes and tinkering with some tax exemptions.

One proposal, for instance, would allow the state to claim forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks and security deposits if they are left dormant for three years rather than the current five years. That change would generate $72 million.

Hilderbran would not, however, follow the path of his predecessor , state Rep. Rene Oliveira, a Brownsville Democrat who last year identified as much as $1.5 billion in sales tax exemptions he said were ripe for elimination.

“That’s a tax hike, and that’s not what we’re going to be working on this session,” Hilderbran said. “We’re not changing the code substantially or significantly. We’re just basically making it more effective.”

That narrow approach will probably produce a relatively small amount of the $27 billion needed if the state were to maintain the current level of services in the 2012-13 budget.

Fixing the big problems, such as the revamped and underperforming business tax, will have to wait until the next legislative session in 2013.

Ideology trumps need. It’s not just Hilderbran – if it were, it might be possible to generate some leverage on him, but he has plenty of company in his stance. The Republicans may tinker, but they’re comfortable with not fixing what’s broken.

You using that building?

There’s this building that Harris County owns that is supposed to revert to the city if the county isn’t using it. Which it isn’t, so the city would like to know what the county’s intentions are, as they have plans of their own.

City Attorney David Feldman announced the city’s intentions in a letter Thursday to County Attorney Vince Ryan. Feldman cites a 66-year-old deed that gives the city the right to take the property.

The county acquired the land at 3540 West Dallas in a real estate swap with the city in 1955. The deal has a clause specifying that if the county ever abandons the property, it will revert to city ownership.

The county housed its juvenile detention center at the site but has not used the site since it opened a new Juvenile Justice Center in 2006.

Feldman sent the letter the same day that Mayor Annise Parker estimated the city may have to lay off more than 2,300 employees to close a $130 million budget gap for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

“We work in a cooperative manner with the county,” Parker said. “We’re not trying to back them into a corner. We just need a resolution. If they have a plan and a timeline, all they have to do is tell us and we’ll back off. But if they don’t have a plan — and we’re not aware of any — or a timeline for developing a use for that facility, this is a tough budget; they should understand that. They’re in tough budget times, too.”

The mayor’s office declined to identify the buyer and purchase price.

Here’s a Google map of the location; it’s a little west of where Regent Square will someday be. The county is still figuring out what if anything it’s doing with the site, so the city will have to wait a little longer.