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April 6th, 2013:

Saturday video break: I Will Always Love You

Song #24 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “I Will Always Love You”, originally by Dolly Parton and covered by Whitney Houston. Here’s Dolly:

Yes, I continue to have a soft spot for the movie version of “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas”. Tiffany and I saw a stage production of it a couple of years ago, and as much fun as it is the material really is dated. The Texas portrayed in this story just doesn’t exist any more, for better or worse. But the music endures. Now here’s Whitney:

I’m just going to quote Jack Feerick from the Popdose post: “If, as William Blake wrote, the Road of Excess leads to the Palace of Wisdom, then Whitney Houston is screaming towards enlightenment in a neon-pink Cadillac, blowing through every toll booth in a shower of hundred dollar bills, tires smoking. Or, to put it plainly, sometimes more is more.” Man, I wish I’d written that. What do you think?

The Hall calls for Guy Lewis

Long overdue.

Guy Lewis and friends

Former University of Houston coach Guy V. Lewis, who won nearly 600 games, was the architect of the high-flying, rim-rattling Phi Slama Jama dynasty of the 1980s and helped integrate college basketball in the South, will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, a person familiar with the selection process said Thursday.

Later Thursday, Lewis’ wife, Dena, said the 91-year-old legendary coach received the news of his election after years of being passed over.

“We think it’s great,” Dena Lewis said. “Long overdue. I cried when I heard.”

Asked how Lewis, who retired in 1986, reacted, she said: “He said, ‘That’s great.’ ”


Despite his on-court success, Lewis was presumably bypassed from consideration – only making it as a finalist one previous time in 2003 – for never winning a national championship. Word of Lewis’ making the Hall came on the 30-year anniversary of his most stunning loss – North Carolina State’s 54-52 upset of the heavily favored Cougars in the 1983 championship game.

Lewis failed to receive enough support in recent years and was removed from the ballot for five years from 2008-2012. He became eligible again this year and joined a group of 12 finalists announced during NBA All-Star Weekend in Houston in February.

“The coaches I hated coaching against were the real good ones, and Guy was one of those,” legendary UCLA coach John Wooden told the San Antonio Express-News in 1998. “I think Guy took a bum rap because he never won a national championship.”

Here’s Lewis’ Wikipedia page, which includes his yearly record as UH coach. The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame is a bit of an odd duck since its MLB and NFL counterparts it incorporates all parts of the game – NBA, ABA, college, women’s, and international basketball. There is longstanding criticism of the backlog of worthy entrants, including very loud protest over Guy V’s exclusion up till now. It’s great to see this oversight get corrected while the very deserving recipient is still with us to appreciate it. Congratulations, Coach, on the long overdue honor. Mean Green Cougar Red and Hair Balls have more.

It’s going to be a good year for the tax assessor

That should make it a good year for the entities that depend on property tax revenues, as Loren Steffy notes.

When Williams Tower sold for $412 million recently, the new owners may have expected a break on property taxes.

After all, the iconic west Houston skyscraper was valued on the tax rolls at the time for a mere $227 million.

That sort of disparity between a building’s market and taxable value, however, is changing. The Harris County Appraisal District this week released its new appraisal rates for the current tax year, and the district is stepping up efforts to raise the values it assesses on office buildings that have historically been under-appraised. The reason: Houston’s resurgent economy is spurring increased demand for office space.

“You have a lot of activity throughout 2012 that really shows that the market for Class A and Class B office buildings has really improved and values have gone up significantly,” said Guy Griscom, the appraisal district’s assistant chief appraiser for commercial properties.

More sales, higher occupancy and higher rents help raise the averages that the appraisal district uses in assessing values.

While the higher appraisals still won’t catch up to the market value for most prime properties, it will narrow the gap that’s existed for several years.

Individual property appraisals won’t be available a few more weeks, but the district intends to raise appraisals on almost 350 of the city’s top office properties by more than 50 percent.

It’s attempting to address a problem I pointed out last year: the disparity between market values for prime office buildings and the value carried on the tax rolls.

See here for the previous time Steffy wrote about this. I’ve discussed the subject of sales price disclosure a number of times before. That’s not what HCAD is using here since they’re still not allowed to do so, but the volume of sales and other real estate action has given them enough information to at least deal with some of the office buildings that have changed hands. I’m sure the city, the county, and the various school districts are eagerly awaiting the results. See The Leader News for more on a related matter.

A constituent’s letter to Rep. Reynolds

I was forwarded the following email to Rep. Ron Reynolds:

Dear Representative Reynolds,

Rep. Ron Reynolds

I wanted to believe you when I voted for you in 2010 despite knowing that you had been sanctioned twice by the State Bar, and subsequently had your law license suspended. You said that you had made a mistake, and would do better.

Then in 2011, you were leveled massive fines from the Texas Ethics Commission for failure to file required financial disclosure reports. The state had to garnish your pay just to get you to pay those penalties back. This was in addition to the federal income tax liens placed on you and your law firm. You said that you had made a mistake, and would do better.

Then in 2012 you got arrested. Later that year you told me you attended your interim committee hearings. But those committee minutes showed that you never bothered to go. A few months ago you lied saying that you were the Democratic Whip “the second highest ranking position” in the House Democratic caucus. First, we know that the Whip is not the second highest ranking position. Second, you’re not even the Whip. You’re one of 14 Deputy Whips.

Now we’ve learned that you’ve just been arrested for very similar charges as those you faced last year. Your second arrest finally confirms for me that WE can do better. You can’t possibly do your job in Austin while fighting ongoing legal and ethical issues at home.

I respectfully ask that you resign your position immediately and take some time to get your affairs in order. The people in this district deserve representation we can trust.

A Missouri City, TX Constituent,

Elizabeth Lyles

This was sent after Rep. Reynolds recent arrest on barratry charges. It was also sent to the Fort Bend Independent, though I can’t link directly to it – use their silly magazine interface to go to page 4 to see the letter. If Ms. Lyles is not alone in how she feels, I think we can expect Rep. Reynolds to have some opposition in next year’s primary.

Clean Water Forum

If you’re not at the Battleground Texas meeting today, Environment Texas has a fine thing to do instead:

Houston Clean Water Forum on Saturday, April 6th at 3:00 PM

As part of a Clean Water Forum sponsored by Environment Texas, three conservation experts will engage with members of the public about the potential for water conservation investments in the state. The Forum comes as the Legislature considers funding the State Water Plan and mere weeks after a federal judge ordered the state to leave more water in the Guadalupe River to support endangered whooping cranes, a ruling which could have widespread implications for water management in Texas.

WHO: Talya Tavor, Houston Field Organizer, Environment Texas
Charles Irvine, Attorney, Blackburn & Carter
Dustin Brackney, Owner, Hydroscapes Solutions
Benjamin Franklin, Organizer, Tar Sands Blockade

WHERE: 3015 Richmond Ave., Houston, TX

WHEN: Saturday, April 6th, 3-4:30pm

You’ll still be home in time to watch the Final Four games. Come on out and get involved.