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May 24th, 2014:

Saturday video break: Born To Add

I’ve already done the videos for Bruce Springsteen’s classic “Born To Run”. Now here’s a classic of a different kind:

Clearly, some people at the Children’s Television Workshop really get The Boss.

Castro gets the nod

As anticipated.

Mayor Julian Castro

Before a packed crowd in the White House’s state dining room, President Obama on Friday nominated San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to become the newest — and youngest — member of his cabinet, as the secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

“I am nominating another all-star who’s done a fantastic job in San Antonio over the last five years,” the president said between jokes about the “good-looking” mayor who had proved to be a “pretty good speaker.”

Pending Senate confirmation, Castro will replace Shaun Donovan, whom the president has tapped as the new director for the Office of Management and Budget.

Castro spoke of having “big shoes to fill,” and called the nomination a “blessing.”

“I look forward to being part of a department that will ensure that millions of Americans all across the country will have the opportunity to get good, safe, affordable housing and pursue their American dreams,” he said, adding his thanks — “muchisimas gracias” — to the people of San Antonio.

See here and here for the background. I’ve said what I’ve got to say about the politics of this, so let me just say “Congratulations” and “Don’t let Ted Cruz be a jerk to you in the confirmation hearings”. I look forward to seeing what happens next. The Rivard Report and the Current have more.

Metro opts for the overpass

At this point I can hardly blame them.

Houston transit officials proceeded Thursday with a controversial overpass plan for an East End light rail line, but angry city officials and residents vowed to continue fighting for an underpass.

Metropolitan Transit Authority board members rejected a request by residents and the city and state officials who represent them for a 30-day delay in deciding whether to build an overpass or underpass along Harrisburg, at freight tracks near Hughes Street. Board members cited the need to move quickly to complete the line.

The decision came after four months of discussion, which residents wanted to extend so they could further research Metro’s claims about the environmental risks of an underpass. Speakers at Thursday’s board meeting, ranging from engineers to lawyers, questioned some of Metro’s findings without citing specifics.

Metro officials said continued dialogue was unlikely to change their minds.

“We can play this game, but at some point you have to step up and build something,” said board member Cindy Siegel, a former Bellaire mayor.

[…]

Depending on details such as whether vehicle lanes are included in the overpass, Metro would spend between $27 million and $43 million to join light rail segments under construction on the Green Line, between the central business district and the Magnolia Park Transit Center. The overpass could be built in less than three years, according to Metro estimates.

Noting the additional year and up to $20 million in added costs to build an underpass, not including environmental costs, some area residents said they supported the overpass plan.

“We cannot endure any more delays,” said Jessica Hulsey, of the Super Neighborhood 63 Council, which encompasses the Second Ward.

Metro’s press release for this is here. See here, here, here, and here for the background. I have always thought that an underpass was the ideal solution, but at this point given the cost and the time frame, it’s quite reasonable for Metro to say we’re going to do an overpass and we’re going to do our best to make it okay. Various elected officials that represent the area asked Metro not to go forward at this time, so it’s certainly possible they can come under some pressure, but I don’t know what they can do to really affect it at this point. The fact that not everyone is against the decision to proceed also suggests Metro is on reasonably solid ground. The underpass would have been best, but at this point it just wasn’t going to happen. I sympathize with the holdouts, and I wish them luck in making the best of the hand they’ve been dealt.

What campaign signs?

Denise Pratt says she knows nothing about all those campaign signs advocating her re-election that she says she isn’t running for.

Denise Pratt

Campaign signs urging voters to “Re-elect Denise Pratt” have popped up outside at least three early voting locations this week, more than two months after the family court judge announced her immediate resignation and the suspension of her re-election campaign – later revealed to be part of a deal with the Harris County District Attorney to avoid indictment.

“It’s very puzzling,” said local Republican activist Joseph McReynolds, who was handing out mailers for the Spring Branch Republicans outside the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center on West Gray, where there were 18 Pratt campaign signs on Thursday, including a row of nine along the street leading up to the driveway. Pratt signs also were found at early voting locations in Kingwood and George Bush Park in west Houston.

In early April, two days after she resigned, Pratt sparked rumors that she still was campaigning when she sent a text message to supporters asking them to urge an influential endorser to hold off on switching his support to her challenger in the May 27 Republican primary runoff.

The Baytown native denied the rumors, posting a statement on her campaign website that said she had, “in fact,” suspended her re-election efforts. The statement still was there on Thursday.

Asked about the signs, Pratt’s lawyer, Terry Yates, said via email “We have no knowledge of that.”

Clearly, this is the work of some overzealous volunteers. What other possible explanation could there be? OK, OK, Texpatriate mentions rumors of some third party troublemaker planting the signs, and I have to admit that this election is more suitable than most for that kind of shenanigan. It’s a possibility that deserves at least a bit more consideration than snarky dismissal. That said, there’s no particular reason to trust anything the Pratt campaign has to say. So we’ll see what happens.