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November 29th, 2014:

Saturday video break: Downtown

A classic from Petula Clark:

Remember how they used that song on Lost to introduce Desmond living in the hatch? Now here’s a typically offbeat cover of it by the B-52s:

I can’t even think of a band that reminds me of the B-52s. Truly one of a kind. And to change things up again, here’s Jackson Browne’s same-name-different-song “Downtown”:

Also an original artist, though a tad bit more conventional than the B-52s. Great live act, too. Which one is your favorite?

Bill King to run for Mayor

Because there aren’t enough candidates for Mayor already.

Bill King

Bill King is inching toward a run for mayor of Houston as the field in next year’s open-seat election continues to grow.

King, an attorney and the former mayor of Kemah, designated a campaign treasurer earlier this month, the initial step needed to start a campaign structure. While the full field is not expected to materialize until around Feb. 1, when candidates can begin raising money for their bids, more and more candidates are beginning to make clear their intentions.

King, who publicly flirted with a run in 2009, is now telling friends he plans to run next year. A former Houston Chronicle op-ed columnist who just unveiled a book, “Unapologetically Moderate,” King likely will run as a centrist, business-minded candidate.

Four other candidates have publicly committed to running for the post: Rep. Sylvester Turner, 2013 mayoral runner-up Ben Hall and Councilmen Steven Costello and Oliver Pennington.

About a dozen more, though, have explored a possible run.

Actually, King was flirting with a 2009 run as far back as 2006. Whatever else you might say, it’s not a snap decision. King’s longstanding hostility to light rail pretty much guarantees that I won’t vote for him, but I’m sure he’ll persevere. I’ll just make one general observation, which I may have made before here or may have just made in conversation, which is that there’s only so much room for candidates in this or any Mayoral race in Houston. There’s only so much campaign funding, so many endorsing organizations worth pursuing, so much volunteer energy, and ultimately only so many voters. As such, I believe that there’s room for only so many viable candidates. Candidates that are fishing from the same pool of voters and donors and all as other candidates will have a harder time staying above water. Some number of the people who say they’re running or thinking about running will ultimately not run, is what I’m saying. They can’t all run. It’s just a matter of who survives the qualifying runs, which is to say who can get enough of those donors and groups and volunteers on board to make themselves viable. I figure by February we’ll have a much clearer idea of what the field will really look like.

Abbott responds to motion to lift same-sex marriage ruling

He’s against it. Try not to be surprised.


Texas officials want a federal judge to uphold the state’s same-sex marriage ban, calling a request by gay couples to be allowed to immediately marry “untimely” and “out of order.”

“The plaintiffs offer no explanation for why they waited so long to file their motion,”Attorney General Greg Abbott wrote in a court document filed Tuesday. “They should not be rewarded for lying behind the log and springing this challenge on the Court and the State at the eleventh hour, demanding immediate relief.”


Abbott, the governor-elect, however, said the plaintiffs should be forced to wait until the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hears the Texas and Louisiana cases on Jan. 9: “Modifying the preliminary-injunction order to remove the stay would interfere with the Fifth Circuit’s appellate jurisdiction.”

Finally, Abbott and his deputies deny that significant problems could befall the plaintiffs if they are not allowed to wed immediately. Nicole Dimetman-DeLeon, who is challening the ban with her wife Cleopatra DeLeon, is pregnant with the couple’s second child and has expressed a concern that her partner could not claim legal parenthood over the baby if she fell ill or died.

“These alleged harms are speculative; they are contingent on death or incapacity of one of the parties, but the plaintiffs do not allege any threat or expectation that these potential tragedies will befall them,” Abbott wrote.

See here for the background, and here for a copy of the state’s response. It’s pretty rich for Abbott to argue that the plaintiffs should have filed this motion earlier if they were serious given how long it took him to file his appellate briefs. The plaintiffs asked for an expedited hearing on that in May, and they asked for an earlier court date for the hearing, neither of which they got. One could argue that they finally ran out of patience. The rest is about what you’d expect. I have no idea what Judge Garcia’s time frame for this may be, but I’ll bet he’s quicker about it than either Abbott or the Fifth Circuit have been.

Houston needs a swimming hole

A fascinating proposal from Gray Matters.

The good idea: Houston needs a great big swimming hole.

Idea guys: Monte Large and Evan O’Neil, of Houston Needs a Swimming Hole.

Where the idea came from: Enduring the Houston heat. Large, an urban real-estate developer, doesn’t have a car and bikes everywhere. One summer day, the friends asked each other a series of questions while sweating in a coffee shop:

“What if Houston still had the Shamrock Hotel pool?

“What if Houston had a Barton Springs?

“Or our own beautiful big swimming hole in the middle of the city?”

Neither Large nor O’Neil is into the sport of swimming. Their hobby, they say, is helping Houston be cool.

Large and O’Neil recognize several realities about their hometown. Houston is a subtropical environment; it is very close to, yet painfully far from the ocean; and improbably, the city has become a leader in the use of green technology.

They researched available technology and decided that an enormous natural pool that filters the water with plant material would be a symbol of “the marvel Houston is becoming.” According to their research, there are more than 20,000 natural pools across Europe. Managed properly, natural swimming pools have clear water and require no chemicals to maintain. Instead, they are self-cleaning: cattails, water lilies and other water plants serve as natural filters.

Their website has more information. I drafted this awhile ago and hadn’t gotten around to scheduling it for publication, and in the meantime the guys behind this idea have created a Kickstarter campaign to raise enough money to do a feasibility study. They hope to collect $30K by January 9, and as of this publication were more than 10% of the way there. I’ll probably toss in a few bucks myself.

Anyway, these things are apparently more common than you might think. I’m sure the idea guys will encounter plenty of skepticism as they present this idea, though they say on that Kickstarter page that they have received a lot of positive feedback, which is encouraging. Hey, if such a thing can be built elsewhere – in Austin, in Minneapolis, in Brisbane – then why not here? What do you think about this? Give their Facebook page a like if you approve. Swamplot and Gray Matters have more.