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November 15th, 2015:

Weekend link dump for November 15

Nancy Lieberman is awesome.

Doing spec work for free is something most people are never asked to do.

Another reason not to eat at Taco Bell, in case you needed one.

Two words: Pyramid truthers. I need a drink.

RIP, Gunnar Hansen, best known as the villain Leatherface in the original 1974 horror film “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”.

“The choice to double-down on that untrustworthy untruth, though, changes one’s relationship to that falsehood. It changes you from being its victim to being its champion. It means that you are no longer merely deceived, but that you are choosing to deceive others — that you have decided that leading others astray would be, for whatever reason, preferable to admitting that you’d ever been led astray yourself.”

Like me, you probably have a few preemie kids in your extended family, so these pictures ought to make you smile.

“The administrators created this world where our universities revolve socially, politically and economically around the exploited labor of big time football. Now let them reap what they sow.”

“The performance art that has loogied [Donald Trump] to the top of the Republican polls is insult comedy, and an insult comic as presidential timber is not something the Founders anticipated, judging from the screams resonating from the Hereafter.”

#BenCarsonWikipedia. Man, I didn’t know half this stuff.

“A conservative Christian group has taken a page out of the Human Rights Campaign’s playbook, releasing a ranking of corporations that are most hostile to LGBT and reproductive rights.”

RIP, Daniel Fleetwood, the terminally ill “Star Wars” fan who last week was granted his dying wish to watch “The Force Awakens”.

RIP, Allen Toussaint, legendary songwriter, producer, arranger and piano player from New Orleans.

Having more cyclists in a community is the best way to promote bike safety.

“Do we need more welders and less philosophers? This is less clear. Are things going unwelded that should be welded? Those in the know, please comment.”

“The accumulation of these slights suggests that even the world’s best female economists are given second billing too often.”

RIP, Carol Doda, legendary burlesque dancer.

“It’s not just states under right-wing control where abortion clinics are closing their doors”.

How the Bush family misunderstood who and what Dick Cheney is.

“I can’t grasp how an intelligent, well-read man or woman, regardless of ideological commitments, could watch the Republican debate in Milwaukee on Tuesday night and not come away disgusted. I certainly did. It was a familiar feeling.”

Maybe try harvest gold and avocado green next time.

Leave a new HERO to the next Mayor

I hate having to say this.

HoustonUnites

Opponents of Houston’s repealed equal rights ordinance haved placed 300,000 calls and will release a new TV ad next week warning about a possible City Council revival of the controversial non-discrimination law.

All that despite no certainty that Mayor Annise Parker will find the political will and, most importantly, the time, to bring forward new equal rights legislation in the dwindling weeks before her term is over at the end of December. Several City Council members are battling heated Dec. 12 runoff contests and unlikely to willingly delve into the politically charged law that 61 percent of voters opposed this month.

Shortly after the defeat, Parker said she had no set plan and needed to speak with council members about bringing back similar protections before she leaves office. But foes seized on her statement that some council members had suggested voting on individual protections, such as those offered in housing or employment or public accommodations.

“I’m going to sit down with the council members and see how they want to proceed,” Parker said. “We will also, of course, evaluate what the national and international response from the business community is, because that certainly will make a difference.”

[…]

Councilwoman Ellen Cohen, one of the biggest champions of the law, said Friday that she has no plans to broach any non-discrimination legislation before the runoff election and “most likely not” before the end of the year.

“It would be the decision of the mayor but I think right now we need to concentrate on the runoffs and move forward,” Cohen said. “Quite honestly, I’m comfortable taking a breath. I do have plans at some point in the future to make sure that equality is brought to Houston.”

I can’t see any justification for bringing up any part of an equal rights ordinance before the end of the year. The liars won this round. (*) The runoff election presents another opportunity to engage the fight, since Sylvester Turner and Bill King are on record stating opposing views as to whether or not they would introduce a new HERO if they win. Get Sylvester Turner elected in December and there will be a mandate to have a do-over, hopefully this time with a better rollout campaign. I wish it were different, but then if it were we wouldn’t need to be having this discussion at all. The way to change the conversation is to win the next election. Let’s focus on that.

(*) Way to continue to characterize the “debate” over HERO as a he said/she said disagreement about bathrooms and how effective that campaign tactic was, Houston Chronicle. Very Shape of Earth: Views Differ of you.

Red lights on the Green line

Alas.

HoustonMetro

Light rail is up and running along Harrisburg on the city’s east side, but Metro’s construction continues to be a sore spot with area residents because it seems at every turn the work is taking longer than promised.

The latest delays come from sluggish work to move utilities and excavate for a planned overpass of freight railroad tracks along Harrisburg near Hughes. The overpass is needed to extend Green Line rail service from its current terminus at Altic to its future endpoint at the Magnolia Park Transit Center.

“There is no way to sugarcoat this. We are behind schedule and we are working to get back on schedule,” said Roberto Trevino, Metro’s executive vice president for planning, engineering and construction.

Construction can catch up, officials said, meaning the overpass remains on track to open in May 2016 as Metro and McCarthy Building Companies – the project’s general contractor – estimated in January. Much of the work occurs in the center of the new street, meaning it doesn’t cut off businesses but does make accessing their driveways trickier.

[…]

One of the first steps in the construction – moving utilities – got off to a slow start, Trevino said.

Moving overhead electrical utilities lagged at first, then crews started finding telecommunications and gas lines that weren’t listed on plans and city documents.

That stalls work as gas or phone company crews have to come out and assess the lines and see if they are functioning.

A potentially bigger pitfall comes from prior industrial uses along Harrisburg, Trevino said, specifically underground tanks used to store fuels that were not listed on many site plans and which proved more problematic than Metro thought.

“We are doing some proactive measures to make up as much time as we can,” Trevino said.

To accelerate construction, additional crews have descended on the job site, and McCarthy has plans to move from doing work for 10 hours six days a week, to seven days a week.

If it’s not one thing it’s another with this construction. I don’t think there’s much that could have been done differently based on what the story says, but boy will everyone be glad when this is over. I just hope they can still make the May deadline.

In tangential news, the Wednesday Metro board meeting was where the long-discussed idea of allowing ads on trains and buses was supposed to come up, but I haven’t seen any news item or press release indicating that it did. Anyone know what happened?

The struggle is real in The Woodlands

One last opportunity – for this year, at least – to mock the flailing efforts at self-governance in Montgomery County.

[Bruce] Tough believes the tea partiers are after “control’ and, in so doing, could stamp out independent thought.

“I don’t want to see any single group control the fate of our community,” Long said. “We’re bigger than one group. All the folks who live here should have a say.”

Mike Bass, a township director who was opposed in 2012 by tea partiers who had once backed him, agreed.

“They want to win control of the township board and then have us incorporate our township into a city,’ Bass said. “We have a perfect limited government and free marketplace now. But they really don’t want that.”

Community leaders agree on one thing: resident frustration over the area’s rapid growth is driving the discontent. Montgomery County’s population, now a half million, is expected to double over the next half-century.

“The Woodlands is a victim of its own success,” said Tough. “Once people build a house here, they want that one to be the last one built. I heard these special interest people saying, ‘Elect me and I’ll stop development.’ It may play well politically, but legally you can’t tell someone what to do with their land.”

The Texas Patriots’ Turner said that while nobody can stop growth, it could be better managed, possibly through incorporating as a city.

Bass said incorporation was put off three years ago because a study then showed it would triple the property tax rate.

So basically, The Woodlands is like Austin, though perhaps with fewer skinny-jeans-wearing hipsters. And the first-time candidate who defeated Bruce Tough last Tuesday is on a self-appointed mission to rescue America from the clutches of evil leftists, presumably beginning with those Alinsky sympathizers on the Woodlands Township Board of Directors. I’m sorry, but Houston politics just can’t hold a candle to this for sheer ridiculousness.

State to close La Marque ISD

They don’t know what they’re going to do with it, and that’s a problem.

Galveston County’s La Marque ISD will officially be no more as of July 1, 2016, state education officials confirmed.

On Thursday, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams notified La Marque ISD officials of the decision to revoke their accreditation.

“The district will be merged with another school district in the area,” said DeEtta Culbertson, a spokeswoman for the education agency.

[…]

The typical practice when a district loses its accreditation is for it to be wholly absorbed into another district rather than being broken up among multiple districts.

Culbertson said the details about the merger were still being worked out.

See here, here, and here for the background. I get the reasoning behind this – La Marque has been at the bottom of state academic rankings for several years, and in August it failed the state fiscal accountability rating. That’s plenty of justification to shutter a district. The problem, as I detailed in that last link, is that there’s no obvious place for La Marque ISD to go. None of its neighbors seem like good candidates to absorb it. This is likely why nine months after the first announcement that La Marque was on the chopping block the TEA still has no confirmed plan for what to do with it. Everyone knew that North Forest would be absorbed by HISD. Nobody knows what will happen to La Marque. That seems to me to be at least as big a problem as the one the TEA is trying to solve by dissolving La Marque ISD.