Sunday, November 06, 2005

Commuter rail is the wrong ride

I have been delayed in writing an article about METRO's ill-advised push for commuter rail, while I was analyzing the new IRS collections data, for our annual update on that subject, which we pride ourselves in being among the first to publicize, each year. Well, we just released that article and its companion article, "The Economy Bomb", yesterday and I turned my attention to the overdue commuter rail article.

I had barely begun work on that article, when I received an email from Tom Bazan, alerting me to an Op-Ed in the Comical, by Tory Gattis. After reading what he said, I decided to scrap what I was writing, because Gattis had summed up the situation so well.

Instead of adding my two cents, I will simply point you to the Houston Strategies BLOG, where you can read the excellent summation, by Gattis, of just how wrong for Houston commuter rail, as envisioned by Metro, really is.

Check it out.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It's Like Night and Day

As I have watched the news over the last day or so, the one thing that jumps out at me, is the dramatic difference in the effective way Galveston is handling preparation for Hurricane Rita and the almost total lack of Hurricane Katrina preparation, in New Orleans.

But, here's the really interesting part. Galveston has made no changes to their hurricane emergency plan, since Katrina. They had a good plan to begin with and they are simply following it.

They have announced pick-up points all over Galveston, where those without transportation may board busses, provided by the city, to help those people evacuate. Staged evacuations were planned long since and they are moving forward with those evacuations. That includes the mandatory evacuation of nursing homes. Each area of Galveston County already have specific roads identified for evacuation and pre-arranged shelters are in place in three interior cities.

Governor Perry already ordered the Texas National Guard troops back from Louisiana and has them in place to help, as soon as the storm passes and has also called President Bush, to coordinate the federal response.

It's like watching a well oiled machine function. But, that's what you should expect when you have a good plan, prepared years in advance and follow through with it. Remember that nothing in their plan has changed since Katrina.

The sad to realize that New Orleans and the state of Louisiana had good plans in place, as well, but both the mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of Louisiana delayed implementing their parts until far too late.

Even as we prepare for Rita's approach, watching the news about those preparations makes me proud that I live in Texas.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Hurricane Rita Info

For those who are looking for info related to the approach of Hurricane Rita, the Houston-Galveston Area Emergency Blogger Network has done a great job of compiling all kinds of information, including important links and telephone numbers for the various federal, state and local government agencies that are involved, as well as weather data and news resources.

If there is anything that you want to know, concerning Hurricane Rita, possible evacuation orders or hurricane preparedness, in general, check out their site. We were about to do something similar here, but when we found their site, we decided not to try to reinvent the wheel. It's all there.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Safe Clear is Crumbling

KHOU is reporting that a key part of Mayor White's "Safe Clear" towing plan has been shot down by a federal judge. In particular, the city is not allowed to sell exclusive towing contracts to a few select wrecker companies for millions of dollars. That was how the mayor hoped to get more back-door tax money. Without those contracts, the program ends up costing Houstonians more than it can possibly take in.

Where will it go from here? We can only hope that the mayor and city council will see the error of their ways and end that sham. But, we can't count on that. After all, Mayor White has already shown that there is no limit to how low he will stoop, including the spending of taxpayer dollars to fight taxpayers in court, to keep one of his sham programs in place.

At least, this represents a good start and there is now a small glimmer of hope on the horizon. Real hope will come with the election of a mayor who will work with the people of Houston, rather than against them.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Wham-Bam-Tram crashes may be higher than reported

This is preliminary, which is why I am posting this here, rather than on the Houston Pages of Action America.

Action America is in receipt of a report from Metro, showing previously unreported incidents on 8/12 and 8/14. Both were at Fannin and TCH. The first report reads, "Vehicle turned into shared left turn left in front of train". The second report reads, "Vehicle merged into shared left turn left into the train".

With such accurate descriptions and command of the English language, by Metro, is it any wonder that we have so much trouble determining which occurrences are accidents and which are only incidents?

Anyway, we are trying to obtain more information about those incidents and will report them, as soon as we have that information.

Also, we are trying to get information on a Wham-Bam-Tram crash that was supposed to have occurred on Friday. I understand that it was reported on the Channel 2 evening news, but it does not show up on their web site. If anyone has information about any of the above occurrences, please let us know. You can either post a comment here or use our Feedback Form on Action America.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Action Houston Blog Debuts

Because of the huge popularity of the Action America Houston Pages, owing largely to the Wham-Bam-Tram Ram Counter, Action America has decided to create the Action Houston Blog. This will allow us to post brief news items here and at the same time, make it possible for us to get better control over the Houston Pages, which has grown faster than we could keep up with.

The more permanent news items, such as the Wham-Bam-Tram Ram Counter, will remain on the Houston Pages, while the more transient news items will be posted here. We will also post brief items here, when more extensive items are posted on the Houston Pages, so you will have a chance to comment on them, as well.

We hope that you enjoy this new feature.