Metro officially puts Universities BRT line in the freezer
Off the Kuff
by Charles Kuffner
22h ago
Goddammit. What was promised… The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County will not pursue the University Corridor bus rapid transit line, a core element of the MetroNext program, delaying the project indefinitely. During a Tuesday meeting of the board of directors’ Strategic Planning Committee meeting, members were informed by Metro staff that the agency’s financial picture is not conducive to pursuing the project, citing rising operational costs and farebox revenue losses due to the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. “If the finances are not there and not sound, we have a res ..read more
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Still talking about connecting Texas to the national grid
Off the Kuff
by Charles Kuffner
22h ago
It’s a compelling idea. Still not sure if it’s a good idea, but it is compelling. If the Texas power grid had been connected to neighboring systems in early 2021, the likelihood of deadly blackouts during Winter Storm Uri would have been reduced up to 82%, according to a new study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their study modeled the February 2021 storm and the likelihood of outages if legislation that would require the Texas power grid to expand interconnections to grids in surrounding states had then been enacted. The process, which could take a decade or mor ..read more
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HPD to expand “AI surveillance”
Off the Kuff
by Charles Kuffner
22h ago
I have many questions. An AI technology firm will install 64 new cameras throughout the city to improve public safety as Houston Police Department officials say they are facing staffing shortages. In a $177,483 contract approved Wednesday by City Council, Airship AI agreed to install the additional cameras and provide expanded server space to support them. The deal comes on the heels of statewide efforts to adopt the new technology across its many departments and agencies. Advocates claim machine-learning tools will expand law enforcement capabilities and revolutionize public safety. “The ba ..read more
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Texas blog roundup for the week of June 17
Off the Kuff
by Charles Kuffner
22h ago
The Texas Progressive Alliance has reported every free luxury vacation it has received from a wingnut billionaire (unlike some Supreme Court justices we could name) as it brings you this week’s roundup. Off the Kuff reminds you that your school district’s budget crunch is Greg Abbott’s fault. SocraticGadfly talks about Mark Lee Dickson’s abortion sanctuary city lies and grift. Stace offers his memories of Tejano Pioneer Johnny Canales, who passed away last week. Neil at Houston Democracy Project said it is a given Houston’s many license plate monitor cameras will be used for repression in an e ..read more
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Firefighter deal certified and approved
Off the Kuff
by Charles Kuffner
2d ago
That’s that. Mayor John Whitmire Houston City Council approved the $1.5 billion settlement and labor contract with the city firefighters union on Wednesday, a deal that now forces Mayor John Whitmire to quickly find new sources of revenue to help pay for it. The unanimous vote achieved a core promise of Whitmire’s campaign last year, and ends a nearly eight-year dispute between the union and the city under previous Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This was a long time coming,” Whitmire said. “It was always going to be a big number and I think we handled it as responsibly as you could expect.” The f ..read more
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Paxton lawsuit to nullify marijuana ordinances tossed
Off the Kuff
by Charles Kuffner
2d ago
Good. Still a crook any way you look A state district judge in Travis County has dismissed a lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Paxton that sought to nullify voter-approved ordinances in Austin and a few other cities that effectively decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana. In a brief order handed down Tuesday, Judge Jan Soifer essentially said there was no reason for the case to proceed to trial. “Having considered the pleadings, responses, as well as the arguments of legal counsel and applicable law, the Court is of the opinion that the Defendants’ plea to dismiss the case” sho ..read more
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Bird flu found in Houston wastewater
Off the Kuff
by Charles Kuffner
2d ago
No need to panic, but good to know. Bird flu has been detected in wastewater around the Houston area, Harris County Public Health officials said Tuesday. The source of the Bird flu, or H5N1, found in Houston water between March 1 and May 13 is unknown, media partner ABC 13 reported. Officials confirmed there have been no human cases of the virus in Harris County. “The most likely source is related to agriculture, and the public risk remains low,” county health officials said in a statement, according to ABC 13. The disease was detected in nine Texas cities, including Austin, where city offic ..read more
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Annunciation House hearing
Off the Kuff
by Charles Kuffner
3d ago
This one is on the merits, to determine if Ken Paxton has any evidence to support his outlandish claims that the religious charity is engaged in “human trafficking”. An El Paso judge will rule within two weeks on the attempt by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to close Annunciation House’s migrant shelters, he said at the end of a hearing Monday. “There are a number of issues that were raised here that were addressed in the pleadings, but that, as you’ve argued them, require me to go back and revisit and look at it a little more closely. So, I would expect, and I’ll do my best to get someth ..read more
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The DFW high speed rail line hits a bump
Off the Kuff
by Charles Kuffner
3d ago
Whoops. Dallas City Council members hit the brakes on a proposed elevated high-speed passenger rail line that would connect with Arlington and Fort Worth. The council, including Mayor Eric Johnson, approved a resolution 14-0, with council member Jaime Resendez absent. The June 12 action pauses the project for at least four months as city officials conduct a long-range economic impact study to determine the effects of the rail project in the Central Business District. Council member Jesse Moreno said there are still many unanswered questions about the project, currently proposed to run along ..read more
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SCOTx declines to take up IVF appeal
Off the Kuff
by Charles Kuffner
4d ago
A small victory. The Texas Supreme Court has declined to take up a major in vitro fertilization case that could have potentially upended access to the procedure. The justices allowed a lower court’s opinion to stand, and, for now, sidestepped the question of whether a frozen embryo has the same rights as a living child in post-Dobbs Texas. The case centers on Gaby and Caroline Antoun, a Denton couple who divorced in 2022. They divided up their assets and settled on a custody agreement for their children. The major point of contention, however, was the frozen embryos the couple created while d ..read more
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