By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
TALES FROM TRANSIT
Not Quite So Bold
Metro's execs won't be commuting via bus
By Paul Knight
George Greanias, Metro's president, dropped a bombshell at a recent budget meeting, announcing that the agency's Senior Management Team is turning in its company cars and being required to ride buses or the rail 40 times a month.
(A list of the employees who are subject to the requirement can be found on Metro's website.)
It sounded pretty incredible: A group of Metro executives accustomed to the Frank Wilson days, living the life of Riley with expense accounts and take-home cars, would have to take public transportation to and from work, each day of the week.
We wondered who would be first to resign. But it turns out, the "40 times a week" requirement isn't as strict as it seemed.
Greanias tells Hair Balls that each employee must make only four round-trip commutes each month. The remainder of trips could be as simple as getting on the rail outside Metro's downtown headquarters and riding one stop north to grab lunch at the cafeteria in the Exxon building.
We're trying to decide who has it easiest. Is it the Metro execs living outside the city, like Metro's Vice President John Sedlak, who lives near Clear Lake, who can drive to a park-and-ride to catch a relatively luxurious bus, or is it the inner-loopers who must find their closest bus stop and hope their bus is on time?
We suppose the park-and-ride is the way to go, and maybe everyone will just drive over to the lot by Reliant Stadium, pay $3 to park and take the 15-minute rail ride to Metro's headquarters. At least one Metro exec who lives near Pearland will have to do that, because there currently are no park and ride lots out that way.
That's a good thing, Greanias tells us, because this new requirement is designed, in part, to show the senior managers areas that need public transportation that are not being served.
"That's kind of the point, to show that we do have gaps in service," Greanias says.
The plan to take away company cars and vehicle allowances will save Metro about $92,000, and, more importantly, it will ensure that the people who run Metro will, at least sometimes, actually use Metro transportation.
We just hope the execs follow through on the requirement, because Greanias says it's currently being "enforced" on the honor system.
Finally, a Break for White People
Buried beneath the onslaught of Commissioners Court activity recently was a vote that gives legitimacy to a group calling itself the Caucasian Law Enforcement Association.
Without discussion, commissioners approved a request that CLEA be allowed to let its members pay their dues through payroll deduction. When the request was first made to the county, it was met with skepticism, to say the least.
"The Commissioners did approve the payroll deduction agreement. HURRAY!!! Members will have equal opportunity to be represented just as members of other the groups," the organization said on its Facebook page.
Alan Bernstein, a spokesperson for Sheriff Adrian Garcia, tells Hair Balls his boss doesn't really have an opinion on the issue. "The sheriff said that amid the more crucial discussion [of] HCSO personnel shortages, the study on whether to privatize the jail, and other issues, he has not had time to form an impression about the payroll deduction change," he said.
Bernstein noted the payroll-deduction decision was the county's, not the sheriff's office.
Earlier discussion had involved whether groups had to meet a certain minimum number of members before it became cost-effective to offer payroll deduction.
The head of CLEA, Dan McCool, a 20-year HCSO veteran, has said the group has about 20 members.
"We believe 'merit does matter' and the best-qualified person should be given an equal opportunity for a job or assignment. Just because someone has been in an assignment doesn't mean they are the best qualified," the group says on its FB page.
That page also includes a link to a teacher who apparently claims to be a member of La Raza making a speech. " Is this really how La RAZA thinks? Do away with capitalism and the free enterprise system?" the posting asks.
Yes, La Raza is trying to overthrow capitalism and the free-enterprise system. In paranoid rightwing fantasy land.
DOING IT DAILYThere is a ton of stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; youre only getting a taste of it here In the print edition. Head to blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs (or /rocks or /eating or /artattack) and under Tools on the top-right side of the page, use the categories drop-down menu to find these stories:
We discovered one way we'd not like to die: As one Houstonian did, lying dead for at least 12 hours in an adult-bookstore booth before his body was discovered. Our commenters, as hard as it may be to believe, had things to say about the event. We showed a map that ingeniously displayed Houston's racial and ethnic enclaves and we scientifically proved, more or less, that October is the best weather month each year in Houston.