By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Dear City of Houston:
How's it going? You know I love you. I mean, I'm a freaking advocate! But there are plenty of things I'd like to see changed. I want more light rail. I want the constant road construction to stop. I want a flying car. You know, the simple things in life. Still, the city is great and getting better, so thanks for that.
Here's my problem: the downtown hopper. Allow me to explain to readers who are unfamiliar.
If you park downtown, the meters allow you to either purchase time by increments or get what is called a "downtown hopper." For $7, you get to park your car anywhere downtown until the meters stop working at 6 p.m., after which parking is free. It's a pretty good deal if you need to park downtown, because lots can be expensive.
But it's called a "hopper" for a reason. You have to move your car every three hours or you get a ticket...as I did during All-Star weekend.
Now, city, back to you. Here's my issue with your so-called "hopper": Nowhere on any of the signs or on the machine does it say parking is limited to three hours. I have read stories dating back to 2009 about people suffering the same fate for the same reason. My poor 311 operator was overly apologetic when I called to ask the question, because apparently it's a very common one.
How tough would it be to put up signs that say "Cars must be moved every three hours" or to put text on the machine's screen saying something similar?
Yes, it does say "3hr time limit until 6pm" in TINY letters on the parking receipt, but that's it. Hell, even the plastic bags toys are wrapped in come with bigger warnings, and they are just plastic bags! For my violation, I got a $30 ticket, meaning I paid $37 to park by Phoenicia on a Friday afternoon. I should have just paid a lot across from Toyota Center $40 to shorten my walk.
I'm not saying you need to change the policy, but it sure does look shady that the only mention is in the fine print, particularly given the fact that others have similar complaints. And it's made worse by the fact that the law only requires me to move one space over to avoid a penalty. How ridiculous is that, and how exactly does that make parking in downtown more convenient or free up space for other cars? It doesn't.
Listen, City of Houston, you do a lot right and a lot of things around here are getting better. We're even getting good publicity from New York. Who would have believed that the same place that called us a "HELLHOLE" in the early '90s would suddenly consider us cool? Sure, not Brooklyn/bicycle/farmer's market/skinny jeans/microbrew cool, but it's something.
So don't ruin it with stupid fine print on your parking meter receipts! We're still trying to live down the whole suburban sprawl/what to do with the Astrodome/strip mall/humidity stuff.
I'm not doing this for me. I'll pay my fine. I'm doing this for all the poor unsuspecting saps who think they can park for hours on end with impunity.
Thanks for your time, City of Houston. *hugs*
I Filed Bankruptcy?
Ex-Dr. Brown's courtroom flub.
As if the clusterfuck of multi-jurisdictional litigation involving wife-beater and alleged flight-attendant-choker Michael "I Did Not Give That Woman Anal Herpes" Brown is not crazy enough, the former TV-ad icon is seeking to dismiss his bankruptcy filing in a Miami federal court.
Avid Brown-watchers will remember that a few weeks after federal prosecutors accused him of choking flight attendants and threatening to demonstrate the Patented Brown Dick-Dangle, and a month after he shattered local real-estate records by buying an $8 million beachfront palace with a fucking movie theater, Brown filed for Chapter 11 protection.
Because that's what people do. But Brown then filed a last-minute motion claiming that his filing was a mistake, his estranged wife's a gold-digging beyatch and all he's trying to do is amicably settle his Harris County divorce proceedings.
Meanwhile, lawyers for a group of doctors working for a Brown-controlled company have filed a motion accusing Brown of bleeding so much money from one of his Houston-based companies that it won't be able to pay its bills in six months.
Here's the deal: The doctors in that case, which was filed in a Texas federal court, were looking forward to the possibility of the Miami bankruptcy judge putting Brown's companies into receivership, just so everyone can figure out, once and for all, what kind of financial shell game the ex-surgeon has been playing.
According to the doctors' filing opposing the withdrawal of bankruptcy, the chief financial officer of Brown's company, Surgeon's Management Inc., stated in a deposition that "given the immense amount of cash that [Brown] has pulled out of his business in the past year, SMI has no more than six months left until it can no longer pay its bills."