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."
Hair Balls must say that Charles Cave's candor is a refreshing about-face from his robot-like non-testimony in Brown's divorce case, in which he repeatedly took the Fifth Amendment under intense grilling by Rachel Brown's attorney. (The attorney, David Brown — no relation — was trying to figure out whether Brown was siphoning $17,000 in cash a day from SMI.)
The doctors' motion also states that, according to Cave, although SMI owes $10 million in unpaid bills, Brown "purchased $20 million worth of real estate on South Beach, incurred at least $10 million in debt doing so and then purchased two yachts for which he also incurred significant debt." (In Michael Brown's defense, it's much easier to get hot twentysomething stripper ass when you own yachts.)
The doctors' motion also claims that not even Michael Brown can keep track of all the money he moves around. He allegedly made a $166,500 wire transfer in January to something called Pomegranate Development (or Developers) that he had no explanation for and a $136,000 January payment to American Express, even though Brown stated in a deposition "that he does not have an American Express card."
Brown similarly had no explanation for a $10,377.55 payment this month to Ray Von Proctor, SMI's chief of staff, according to the doctors' motion.
The motion also states, "In the year prior to bankruptcy, [Brown] drained approximately $6 million out of his tax account; most of those monies were transferred to [his] personal account, but he does not know what happened to them, other than to state over and over again that he has paid a significant amount in attorney's fees."
But according to Brown's motion to withdraw his bankruptcy filing, his companies have suffered financial losses because of "the highly publicized nature" of his divorce proceedings. He then points out that he has paid "$300,000 a month to his wife and his wife's counsel for the past two years. This amount does not include Dr. Brown's payments of the mortgages and upkeep for at least three separate properties where she presently resides, plus a lakefront property."
Brown claims he filed for Chapter 11 reorganization out of his "complete frustration with his inability to resolve his divorce," and that he "was under the mistaken impression that filing for reorganization would somehow assist him in resolving and moving forward his various divorce-related issues. In fact, the opposite is true."
Those are fitting words. It's the hitch in the image Michael Glyn Brown has devoted his life to cultivating: The opposite is true.