The 10 Biggest Houston Stories Of The Year
Tom DeLay: A conviction to go with the mugshot
There are still a couple days left for earthshaking stories to take place in 2010. But since most news is bad news, let's hope the worst is over.
What were the top 10 news stories in Houston in 2010? We're so glad you asked, since we've worked up a list already. Feel free to tell us what we missed.
10. Bye-bye Yao If "news" is defined as something unexpected, then perhaps Yao Ming getting injured yet again does not qualify. But this year's stress fracture seems likely to guarantee that the fragile center has played his last game in a Rockets uniform, due to either retirement or a trade. All that 7-5 promise, never quite fulfilled.
9. Bill White bombs
Texas wasn't ready for Bill White
As a bi-partisan mayor of the state's largest city, Bill White thought he had a chance to unseat a chronically unpopular governor who'd been in office a long, long time. But trying to sell a Democrat in Texas this year proved to be as difficult as selling Ted Nugent CDs at a MoveOn meeting.
8. Dynamo get their stadium The usual people made the usual complaints about boondoggles, and they very well may have a point. But that didn't stop city and county officials from finally pulling the trigger on the new soccer stadium that will go by 59 near the George R. Brown Center. It will also host TSU games and very, very sweaty concerts.
7. KTRU: Death of a mostly ignored legend Handled the right way, no one would probably have put up too much of a fuss over the death of Rice student-radio station KTRU -- the uber-eclecticism of its shows and playlists had long made it more fondly remembered than experienced. But UH and Rice chose the worst possible way to go about things, making a deal in secret that roused every corporate-conspiracy theorist in town to protest. In vain, of course.
6. The Tea Party takes over the legislature Technically this is more of a state story, but the truth is much of the power of the Tea Party Caucus that will play a big role in 2011 is centered here in Houston. State Senator Dan Patrick will be out there sticking "In God We Trust" on everything, State Rep Debbie Riddle will be checking everyone's papers, social services will be cut to the bone -- it will be fun.
5. Tom DeLay gets convicted Already reeling from having to quit Dancing with the Stars, Sugar Land icon Tom DeLay got further bad news when he was convicted of laundering campaign cash in the fight to get the state lege as Republican as possible for redistricting. His lawyer is confident of winning on appeal, and even if that fails it's unlikely DeLay will serve any prison time. But it's nice to know that smiling mugshot actually led to something.
4. Red Light cameras bounced What a wonderful, money-making scam red light cameras are. With no effort, municipalities rake in bucks while crowing ostentatiously about safety, With private companies doing the heavy lifting and sweet-talking city councils, the public didn't really have much of a say. Until this past November, when Houston voters rose up and ordered the city to get rid of the cash machines. The city and the supplier are in court haggling out contract disputes resulting from the vote, but the gravy train is over for now.
3. The Texans collapse Was there anyone who thought the Texans would be 5-10 by this point in the season? Doubtful. No one could have predicted the series of painful, jaw-dropping, spectacular ways the team devised to lose games in the final seconds this year. With a historically unept defense and inane "Everything's fine" comments from owner Bob McNair, 2010 was the year the love affair between the Texans and Houston ruptured. Knowing Texans fans, a new coach will have them thinking playoffs soon enough.
2. Annise Parker takes over Her election triggered worldwide headlines, and while her first year in office didn't much interest people in say, Amsterdam -- aside from the fact that she was in office at all -- Annise Parker's first year brought with it plenty of local flare-ups. Political trouble with a council who was accustomed to schmoozing from Bill White, a fiscal crisis that became apparent very early on, investigations into the Fire Department....there's been a lot going on. "I do not think I'm going to be a one-term mayor, but if I am a one-term mayor, it's going to be a hell of a term," she told reporters, and she was right.
1. Metro implodes The city's transit agency had a crisis year unlike any in its history, with federal investigations, local investigations, the loss of key funding, and a continuing inability to expand the small light rail system put in place a decade ago. Frank Wilson, secretive and dictatorial, has been replaced by good-government guru George Greanias, so there's hope things can be turned around.But the hole Greanias and the agency are in is a deep one.
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