Nine months later, no flood of "Ike Babies"
BY RICHARD CONNELLY
Ike "baby boom"
Whenever a city suffers a blackout for any extended period of time, you can be sure that journalists will trot out the old story about a "baby boom" happening nine months later. It's definitely been enough time for any local Ike babies to get themselves out into the big ol' world, so — just how big was the Ike Baby Boom in Houston?
Not so big. In fact, it was pretty much a bust.
Hair Balls got actual birth figures from the Hermann Hospital System (eight big hospitals for births), Woman's Hospital of Texas, LBJ and Ben Taub; we also talked to Methodist. While some saw an increase in births in June/July 2009 over the previous year, others saw drops.
"We are not seeing anything that can be attributed to an Ike baby boom," says Jennifer Hart, spokesperson for Hermann. "It's just normal summer numbers."
Really? A sticky-hot, airless bedroom, with mosquitoes buzzing around because windows are opened, was not conducive to sex just because the lights were out? We're shocked.
Hermann's hospitals had 3,571 births in June/July 2008; the same period in 2009 is shaping up to see 3,288.
One glaring exception in the Hermann system — its facility in The Woodlands, which saw an increase from June 2008 to June 2009. Mary Hersey, director of Women & Newborns at the hospital, had no real explanation except to note, "A lot of people around here had generators. Lots of people."
LBJ and Ben Taub, the county-run hospitals, saw a jump in births in June (no July stats available, says spokesman Bryan McLeod). The increase was 11 percent, which seems big; he notes, however, that overall births are up seven percent this year.
At Methodist, spokeswoman Stefanie Asin says she really, really wanted to see a boom. But it never came. "We've gotten a lot of calls about it, but we've just not seen anything trending that way at all," she says.
Overall births at the hospitals we surveyed showed 5,039 babies in June/July 2008 and 4,884 for the same period this year. (This includes some estimates for the rest of July, and some that didn't have any July numbers, so it's not an exact thing.)
We didn't get around to every local hospital that delivers babies, to be sure. It took long enough to get just these figures. But it looks to us like we can call it the Baby Boom That Wasn't.
Ah, well. It still makes a good story, as long as you stick to anecdotal evidence.
Crime, Political Animals
Doing Hard Time
Allen Stanford deserves a break
BY RICHARD CONNELLY
Allen Stanford, the alleged Ponzi-schemer who led a billionaire's life allegedly on the alleged backs of allegedly bilked investors, doesn't like his jail cell.
It's got no air-conditioning, it's dark, it's crowded. In other words, it's a lot like Houston in the weeks after Ike. But we're guessing Stanford didn't stay in town to experience that bit of heaven.
Stanford is complaining that the Montgomery County facility he is at is often without power, and he is forced to share a cell with ten other inmates. We're sure it's not a two-person cell that's simply overcrowded, but still, this is a difficult transformation for a billionaire to make. You remember how tough it was for Paris Hilton.
Stanford says, through his lawyer, that he would like to be transferred to the federal jail in downtown Houston. We think he's not dreaming big enough. If you're going to go to all the effort of filing a request to improve your jail conditions, you should make sure your demands are worth it.
This should be his list of demands:
May it please the court, I, Allen Stanford, do hereby request the following.
1. Location of my jail cell: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. On the windward side of the island, please.
2. Layout of my jail cell: Modest. Say, a Hyatt suite, as opposed to a Four Seasons suite. I am trying to be flexible here. In that spirit, thread count on the sheets need not be more than 750.
3. Cellmates: Two. One does need a valet, of course. As for the other person, I leave it totally up to the discretion of the court, as long as she can suck a tennis ball through a garden hose.
4. Food: Standard fare. For me, that is. (Again, in the interest of being flexible and meeting you halfway, the caviar can be Iranian instead of Russian. If you insist.)
5. Entertainment: Absolutely none needed. Again, I understand I am supposed to be sacrificing here, so I request no TVs or computers. Simply ensuring that my windowed cell backs up to the cricket pitch will be more than enough. For now.
6. In the event of a hurricane, evacuation to: London. Mayfair should be safely enough out of the path of the storm. Your choice between Lear or Gulfstream to get me there.
7. Jail job: Financial analyst. I find doing laundry to be an ineffective use of my skills; I propose instead to counsel fellow inmates on their investments. Failing that, I could be the cricket announcer.
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8. Visitation rights for my wife or girlfriend: Not necessary. See what I mean about being flexible? This clause is dependent, of course, on Clause Number 3 being fulfilled.
9. Bathroom facilities: Standard. As described by a Reuters reporter who visited my office in Houston: "Then on to the bathroom — a chamber of black granite and mahogany, with a gigantic mirror and granite countertop, flanked with shelves of fluffy white towels and toiletries, including a bottle of 'Brilliant Brunette' shampoo...Perhaps the most unusual thing about the bathroom is a nondescript door to the left of the shower. This was Stanford's separate entrance and exit off the parking deck, where he could arrive and depart in privacy." This is all I ask.
10. Decorating: Just one little remembrance of Texas. Let's make it the letter I got from then-President George W. Bush: "I send greetings to the gathered in St. Croix, Virgin Islands to celebrate the expansion of Stanford Financial Group," Bush wrote on White House stationery. "To protect their future well-being and that of their families, it is important for individuals to give careful thought to strengthening their financial security."
All this is not much to ask, I know, but then again I'm a spartan, sentimental kinda guy. May it please the court.