In the late summer of 2004, the Houston school district thought it had found a place to locate its bus barn, which had to be moved to make way for the new district headquarters.
Residents near the proposed site, the abandoned Acme Brick building, heard rumors and squawked about the possibility of having 175 or so buses rumbling down their neighborhood streets each weekday. HISD spokesman Terry Abbott told Hair Balls that no decision had been made on where to locate the barn, and harrumphed that the district would never make any such decision without surveying local residents "to get their comments and thoughts about it."
Like other bold statements from HISD's spin-master, this one obviously has a loophole in it that mere mortals can't see but Abbott can. The district is well into an effort to place the bus barn in a different location, near the intersection of Pinemont and Bingle, and residents there heard about it only when a horse stable on the property informed owners they had to move their animals.
HISD bus barn
"I was just kind of in shock again," says city councilwoman Toni Lawrence, who got involved in the Acme Brick fight and also represents residents near the new site. "They said when we met about Acme that they'd never do this again...It blows my mind that they'd do something like this without the neighborhood knowing about it -- I mean, come on, sooner or later the neighborhood's going to find out anyway."
The neighborhood did, and they aren't happy. "It just ticks me off," says resident Penny Cretsinger. "They want my tax money, but they don't want my input."
Abbott says the district began negotiations for the new site in June and closed on the deal in October, paying $4.1 million for 13 acres. (Another $540,000 will be spent to improve nearby streets.)
Abbott says there have been "many conversations between HISD administrators and board members and members of the public" about the overall bus-barn project. Which is true, if you count angry residents who learn about it from sources other than HISD.
He adds that residents can comment further "when bids are accepted for the project." That's HISD-speak for "Lotsa luck with that, guys."
Cut the Man Some Slack
Isiah Carey, the Fox 26 reporter whose love for H-town's biggest music label has earned him the title "Rap-A-Lot 4 Life," has started a blog. Which is kind of surprising, since his station hasn't yet been convinced that this whole trend of having a Web site is something that's going to last.
Carey recently addressed R. Kelly's Houston visit, and complaints by fans that the star wouldn't pose for pictures with them. "Just think," Carey told fans. "Kelly is already facing a long time behind bars for allegedly appearing in some questionable pictures with an underage girl. So ask yourself why he isn't just taking pictures with strangers who can eventually claim anything with a photo. It's just a form of buffer to protect him from any future legal woes."
Well, yeah, assuming those fans were 13-year-old girls asking Kelly to piss on them.
Why all the R. Kelly love, Isiah?
Carey says Kelly has a lot of supporters in Houston, "and I didn't want to upset them but I also didn't want to be perceived as someone who would excuse or dismiss the allegations."
Using a vague description like "some questionable pictures" was an attempt "to keep a classy blog rather than use vulgarity," he says. "I just wasn't prepared to write Ôpee' or be descriptive and say Ôurinate.' After all, my mother and family read the blog."
Damn. We were looking forward to Carey's analysis of the lyrics to Bun B's "Trill Recognize Trill," but we guess not.
Hard to Distinguish
The Greater Houston Partnership has announced the latest guest in its International Business Distinguished Speaker series: Bolivia's Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada. He'll speak on "The Lurch to the Left in Latin-American Politics."
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The partnership's announcement didn't really go into depth about Sanchez de Lozada, the former president of Bolivia. Left unmentioned, for instance, was the minor fact that he's been charged in his native country with genocide.
Sure, it's an odd charge -- he allegedly ordered the death of 60 strikers, so unless the strikers were from a really, really small ethnic group, it's hard to see a genocide charge stick. Still, it might be worth mentioning that the expert on "the lurch to the left" is on the run from his own country.
As one person who received the e-mail put it, "Learn to do business in Bolivia from possibly the only guy on the planet who can't help you do business in Bolivia."
A GHP spokeswoman did not respond to a request for further information on Sanchez de Lozada. Or on what other accused genocidal leaders are up next in the Distinguished Speaker series.