Public Finance

  • Calendar

    July 10, 2014
  • Blogs

    February 21, 2014

    Ted Cruz Diagnoses Washington's Problem (And It's Totally Not Him)

    Sen. Ted Cruz hit a new low -- or high, depending on your perspective -- when he tried to block the bill to increase the debt ceiling last week. Never one to miss an opportunity for more publicity, Cruz popped up on CNN on Wednesday night to discuss why (in the Gospel According to Cruz) he has becom ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 5, 2013

    Billionaire Tom Steyer Supports Obama, Hates the Keystone

    Back in June, President Obama made a big environment speech at Georgetown. He tackled the Keystone XL Pipeline in said speech, proclaiming that he will only approve the pipeline if pipeline supporters can prove it won't accelerate climate change. Well, some might have seen that speech as the presid ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 23, 2013

    GWAR's Oderus Urungus: The Rocks Off Interview, Pt. 2

    REWIND: Oderus Urungus: The Rocks Off Interview, Pt. 1 Rocks Off: Speaking of history, the government shutdown just ended in Washington. Seems like that might have been a prime opportunity for GWAR to step in and sexually enslave the U.S. populace. What stopped you? Oderus Urungus: Only the fact ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 8, 2013

    The Blame for the Current Government Crisis: Not the Answer You Expected

    American exceptionalism, for being an abstract idea, is a real aspect of American politics. Especially among those on the right -- see, e.g., Sarah Palin -- there is a belief that we are a blessed, unique nation (note the underlying theological tones). Part and parcel of American exceptionalism is a ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 1, 2013

    Five Ways the Government Shutdown Will Screw Up Your Life

    With the Affordable Care Act tied to the federal budget, and the Senate and House of Representatives about as cooperative as a herd of sugared-up, nap-free toddlers, it seemed inevitable that the government would shut down at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday...and it did. A government shutdown hasn't happene ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 10, 2012

    The Top Ten Most Corrupt Tax Breaks

    Did you know Apple Inc. was Irish? Did you know the mortgage interest deduction can be applied to yachts? Big million dollar yachts? Or that even though the five biggest oil companies made a collective $137 billion in revenue last year, they also got $20 billion in tax breaks? A year ago Citize ... More >>

  • News

    October 4, 2012

    Retired Lab Chimps Pressed Back Into Service

    A San Antonio lab says primate research is necessary for curing diseases like AIDS and hepatitis. But what progress has really been made.

  • Blogs

    July 11, 2012

    Texas AG: Don't Fall For the Utility Payment Scam

    The Texas Attorney General's Office is warning folks about yet another identity theft wave that's been separating people from their money: the so-called utility bill payment scam. The AG's Office writes that "using in-person solicitations, social media, fliers, phone calls and text messages, scamme ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 30, 2012

    Rick Perry's War on Planned Parenthood Suffers Setback

    A federal judge has put a hold on Governor Perry's war on Planned Parenthood, in part because he doesn't believe Texas will keep Perry's promise to make up for lost federal funding. Texas, of course, has banned Planned Parenthood clinics from receiving Women's Health Program funds, beginning tomorr ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 16, 2012

    Tax Day: The 5 Best Things About It

    Tomorrow is deadline day for filing your federal income taxes. Normally, that's a terrible thing. No one except Warren Buffett is eager to pay taxes. And it's worse for us members of the hoi polloi, for while we're handing over a big chunk of our wages, we do it knowing some one-percenter member of ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 28, 2011

    Metro Gets the Light-Rail Federal Funding It Craved

    Metro had itself a party this morning, with tons of local officials making happy speeches and a federal official on hand to dole out cash. The transit agency announced it's officially been cleared to get $900 million in federal funds to build more light rail in town, funds that had been endangered ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 20, 2011

    HISD Joins the Lawsuit Against State's Educational Funding Plan

    Taking it to the courthouse.​The Houston school board voted unanimously this morning (with four absentees) to join the burgeoning lawsuit against Rick Perry's latest funding scheme for public education, which cuts $5 billion over the next two years. HISD's state funding was cut $78 million th ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 13, 2011

    Christian Lopez, Overtaxed Yankee Fan, The Sequel (Where He Becomes A Charity)

    Christian Lopez: Now sponsored by the champagne of bottled beers​That's it, you win, Christian Lopez. I give up. You all remember, Christian Lopez, right? (It's only been like 24 hours since I last wrote about him. Please tell me you remember.) Just in case, Lopez was the ample Yankee fan wh ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 8, 2011

    Protest Your Drainage Fee Via the World's Most Boring How-To Video

    The city has announced the procedures it will use to hear protests over assessed drainage fees, and they look like they're about as much fun as protesting your property tax assessment. Worse, they involve watching the above, five and a half minutes of instruction on how to use the "You think you ca ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 1, 2011

    Jimmy Mitlo: Incredibly Successful Machine Repairman Gets Two Years. Owes IRS $550,000

    Repairmen just don't rock the cool hats anymore.​Jimmy Mitlo is one industrious guy, but he's going to have a lot of time on his hands pretty soon. He'll be in a federal prison, perhaps contemplating how he's going to come up with the $550,000 he needs to reimburse the IRS for unpaid taxes. ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 9, 2011

    Sherwood Oaks Eyesore: Owners Aren't Talking

    Welcome to Sherwood Oaks​We were intrigued by reporter Emily Akin's story on a long-vacant Sherwood Oaks strip mall that residents say is an unwelcome hangout for vandals and crackheads -- intrigued mostly because her story stated that "it's unclear who owns the property since the owner on rec ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 26, 2011

    Comment of the Day: Back to the `50s, But All The Way

    ​We have some great commenters here on Hair Balls, and it's time we paid some damn attention to them. So we'll be highlighting a Comment of the Day each morning, from the previous day's work. Maybe two comments, even. This will all be determined by a highly rigorous scientific formula involv ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 14, 2011

    Celebrity Tax Cheats: Five Pieces of Crap Produced to Pay the IRS

    Tax time is looming, and even though you get a weekend reprieve this year -- the deadline is April 18, not the 15th, because of an obscure Washington, D.C. holiday -- you'd no doubt like to skip the whole thing altogether. Some famous people have taken that same route. Unfortunately for them, they ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 8, 2011

    Sheila Jackson Lee is Fasting for a Budget Deal

    Fasting for a "moral budget"​You probably didn't know that people are fasting as a call for a fair budget deal in Congress. Among them: our own Sheila Jackson Lee. (We didn't know of the fast until we read about it in the Houston Chronicle's religion blog.) We cannot begin to imagine what so ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 24, 2011

    Higher Taxes, Fewer Teachers: HISD Readies Itself for a Tough Sell

    Margaret DowningTerry Grier and the board face tough financial decisions​Higher taxes, a sweeping change in bus times, a cut in the number of police officers in the schools and an end to special school adjustments that for the noted T.H. Rogers elementary and middle school alone would mean a l ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 28, 2011

    Tamraka McGriff: Judge Says No More Tattoos for School Administrator

    Tamraka McGriff's philosophy​Tamrake McGriff is the coordinator of transportation for the Beaumont school district and, apparently, she loves her skin art as much as she doesn't like her body. So much so, in fact, that a judge has barred her from getting any more tattoos or plastic surgery unt ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 19, 2011

    Conservatives' Plan to Close Budget Gap: Sell Liquor on Sundays!!

    Drink up and close that budget gap​The conservative-dominated Texas House has come out with its plan on how to close the state's massive budget gap, and it's not just full of silly stuff like "make state employees pay for parking." Although that is part of the plan. No, the conservatives who ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 3, 2010

    Annise Parker: Merry Christmas, Employees!! Take An Unpaid Furlough Day!!

    Mayor Annise Parker, celebrating Christmas​Mayor Annise Parker, in conjunction with a municipal union, is asking City of Houston employees to take voluntary furlough days before the end of the year to ease the city's budget crunch. "While the City has been able to withstand the current econom ... More >>

  • Blogs

    October 12, 2010

    Bill White the Loser, HISD Declares

    Bill White's going down, HISD declares​Houston ISD's assessment of the upcoming state legislative session on Monday began with the declaration that Bill White doesn't have a chance and that Rick Perry will continue as governor. Rebecca Flores, the director of Government Relations for HISD, and bo ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 17, 2010

    Two-Thirds Of Texans Blow Off Church; Even More Don't Want No "Social Justice" With Their Religion, Thank You

    Two-thirds of those polled knew who this guy was?​The latest UT/Texas Tribune poll shows some stuff to give Democrats hope (Rick Perry polling at his usual 39 percent, etc.), but there are also some interesting things in the throw-away questions on the survey.UT/TT polled 800 registered voters, an ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 15, 2010

    Game Time: George Steinbrenner's Death Raises Anxiety of Billionaires

    You may be rich, but your heirs may be dangerous come December​If you're one of those people that has tried a thousand different ways to take off weight, somewhere along the way you've probably tried Bill Phillips "Body For Life" program. It's a pretty popular one because (a) it works and (b) it ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 28, 2010

    Feds Fine Texas Over Food Stamps; Legal Aid Groups Say "We Told You So"

    Accepted...if you can get approved​The federal government has levied a fine of almost $4 million against Texas for mishandling its food stamp program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the state made too many errors over the past two fiscal years.Those mistakes include both underpaying ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 14, 2010

    City Budget Includes Getting More Bucks From Metro

    ​In the mayor's proposed budget, released earlier this week, Metro is on the hook for almost twice as much money than it had to pay the city in previous years.The money comes from an agreement that gives the city a portion of Metro's sales tax revenues, and the city used the money for building and ... More >>

  • Blogs

    August 3, 2009

    Hard To Believe, But Texas Is Fouling Up The Process Of Distributing Food-Stamp Relief

    ​It's taking longer for people to get their food stamps these days, and that's because so many people are trying to get food stamps. (INSTEAD OF GETTING A FREAKING JOB, as KTRH listeners are no doubt saying after reading that sentence.)Two civil-rights groups have sued the Texas Health & Human ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 9, 2009

    Texas Salutes You, Mr. (or Ms.) Beer Drinker!

    Why do we salute you?  Because your enjoyment of a cold mug of suds has contributed $16 billion to the Texas economy in the last year, far more than our budding entertainment industry (only $409 million), and provided over 78,000 jobs at breweries and distributors across the state. For every $1 ... More >>

  • Blogs

    March 11, 2009

    Ron Paul, Crusading Against All Pork But His

    Of all the Republicans in the US House of Representatives, who do you think has the most earmarks in the omnibus spending bill? Some RINO from up north?Nah. It's our own Ron Paul, stalwart criticizer of government spending (that's not in his district.)Fox News is touting the story of Paul's $73 mill ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 21, 2009

    People Rich Enough To Own Boats Find It Easy To Evade Taxes

    Galveston County is getting screwed out of about $33,000 in property taxes from a League City marina. The county knows about it, but doesn't seem to care. On the Wharf Marina web site, it says plain as day (if you don't take into account spelling and grammatical errors) that wet slip owners "must pa ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 5, 2008

    Sugar Land, Missouri City Get Into The Entertainment Business

    Lost a bit in the election coverage -- although it's every bit as important as a black man getting elected president, dammit -- was the news that Sugar Land voters approved a series of proposals to create a cultural and entertainment district. The four linked proposals passed rather easily. They al ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 8, 2008

    Taqueria Arandas Offers Tax Fraud On The Side (Allegedly)

    Taqueria Arandas stores are all over Houston -- the place to go (for some people) for a full meal or something from the bakery. And, apparently, a place to find a tax cheat. Eight Taqueria Arandas owners have been charged with filing false income-tax returns that deprived the feds of more than $4 ... More >>

  • Blogs

    August 20, 2008
  • Culture

    April 12, 2007
  • Blogs

    January 5, 2007

    Passing a Buck to the Smokers

    Daniel Kramer Dave Pickrell cuts through the smoke on the latest tax increase. No word on what he's doing about the mirrors. We asked Dave Pickrell, president of Smokers Fighting Discrimination, what he thinks about the $1 cigarette tax increase that went into effect throughout the state on Mon ... More >>

  • News

    June 10, 2004
  • News

    December 19, 2002

    City Blames Metro for Cash Crunch

    A transit official says delayed payouts are Houston's problem

  • News

    October 24, 2002

    Food Fight Indigestion

    A losing lobbyist claims a councilman switched after failing to get his pals in on the deal

  • News

    March 7, 2002

    Keeping On Task

    The DPS will oversee state drug forces troubled by a track record of abuses

  • News

    September 6, 2001

    More District D Footprints

    Airing out Darryl Carter's dirty laundry, with the help of Womack's campaign

  • Best of Houston

    September 21, 2000

    Best Gadfly

    Dan Hart

  • News

    January 20, 2000

    Doug's Deals

    Real estate consultant Williams continues to serve two masters

  • News

    December 23, 1999

    Food Stamp Fracas

    A lawsuit questions whether welfare fraud is committed - by the state

  • News

    October 21, 1999

    Ad Nauseam

    Despite what the campaign says, that new arena will cost plenty

  • News

    May 14, 1998

    Embarrassing Little Secrets of Hotel Six

    Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You ...

  • News

    April 16, 1998

    Tales From the IRS

    Three stories of taxman terror

  • News

    September 4, 1997

    Sweet Deal

    Why did county commissioners agree to subsidize a swanky golf resort that will benefit a wealthy Harris County developer?

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