Public Finance

  • Blogs

    July 16, 2014

    Married, Sort Of: The Legal Limbo of Being Gay and Married in Texas

    Jenn and Lizzie Wigle are wandering the halls of a bridal expo, searching more for ideas than products or services. Eventually they visit three of the events, looking at dresses, invitations, cake decorators and all the other trappings of the $40-billion-a-year American wedding industry. Most of t ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 11, 2014

    Behind Culberson, Federal Funding for METRO Blocked

    A debate on Houston transit was settled Tuesday, mostly by people who don't live here. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a transportation spending bill for fiscal 2015 Tuesday, 229-192, cutting off funding for METRO's proposed University Line in the process. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 18, 2014

    Lou Dobbs Calls Out Louie Gohmert Over 'Political Theater' on the Debt Ceiling

    Congressman Louie Gohmert probably expected a warm and cuddly welcome when he turned up on the Fox Business Network last week. Instead, the Tea Party darling from Texas got a stern talking to from Lou Dobbs over Gohmert's efforts to block a deal on the debt ceiling. In case you missed it, Gohmert w ... 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

    January 18, 2013

    Texas Attorney General Wants New York Gun Lovers to Move to Texas

    Even for Texas this ranks about a 9.8 on the "YEE HAW, WE'RE FROM TEXAS" crazy shit-o-meter. Attorney General Greg Abbot has launched a quasi campaign to encourage people in commie states like New York, who feel like their liberties are being infringed upon because they can't own a garage full of as ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 3, 2013

    Report: Texas Ranks Near the Bottom in Tobacco Settlement Spending

    Texas is only spending 2.4 percent of the tobacco settlement money it collects on tobacco prevention campaigns, placing the state near the bottom of the Centers for Disease Control's recommended state-spending list, according to a December report. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' report states t ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 19, 2012

    Metro Board Gets Input On Whether To Keep Subsidizing City Budgets

    The recent outbreak of hysterical excitement around the city can only mean one thing: the Metro board will soon decide on ballot language for the General Mobility Program referendum. With this fateful day closing in, the board convened last night to accept more public input on the issue. Speakers ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 20, 2012

    Taqueria Arandas Owner Gets Year in Prison on Tax Charges

    Jesus Huerta, the owner of two Taqueria Arandas restaurants in Houston, has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for filing false tax returns that underestimated income by $4.6 million over five years. Huerta was also ordered to pay $543,646 in restitution; he's already repaid $276 ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 7, 2011

    Texas Cities and Nonprofit Entities to Get About $3.5 Million in National Settlement of JPMorgan Suit

    Settlement helps, a little.​Financial giant JPMorgan has agreed to pay $228 million to settle charges that it manipulated deals involving the government bond market, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says the state's portion of it will be about $3.5 million. The money will go to Texas mu ... 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 23, 2011

    Joel Kotkin Says Houston & Gulf Coast Poised To Soar

    Panama Canal expansion will bring boon​Urban expert Joel Kotkin has always been bullish on Houston, and now he's not even more bullish, he's spreading the love. Kotkin has a piece on the Forbes magazine blog saying the U.S. Gulf Coast -- including, of course, Houston -- is ready to soar, and ... More >>

  • Blogs

    May 16, 2011

    Comment of the Day: No Money For Schools, But Plenty For Formula 1 Racing

    ​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

    March 7, 2011

    Grier Backs Off From His Controversial Magnet Changes

    HISD magnet changes won't come anytime soon​After a marathon meeting of parental dismay with proposed changes to the Houston school district's magnet program last week, superintendent Terry Grier has waved the white flag and postponed any action until next school year. District spokesman Jaso ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 8, 2011

    HISD Says All Presents Aren't Good Ones, Rejects Deeds

    Not one of the houses donated to HISD​While going through their normal delinquent tax collections business, Houston ISD tax staff members discovered three separate property owners had gifted them with parcels of land. Wow, Hair Balls was thinking, isn't that nice? Nope. Or as Donald Boehm, ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 21, 2011

    Comment of the Day: Liquor Laws and Church

    ​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

    January 10, 2011

    Texas Budget Gap: The Estimate Comes In, and It's Huge

    Maybe we could use less lighting on the capitol building​Let's harken back to the blissful days of autumn 2010, when Governor Rick Perry was able to deflect any talk of a looming budget gap by blithely noting no official estimate for it had been made. Democrats' talk that it might be as high ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 7, 2011

    Social Security Tax Cut: How You Should Spend It

    It's Natty Light time!!!​You're getting a tax cut!!! You may even notice it. A cut in Social Security taxes in 2011 means you should be seeing more in your paycheck. Since it involves taxes, however, it is all incredibly complicated and makes our heads hurt. The "Making Work Pay" tax credit ... More >>

  • Blogs

    January 5, 2011

    Ron Paul: Colbert Report Smackdown With The New York Times

    The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30cwww.colbertnation.comColbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>March to Keep Fear AliveBrazoria County's finest politician, in terms of name recognition, is of course Ron Paul. The Gold Standard Guru was on the Colbert Report last ... More >>

  • News

    December 2, 2010
  • Blogs

    November 4, 2010

    Bob Hudgins Leaves Texas Film Commission, Unpleasantly

    The head of the TFC is gone​A couple of months ago, when we examined why there was so little fim and TV production in Houston as opposed to Dallas and Austin, some of the commenters blamed Bob Hudgins, who heads the Texas Film Commission. Well, they won't have him to kick around anymore -- he ... More >>

  • Blogs

    September 24, 2010

    Harris County Tax Rate: Shockingly, No Increase In An Election Year

    Renovated courthouse to open in August​Harris County's mid-year budget review is out, and it recommends no change in the tax rate from what it has been since 2007.There will be a little juggling involved: the tax rates for the port and the flood control and hospital district will go up, while the ... More >>

  • Blogs

    June 24, 2010

    No Raises For HISD Employees

    That paycheck ain't changing next year​There won't be any raises for employees of the Houston ISD the next school year.Houston ISD trustees adopted a 2010-11 budget totaling  $1.613 billion Thursday night that Chief Financial Officer Melinda Garrett termed  a "survival" budget, adding th ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 15, 2010

    Gimme (A Tax) Shelter

    ​Even if Uncle Sam took a great big bite out of your wallet this year, there are still ways to enjoy a good meal today -- several, in fact -- thanks to local restaurants taking advantage of your newfound poverty to offer free or reduced-price goodies today. It's like a crack dealer giving you ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 8, 2010

    Paging Alanis Morissette: Rick Perry Scolds Bill White About Kids Deprived Of Libraries

    ​If you haven't had your fix of political chutzpah lately, you're in luck -- Governor Rick Perry's campaign is absolutely outraged that budget constraints are forcing Houston libraries to cut back some hours."It's unfortunate that parents and children will be denied access to libraries because of ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 1, 2010

    Pre-K In Danger, Tax Rolls Down, HISD Looks For The Rabbit In The Hat

    ​Houston ISD's tax rolls look to be down 4.32 percent in the next year, with a loss of almost $5 billion in assessed values for 2011 over 2010. Most of the lost money is coming from lowered commercial property values, with the least decrease among residential property owners.Things could be even w ... More >>

  • Calendar

    March 18, 2010

    BBVA Compass Tour de Houston

    On your mark, Madam Mayor

  • Blogs

    March 17, 2010

    The Big Secrets In Bill White's Tax Returns, Revealed

    ​You know things have gotten off on the wring foot challenging Rick Perry when the state's leading political writer compares your operation to Kay Bailey Hutchison's.Here's how things have gone in the Texas governor's race since the primaries: Rick Perry has been in Patton mode, ostentatiously "ac ... More >>

  • Blogs

    February 18, 2010

    How HISD Might be Facing a $57 Million Shortfall Next School Year

    ​The Houston Independent School District might be facing a shortfall in public education funding of as much as $57 million in the next fiscal year starting July 1, 2010. That less than happy news was delivered at this morning's school board agenda meeting, in a power point demonstration by ... More >>

  • Blogs

    November 24, 2009

    A Bad Weekend For Gene Locke

    Who would have thought that after it was revealed that the "anti-gay" activist Dave Wilson donated $2,000 to the Gene Locke campaign that it would be the catalyst for a bad, bad weekend for the candidate?It didn't help that Locke forgot to attend the first highly anticipated debate since the Novembe ... More >>

  • Blogs

    July 28, 2009

    Milo, Maine Gets More Federal Stimulus Cash For Cops Than Houston

    Photo courtesy MiloMilo Town Hall​We've been reading all day about how Houston got stiffed on the latest handout of federal stimulus money for cops and were kinda blase about it.Houston, after all, has gotten its fair share of Homeland Security cash because of the port and our target-rich refineri ... More >>

  • Blogs

    April 16, 2009

    White-Washing Those Black Rodeo Gala Tickets

    Well, Warner Ervin, superintendent of the Houston Independent School District's south region, must be feeling pretty good today. He's the administrator being reluctantly investigated by the Texas Education Agency -- after a lot of urging from citizen and former HISD high school teacher Del Murphy -- ... More >>

  • Blogs

    December 22, 2008

    All I want for Christmas is My ... Tax Receipt

    Do the arts community and the bottom line on your taxes some good with a contribution to one of Houston's non-profit arts organizations. Hurricane Ike really kicked some organizations in the pants; some are close to closing and others have all their plans on hold.The sluggish economy means corporate ... More >>

  • Calendar

    November 6, 2008

    Fic at NiteBoomsday

    Web exclusive

  • Calendar

    May 4, 2006
  • Best of Houston

    September 23, 2004
  • News

    November 20, 2003

    Fixer-Upper Downer

    HUD hammers the city for botched house repairs for seniors and the disabled

  • Best of Houston

    September 25, 2003
  • News

    August 14, 2003

    Menacing Mayor?

    A water district director wants police to protect him from Kemah's King

  • News

    June 19, 2003

    Dueling Docs

    The city's top MDs collide, but the mayor sides with Shelley

  • News

    October 31, 2002

    Bye to the Good Ol' Boys?

    The commissioner's race that could break the county mold

  • News

    September 6, 2001

    Drug Money

    Narcotics task forces in Texas spend millions of dollars each year busting low-level users and dealers. Is it money well spent, or are officers just addicted to easy cash?

  • News

    October 5, 2000

    NoDo Invades; Rebels Skirmish

    A downtown taxing zone flushes the Warehouse District from its quaint quarters

  • News

    February 3, 2000


    From the week of February 03, 2000

  • News

    October 28, 1999

    Broken Promises

    Fourth Ward residents are left with a harsh reality

  • News

    October 14, 1999


    Tax Cut Chron-Style. Downtown's booming. So how does Hearst whack 40 percent off its property levy?

  • News

    July 29, 1999

    Trash Talk

    Condo groups want the mayor to pay up on a campaign promise

  • News

    January 14, 1999

    Raising a Red Flag

    Former Bellaire High School student shakes things up in the Capitol

  • News

    April 18, 1996
  • News

    February 1, 1996
  • News

    January 11, 1996

    The Year-Round Go-Round

    Cy-Fairs experiment with year-round schools is being watched by other local districts. What they're seeing isn't pretty.

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