Houston's Traffic Pain is a Slow Burn Thanks to a Lack of Vision

Categories: Traffic

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Photo by Texas Dark Horse
This is our fault.
One of the toughest things to deal with besides daily traffic in Houston is the prolonged traffic nightmare faced by Houstonians over years and years and years thanks to poor planning and a lack of foresight. While most cities struggle with similar issues, ours feels like its own special brand of hell because Houston has so much physical area. Getting from one extreme end of the city to another would be like driving between multiple towns in some parts of the country.

But more than size and planning, there has been an inherent lack of vision from our city's leaders and its citizens for a very long time.

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Kevin Durant Praises LeBron James, Countdown to 2016 KD Sweepstakes Begins

Only two years away...
"I'm going to do what's best for me. It's hard to talk about that right now when I've got two years left in Oklahoma City. I'm just going to focus on that. I'm not going to make a decision based on what anybody else does." -- Kevin Durant, 7/29/14

LeBron James and Cleveland have given 29 other NBA cities hope, hope that when perhaps a hometown star becomes available in free agency, he will allow the tugging at his heartstrings to lead him home.

Barring a James opt-out from his current deal in Cleveland in 2015 (and the subsequent apocalyptic earthquake that goes with it), the next massively anticipated journey into NBA free agency will be Oklahoma City uber-star Kevin Durant's in 2016.

And if his most recent quotes from U.S. national team workouts are any indicator, Durant was watching James' return to Cleveland closely a couple weeks ago.

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Patrick Peterson Signs $70M Extension, J.J. Watt Watch Begins

Photo by Groovehouse
This guy is due a payday.
On the surface, it's odd that a contract extension inked by a cornerback on the Arizona Cardinals should worry Houston Texan fans about their all-universe defensive end.

But this isn't just any cornerback, and he wasn't just drafted in any year.

The cornerback is 2011 first round pick Patrick Peterson, and on Tuesday night he inked a new five year extension with the Cards reportedly worth $70 million, including $48 million in guaranteed money.

Peterson broke his own news on Twitter:

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The Dark Side of the Boom: Oil Is Doing Great Things for Some in Texas, but Not for Everyone

Categories: Cover Story

It was like landing on the moon. The thought ricocheted through Joleena Malugani's mind as she took in the vast, dusty expanse of the corner of West Texas claimed by Midland and Odessa. Malugani was fresh out of college when she came across an Ector County Independent School District booth at a job fair in Oregon. The recruiter mentioned there was an oil boom going on in the area and the district needed teachers. Malugani was in a state with one of the worst unemployment rates in the country, her student loans would soon be due and she needed a job.

Raised on the West Coast, she'd never been to Texas. It would be an adventure, she thought. In August 2012 she lined up an apartment, packed what she could fit in her car and drove more than 1,600 miles for a teaching job in the middle of West Texas. The blazing lights of oil rigs and the guttering flames of natural-gas flares blotted out the stars long before she pulled into town.

Odessa, Texas, sits on top of the Permian Basin, an oil-rich region 250 miles wide and 300 miles long that stretches across West Texas and up into New Mexico. Odessa and its sister city, Midland, went from being wide spots in the road to actual towns when oil was discovered almost a century ago. The wells came in big, and Permian production was the highest in the country for decades.

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Five Texas Politicians Who Should Have Palin-style Internet Shows

Photo by Bryan Williams
Palin got her own Internet channel; maybe Perry will be next.

We all thought Sarah Palin would be focused on seizing the White House, but this week she announced that she is seizing the Internet. Carpe diem! Or something.

Yep, the lovable former Alaska governor and infamous vice presidential candidate is offering herself up to the world via the Internet. You see, Palin believes that the media, that many-tentacled creature with its love of sound bites and politically correct filtering, has been keeping the real Palin from shining down directly on her audience. Well the filter is coming off and now you'll be able to get a dollop of Palin direct on her Internet channel by paying $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year.

As much fun as unmitigated and (theoretically) uncensored Palin will be, this got Hair Balls thinking of some Texas politicians we'd like to see spinning themselves out there in the Internet channel way. Here are the Top 5:

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Texas Cities Top Rankings in Recession Recovery Study

Categories: Texas

Photo by Ray Bodden

The Great Recession is a thing of the past in Texas, according to a study by Wallet Hub.

The website ranked the economic recoveries from the Great Recession of America's 150 largest cities by non-metro population, and Texas cities were atop the pack.

Wallet Hub used 18 metrics in its study, broken up into two categories -- economic environment and employment and earning opportunities. The data used for the study was compiled from nine different sources, including the U.S. Census and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Perry Isn't Giving National Guard Troops Arresting Power, and That's for the Best

Photo by Bryan Williams

As we continue to follow Gov. Rick Perry's quest to stay viable as GOP 2016 White House contender, we have to wonder how he has actually convinced himself that putting a whole bunch of armed people on the border is in any way a good idea.

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Proposed I-45 Redo Includes Option for Replacing the Pierce Elevated With Parkway

Categories: Traffic

A re-imagined parkway along Pierce Street (left) is one proposed option.
Imagine downtown Houston with a wide parkway right down its southwestern edge no longer blocked by a massive elevated freeway which currently highlights a giant neon cross and a ton of traffic at all times of the day. This is one proposed option being offered by TXDOT as part of a massive overhaul to one of the city's most thoroughly trafficked freeways and also one of its ugliest. For years, the blight along one of two arteries leading directly to our largest airport -- from strip malls and abandoned car dealerships to strip clubs and decaying apartment buildings -- has been a sore spot for residents, but a plan is getting underway to change the scope of Interstate 45 from downtown to the Beltway.

Typical freeway expansion plans are of course part of the concept, but perhaps the most intriguing options include how the Pierce Elevated is handled.

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Ridiculous, Tired Responses to Appeals Court Blow to Virginia Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Photo by Richard Hartog
Houston Mayor Annise Parker (right) at her recent wedding to her long time partner.
In what has become a "second verse, same as the first" kind of response, another appeals court upheld challenges to a states's ban on same-sex unions on Tuesday. In this case, it was Virginia's voter-approved ban that was shot down on pretty much the same grounds many others (Utah, Oklahoma) have been rejected recently: They unfairly discriminate against Americans.

All of this is heading for a showdown in the Supreme Court, which last year killed the U.S. governments Defense of Marriage Act and will likely shatter the hopes of conservatives later this year by striking down state bans as well. With now a majority of Americans, according to polls, agreeing that same-gender unions should be allowed, the die has clearly been cast in this fight.

Still, some of the same tired arguments emerge at every defeat. The Virginia ruling was no different and, in a couple cases, ridiculous.

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Dollar Tree Buying Family TreeDollar for 8.5 Billion Dollars

Categories: Whatever

More than a dollar.
For years, I've wondered how dollar stores could survive this deep discount tactic never realizing how many there were. On Monday, it became clear just how profitable these stores can be when Dollar Tree agreed to buy Family Dollar for the cost of 8.5 million items in its stores...not including tax.

Apparently the move was more about swallowing the competition than expanding business. Though there is no word on layoffs or store closures, it is expected Dollar Tree was making the purchase to cut into losses suffered at the hands of its rival which also includes Walmart and Dollar General -- yes, there is yet ANOTHER dollar store chain.

A check of the store locator function on the company websites found there are more than 60 Dollar Trees, more than 120 Family Dollars and nearly 30 Dollar General stores in the greater Houston area.

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