City Council Hears Last Public Input on Memorial Park's Master Plan

Categories: Environment

The Memorial Park Conservancy has a master plan but not everyone is thrilled with the way they intend to reshape Memorial Park.

Some people love the Memorial Park Conservancy's master plan that will guide how the park will evolve over the next 20 years and some people hate it. Since the Houston City Council is set to vote on the plan at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, the council heard from both sides during the final public comment phase on Tuesday afternoon.

Officials at Memorial Park Conservancy say that they decided to come up with a new master plan -- one that would replace the plan that was decided on over a decade ago -- due to the changes in the park caused by the drought that killed half the trees and the damage from Hurricane Ike.This new master plan is acting as a sort of expansion of the old one that was put together in 2003. The old master plan mentioned the need to improve park drainage, infrastructure and conservation but it didn't actually manage to accomplish all of these goals. The new master plan will reshape the park in all kinds of ways, doing everything from adding parking to moving the ball fields and adding in land bridges to better connect the park for pedestrians.

So many people wanted to speak Tuesday that the commenters were limited to one minute each. Some got to spend a little more time in front of the council if council members asked questions, but most were being moved on through after making their statement. (The meeting still lasted for more than two hours.)

The first half of public commenters was almost entirely comprised of Memorial Park Conservancy volunteers, board members and supporters who spoke in glowing terms about their "strong support" for the master plan and the quest to save Memorial Park. They mentioned the 20 public meetings that Memorial Park Conservancy has held to gather information and input from various groups about the changes coming to the park. Becky Houston noted that some people always have reservations about making changes to Houston's parks, but said that this project will change Memorial Park for the better. "It's become abundantly clear that change is always for the better when it comes to our parks," she said.

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UH Reveals Matthew McConaughey Speaking Fee

Categories: Education

McConaughey's speaking fee is going to a good cause.
Well, we now know how much the University of Houston will pay Matthew McConaughey to deliver the university's upcoming commencement address in May. And we also know now that UH is paying $20,250 to a mysterious, self-proclaimed booking agent based in Carlsbad, California, with no apparent connection to McConaughey whatsoever.

So we're both pleased and puzzled.

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Patrick Beverley Declared out for the Season

Categories: Game Time, Sports

Houston Rockets
Patrick Beverly
On Monday night, the Rockets were in Toronto, trying to win a basketball game, which it just so happens is something they haven't done in that city since sometime during the Yao Ming era. They still haven't. They lost the game 99-96, and while every game is crucial right now in the Western Conference playoff race, Monday's news will be remembered more for what (or whom) they lost in the bigger picture.

While the Rockets were in Toronto losing that game to the Raptors, Patrick Beverley was on a Southwest flight from Chicago (his hometown) back to Houston. I know this because my 15-year-old son happened to be on his flight. My son (a HUGE Pat Bev fan) texted me to tell me Beverley was on the flight. His assessment of Bev's mood?

"He looks kind of sad," my son said.

That would stand to reason, since presumably Beverley was a mere few hours removed from the news that we all found out after he did -- Patrick Beverley's 2014-2015 season is over, the frustrating result of a torn ligament in his left wrist.

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Take the Robert Durst Tour of Texas!

Categories: Texas

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Monica Fuentes
Visit this house along Avenue K in Galveston, where Durst hacked apart his dead friend's corpse.
We can't get enough of eccentric millionaire Robert "I Only Chopped Up My Neighbor, I Didn't Murder Him" Durst, and now that he's facing another murder charge in Los Angeles, it may be awhile before we see his constantly blinking mug in Houston again. But at least he's here in spirit, and we can walk in his footsteps -- even in high heels! So put on your favorite wig, shoplift a chicken-salad-on-pumpernickel sandwich in case you get hungry on the way, and join us on the Durst Tour.

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Pharmacists Group Urges Members Not to Sell States Execution Drugs

Categories: Texas

It could soon get even harder for Texas to replenish its ever dwindling supply of execution drugs.

On Monday the American Pharmacists Association adopted a policy discouraging members from selling death-penalty states drugs for use in lethal injections. Here's the language of the new policy the APhA just voted to adopt: "The American Pharmacists Association discourages pharmacist participation in executions on the basis that such activities are fundamentally contrary to the role of pharmacists as providers of health care."

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Traffic in Houston Sucked Even More Last Year, Says Report

Categories: Traffic

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Monica Fuentes
Yes, it is taking you longer to drive to work.

The folks at TomTom, a tech company that feeds mapping and traffic data to smart phones and other GPS devices, came out with their annual traffic congestion study yesterday. And for the first time in a few years, congestion on Houston roads actually got worse in 2014.

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Up and Out: NFL Veterans Are Expected to Train the Lower-Priced Players Replacing Them

Categories: Sports

Photo by Max Burkhalter
Chris Myers has been mentoring Ben Jones, who'll likely take his place.

When Chris Myers got the phone call on March 4 asking him to come to NRG Stadium, he knew. He knew that the Texans weren't asking him to come in and help lay out their draft board or shoot a video for Texans TV. It was his time, and time was up.

Seven seasons a Texan, 112 consecutive starts in the middle of the Texans' offensive line, the Houston chapter of Myers's decade in the NFL was coming to a close. The Texans informed Myers that they would be releasing him with one year remaining on his contract. The move would absolve the Texans of Myers's $6 million salary in 2015 and, more important to the team, create an equal amount of valuable salary cap space to sign some free agents.

This is the business of the NFL. Capable veteran players over the age of 30 get cut every off-season, not because they can't play but because they're scheduled to get paid too much. In a league where the average player's career is less than four years, players like Myers, who just finished his tenth season in 2014, are fortunate to get to this stage of the NFL life cycle, but that doesn't make getting released any less harsh.

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The USW Strike Still Isn't Over at LyondellBasell and Marathon

Categories: Spaced City

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Photo by Max Burkhalter
The USW national strike has ended but the show isn't quite over yet.
The national United Steelworkers strike technically ended more than two weeks ago when Royal Dutch Shell and the international arm of the United Steelworkers finally hammered out a pattern contract agreement that would last for four years. But even though most of the union members will be back on the job by April 1, workers at Marathon's Texas City Refinery and the LyondellBasell refinery in Pasadena are still without local contracts, and thus are still on strike.

The whole USW strike started on February 1 after Shell, negotiating on behalf of the oil companies, and USW, negotiating on behalf of more than 30,000 oil refinery union members, failed to agree on a contract. When midnight came without a new agreement -- the two sides were grappling over safety concerns, fatigue regulations and whether some work done by contractors should be given to union employees instead -- Shell Deer Park, LyondellBasell in Pasadena and Marathon's Texas City refinery were among the first refineries called out on strike.

Over the following weeks, as the two sides continued to fail to come to an agreement, more than 6,000 USW workers at 15 plants (including 12 refineries that manufacture about a fifth of the nation's oil) walked away from their jobs, their paychecks and their benefits to go on strike, the first major oil refinery strike in 35 years.

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NCAA Elite Eight: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

Categories: Game Time, Sports

elite8.jpg, Monica Fuentes
When you write the many, many thousands of words that I do here all year long, you stumble upon concepts that become part of your writing "brand," and I suppose that "4 Winners, 4 Losers" is one of those things for me.

I originally started using it as an easily consumable way for Texans fans to process exactly what they saw, both with the Texans and around the league, on Sunday. Bulletized lists are easy brain food on a hungover Monday. Slowly, I've started using it for other sporting events and the occasional pop culture phenomenon.

So, of all the "4 Winners, 4 Losers" posts I've done, in theory the one about the Elite Eight should be the most straightforward one, right? I mean, by definition, that's exactly what the Elite Eight yields -- four winners and four losers. But it's never that simple. There are layers, there is nuance, and that's what I'm here to decipher.

Or try to, at least. Let's give it a go....

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How Will Henri Morris Defend Himself Against Claims He Drugged and Molested an Employee He's Already Admitted to Drugging and Molesting?

Categories: Courts, Crime

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screenshot via KPRC

On a Wednesday morning last December, 67-year-old Henri Morris sat slumped over in his chair at a defense table inside the federal courthouse in downtown Houston. Morris listened intently, occasionally shaking his head as his attorney quietly talked him through a plea deal he'd arranged with federal prosecutors.

The day before, jurors had listened to opening statements that previewed the nauseating details of the case against Morris: How Morris, former CEO of the local tech company Edible Software, asked younger female employees to accompany him on business trips; how Morris insisted on pouring the women drinks that tasted unusually, bitterly strong; how women who traveled with Morris kept blacking out; how some awoke disoriented and naked in hotel rooms alone with Morris; and how, upon executing a search warrant, FBI investigators found date-rape drugs in Morris's luggage and photos of nude, incapacitated women on his thumb drives.

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