Houston Community College Sues Texas Attorney General Over Public Records

Categories: Courts

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photo by WhisperToMe via creative commons
HCC Says, "I got your Attorney General's Opinion right here, pal!"
Boy, for a public institution, the Houston Community College System really hates state public record laws: the embattled institution has sued the Texas Attorney General's Office, arguing that it erred in saying that HCC must release payment records related to HCC's outside law firm.

Last December, blogger Manuel Barrera, the HCC watchdog behind insidehccs.com, requested copies of invoices submitted by law firm Monty and Ramirez between June-November 2014. But HCC sought an Attorney General's opinion, arguing that the invoices contained privileged attorney-client information that should be redacted.

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10 Things You Should Know About Houston Texan CB Kevin Johnson

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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Screengrab.

Over the past couple of decades, the NFL Draft has become big business, particularly with the move a few years ago to a three-day draft with Round One in prime time. The draft has become an event conducive to big parties and large celebrations.

It's safe to say that most teams conduct a draft party for their fans at their stadium or a local venue of some sort, and in turn, it's also safe to say that most of those events are flush with "jersey fans" and people hoping their team makes a big splash with a big name. The more recognizable the name, the bigger the cheer at the party. That's the rule of thumb.

As we learned four years ago, the fans' collective knowledge about (and subsequent reaction to) a player, though, is not a barometer for future success. Hell, Texans fans booed the pick of J.J. Watt. That's all you really need to know.

I feel comfortable assuming that the average Texans fan watched very little Wake Forest football last season, so when the 16th pick was announced last night, and it was the Texans selecting Wake Forest cornerback Kevin Johnson, the reaction ranged predictably somewhere between boredom and frustration. (There was some booing, too.)

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Pearland's Mystery Mansion Is Back on the Market & Buyers Are Looking

Categories: Houston 101

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Photo by Katharine Shilcutt
Here its stands, as the winds come whipping down the plain

Almost six years ago, our former writer Katharine Shilcutt wrote a fascinating piece on two semi-finished houses each sitting on 15 acres of adjoining land in Pearland that owner and pediatrician, Dr. Ulysses W. Watkins, had up for sale. She was able to get some never-before-seen photos of the inside and outside of the house off Texas 288 and Southfork.

The second and smaller of the two houses never sold and after a while was taken off the market. Now the property, spiffed up a bit from when we last saw it, is again up for sale and judging by the number of people accessing our old story, there's a lot of interest.


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While You Weren't Watching, the Houston Astros Took Over First Place

Categories: Sports

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Photo by Marco Torres
This season's Opening Day for the Astros

Look, I know that there are seemingly more important sporting events occurring in Houston besides an early season Houston Astros game. There's that whole NFL draft thing where a mediocre team strives to remain solidly mired in the mediocrity that it has found so comforting (and profitable) since its founding. Then there's the basketball team that fired its social media director (and won a playoff series for the first time since dinosaurs roamed the earth).

But gather round and listen up. Forget about the Texans. Forget about the Rockets. It's time to start paying some attention to the Houston Astros because the Houston Astros are winning baseball games. After last night's 3-2 10th-inning win over the Seattle Mariners the Astros are 15-7 on the season. They've won seven straight games. And they are in first place in the AL West.

Let's repeat that: the Astros are in first place. Did you hear me? The Houston Astros are in first place!

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Tough Times for the Texas Racing Commission With the Texas Legislature

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Texas track owners were hoping this would be the year that they rallied the ailing Texas racing industry. After more than a decade of decline they were poised to see some improvement in their situation, but the 84th biennial Texas Legislature has proved even less open to the idea of helping out the state horse racing industry than usual.

Sam Houston Race Park President Andrea Young deemed the 2015 thoroughbred meets at Sam Houston an overall success. True, there was the infamous buzzer incident with Roman Chapa and this year saw them once again cutting back on the number of thoroughbred race days at the park, but the horses still pulled in crowds eager to see them run and bet on the outcomes. In today's Texas racing industry, that is a victory.

Despite the larger crowds, Young and other racing insiders were hoping the state legislature would step in and give the struggling industry a legislative hand during this session, but aside from stern scolding to the Texas Racing Commission the Texas racing industry has only a been a blip on the Lege radar this session, despite determined lobbying from Young and others in the industry. "It's been frustrating. Texas traditionally considers itself a very pro-business state, but this approach is a very anti-business stance," she says. "Texas racing has great markets with solid tracks. You'd think we'd have better horses but we're playing on an unlevel playing field and the great ones don't come here."

Last August the Texas Racing Commission voted 7-1 to approve historic racing for the state. Historic racing is a form of gambling where you bet on the outcomes of old horse races -- the things that would tell the gambler which race it actually was have been removed -- in a process that's a lot like playing a slot machine. The move was hailed by the presidents at the state's three Class 1 tracks as a move that would help resuscitate the struggling industry.


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NFL Draft 2015: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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Matt McGee via Flickr creative commons
As NFL Draft first rounds go, last night's was fine. No remarkable plummets for any quarterbacks, no really hideous suits (other than Cam Erving's tux, which looked like he'd just got done ripping tickets at a movie theater), and no remarkable significant others to wrest the title for Best WAG from Lauren Tannehill.

In fact, the most unnerving part of Round One was probably toward the end, when multiple reports had the Texans trading back into the first round for the Patriots pick at 32, giving everyone deja vu palpations over what we all wished they'd have done last year in order to get quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. It was quite the tease!

As it turned out, the trade never materialized, but the first round did have winners and losers. Here are a few of them....

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The 2015 Kinder Houston Area Survey Is Here!

Categories: Spaced City, Texas

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Compelling stuff.
A slight majority of people in the greater Houston area feel abortion is morally wrong but oppose laws restricting a woman's reproductive rights; believe gays should be able to get married; favor improved public transportation over building more highways; and believe increased immigration strengthens, rather than weakens, the country.

That's according to the latest annual Kinder Houston Area Survey, which gets all up in the business of folks living in Harris, Fort Bend, and Montgomery Counties. Published by Rice University's Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the survey is the "nation's longest-running study of any metropolitan region's economy, population, life experiences, beliefs and attitudes," according to Kinder's website.



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Lawmakers Hear Payday Loan Bill Testimony

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Some legislators are concerned that the poor ol' payday lenders are getting picked on.
State House committee members heard testimony Wednesday regarding a group of bills that would modify payday and auto-title loans.

The bills would set limits on how many times lenders can refinance loans, and would require that 25 percent of each payment installment go toward the principal. Advocacy groups like Texas Appleseed, the Texas Catholic Conference, the AARP, and the Center for Public Policy are for the bills. Dudes like Rob Norcross, the spokesman for the Consumer Service Alliance of Texas, are against them.


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2015 NFL Draft Preview (Through The Lens Of Prop Bets)

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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Matt McGee via Flickr creative commons
The NFL Draft begins tonight. This first night of the draft is truly the only night in the NFL where being utterly terrible the year before has any redeeming quality. This time last year the Texans were ready to be the belle of the ball, sitting on the number one overall pick. They took Jadeveon Clowney at about 7:01 p.m. and that was it for the night.

Tonight will require more patience as, barring a trade, you will have to wait until pick number 16 to find out who the next first round Texans rookie will be. So you'll need something to pass the time, and I can think of no better way to maintain interest in a bunch of picks that have little to do with our hometown team than gambling on said picks.

So thanks to the good folks at Bovada, let's take a look at this year's NFL Draft prop bets of note (and in our own special way, preview tonight's first round of the draft):

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The 10 Best Houston Conspiracy Theories

Categories: Best of Houston

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Photo by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Neil Armstrong steps onto the moon... OR DOES HE?
Back in the olden days people used to make sense of the scariest parts of the world by inventing monsters and then inventing even more improbable ways of defeating them or avoiding them. The 21st century has turned vampires and werewolves into teen heartthrobs, so instead we now trade stories of shadowy government plots that can be battled through the power of message boards. Same principal as medieval Europe, but way more hilarious. Today let's explore some of the best ones that involve our city.

The Moon Landing
We'll get the most famous one out of the way first. Since 1969 people have been claiming that mankind's walks on the surface of the moon were faked by NASA on a soundstage. The idea is so deeply ingrained that there is a Wikipedia page more than three times the length of this article explaining it and even to this day some polls show that as many as one in five Americans still believe we never went to the moon. That's a hell of a conspiracy.


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