Judge Rules Anti-LGBT Activists Don't Have Enough Signatures to Trigger Anti-HERO Vote

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Flickr/torbackhopper HE DEAD
Under state law, anti-LGBT activists hoping to repeal the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance needed 17,249 signatures on their petition to trigger a public vote that they hope would ultimately repeal the non-discrimination ordinance. When former Houston City Attorney David Feldman tossed their petition last August, saying HERO foes had failed to gather enough valid signatures, it set in motion a tedious, mind-numbing court battle over how many of those signatures met legal standards.

On Friday afternoon, state District Judge Robert Schaffer came out with his final tally: 16,684 signatures, or 565 shy of what was needed to send the anti-discrimination ordinance to a public vote.

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Uber Outlines Plan to Ensure All Drivers Comply With City Regs

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On Wednesday, Mayor Annise Parker sent Uber a blunt message: give the city your detailed plan for ensuring all Uber drivers are permitted with the city or we'll revoke your permit.

Seems Uber took the mayor's warning seriously. On Friday, as requested, the company's lead official in Texas sent Parker a letter detailing the company's efforts to crack down on divers who aren't permitted with the city.

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Austin County Sheriff Investigating Veterinarian Who Killed Cat With Arrow to the Head

Categories: Whatever

An veterinarian bragging about doing something very un-vet-like...
And now for this week's installment of Lessons In Internet Shaming:

Out in Brenham there's a veterinarian named Kristen Lindsey who's been licensed with the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners since 2012. And sometime this week, someone named Kristen Lindsey posted a photo of herself on Facebook in which she's holding an arrow with a dead cat dangling from the tip. The post was accompanied by this very un-veterinarian-like message:

"My first bow kill...lol. The only good feral tomcat is one with an arrow through it's head [sic]! Vet of the year award ... gladly accepted"

And Facebook promptly (and, in all likelihood, rightly) flipped the hell out...

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John Sweeney, Houston Press Layout Editor, Dies

Categories: Our Staff

John Sweeney
John Sweeney, born in Houston on June 10, 1959, died on April 15 in Houston after several months' illness. He had been employed at the Houston Press for more than ten years in the production department as the Layout Editor, handling both editorial and ad copy.

John went to Lockhart Elementary and Lanier Junior High and graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA.) He attended Texas Southern University, where he was a fashion design major. He worked with several magazines before joining the Press.

"Whenever I walked into our production department, John was always the first one to say hello. I keep thinking about that. He was a good employee who contributed a lot to the success of our publication and I will miss him for the person he was as well as the work he did," said Houston Press Publisher Stuart Folb.

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What It's Like to be a Transgender Woman in a Texas Prison

Categories: Courts

By November 2013, Passion Star had already faced a decade's worth of sexual assaults and death threats from other inmates when she again pleaded with prison officials at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Hughes Unit to put her in what's called "safekeeping," a classification category for "offenders identified as being more vulnerable than the average general population offender." Under TDCJ's Safe Prisons Plan, such vulnerable inmates, rather than being punished with solitary confinement or isolation, are housed separately but afforded the same programming and privileges as the rest of the prison's general population.

If anyone qualifies for safekeeping status, you'd think it would be Passion Star. Born Joshua Zollicoffer (which is still her legal name), Star is one of an untold number of transgender women in locked up in men's prisons across the country. And in TDCJ's own Safe Prisons Plan, guards are told that LGBT status should be given "serious consideration" when determining where to house an inmate and whether they're at increased risk of sexual assault.

However, not only did prison guards ignore Star's repeat requests for protection and deny the litany of grievances she filed contesting her housing assignment, their cold ambivalence made Star easy pickings inside lockup, according to court documents in a federal lawsuit Star filed against the state prison system last year.

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Out of Rehab, Johnny Manziel Issues an Apology Statement

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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Johnny Football issues an apology.
"With the 22nd pick, the Cleveland Browns select Johnny Manziel, quarterback from Texas A&M."

It's hard to believe that it was less than a year ago when Johnny Manziel heard his name called at the NFL Draft. At that time, he was barely removed from a three-month period where he became a social media hermit and (in retrospect) an "Eddie Haskell on steroids," focused on his workouts and saying all the right things. The future was bright; Johnny Football was movin' on up.

But almost literally from the moment the announcement left the mouth of Roger Goodell, it's been a reversion back to the college days of "JFF." I mean literally, as in Manziel walked out of the back making the money sign with his hands.

Well, the reversion back was a downward spiral, and when you head downward, eventually you hit rock bottom. Manziel landed in rehab after the season was over, and stayed there for ten weeks.

This week he got out, and Friday morning, he issued his first public statement since leaving the facility.

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UH Baseball Does Its Best (Worst) Astros Impersonation

Categories: Sports

John Royal
The Cougars might have taken batting practice the other night, but it didn't translate into hits during the game
Seconds become minutes. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Still the 25th ranked Houston Cougars remained huddled out in deep left field of Rice's Reckling Park. The game's long over, but it's almost like UH (23-14) is trying to hide in plain sight, seeking to escape the humiliation of Tuesday night's 11-0 loss to the 16th ranked Rice Owls (24-15).

The defeat was Astros-esque in its completeness. The Cougars got only two hits on the night while striking out 16 times (Rice starter Austin Orewiler struck out 11 Cougars in six innings). Starting pitcher Aaron Garza lasted just a third of an inning, giving up four runs on five hits. The defensive play was atrocious -- generous scoring limited UH to just two errors, though there could have been many, many more given out. This wasn't the type of game the 25th ranked in the program should play.

"We've got to play better," Cougars head coach Todd Whitting said Tuesday night. "We just have to play better baseball. You've got to keep it very simple. We just did not play very good tonight."

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Lawsuit Filed Against STORM as the Fight Over Texas Oyster Reefs Continues

Categories: Environment

Photo by Daniel Salazar
We've moved in the lawsuit phase of the Galveston Bay oyster wars.

The way things have been going with the parties grappling over the Sustainable Texas Oyster Resource Management it was probably only a matter of time before somebody filed a lawsuit.

Well, the time has come and the lawsuit was filed in the Galveston County District Court on Thursday afternoon. The suit calls for "injunctive and declaratory relief pursuant of the Texas Open Meetings Act." Johnny and Lisa Halili, the founders and owners of Prestige Oysters, along with Clifford Hillman, of Hillman's Seafood, Michael Ivich, owner of Misha's Seafood, and oystermen Jure Slabic and Ivo Slabic have all been listed as plaintiffs in a suit filed against STORM and the Chambers Liberty Counties Navigation District.

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2015 NBA Playoffs: Rockets-Mavericks Preview and Prediction

Categories: Game Time, Sports

As the NBA regular season was winding down this week, one popular debate in Houston, particularly after the Memphis Grizzlies' losing to the Clippers on Saturday pushed the Rockets into a control-you-own-destiny situation for at least the five seed in the West, was "Which would be a better scenario for the Rockets -- a first round as the two seed against Dallas or a first round as the five seed against a banged up Portland?

Keeping in mind, the Rockets would have home court in either series, there was a line of thinking that Portland would at least be the easier first round matchup, what with injuries up and down their roster. The Rockets would probably not have home court for the rest of the playoffs after that, but so many Rocket fans just want to win one series right now, the thinking is deal with the second round when it comes.

And as I stood in the Toyota Center on Wednesday night after a Rockets win over the Jazz watching the Pelicans upset the Spurs, thus launching the Rockets into the two seed against the Mavs, all I could think is how stupid the debate as about which first round opponent the Rockets would rather face.

Because the Rockets are not playing for the first round. They're playing for a championship. And the two seed is clearly the more logical path. Plus, are we really scared of the Dallas Mavericks?

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Fan Fighting League! Baseball Season Is Underway As Oriole Fan Punches Yankee Fan

Categories: Game Time, Sports

The winter typically provides a lull in when it comes to my Fan Fighting League. You all know the FFL, right? It's my fictional league that I created (and proclaimed myself commissioner of) in order to bring attention to fans from opposing teams beating the snot out of each other at sporting events.

Fact of the matter is that football season is always going to be prime FFL season, since that's a sport in which fans punching each other in the stands is as embedded a tradition as fight songs and cheerleaders.

During the dead of winter, we see almost no fights, since the NBA is not really a "crowd brawl" kind of sport, especially since Ron Artest renamed himself Metta World Peace and then disappeared.

But baseball. Oh sweet baseball. We love you. Especially up in the Northeast, where the hate between fan bases should have a color coded alert system, like the terror level.

So it's nice to get the FFL baseball season started with a sweet set of fisticuffs between an Oriole fan and a Yankee fan in Camden Yards!

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