Archive for December, 2008

Residents vs. The River Oaks Shopping Center
December 28, 2008

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I’m going to enjoy a few days off from work, but couldn’t resist posting these pictures and writing about the battle that is brewing between some  River Oaks residents and the Weingarten Realty Company, which owns the River Oaks Shopping Center.

On Sunday afternoon I  saw several signs posted on the side wall of some ritzy homes that face Shepherd Drive.

The residents are protesting an  open  air wine bar and restaurant that is being built on the balcony of a  new Borders Bookstore.

The residents  believe the new business, which will be rented out for private parties and events,  would  create noise that will disturb the nearby neighborhoods. 

They also argue that it violates the city’s setback rules, because the building would be located too close to the street.

It seems the developers started the project without first obtaining approval from the city of Houston Planning Department.

The residents and the realty company are currently scheduled to attend a hearing on Thursday, January 8, at 2:30 in the afternoon. 

Weingarten rarely comments publicly about its plans, but if   you want to know more about the residents point of view you can log on to www.stopshepherdnoise.org

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Merry Christmas and Feliz Navidad
December 25, 2008

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 2 on the Beat hopes that Santa and his Reindeer brought you everything you hoped for this Christmas.

So many Houstonions woke up this morning and gathered around the Christmas tree, thankful to have the opportunity to exchange and open  presents with family and friends.

Others spent the morning in Houses of  Worship, remembering the true reason for the season.  

In the  East End community children eagerly awaited the arrival of  “Pancho Claus.”

This is the twenty seventh year that Richard Reyes put  on a  red zoot suit and cruised through low income neighborhoods distributing toys to excited children. 

Reyes says things were a little tough this year because of the economy and Hurricane Ike, but he wanted to make sure that he could reach as many children as possible, and give each one at least one new toy.

“Rusty the Reindeer” in the Newsroom
December 24, 2008

Rusty Knight (aka Rudolph)

Rusty Knight (aka Rudolph)

It’s always nice when your co-worker helps  spread some Holiday Cheer. 

2 on the Beat spotted “Rusty the Reindeer” in the KPRC Local 2 newsroom this morning. 

That means Santa is on his way!

The reindeer  is actually Channel 2  director Rusty Knight.  He sits in the control room and directs  the cameras, anchors and reporter’s  live shots during the morning and noon newscasts.

Thanks Rusty for putting on your reindeer antlers and making the holiday season  a little merrier for those of us who have to work this week.

Out With the Old….In With the New
December 23, 2008

Leo Vasquez

Leo Vasquez

 Harris County has a new taxman!

County Judge Ed Emmett  and Commissioners Court voted 4-1 to name  Houston Businessman Leo Vasquez to replace Paul Bettencourt.  
Bettencourt, who was reelected last month,  resigned to start  a full-service property tax consultancy  for taxpayers in Southeast Texas,
 
Commissioner Sylvia Garcia made an unsuccessful motion for the court to name Diane Trautman to the vacant position.
 Trautman, a democrat, lost to Bettencourt in November.
Vasquez will have to run for election in 2010 if he wants to keep the seat.

Meanwhile,  Congressman Elect Pete Olson stopped by to introduce himself to the Court.  Olson will be sworn in next month after defeating Congressman Nick Lampson.  His new district director is Issac “Jack” Molho.

Molho and Congressman Elect Olson

Molho and Congressman Elect Olson

Outgoing district attorney Ken Magidson  also stopped by  Commissioner’s Court. 

Ken Magidson

Ken Magidson

After stepping in for the former embattled DA who resigned in disgrace, Magidson will be leaving office to make way for Republican Pat Lykos.

She’ll be sworn in on January 1st.

Would You Buy this License Plate?
December 18, 2008

 A new license plate promoting adoption as an alternative to abortion could soon be seen on vehicles driving around Houston and the rest of  Texas.

Governor Rick Perry has announced that he will support House Bill 109, which if passed, would create a “Choose Life” specialty license plate.

Nineteen other states, including Florida, already have a Choose Life license plate. For Texas drivers to have the option of putting one on their car, the state legislature would have to pass the bill into law next year.

$22 from each license plate that is sold would  help raise money to assist pregnant women in Texas who, instead of aborting their unborn child, will have the baby and place it up for adoption.

“The majority of Texans believe in the sanctity of life, and this license plate will give them a means to tell the world in a subtle but meaningful way, while providing support to pregnant women making the decision to choose adoption,” said Governor Perry.

2 on the Beat wants to know if you would consider purchasing a Choose Life plate?

SD 17 Runoff: Huffman Defeats Bell
December 17, 2008

The final numbers:

Huffman: 56%

Bell: 44%

When former congressman and city councilmember  Chris Bell didn’t win on election night November 4, most political analysts said the odds were against him defeating Republican Joan Huffman in the runoff race for the State Senate District 17 seat.

Bell, a democrat,   finished in first place in the general election.

The district leans republican, so that gave Huffman, a former judge, the advantage. 

Without Senator Barack Obama on the top of the ticket, there was less incentive for democratic voters to return to the polls to decide the runoff.

Jared Woodfill, the Chairman of the Harris County Republican Party released the following statement after Huffman’s overwhelmingly victory Tuesday night:

 Joan Huffman easily vanquished perennial candidate Chris Bell in the Special Runoff Election in State Senate District 17. She led in early voting by a 2-1 margin and never looked back, crusing to win with 56% of the vote. We offer our congratulations to Joan Huffman on her well-run campaign as she protected our Republican majority in the Texas Senate.

 

 

It’s Official – Mayor White Will Run for U.S. Senate
December 16, 2008

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You can watch Mayor White’s big announcement by clicking this link: www.BillWhiteForTexas.com

 The Mayor kept a busy schedule on the day of his announcement:  Speaking to the Houston Library foundation during lunch, handing out proclamations at city hall, and then hopping on a plane to fly to the Rio Grande Valley for dinner with potential supporters of his U.S. Senate bid.

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 Now that  White  has announced his plans to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, it’s time to take a look at who else is in the race.

So far it looks like Mayor White will face former Texas Comptroller John Sharp in the democratic party primary. State Senator Leticia Van De Putte (D-San Antonio) is reportedly also considering a run.

On the Republican side, Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael Williams announced that he will run.

Also in the race on the GOP side, Former Secretary of State Roger Williams and Railroad Commissioner Elizabeth Aimes Jones, and State Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano).

A Season To Give
December 14, 2008

It’s just one of the many ways that KPRC Local 2 gives back to the community.

On Sunday, December 14, dozens of Channel 2 employees from the sales department, newsroom and production, pitched in to help some special children celebrate an early Christmas.

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The children spent a magical morning making holiday ornaments, playing games, eating pizza, hot dogs and cookies.

Of  course, the highlight was seeing Santa Claus and getting a bag full of  age appropriate presents.

This was made possible by  viewers like you who donated gift cards and toys during the station’s Season To Give toy drive.

2 on the Beat can’t show you any of the children because of  concerns over privacy, but you can only imagine how their faces brightened with smiles when they saw Santa Claus enter the room.

My co-workers and I had just as  much fun meeting the children and making their holiday special!

Almost Free
December 12, 2008

At any minute,51 year old Ricardo Rachell will walk out of  the Harris County Jail processing Center.

Who knows what will be going through his mind as he steps into the sunlight on this chilly Friday afternoon, thirteen days before Christmas?

Rachell will be a free man for the first time in  five years.

Earlier, State District Judge Susan Brown removed the last  hurdle that was wrongly keeping the convicted sex offender behind bars.

In 2003, Rachell was convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child, an eight year old boy, and sentenced to forty years in prison.

DNA tests now prove that Rachell did not commit the crime.

2 on the beatis waiting outside of the jail,  and hoping for a chance to interview Rachell.

We’ve been told he is reluctant to talk because he has a severe facial deformity.

In the  meantime, I am wondering, what do I ask a man who has spent five years away from his family and friends, locked up for a crime he didn’t commit?

“How does it feel” – that question seems so inadequate.

UPDATE: Harris County and The Texas Department of Corrections are bickering over the time and location of Rachell’s release.  Because a bench warrant was issued in his name so that he could be brought to Houston for this morning’s hearing,  the county may send him back to Huntsville for processing.

Is Mayor White Running for the U.S. Senate?
December 11, 2008

An Austin based on-line political magazine is reporting that Mayor Bill White is on the verge of announcing his plans to run for the United States Senate.

The Quorum Report (www.quorumreport.com) says its reliable sources believe the announcement will happen on Monday, December 15, 2008.

Last week KPRC Local 2 reported that Mayor White was close to announcing his future political plans.

The popular,  but term limited Mayor, was rumored to have his eye on the Texas Governor’s Mansion.

That changed when U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison formed an exploratory committee as a first step towards running for Governor.  

If the Mayor does run for the open seat, he will face former State Comptroller John Sharp in the Democratic Party Primary.

State Senator Florence Shapiro of  Dallas is the only Republican name to surface as a possible candidate for  the U.S. Senate Senate.