Houston Matters

Why Texas Keeps Contracting With a Company that Underdelivers

Posted on · The state of Texas has a long — and not terribly successful — history with one contracting company: Accenture (formerly known as Andersen Consulting). Some 25 years ago, the Texas Attorney General’s office signed a contract with Andersen to computerize the state’s child support payment system. It wound up costing more than six times what the […]

Houston Matters

A Zombie Industry: Is Coal On the Way Out?

Posted on · Some industry analysts are calling coal a “zombie industry” – meaning it’s dying but still functioning. So far in 2016, U.S. coal production is 32 percent lower than it was a year ago, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, a new study says Texans are shifting away from relying on energy […]

Houston Matters

Report: Greater Houston’s a ‘Sitting Duck’ for the Next Big Storm

Posted on · Reporters from the Texas Tribune and ProPublica have teamed up on a report examining the Houston and Galveston region’s lack of storm infrastructure. The article is called Hell and High Water, and it suggests Greater Houston is simply unprepared to handle that next big storm. To tell us more, we talk with Texas Tribune environmental reporter Kiah Collier. […]

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Regulating Refineries and How to Be A Texan: Wednesday’s Show (March 9, 2016)

Posted on · A worker was injured Saturday morning when an explosion at the Pasadena Refining Systems Inc. plant started a fire, sending smoke plumes into the Pasadena air. A portion of the Houston Ship Channel was closed briefly while the Coast Guard investigated for any potential chemical releases. According to the EPA, the plant owned by Petrobras, […]

Houston Matters

Replays of Old Horse Races Are No Longer Allowed — So What’s Next for Texas Racetracks?

Posted on · Back in September (Sept. 11, 2015), we talked with Houston Chronicle reporter Brian Rosenthal about something called “historical racing.” It’s a practice at Texas racetracks where old horse races are replayed on a screen with no identifying traits that would allow you to recognize the race, the horse or the outcome. It allows players to bet on a simulation […]

Houston Matters

Planned Parenthood Goes to Court to Stay in State’s Medicaid Program

Posted on · A court hearing was initially set to take place Monday (Dec. 14, 2015) regarding the state’s efforts to kick Planned Parenthood out of the Medicaid program. But the hearing was canceled because state officials haven’t actually done anything yet. This past weekend, the Texas Tribune reported how this may be part of a pattern with Texas […]

Houston Matters

Investigation Leads to Revamp of the Process for Screening Law Enforcement for Mental Health Issues

Posted on · People seeking to become law enforcement officers — and those who already are — often have to pass psychological evaluations to make sure they’re fit for duty. For some time, the Harris County Sherriff’s Office — as well as several other law enforcement agencies in Greater Houston — have contracted with one woman to conduct those evaluations: […]

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Seat Belts on Buses and Heights Preservation: Thursday’s Show (December 3, 2015)

Posted on · Months after a fatal school bus wreck, HISD’s board approved a policy requiring three-point seat belts in any new school buses the district buys. The decision came on the heels of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration changing its stance on seat belt use. The NHTSA now says all school buses should have three-point belts, like those […]

Houston Matters

What’s the Legacy of Outgoing TEA Commissioner Michael Williams?

Posted on · Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams recently announced he’s stepping down at the end of the year. We discuss his legacy and the challenges ahead for his successor. We talk with Kiah Collier, who reports on public education for the Texas Tribune.

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TEA, Dowling Street, and the Dynamo Decade: Thursday’s Show (October 22, 2015)

Posted on · Texas Education Agency Commissioner Michael Williams recently announced he’s stepping down at the end of the year. On this edition of Houston Matters, we discuss his legacy and the challenges ahead for his successor. We welcome your questions and comments for Kiah Collier, who reports on public education for the Texas Tribune. Then: An update […]

Houston Matters

Are Some Officials Too Close to the Industries They’re Tasked with Regulating?

Posted on · How close are regulators to the businesses they are charged with watching? When does their mission to protect the public interest get mired in the will to further industry? Texas Tribune energy reporter Jim Malewitz has been contemplating these questions. He joins us to discuss the sometimes uneasy relationship between industry and regulators in Greater […]

Houston Matters

What Exactly are “Sanctuary Cities,” and is Houston One?

Posted on · A term has risen in the more recent debates about immigration: “sanctuary cities.” The concept is this: that there are some cities in the United States that will go out of their way to protect immigrants who have entered the country illegally from federal immigration officials. The argument from some conservatives and anti-immigration groups is […]

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“Sanctuary Cities,” Freddie Steinmark, and Milo Hamilton: Friday’s Show (September 18, 2015)

Posted on · A term has risen in the more recent debates about immigration: “sanctuary cities.” The concept is this: that there are some cities in the United States that will go out of their way to protect immigrants who have entered the country illegally from federal immigration officials. The argument from some conservatives and anti-immigration groups is […]

Houston Matters

Insurance Company Paying for Fraud Investigation Unit at Travis County’s’ DA’s Office

Posted on · For six months the Texas Tribune and the Austin American-Statesman have investigated a relationship Texas Mutual Insurance Company has with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office. The insurance company has been paying for a four-person unit at the D.A.’s office to prosecute people accused of defrauding their company. Texas Mutual began as a creation of the […]

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Blue Bell and Texas Mutual Investigations: Wednesday’s Show (September 16, 2015)

Posted on · Over the weekend, the Houston Chronicle ran an investigative report examining long-term safety and sanitation issues at Blue Bell ice cream’s flagship Brehnam plant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says tainted Blue Bell products have sickened at least 13 people since 2010. Among them, three died after being hospitalized with other illnesses. Chronicle investigative […]