24 October 2006

BlogHouston and my knickers

There is a local blog here in Houston called BlogHouston. I like reading it, but it tends to make SHG's head explode. Their goal is to discuss current issues in Houston and aspects of cultural life around here - and they do quite a bit of the former and not a Hell of a lot on the latter. That's OK though. What gets my teeth gnashing at times with them is that they are so severely politically skewed to the right ("skewed left" if you looked at their posts in histogram-space). There is really no balance. I like to comment now and then since, as most of you know, I cannot keep my trap shut. And I usually get blasted for it by members (but not the administrator - he's a good guy it seems, as well-educated as I am, if, errrr, misguided and myopic [sorry Kevin]). For those of you who knew Matthew, he is in that same line of work, but his views are flopped in a different (not opposite) direction.

One thing they talk about that gets my Vickie Secrets in a knot is about crime on the West side of Houston (W-NW side, really). There is a fuck-load of blame flying around and I am sick and tired of it. First, the facts, sort of - I have seen the statistics wrapped in all directions, and that being my background and if I had the raw data (which is impossible or hard to come by) I could make it show that crime in Houston is linked to how many baby girls were born in Manchuria on Tuesdays in the 5th Century. So, let's just go with what seems to be true.

1. The (violent) crime rate in Houston overall is higher than in recent years.
2. The increase in the crime rate could be characterized as "alarming", specifically murders.
3. The increase in the crime rate appears to be linked to a couple of distinct sectors within the City Limits - which if you are from up North are HUGE.
4. We have about 150,000 new residents who evacuated/relocated from Katrina.
5. A good chunk of #4 live in some areas from #3.
6. We have illegal immigrants. EVERYWHERE.
7. Our police force is understaffed by 800+.

What we do not have is reliable data on is the race and immigration status on the perpetrators, since, well, many of them have not been caught.

Now, BlogHouston - which hates the Mayor (D), the Police Chief, most of the City Council (D), and our paper, the Chronicle, and its editorialists - bitches and moans about the distribution of officers and patrols over to the W-NW side, blames the mayor and Chief (who they have decided are really one brain in two bodies) for everything. Everybody (excluding the administrator, who though myopic, is sane) jumps up and down blaming the people from NOLA and our immigrant community for it all, and calls for them all to be shipped back to NOLA or Mexico (I don't think they care if, say, you came from NOLA but now off you would go to Nuevo Laredo). Citizens on the Westside have even had a town meeting demanding to have the NOLA people gone - a Not In MY Back Yard approach), so at least BlogHouston is in step with part of the population.

Let me ask you this: If all these people who live out there in some quite pricey neighborhoods had all the illegal immigrants gone, who the Hell is going to mow their yards? Clean the pools? Hmmm???

But what really got me today was this post. In the main post:

Tossing millions to subsidize housing in certain neighborhoods makes great sense at a time when the city's leaders refuse to budget adequately for basic municipal services like policing (HPD's manpower shortage and associated surge in violent crime, anyone?) or flood control (as many parts of town experienced Monday).

Yes, yes, flood control is a problem, but it's not about money on that one - things are fucked up because of the Army Corps of Engineers, go call them (and I have a background in river control/engineering, so shh!).

It is the Houston Police Department manpower problem and the statement that the city's leaders refuse to budget for it that got me. Uhhh, I don't think so. Last week I heard it straight from the Comptroller's mouth at a meeting where she spoke. They have spent quite a bit on salaries to retain the existing force. There's plenty of money for staffing up. They are working to mine officers from other cities. There are several classes of cadets training up. But the real problem is bodies. The main source of police officers is guess where....? That's right, the military. And guess where the military is? Uh, busy? Yep.

Busy fighting a losing battle in a war that has become protracted and mired (never mind if we should have gone or not, that's another diatribe). And that impacts us little guys at home, where we don't have adequate police forces, even if there is enough money to acquire them.

But none of that matters to BlogHouston: They prefer to sit by their computers, grinding their axes away.