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Everything posted by MikeRichardson

  1. I might have a pic of the Walmart in Meyerland when it was still a "Baby" (i.e. non Super Walmart) Store. The Meyerland store and then the Westview store were the last two remaining Houston area stores to not be converted to "SuperCenter Walmart". First Meyerland was converted. So the very last store to be converted was the Westview store.
  2. Oddly enough, I think the Coronavirus has been the saving grace of Randalls for 2020. My friends mostly live in the suburbs and go to Kroger and HEB. Whereas I live off Westheimer and S. Gessner within walking distance of a Randalls, and driving distance of several other stores. At least among the informal discussions with my friends: I was the first one to find Hand Sanitizer for sale, at Randalls (9660 Westheimer). Later I was the first to find Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol) for sale, again at Randalls (12850 Memorial). I shop at both stores consistently. I remember after Harvey too. I was living in the same area back then as well (Westchase). I drove first to the Kroger at 9919 Westheimer. The line literally snaked around behind the building, just to get inside. So I drove just a bit further to the Randalls. There, I could get inside right away, and they had fresh meat there, and some vegetables. I was able to pick some stuff up and then make the long awkward ~2.5 hour trek out to my mom's house. (She's around Beltway 8 and 1960, but I had to drive all the way out to the Grand Parkway just to cross the reservoirs). I really do hope Randalls sticks around at least in some form. Reduction of competition has shown to be universally bad for the consumer.
  3. Aw come on. WTF. So Albertson's is even more of a pu--- err, wimp than Safeway was. Geez.
  4. I'll host the pictures on my personal site. The worst that could happen (and I so seriously doubt it would happen), is that I would get a "DMCA Takedown", and then I would have to take them down. You could also attach the pictures to posts here. In fact I would do both. Anything you want to remain accessible for longer than a couple of years, needs to be hosted on several different unrelated servers. The bigger challenge is actually scanning in the covers. Holding it up to a phone is going to give very unsatisfying pictures. You want to use a flatbed scanner. (Sheet-fed scanners are no good, because you would have to destroy the phone book in order to scan the cover.) You can get a scanner for less than $100, I got mine at Micro Center. But I don't have any old phonebooks, except for 1993.
  5. I am pleased to announce the availability of every single HCTRA Financial Report since 1983 (excluding 1986). https://hctra.co/financials/ (do not link directly to PDF files because I plan on standardizing all the names so as to make the list easier to use). For FY1986 I'm going to attempt to contact some county officials, that seemed to have been quite successful in getting the turnout information for the 1983 ballot measure. Althought it won't be the county clerk this time, maybe Harris County Treasurer?
  6. Why should HCTRA have any business making investments when they themselves owe over $2 billion on bonds. These are investments specifically allocated to HCTRA. HCTRA would not need to issue so much debt if they weren't buying debt from freaking New York and New Jersey! That in and of it's self is a form of manipulation - so that the debt service is never paid off. It's also why HCTRA is so aggressive about pursuing new toll roads that nobody even asked for. There's dozens of projects that HCTRA has attempted to start or get it's hands into, fortunately most of these have failed. The difference between driving on a state toll road vs a HCTRA road, is that you are not supporting the HCTRA entity, which I am no big fan of.
  7. I prefer the state highway "Beltway 8" (aka the feeder) on the weekend when I go to visit my mom. Using the toll road would cost me $9 every weekend and would not save that much time. This only works if I don't have to wait more than one cycle at any light, though. I work from home though, don't have to commute for that. I don't understand the people who do not have toll tags who use the toll road. You lose all the time savings waiting in that line to pay the toll. You would save time and money just sticking to the free state highway right next to the toll road.
  8. Every HCTRA financial statement going back as far as I have found, contains a variation of the following statement: It is important to note that it does NOT say that the roads will be made free. However, I would rather drive on a state toll road than a HCTRA toll road. I think it's also extremely obvious that HCTRA has been manipulating their financials to ensure that the debt service is NEVER paid off. HCTRA has over $1 billion in "Total Cash & Investments". They even have investments made in school faclities in Arizona, a water authority in Georgia, $15 million in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey! Why is HCTRA not using this massive war chest to pay off their bonds instead? It also pisses me off that they continue to deny having printed the above pamphlet and even deny the statement in their own financial documents. I am currently looking for a high quality scan of the pamphlet. I am also curious as to what TV news may have reported back in the 80's. Source: https://hctra.co/financials/ (HCTRA has removed older financial reports, I have made them available again at hctra.co).
  9. https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/86R/billtext/pdf/HB00436I.pdf#navpanes=0 (also attached to the thread) News coverage: http://www.fox4news.com/news/north-texas-lawmaker-introduces-bill-to-end-tolls-on-toll-roads-after-they-are-paid-off https://cbsaustin.com/news/local/a-new-bill-could-make-toll-roads-free-in-texas https://abc13.com/politics/is-this-the-end-of-toll-roads-in-texas/5152215/ First question: Does this even apply to the "authorities" - HCTRA, MCTRA, et. al? Or just the State Toll Roads? How would they manage to unwind HCTRA's incredibly convoluted accounting (merging all the roads into a "pooled project" at a county commissioners meeting that took place only a week after 9/11). HB00436I.pdf
  10. Somehow I only heard about this today. I knew about the ones earlier in the year. https://www.chron.com/business/real-estate/article/Randalls-to-close-Montrose-area-store-13347808.php Those stores are now already closed. While I was confirming that, I found an article about a 7th store! https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/katy/news/article/Randalls-closing-surprises-some-customers-13472090.php That's 7 freaking stores closed in a single year - 2018. They seem to be doing fine in Austin though, where they somehow actually managed to build a brand new store a couple of years ago. I don't think it was a replacement store or anything either. https://www.bizjournals.com/austin/news/2017/03/23/austin-suburb-lands-new-retail-center-anchored.html I want to slap the people who keep repeating the same garbage about the "high prices". Yes, it was true a long time ago. It is no longer true anymore. I also shop at Kroger regularly. The prices are basically the same as Randalls. They both average out to about the same.
  11. I used to walk to high school before I got a car. Our neighborhood, built in 2002, had sidewalks, but as soon as I got to Grant Road - nothing. My mom contacted some county official, probably the commisioner, around 2003. In 2017 a sidewalk was finally installed. Partially - it terminates right before the school. Because that makes sense?
  12. There is a neat little apartment complex right next to The Georgian that I never even knew existed - it's got maybe 10 units in two buildings, with covered parking spaces. That will probably survive quite a bit longer because the land is not a large enough parcel to interest the developers. Unfortunately, The Georgian is yet another example of medium-low density being replaced with medium-high density. A marginal improvement in density - but it's also understandable that they would not try for a highrise there given that it abuts directly to single family homes. (whatever happened with Ashby anyway)
  13. Here's some pictures I took on the 6th. https://mikerichardson.name/tidbits/the_georgian/ Wasn't going to walk too deep into the property since anything was liable to fall down at any time. I wonder how much those townhomes rented for. I've not seen those at the other Swain & Houck properties. BTW, this was the last Swain & Houck property that had remained. The first to go was off of Allen Parkway if I recall. I was one of the last people to move from the last building on Westcreek - the one that they let sit and rot for 2+ years before tearing it down, instead of renting it out and collecting money. Because logic.
  14. Come on, really? I knew the owner of the shop there. Remember, I lived on Westcreek for over 3 years. The owner of Westcreek Market ran an honest business. He had cheaper prices than the Mobile or Exxon or whatever the hell it is at the opposite end of the street at San Felipe. I am not stupid and I understand how private property works. Westcreek Market should have owned their land but we all know that any price within the last 10 years would have been absurd. RIP Westcreek Market. If anyone around there wants a decent price on a bag of nuts or a 12 pack of coke or whatever, drive on down to the CVS, for as long as that might continue to exist. The least you can do is say, "RIP". I actually lived there. I actually patronized businesses around there. Hang me out to dry, I could give a shit. I care about honest men making an honest living. That includes: the operators of Westcreek Market, and even the workmen who build River Oaks District. It does not include people who judge from afar, living in suburb that's not even freaking HARRIS COUNTY, based on some wet dream that they have of the inner loop, that they might happen to drive through once or twice a year. I just hope that not too many affordable places are plowed over every year or GUESS WHAT? We will wind up EXACTLY like California. Go ahead and flame me, watch me care.
  15. I loved that super arbitrarily outdated Walgreens right there. Always had what I needed in stock. Now I have to go out towards Highway 6 :/
  16. Is it just me or do I vaguely recall hearing at one point in time that this connector was to be free of tolls? And, now, of course, "tolls"?
  17. Interesting factoid: More county residents, as a percentage of residents, voted on the 1983 toll bond election, than voted on the recent 2018 flood bond election.
  18. A small update to the site. The county clerk wrote back with the actual final numbers from the 1983 Bond Election. Here are the final numbers: http://hctra.co/elections/Final Cumulative Report-September 13, 1983 Harris County Bond Election.pdf
  19. Still can't edit posts for some stupid reason, or this would be an edit of the above post. The IBTTA newsletters are now cut down to the relevant sections only, with those sections highlighted. The only really interesting one is 1989_7 where they talk about all this free crap they gave to the "25 Millionth Patron".
  20. County Clerk wrote me back. Here is a sample ballot from the 1983 bond election. https://hctra.co/elections/Sample Ballot-September 13, 1983 Harris County Bond Election.pdf I also asked about the voter turnout: votes for and against, that sort of thing. The information isn't readily available but they said they would research it. What I would love to get my hands on: TV news reports from September 1983.
  21. I don't know why but I can't edit posts. I just wanted to add this. The point of my site is to provide these documents and provoke discussion, and I can already see that happening. That is great! A lot of the documents you can access easily, such as recent HCTRA financials. My goal is to have a complete archive of their financials. HCTRA seems to only provide a few years. I still have dozens more documents to upload. I also want to start collecting information about Linebarger. I hope this thread has some real and healthy debate, unlike the other thread...
  22. I live off Westheimer and the Beltway. Actually before I go into that, let me clarify real quick the names and ownership of the roads, for people that don't know. The actual toll lanes, are called Sam Houston Tollway. "HCTRA" owns these roads, except HCTRA is not an actual separate entity, it is really just a brand name and an "enterprise fund". So, Harris County owns these roads. It is important to note that these toll lanes are NOT one continuous road! Immediately before I-45 heading East, until somewhere after the airport, is a free road owned by the state. Also, several of the stacks are actually owned by the state, which is why where is a free entrance right before the ramps. The free lanes (the feeders), are called Sam Houston Parkway. They are owned by the State of Texas, and because of this, they have a numeric designation from the state: Beltway 8. If you look at the address for any business on the Beltway - let's look at the West Road Kroger, that address is 9125 W Sam Houston Pkwy N. You will never see an address for a business on the Tollway directly. I will also clarify here that no private entity has any ownership interest in any HCTRA toll road. This is one of the few "right/correct/good" things about the HCTRA system. If you want to see an example of what happens when a private entity is involved look at the Chicago Skyway. Their tolls are atrocious, some of the highest in the country. Now, like I said I live off Westheimer and the Beltway. About every weekend I drive up to see my mom, she lives off 249 and Grant Road. I used to take the tollway, and now I don't. On the weekend, the parkway/Beltway 8 is not that much slower. It costs $4.50 in tolls one way. Compared to the free lanes, and the way I drive, I would be surprised if the toll lanes save 9 minutes. One way to look at that is that I'd need to earn at least $30 an hour just to break even. Also, after I-10 was rebuilt, they very thoughtfully installed an overpass for Beltway 8, saving at least 5 minutes. Sadly, they did not do this at 290. My experience says nothing of a Monday-Friday commuter though, unfortunately that is the type of person who is proably getting soaked in monthly tolls.
  23. Here is what I would like my signature to be. It meets all the requirements. However, I get a stupid error. The error is, "This image is larger than the maximum allowed dimensions of x 100". The image is referring to the smiley. Clearly the smiley is smaller than 100px in width or height.
  24. https://hctra.co The primary purpose of this site right now is an information dump. I put some of my opinons on the front page, but I may remove them. The information about Texas Tag is important though - more proof that HCTRA is being run as if it were a profit seeking entity, rather than in service to the residents of Harris County. I am open to rational debate. I also accept submissions for the site. I am not opposed to the basic idea of toll roads either, but I think HCTRA has been actively abusive to their customers, and privately, I believe that one or more of these documents will reveal malfeasance. They are posted for public review as I don't have the time myself to go through them all. I know that this site is already receiving some traffic from people mistyping "hctra.com", so I have mentioned how an existing EZ TAG holder would need to go to hctra.org to service their account.
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