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Reefmonkey

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About Reefmonkey

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  • Birthday 01/23/1976

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    Memorial area
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    Dining, international travel, kayaking in the Gulf and West Bay, sailing, diving, cooking, reading, gardening, wine, margaritas. Native Houstonian, grew up in Spring/Klein area.

    Bachelors in Biology, Masters in Environmental Science, used to be an environmental consultant, doing soil and groundwater risk-based remediation for closures, Brownfields on hazardous waste-impacted sites. Now do beneficial reuse for waste chemicals, coproducts, etc.

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  1. Absolutely parents and children have rights and should avail themselves of the processes to assert those rights. But there are affluent parents who are abusing those processes to coerce schools into providing services their children don't qualify for, in order to give their already-priviledged children more advantages. In the wake of last year's college admissions cheating scandal, is this so hard to believe? Autism is the new hip label, and it and ADHD come with all sorts of accomodations, including on SAT and ACT tests. When a parent threatens to go to due process because testing found their child didn't qualify, the district has two options: fight them in due process, which might end up going to federal court, and cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars, or cave in and give those services, which would cost tens of thousands over time instead. Usually districts choose the latter, which is cheaper, but sometimes do fight, to prevent precedents from being established, and usually get vilified for it, whether they win or lose. And which ever way the school goes, the process takes away money that is needed for truly needy kids. I'm not saying that all or even most kids in special ed are there illegitimately, to the contrary, but even with true disabilities, a lot of times parents have unrealistic expectations of the kind of services schools should provide, they may be misinformed about what are appropriate interventions for their child's disabilities. They may also expect a Cadillac when schools are only required to pay for a Chevrolet. Schools are often put in impossible situations, often with unfunded mandates. There are a lot of seriously mentally ill students out there, dangers to themselves and others, some so seriously ill that they require inpatient treatment costing upwards of $100,000 a year, and schools have been ordered to pay for this. Think about it, if a child has cancer, a disease that is beyond a school nurse's ability to treat, is the school on the hook for paying to send the child to MD Anderson? Then why are schools being paid to treat severe mental illnesses, diseases that are beyond a school system's ability to treat? This is the intersection between our society's dysfunctional unequal attitude towards mental illness in comparison to physical illness, and our state's dysfunctional school finance system.
  2. I did stop by when I was up visiting my parents this weekend, and pick up a golf shirt with the club logo on it, for sentimental reasons. Not much selection left in the pro shop, so if if anyone wants a memento, better get there fast.
  3. Yeah, my parents have been members since the early 80s, I practically grew up there - swimming lessons, tennis lessons (my cousin was a pro there in the mid-late 80s), some of the first autonomy my brothers and I got as kids was being allowed to ride our bikes up there by ourselves, meet up with friends and swim in the pool, and charge lunch to our membership number at the snack bar. We'd do Sunday brunch there a lot. The fancy brunch in the Oak Room used to be great, and we even liked just going to the coffee shop for breakfast or lunch on weekends, too.They used to have a great social program there, too. My parents did several New Years Eves there, because their black tie ball was so good. They had great parties for the whole family, too, I remember a Miami Vice-themed one in particular. The parents would hang out and socialize while the kids would congregate with friends and classmates. But it's been going downhill for decades. The food went downhill in the early 90s, and occasionally they'd bring in a new chef who'd improve things for a while, but they never seemed able to keep them. If you don't have good food you're not going to retain members, let alone attract new ones. The last time I went was 2 years ago for Mother's Day. The buffet was god-awful, scant selection, not very good quality, and what they had, they kept running out of. Drinks took forever to get refilled. And the Oak Room was only about half-full. Meanwhile the manager was just standing around gladhanding guests as they came in rather than going into the kitchen to figure out what the problem was. The owner himself (who isn't the original) has never cared about the club, and before the county flood control district came to him, a group of members had gotten together and offered to buy the club from him (and this is Champion Forest, so these were a bunch of pretty wealthy guys), but he didn't care, blew them off, then took this offer several months later. Between the bad food and service, and closing the new golf course several years ago, all the serious golfers moved on to Champions years ago, and most of everyone else to Northgate and elsewhere. So, as much as it's sad to see it go, it was a shadow of its former self anyway. Lots of my parents' friends flooded in Harvey, and some had flooded before that too, so if the new flood control there protects people, that will be a good thing. If they do it right, I'm thinking like Terry Hershey along Buffalo Bayou where I live now, the new parkland along the bayou could also be a real asset to everyone in that area, not just a dying private club for a few lingering members.
  4. Looking into it, appears you are correct, Emmett's camp did claim the trip was paid with campaign funds. I wonder if that's what his Harris County Republican campaign donors expected their money to be spent on? And was traveling to other countries to visit water parks what we elected him to do? Did he use personal vacation time, or was he "on the job" when he was over there? I always took a dim view of Lee Brown's overseas trips; local elected officials are elected to govern locally, they have no foreign policy role and foreign trips should be unnecessary. If an elected official wants to use their private money and their vacation time to take a vacation, and tack on a busman's holiday to see something they think might apply to their job, that's their prerogative. When they spend money other than their personal money, it's pretty obvious that's not how they see the trip.
  5. Well, I was happy to engage in civil, mature discourse on the subject and assume good faith, but seems like it's just too emotional an issue for some other people to approach objectively. Oh well.
  6. So is there a difference between a Texas Historic Landmark and a Texas Antiquities Landmark? If so, what is it? Because its my understanding that with a TAL designation, if you fail to get the permit from THC, they can fine you up to $1,000 and/or 30 days in jail. Though I've heard in practice they never pursue it.
  7. Half my neighborhood (West Memorial area, right along the Bayou) flooded in Harvey. I'd say about half the houses that flooded were either raised, or torn down and rebuilt with the first floor elevated.
  8. There appears to be what I am sure was unintentional mischaracterization of my last post, so I will do my best to clarify now. I did not recommend razing the Astrodome because it might get in the way of a possible future as-yet-unconceived development. What I said was: 1. Leaving the dome idle for posterity like a "rusting ship" is not reasonable. Even the dome's most ardent preservationist cheerleader, Ed Emmet, said so ("rusting ship" was his turn of phrase). 2. The public has made it clear that they don't want to spend the hundreds of millions of dollars required to rehabilitate the dome to useful life. That means private money, and private investors would want revenue that would produce a good ROI. 3. The dome's close proximity to NRG Stadium and NRG Center mean that year-round use of the dome by a private business/businesses would interfere with Texans and HLSR activity, according to Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. Executive Director Ryan Walsh. Curtailing that private business during the 6 weeks of Rodeo alone would limit a private venture's ability to make that ROI. 4. So the only way to add a business to NRG Park would be to site it away from NRG Stadium, Center, and Astrodome so there would be no interference. I'll add here that since most of the unbuilt land on NRG Park is parking lot, to make up for that, turning the Astrodome into parking space would likely be necessary to compensate for the displaced parking elsewhere. Just converting the dome to a parking structure without all the other amenities Emmett dreamed of might not cost the full $105 million, but it will still be significantly more expensive than simply razing it and putting in a flat parking, and again, the public has made it clear they don't want to spend that kind of money. So that narrows it down to spending $28 million on a parking lot. 5. There is another alternative. Instead of spending $28 million on a parking lot, $20 million of which is backfilling a giant hole, spend only $8 million and leave the hole. Turn that hole into a flood retention pond, which would help protect NRG Park and even the surrounding area from flooding, and which could be beautified with landscaping. Imagine walking out of a Texans game, or the Livestock Show, or the Car or Boat Shows, and instead of seeing a "rusting ship" of a vacant, idle old stadium, visitors would encounter a 9 acre lake fringed with bald cypress trees, cattails and bulrush, with great blue herons, white ibises, and roseate spoonbills wading the shoreline. Imagine people all around the country watching Texans pregame shows on their TVs seeing that sight, how that would help to counter Houston's reputation as an ugly city that not only doesn't care about the natural environment, has no natural environment to care about. It's about highest best use practical for that piece of property at the lowest cost. Moldering mausoleum for past memories, or vibrant natural habitat that beautifies NRG Park while also aiding in the protection of property and lives during flood events?
  9. This is for the reasonable, intelligent people who may be following this thread. Despite West timer’s claim that I said “the dome occupied 180 acres”, what I actually said is “keep a redundant, outdated building sitting idle on 180 acres in a part of town where large tracts of available commercial land is rare,” and that addresses an issue Harris County Sports and Convention Corp. Executive Director Ryan Walsh talked about this past November when he said “The dichotomy is that a lot of the public doesn't see where the dome sits. It’s squarely in the middle of a very well-established sports and entertainment district, right in the middle of NRG Park. That makes it very difficult for some of these great ideas we’ve had because of our contractual obligations to our existing tenants, the Rodeo and Texans. The rodeo is six weeks long. If you’ve got a store or hotel or restaurant, if you can't work something out with the rodeo, you’ve got to shut down for six weeks. I don't know any business that could shut down for six weeks and still be viable.” The Astrodome isn’t off in a corner of the property, out of the way of the active use of the rest of the property. Its central position creates an interference. Unused, where it is, it takes up space immediately adjacent to both NRG Center and the Stadium that could better be used for the benefit of the existing active tenants and the surrounding area. As a dead monument to the past, it is not the highest and best use of the property. On the other hand, if it were redeveloped on the spot where it exists now, its activity would interfere with the activity of the existing tenants. Therefore its position DOES impede the fullest use of the 180 acres, which was my point, and which supports the argument for demolition. Reusing the spot where the Astrodome once stood as a flood retention pond, which then could be landscaped around to add natural aesthetic beauty to NRG Park, as well as protection from flooding, would be the highest and best use of the land that wouldn't interfere with existing activity on the property, while also minimizing the demolition cost and redevelopment time, which would again minimize disruption to existing tenant activities.
  10. All the images you post in place of actual arguments, no matter how big you make them, all the argumentum ad lapidem retorts and ipse dixit assertions you make, they don't hide the fact that you don't have a cogent argument to make, they lay that fact bare. You can say all you want over and over that "no one voted to demolish the dome", but that doesn't change the fact that Ed Emmett, the PAC formed to promote the bond election, and numerous other pro-preservation groups spent a lot of time and money telling Harris voters that if they voted against the referendum, they would in fact be voting to demolish the Dome, and they did just that. When the author of a referendum who is also in charge of managing the Dome tells you that a vote against his referendum is a vote for demolishing the dome, and you vote against the referendum, you are in fact voting to demolish the dome. You can't counter this with any logical argument, so you don't even try, instead, you just say "it wasn't a vote to demolish the dome because I said it wasn't." Emmett said it was, and he and his people spent a chunk of change to make sure Harris voters knew that. How can I make that any clearer to you? The dome was initially kept around to be able to tout it as another venue for a failed Olympics bid. Beyond that, Indecision and inaction, not sentiment, is what has kept the building standing vacant and un-repurposed for over 20 years. Your confidence that this won't change over the foreseeable future is based on nothing - after Harvey few thought Emmett would be ousted the very next year, but he was, and his Astrodome boondoggle after voters rejected his 2013 referendum played a part in that. And now that he is out as the champion of the Dome, your "foreseeable future" isn't worth the current ticket price to see an event in the Astrodome. And you know it. That's why you've ramped up the posturing to a fever pitch.
  11. Finally got to see inside the new Klein High School about a month ago. All i can say is ugh. It felt like being inside a supermax penitentary. Literally, there is a long 4 story section that is open to the roof in the middle, with classrooms on either side on each floor, and two sets of stairs, and when I looked down it, it reminded me of the main cell block on the Alcatraz tour. As shopworn as the central oldest part of the old Klein campus was, I liked it better. I definitely liked being able to walk outside when changing classes from the main building to the pavillion or high rise. And on nice days my friends and I would eat outside in the courtyard once they finished it. I guess now schools all have to be one building for security purposes. It's sad that we design schools to feel like prisons to protect against a statistically unlikely event.
  12. That was a beautiful emotional plea, but unfortunately, that's all it was. It's been over 20 years since the Dome ceased serving its original function, over 12 since it ceased serving any active function, and in that time there have been many options seriously considered, and rejected, so the implication that I am being especially impatient is ridiculous. The Pollyannish idea that somehow in some unforeseeable future maybe someone will come up with viable use for it is the same rationalization hoarders use as they turn their homes into cluttered firetraps. Which, according to the City of Houston Fire Marshal, is what the Astrodome is. Well that was unhinged. Can you actually point to anything that I asserted as fact that you can dispute the veracity of?
  13. To be honest, I'm not sure I trust the county on this, this is the same county that ignored the will of the voters, and when they did, announced a $105 million plan that didn't include the cost to replace the air conditioning system, which is estimated to be in the tens of millions. It seems too much of a pet project for Emmett, who traveled overseas on Harris County taxpayers' dime to go see an abandoned zepplin terminal that had been turned into a rainforest and water park (neither of which it would make sense to do for the Astrodome), to be objective and transparent about the real condition of the Astrodome. I wouldn't put it past the county under Emmett to downplay problems with the Astrodome at all. What were the revenue projections for the dome after the $105 million plan? I know the county has said it would cost $40 million to demolish it (and again, at this point, I wouldn't put it past the county under Emmett to have forwarded an inflated number to dissuade voters from pushing for demolition). If it is a matter of $40 million to demolish and then sell to someone who would put in something tailor-made for generating revenue for the new owner, plus tax revenue for the county, vs mid $100s millions spent shoehorning a new use into an existing structure that might be an imperfect fit for it and hamper its revenue generation potential, then the latter seems like an expensive gamble. I'm also having a little deja vue on this whole idea of voters rejecting a bond initiative for a stadium, so the authority put forth a revised proposal that was half the cost. Look what happened to Katy ISD voters. They rejected a bond proposal that called for spending $70 on a new stadium, so the district came up with a new proposal that "only" called for spending $58 million. But wouldn't you know it, with cost overruns, the ultimate price tag of the stadium ended up being $72 million. First Emmett says we need to spend $217 million, voters reject that, so he says "okay, we'll do something that only costs $105 million" - but neglects to mention that doesn't include tens of millions more for air conditioning costs. I wonder what other "unanticipated" costs would have popped up to drive the total bill close to if not over the amount Harris County voters already rejected?
  14. It's in a great location, I think if it were so worth saving, we'd have a viable solution by now. It's not like it's been for lack of trying.
  15. Maybe it's been f Several years ago the Houston Fire Marshal declared the Dome unsafe for human entry. Has that status changed? https://deadspin.com/what-the-astrodome-looks-like-after-sitting-untouched-a-5899025
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