Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lubbock Downtown Redevelopment Update

The plan is being implemented.   The premiminary phase of burying utility cables and eliminating above-ground telephone and electric supply poles has begun.  Trees growing in the right-of-way have been destroyed before the trenching began.  

Those trees will not be replanted, by the way.  Where the underground conduit goes in, it is covered with concrete, so any future right-of-way landscaping will have to be shallow-rooted.    Are the tree owners compenated in any way for having their trees cut down?  I doubt it, though in one case I know of, the trees were planted in a position to somwwhat reduce cooling bills for the building they shaded.

There are more McDougal Realty signs up in the downtown area.   Which is the synergy effect by which McDougal profits multiplyvariously from every activity in which they engage. 

McDougal;s renovation of the Lubbock Hotel is nearing completion after stagnating for a couple of years.

There are other downtown renovations ompleted or in progress.   TTU is occupying the old Southwestern Public Service / Excel Energy building it acquired as part of the LP&L buy-out deal.   The county is fixing the roof of the old post office on Broadway;  beautiful building, wish it could be put to use;  far more distinguished looking courtroom in that building than the low-ceilinged, carpeted courtrooms at the courthouse across the street.

There have been demolitions.   The old Chamber of Commerce building on the corner of what used to be Municiple Square was torn down months ago.

To be continued...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Political Uses of the Fait Accompli

"Fait accompli" means a act already done.  

Parents, some of them, know the value of the fait accompli.   Removing a band-aide is accomplished with the least fuss and anticipation of pain if the parent just grabs one end and pulls it off fast, maybe while talking about something else.

Tooth pulling is the same.  grab a loose tooth telling the child that the parent wants to see how loose it is, then a sudden yank, and the deed is done with a minimum of tears and worry. 

Or getting into a fight.   Some people have to work themselves up to a fight, make faces, yell, pound the chest preparatory to the actual fisticuffs itself.   While with others you find yourself lying on the ground, blood pouring from nose and mouth, and then you realize you had just been in a fight and lost before you knew it had begun. 

For some years now, there has been a mastermind in city government who understands voter resistance and the fait accompli.   I say "a mastermind."  It may be a cadre, the last two city managers,  some higher-up in city administration, and/or Mayor Martin.

If we can't precisely identify who the mastermind is, we can see their handy work.    Normally, things do not move at light-speed at the city.  But sometimes they do, and those are the instances I'm talking about.

If the city moves slowly when they do something that offends a block of voters, voter resistance can build, grow and organize.   The city doesn't have that problem with a fait accompli:  what's done is done, and once a thing is crushed into ravel and sand there is no puttng it back and less weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Some instances I've identified;  the footprints of the mastermind--

Item:   The razing of the little park at 9th & K. 

Item:   The demolition of South Beach on Crickets Ave..

Item:   Destruction of the civic center fountain and park.

Item:   Demolition and filling in of the old Lubbock swimming center at Mackenzie Park.

Item:   Undermining of resistance to the abandonment of the city health department via the bootstrapping I wrote about in my previous blog. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Behind the Scenes Machinations to Close City Health Dept.

They say you can't fight city hall.   Sure you can.   You just can't win, unless they want you to.

Last year it was announced that the City of Lubbock Health Department would be shut down.  Before that announcement and since, the machinations to close it have not stopped.

This last week, an article appeared in the newspaper about the building, attacking it on the basis of age and efficiency and reporting that it is barely occupied.   About 12% occupied, the article said.

And Paul Beane added his two cents calling the building "old and ragged."   One wonders if he was thinking of himself.

Well, hell, why is the building onl;y 12% occupied, assuming that to be correct?

Simple.   Before the announcement, before the city council had a chance to vote, already the city manager was moving departments out of the building.   That move-out has not stopped.  

First it was codes and all their files.   Then it was various sub-units of health, then vital statistics.  This year vector control has been moved out, even though they did not occupy much of the building itself but the outbuilding where chemicals were stored.   Even the big tractor that had been in a fenced off area for years has been moved.

To put it simply, the city manager (with allies on the council) have been moving everything they can out of the health department building and environs in order to circumvent public opposition to health department closure!

One warm Sunday several weeks ago I was cycling by the health department building.  As I passed the mass of gray painted natural gas pipes for the building, I heard deep hissing.   That was caused by the flow of natural gas into the building.     Why, one may ask, is a building on an 80 degree Sunday afternoon consuming natural gas?  A lot of natural gas?  

Obvously, someone did not turn the thermostat down when employees left on Friday.   My opinion is that it was not an oversight but a direct order by the city manager's office intended to maximize utility usage in order to justify a decision to abandon the building.  I don't care how old the building is, it is not that inefficient.

And let us look at where those city departments evacuated from the health department building are now located.   Some are shoehorned into the old building on 10th Street that had housed the SBA and then First State Bank offices that was acquired by the city last year as part of the plan to close the health department.   That building is itself about 50 years old and has inadequate parking -- each day 20-30 vehicles overflow into a lot that does not belong to the city, which will not continue for long.

The string pullers at city hall always find a way to have their own way.  

It's like capturing a fortress.   You may be unable to openly storm the walls, but you can tunnel under like so many moles and eventually the walls will fall, undermined from below.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Global Warming Chez Lubbock

Is the global warming that we are seeing signs of simply a cycle? Like sunspots or a wobble in the earth's axis?

First off, what if it is? It is still a cycle that has the power to drastically change the world and human life on it. Only about one-fourth of the earth's surface is land. A lot of that land is near sea level. Most of the world's population lives near sea level. So forget about storms; for the ice caps and glaciers to melt -- which does appear to be happening -- will drasticaly resculpt human existence on earth.

Here in the USA we are better able to cope with rising oceans, but if sea level changes enough it is good-bye Florida and a chunk of the Gulf Coast including Mobile, New Orleans, Houston, Corpus, and on the east coast New York City, Washington, D.C., and on all coasts the homes of a hunded million Americans. Perhaps in the case of D.C. and NYC levees and coffer dams can be built, but with a sea level rise of just three feet a big part of our country disappears, the most populous and industrialized parts, along with some of the most productive farmland.

Sea level rise can precipitate a war between Pakistan and India, between China and Russia, between Mexico and Central American countries.

My point is that even if this is a natural cycle, it can do a number on us and we need to do what we can to reduce harm.

But it's not a natural cycle. It is wholly or partly man-made.

The greenhouse effect was discovered and studied about 180 years ago. It has to do with the way that earth's atmosphere gathers and traps solar heat. The greenhouse effect exists and has been proved. Carbon dioxide is not the only gas that creates the greenhouse effect, but it is a major one.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide has been increasing. It's impossible that it wouldn't be, considering the volume of CO2 that human activity has put into the atmosphere since 1850.

You don't need a T-Rex in a Humvee. We're doing just fine all by ourselves.

One time I calculated that in Lubbock County, population 250,000+, we are throwing billions of pounds of CO2 into the air each year just by burning gasoline, diesel, and natural gas. Work it out for yourself: One gallon of gasoline produces about 22 pounds of CO2 out the tailpipe. How many gallons of gasoline do YOU burn every year? Multiply that by 22. Say you drive 15,000 miles a year; say your vehicle gets 15 miles per gallon; then YOU produce 22,000 pounds of CO2 per year all by yourself, NOT counting the natural gas and electricity used by your home!

Say Lubbock County has a hundred thousand drivers, all doing the same; that's 2.2 billion pounds of CO2 per year from Lubbock drivers!! NOT counting commercial trucks! All told, we in Lubbock county probably put something like ten billion pounds of CO2 into the air each year by burning fossil fuels for energy. All by our little insignificant selves in little old Lubbock.

Really, the effect is two fold. No. 1, you burn fuel that was stored underground for millions and millions of years and you are releasing the heat energy that was stored up in that fuel. No. 2, you produce carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide when it is in the atmosphere traps more solar heat. So there are two ways the earth gets hotter.

Here's another way to look at it. Throw a log onto the fire in your fireplace. The log burns, right? The heat that comes from burning that log was the energy of sunlight collected and stored up by that tree over decades if not centuries. And in only a few minutes, you are releasing all that energy! Along with the CO2 that the tree took from the air over many years.

Same with gasoline, diesel and natural gas. In only 150 years, we humans have burned up and liberated much of the energy that was collected and stored by trillions of organisms over a span of 300,000,000 years. How can anyone think that such a radical and sudden change has no significant consequences?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Light Green for Death

Bothers me a lot that someone can run a red light, kill another person, and get away scot-free except for a higher insurance premium.   But that's the sum of it when it comes to Suzanne Tubberville running a red light back in November.  

It seems at some point -- the police department was uncertain when or if -- she did get a ticket for running that red light and smashing into a car and sending two old people to the hospital and one of them to the morgue after months of misery and worry.

The ticket,, we are given to understand, was dismissed.  Dismissed because she took a driver's ed class.   Which was apparently the second driver's ed class she took in 2011 in order to get a ticket dismissed for running a red light and smashing into a car.  I thought we were limited to one ticket dismissal per year.  Seems I am wrong, at least for tickets given to some people.

If she had been drunk she would have been jailed and charged with vehicular manslaughter or something similar.   Quite possibly there would have been prison time. 

Here she was not drunk as far as we know.    The result -- a death -- was exactly the same and yet she walks.  What kind of fucking justice is that?

There was a crime committed -- a red light run -- but the fucking court allowed that to be taken off the table.  

This sort of thing has gotten under my skin before, when a driver smashed into a city employee and left him a paraplegic, from pure careless driving.   If that driver had been drunk, they would have thrown the book at her.   As it was, for precisely the same result, she walked. 

Stupidly dangerous driving while sober is to my limited understanding more serious than driving badly while intoxicated.    I mean, a drunk driver has an excuse for stupidity.   What kind of excuse does a sober driver have?  And why do we let such a person loose on the streets?

If there is the same harm done, why isn't the penalty the same?   There ain't no fucking justice here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lubbock Links

Want to put up some links to forums and such that might be of interest.    Talk Lubbock, which is still up and running despite the notice back in January that it was shutting down.  Started by Mr. C of the old LOL forums.   Lubbock Views and Voices, a forum started one may assume when the shit hit the fan at Talk Lubbock.  An exercise and activity forum I started several years ago.  It has more links to various related Lubbock sites and info like caving and bike routes.   Clif Burnett's blog with a link to his latest forum.   Clif started at least three other forums after I pointed out how over at Talk Lubbock.  A couple of his forums I joined and posted in;  he banned me right quick from one when I argued with him; he also disabled comments on his blog when I started commenting;  Clif Burnett, champion of free speech.  Wolfman's forum, started I think sometime after the old Talk Amarillo site folded and  has been quite successful.   Participants from all over West Texas.   A little too tame for me.   If you want to make nicy and have internet coffee with the neighbors that's a good site.   "Here In Lubbock."   This is sort of a franchised site for different localities.  Links to some local news and events.    Lubbock Avalanche-Journal website and gateway to some local blogs they host; comments on news enabled.   A really neat politics/campaigning forum started by a guy known in other forums as "Hub City Progressive"  or Arch.    Never really got off the ground. :(

Monday, January 30, 2012


Opened the paper today to find that a childhood playmate died.   We didn't play exactly;  every time we met we fought, and I, a confirmed sissy, mostly kept away from him.  

I remember one time I didn't want to play but stayed in the car, and when he was hitting at me playfully through the window I stuck out a fist and caught him on the side of the head and brought tears.   Later in his yard he caught me on the side of the jaw with a roundhouse kick and when he saw how hard he had hit me, invited me to go to the store on the corner with him for candy.  (Those days many Lubbock neighborhoods had houses converted to a little store in the front room, where kids could buy candy and cold drinks and ice cream; that was before the days of convenience stores.)  On the way to the store I started to black out and had to put my head between my legs.  

He was always trying out on me moves that he saw on TV wrestling, or at Lubbock's Fairpark Colliseum.   I remember getting into a hold he learned by watching the Sheik.  He sat astride my back as I lay in the dirt, put his hands on my forehead and pulled hard.

One triumph I had was when he threw a long pole about 3" thick and 8 ft.long at me while I cowered behind a car.   The pole struck the car roof and bounced up and I accidently caught it, causing him to run.  There was usually a wrecked car in their yard, because he had several brothers and they were always wrecking their cars.

One of the last times I saw him he came to my house and tried to string a bow the wrong way and split the wood.  So it went.  I never called him a friend, did I?   But neither do I think of him as an enemy, now. 

I think maybe the first time I met him was when I was taken to a revival meeting at an outdoor place south of 34th on Ave H.  His mother was quite religious.  I don't remember any preaching but do remember running around with other kids there.   That was about the only time I ever went to such a thing.

He was one of a large family living in a tar paper clad house in Arnett-Benson, that lived hard, loved promiscuously and died early.   Two brothers and one sister predeceased him.   They were always getting arrested for something.  Their mom must have kept the numbers of bailbondsmen by the phone. 

For a brief time we went to school together, when he had been kicked out of another school for saying something to a teacher.   Then I heard he had a pregnant girlfriend;  he would have been 16 or 17 then.

Curious, I googled his name today.   He died as an inmate in an area prison medical facility, serving out a 4-year sentence for DWI.  I saw he had been involved in a marijuana bust back about the same time as the DWI.  

He was only 59.   

I'm sure there was much more to him and to his life, but this is all I know.  If he were writing my obit, he'd say that I was a coward, a bore, who never had any fun and didn't know how to.   He would have been right.

I think on him with a combination of sympathy and envy.  He may not have had a happy life or a long one, but by golly he lived--or so it seems to me as I wear callouses on my rear end and strain my eyes on print and blog away as a substitute for talking to friends.