By Lynn Ashby 18 Jan. 2016
The Bayou City came through 2015 relatively unscathed. Yes, there was the downturn in fracking, $30-something-a-barrel oil which sent its own shock waves through the town, and the defeat of HERO, generating criticism from all corners of the nation, including scathing jokes from late night TV comedians. Now let’s look at the year that has finally left us, so that we may recover.
Nearly 100 city-owned vehicles were damaged or destroyed in the massive Memorial Day flooding that swept through the area, including police squad cars, ambulances and ladder trucks. Of those, 16 vehicles, including city-owned Priuses, were flooded when a City Hall annex parking garage worker did not deploy a flood gate that would have kept out waters. During that period, Houston was drenched with up to 11 inches of water in what turned out to be a very wet year. Maybe the drought is over.
Quote of the Year (Humble Pie Dept.) “I outsmart people all the time.” – Tilman Fertitta
In a New York Times article on hacking of the Astros computers by the St. Louis Cardinals, we have the Humbling Headline of the Year: “Why Hack into the Houston Astros of All Teams?” While in sports, Craig Biggio became the first player to go into the Baseball Hall of Fame as an Astro. Fifty-two more and we’ll catch up with the New York Yankees.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, on a plane flight, answered some questions from his followers. One fan asked if working in basketball had killed his love for the sport. Morey’s response: “No, it is like being a gynecologist, you don’t get sick of it.” Morey later apologized. Speaking of Twitters, Chad Shanks, the Rockets digital communications manager, posted a tweet to celebrate the end of the first-round playoff series with the Dallas Mavericks, featuring a pistol pointed at a horse’s head, a reference to the Mavericks’ mascot, along with the message: “Shhhhh. Just close your eyes. It will all be over soon.” The Rockets removed the message and apologized – then fired Shanks.
How ‘bout them Coogs!
Quote of the Year (I’m Outta Here Dept.): “This was a campaign of fear-mongering and deliberate lies.” — Houston Mayor Annise Parker after the defeat of the Equal Rights Ordinance, or HERO, by a two-to-one margin. In other news of tolerance, two Houston mosques were burned during the year in what the fire department arson experts judged “suspicious.” On the other hand, we did elect a black mayor, who promises a chicken in every pothole.
10 Yards Penalty for Lack of Class: In front of HBO cameras and millions of Americans, Texan coach Bill O’Brien unleashed every obscene word in the English language, time and again. While on the matter of class, the Class of 2015 got a startle. Graduating HISD students, their friends and family, were changed $12 a car to park at NRG Stadium for the ceremonies.
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center regained the Number1 designation for cancer care in the U.S., according to News & World Report‘s annual rankings of hospitals. This top spot came a year after a drop to Number 2 ended seven straight years atop the list. M.D. Anderson has ranked first 11 times in the past 14 years. The Houston hospital moved back ahead of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, its New York City rival in rankings. The two have fought for the top spot since the survey’s inception in 1990.
A New Meaning to Stakeout: It’s been a tough year for Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith. He has already been under the spotlight since Sandra Bland hung herself in his jail after a controversial traffic stop last July. In November, he was having lunch at a Saltgrass Steakhouse in the Katy area when thieves broke into his marked vehicle in the parking lot, and made off with his official sheriff’s jacket and an arsenal of weapons, including a submachine gun. “I’ve not enjoyed having it spread over all God’s creation that the sheriff lost his guns,” Smith acknowledged.
While in Katy, let’s salute the Katy High School Tigers, not only for their football team’s 16-0 record and the State Class 6A Division II championship — their eighth — but they were named by MaxPreps Xcellent 25 as the best high school football team in the nation. There may be better football teams, but they play on Sunday afternoons.
If you’re not rich, you’re not trying: A new study released by Bankrate.com lists the Houston metro area as the best in the nation for building wealth.
Passing the Bar (Which Was Always Open): Joe Jamail died at the age of 90. The only time I met Joe was at a luncheon honoring him and his wife for making yet another generous donation to his alma mater, The University of Texas-Austin. (They gave millions.) The school named part of the Law Library and a swimming pool for them. Joe leaned over and whispered to me, “They (blank) it up again. I never went to the Law Library and I can’t swim.” He was given to hyperbole. Joe served in the U.S. Marines in the Pacific during World War II, and if there were two things the Marines learned, it was how to shoot and how to swim.
Notice what did NOT happen. The Astros didn’t finish in last place, as they have in recent seasons. The Texans did not go to the Super Bowl – what a humiliating playoff game, and did you notice that, despite the annual doomsayers’ predictions, we did not have a hurricane.
Shoot Out on Aisle 4: H-E-B will not allow visible handguns in its stores. TSU is another story. On Oct. 8 two students were shot on the campus, leading authorities to evacuate a student housing complex and cancel classes. It was the third shooting at TSU that week. Now we’re on to 2016 with the first fusillade of open-carry gunslingers. Let the shooting being!
Ashby is terrified at email@example.com