TAB News Briefs
Feb. 2, 2010

Cracks in earth lead to lawyers
The San Antonio Express News
Once the ground stops shifting, there will be a new kind of maneuvering — this one legal — in the neighborhood where a retaining wall collapsed. The city reported that rain showers early last week didn't cause any significant further damage to the area. Still, attorneys have been knocking on doors and holding informational meetings for residents. Some homeowners drove to Austin to complain to lawmakers; the first lawsuit has been filed and homeowners are distressed about possible declining property values.More

Texas leads U.S. in high-growth cities
Business Week via Yahoo! News
There is some good news that shows that even during the worst of the recession plenty of American cities, towns, and suburbs continue to grow. One such place is Atascocita, Texas. A mostly residential community 20 miles from Houston, it gained more than 1,800 households in 2009, an 8 percent year-over-year increase, according to new data from Little Rock-based data firm Gadberry Group. Over the decade, amenities that have helped attract residents to this wooded locale include Lake Houston, just east of the city; the school district; and proximity to the city of Houston.More

Texas housing market maintains strength
The Austin American-Statesman Real Deal blog
Single-family home sales in Texas posted a double-digit increase in the fourth quarter of 2009, and the median price rose to $143,400, according to a new report from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. The 53,050 sales in the last three months of 2009 were up 16 percent from the same quarter of 2008. The median price was up about 2.4 percent, from $140,100 in late 2008, according to the first Texas Quarterly Housing Report.More

Budget hits twofold in Houston
Houston Chronicle
The Obama administration is unveiling a $3.83 trillion federal budget today that contains a double dose of bad news for the Houston area: cancellation of NASA's Constellation mission to the moon and an end to tax breaks for energy exploration. Ending the Constellation program is one of hundreds of spending reductions proposed by the White House to reverse the highest government deficits in U.S. history. The elimination of tax incentives widely used by oil, gas and coal companies — and new fees on energy producers — would reduce the deficit by an estimated $40 billion over 10 years. More

Galveston surveying homes empty since Ike
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Some of the estimated hundreds of damaged homes abandoned since Hurricane Ike could be purchased by Galveston, a city official said. Spokeswoman Alicia Cahill says a count is under way to determine how many houses in the island city, slammed by Ike on Sept. 13, 2008, are abandoned. The count is expected to reach the hundreds, Cahill said. The Houston Chronicle reported Monday that the city counted 14 abandoned homes on one street in Bayou Shores.More

GOP hopefuls debate for last time
The San Antonio Express News
The Republican candidates for governor clashed in what was likely their final debate, attacking each other's records but offering little vision as to what they would do in the job over the next four years. Gov. Rick Perry spent most of the evening defending his promotion of the Trans-Texas Corridor, toll roads and the spending of $380 million to attract businesses to move to Texas.More

Hutchison, Medina gang up on Perry; governor defends his policies
The Dallas Morning News
The two women running for governor took steady aim at Rick Perry in the Republicans' last joint debate before the primary, slamming the incumbent for being chummy with lobbyists and for denying the rocky finances on the state's horizon. Perry, while on defense most of the night, stood his ground on his economic development plans, tax policies and promotion of toll roads.More

GOP challengers fueled by Tea Party movement
The Associated Press via The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
The Texas House is Republican-led and about as conservative as any political body in the country. But for some in the state's GOP, it's not nearly conservative enough. A wave of anti-establishment fervor - first harnessed last year with the grassroots conservative "Tea Party" movement - has led to a surge of challenges to Republican state House incumbents in the March 2 primary elections. Challengers say the GOP veterans are too moderate and have repeatedly failed to meet conservative benchmarks.More

Kinky Friedman says run for ag chief is serious
The Dallas Morning News
If nothing else, Kinky Friedman is making agriculture sexy. The entertainer — characterized by his signature cigar, black hat and wry one-liners — has given the agriculture commissioner race sudden allure. A gubernatorial candidate in 2006 and briefly last year, the author-musician says he's found his niche as a Democratic commissioner candidate. More

Gubernatorial Candidate Bill White releases first TV spot
The Texas Tribune
Democrat Bill White has launched his first television ad since jumping into the governor's race. The spot, which visually matches those from his days running for Houston mayor, cites the state's low national ranking in graduation rates and "lagging" test scores.More