This is not like the stories I usually tell. There are no monsters here, no ancient cults, no demons. There is a whole lot of city bureaucracy, however, and as some of us know, city bureaucracy can be nearly as horrifying as the worst baddies the imagination can conjure.
This is a story about the West Gray Multi-Service Center. The Center looks like this:
Or, well, it used to look like that, anyway.
If you live in Houston – and I hope that you do! – then chances are, you recognize the West Gray Multi-Service Center. After all, it’s starred in almost every tv news segment ever made about early voting in Houston.
There are lots of places to vote early in this city, but West Gray is our superstar. It’s the Kim Kardashian of Houston early voting sites.
You probably already know that, but did you know this? The other eleven and a half months of the year, when it’s not starring in tv news reports? The Multi-Service Center is home to a whole network of programs for people with disabilities.
Blind people can take classes and play sports there. There is wheelchair basketball and walking trails and weight-lifting. There is the city’s only public wheelchair-accessible pool.
My schizophrenic friend, Stan, hangs out there all summer, just enjoying the a/c. With Claudius, his cat, naturally. It’s the only place in public the two of them feel comfortable.
It is a real community and always chock full of people.
Isn’t that fantastic?
* * * * *
Last spring, it started raining in Houston. And it rained and it rained and then it rained some more, until finally, it had rained so much, it seemed there ought not to be any water left for raining anywhere.
Well, all that water started shoving things around. Especially underground. My neighbor’s driveway collapsed. Out back of my house, I had a pipe burst.
And on April 20, at the West Gray Multi-Service Center, a water main split wide open. Water came rushing out. First, it filled up underground and then, when the water ran out of room there, the ground began bubbling up. Upwards to the foundation of the Center and upwards right on through it!
Mud and water broke through the floor, filled the halls and the weight room and the basketball court. And the City couldn’t find the water main, so workers just kind of started digging around in the back yard, searching.
The City cut the power and put up a storm fence and a sign that read, “Closed Until Further Notice.”
That is how things stayed through May.
…and through July…
And Stan and Claudius, well, they almost never left their house anymore.
Isn’t that awful?
* * * * *
On Wednesday, August 6, the Houston City Council approved one-point-eight million dollars to fix the West Gray Multi-Service Center at last.
* * * * *
I was talking to a woman from the Center. I was there and we were working out of one half of one half of a moldy room.
This would have been back in August.
I said, “I heard that City Council approved the money last week. Isn’t that great?”
She said, “Of course they approved the money! Now that it’s about to inconvenience their early voting, they approved it! But when it was just hurting a bunch of disabled people…”
She didn’t seem impressed.
Hell, when she worded it that way, I wasn’t impressed, either.
* * * * *
Houston had early voting again at the West Gray Multi-Service Center this month. The Center’s main entrance was still fenced over like before but people could go in through a side door to vote in that moldy back room.
The tv reporters showed up like always to broadcast standing in the forest of brightly-colored campaign signs.
But early voting ended yesterday and now the reporters are gone and the campaign signs are leaving.
The City can breathe a sigh of relief.
I mean, who knows? The place might even be fixed before next year’s early voting starts.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful for Stan and Claudius?
I didn't get moved in time to vote... not that I had much say in the matter. It's nice to be a Houstonian again but at what cost?!?ReplyDelete
Are you inside the City again?Delete
I have family close to Tomball Parkway and Bammel, and they outside the City there.
Those lines are a bit confusing.
Funny when it's THEIR sorry asses on the line they can take the time to actually do something useful. Do they ever think of digging out a lake or some new rivers to channel some of that excessive moisture?ReplyDelete
What's the worst that could happen two or three times a year?Delete
Vote early and oftenReplyDelete
I'm afraid to make a joke about voting often. There are people in this state trying so hard to prove that voter fraud is a real thing that voter fraud jokes are probably handled like bomb jokes at the airport.Delete
There's hope Katy.......the Presidential elections are just 12 months down the road...perhaps another photo op for politicians might get that place opened in time to get some votes.ReplyDelete
I'm looking at the early voting totals for the year.Delete
There are 40 early voting locations in Houston. 13,000 people did so at West Gray. The next three highest totals are 10,000, then 9,000, and 7,000.
So West Gray is still the superstar, even half-closed and musty.
I'm amazed that building(and any other in Houston) is still above water, as much rain as you all have seen there this year. Biblical proportions, some would say. Ya'll musta done SUHN-in' ...ReplyDelete
best wishes to Stan and Claudius .....
It might be a preemptory warning from the Big guy that we need to vote down the equal rights ordinance next week.Delete
I'll ask Pat Robertson.
uh-huh. 'aswhuti'mtawnbout. Pat .... may be the problem. Have you noticed denser smoke than usual from the burnt offerings winding skyward above Joel and VicTORia's compound? again, THEY may be the problem! i just hope there's a sex video of those two somewhere. and that I don't go blind before it's revealed. god could make a killing on some shit like that. hehDelete
Since Joel is so fond of telling people that God wants us to be financially rich, there could be a good and holy purpose to the sex tapes.Delete
"And I remember God saying to me very clearly - just like you and I standing here before each other right now - He said, 'Joel, a good sex tape could make you richer. And I the Lord your God want you to be richer! So go out and find a decent camera and a barely legal hooker and have at it!'"
My blog is apparently making your English worse with every visit!Delete
Doesn't sound to me that they'll fix it until and unless it becomes significant to someone's electoral prospects, and I don't mean early voting alone.ReplyDelete
But, but... it's ALWAYS been done this way. And I tell you what: It would be a lot worse if that other fellow over there were running the show!Delete
Are you telling me that politicians don't truly care about the people's welfare? Because Donald Trump has promised me that he cares about me, as long as I'm not Mexican or a woman.ReplyDelete
I'd respond with something fantastic and hysterical, but I offocially ran out of Donald Trump jokes last week. That means if he winds up getting elected, I'm pretty well screwed for the next four years.Delete
According to recent polls you shouldn't worry, because now Ben Carson is taking the lead. Time to ditch the immigrant/bad hair jokes and polish up all of those neurosurgeon/dumpy wife jokes I've been working so hard on...Delete
A few months ago, some university studied Donald Trump's speeches and determined he speaks on a 4th grade level.Delete
I sort of feel like Ben Carson heard that and declared, "Challenge accepted!"
Houston has long shown that they don't care about the needy.ReplyDelete
The City's War on the Homeless is pretty well documented. But this facility - I mean, rich people have kids with Down's Syndrome that go there, so I thought it might be different.Delete
Not Houston alone. I'm extremely familiar with the phenomenon of public facilities being allowed to fall apart until just before elections. Happens every day in this country.Delete
Why would anyone ever do their job unless and until they know everybody is looking?Delete
I'm surprised they even sponsor early votin' in Houston. You know what happens when you have liberal voting hours? People vote for f'n liberals! The best way to keep democracy in the hands of those who know how to handle it is to keep regular folks from casting ballots.ReplyDelete
I'm surprised they've bailed the place out at all.
There's almost no need to try and rig the elections here ay this point.Delete
There has not been a Democrat who has won a race for statewide office here since 1998.
The state legislature has so rigged the districts that the federal representative for the "gayborhood" where I live here in Houston is Ted Poe, who compares gay marriage to group marriage and has a lifetime rating of 0% from the Human Rights campaign.
We're quickly joining y'all on the statewide races drought up here in TN. We had ourselves a Democratic Gubnor about four years ago, but it seems like it's been a lot longer than that. Most droughts seem a lot longer or more severe than they actually are.Delete
Tay-hass, on the other hand, is rapidly turning purple. If Gohmert and company keep insulting the growing Hispanic population it won't be long before he and his ilk are outnumbered forever.
It's the only positive thing I can think of when I hear him speak.
On the state level, Democrats are still getting blown out of the water here 60/40.Delete
Part of the reason is that Latinos eligible to vote DON'T vote. The % who voted in the last Presidential election was in the 30s.
Should Donald Trump get the Republican nomination for President, that could change.
Katy. Sorry to hear about the senior center and the Prop vote as well. Interesting as to how the same Christians bitching about the infringement of their rights to practice paganism refuse to let the rest of us have actual human rights. A guy at the poker table was congratulating himself on Houston's rejection.ReplyDelete
"I early voted. Houston's gettin' to be homosexual Hades."
I didn't punch him or lecture him either. Didn't need to. The gay dealer kept "accidentally" skipping him and harassing his play.
Fuck bigots and Walmart too.
Thanks, Mooner. I think te transgender issue was what tripped people up, so far as the Proposition went.Delete
It took 40+ years to get people to understand gay people (or 4,000+, depending on where you start the clock). Now that we got in the door, we're saying, "Oh, yeah, and that woman who was labeled a man at birth back there? She's coming in the door with us."
It's going to take a while.
Pray for Stan and Claudius.ReplyDelete
Everybody has their own battles to fight, I guess.Delete
Stan ends up in the hospital when everything's not exactly how he's used to it being.
I can sort of relate.