Axios Houston

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September 27, 2022

Happy Tuesday!

☀️ Today's weather: High near 88 degrees, with a lovely low of 67. (More on this below!)

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Today's newsletter is 843 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Trading the calculator for the bully pulpit

Photo of a man on a podium, pointing.
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar presenting a state revenue estimate at the Capitol in 2019. Photo courtesy of the state comptroller's office

Texas' chief financial officer appears to be angling for higher office.

The big picture: Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar is known as a low-temperature, middle-of-the-road Republican, so some of his recent, pointed pronouncements have raised questions about whether he's trying to build his political profile ahead of a big run.

Between the lines: Earlier this month, interspersed amid ho-hum announcements about academic scholarships and record returns of unclaimed property, his office sent out a press release headlined "Glenn Hegar Stands Up to EPA Bureaucrats in Defense of Texas Economy."

Zoom out: Since August, Hegar has warred with Harris County officials over police funding, investigated a Dallas-area club over a drag show, and threatened to freeze out financial firms he says are anti-oil and gas.

  • Last month, Hegar, who authored abortion restrictions as a state senator, threw support behind exempting feminine hygiene products from state sales tax — as Republicans nationwide have been trying to figure out how to hold onto women voters in the wake of the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade.

What they're saying: Hegar, who is up for re-election this fall as comptroller, has said he will not run for the office again — but has not ruled out a run for lieutenant governor or governor.

The bottom line: It's "likely that he's looking to move up and he has to prove his social conservative bona fides to the GOP base," Jon Taylor, chair of the University of Texas-San Antonio political science department, tells Axios. "Yeah, he's looking to 2026 ... my best guess: lieutenant governor."

2. New money for Buffalo Bayou East

Conceptual rendering showing an elevated trail over tall grass with people walking
The future of Buffalo Bayou East. Rendering: Buffalo Bayou Partnership

The Kinder Foundation is injecting some much-needed capital into developing Buffalo Bayou East.

Driving the news: Houston philanthropic couple Nancy and Rich Kinder announced their foundation will donate $100 million to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership to kickstart development, the Houston Chronicle reports.

  • The money puts the partnership within $50 million of fully funding the $310 million project to extend Buffalo Bayou Park east past downtown.
  • The partnership is also leveraging its own funds and receiving help from the city, Harris County and federal housing credits.

State of play: The Buffalo Bayou Partnership is in the middle of a 10-year plan to transform the east side of Buffalo Bayou.

  • The work will extend the Buffalo Bayou Trail from downtown to Lockwood Drive on the south bank and to Jensen Drive on the north bank.
  • Tony Marron Park, Turkey Bend and Japhet Creek will also see major upgrades, along with several other small projects.
  • The master plan also includes 14 acres on Lockwood Drive for affordable housing.

What's next: Work on the master plan will kick off later this year, the Chronicle reports.

3. Bayou Buzz

Illustration of an armadillo wearing an astronaut's space suit.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🛰 NASA intentionally crashed a satellite into an asteroid far from Earth. It's the world's first attempt to divert the path of an incoming projectile, 65 million years too late for the dinosaurs. (Houston Chronicle)

🎙 Megan Thee Stallion launched a new mental health website for fans. Because, as the Houston rapper puts it, "Bad bitches have bad days too." The site offers resources for free mental health checks and hotline information. (People)

👶 A stunned Livingston couple found an injured baby in their backyard shed. The baby's father was seen on surveillance cameras leaving her alone in the shed after a car crash near the couple's home. The father has since been arrested, and the baby is recovering. (ABC13)

🔫 The city will host another gun buyback event on Oct. 8. Gift cards will be given out for the guns, excluding privately manufactured firearms, or "ghost guns." (Community Impact)

4. 🍂 Fall temperatures finally arrive

A person in the distance jogs up a path in a green meadow with the Houston skyline in the background
This week's weather is a walk in the park. Photo: Carol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge via Getty Images

It's beginning to feel a lot like fall.

Driving the weather: A cold front that moved through yesterday is giving Houston relief from lingering summer heat.

  • Overnight lows will be in the 60s for Houston through the weekend.
  • Near and north of Huntsville, communities could see lows in the 50s.

High temperatures will struggle to break 90 degrees in most of Greater Houston thanks to low humidity.

  • Low dew points will last through at least Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

💬 Our thought bubble: Maybe have dinner on the patio tonight.

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5. 🍁🎃 Festivities to celebrate Houston's "fall"

Illustration of a fall leaf holding a pumpkin spice latte.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The cold front is giving Houston a taste of fall. Here is a list of some of the best fall activities and festivals to celebrate the season:

Montgomery Corn Maze

What: Pick your own pumpkins and flowers. Plus, a corn and hay maze, a pig race and other kid-friendly activities.

When: Oct. 1–Nov. 6.

Where: P-6 Farms.

Zoo Boo

What: Costumes are encouraged at this month-long event that sees the Houston Zoo decked with pumpkins. Zoo Boo After Hours will feature themed lights.

When: Oct. 1–31.

Where: Houston Zoo.

Katy Rice Festival

What: The annual rice harvest festivities include live music, a carnival with a Ferris wheel, food trucks and a beer garden.

When: Oct. 7–9.

Where: Downtown Historic Katy.

Texas Renaissance Festival

What: It's the nation's largest Renaissance theme park, featuring performances and people dressed up like they're in the 17th century.

When: Weekends from Oct. 8–Nov. 27.

Where: Todd Mission.

Keep reading for more fall festivals near you.

Thanks to Lindsey Erdody for editing and Khalid Adad and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

✊ Shafaq is following the coverage of the anti-government protests led by women in Iran.

🙏 Jay is thinking about those in the path of Hurricane Ian.