Dome Doings

These letters made it to the Chron today:

Pro-Hunker Down:

Judge Ed Emmett’s going against negative pressure to destroy the Dome puts him up there with Judge Roy Hofheinz and the other great visionary Houston heroes. He’s right about saving the Dome, and he knows it and is not afraid to stand up for what he believes.

Anti-Hunker Down

To call a plan to create much-needed green space in place of the embarrassingly deteriorated Astrodome “silly” is childish and simply shows, once again, that Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is a sore loser.

Hunker Down is far from being a “visionary hero” on this issue. He has been in office for a number of years and still hasn’t come up with a solution for the Dome. He has been more of the janitor-in-chief of the Dome. It will soon be 15 years since the ‘Stros last played there – 15 YEARS – and nobody has come forward with a workable solution. NADA! ZILCH!

Among active MLBers, name the player with the most career doubles?

The Chron will be moving most if its operations to the old Houston Post building off of the Southwest Freeway. I guess it doesn’t matter to me. I wonder how many newspapers in cities across the U.S. of A. are located in their downtown district.

The Chron E-Board came out today in favor of lifting the trade embargo on Cuba. Here is how it ends:

But, as the older Cuban exiles who longed to return to a Castro-free homeland die out, things have changed enough that Charlie Crist, a former Republican governor in Florida now running for the same post as a Democrat, has come out against the embargo and said he will travel to Cuba if elected.

With the Castros in their 80s and the government gradually opening the economy, it’s time for the U.S. to discard its failed policy and move toward normal relations with the island. There are issues to be worked out, such as the fate of imprisoned U.S. contractor Alan Gross in Cuba and of three Cuban agents jailed in the U.S.

But opening up to Cuba would create a new market of 11 million people for U.S. business and give the U.S. a commercial and social presence again on the island.

The embargo gave Fidel Castro half a century to build Cuban society his way, virtually free of U.S. influence. One wonders how different Cuba would be today if the embargo had lasted just five years instead of 52.

It is not going to happen anytime soon, thanks to the loud and influential voices in South Florida.

Believe it or not, plenty of folks still run around wearing or displaying the Johnny Reb flag. Call them arseholes, necks, racists, bigots, morons, or whatever. Commentary really doesn’t have a problem with the state issuing license plates to these folks. It is kind of like the state officially bestowing that these folks are arseholes, necks, racists, bigots, morons, or whatever – got it!

Bobby Abreu of the Mets of course has 574 career doubles to lead all active MLBers.

We lost late last night. It is a 2 pm start today then they come home.

Name the lefty who has thrown the most career strikeouts?

Guv Dude has a border. Rand Paul doesn’t have a border. Chris Christie doesn’t have a border. Bobby Jindal doesn’t have a border. Dems have a border.

The more folks look at Dude’s latest border adventure, the more goofy it looks. We are forgetting that AG Abbott was right there by Dude a couple of days ago wholeheartedly endorsing his call for putting more cavalry troops on the border. A strategy that is a monumental waste of taxpayer funds. To put icing on the cake, Dude wants The President to foot the bill – fat chance. Here is from the front page of today’s Chron:

The Texas National Guard troops headed for the Rio Grande Valley are expected to provide a high-profile backstop for border agents dealing with the surge of child immigrants that has captured the nation’s attention.

But one thing they can’t do is catch people crossing the border illegally.

Despite calls by Gov. Rick Perry and others for Guard troops with arrest powers to beef up the border, “Operation Strong Safety,” which the governor announced Monday, does not grant the troops that authority.

Critics say the Guard’s presence will do more to send a political message than send anyone home, but Perry’s office says the troops will free federal agents to do their jobs better.

The details of the operation, which could involve as many as 1,000 troops, are much less dramatic than much of the political rhetoric leading up to the deployment would suggest.

Experts say that’s because of the Posse Comitatus Act, a post-Civil War Reconstruction law that has historically limited the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.

“If anybody thinks National Guard is going to be at the border with rifles they’re wrong,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat who represents the border region around Laredo. “I can’t speak for Governor Perry, but the authority the National Guard has is provide support service. They can provide intel support. They can be lookouts. But can they go out there and apprehend? Absolutely, under the law, they cannot do that.”


Monday’s announcement also followed a speech Perry gave in Iowa – the first-in-the-nation presidential caucus state – vowing to take over border security if the federal government couldn’t.

“We know how to secure the border,’ Perry told Iowa GOP activists at a fundraising dinner. “If the federal government will not do its duty, then I will suggest to you that the state of Texas will.”

What a joke and AG Abbott was right there next to Dude smiling like the Cheshire Cat. We need shove this up their-you-know-what particularly amongst Latino voters.

Of course, those in charge of the campaigns apparently are not getting it. THIS IS OUR ISSUE!!!! Oh, well.

The Big Unit, err Randy Johnson of course has 4,875 Ks all-time to lead all lefties.

We won in 12 last night and are now two ahead of the Rangers

Speaking to Who?

I was watching the Trib streaming of Guv Dude’s press conference to call out the cavalry yesterday and a minute or two into the conference I was struck by the imagery – nothing but older white guys telling us about their call to action on a so called international crisis on our border with Mexico. Who are they talking to, I thought? Then it sadly sunk in. Dude was staging this for the Tea Party folks in Iowa in 2016 – plain and simple. If Dude had up there with him a couple or so border county judges, sheriffs, or legislators of the Latino persuasion, I might have thought differently.

In today’s Chron hard copy, the E-Board’s headline says: Why now? Border troops may have to do with 2016. Here is part of the E-Board take:

Actually, it’s potential presidential candidate Perry who’s deploying the troops to the border, the same combat-ready would-be president who ventured onto the roiling waters of the Rio Grande a few days ago with conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity.

The surge, Perry said, is the result of the federal government’s failure to adequately secure the border.

Sheriffs along the border told reporters they had not been consulted. They also questioned the wisdom of sending in military personnel who have no authority to stop, question or arrest anyone.

“At this time, a lot of people do things for political reasons. I don’t know that it helps,” Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio told the Dallas Morning News.

The good sheriff has that right. “I don’t know what good they can do,” he added. “I need people who I can hire who know the community, the language and who can help.”

If the governor, not necessarily the candidate, were truly interested in helping ease the border crisis, he would follow the moral exemplar of Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who has offered facilities to help shelter the children until their immigration status can be determined. He would offer state assistance to clergy and church groups in the Valley who are doing the best they can to keep the children safe. He would treat the children as desperate refugees, not dangerous lawbreakers bringing disease and danger to this country.

Alas, there’s no political gain in taking a humanitarian approach, particularly when the nativists howling for the children to be deported posthaste will have a lot to say about who’s on the Republican ticket for 2016. Politician Perry is well aware of that fact.

No one believes in ignoring the influx of juveniles at the border, but as state Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa told the Chronicle, there’s no need to militarize the border. The McAllen Democrat said the governor should be focused on helping local law enforcement and making resources available to feed, clothe and provide health checkups for the youngsters.

That would be the compassionate thing to do and the sensible thing, but, then again, someone who thinks he ought to be president doesn’t always exhibit good sense.

Come on Dude! You didn’t even consult the locals? The locals ARE boots on the ground. Get their advice! Here is more from a related Chron article.

Starr County Judge Eloy Vera questioned the effort.

“Those DPS people that are down here,” Vera said. “There’s one every mile, or every half a mile. And then every once in a while you’ll see a cluster or three or four of them chatting. They are doing absolutely nothing.”

Vera said he thought the National Guard deployment would not do anything because that is what happened when guardsmen were sent to the border previously, in 2006 and 2010.

Go on ahead and shake your head in disbelief. Hey, look at the bright side – yes, there is a bright side. We only have to put up with Dude for another six months.

Big Papi smacked a couple of dingers last night to move him past Yaz to numero 36 on the all-time dinger list with 453 career dingers. Name the active player sitting at numero 35 with 454 career dingers?

Remember when Sen. Dan Patrick had those ads with him standing by the border promoting his anti-invasion campaign? Check this from the Chron:

Republican lieutenant gubernatorial nominee Dan Patrick has erected his campaign on a foundation of being Mr. Border Security, using tough talk on the issue of illegal immigration to help build a reputation as one of the loudest voices on the issue within the state party.

Yet, as an international humanitarian crisis unfolds along the Texas-Mexico border, Patrick has been noticeably low-key – almost silent on the issue over the last few weeks with the exception of a handful of messages promoted on YouTube, Facebook and in press releases.

And the state senator from Houston favored to win the spot as Texas’ lieutenant governor says that’s been by design.

Patrick, fresh off a relatively non-publicized border tour, said Monday that he’s intentionally stayed in the background the last couple of weeks, keeping away from photo ops and treading carefully with public statements to avoid stepping on the toes of the state leaders who are actually in a position of power to influence the situation.

“I want to be very careful,” he said in an interview. “I don’t want to be looking like I’m out in front, telling our current officeholders what to do. That’s the professional and respectful way to do it.”

What! Maybe this race is closer than most folks think!

Adam Dunn of course and now with the White Sox sits at numero 35 on the all-time career dinger list with 454.

I wonder which ‘Stro team will show up to play the best team in the MLB this evening?

Dear ‘Stros:

Before I get to pressing issues like my letter to the ‘Stros, let me mention a bit about the ongoing immigration issue. In Commentary’s opinion, the Democratic Party response to the current situation is feeble, not too united, lacking boldness, drowned out by louder voices, and certainly lacking in conviction on what should be best for the children fleeing Central America. That’s why it is easy for nationally syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr. to slap Dems around on this issue. Here is part of what he put out yesterday:

On immigration, many Democrats spend a third of their time impersonating Republicans. They spend the rest catering to blue-collar workers who are allergic to competition, and conning Latinos into thinking they’re in their corner. For the last two decades, Democrats have competed to see who can be the most cold-blooded toward foreigners.

He also doesn’t have much use for one of The President’s highest ranking Latina staffers, Cecilia Munoz. Here is this:

…. Cecilia Muñoz, the administration’s unofficial minister of damage control and propaganda on immigration. Muñoz’s official title is director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, but she spends much of her time misrepresenting Obama’s immigration policy on Spanish-language media.

Ouch. On the other hand, the other side is strong, united, bold, loud, and more than ready to put those kids on a kicking tee and boot them out and show complete disregard of their future welfare. All this is going on and certainly being noticed by Latino voters throughout the country. At this point I would say that Latino voters are a bit frustrated and disappointed on where this debate has been and where it is headed. Here is the entire Navarrette column: http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Navarrette-Obama-sinks-lower-in-border-child-5633018.php.

An update: Guv Dude in the ultimate photo-op will put on his cavalry gear this afternoon and have a bugler sound “Charge” as he announces sending 1,000 cavalry troops to the border.

The following from the Chron is how all Dems should respond to Dude’s latest:

“The children fleeing violence in Central America are seeking out Border Patrol agents. They are not trying to evade them. Why would Rick Perry send soldiers to confront these kids?” U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said.

Dems certainly need to step up on this.

The ‘Stros are a young team. Name the ‘Stro on the current active roster with the most career dingers?

A good case can be made that the GMs of the ‘Stros, Rockets, and Texans aren’t getting the job done. The Rockets’ big deal fell apart last week. Yesterday, a Chron sports columnist punked the Texans’ GM for dissing future Hall of Fame great Andre Johnson. The ‘Stros on Friday blundered big time. Here is Commentary to the ‘Stros:

Dear ‘Stros:

We are not a major market ball club like the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, or Phillies and we don’t have a loyal fan base like the Red Sox, ATL, or Giants so we don’t have the luxury of committing major f__k-ups like the one this past Friday. These other teams can afford to mess up the signing of their top draft picks, we can’t. We have to sign our top talent if we want to get better – period.

Furthermore, we can’t afford to get cute, try to manipulate the process, or try to do some sleight of hand. Not in today’s world when too many folks are watching. It looks like we got caught with our hand in the cookie jar. We’ve now taken a major PR hit in the U.S. of A.’s sports world. Notice I said sports world and not MLB world. In the eyes of many we are a laughingstock.

Here is just a sampling:

ESPN.com headline: Astros’ failure to sign Aiken a total fiasco

From SBNation

As for the Astros? Look, sometimes you can get too bogged down into cost-benefit analysis to realize what you are doing. Reputation is worth something, and even though the Astros may not put a dollar amount on it, players absolutely will. Was breaking a verbal agreement with a top draft pick really a good business idea? The way this shook out may very well scare a few players into refusing to negotiate with the team pre-draft in fear of being hung out to dry like Aiken, effectively telling the team not to waste the pick on them. For young players on the team who enter free agency for the first time, are they really going to be willing to sign a “hometown discount” to play for a team that has acted so miserly toward them and others in the past? As for free agents, the Astros already have to pay a premium for talent to come play for them, the Aiken saga sure doesn’t help their image on the big league level either.

From Bleacher Report:

Unfortunately, the Astros’ 2014 draft now will forever be remembered as a complete and utter failure. That said, only time will determine how the organization’s inability to sign Aiken (as well as Nix and Marshall) will impact its long-term success.

One thing is certain, however: Failing to reach an agreement with the No. 1 overall pick is a crushing blow for an Astros franchise that’s in the midst of a rebuilding process and potentially a few years away from playoff relevancy.

Here is from Evan Drellich of the Chron:

Perception, occasional misperception and the compounding effect of both have been overwhelming and self-imposed forces on the Astros, a team that has found itself and put itself at the center of attention.

General manager Jeff Luhnow’s family vacation to Mexico presumably had no effect on the Astros’ inability to sign No. 1 pick lefthander Brady Aiken. But it’s easy for someone to question why the GM didn’t scrap his plans, fly to San Diego and court Aiken.

Cubs president Theo Epstein, when he was Red Sox general manager, had Thanksgiving dinner with Curt Schilling in his courtship of the pitcher following the 2003 season.

It looks bad, being out of the country. What good would it have done for Luhnow to return? Probably none. It’s an image matter, and the Astros haven’t been good about controlling their image, from things like this to bigger matters. They don’t draw the benefit of the doubt.

And from Buster Olney, ESPN.com:

The Astros have had an incredible opportunity, having picked at the top of the draft for three straight seasons, but time and again, they have been penny-wise and pound-foolish and damaged their brand along the way.

To Commentary, it looks like the team went into the draft with a lot of swagger and then started acting like bullies. Teams like us with three consecutive 100 plus losses seasons can’t be bullying and trying to pull some fast ones. We still need to go in with hat in hand so to speak. It is like the wimp of the sixth grade class went over and tried to bully a second grader and got caught. That’s a real shame if you ask me.

James Garner is no longer with us. It seems like I grew up with him. From “Maverick” to “Darby’s Rangers”, to “The Great Escape”, to the Polaroid TV ads, to “Rockford Files”, to “Victor, Victoria”, and the flick “Maverick” – he was all cool and all class.

The Chron E-Board said this Saturday:

(Thumbs up) Harris County Judge Ed Emmett is correct to label the plan to tear down the Astrodome as “silly.” Other s-words would be short-sighted and senseless. Anybody’s list of the most important buildings in Texas (the Capitol, the Alamo, Mission Control, Gruene Hall) includes the Dome. How can we possibly bulldoze a place that significant?

Let’s see, a place where we make laws, a place where we fought for our freedom, a place where we sent folks to the moon, a dance hall, and a place where folks hit dingers, scored TDs, and rode bulls – got it!

Chris Carter of course has 67 career dingers to lead the current batch of ‘Stros.

The ‘Stros have today off then play three with the best team in the MLB – the A’s.

Commentary was never in favor of going after HCC Trustee Dave Wilson on his residency. He won his race unfair and unsquare. All you do when you go after him like this is you give him a platform to spew his stuff. Yesterday he put it on Vince Ryan and crew. Here is what I said back on January 2:

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan doesn’t want incoming Houston Community College (HCC) Trustee David Wilson to take office. Vince says Wilson is not a resident of HCC. Excuse me while I scratch my head on this one. Why didn’t Vince move on this right after Wilson filed for office a few months ago? A couple of Democrats that I respect have told me in the past few days that they don’t like the idea of Vince trying to undo the results of an election. Stay tuned on this one for sure.

And here is from today’s Chron on the trial:

Harris County officials hired a private investigator to trail Dave Wilson for four days in their quest to prove he didn’t live where he claimed when he won a seat on the Houston Community College board in November.

But the evidence they gathered and presented in court this week – from clandestine footage of Wilson loading barbecue meats into his wife’s vehicle outside a warehouse, to pictures of the spare, clean apartment inside – wasn’t enough to convince a jury that Wilson was lying about his residence.

“Thank you,” Wilson shouted when the verdict in his favor was announced Thursday afternoon.

It was a waste of resources if you ask me. Now you have legitimized of sorts his victory last November. Now you have given him a win. You let him beat the system. Now more folks will start listening to his arse. I don’t know who gave the thumbs up on this. Dumb move if you ask me but again – they didn’t ask me!

Jose Altuve has 130 base hits. How many hits does he need to break B-G-O’s club record?

Hunker Down doesn’t have any use for any plan that calls for tearing down the Dome. Here is from today’s Chron:

Emmett told the group (Hotel & Lodging Association of Greater Houston) that he did a “poor job” last fall of selling a $217 million plan by the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. to turn the Dome into an events center. Voters rejected the plan last November.

In his speech to a luncheon crowd at the Four Seasons Hotel downtown, Emmett was not advocating for a specific proposal and told members there is not one currently under consideration by Harris County Commissioners Court. Rather, he said that tearing down the vacant stadium would be a waste of a valuable taxpayer asset and that demolition would come back to haunt him in retirement.

“The Astrodome is the only building in the world that’s 350,000 square feet of column-free space,” he said. “There are a lot of creative people in the world who would love to figure out ways to use the space if we just keep it and make it an option for them.”

Emmett has in the last week expressed vehement opposition to the $66 million proposal commissioned by the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo and the NFL’s Texans to demolish the vacant stadium and turn it into an outdoor green space like downtown’s Discovery Green where festivals, tailgating and concerts could be held. He did so again on Thursday.

“It’s a silly plan,” he said after his remarks.

Keep Dome alive! I can’t even keep count with all the plans and ideas that have been put forward. I’m thinking Hunker Down is in denial. I really don’t think that if it torn down under his watch folks will see him years from now and say “there goes Hunker ‘Knocked the Dome’ Down!” Oh, well!

Jose Altuve needs 81 base hits to surpass B-G-O’s club record of 210 of course.

Tiger’s in the hunt this morning in the British Open. I’m rooting for him.

The team is in Chicago for three with the White Sox.

The Decision on Dave

First of all in case you missed it, I am talking about must-see-TV on “Today” this morning. Natalie Morales is a thrill seeker and Jenna Bush Hager is not. You need to check both of them on something called the Terror-dactyl – a kick-arse ride off of a mountain and into a canyon in Colorado. Jenna Bush Hager is hilarious. Here it is: http://www.today.com/video/today/55664699#55664699.

Former ‘Stro catcher J.R. Towles gets some run in today’s Chron. What team batting record does Towles own?

In case you didn’t know, the HCC Trustee Dave Wilson residency trial is underway at the courthouse. I heard about it a couple of days ago on 88.7 FM then Doug Miller of Channel 11 reported on the trial yesterday. If the jury decides against Wilson, expect folks to start calling out other elected officials that don’t live in their districts so stay tuned!

Here is the Chron update on the trial:

Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson, whose name has become a staple on local election ballots, has made a habit of claiming one residence after another to qualify for his numerous runs for office, a Harris County attorney argued in court Wednesday.

Wilson has also claimed tax exemptions at a home on Lake Lane, which is in the Lone Star College System district. Lake Lane is where his wife lives and where he raised his children, spends his weekends and has his family gatherings, Douglas Ray, an assistant county attorney, told a jury in his opening argument in a case to determine where exactly Wilson lives.

Wilson lives exactly where he says he lives: in a “fully furnished” apartment in a warehouse on W. 34th Street, in District II of the HCC system, defense attorney Keith Gross told the jury. Just because his wife lives on Lake Lane does not mean it has to be his residence, Gross argued.

If Wilson, accused of claiming a false residence in his run for his HCC seat, in fact lived outside of HCC’s District II, as the Harris County attorney contends, he would have been unqualified to run for office, and therefore unqualified to hold his seat on the board of trustees. Wilson could face removal from office, if the jury finds he didn’t live where he claims, Ray said.

Both sides gave their opening arguments Wednesday and the county attorney questioned Wilson, a 67-year-old businessman, who gained national attention when he beat a 24-year incumbent in the predominantly African-American district after allegedly leading voters to believe he was black.

4 different addresses

Wilson has statedon voter registration cards, drivers licenses, tax and other forms that he has lived at four addresses since 2005, and those addresses all line up with some motive – whether that is to run for office, or take out a tax exemption – Ray told the jury.

“When it’s convenient for him to claim for some economic reason he lives on Lake Lane, he’s lives at Lake Lane,” Ray said. “When he wants to run for office, well he lives wherever he needs to live.”

No rule against it?

Wilson lived, and still does live, exactly where he claimed when he filed to run, his attorney said,adding his client spends “more than 70 percent” of his time on 34th Street. He has a driver’s license there, is registered to vote there and has all of his bank statements sent there. He’s lived there since early 2012.

But since moving there, he’s also registered to vote at another address, on Claremont Street, where he never lived, so he could run for an open state Senate seat, Wilson testified during questioning. Wilson said he “intended” to live there, but he did not end up running.

His defense attorney says “nowhere is it ever written” that you can’t live somewhere, if your motive is to run for political office. Wilson, an anti-gay activist, only wants to “improve the community” and has offended people in his quest to do so, Gross said. The case against him is politically motivated and that’s proven by the fact that more than 4,500 Harris County voters are registered at commercial buildings, as Wilson is, and the county isn’t going after any of them, Gross said.

Residence, Wilson and his attorney argued, is based on three factors: volition, intention and action. People can choose to live wherever they want. That they intend to live there, and that they actually hang their hat there make the place a residence.

Warehouse apartment

Wilson contends his residence is an upstairs apartment in a warehouse located at 5600 W. 34th St. The warehouse is owned by a company that belongs to Wilson’s sister, who lives in Illinois. He moved there in early 2012 from another warehouse on 34th St., which is not in HCC district II. He was registered to vote there before and claimed it as a residence in 2011 when he ran against Mayor Annise Parker. All the while, Wilson has claimed his home on Lake Lane as his residence when filing taxes, Ray argued.

Wilson’s attorney told the jury he bought the home for his wife as a way to coax her back after she left him briefly. Hers is the only name on the deed, he said.

Not allowed there

In January, after Wilson ousted former HCC Chairman Bruce Austin by 26 votes, city inspectors determined Wilson didn’t have permission to live at the warehouse where he says he lives. They gave him a 10-page list of improvements he needed to make to bring the place up to code, Wilson testified.

He contended he thought the apartment was “grandfathered in” and a legal place to live, but has since worked to fix the issues raised by the city.
He still does not have a permit to live there, he said.

Regardless, 5600 W. 34th St. is where Wilson calls his home, he testified.

“I admit to this day that sometimes I sleep a the house at … Lake Lane,” Wilson said. “But my residency is at 5600.”

When I was at the MLB All Star Game viewing party at The Yard Tuesday night a huge stage was being constructed for Friday’s Beyonce-Jay Z concert. We were told not to put photos of the stage on social media – huh!

In September of 2007 against San Luis, J.R. Towles had a franchise setting record eight RBIs of course.

The ‘Stros are getting bad PR on numerous media outlets throughout the U.S. of A. They have not been able sign their Numero 1 draft pick and are being accused of manipulating the draft rules. I don’t know about that. They have until 4 pm tomorrow to sign their pick.

The campaign money reports were released yesterday. I know this may not be popular with Dems but I kind of find it hard to argue with the following from the Chron:

“The real story is the cash-on-hand gap between the two candidates,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “(AG Greg) Abbott, even if he were to not raise another dime during the second half of 2014, would still have enough money to run a very competitive campaign in the fall, whereas (Sen. Wendy) Davis does not have enough money to run a high level campaign during the month of October.” Fundraising efforts continue heading into the November election.

I hope Team Davis can raise a ton of money over the next couple of months or we could well be drowning in GOP ads this fall.

The MLB All Star Game was played last night. 20 years ago the ‘Stros sent five players to the game – named them?

The Chron E-Board weighed in again on the Equal Rights Ordinance. They don’t think it ought to be on the ballot. I get that but it is what it is. There is after all a process to collect and gather signatures. Here is their take.

If you want to see the problems with government by referenda, take a look at California. The once-golden coast has been rendered practically ungovernable by a state constitution that reduces policy to a popularity contest. Politicians end up restrained by contradictory agenda passed at the ballot box. There’s a reason why our nation’s Founding Fathers actively rejected a direct democracy and instead formed a republic, in which elected representatives could cool a populist fervor. But opponents of Houston’s nondiscrimination ordinance have turned their heated feelings into 50,000 signatures, which they have submitted to City Hall to force a referendum vote on the otherwise generic ordinance.

This movement falls into the exact trap that James Madison warned against in his famous Federalist No. 10. In that founding document, Madison outlines the need for a republic that protects minorities against the tyranny of majority rule. The rights of people to use public accommodations without facing discrimination should not be subject to oft-changing political winds.

Support for that ordinance aside, the need for citizen referenda on specific policies in a city with two-year election cycles is highly questionable. A bit of patience could find City Hall with a totally new slate of elected officials, ready to act, without opening the door to California-style chaos.

There are also further questions hanging in the air about the legitimacy of those 50,000 signatures. While foes of the nondiscrimination ordinance claim that 30,000 of those signatures are verified, it isn’t clear whether they meet the specific standard necessary to get a referendum item on the November ballot. Following the requirements of our city charter, nondiscrimination opponents need signatures from 17,269 people registered to vote within the city of Houston at the time of signing.

Proponents of the Early to Rise education referendum last year saw more than 150,000 signatures in support nearly cut in half, whittled down to 80,505. That movement had several months to act, a broad support base and could pull from voters across the whole county. Opponents of the nondiscrimination ordinance did not have those advantages in their 30-day drive to collect signatures.

Many of the mega-churches that held rallies in opposition to the nondiscrimination ordinance sit near the edge of city limits. One has to wonder just how many attendees actually hail from the city of Houston and not some other jurisdiction in our Houstonia sprawl. There are also reports of nondiscrimination foes improperly soliciting signatures from people not registered to vote in the city. LGBT activist and historian Cristan Williams released a recording on the website transadvocate.com that seems to catch one of these foes in the act.

At first glance, 50,000 signatures is an impressive number, but the manner in which they were collected puts that number into doubt. City Hall is double-checking the information submitted, and LGBT groups plan on independently running their own verifications. We hope they run the signatures through a fine-toothed comb. Houston should not be a place that snatches away dignity because of a mistake.

The AL will have home field advantage in the World Serious this October. I am OK with that. It beats rotating every other year like they used to. It also beats having it go to the teams with the best record which usually favors the teams with the largest payrolls.

In 1994 the ‘Stros sent Baggy, B-G-O, Ken Caminiti, Doug Drabek, and John Hudek of course to the All Star game.

A “way to go” goes to Jose Altuve for his sacrifice fly RBI and his nice fielding play last night!


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