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Commentary was watching on the flat screen yesterday a joint H-Town City Council Committee meeting on a draft of a proposed ordinance on “vehicle for hire” or letting Uber and Lyft service H-Town – legally. First let me say that I am not working for any of the parties involved.

During the meeting I tweeted this:

How come the Taxi/Limo supporters far outweigh the Uber/Lyft supporters at #HoustonCityCouncil meeting today?

I got this reply:

@MarcCommentary They’re at work?

I also tweeted this:

“We don’t choose. We serve all.” On shirts of Taxi supporters at #HoustonCityCouncil meeting today.

And this:

“Always There, Always Fair” On shirts of Taxi drivers at #HoustonCityCouncil meeting today.

Most of the folks that spoke at the committee meeting were either with the taxi or limousine industry – drivers and owners. The taxi and limo folks fully acknowledge it is a bottom line issue. They far outnumbered the Uber and Lyft folks yesterday.

I didn’t hear a whole lot of love from members of city council on the proposed ordinance. I think I predicted earlier that the Uber and Lift folks would pretty much get what they wanted. I didn’t see, hear or feel that yesterday.

The administration wants to get something done but city council certainly isn’t there today.

The issue of service reduction to low income communities is out there and has not been addressed. This a concern for some members of council. Some of those low income folks vote and use taxis.

I don’t know if members of city council think they will face political backlash if they vote against Uber and Lyft. The companies are located on the West Coast. Their local drivers haven’t flooded H-Town City Hall. I don’t know if the folks that they serve go out and vote. Folks that come in from out of town and use these guys obviously don’t vote here. The folks that use it to go to clubs and concerts are from the demographic that don’t show up at the polls. I don’t see where the political pressure would come from.

The taxi and limousine companies are local and many play local politics if you know what I mean.

Stay tuned!

Last night Albert Pujols became the 26th member of the 500 career dinger club. Name the 500 career dinger club members that are NOT in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Happy 100th Birthday to Wrigley Field today!

At yesterday’s H-Town City Council afternoon session a bunch of folks showed up to speak in support of a revitalized Gus Wortham Golf Course. They made some good points. One speaker said that the current debate on Botanical Gardens versus golf was dividing the community. A couple of speakers said that the LPGA may be interested in coming to H-Town under a revitalized Gus Wortham. Another wanted to know why the city would kill off one asset and replace with another.

Another speaker wanted to know why the botanical gardens folks had not conducted a traffic impact study. Another said he didn’t want a 107 year old historical golf course replaced. They made a good case.

A supporter for the botanical gardens said golf was dying – huh! Does Tiger know?

Barry Bonds, A-Roid, Junior, Jim Thome, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Man-Roid, Gary Sheffield, and Pujols of course are members of the 500 career dinger club and are NOT in the Hall of Fame.

We have won two in a row and we are now batting .200 – whew!

HCC’s New Leader

HCC has a new Chancellor. Welcome to H-Town Cesar Maldonado. Hope you can navigate through the mess and hope you can avoid those out there that want the mess to continue. It certainly has been an interesting week over at HCC. Here is from the Chron:

A chemical engineer, longtime businessman and current president of a technical college in Harlingen will take the helm of the Houston Community College, which has been without a chancellor for more than a year.

The HCC board Monday night announced its unanimous pick to lead one of the largest community colleges in the nation. Cesar Maldonado – a vice chancellor of the Texas State Technical College system, which is less than a quarter the size of the HCC system – will take the top spot here after a 21-day waiting period.

Board members touted Maldonado’s business background and ability to develop partnerships with other universities and industries at a time when colleges and universities have been pushed to prepare more students for the working world.

“He’s going to take this institution to the next level,” Board Chair Neeta Sane said. “His industry background is really, really going to help Houston grow, because we are going to focus on workforce development and making sure there’s a skilled workforce for the local industry.”

I hope Cesar read up on what has been going on over there and will stay away from the usual suspects if you know what I mean.

You know where the Chron stands on HCC. Here is their headline on the hiring: “Rudderless HCC gets new leader.” Ouch!

Name the two MLB clubs with the most wins in a season?

I tweeted this yesterday after watching the Channel 11 News:

I wonder if the 2 guys laying graffiti on a building knew they were caught tagging by security cameras: story on @KHOU. #Dumbarses #StrosLid

I am sure those guys got them some lawyers by now. One was wearing a ‘Stros lid. Sooner or later.

Memo to Al Qaeda. You hold a televised convention, expect to be on the menu of a drone feast.

I am thinking Natalie Morales of “Today” is probably one of the fittest journalists in the U.S. of A. these days. She finished the Boston Marathon in 3:34 yesterday. Way to go Natalie!

Our best pitcher Scott Feldman just went on the DL. How does that happen? Come on!

During spring training we released J.D. Martinez and he was signed to a minor league deal by the Tigers. He tore the cover off of the ball with the Mud Hens, hitting four dingers in a double header Sunday and now he is back in the bigs. It is way too early to tell if we gave up on him. Let’s wait and see if he becomes a contributor on Brad Ausmus’ club. Heck, he is on a first place club.

The 1906 Cubbies owon 116 and the 2001 Mariners won 116 of course.

Well we won last night. Let’s see if we can win tonight.

A Rocket Hangover

Hey H-Town! How do you feel this morning? Staying up until midnight watching the Rockets lose the first one was frustrating – argh! In my case I just zapped off the flat screen and jumped into bed. At least I wasn’t part of the 18,200 and change at Toyota that had to get in their rides and drive home. I hate it when it happens on a Sunday because the following Monday is miserable and lousy. Did I say argh?

Today is San Jacinto Day! What is San Jacinto Day?

Commentary enjoys reading Joe Holley’s columns on Sunday. He writes about all stuff Texas. Yesterday he wrote about Tejanos that fought with Sam Houston 178 years ago. Here is a part:

As every Texan knows, that scruffy, mud-caked army, concerned that a Mexican attack was imminent, took the fight to the Mexicans the next afternoon. Marching into battle to the beat of a popular love song, the Texans overwhelmed Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s forces in minutes and then unleashed their post-Alamo, post-Goliad fury upon fleeing Mexican troops, killing some 700 men. The Texans lost nine.

Among Houston’s men on that April day in 1836 were a unit of “Tejanos,” Texans of Hispanic descent who had made the difficult decision to cast their lot with the mostly American-immigrant volunteers who made up the Texan army.

I have to disagree with his “every Texan knows” line. Just go ask a bunch of folks how the Lone Star State was born and you will get a bunch of different responses. Ask them what happened at the San Jacinto Battleground and you will probably get a number of blank stares. Ask them if they have ever been to the Battleground. Try asking them to ID the six flags that flew over Texas – huh! Oh well!

Barry Bonds dropped by the ‘Stros clubhouse this past weekend in Oakland. Bonds was the sixth pick in the 1985 MLB Amateur Player Draft. Name the fourth pick of the draft that year who is also in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

The Chron E-Board put it on the HCC Trustees this past weekend. Well deserved? Check it out:

You can learn a lot about political shenanigans at the Houston Community College system – just not necessarily in a classroom.

The most recent lesson has to do with the HCC Board of Trustees voting to reject construction contracts, which are part of the $425 million bond package that voters approved in 2012. The reason for the rejection? Money wasn’t going to enough firms – notably, the firms that supported the bond initiative.

Bond dollars aren’t a make-work project. They’re not a jobs program. And they’re certainly not a payoff to supporters. Those bond dollars are supposed to fund capital improvement projects for the community college system, one that Houston relies on to train the next generation of workers, thinkers and doers. But as Trustee Eva Loredo made clear at a March board meeting, far too many people view the bonds as “reciprocation.”

Apparently the board is in the business not of education, but of feathering nests. Insider dealing like this is nothing new for HCC. Trustee Carroll Robinson has been investigated for trying to direct contracts to an under-qualified friend.

Even the HCC’s oversight committee, which the board itself created, found that board members were micromanaging the contracting process. Yet at an HCC board meeting this week, Robinson proudly proclaimed that he would continue to interfere, claiming: “If that’s micromanaging, I’m going to micromanage.”

The time to plan capital construction projects was before board members sent a $425 million bond to voters. The way to pick contractors is via a statutorily defined bidding process.

It isn’t just about good governance, there are consequences for the board’s questionable decisions: HCC’s bonds could lose their tax exempt status if the dollars aren’t spent quickly enough. A change in contractors after the bidding process could make HCC the target of lawsuits.

All the while, HCC still lacks a permanent chancellor, and the board’s chaotic actions aren’t likely to attract qualified candidates.

Yet trustees seem to care more about loyalty to political friends than responsibility to taxpayers and students.

This isn’t micromanaging. This is sabotage.

Did I say ouch?

HCC Trustee Carroll Robinson sent this out in response:

Since voter approval of the HCC $425 million Bond Program, in 2012, to fund the improvement and expansion of HCC facilities, the Board of Trustees has been under attack.

There are special interests, in our community, who want to dictate how, where and with whom these funds should be spent without regard for the Board and our legal responsibility to protect the taxpayers’ money.

The Board has been criticized and maligned for doing what it was elected to do – manage the affairs of HCC. To date, the Bond Program is on time and on budget. 6 of 14 construction contract recommendations, made by the administration, will have been approved by Monday. The Board of Trustees is acting in a positive and responsible manner. Some people call this micromanaging, but it is not.

It’s called doing our fiduciary duty.

I will not vote blindly to approve projects that cost double the normal cost of construction, as some special interests are pushing us to do. I also will not, without questioning and reviewing, agree to build a 10 story building, for a college, that contains only 13 classrooms, no library but an entire floor dedicated to a gym.

This is not what HCC promised the voters their tax dollars would be used to build. HCC promised more classrooms, labs, library space and consensus among students, faculty, staff and administrators on what would be built.

The Board of Trustees job is not wasting taxpayers’ money and I won’t vote to do so no matter how loud the special interests scream.

HCC is in the business of educating the people of our community and those who want to improve their marketable skills with workforce training. That is what I am interested in seeing happen. This is why we are building more new buildings so that more people in our community have access to educational opportunities and workforce training.

There have been attempts to attack my character to silence me but I am the same person I have always been. I am up front, honest, fair, outspoken and a fighter for the taxpayers of our city. I have never been one to succumb to bullying. I don’t plan to start now.

I have always been, and will continue to be, a fighter for what I believe is right. If that means rubbing some people the wrong way, so be it. I will continue to ask the hard questions because I know that the taxpayers, the voters who elected me, and the people in our community who want An Opportunity To Do Better deserve no less.

OK.

Hall of Fame great Barry Larkin of course was selected by the Reds with the fourth pick in 1985.

I think it is time to end the Chris Carter experiment. He strikes out about half the time and he is only batting a buck twenty-three. I don’t know how much patience we should have with other players riding the interstate. The frustration showed on Friday night when the Skipper went bonkers when Lowrie bunted on the shift in the first inning. Saturday’s loss was a low point. It would not surprise me to see Jonathan Singleton in uniform this weekend at The Yard. We need a lot of help.

HCC Does

BREAKING NEWS: Mexico just got hit with a 7.5 earthquake. Stay tuned!

Well it looks like the folks at HCC follow Commentary. The HCC Trustees moved forward on parts of the bond package. Here is the story from the Chron:

After lengthy and at times heated discussion, the Houston Community College board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve four contracts for bond-funded work some say has been stalled for too long.

The board, divided until Thursday, had failed to approve construction contracts for its November 2012 voter-approved bond program, even as the college bumps against a federal spending deadline that, if missed, could result in fines under a worst-case scenario.

“The fear is the potential penalties that come with any further delay,” Trustee Adriana Tamez said at the meeting. “We have to ask questions – that is important. Let’s do it quickly.”

The board took the first step, awarding four contracts for “construction managers at risk,” who serve as the general contractors, responsible for the construction work and managing costs. The contracts will allow work to begin on a new southeast campus and at the Northline, Missouri City and Stafford campuses. A fifth contract, for work at the North Forest campus, was pulled because the contract needs to be voted on at the same time as another for a separate project, officials said.

Before taking a vote, some trustees said they still have questions for administration about projects in the $425 million bond package. Others stressed that the college system needs to make sure contracts go to local companies.

Trustee Sandie Mullins echoed the perception of some in the community that the board is micromanaging the bond process. Trustee Carroll Robinson bristled against that suggestion, saying the job of a trustee is to ensure the college spends taxpayer money wisely.

“If that’s micromanaging, then I’m going to micromanage,” Robinson said.

I am not going to say anything about this last quote other than to say it is kind of silly. Quien es mas macho!

The team is in Oakland for three. When was the last time the A’s were in the World Serious?

The Lite Guv spoke to the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce yesterday and here is what he said:

“I speak Spanish … I lived in South America and I worked in South America. I love Hispanics because Hispanics believe in business.”

Sigh! Is that it? No se puede!

I try not to make fun of the missing airliner. It is the death thing. Check out Nick Anderson’s latest cartoon here:

http://blog.chron.com/nickanderson/.

The A’s last played in the 1990 World Serious of course and were swept by Cincy.

I am thinking we need to look at getting some players that can hit. Krauss, Carter, Presley, and Villar are riding the interstate. The team is batting .188. I know it is early but we are on pace to lose 111 again.

I guess I’ll have to follow HISD and be a bit more sensitive. From here on out The Tribe is out and C-Town is in – got it?

George Springer made his debut last night wearing the numero 4. Name the ‘Stros great who also made his MLB debut with the ‘Stros wearing the numero 4?

Here is how it goes. An entity like a city, school district, or community college needs bond monies for construction of new facilities. It is usually in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The proposed bonds are then put on the ballot. Friends of the entity form a PAC and raise money for the pro-bonds campaign. The campaign funds for the most part come from folks that want some of the bond business – law firms, construction firms, architects, and engineers – with the expectation that they are going to get a shot at business.

In 2012 HISD put a kazillion in bonds on the ballot and a related PAC raised tons of buckos from the usual suspects. The bonds won and last year when HISD handed out the bond contracts some folks that had contributed to the PAC were left off the award list. That’s how it goes.

The Chron today has a story on HCC and their bond program. Here are parts:

A divided Houston Community College board has failed to approve construction contracts for its November 2012 voter-approved bond program, potentially costing the college system tens of millions of dollars in fines.

The clock to break ground on building projects is ticking to meet federal spending deadlines that, if missed, could result in fines under a worst-case scenario, HCC’s hired bond counsel, Tom Sage, warned in March.

Some trustees, however, have said the college administration has not provided enough information about projects in the $425 million bond package. Others questioned why the college system wasn’t planning to spread contracts around to more local companies.

Concerned about delays and perceived meddling by some board members, a volunteer oversight committee called a special meeting earlier this week to urge the board to approve contracts for all 14 building projects Thursday.

“This is a gross example of the board trying to micromanage a major job,” said oversight committee member Ed Wulfe, a commercial real-estate developer who has served on numerous local boards. “ … Right now the community is back to HCC being in a state of confusion, and the perception is reality.”

Now here are interesting statements from some HCC Trustees:

Trustee Eva Loredo, who voted against hiring the firms in March, expressed concern that the proposal included only eight firms, with some getting multiple projects.

“We have people out there calling us at all hours every day, wherever we go, and they’re saying, ‘Look, I supported HCC, I’m there for HCC, but I need to work. I need the job. I need the monies. When are we going to get that reciprocation of all that we do for HCC?’ ” Loredo said at the March board meeting.

“So, that’s my concern – that we have such a giant amount of project and yet we can’t pass it out to everyone,” she said.

Trustee Chris Oliver said his constituents want more local firms hired.

“They told me specifically they are voting for the Houston Community College, not the national community college,” he said in March.

What do you think? It sounds like the HCC bond staff put this recommendation together without reviewing the PAC’s donor list. Is there anything wrong with that?

It also sounds like the HCC bond staff didn’t solicit recommendations from Trustees on which firms to use. Is there anything wrong with that?

The bond recommendation lost on a 6-3 vote so I am guessing that there were a bunch of firms that lost out that had influence on at least six Trustees. Is there anything wrong with that?

It also looks like there is a major disconnect between the HCC administration and the Trustees when you lose a vote on an issue like this. Now there is something wrong with this.

Now if the HCC bond staff goes and adjusts the recommendation list to satisfy disgruntled Trustees it is going to look like they inserted lesser qualified firms because of political pressure.

I kind of have a feeling about what is going on behind the scenes and the scenery ain’t pretty.

B-G-O of course wore the numero 4 in his 1988 debut with the ‘Stros.

23,000 and change saw George Springer get his first base hit last night.

Here is what the GM is now saying:

“We got a responsibility to win at the major-league level. Guys that don’t produce aren’t going to stick around.”

I am OK with that.

Warning To Dems

Commentary has kind of had a front row seat watching The DREAMERS in action the past few years. I have admired their efforts, strategies, and energy. They deserve all the credit in the world. In recent elections Dems have benefitted from this at the polls. It looks like The DREAMERS are now saying no more. Check this from a story today:

Latinos and immigration activists are warning of political peril for President Barack Obama and Democrats in the fall election unless the president acts boldly and soon to curb deportations and allow more immigrants to remain legally in the U.S.

Many activists say Obama has been slow to grasp the emotions building within the Latino community as deportations near the 2 million mark for his administration and hopes for immigration legislation fade. With House Republicans unlikely to act on an overhaul, executive action by Obama is increasingly the activists’ only hope.

And:

Immigration activists, meanwhile, say they feel betrayed by Obama, who was elected with strong Latino and Asian support in 2008. They complain his strategy of winning GOP cooperation by increasing enforcement has failed.

Cynthia Diaz, 18, participated in a six-day hunger strike outside the White House last week to protest her mother’s detention. She pointed to Obama’s promise to prioritize immigration reform.

“That’s how he got the Latino vote, and now he just stabbed us in the back,” Diaz said, adding she and others would think twice in the future before supporting the president and his party.

Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said recent polling shows a drop-off in enthusiasm among Latino voters. “Lack of progress on immigration is hurting our chances of getting these voters out to vote,” Lake said.

I agree. The DREAMERS are a smart bunch. Now they are telling the Dem leadership to get more vocal on the deportation mess. The Dem leadership locally and statewide has pretty much been timid on this issue. This timidity will come back and haunt Dems this fall and will result in an unenthused and disenchanted Latino voter. It won’t matter if immigrant bashers like Sen. Patrick are on the GOP ticket.

Everybody wore numero 42 yesterday. Name the first African American to wear a Cubbie uniform?

Finally! The fireworks started this morning in the GOP Lite Guv run-off race. The Lite Guv has some ads out attacking after Sen. Patrick. Stay tuned!

Rep. Lon Burnam sent out an email request yesterday asking folks to help him out in his legal efforts on his election lawsuit. I don’t know much about the lawsuit since the Star-Telegram is making it harder to read their stuff. In the request he said the following:

My opponent has, however, somehow retained one of the biggest and most powerful law firms in the world. I’m not joking, they have offices in Washington, DC, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Tokyo, New York and Moscow, and that just so happens to brag about being one of the “world’s leading energy law firms.” Why do you think they may have gotten involved in a little state representative race? And who is paying the bills?

I don’t know about this. I can’t figure out what Rep. Burnam is trying to say. It would seem like his opponent would get the best lawyers he can find and not someone out of Petticoat Junction. I don’t know his opponent but I know one of his biggest backer and I’m sure he told him to get good lawyers. There is nothing wrong with that. That is what you are supposed to do.

Ernie Banks of course joined the Cubbies in September of 1953.

The team reported 29,778 showed up last night at The Yard. Where were they?

Well, it is about time. I am talking about the George Springer Era beginning this evening at The Yard. This is from the Chron:

After a wait that’s been excruciating for some fans, the player who could become the face of the Astros has arrived.

With their major league offense struggling mightily, the Astros have decided to call up top outfielder prospect George Springer for Wednesday’s game at Minute Maid Park against the Royals, a person with knowledge of the decision told the Chronicle on Tuesday night.

Springer homered for a second straight game for the Class AAA Oklahoma City RedHawks on Tuesday. Springer, 24, went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and scored four runs.

Springer is hitting. 353 with four doubles, one triple, three home runs, nine RBIs, nine walks, 15 strikeouts, a .459 on-base percentage and .647 slugging percentage. He’s a perfect 4-for-4 in steal attempts.

To make room for Springer the team sent down Robbie Grossman who was hitting a buck and a quarter. Maybe this will send a message to other players who are riding the interstate in hitting.

Springer will wear the numero 4. Let’s go Springer!

A huge shout out goes to the Chron’s Lisa Falkenberg for being named a Pulitzer Prize finalist yesterday in the Commentary category. The fella that won was from the Detroit Free Press and wrote about the City of Detroit fiscal mess. The other finalist was from the Boston Globe and wrote about the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. Falkenberg has written about everything H-Town and the Lone Star State like pay-to-play, Pre-K, janitors, payday loans, Lite Guv candidates, and David Wilson. Here is from the Pulitzer Prize on the winner and finalists in the Commentary category:

Awarded to Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press for his columns on the financial crisis facing his hometown, written with passion and a stirring sense of place, sparing no one in their critique.

Also nominated as finalists in this category were Kevin Cullen of The Boston Globe for his street-wise local columns that capture the spirit of a city, especially after its famed Marathon was devastated by terrorist bombings; and Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle for her provocative metro columns written from the perspective of a sixth-generation Texan, often challenging the powerful and giving voice to the voiceless.

There is no doubt that Falkenberg is a kick-arse columnist. I have disagreed with a couple of her takes in the past but she does what she is supposed to do. The winner and the other finalist were writing about major national news stories. Falkenberg was writing about stuff that goes on every day in these parts.

I certainly don’t want H-Town to suffer and experience a national tragedy but I would note that the Chron was named a Pulitzer finalist for their coverage of Hurricane Ike a few years ago.

Well now Falkenberg gets well deserved national recognition. It would not surprise me at all if a bigger publication swoops down here and snags her from the Chron.

Here is what Falkenberg tweeted:

Such an outpouring of support. You’d think I won! …But seriously, thanks for all the kind words.

I have to root for the hometown fishwrap. Way to go Falkenberg!

Today folks remember. Here is the MLB/Red Sox tribute that was shown at Fenway the weekend after the bombing:

http://m.mlb.com/video/v26431535/fenways-tribute-to-bostons-resilience/?c_id=mlb.

MLB teams will be wearing Jackie Robinson’s 42 today.

Everybody talks about Jackie Robinson but can you name the second African America player to enter MLB?

The Chron’s Ken Hoffman has a piece today about CBS’s decision to hire Colbert to replace Letterman. Last week Rush Limbaugh went bonkers over the decision. Who cares? It is not like the old days when we only had a few choices. Now you have a kazillion options so get over it or watch the History Channel or PBS.

The defenders of the NSA are not happy that The Washington Post and The Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize for their reporting on Snowden and the NSA. I am thinking that the defenders are in the minority these days.

Larry Doby of course made his MLB debut in July of 1947 as a member of the Tribe.

Commentary and MariGirl will be heading to The Yard this evening to check out the Royals. I really don’t expect a whole lot of folks to show up – maybe 14,000 and change. We don’t have a lot of KC fans in these parts. It will be nice hear how MariGirl’s new gig is going.

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