Public Conversations

Let’s see now. The Dean handed over to the Chron his conversations with the UH Chancellor and they were published.

Let’s see now. The UH Student Government leader handed over to the Cougar his conversations with The Dean and they were published. So why did folks get upset with the leader? Oh well.

Bench Coach Adam Everett was a ‘Stro for seven years. He also played for three other MLB clubs – name them?

HISD is asking for 1,500 volunteers to help solve the literacy problem in the schools? Huh! What are teachers for? Here is from the Chron:

Leaders of the Houston Independent School District turned to the community on Thursday, launching the district’s largest volunteer recruitment effort in recent years – all to help solve HISD’s intractable literacy problem.

The nation’s seventh-largest school system put out a call for 1,500 volunteers – business professionals, retirees and others – to work weekly with first-graders across the district who are struggling to read.

The volunteer effort is part of Superintendent Terry Grier’s latest literacy plan, which sets a goal that all students will read on grade level by third grade. Last school year, only one-third of HISD’s third-graders hit the state’s recommended level on the reading test; about two-thirds met the easier minimum standards.

“This is a big, big issue, and together we’re going to be able to do this,” Grier said at a news conference at Garcia Elementary, addressing the business and nonprofit executives helping to fund and coordinate the volunteer effort.

Oh well again!

You have to go pick up the Chron to check out another outstanding column by Lisa Falkenberg on Harris County’s grand jury system. It is absolutely incredible that Falkenberg is having to point out to judges – Dems included – transparency issues and the law. Absolutely incredible! Here is how her column ends:

With all due respect, Your Honors, stop sealing public information and hand over the records. They belong to us, the people who elected you.

I am thinking that Falkenberg’s columns on our grand jury system are going to get her some serious recognition if you know what I mean.

Well Sunday the Texans kick-off their season against the team from D.C. I’ll be paying attention to our QB situation.

Adam Everett also played with the Tigers, Cleveland, and Twins of course.

Can you believe that we are eight games ahead of the last place Rangers?

Book Sale

It is a good move by Team Davis to schedule a book tour next week. If it will get her more attention – go for it. Here is what the Chron said on its front page:

With her gubernatorial campaign nearing the home stretch, state Sen. Wendy Davis will take five timeouts next week to promote her new book, prompting her opponent on Wednesday to renew criticism of her vision for Texas’ future.

Even so, political experts suggested the unusual timing of Davis’ book tour will probably benefit her campaign, still trailing in the polls with just two months to go before Election Day.


For its part, Abbott’s campaign on Wednesday said the tour underscores Davis’ shortcomings. “Sen. Davis has shown she can’t sell a vision for Texas’ future, so maybe she’ll have better luck selling books,” said Abbott campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch.

Political observers suggested the book visits are nothing if not political.

“The book signings may not be political, but when you’re running in a statewide race like she is, it’s political,” said Jerry Polinard, a political scientist at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg. “All the people at those events know she’s running, and they’re not there because she’s just an author.”

In this current political climate of ethics complaints being filed on a regular basis, don’t be surprised if a GOP affiliated group files an ethics complaint against Team Davis for not having a political disclaimer printed on the book. Oh well!

B-G-O made his last Opening Day start at second base in 2007. Who was our Opening Day starter at second base in 2008?

Commentary is not a fan of “One Bin for All.” I think it is kind of pie-in-the-sky thinking. The Chron has a front page story on the City of H-Town and One-Bin. We need to wait and see if the One-Bin technology is really out there. We have not done a good job in educating the community on how to recycle. Heck, a lot of homes still don’t have the tall green bins. Let’s focus on this first before we head into uncharted territory. Here is from the Chron:

Ever since city officials announced an ambitious plan to overhaul lackluster recycling in Houston, allowing residents to mix all of their waste in one bin to be sorted and converted into marketable materials at a first-of-its-kind facility, the idea has been dogged by environmental concerns.

Now, with five “One Bin for All” company bids under consideration, city officials are facing more practical questions: Can the technology succeed, and at the right price? If not, the one-bin plan will be scrapped and the city’s focus will shift to expanding curbside recycling.

City officials say the advanced sorting technology required for a one-bin program is proven, but critics contend there is less of a track record for “gasification,” a process that converts food, tree waste and other items into fuel and that could determine the commercial success of the program. Both critics and proponents point to a growing list of cities and counties that have tried similar one-bin models and met with varying success.

“These are goals that we know may be difficult to achieve,” said Laura Spanjian, the city’s sustainability director. “We’ve done lots of research, we’ve toured different facilities. We believe this is possible.”


Critics urging the city to drop the one-bin plan say it is risky and the technology it would require is unproven. Time and effort spent vetting one-bin proposals would be better spent expanding the existing recycling program, said Melanie Scruggs, Houston program director for Texas Campaign for the Environment. The group strongly opposes the city proposal, and released a report last month detailing stories of cities and counties that apparently have tried and failed to launch similar programs or meet diversion goals.

“If the city of Houston is looking for examples of one-bin waste facilities that are recycling 75 percent of whatever goes in there, that simply doesn’t exist,” Scruggs said. “It’s not out there, it’s not working. We’ve looked.”

Good luck!

Also from the Chron is a bit about the threats made to the former head of the firefighters union:

“If someone made a threat to someone’s family, they deserve criminal charges,” (Mayor) Parker said. “And if, in fact, they can be proven, they deserve to go to jail.”

Alvin White, interim local president, released a statement Wednesday saying (Bryan) Sky-Eagle’s allegations “conveniently deflect from his troubled tenure as HPFFA president and upcoming trial on administrative charges.”

An earlier statement following Sky-Eagle’s resignation said the 3,800 members increasingly lost confidence in his leadership.

“We hope a proper investigation of the ‘threats’ occurs,” White said in his statement.

White also pointed to Parker’s historically tense relationship with the union.

“We also urge the mayor, whose administration worked closely with Mr. Sky-Eagle, to await the findings of the investigation before she resumes disparaging Houston firefighters,” White said.

I wonder if the next mayor will get along with the union because this one certainly doesn’t.

Mark Loretta of course was our Opening Day second baseman in 2008.

I told you about heading out to The Yard. Last night we put it on the Angels again. Altuve had his 194th base hit and Chris Carter had another multi dinger evening. He now has 35. The team is off today then we head off on a nine game roadie this weekend. Spoilers?

Come on! I am starting to believe we are going a bit overboard and prosecuting hardball politics. I agree with The Dean that this is “silly.” The Dean might have been a bit aggressive and a little on the bully side with the UH Chancellor but he certainly wasn’t doing anything against the law. He was just being The Dean and being The Dean ain’t illegal.

Just for the sake of consistency, I am thinking right now that all Guv Dude was doing was playing hardball politics. Convince me otherwise! Here is the Chron story on The Dean:

A conservative group has filed a criminal complaint against state Sen. John Whitmire, accusing him of coercion in an exchange of text messages with University of Houston President Renu Khator that was published in the Houston Chronicle.

In the Aug. 16 conversation, Whitmire told Khator he would “stop dead and pass leg (legislation)” unless she killed a plan to require freshmen to live on campus. Khator agreed to withdraw the proposal and asked Whitmire to forgive her.

The complaint, filed Aug. 29 with Travis County’s Public Integrity Unit by the Conservative Action Fund, cites the exchange. The unit investigates claims against elected officials.

“Senator Whitmire directly attempted to influence — and did in fact influence — a public servant (the UH President) ‘in a specific exercise of [her] official power,'” the complaint says. “He achieved such influence by means of ‘coercion,’ that is, by threatening to ‘take…action as a public servant’ in the Legislature if UH did not bow to his demand.”

Whitmire dismissed the complaint as “absolutely silly.”

“I haven’t even given it a second thought,” Whitmire said. “Obviously a group of lawyers have got too much time on their hands.”

The complaint seems to be meant, in part at least, as a defense of Gov. Rick Perry, who was indicted last month on similar charges. Perry threatened to, and later did, veto funding for the Travis County-based Public Integrity Unit, if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did not step down after being arrested for drunken driving.

The Conservative Action Fund complaint says repeatedly that if Perry committed a crime, so did Whitmire. The Houston Democrat is the dean of the state senate.

“If your office is intent on prosecuting Governor Perry for exercising his lawful legislative authority (the veto) to encourage action by another public servant (Lehmberg), then we suppose that you would be troubled to know of two publicly documented violations of the same criminal statute by a powerful Texas Democrat,” the complaint says.

It also claims Whitmire coerced the Texas Department of Criminal Justice executive director into ending the practice of last meals for death row inmates. The complaint cites a New York Times article that says, in “a phone call and letter to the executive director of the state prison agency, Mr. Whitmire asked that the agency end the practice of last meals or he would get the State Legislature to pass a bill doing so.”

Former ‘Stro shortstop Adam Everett is now the team’s bench coach. Everett was our Opening Day starting shortstop from 2004-2007. Who was our Opening Day shortstop in 2008?

One of the folks that threw out the first pitch last night was a fella that punched over 220,000 MLB All Star Game ballots. How did he do it?

Jon Singleton’s walk up tune is Jimmy Dean’s “Big John.” Singleton’s only hitting .176 so he is a long way away from Big Bad John status.

Miguel Tejada of course was our Opening Day starting shortstop in 2008.

Only 15,000 and change saw us put it on the Angels last night. Altuve had another four hit night and is now sitting at .340 with 193 base hits.

Dysfunctional ‘Stros

Commentary has been a fan of the ‘Stros since the beginning. I have also been a ticket holder for a long, long time. Today is September 2, 2014 and I have ABSOLUTLEY NO CONFIDENCE in the folks that are running the baseball operations of the ‘Stros. I think the owner and GM are bumbling dumb s__ts.

Yesterday Skipper Bo Porter was sent packing because he didn’t get along with the GM. I wonder why? It is tough to win ballgames when the GM brings in players that are hitting around the Mendoza line.

Hey, GM! The Skipper was your pick and you obviously didn’t get it right. What a letdown!

Just like you didn’t get it right with the top draft pick.

Three pitchers that you got rid of are all publicly bad mouthing your operation with the latest being Jarred Cosart who said we are one of the “worst organizations in baseball.”

You cut loose J.D. Martinez who is now hitting .307 with the contending Tigers. He also has 18 dingers.

You also tried to pressure George Springer into signing a long term contract and when he wouldn’t you kept him in Oklahoma City until the fans had had enough.

Oh yeah, you plunked down over $3 mil for a pitcher this season who has yet to get to the mound!

And you let hackers get into your computers.

Here is from the Chron’s Jerome Solomon:

The stumbling and bumbling Astros’ front office continues to stumble and bumble, this time taking its error-prone ways out on manager Bo Porter.

The ‘Stros are an embarrassment and an outfit that is severely lacking in class. Shame on you guys!

I am so p___ed off at the ‘Stros so I am going to skip my MLB question today.

Speaking about not getting it right, the head of the firefighters union quit. He didn’t even last a year. Hey, they picked him!

The hottest team in MLB is in for two. That’s all we need. I don’t expect big crowds because folks are kind of fed up with how things are being run over at The Yard.

Hello September!

Commentary dropped by the local Kroger yesterday and they were already putting out the Halloween candy.

A “Way to Go!” goes to the Chron for bringing on a “Political Reporter.” Theodore “Teddy” Schleifer is the new political reporter for the Chron. It is about time!

Jose Altuve is leading MLB with a .336 batting average. Who is number two?

The “Today” show is highlighting Latinos this week with #VivaToday. In their eight o’clock hour this morning the only Latino organization they mentioned was United We Dream. That is way too cool!

It definitely wasn’t a good weekend for Cougar Nation. They lost their inaugural game at their new crib Friday night and yesterday their former QB was given his walking papers from the Texans.

I don’t understand the move by the AG Abbott campaign to pull out of the Dallas debate. All they did was give Team Davis some ammo.

A 97-year old fella sang the National Anthem at The Yard yesterday.

Victor Martinez of the Tigers of course trails Altuve with a .327 batting average.

It is Labor Day and the ‘Stros have the day off. That is probably a good thing in that our next 18 games are with contenders – Angels (2), A’s (3), Mariners (3), Angels (3), Cleveland (4), and Mariners (3).

Hey, at least we took the Silver Boot from the Rangers this season.

A ‘Stro is in the hunt for the batting and dinger title this season so stay tuned!

That is how I have referred to the Lone Star State’s public school finance system. Yesterday a judge found the state’s school finance system unconstitutional.

The school finance issue has been in and out of the courthouse for close to fifty years now. It has been found to be unconstitutional when Dems were running things and when GOPers were in charge. We have yet to get it right while millions of school kids have gotten short-changed. Thanks Texas!

I have said it before. The only way we will get it right is when the state’s business community gets off their arses and makes this the top critical priority. Until then it will continue to be a political football of sorts.

Jason Castro smacked the team’s 5th grand salami last night. What is the team record for grand salamis in a season.

H-Town needs to do this. I would rather have the following anytime. Here is from the Statesman:

The Austin City Council approved a law Thursday banning the use of hand-held cellphones and many other portable electronic devices while driving.

The law takes effect Jan. 1, after which police will be able to cite motorists and bicyclists if caught chatting, texting or tapping away on smartphone applications while in motion.

I am kind of puzzled why we are not doing this. Isn’t it a no brainer?

Congrats to UH on the opening of their new football crib this evening. Take a bow! Let’s hope it leads to higher rankings!

Congrats to my friend Drayton McLane, Jr. for the crib in his name that will open this Sunday at Baylor!

I am going to say this and I may be proven wrong. At the end of the Texans’ football season, our biggest issue was at QB. Our biggest issue today is QB.

In 2001 and 2007 the team had seven grand salamis of course.

Tonight they are handing out Lone Star Series T-Shirts and tomorrow Nolan and Reid Ryan bobble heads.

Buy In

The City of H-Town is thinking about creating a bike lane on Lamar Street in Downtown H-Town. Commentary is not a bike fella but I make sure I look out for bicycle riders. That being said, creating a Downtown bike lane is a big deal. You have to be on your toes when you are driving Downtown with construction, pedestrians, parking garages – you name it. Oh, I also forgot about the rail lines that will be opening on a couple of Downtown streets. If you are going to change things up Downtown then you better have buy-in from folks that make up Downtown. Apparently that is not the case. The building managers are not on board. What? These are the folks that make up Downtown. What the ____! Here is from Chron.com:

It turns out there may be some opposition to Houston’s first protected on-street bike route, to be placed on Lamar Street downtown, after all.

One lane of Lamar, which is devoted to parking except during rush hour, will be converted to a two-way bike path, separated from the traffic lanes by a two-foot barrier lined with plastic humps.

Several people involved in gathering support from businesses along the 11-block, roughly 0.7-mile stretch of Lamar from Sam Houston Park to Discovery Green said they had run into no stated opposition, though they acknowledged not all tenants had been contacted and that some had not responded to emails.

In an email today, however, Tammy Betancourt of Houston’s Building Owners and Managers Association said several of her members have expressed concern with the initiative and its impact on cars exiting parking garages along Lamar. (Downtown booster Bob Eury had noted that concern in today’s story).

An unnamed BOMA member, who oversees a building at 1000 Main that borders Lamar, expressed concern in an email to Betancourt that the decision already has been made to build the bike lane, while city sustainability director Laura Spanjian referred to the idea as a “proposal” in an email inviting stakeholders to a Thursday morning meeting.

“I have great concerns in regard to the impact this will have on traffic along Lamar including the already congested 900 Block that has two lanes being used for construction of the new Hillcorp building (the recently demolished Macy’s, which borders Lamar),” the BOMA member wrote.

As Betancourt put it, “This is just one more example of the Parker administration implementing public policy without the input of citizens or businesses as to what the unintended consequences of the initiatives may be.”

Spanjian said just because the project is moving forward does not prevent city officials from working with those affected to address their concerns.

“We’ve worked out issues with certain stakeholders and we will continue to work through issues with stakeholders to make sure their business is not impacted in a negative way,” she said. “We’re happy to talk to and work with any property owner or tenant on Lamar Street that might have missed our communication to them to work out any issues that they have.”

As for the writer’s traffic concerns, Jeff Weatherford of the city’s Department of Public Works and Engineering said traffic on Lamar isn’t bad from an engineering perspective. Spanjian again stressed that for most of the day the lane is for parking, not driving, and said portions of it today are taken up by taxi stands and commercial zones.

Come on! Can we talk? A Downtown bike lane may sound good but can we make sure everyone is on board?

The Rangers are in town for four. What is our record against the Rangers this season?

The HPD Police Chief threw out the first pitch at The Yard Tuesday evening and bounced it a third of the way down. I tweeted this right after:

Poor #HPDPoliceChief. Threw out first pitch tonight at #MMP and bounced it a third of the way down. #hounews #HPD #Astros


Hand it to @houstonpolice for transparency. Did not cover-up #HPDChief’s bouncer. #hounews #Astros

HPD put the errant toss on Vine. Good for them. Here it is: https://vine.co/v/MlrhbDa3W7O.

Maybe the Chief should have asked The Mayor for lessons on how to get it over the plate.

I am not going to say much about Lisa Falkenberg’s write-up yesterday on The Dean’s and UH Chancellor’s way of communicating with each other, other than to say I am obviously not caught up on the latest code words because I sure as heck can’t read between the lines if you know what I mean. What a lovely pair though!

Dynamic Pricing at The Yard is what they use to sell tickets. For instance, they charge more for the Yankees than they do for the Royals – got it. Like in Field Box, the closer you are to the field the higher the prices. That’s why the seats at the top of Field Box sections are in more use than those closer to the field. It is not like a few years ago when all Field Box tickets cost the same throughout the season.

Only season ticket holders get the lower prices. Of course, you have to buy 83 games worth of tickets.

The ‘Stros are 8-4 against the Rangers this season of course.

Chad Qualls blew a save last night. It is Dollar Dog Night this evening at The Yard. I wonder how many folks will show up to see two teams battle to stay out of last in the AL West.


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