Archive for July, 2009

There is an interesting but not surprising piece in today’s Austin American Statesman about the state of Latino educational achievement in the Lone Star State. Check it out. 

Here are parts of the piece:

“Hispanic enrollment at colleges and universities in Texas would need to almost double by 2015 to meet the state’s higher education goals — a daunting challenge in light of high dropout rates, poverty and other problems facing the fastest-growing segment of the population.

“The coordinating board has long considered lagging Hispanic enrollment and graduation rates a major problem. But the staff-generated report, which board members approved at a meeting Thursday, sought to convey a new sense of urgency.

"’Texas is not one of the highest-achieving states in terms of overall education attainment,’ said Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes. ‘And Hispanics are the lowest-achieving of the three major ethnic groups in Texas.’

"’There’s a growing awareness that unless we significantly improve Latino educational attainment, Texas is going to decline even further in its educational attainment compared to other states and … in its capacity for economic development and economic competitiveness,’ he said.

“A leading researcher of Hispanic educational achievement warned the board that it would be difficult to make sweeping improvements without addressing poverty, health insurance, a high proportion of unwed mothers and educational shortcomings that start early in life.

"’Latino youth begin kindergarten far behind their peers,’ said Patricia Gándara, a UCLA professor of education. ‘Latino students require more investment by the state.’

“Texas’ spending on kindergarten-12th grade education ranks 42nd in the nation, said Gándara, who is co-author of ‘The Latino Education Crisis: The Consequences of Failed Social Policies.’

“’We need to do a better job of making sure that the leadership of Texas recognizes that educational attainment occurs within a broader socio-economic context and that those socio-economic contextual factors have to be addressed in order for us to achieve our educational goals,’ Paredes said.”

Hmmm, we’ve heard this before. This is the biggest challenge facing the Latino community in the Lone Star State. If we can’t properly address the biggest issue facing a community that is 40% of the state, then we’re going to have big problemos in the future. We can no longer ignore this.

The issue is the willingness on the part of the state to commit resources. We know that Guv Dude has never shown a willingness to lead on this. We know that Hutch won’t. The fellas that are running for Guv in the Dem Primary won’t address this because they think it will hurt them or maybe they feel they have to run Repub Lite.

I am convinced that if a Dem – preferably a Latino Dem – steps forward and honestly addresses this challenge it could excite Latino voters and maybe, just maybe, help us win. If the Dem candidates continue to ignore this we will not only lose the election, but we will continue to lose our children. Take that.

Speaking of, yesterday’s beer get together at The White House, of the four beers served, you can get two at The Yard – Blue Moon and Bud Light.

The ‘Stros said adios to pitcher Russ Ortiz yesterday – so much for the Russ Ortiz experiment. Hey that happens after you get shelled for nine runs in less than three innings. It looks like they are also going to be hoping that the rookie they just brought up, Bud Norris, can fill the void. Another reason I love baseball is because Norris gets a call to hop on a plane and get to the team and the next day he makes his major league debut during the afternoon at Wrigley, arguably one of baseball’s most hallowed grounds – cool. We’re four games out and in San Luis for three this weekend.

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It looks like Hutch can’t decide when she wants to resign or if she will resign to run. Check it out in today’s Chron.  Commentary is not an expert on GOP politics, but I would definitely have to say advantage Guv Dude. Heck, she might just decide to stay in the U.S. Senate. To GOPers, Dude looks more decisive.

Yesterday it was The Roundtable’s turn to get into the Fire Department mess: “The Roundtable salutes the Houston Fire Department for its prompt action capturing a suspected arsonist in connection with the Gallery Furniture fire. We also salute whoever was responsible for announcing the arrest on the same day protestors marched on Houston City Hall demanding reforms in the Houston Fire Department. A discussion of this astonishing coincidence commences at 7:00 tonight (yesterday, Wednesday) at (undisclosed location unless you know the secret pin #).

State Rep Carol Alvarado will be on the radio Friday morning at 7:45 am with Dean & Rog, 107.5 FM, The Eagle, to present them with House Resolution 1712, honoring Dean & Rog for 12 years of entertaining Houston’s radio listeners. Check it out!

Yesterday afternoon I had to don my batting helmet as baseballs were flying all over the office in the Cubbie 12 zip rout of the dinged up ‘Stros. New ‘Stro Bud Norris made his debut yesterday as we have another afternoon game today that we need to win pretty bad.

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Now that Hutch has announced she will vote against Judge Sotomayor, Lone Star State Dems have an excellent opportunity to fully engage the state’s growing Latino vote. National Latino organizations are pretty much united in supporting Judge Sotomayor. Dems need to step forward and take full advantage of the current political situation. Check it out.  Of course, other than issuing press releases, I don’t think the Lone Star State Dems are going to do anything else to engage the Latino vote.

It is pretty clear that Hutch is now going all out to appeal to GOP right wingers in order to win next years’s GOP Guv Primary so voting against a historical appointment isn’t too much of a big deal to her even in a state with close to 40% of its people Latino. The conversation behind closed doors in Hutch’s office probably went like this: From one of her GOP advisors – “Senator, if you vote for Judge Sotomayor, Guv Dude is going to hang this “wise Latina” around your neck for the next seven months. You will be toast.” From Hutch – “But won’t I alienate Latino voters in the Fall of 2010?” From her GOP advisors – “We will worry about that if we get by Guv Dude. Besides, there is no evidence that the Lone Star State Dems are going to launch a major Latino voter outreach effort anytime soon and so far their candidates for Guv don’t look like they will excite the base.”

No se puede! What else is new!

The Chron’s Columnist weighed in on the H-Town Fire Department mess.   Check it out.  You know we got us a mess when local African American leaders marched yesterday to protest in 97 degree weather – yikes!

The Gene Locke for H-Town Mayoral Campaign brought on a seasoned fundraiser yesterday. SHOW ME THE TV!

In the old days, before Commentary, when I used to check out games at the Dome, grub choices were slim. Now you can get the following at The Yard: Regular Hot Dogs, Foot Long Hot Dogs, Chicken Tenders, Steak Dogs, Bubba Burgers, Sausages, French Fries, Bistro-style Sandwiches, grilled Panini Sandwiches, gourmet Salads, Pretzels, Popcorn , Peanuts, Papa John’s Pizza, BBQ Sandwiches, Chopped BBQ Potatoes, Ice Cream Sundaes, Bratwurst, Polish Sausages, Jalapeno Sausages, Kosher Dogs, Veggie Dogs, Loaded Potato, Hand Dipped Ice Cream, Soft Serve Ice Cream, Wings, Cotton Candy, Fajitas, Sliders, Rice, Beans, Chicken in Chipolte Sauce, Cuban Sandwiches, Picadillo, Plantains, Flan, and Nachos.

In the old days you could only get you a handful of beer selections. Now there is Bud, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light, MGD, Corona, Heineken, Blue Moon, Top Dog, Shiner Bock, Sam Adams, Bud Select, Dos Equis, Bud Light Lime, Michelob Ultra, Redhook, Shock Top that comes with an orange slice., and of course St. Arnold Lawnmower and St. Arnold Amber.

As we approach Friday’s Major League Baseball trade deadline, there are a lot of rumors involving a bunch of players and teams. The ‘Stros aren’t in any of the rumors.

Commentary has to admit that it didn’t look too good last night when Roy O left with back issues in the second inning. The ‘Stros were still able to piece together an 11-6 victory thanks to Miggy’s 5 RBIs and Keppinger’s 3 RBIs. Meanwhile, LaTroy Hawkins is on sick leave with shingles – ouch. Wesley Wright might have appendicitis. Roy O is on his way home to have his back checked. The Big Puma is still out and we’re two and a half back as we take on the now second place Cubbies this afternoon.

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Commentary is waiting to see which H-Town Mayoral candidate is going to make the first major move and go up on TV. Will it be Gene Locke who raised the most money but just got rid of his fundraiser? Will it be Annise Parker who has the most individual donors? Will it be Peter Brown who let it be known that he just might write a personal check? One thing is pretty much for sure, don’t look for any money to be spent going after the Latino vote like on Spanish language TV or radio. From what I can tell, it looks like there will be just about enough dough for regular English only TV. Most folks think this race is between Gene Locke and Annise Parker. However, if Peter Brown starts dipping into his own money, he might just blow everyone away. Of course there are still some observers that think another player just might get into the game. I think it is a possibility considering that none of the announced candidates to date have shown an ability to pull away from the rest of the pack. Stay tuned!

Speaking of, my friend Bill King put in his dos centavos worth on the Houston Fire Department mess in a Chron Op-Ed today. Check it out. 

Meanwhile, a Fire Department Captain apollyized yesterday for having a hangman’s noose in his locker. He said he didn’t know it was offensive to some.  Check it out.  That’s why we need more diversity training.

Former QB Michael Vick can now play in the NFL. The question is which NFL team wants to take the PR hit when they sign him.

Hot Dog Eating Champ Joey Chestnut will be in H-Town on Friday, September 4 for the Kolache Factory’s Kolache Eating Contest at The Yard after the ‘Stros take on the Pirates. Of course the kolaches that the Kolache Factory put out are not the real kolaches like the original ones you can pick up in Weimar and Schulenburg with blueberries, cheese, peaches, or prunes stuffed on them. What the Kolache Factory puts out are those pigs-in-a-blanket looking things with chunks of sausage, eggs, cheese or wiener stuffed in them – its real name is a “klobasnek.”

The Chron ran a story yesterday on Jeff Bagwell – what is he doing these days and what are his chances to get into the Hall of Fame. Check it out.  He is 31st all time in slugging percentage, 34th in career dingers, and 45th in RBIs. That’s good enough for Commentary.

Speaking of, Commentary is not feeling too good this morning after staying up late to see the ‘Stros get Grand Salamied in the 13th inning. It was another Wandyful performance but we just couldn’t get it done. Roy O goes this evening in one we really need.

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The President could have easily been talking about the Gene Locke for H-Town Mayor Campaign when he said “acted stupidly” last week. The Chron’s Columnist did a piece yesterday on the Locke Campaign showing my pal Sue Walden – who is battling an illness – the door – yikes! Check it out.  Heck, they sure need a course in PR 101 over there. I guess the Locke Campaign doesn’t read Commentary because I thought they did A-OK in the fundraising department. They think they did A-OK and even put out a press release twelve days ago touting their fundraising haul. Check it out. 

If you ask Commentary, I think the folks that made the decision to get rid of Sue ought to be shown the door. Stay tuned!

The Lone Star State’s Junior U.S. Senator has decided that it is OK to vote against Judge Sotomayor. I guess he figures that the Lone Star State Dems will continue to sit on their arses and not fully engage the Latino vote any time soon – he’s probably right. No se puede!

H-Town CM Jolanda Jones certainly isn’t going to let the Fire Fighters Association do a drive by on her. She’s fighting back. Check it out.

Meanwhile, it ought to be interesting at City Hall today as CM Melissa Noriega’s Public Safety Committee holds a public hearing on the Fire Department problems.

It looks to me that after the sweep of the Cards last week and a one run win over the Mets Friday night, the ‘Stros just ran out of gas this weekend. So it is on to Chicago for four against the first place Cubbies starting this evening.  This is going to be one interesting road trip that winds up in San Luis this weekend.

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The President hurt the feelings of the Cambridge, Massachusetts PD says their Chief. Oh brother, get over it. Thanks to The President, the issue of racial profiling is now front and center in our living rooms, dining room tables, and around the water cooler. That’s a good thing.

The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association has gone to war with H-Town CM Jolanda Jones. They distributed a scathing letter they sent to Jolanda. Check it out in today’s Chron.   I guess Jolanda hurt their feelings too. I was telling someone yesterday that I voted for Jolanda in 2007 not because I thought she would make sure my garbage was picked up on time. I voted for her because sometimes we need someone to kick things around and stir up stuff. I don’t always agree with her. Let’s see where this thing goes.

Of course I wonder if the Fire Fighters Association is going to send a scathing letter to the Chron over Nick Anderson’s editorial cartoon that is in the Chron today – ouch! It is a Houston Fire Dept. doggie pi__ing on a fire hydrant labeled “Women and Minorities.” Check it out.   I wonder if their feelings are hurt on this one. It is one thing to go to war with Jolanda. It is another thing to go to war with the Chron.

Lone Star State government is going to be the target of “Texas Tribune” a news service watchdog organization that will be launched this Fall. Check it out in today’s SA Express News.  My old pal Matt Stiles will be one of the Tribune Troopers. Matt, who was with the Chron, gets the credit for ushering in City of H-Town online campaign reports. Commentary thinks “Texas Tribune” is needed and a great idea. Stay tuned!

Here’s what the Statesman’s Jason Embry said about John Sharp’s fundraising to date: “I reported in this space yesterday that Democrat John Sharp raised a paltry $45,000 for his U.S. Senate campaign in the second quarter of the year. But Sharp’s fundraising situation was actually worse than I gathered upon first glancing at the report he filed with the Federal Election Commission.

“Sharp returned more than $90,000 to his contributors during the second quarter. So his net contributions for the period totaled -$45,000. These returned contributions were large checks — many of them for the per-election maximum of $2,400. And more than $70,000 of those returned contributions went back to employees, and family of employees, of Ryan and Co., the tax-consulting firm that employs Sharp.

“Ryan and Co. employees (not their families) gave Sharp more than $150,000 in the first quarter of the year. So Sharp is not returning all of the money he got from them. But he is returning a lot of it, and it’s unclear why. Sharp’s campaign did not respond to questions about the contributions Thursday.

“Of all the candidates running to replace U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Sharp has the second-most cash on hand with $2.9 million. But he also raised the least amount of money in the second quarter. He’s only financially competitive at the moment because he has loaned his own campaign $2.6 million. With the other Democrat in the race, Houston Mayor Bill White, leading the field in money raised, Sharp either isn’t trying to raise money or isn’t very good at it any more.”

This is the same John Sharp that said he was going to carry Harris County – yeah, sure.

My good friend Drayton reads Commentary. He sent me a note yesterday to thank me for the birthday greeting and said he got a Cardinal sweep for his BD present.

The next two weeks just got a bit more difficult as the team announced yesterday that The Big Puma is dinged up and will be put on sick leave for 15 days.

The first 10,000 tonight get “Lil Puma Webkinz” (what the heck is a Webkinz) and the first 10,000 manana get “Los Astros” lids. Bethany and Reid will join me this evening as Los Mets come in for three. I would normally sign off with a “be there” but I understand they may be close to selling out this weekend – great!

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I’m with The President when he says the Cambridge, Massachusetts PD acted “stupidly” when they arrested the African American Harvard professor at his own crib earlier this week. Racial profiling is alive and well in the U.S. of A. It happens all the time. It certainly would not have happened to a White Harvard professor – period! When White dude talking heads start yakketty yakking on this and side with law enforcement, I pay no attention because they will never experience this – SO SHUT UP!

Speaking of, H-Town CM Melissa Noriega’s Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing on the Houston Fire Department racial and sensitivity issues next week. It ought to be real interesting. I wonder what the betting line or over/under is on the future of the Fire Chief.

Due to technical difficulties Commentary couldn’t make it out to The Yard last night to wish my good friend Drayton a Happy Birthday. According to the ‘StrosNotes, since Drayton took over the ‘Stros in 1993, the club has the 5th best winning percentage (.534) in MLB and 2nd in the NL.

Also in the ‘StrosNotes, the ‘Stros have been to the playoffs 6 times over the past 12 season. In the past 12 seasons, only the Yankees (11), Braves (9), Red Sox (7), and Cardinals (6) have made the playoffs as many times – cool.

Also in the ‘StrosNotes, in July, Wandy leads the Majors in wins (4), and ERA (0.62) – cool.

Numero 45’s Grand Salami the other night was his 14th career Salami putting him tied for 14th on the all time Grand Salami list. He’s tied with Jason Giambi, Gil Hodges, Mark McGwire, and Mike Piazza. Lou Gehrig is at the top of the all time list with 23 Salamis.

Oh yeah, I forgot – we got us a sweep last night and are now a game back. The Chron’s Jesus said this morning that The Yard “rocked” last night with 37,000 plus in attendance. Pam-In-Charge sent me a note from The Yard last night and said the climate inside was “electric.” Commentary expects to see more local movers and shakers at The Yard in coming games because that’s going to be the place to be because we’re contending and everybody loves a winner! We have today off and then the Mets come in for a weekend three – are you Serious!

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CEWDEM put a birthday greeting to former State Sen Gene Jones yesterday. Gene was one of the Killer Bees (12 State Senators) who hid out of sight back in 1979. Talk about timing. Commentary’s Mom came by yesterday and dropped on my desk a Killer Bees T-Shirt she found going through my old stuff. It is a slightly used yellow tee with the Ben Sargent cartoon on front. It looks like it doesn’t fit me anymore so I might just put it on ebay to see what I can fetch.

Now that folks are though spinning the campaign fundraising reports, a big question remains. How much $$$ is still out there for H-Town Mayoral candidate Gene Locke? SHOW ME THE TV!

Commentary heard that U.S. Senate candidate John Sharp was in town recently and predicted that he would carry Harris County – yeah, sure.

H-Town CM James Rodriguez weighed in yesterday on Commentary’s posting of the Top Ten Yard Moments. James who used to be a ‘Stros batboy wanted to know how come we don’t have the Top Ten Dome Baseball Moments like his fav – DK’s No-No in 1993. How about The Mick’s Opening Game Dinger in 1965, Nolan’s No-No in 1981, Mike Scott’s No-No that clinched in 1986, Billy Hatcher’s 1986 playoff dinger, the first playoff game ever in 1980 versus the Phillies, the last regular season game ever versus the Dodgers in 1999, the last game ever versus the Braves in 1999, the 1968 All Star Game, the 1986 All Star Game, Game 3 of the playoffs in 1999 versus the Braves when we had the bases loaded with no outs and the game tied in the bottom of the ninth and we couldn’t score, and the first time I got to sit with Drayton in Diamond Level in 1999. My personal Top Dome Baseball Moment is when I first met Pam-In-Charge – cool.

Speaking of, here’s what one of her employees sent: “So don’t ask me how I found this, but apparently the Library of Congress and other agencies have been archiving webpages with the premise that since websites are so transitory, alot of history has been lost…apparently so, click here for the Astros web archive dating back to 1996…some on this email may have played a part in these “revolutionary” pages…” – PRIMATIVE!

What about Numero 45’s Grand Salami last night as Pence and Blum was also a part of the dinger parade as the ‘Stros won 11-6 in front of over 33,000. The Yard was definitely buzzing last night as Wandy picked up his tenth win. Roy O takes on San Luis ace Chris Carpenter tonight – be there!

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It looks like the FW Star-Telegram and the Census Department read Commentary. We really need to get us some better Lone Star State Dem leadership. Check out the piece.

Headline: “Census report shows that Texas still ranks low in voter turnout.” By Aman Batheja.

“The presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain sent more Texans to the polls last year, but the state still had one of the lowest turnouts in the country, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“After factoring in population growth, turnout in Texas dropped 1 percentage point from 2004.

“About 8.4 million voters cast ballots in the state in the November election, roughly half a million more than in 2004.

“But that growth didn’t keep pace with the rise in the state’s population, so turnout actually dropped, from 57 percent in 2004 to 56 percent in 2008. That puts Texas 45th among the states in 2008; it was 47th in 2004.

“Turnout rose among black voters in Texas from 2004 to 2008, but dropped among Hispanics and Asians. An additional 263,000 blacks voted in 2008, increasing turnout from 58 to 65 percent. Hispanic turnout decreased from 42 to 38 percent, despite an additional 164,000 voters. Turnout among Asians fell to 34 percent from 43 percent, with 34,000 fewer voting.

“In Texas, while 71,000 more voters ages 18 to 24 cast ballots in 2008, the turnout for that age group dropped from 39 percent in 2004 to 36 percent in 2008. Voters ages 65 to 74 saw the largest gain, from 69 percent in 2004 to 74 percent in 2008.”

It isn’t rocket science! It is about putting in resources to engage the Latino vote and Lone Star State Dem leaders absolutely don’t get it!

Local Dems that think we are going to cruise into the victory lane in November of 2010 are in for a surprise despite the fact that the local GOP is getting pretty good at shooting themselves over and over again in the same right wing foot. Stay tuned!

It was a playoff kind of atmosphere at The Yard last night as 36 thousand plus watched the ‘Stros put it on the Albert Pujols, Tony La Russa, division leading Cards 3 to 2 – whew! The team wore Lunar Lids and so it was appropriate that Numero 45 had a three run lunar dinger.

Yesterday, Pudge started wearing Numero 77. Brian Moehler is now a career 5-0 versus the Cards as Wandy goes this evening!

It is official, B-G-O’s 3,000 hit on June 28, 2007 was voted Top Moment in the 10 year history of The Yard. Here’s what B-G-O had to say – "Playing 20 years with one organization in a great city, I have had a lot of good things happen to me, but the 3,000th hit was the best night of my professional life. To have the fans vote it as the top moment, I am honored. It was a night that I will never forget, because I got to enjoy it with my family and the fans and teammates. And to be able to enjoy the moment with Jeff (Bagwell) like it happened on the field was truly special. I liked that the fans acknowledged this moment."

Commentary was there and actually got a foul ball that game off of then Rockie Kaz Matsui. On August 3, the first 10,000 fans get a B-G-O DVD to commemorate the moment – cool.

According to ‘Stros voters, here are the Top Ten Yard Moments:

1. Craig Biggio’s 3000th career hit.
2. Chris Burke’s 18th-inning HR in the NLDS.
3. Craig Biggio’s final game.
4. Jeff Bagwell’s game-winning single in memory of Darryl Kile.
5. Brad Ausmus’ final game home run.
6. Brad Ausmus’ HR in the NLDS.
7. Jeff Kent’s HR in the NLCS.
8. Lance Berkman’s Grand Slam in the NLDS.
9. 2004 All-Star Home Run Derby.
10. Craig Biggio’s Jersey Retirement.

I was there for all of them. Of course mine and Pam-In-Charge’s moment didn’t even crack the Top Ten – the Inaugural Game back on March 30, 2000 versus the Yankees that started it all.

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Commentary goofed up big time last Friday by not wishing a big happy birthday to The Lovely Wendy and by the way, she is looking lovelier everyday now. I just forgot. She turned 30 – wow! So Happy Birthday Last Friday The Lovely Wendy – sorry!

The Lovely Wendy was sitting on the front row at Saturday’s Houston Area Latino Summit Mayoral Debate taking down notes. She was one of about 200 folks that showed up. The debate itself lasted a shade under two hours.

The assembled panel of Latino activists (5) that were uncommitted in the mayor’s race scored it Gene Locke 79.6 out of a possible 100, Annise Parker 71.2, Peter Brown 64, and Roy Morales 51.6. Of course, it really doesn’t matter since there was nothing scientific about picking the panel. They were just folks that haven’t made up their mind in the mayor’s race. We added the panel just to give the debate a little something extra like salsa so to speak.

Two Cents and Bay Area Houston had some good takes on the debate.

Check them out: http://doscentavos.net/ and http://www.bayareahouston.blogspot.com/.

The Chron also ran a piece on the debate. Check it out.

Minerva Perez gets high marks for how she moved it along and got in all the prepared questions. What a pro!

H-Town CM James Rodriguez also gets high marks for getting it and providing much needed leadership. He’s utilizing his position and reputation to get Latino leaders and activists all under one roof to get focused on the important issues. He is certainly one of the most astute political players in these parts.

Here’s a quote from James Saturday that kind of set the tone: “The individual that wins the mayoral race this year will in all likelihood be our leader for the next six years. During their first term, it is highly probable that the U.S. Census will announce the City of Houston is 50% or better Latino so the next mayor will be leading a city whose largest population group is Latino so they better have a clear understanding of our concerns and who we are.”

Now let me say that I think all the candidates need and are actively going after the Latino vote. We will just find out who puts in the resources to win it.

Here are a few of Commentary’s observations on their responses to some of the questions.

Question #1 – “¿Quien Habla Español?”

I have to say advantage Peter for at least stringing together a response.

Question #3 – “According to the latest US Census estimate, the City of Houston is close to 45% Latino however, there are only 4 Latino department heads out of 24 departments or 16% of city department heads. Do you think that’s appropriate? If not, what are your plans to correct this?”

Peter, Annise and Roy all said city government should reflect the city’s diversity, so if any of them win, we’re going to demand 50% of the department heads. Gene said that when he looks at top job applicants, Latino resumes will be among those in the final round. Of course, it doesn’t do us any good if we’re runner up 24 times. He needs a better response.

Question #6 – “If elected Mayor, which Latinos not currently serving on city council will be among your circle of close advisors? Who is your ranking Latino campaign advisor or advisors? Please name names.”

Roy, Peter, and Annise all threw out a couple of names. Gene put out a bigger list, of course one or two of those on his list I wouldn’t want near the city government throttles.

Question #10 – “All of you have touched on your involvement in the local Latino community. On the sheet of paper in front of you can you write down 3 local Latino non-profits?”

This question was put in to see what they know and they all know something. Good for them!

Question # 11 – “What processes and policies will you implement that will allow Latino professionals and business owners to increase their share of City of Houston contracts?”

They all gave the standard responses that they are supporters on making sure Latinos get more contracts, blah, blah, blah. I would have said something like “As mayor, I am going to meet every few months with Latino business and professional groups to see how we’re doing and how we can improve. Latino businesses are among the fastest growing in the region and they need to be full business partners with City Hall.”

Question # 12- asked by Maria Jimenez., well actually she had a different version than this one – “In recent weeks there has been extensive coverage in the Houston Chronicle about the Houston Police Department getting into the immigration enforcement business and becoming a defacto arm of ICE. The implementation of 287G is a testament to this. Many Latinos believe that implementation of 287G will lead to police officers on patrol beginning to inquire about immigration status when they pull someone over on a traffic violation. As you well know, they will only ask someone that looks like me. Many in the Latino community consider this unnecessary and believe it will result in immigrants not coming forward to report criminal activity and also scare immigrants away from participating in the 2010 census. What is your position and what will you commit to?”

Roy went south on this one. The others kind of wanted to review which translates into let me see what the police union does on their endorsement. On this issue there is a definite disconnect between the candidates and the Latino community.

Question #14 – asked by Commentary. “After the 2010 Census, the City of Houston could be looking at a population that is 50% Latino, however, we currently only hold 2 out of 14 council positions. On the issue of redistricting, historically the Latino community has had to put up legal and political challenges against various local governments including the City of Houston in the fight for political representation. As you well know, we will be adding two new council seats in 2011. The way it typically works is the Mayor sets out on redistricting process with the philosophy of protecting the nine district council members first, which can be problematic because council members look to survive first rather than do what is right like Ben Reyes did in the 90s when he gave up half of Denver Harbor to District H in order for a Latino to be elected. If elected Mayor will you commit today to work hand in hand with Latino leaders for more Latino political representation opportunities on council during the 2011 redistricting process by giving us a seat at the table and letting us help you pick your experts, consultants, and attorneys instead of having half the population shut out of the process that ends up fighting you and taking you to court?”

They all said they supported increasing Latino political representation, however, Gene probably understood more where I was coming from on the question though because as a lawyer, he has worked with various governmental entities on redistricting.

Question #21 – “Cities across the country are preparing for next year’s 2010 Census by forming advisory committees to engage the community to make sure everyone is counted. As you well know, Latinos are the most undercounted community. The city has budgeted $500,000 for a Census awareness campaign. Compared to other major cities some are saying that this is not enough money and could once again lead to under counting the city’s largest population group. If elected Mayor, would you increase this amount when you first take office?”

None would commit to increasing funding so they all blew it on this one. The city budgeted $500,000 for the effort ten years ago. Since then, the Latino population has grown so it kind of makes sense to at least triple what was spent ten years ago. The census is serious business – heck, it is in the Constitution. They don’t give Mulligans when it comes to counting. If we don’t get it right this time, we have to wait another ten years. It is pretty obvious that the candidates and their campaign staff haven’t thought this one through.

Question #22 – “There is debate going on in the East End on the rail line about the construction of an underpass or overpass on Harrisburg. Experts say an underpass would cost too much. What is your position and how would you pay for it?”

Annise responded by taking a shot at METRO’s credibility. Peter threw out a slogan – something like it ain’t over til it’s under. Both kind of pandered to the overpass opposition. Gene’s response was the most thoughtful.

All in all, I think it went well if I don’t mind saying.  Thanks to CMs Michael Sullivan and Jolanda Jones for showing support and sticking through the entire debate.  Stay tuned!

The ‘Stros easily could have swept the four games in LA this past weekend but an ump blew a call Saturday night and Mike Hampton was upset at a bad pitch and in anger threw the ball into his mitt and missed letting a run score – huh. Yesterday, reliever Alberto Arias missed an easy toss at first and and lost the handle to the ball after a grounder to him and that was enough for us to lose – drats! So now Albert Pujols, Tony LaRussa and the Cards come in for three and the first 10,000 fans tonight get Lunar Lids to commemorate the moon landing 40 years ago today.

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