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Archive for April, 2013

On a historic day when NBAer Jason Collins announced he was gay, here in Texas the state Attorney General came out with a non binding legal opinion saying that local political jurisdictions cannot offer domestic partnership benefits.  As this great country of ours becomes more tolerant and accepting, it is kind of sad, scary, and downright funny to watch Guv Dude, the Lite Guv, and the Texas AG try to lead Texas back to the Stone Age.  Some of the State’s GOP leadership including State Sen. Dan Patrick continues to try to hold on to the notion that intolerance and inequality is good public policy. I guess they didn’t even bother to look down the road to College Station to see the A&M student body president veto an anti GLBT measure a few weeks ago.

Here is what the San Antonio Mayor said in the SA Express News on the AG’s opinion:

“I’ve instructed the City Attorney’s Office to do an immediate review to see whether the attorney general’s opinion even applies to San Antonio and, if it does, to let the City Council know what our options are. I don’t think our policy is unconstitutional, but I believe the attorney general’s opinion is wrong for San Antonio and a step backwards for Texas.”

Let’s not forget that this is just an opinion – an opinion that has more to do with the 2014 election and which candidate can look the meanest on GLBT issues.   It may work for the next election and maybe the one after that, but that’s it.  The day is coming when Texans will reject the Pied Pipers of Intolerance.

How many games have the ‘Stros won in the Bronx?

Here is from Politico:

Barbara Walters agrees with Tom Brokaw: Celebrities have overrun the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

"It’s why some of us didn’t go this year, because it’s got movie stars,” Walters said on “The View” Monday. “You used to see other members of the administration and other politicians, … but it’s become more and more about the movie stars at the table."

"It used to be a wonderful opportunity to meet all different people in Washington,” she added. “But when it gets to be about movie stars, it’s not that it’s not fun, but it’s a little different.”

This is from a person that used to interview major movie stars on Oscar night.  You could say she made a living off of celebs.  You could say she was a celeb moocher.

Tigers ace Justin Verlander pitches this evening at Comerica against the Twins.  That means we will be on his Cinco de Mayo menu this Sunday at The Yard – YIKES!

Last night’s 9-1 drubbing of the Yankees was our second win in the Bronx.  The first was the six pitcher no-no back in 2003 that Commentary witnessed in person.

I couldn’t find the game on TV last night.  I think it was preempted by the Rockets or something like that.  I missed a good one for sure!

 

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FYI:  Graci Garces, candidate for H-Town City Council District I, is Commentary’s client.

It isn’t even May and the Ben Mendez for Houston City Council District I Campaign is already on the defensive.  This past weekend they sent out an email trying to tout his Democratic Party street cred.  Mendez was a contributor to the John McCain for President Campaign against President Obama and Mendez has also given to the Republican National Committee.  Folks learned about the Mendez GOP donations last week via the twitterverse.

Mendez said this in his email:

City of Houston Mayoral and City Council elections are nonpartisan.

I agree, you don’t get to have a D or R next to your name on the ballot but partisanship is a major factor in City of Houston races.  District I voted for The President by over 70% this past November.   District I voters are not going to take kindly to a candidate giving money to Republicans.

In the Mendez email, Mendez claims to be a former “union member.”   When a lot of Democrats in 2008 were working for hope and change, Mendez was giving his personal dough to a RNC whose platform references organized labor officials as “union bosses.”

In his email Mendez says:

Mendez wears many hats.  As an advocate, this allows him to open the doors of communication and encourage bipartisan dialogue to address local, state, and national issues, such as immigration reform.

Mendez gave his personal dough to John McCain who at the time was running for the presidency on an immigrant bashing platform.  Stay tuned!

Everybody knows that Mickey Mantle hit the first dinger at the Astrodome when it opened on April 9, 1965 but do folks know who was the leadoff batter for the Yankees that evening? 

This is what resulted when GOP leaders relentlessly attacked The President for four years during his first term:

America’s blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press.

They asked for it! 

Here is the entire piece.

I’m thinking NBC News’ Justice Department correspondent Pete Williams is feeling pretty good these days after getting a shout out from The President the other night at the White House Correspondents Dinner.  Check out what The President said:

“If anyone wonders, for example, whether newspapers are a thing of the past, all you needed to do was to pick up or log on to papers like the Boston Globe.  When their communities and the wider world needed them most, they were there making sense of events that might at first blush seem beyond our comprehension. And that’s what great journalism is, and that’s what great journalists do. And that’s why, for example, Pete Williams’ new nickname around the NBC newsroom is ‘Big Papi.’”

Commentary likes Tom Brokaw even when he gets on his high horse.  Brokaw once again took a shot at the White House Correspondents Dinner.  He thinks the dinner is more of a celebrity-fest of sorts.  Here is what he told Politico:

Brokaw touched off the debate over the dinner when he told POLITICO’s Patrick Gavin in an interview that he won’t be attending this year’s gathering and that the last straw for him was when Lindsay Lohan was invited in 2012. The veteran newsman bemoaned the number of celebs at the dinner and worried how it all looks.

“What kind of image do we present to the rest of the country?” Brokaw asked. “Are we doing their business, or are we just a group of narcissists who are mostly interested in elevating our own profiles? And what comes through the screen on C-SPAN that night is the latter, and not the former.”

Here is how one of Brokaw’s colleagues responded:

New Yorker editor David Remnick, whose magazine threw a Friday night soirée on the roof of the W Hotel, told POLITICO he doesn’t think the White House Correspondents’ Dinner undermines the press.

“Look at what we publish,” he said. “Does it seem like it corrupts us?”

Over the years, Remnick noted that the New Yorker has published groundbreaking stories on torture, drone strikes and other sensitive topics in D.C.

“If one party can corrupt you,” he said. “You probably shouldn’t be in the game.”

Celebs are part of the political culture these days.  They raise and give money to political candidates and political and public causes.  They help create awareness for certain issues.  They are invited to state dinners.  Many are part of the entertainment industry economy that creates jobs across the country.   They get their good and bad covered by the media.

I wonder if Brokaw was watching the “Today Show” this past Friday when NBC News Department’s highest paid employee Matt Lauer was interviewing Martha Stewart and asked Martha if she was dating anyone and Martha responded that she nearly went on Match.com.  I wonder if he watched this morning when Lauer had Martha in studio and they talked more about Martha wanting to go out with a fella.

Stop the presses!  Martha Stewart is going on Match.com!

Here is the entire Politico piece on Brokaw.

Commentary likes George Jones and I think “The Grand Tour” is probably his best tune in my opinion.  NPR did a feature on it a couple of weeks ago.  Commentary only went to one of his concerts sort of over 30 years ago in San Antonio.  Here is from a SA Express News article the other day:

In 1981, George Jones cancelled a concert at Randy’s because he was “ill” (and yes, the story used the word with quotes).

The next year, he performed at Freeman Coliseum. Well, the term “performed” may have been generous because he told the 2,500 fans, “I’m drunk, but I love y’all.” The feeling was not mutual; they responded with boos. Only 450 fans made it to the end of a concert where he forgot lyrics and sang some songs twice. The promoters refused to give refunds because he did appear on stage.

According to the story (above)  in the News on Aug. 16, 1982, Jones left town the next morning “on a motorcycle, his girlfriend and a bottle of tequila in the sidecar and his road crew trailing in a bus…”

The fans forgave him, as he appeared in other concerts in the following years.

I was at the Freeman Coliseum gig.  I think was there because the concert had a political event tie-in.  I couldn’t understand much of what he was singing.  It was hilarious.  I felt a little bad for the promoters and sponsors of the gig.

Express News story here.

Mickey Mantle of course batted leadoff at the first game ever at the Astrodome.

In the Chron today there is another – YAWN – story on what to do with the Dome.  For now the story is only available to subscribers.

When you are 7-18 there is nothing good you can say as they head into Yankee Stadium for three. 

 

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Commentary was watching the H-Town City Council meeting this past Wednesday and citizens came forward to address the proposal to turn Memorial Park over to a TIRZ and the Memorial Park Conservancy so they can replant the trees the park lost because of the drought.  Here is how Lisa Falkenberg explains it in her column today that is only available to subscribers:

The city is considering a proposal to let a group called the Uptown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone No. 16 annex a beloved green space twice the size of New York’s Central Park so it can pay for tree planting, water lines and other improvements the city can’t afford.
The overall project would take 20 years to complete and cost around $150 million, paid for by private funds, any state and federal grants obtained, and by the TIRZ No. 16, which has authority to plow a portion of property taxes back into its specific area.

Reforestation is sorely needed in a park devastated by hurricane damage and drought. This is a great deal, city leaders and supporters say, a great way to restore our crown jewel to its former beauty. And we should all trust the Memorial Park Conservancy – a private body whose members aren’t elected and which acts as both fundraiser and watchdog for the park – to make it happen.

There are some in H-Town that don’t like the deal and feel that the public will be left out in the dark when it comes to input.  The Mayor and some members of Council tried to reassure them that everything would be OK.  Here is more from Falkenberg:

When they were assured by Mayor Annise Parker and some City Council members that the city would have to sign off on any decisions, the environmentalists continued to argue that the public should be involved from the get-go. Not after the fact. Not left holding a rubber stamp.

After all, it’s a public park, a very special one with a rare wildness that offers a unique escape in a city as large as Houston. It belongs to all of us, they say. It is not for sale.

This from Lisa is what caught my eye:

There are details in a "Letter of Intent" on the project that didn’t make it into the press release. The letter outlining details of the plan states that the Conservancy would be responsible for major decisions including design, bidding, and managing construction projects in the master plan. The city would later have to approve those decisions, but it’s unclear if that leaves enough time for a thorough public vetting.

A troubling section of the letter called "Coordination of Public Relations" points out that the conservancy isn’t subject to public information requests. And the agreement would require all parties – even the public ones that are subject to information requests – to coordinate through private parties before disclosing any information to the public.

I would hope that the City doesn’t get in the arse kicking mode and just run over those that have expressed concern.  I would hope that they just don’t pat them on the head and say “trust us.” Is it that difficult to incorporate their concerns into the proposal?  Stay tuned!

If you want to read the rest of Lisa’s column, go fetch you a hard copy of today’s Chron. 

Yesterday the Texas House took up a bill on mail ballots and “harvesting.”  I’m glad they didn’t ask for my opinion.

There are 50 MLBers past and present that have 400 plus career dingers.  Who is numero 50 on the list?

From the Shut Up Dept!:

MLB commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday that the Astros’ move to the American League will “work out fine.”

But he added that if Astros’ fans “want a villain, it’s me because I made the decision.”

Commentary didn’t have anything better to do last night so I watched the NFL Draft and watched Mountaineer QB Geno Smith squirm and squirm and squirm and then he finally got disgusted and walked out of the waiting room after not being selected in the First Round.  Did I feel bad for him?  Nope.  He’ll do fine and heck he may get a commercial or two out of waiting for a phone call that never came like the Maytag repair fella.

Big Papi of course sits at numero 50 on the all time career dinger list with 401, err 402 after the one he got against the ‘Stros last night at Fenway.

We’re 0 for 4 all time at Fenway!

 

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Yesterday Commentary got an email from ChristiansForGoodGovernment@gmail.com that went after HISD for awarding 2012 HISD School Bond contracts to out of town firms.  Check this from the email:

In 2012 HISD came to us seeking $1.89 Billion of our hard earned tax dollars. They came into our churches and Homeowner Association meetings telling us how important passing this bond would be for our children and LOCAL businesses. We now see that (the Superintendent, some board members and staff) sold us a bill of goods. Not only are they raising our taxes, but LOCAL firms who have had a long history of working with the community are shut out. The HISD Board of Trustee’s decided to send your tax dollars to Columbus, Ohio and other cities outside of Houston; where YOU pay taxes.

Christians for Good Government also have a radio ad running with the same message. (email Commentary if you want to hear the ad.)

First of all let me say that having a debate on how HISD awards major contracts is legitimate.

Let me also say that you can only participate in this debate if you properly indentify yourself.  You can’t debate if you hide behind a curtain or a fake PAC.  I can’t find any record of Christians for Good Government with the Texas Ethics Commission so I don’t who their treasurer is and who gives them money.  I won’t try to guess who is behind Christians for Good Government.

I don’t spend a whole lot of time talking about religion on Commentary because I believe in separation of church and Daily Commentary if you know what I mean.  It does seem kind of unchristian-like to use “Christian” in a political ad in H-Town but not be honest about who you are.  It is not like you have to conceal your identity because you are going up against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.  You’re going up against HISD who by the way do not possess WMDs. 

So until we get Christians to come clean and indentify themselves there should be no debate on the awarding of contracts over at HISD – period!

Since Interleague Play began in how many seasons has the AL won the most games and how many seasons has the NL won the most games?

Quote of the week on a vote to do away with the Texas Lottery:

“I voted to do away with it, but I didn’t think I’d be part of a majority,” said (State Rep. Mike) Villarreal, who believes the agency is fiscally flawed.

Yogi Berra approves of this quote.

Time permitting Commentary will try to watch the George W. Bush Presidential Library dedication this morning.  Why not?

Burkablog will be there and read his take here.

Way to go The Dean!  Check this from the Chron:

Sen. John Whitmire on Wednesday pronounced an embattled "campus carry" bill dead for this legislative session, citing the lingering effect of last year’s Sandy Hook shooting that claimed the lives of 20 school children.

"I don’t think there is any question that the tragedies around the country, most recently at Sandy Hook, put a chilling effect on broadening the right to carry on campuses and other venues," said Whitmire, D-Houston. "I personally think we need a cooling-off period."

Whitmire effectively shot down the chances of Senate Bill 182, which would allow concealed handgun license holders to carry firearms in college classrooms and buildings, from being considered in the Criminal Justice Committee, which he chairs.

Here is the entire piece.

The AL has won Interleague Play 12 seasons, the NL 4 seasons of course

Cy-Fair product Robbie Grossman was called up from Oklahoma City yesterday to replace DL bound Justin Maxwell. He went 2 for 5 with 2 doubles. His parents were sitting in the field box seats to watch to their son play in his first big league game.  Afterwards he hopped on the team bus to catch the charter to Boston.  Today Grossman will play his second MLB game at Fenway.  He will probably run into players like Big Papi, Ellsbury, Pedroia, The Flying Hawaiian, and Napoli.  Way to go!

The bats came alive yesterday and the pitching was steady in a 10-3 win over the Mariners and a series win.  The ‘Stros now play four at Fenway and then head to the Bronx for three – yikes!

 

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The big news to come out of Austin yesterday was the Texas House taking a mulligan and reversing itself on continuing the Texas Lottery.  First they voted 81-65 to not authorize it then they came back with a 92-53 vote to continue it.  Now that is embarrassing!

Didn’t the sponsors of the bill bother to count votes before they put it on the floor?  Don’t they have whips or floor leaders for this stuff?  Didn’t the high paid lottery lobbyists put together a vote count?  Somebody dropped the ball big time. 

This also sends a message to the public that the Texas Legislature doesn’t have a lot of confidence in the lottery so don’t plunk down your dollars on the lotto, or power ball, or scratch-off.

As I recall the voters approved the lottery back in 1991.  Don’t you think the voters ought to have a say in continuing the lottery?  Way to go!

The Mariners are in town.  How many AL West titles do the Mariners own?

Burkablog has a take on what Guv Dude said the other day about regulating fertilizer facilities.  Here is from a Chron story on Dude:

Gov. Rick Perry on Monday defended the state’s inspections process regarding the West fertilizer plant where a fire and explosion last week killed 14 people and devastated the small Central Texas town while officials began offering theories on a cause.

Perry said he remains comfortable with the level of state oversight following the West Fertilizer Co. blast that leveled several blocks of homes, schools and buildings. The governor added that Texas residents have sent the same message about regulation through their elected officials.

Here is Burkablog:

Gov. Rick Perry said Monday that spending more state money on inspections would not have prevented the deadly explosion at the West Fertilizer Co. plant that was last investigated by Texas environmental regulators in 2006. Excuse me for asking, but … how would Perry know? You can’t prove a negative.
The governor told the Associated Press that he remains comfortable with the state’s level of oversight following last week’s massive blast that killed 14 people and injured 200. It’s so nice to hear that Perry is comfortable with the state’s level of oversight, but perhaps the people who lost their loved ones and property in West might have a different idea. Perry also suggested in his interview that "the majority of Texas residents agree with him." And he knows this because . . . why, exactly? Does that include the survivors in West? Who conducted that poll? This is just Rick Perry engaging in desperate CYA tactics. That isn’t leadership–it is an embarrassingly lame response.

The Mariners won the AL West in 1995, 1997, and 2001 of course.

At the fan focus group the other evening a few fans griped about the nine non-holiday weekday games.  There is one today as the ‘Stros wrap up the homie with the Mariners and only 13,000 and changed showed up last night.

 

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The H-Town Mayor is kicking off her campaign at 11 am Saturday, May 11 down the street at Stude Park off of Studemont and White Oak.  If you are coming from south of I-10 avoid coming down Studemont/Studewood.  You will definitely get frustrated at the congestion.  Explore other routes. 

When you don’t spend money on the team, you can’t expect much so the following doesn’t surprise me.  Check this from the Chron sports page today:

About an hour after general manager Jeff Luhnow said Monday the Astros’ paper-thin early-season pitching situation was the worst he’s seen in his baseball career, his transparent statement received more depth.

A statistic from the Elias Sports Bureau appeared on Twitter timelines: Astros starting pitchers had combined for just 15 1/3 innings the last six games, heading into Monday night’s matchup against the Mariners at Minute Maid Park. The mark was tied with the 1986 White Sox for the fewest innings in a six-game span during the last 35 years.

“We’re going through an extremely rough time,” Luhnow said. “This is an unusual situation. Never in my career have I seen anything even remotely close to it.”

I got news for the GM.  A lot of us are not surprised. We are not dumbarses.  We know enough about the game to figure out what is happening.

Check out the rest of the story here.

What are the most runs the ‘Stros have ever scored in an inning?

Did you know that including The Mayor there are five women (Wanda Adams, Helena Brown, Ellen Cohen, Annise Parker, and Melissa Noriega) on the current 17 member H-Town City Council? 

Did you know that the 2006/2007 City Council had eight women (Carol Alvarado, Anne Clutterbuck, Ada Edwards, Pam Holm, Toni Lawrence, Sue Lovell, Shelley Sekula-Gibbs/Melissa Noriega, and Addie Wiseman) on the 15 member H-Town City Council?  That’s the only City Council that has had a women’s majority.

Did you know that the last Latinas to serve on the H-Town City Council were Alvarado and Wiseman back in 2007?

Well now you know!

This is from a Chron story only available to subscribers for now.  Guv Dude needs to sit tight and wait and see what happened.  Check this:

Gov. Rick Perry on Monday defended the state’s inspections process regarding the West fertilizer plant where a fire and explosion last week killed 14 people and devastated the small Central Texas town while officials began offering theories on a cause.

Perry said he remains comfortable with the level of state oversight following the West Fertilizer Co. blast that leveled several blocks of homes, schools and buildings. The governor added that Texas residents have sent the same message about regulation through their elected officials.

Slow down, Dude! 

Yesterday evening Commentary participated in a ‘Stros fan forum or focus group session at The Yard.  The front office had ten of us regulars there to talk about our Yard experiences.  There were some serious hard core fans there.  They started the session by asking all of us to relate a foul ball story.  I told them I could relate about 100 foul ball stories.  I don’t think they believed me.

Things that were discussed included The Yard grub, service, where we get info on the team, our attitudes about the team, and our positive and negative experiences at The Yard.  Some fella complained about the owner’s politics.  A couple complained about the homeless badgering them on their way in to The Yard.  A few complained about the TV and radio deal. 

We got a sandwich, cookie, drink, and a couple of T-shirts for our participation.

On May 31, 1975 in Philly, the ‘Stros scored 12 runs in the eighth inning of course in a game we won 15-3.

Jose Altuve is batting .377.   With the exception of Marwin Gonzalez, everyone else isn’t. 

 

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Everyone knows that Hearst owns the Chron and SA Express News.  Both newspapers share State Capitol and U.S. Capitol reporters and columnists.  Commentary regularly checks in on the SA Express News and I’ve noticed of late one big difference in local coverage.  The Express News devotes a lot of space to their City Council and school board races.  The Chron doesn’t – period.  That’s too bad.

The Chron covers City Hall issues but the only time they cover individual council members or council races is at filing deadline time and the day after the election.  Maybe Express News readers have a better appetite for City Council coverage.  I’m just making an observation.

The Tribe scored 8 runs in the first inning Friday night at The Yard.  What is the record for most runs scored in an inning against the ‘Stros?

I was at The Yard Friday evening when they flashed on El Grande the news about the second suspect being captured and folks pulled out their gizmos to read the news accounts.  My immediate reaction was a sigh of relief for the folks of Boston.  All day Friday they had been told to shelter in place or stay home.   The Bruins and Red Sox games were postponed that evening.

That’s one for the MLB record book – game called off because of manhunt.  That was the right call.  Aside from the fact that you have the second suspect on the loose, you don’t want to draw down on law enforcement at that particular time to deal with security issues and traffic around Fenway. 

The Red Sox organization gets kudos for Saturday afternoon’s pregame tribute.  Big Papi got a pass from the FCC for dropping the F bomb.  They honored victims, first responders, good Samaritans, medical personnel, and law enforcement.  Neil Diamond showed up to perform “Sweet Caroline.”  The five minute video shown on the jumbotron was very moving and emotional.

You can check it out here.

When Commentary was helping Traci Jensen, Democratic nominee for State Board of Education, District 6, last year, I was kind of surprised at a forum when the Republican candidate Donna Bahorich said she opposed vouchers.  It was surprising because Bahorich is close to Sen. Dan Patrick and in fact used to be his District Office Director. She announced her position at a couple of other forums we attended. Last week the State Board of Education voted on a resolution to oppose vouchers and it passed 10-5 with Bahorich voting against the resolution.

I wonder if the Chron will call out Bahorich on her flip flop.

On August 3, 1989 in Cincinnati the Reds scored 14 runs in the first inning of course against the ‘Stros.  We lost that game 18-2.

We lost Friday night 19-6.  It was ugly.

I don’t know what to say about the lowly ‘Stros.  You can’t really blame the players because they are who they are and what they get paid if you know what I mean.

The front office is the screw-up because they assembled this bunch.  I have to wonder why the Skipper pinch hit for Fernando Martinez in the seventh after he had a two run dinger in his first at-bat and a line drive out in his second at-bat.  We look like a 5-13 team.

 

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