Archive for May 15th, 2013

Don’t forget to join the Graci Garces Campaign “Tapas on the Patio – A District I Women’s Event”, this evening, 5:30 – 7 p.m., Batanga Houston (908 Congress @ Travis)!

It wasn’t a good day for the front office at The Yard yesterday.  Local media ran stories of the ‘Stros no longer supporting the Astros Wives Gala that benefits the Houston Area Women’s Center (HAWC).   The ‘Stros attempted to ‘splain they were focusing their philanthropic efforts on at-risk youth.    I get that they want to go elsewhere but they didn’t take into account the popularity of the Gala among ‘Stros fans.  They didn’t because all the experienced front office hands have been run off.

The blunders also included having the ‘Stros Senior VP for Marketing talk to Culture Map but dodging Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Chron.  Jesus Ortiz is a freaking member of the Baseball Writers of America, a former ‘Stros full time beat writer, and he wrote a freaking book on the 2005 World Serious season! 

Here is the Jesus Ortiz story.

Here is part of what the team put out yesterday after 5 pm from the Chron:

• This was not an Astros Event or Astros Foundation event and the former wives charity that hosted it is now essentially no longer in operation as no current Astros Wives belong.

• The event was managed by a paid consultant who received a % of funds from the charitable proceeds. It was not managed by the Astros or the Astros charity.

• The % of funds raised by the gala that were spent on expenses and fees were very high – ranging from 40% to over 59% of gross proceeds spent on party expenses and fees over the past 3 years. That means in recent years, the Women’s Center actually received only a little more than half, or in one year less than half, of what was raised for the Center.

• Best charitable practice assumes donors can expect 70% or more to go to the charity – this is not in keeping with that standard. With such high fees and expenses, the gala was not in keeping with best charitable practices, nor was it aligned with our team charity’s new strategic focus on at risk youth.

Here is all of the response.

The ‘Stros said the Gala donation ratio wasn’t good.  Last year they raised $450,000.  It had expenses of $200,000 and $250,000 went to HAWC.  Well then cut costs or come up with a less expensive event.    Did they even consider fixing it?

Check this from the Jesus Ortiz:

“While we were in the process of deciding on our new strategic focus, the Astros Foundation also reviewed details of the Wives Gala and its budgeting, culled from recent publicly available tax returns,” said Meg Vaillancourt, the team’s senior VP of Community Relations. “We learned that in recent years, in our opinion, it appeared far too much of the funds raised by the gala seemed to go towards expenses, rather than to the charity.

“As a best charitable practice, it is common to expect some 70 percent — or more whenever possible — of funds raised should go towards the charitable purpose people intended in supporting the event. In the case of the Gala, in recent years, it appears that a little more than half — and at least in one recent year, less than half – of the funds raised actually went to the Women’s Center.”

In the last available IRS filings, the Astros Wives Organization had $432,000 in contributions in 2011 and distributed $220,000 to the Houston Area Women’s Center. That’s 50.9 percent to charity. Most of the other money was used to fund the banquet and silent auction, which were held at Minute Maid Park and included fees paid to the Astros.

Vaillancourt came to the Astros this year from the Red Sox Foundation. By comparison, the Red Sox Foundation had $9.2 million in contributions in 2011 and distributed $4.4 million in grants. That’s 47.9 percent to charity.

Ouch!  Maybe they should have been more cooperative with Jesus Ortiz.

Heck, they’ve been moving players in and out of The Yard at warp speed that it is kind of hard to grab a player and ask him if he has a wife.  Heck most of them are probably afraid to unpack their suitcase for fear of getting released, sent to Triple A, or traded.  Oh, well.

The Chron’s Randy Harvey says this:

Two fan blogs, The Crawfish Boxes and Astros County, announced they were going dark for a day, maybe longer in the case of Crawfish Boxes, in protest.

Timothy de Block of The Crawfish Boxes said the site might return with fewer writers.

"… several of our writers have expressed a disinterest in covering this team for the moment," he said.

The Astros have a general manager. They have a manager. They need a crisis manager.

What they need to do is start winning.  That cures a lot of stuff in baseball.

Who is the last Hall of Fame great to catch a no-no?

The Graci Garces Campaign didn’t invent the photo that was sent to us.  Some of our supporters saw it and didn’t like it.  Now the Mendez campaign is denying putting it out there but folks aren’t buying the denial.  They could have denied it last week but they didn’t.  Here is the Houston Press piece on it:

Houston City Council District I candidate Graci Garces is calling for opponent Ben Mendez’s apology after Mendez — or someone with his campaign — allegedly e-mail blasted a photo of….um, Garces enjoying a meal at a restaurant.

"I was appalled that Ben Mendez and his campaign would distribute a photo of me that is intended to bully, harass, and discriminate," Garces explained in her statement.

She continued: "The Mendez campaign crossed the line of decency and should be held accountable."

Hair Balls has to admit: we’re a little confused by the whole thing. We’re not sure what the Mendez hoped to gain by distributing the photo, or if it was just someone’s idea of a joke. What’s the message of this photo? That Garces is not a size 2, and therefore is a freak of nature whose very existence must be documented and shared with the rest of the world?

We think Garces and her supporters — some of whom have written their own open letter demanding an apology — are raising too much of a stink over this, but that’s politics. What bothers us most of all is the way Mendez’s campaign is(n’t) dealing with this.

We asked Mendez’s campaign manager, Joaquin Martinez, about the photo Monday, and he claimed that this was the first he’s heard of it. Strike one, dude. If it really was the first he’s heard of something that one of his opponents is now turning into a campaign issue, then he needs to be let go and replaced by a more effective manager, like perhaps an orangutan, or a block of wood. There is no reason Martinez shouldn’t have had some canned statement at the ready.

Martinez said he’d get back to us, and of course he did not. Nor has Mendez returned our calls. But sometime between our brief conversation Monday afternoon and this morning, the contact number on the campaign’s website changed. Strike two, dude. That’s just freakin’ stupid.

And here’s strike three: the new number’s voicemail doesn’t identify the campaign, or name any associated individual. It doesn’t even state the actual phone number — what it does is state the phone number as if it’s an actual number, as in, "You have reached two-billion-eight-hundred nineteen million…"

We’re guessing this is what happened at Team Mendez Monday night.

Martinez: Hey, Ben, some jack-off reporter asked about that photo. What should I tell him?

Mendez: (thinking long and hard before a luminescent bulb clicks on over his head) By Jove, I’ve got it! Don’t call him back — just change the number on our campaign site. And make sure it has a really fucking stupid outgoing message!

Martinez: Sir, how did you get to be so smart?

Mendez: By never eating, my son. By never eating.

Update: Martinez just sent us a response, which states, "Ben Mendez is running a positive, energized, grass-roots campaign based on the needs and concerns of the citizens of District I, and at no time indulges in or condones negative campaign tactics. In the face of competition, we’re aware that campaigns sometimes present items in attempts to get traction in the news….[Mendez’s] campaign staff and volunteers will continue to work hard to energize and engage the citizens [of] District I in discussions about ways to improve the overall quality of life in the community."

The late Hall of Fame great Gary Carter was behind the plate when Charlie Lea of the Expos put a no-no on the Giants in 1981 of course.

We suffered another loss last night.  Maybe the new owner should have considered having the team as the designated charity. Heck, he probably would have gotten a better response if he had decided to cancel the season instead of the Gala. 


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