Archive for November, 2013

Last Friday

There are only 15 days left in this year’s election season – whew! It feels like I have been at it for – well, I have. I am starting to see push cards, mailers, and cut turf in my sleep. At least we can take a couple of weeks off before the next election season gets going.

Everyone knows that MLB first used the Wild Card in 1995. Name the first two Wild Card Teams?

The City of H-Town cut a deal with strip club owners. I guess it is a good deal. Of course I don’t hang out at those places. I also don’t know why they call them gentlemen’s clubs. What do I know?

A shout out goes to the folks that put together the H-Town Thanksgiving Day Parade. I checked out some of it on Channel 11 and it looked like folks were having a good time.

Apparently that Lloyd Oliver fella filed for DA again as a Dem. I hope the folks that are running Kim Ogg’s campaign bust their butts and don’t take anything for granted. I hope they go after Oliver and not just think that racking up all the Dem Party organizations endorsements is going to do the trick. We saw what happened two years ago. They have to be aggressive. We will see.

The family gathered for dinner yesterday in Sugar Land, Texas. It was nice even though nobody brought pumpkin pie. We were introduced to Foodie Fight, A Trivia Game for Serious Food Lovers. I couldn’t answer a single question and came out dead last. Dave, Dante, and Luke caught the bug and headed off to Best Buy right after 6 pm.

The Yankees and Rockies of course were the first Wild Card teams in MLB history back in 1995.

Commentary hasn’t listened to sports talk radio since earlier in the year. It has been nothing but NPR. NPR is now on the shelf because of the Christmas tunes.

The ‘Stros said they are working on deals.

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Flying Saucer

Every year around this time the local TV news crews set up on Crosstimbers over ay the Flying Saucer and interview the folks standing in line for hours to buy pies. In a burg the size of H-Town, is that the only place to buy a decent pie?

I guess the pies over at Kroger, HEB, and Central Market are conveyor made pies and are not worthy of coverage. I’m thinking there might be room in H-Town for another decent pie shop.

My friend Bob Stein has a piece on Chron.com on the runoff in District I. If you are interested in the District I runoff, you need to check it out.

The Baseball Hall of Fame ballot was announced yesterday. Name the first five members of the 1936 inaugural class.

I received a Yolanda Navarro Flores for HCC Trustee mailer yesterday.

My pal Jose de Jesus Ortiz has a piece on B-G-O’s chance on making the Hall of Fame this go around. You can only read it if you have the Chron hard copy or are a subscriber. It is a good piece so check it out.

Ty Cob, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner of course were the first five elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

So far the ‘Stros don’t seem to be making off season moves to bring more folks to The Yard.

That is all I have so have a Happy Thanksgiving and be safe and be nice and I’ll see you Friday.

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In 2014

Some folks are already talking about the Davis/Van de Putte ticket and comparing it to the 2002 Dream Team. Let them. In the Lone Star State, 2014 isn’t 2002 in terms of the political landscape. Back in 2002, the war on women’s health care had not escalated to the point it is now. There wasn’t a whole lot of Latino bashing going on. The GOP had not met and fallen in love with the Tea Party. Today things are a whole lot different.

In 2007, MLB introduced the Civil Rights Game. The first two years the game was held at the end of Spring Training. In 2009, it was a regular season game that counted. Name the two teams that played in the Civil Rights game that year?

Here is what Burkablog says about 2014:

The entry of Leticia Van de Putte into the race for lieutenant governor will be closely watched for its impact on Hispanic turnout. Democrats have been waiting for the Hispanic vote to start influencing Texas elections in a big way, but it just hasn’t happened. Exactly why the Hispanic vote hasn’t matured remains a mystery. A big Hispanic turnout was supposed to boost the Democrats’ multicultural “Dream Team” ticket in 2002, but it didn’t materialize, and Rick Perry easily defeated Democratic nominee Tony Sanchez to win the race for governor. The Hispanic vote has not been a factor in any subsequent election.

I have a high regard for Van de Putte as a politician, who earned a spot on this year’s Ten Best legislators list. She is no ideologue. She’ll work with the other side — and did so during the regular session, when she joined forces with Rick Perry to push for more rigor in House Bill 5. She’ll be an asset to Wendy Davis on the Democratic ticket, and she’ll be a worthy opponent for whoever wins the Republican primary.

One of the problems for Democrats is that in counties with large Hispanic populations, particularly in South Texas, the primary is where the action is, not the general election. In the Rio Grande Valley, the races that motivate are those for local positions — city councils, school boards, and courthouse jobs. The elections frequently come down to a battle of one prominent family against another. The winner gains power and something else that is very important in areas that suffer from poverty: good-paying jobs. Another issue for Democrats is that the Hispanic vote is by no means unilaterally Democratic. Republican candidates such as John Cornyn and Rick Perry have always been able to count on a third or so of the Hispanic vote. A lot of Hispanic voters are small business operators who are traditional conservatives.

And then there is the problem of history. Hispanics emigrated to America from a country whose government seldom did things FOR people, but rather did things TO people. In such circumstances, the degree of trust or belief in government and politicians was, and remains, negligible. All too easily, the culture of Mexican politics was transplanted to the Texas side of the border.

Van de Putte’s job, then, is to motivate Hispanics to vote. If she and Davis can do it, they have a chance to transform Texas politics. But Democrats have been waiting for the so-called “brown wave” to roll over Texas for generations, and no such event has appeared. At the very least, she will be a strong running mate for Davis and she can be a strong advocate for the Democratic ticket as well. It’s still going to be an uphill battle, at best.

Well Democrats certainly know what they are up against. It has been a long time since Democrats have rolled out and implemented a strategy to maximize Latino voter turnout. It is not a mystery as to why Latinos have not shown up in greater numbers in general elections. It is neglect. As to some Latinos being conservative. What is so conservative about draconian immigration positions and rhetoric? Let’s see what happens.

The 2009 Civil Rights Game featured the White Sox at Cinncy of course.

I got nothing from The Yard.

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The Ticket

Commentary hasn’t had the time to think much about the 2014 elections. I will say that State Senators Wendy Davis and Leticia Van de Putte are going to be formidable candidates. They are two of the smartest people in politics. They are not in it to lose. They are definitely going to excite the base.

Sen. Van de Putte summed it up perfectly when talking about the GOP latest effort to go after the Latino vote. She said “you can’t successfully fight for the Hispanic vote, unless you successfully fight for Hispanic families.”

Stay tuned!

The Chron E-Board endorsed Michael Kubosh for At-Large 3 this past Saturday.

On Saturday I received a Zeph Capo mailer.

Election Day is 19 days away.

Name the active MLB player with a 58 dinger season?

Last night I checked on the game and saw the Pats down 24 zip at halftime. Later on I saw a tweet about there must have been a heckuva halftime speech in the Pats locker room. I switched back to the game and it was 24-14. It ended being an OT thriller.

Which brings us to the Texans. Somebody needs to ‘splain to me what happened this season. We were supposed to be heading to the Super Bowl and now we’re headed toward the first draft pick. Will somebody please tell me what happened?

In 2006, Ryan Howard of the Phillies of course had 58 dingers.

The owner of the ‘Stros tried to ‘splain his reasons for suing this past Friday.

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The JFK Week, Day 5

I was in sixth grade at De Zavala Elementary in Goose Creek ISD in Baytown. It was after lunch and it being a Friday we probably had fish sticks and fries that were served. Our teacher had stepped out then came in to tell us The President had been shot. The teacher went out and came back with a little radio and we listened to the news for the next couple of hours.

I remember our teacher telling a classroom of twenty or so Latino and Latina sixth graders that in Mexico they shoot their Presidents all the time. I actually believed that for a while until I learned about Mexico history on my own in an encyclopedia while in junior high. I kind of figured later why our teacher said that.

When I got home I immediately turned on the tube and our family sat there the rest of the evening watching the events and reports. I remember my grandmother who lived next door was with us and she wept most of the night.

There was nothing to do the weekend but watch the events. In those days a remote control was a luxury so we kind of stuck to one channel then on occasion switch to another.

I was absolutely floored when Lee Oswald was shot Sunday morning. It was a jolt, like in a scary or 3D flick. It was surreal – like this wasn’t supposed to happen on live TV. My reaction was what is going to happen now.

Images I still recall 50 years later.

John John saluting.

The First Lady with a veil being escorted by her brothers-in-law Bobby and Ted.

The military guard.

The horse without a rider with a pair of boots in the stirrups facing the rear.

The pink suit.

Haile Selassie and Charles de Gaulle paying their respects.

President Johnson addressing the nation after Air Force One landed in DC.

The drum cadence.

The eternal flame.

Monday was declared a national day of mourning so that meant there was no school so we stayed home and watched the funeral.

As I recall the networks returned to regular programming Monday evening.

I don’t think I ever cried that weekend and probably because I may have been a bit too young to fully grasp the impact of the events. What I did get from that weekend experience was a sense of awareness of the need to want to pay attention and learn. Why did this happen? What is going on in our country that allows for a popular President to get shot and killed? So I became hooked and starting watching the news, reading more than the sports pages and comics, start using the internet of our time – the encyclopedia. I started to pay attention to elections and what my Dad was doing in politics.

My friend State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos was in Studio 1A on “Today” a little while ago remembering President Kennedy.

The other day the Big Jolly fella spanked the Board of the Harris County Department of Education for spending over a quarter of a mil to hire a former GOP legislator as their lobbyist. The motion to hire was passed on the votes of the Dems on the Board. I don’t know about that. If you are going to vote to hire a lobbyist, why not hire a former Dem legislator. What are they thinking?

The owner of the ‘Stros is suing my pal Drayton. The owner says he was “duped” and sold an overpriced team. I don’t know about that. When you buy an MLB club aren’t you supposed to check everything out and have your folks go over the books and stuff? Maybe he should sue the fellas that were in charge of helping him do the deal.

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The JFK Week, Day 4

50 years ago today President Kennedy visited Houston.

I thought it was pretty neat that my Dad went off to see President Kennedy 50 years ago today. I wasn’t awake when he returned that evening. The next day it all happened.

It was the first time I had ever experienced nonstop and wall-to-wall coverage on our old black and white TV of a major national and international story. A couple of years earlier we had coverage locally when Hurricane Carla slammed into us but the coverage the weekend of November 22, 1963 was a first for TV. I like millions of other folks in the country sat in front of the tube taking it all in.

We were bombarded with information and images mostly from Washington and Dallas. It lasted four days. We didn’t have cable back then or a bunch of TV stations or laptops. If you had the TV on you saw nothing but coverage. We will never experience anything like that again. It was a different time and era. It was fifty years ago.

This evening at the Rice Lofts, LULAC will hold an event to commemorate President Kennedy’s visit. I haven’t heard if the Democratic Party is holding an event to commemorate the Albert Thomas Dinner.

I’m going to skip my MLB questions for today and tomorrow.

I’m not going to say anything about the ‘Stros now having to face Prince Fielder 18 or 19 times a year.

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The JFK Week, Day 3

Locally everybody likes to talk about JFK speaking at a LULAC gathering at the Rice Hotel the night before he was assassinated. Nobody ever talks about the real reason he was in Houston that evening. JFK was in town for an appreciation dinner sponsored by the Democratic Party for Congressman Albert Thomas of the 8th District. The dinner was held at the now gone Sam Houston Coliseum where a couple of thousand or so local Dems attended. My Dad was at the event. Cong. Thomas is in the photograph of LBJ getting sworn-in aboard Air Force One the next day. He is the one wearing the bow tie.

At the time, Cong. Thomas was one of the most influential and senior members of Congress. In his remarks that you can find on the JFK Library’s website, the President mentions that evening that Cong. Thomas was contemplating retirement – he had first been elected in 1936 – and the President personally called him to ask him to postpone his retirement. The President also gives him a shout out for his role in building the nation’s space program.

Many credit Cong. Thomas with being a key force and player in getting NASA to set up shop in Clear Lake. In Baytown we named a traffic circle after him. The traffic circle is no longer there. Before we opened the George R. Brown Convention Center we had the Albert Thomas Convention Center where Bayou Place now sits. If you go to the Sundance Theater, right around the corner from the ticket booth is a replica of sorts of Cong. Thomas’ office with a desk and other stuff. You can peer into the little office but you can’t go in. Most people don’t pay attention when they walk up from the garage and go past the office on their way to catch a flick. If you ask me, Cong. Albert Thomas deserves much better than that. They ought to move his replica office to the Convention Center or to the Convention Center Hotel where folks can see it.

Cong. Thomas is one of the key players in H-Town’s growth. He also went to Rice. Maybe the Mayor can find the time during her last term to take care of one of her fellow Rice alums and stick his office in a place where he can be appreciated. After all, JFK came to town on November 21, 1963 to show him some love.

The 8th Congressional District is now represented by GOP Cong. Kevin Brady – go figure!

In 1963 there were three no-nos tossed in MLB. Sandy Koufax tossed one against the Giants and Juan Marichal tossed one against us – the Colt 45s. Who tossed the third?

The County put out the Early Voting in Person schedule and locations yesterday. Wednesday, December 4 through Tuesday, December 10. All days are 7 am to 7 pm with the exception of Sunday, December 8 – 1 pm to 6 pm. The folks that live beyond the Loop down the Gulf Freeway will have to go the HCC location. The folks that live beyond the Loop down I-10 East are pretty much screwed. I doubt they will want to go to Ripley, Kashmere, or Northeast Multi-Service. I raised this concern with the County today.

Don Nottebart of the Colt 45s of course tossed a no-no against the Phillies in 1963.

From the ‘Stros yesterday:

MLB and the Astros announced during a joint news conference Tuesday at Minute Maid Park that the 2014 Civil Rights Game will be played May 30 in Houston when the Astros meet the Orioles. The eighth installment of the game will be televised nationally on MLB Network.

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The JFK Week, Day 2

On November 22, 1963 JFK and LBJ never made it to the State Democratic Executive Committee “Texas Welcome Dinner” in honor of the President and Vice President. It was supposed to be a fundraiser for the Texas Democratic Party. It was scheduled to start at 7:30 pm at the Municipal Auditorium in Austin. The minimum contribution for a ticket to attend was $100. I guess that was a lot of money back then.

You can go online and google the event for images of items related to the dinner. You can also go to ebay and check some of the items that are for sale.

Years ago Commentary ran across some of the items from the event. I held on to some and gave some to folks that would appreciate the significance of the items. A couple are on display in my office and some are stored away.

In 1963, two NL pitchers led the MLB in wins with 25. Name the two Hall of Fame greats?

I guess the Case Keenum era isn’t over.

In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, the Chron has published it on the editorial page – cool.

Sandy Koufax and Juan Marichal of course led the MLB in wins with 25 back in 1963.

Nothing of note from The Yard other than to say the team was a Jeopardy answer – drats!

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The JFK Week, Day 1

This week there will be a heck of a lot of coverage of the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. So I might as well chime in since I remember exactly where I was when it happened and when I heard about it. (I’ll save that moment for later.) I will say this. I was eleven years old at the time and I was really mad at Dallas for a long, long time. You could say I hated on Dallas. I thought Dallas had made the state of Texas look real bad. I put a lot of the blame on Dallas. How could Dallas let our President get assassinated I thought a lot of back then. He was in H-Town the day before and everything went smoothly here.

It didn’t help that Dallas couldn’t even protect the fella that was arrested for the assassination thus robbing the whole world of answers to questions many people are still asking. To make it even worse, Dallas let the fella get killed while in their custody on national live TV. I started to resent anything associated with Dallas.

As I got older those feelings naturally subsided but even as a young adult working on statewide political campaigns or initiatives, if I had to go into Dallas I went in and handled my business and got out as quick as I could. I obviously no longer harbor the ill will I had against Dallas.

I am sure there were millions like me across the country and the world that had it in for Dallas. Did Dallas deserve the rap they got from folks like me 50 years ago? Absolutely! If the leader of the free world visits your burg and he gets assassinated, you deserve as much bad karma as there is – period.

Commentary will be tweeting this week 15 front pages from local newspapers before and during the events of 50 years ago. The newspapers include the Houston Chronicle, Baytown Sun, Houston Post, and the old Houston Press. I’ve had those newspapers for close to 50 years now.

Vice-President Joe Biden will be in H-Town today to visit with the folks that run the Port of Houston. I wonder what he and The Dean will talk about.

Commentary checked out a great film this past weekend. You have to see “Gravity” in 3D. Sandra Bullock nails it. The experience had me ducking space debris. I thought it was pretty cool to learn watching the credits that Ed Harris (“Apollo 13” and “Right Stuff”) was the Mission Control voice. George Clooney was solid. He is always solid.

The ‘Stros last won a game on Friday, September 13. Who did we beat?

Here are my tweets during yesterday’s game:

Last game #GoAstros won was on September 13. Last game #GoTexans won was on September 15.

What is the over/under for next #MattSchaub #PickSix? #GoTexans

Is this the end of the #CaseKeenumEra? #GoTexans

Don’t get mad at #MattSchaub for being #MattSchaub.

I don’t know what you can say at this point. What a total collapse.

You have to hand it to the famous speech critic skit on SNL’s Weekend Update the other night. It had me falling out of my chair laughing.

On Friday, September 13, the ‘Stros beat the Angels 9-7 of course.

I can’t even say wait until next year.

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The runoff is on Saturday, December 14. That is 11 days before Christmas. I don’t remember a runoff ever going this deep.

Yesterday Kuffer had a take on Dave Wilson and it brought out a slew of comments. Some were entertaining, some were sad, and some were bad.

The Tigers have won the AL MVP Award the past three years. When was the last time an AL Team won three consecutive AL MVP Awards?

Here is what the Chron E-Board put out today:

Graci Garces for Houston City Council

District I promises to encompass some of Houston’s greatest growth over the next six years. Extending from downtown into the East End, the skyscrapers, landmarks and booming neighborhoods of District I make this city council race one of the most important of the election season. Graci Garces will be able to hit the ground running for both the district’s Hispanic families and its Fortune 500 corporations.

For the past decade, Garces has worked at City Hall for District I, first for state Rep. Carol Alvarado when she was a city council member, and now as chief of staff for term-limited incumbent James G. Rodriguez. Garces has worn out shoe leather walking the streets of this community, serving as the face of city government for numerous civic clubs and neighborhood organizations. You can hear that experience when Garces talks not just about infrastructure and job creation, but also the specific problems of animal overpopulation and tearing down blight. After serving as a bridge between City Hall and the community for so long, she knows what the district needs and how City Hall works. Voters should finally make it official and elect Graci Garces for city council District I.

The Yankees won four straight AL MVP Awards from 1960 – 1963 of course: Roger Maris, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, and Elston Howard.

The ‘Stros are still working on a TV deal.

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