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Archive for January, 2014

The Nuts

The Chron has a story today on the two Dem candidates running for Harris County DA – Kim Ogg and Lloyd Oliver. You have to get you a hard copy or subscribe for now if you want to check it out. Here is a tiny bit:

“It’s my race to lose,” Oliver said after reporting that he has neither raised nor spent a dime on his campaign. “My strategy is to watch a lot of TV, I think. That’s all I’ve been doing.”

Will somebody please bring me a Kim Ogg sign?

Nolan Ryan is still mulling the team offer. Everybody knows that Nolan wore the numero 34. Name the two other Hall of Fame greats that had their numero 34 retired?

Lisa Falkenberg has a very good piece today on the Lite Guv debate that was held earlier this week. Again, you have to have a hard copy or subscribe but here is how it starts:

If somebody walked up to you on the street and whispered in your ear, “Let’s stop the Mexican invasion, put religion back in science class, and force dead women to bear oxygen-starved fetuses,” you would probably grab your children or small pets and walk briskly in the opposite direction. You might even run.

But if these ideas were coming instead from well-suited, clean-shaven men behind lecterns in a live TV debate, all of them members of the Republican Party, each of them running for arguably the most powerful position in Texas state government, you might do what I did: Shake your head and hope at least one of them is lying through his teeth.

As I watched that debate among four Republican lieutenant governor candidates earlier this week, I couldn’t help but wonder: How on Earth did we get here? And at this rate, where in the hell are we going?

If you follow the ‘Stros on twitter then you experienced twitter overload yesterday because of the Altuve Face of MLB campaign. It drove me nuts!

Something called Texas Politica or something like that sent out an email the other day asking folks to participate in a silly poll for the next H-Town Mayor. Why? I guess they want to be able to say “according to a poll, silly people who responded to a silly poll favor……” Oh brother!

I will say this, in Harris County the GOP is a lot more aggressive getting 65 and older folks mail ballot applications. Only three or four Dems are engaging 65 plus voters. What’s up with that!

Rollie Fingers of the Brewers and A’s and Kirby Puckett of the twins of course had their numero 34 retired.

Some group predicts that the team will win 70 games this season. Oh, well!

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Commentary’s niece, Linda Garza-Martinez is a candidate in the Democratic Primary for Webb County Court at Law #2. (For those of you that are geography challenged, Laredo is the county seat of Webb County.) Here is from Linda’s website:

Linda Garza-Martinez, longtime Laredo attorney, prosecutor and public defender, is the breath of fresh air we need in Webb County Court at Law #2.

Since 1993, this court has been under the control of the same judge. However, in recent years it has become abundantly apparent that Webb County needs a change in this important court.

We need a judge with the energy, work ethic and independence to preside over the court.

Commentary is super proud of my niece Linda. She is married to Silverio who also happens to be Chair of the Webb County Democratic Party. Silverio is also an attorney in private practice. They have four adorable kids.

Linda, 36, was born in Baytown and raised in Laredo. She is a graduate of the University of Texas and the UH Law Center. Here is more from her website:


Upon graduating from law school in December 2001, Linda once again came home to Laredo and began working at the Webb County District Attorney’s office under the direction of District Attorney Joe Rubio. After a short time, Linda was promoted to a felony position and began prosecuting cases in the Child Abuse & Sex Crimes Unit. Shortly thereafter, she became the Chief Prosecutor of the unit, where she served in the capacity until early 2009. While in the Child Abuse & Sex Crimes unit, Linda gained extensive trial and courtroom experience and successfully prosecuted serious cases resulting in lengthy sentences. Most notably, Linda prosecuted the case involving the murder of six-year-old Shanea Casarez and secured a life sentence for the perpetrator. In early 2009, Linda was then made Chief Prosecutor of the 49th District Court Felony Division by District Attorney Isidro Alaniz, where she served until her departure from the DA’s office in the Summer of 2010.

After leaving the DA’s office, Linda joined her husband, Silverio Martinez, in private practice where she handled a variety of cases in the areas of criminal defense and family law. She remained in private practice until November 2011, when she obtained employment with the Webb County Public Defender’s Office. She was assigned to the 406th District Court Felony Division. As Assistant Public Defender, Linda has successfully defended indigent individuals accused of felonies and misdemeanors and has handled cases resulting in dismissals and not guilty verdicts.

She has also had the distinct opportunity to serve as a committee member in the 406th and 341st Drug Court, Sobriety Treatment and Veterans Treatment programs, which provide an alternative to incarceration and focus on rehabilitation of individuals with drug and/or alcohol addictions. This experience has provided her the opportunity to work closely with individuals suffering from drug addictions and assist in their road to recovery.

Linda is active in the local bar associations, having served as President of the Webb County Women’s Bar Association, Treasurer of the Laredo Young Lawyer’s Association and CLE Director for the past two years with the Laredo-Webb County Bar Association. She is a former board member of the Webb County Children’s Advocacy Center. She has served as an ACTS retreat team member several times for San Martin de Porres parish.

Commentary and some of Linda’s H-Town buddies will be holding a fundraiser for her in a couple of weeks. If you would like to join us, let me know. If you want to know more about Linda or give her some bucks go to http://www.lindaforcountycourt.com.

The Big Puma is hanging them up. How many post season career dingers does he have?

My favorite Big Puma moment was when I help break his fall as he landed in my seats chasing a foul ball back in 2006. I probably help prevent an injury. Heck, I was on the highlight reel on the team website for the rest of the season.

The Big Puma has nine post season career dingers of course: six with the ‘Stros, one with the Yankees, and two with San Luis.

Nothing else from The Yard.

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Wuz Wrong

All I am going to say about last night was when The President called for action on immigration, the GOP members sat on their arses while the Dems stood up and applauded. The GOP isn’t serious about immigration and we know it.

Commentary was dead wrong yesterday and I admit it. I am talking about the weather. It was a good call for all to stay home yesterday. The weather was lousy and nasty. I had to go out to Downtown and Midtown yesterday morning. It snowed a little out by The Yard. It was good that most folks stayed home. Downtown was eerily empty. However, there was a good crowd at the Breakfast Klub where I attended a meeting and had some excellent grub as usual. I am glad most folks were off the roads yesterday. It would have been a big ugly mess.

I don’t do local GOP politics but apparently it is getting a little heated in the race for Harris County GOP Chair. In an email the challenger Paul Simpson calls GOP Chair Jared Woodfill a “personal injury trial lawyer” who files “frivolous lawsuits” – what a low blow! Whose playbook did he steal! Simpson also accuses Jared of lavishly spending GOP Party money on entertainment and participating in courthouse pay-to-play shenanigans. If you want a copy of the Simpson email, send me a note.

Nolan Ryan was at The Yard yesterday meeting with the front office. Name the seven teams Nolan put a no-no on?

One good thing about being Commentary’s age. We got to live The Beatles experience. Of course we all remember the Ed Sullivan appearance. Watching the “Hey Jude” short flick on the old “Smothers Brothers.” I remember after hearing “Hey Jude” play on the radio and going out and picking up the single on the old 45 and listening to it all night and hardly ever listening to “Revolution” on the B-Side. I remember going to Sears and picking up the new “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album and spending hours trying to figure out the folks on the cover and wondering what Lucy and Lovely Rita looked like.

I only got to see two of The Beatles perform. The first was back in November of 1974 at the Tarrant County Convention Center when George Harrison along with Ravi Shankar, Billy Preston, and Tom Scott rocked the house.

Fox says they will have a red carpet show for celebs entering the Super Bowl this Sunday. I don’t know about that. Is that Columbia you are wearing? I love the way you wear North Face. You look stunning in Polar Edge. How long did you get fitted for Timber Creek?

Nolan put a no-no on the Royals, Tigers, Twins, B’More, Dodgers, A’s, and Jays of course.

The team made Nolan an offer so stay tuned!

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This morning will be brief.

There will be commemorations on TV this week of the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles Invasion. Commentary is going to try to check out as many as possible because I lived it. I remember checking it out on the black and white.

Culture Map had a story this past Friday about more changes at the Chronicle. Former H-Town First Lady Andrea White will get a tryout on the E-Board. Other changes include beefing up the news staff and going light on features. They need to figure out how to get younger folks to pay attention to the Chron. Good luck!

I don’t think the big ice storm will materialize today. Every school district in the area shut down today as well as the City and County. This morning “Today” was preempted by the local news so they could give us the latest on the storm that never was. OK, there still is a slight chance for icy rain so be careful out there if you have to be out there. In fact it is starting to sprinkle here in my ‘hood.

HISD was the last ISD to decide to close then the City decided to follow suit. Today’s City Council meeting has been postponed until tomorrow morning.

Let’s see if you even remember this. Name the ‘Stros Opening Day starting pitcher last season?

Commentary was checking out the GOP debate for Lite Guv candidates last night. Who are those guys talking to? They are not even talking to some Republican buddies that I have. Those guys are all downright scary. They got everything wrong last night.

The U.S. House GOP is fixing to lay out its immigration principles and they don’t include pathway to citizenship for some. Well that is not going anywhere.

Signs for The Dean and Steve Kirkland are in my front yard. Do you have yours?

I heard The Dean’s opponent sent out a mail piece saying The Dean has too much experience. The mailer hasn’t landed in my mailbox.

With mail ballots fixing to go out, there isn’t much campaign activity out there with the exception of a few screenings and questionnaires.

AG Greg Abbott launched a Spanish language website dubbed “No Se Puede!”

Bud Norris of course started on Opening Day for the ‘Stros against the Rangers.

I have nothing from The Yard.

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Super Bowl Week

Sorry I am late but the network was having internet issues.

This is Super Bowl Week and some folks are talking about the weather forecast for Sunday’s game. Everybody agrees it is going to be cold. They just don’t know if it will be clear, raining, or snowing.

I think I have said it before that the folks that run the NFL are arrogant and think they are smarter than the rest of us. Holding a Super Bowl in a cold weather city in a crib without a lid is bonehead.

Personally I hope the weather is A-OK and not a factor because I don’t want folks to get hurt, sick, or inconvenienced. Super Bowls belong in cribs with lids or in California or Florida period. That’s why we have cribs with lids and California and Florida.

I really don’t think the other side knows how to deal with State Sen. Wendy Davis. I don’t think they know how to attack an attractive, articulate, smart, unmarried woman with two daughters. I’m thinking if they keep up this line of attack it is going to backfire on them. Stay tuned!

This past Saturday GOPer Chuck Maricle attended the Houston GLBT Political Caucus endorsement meeting asking for support in his race for State Representative, District 129. He got it.

The ‘Stros have 20 games this season against our old pals in the NL. Name the NL clubs we face this season?

This is from the team’s website:

The chances of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan coming back to the Astros could soon take another step toward reality.

Reid Ryan, Astros president of business operations and son of the Texas legend, said on Friday that owner Jim Crane was scheduled to meet with his father sometime next week. Crane said earlier in the week he was hoping to meet with Ryan “pretty soon,” and that apparently will come within the next few days.

“If there’s a fit here, really, Jim and Nolan need to talk at some time in the future,” Reid Ryan said. “I keep telling people, ‘I’m not trying to get your hopes up, because this might not come about.’ I’m all for it, [general manager] Jeff [Luhnow] is in favor of it.

This season the ‘Stros face the Nats four times, D-Backs four, The ATL three, Fish three, Phillies three, and Mets three of course.

This is also from the team website on Saturday’s FanFest:

By the end of the day, pitcher Scott Feldman’s hand was sore from shaking hands and signing autographs. One of the newest Astros learned quickly at Saturday afternoon’s FanFest just how enthusiastic Houston’s fan base can be about its home team.

One day after most of the city of Houston was buried under a sheet of ice, the roof at Minute Maid Park was cranked open on a sunny afternoon to welcome more than 3,000 fans to meet their favorite Astros of the past, as well as some of the big names who could be making an impact in the future.

With Opening Day a little over two months away, I am starting to get that itch to get back to The Yard and watch the greatest game ever invented.

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Cheaters, Part II

Today Lisa Falkenberg takes a look at cheating within the GOP on those fake signatures. The Party that always makes a big deal about ballot integrity and security is eerily silent on what just happened in their front yard. Come on! Say something! Where is the outrage! Here is the Falkenberg column:

George Risner, a longtime Pasadena justice of the peace, says he got his 250 signatures to run for office the old-fashioned way. He solicited a civic club, took a clip board to a Houston public school polling place in November, went door to door with neighborhood ladies in Pleasantville.

It never occurred to him, he says, that he could just pay somebody else to do it.

“In 28 years – I know at least 100 judges real well, both Republican and Democrat – I’ve never known any judge paying an outside person to get their signatures,” the Democrat Precinct 2 Place 2 justice of the peace told me Thursday. “Most of them told me they didn’t even know you could do that. You’re talking about money, which most of us don’t have. And, it’s kind of a way to meet and greet your voters, who will vote for you later on.”

Apparently, his Republican challenger didn’t see it that way. Leonila Olivares Salazar turned to someone else to get her signatures. And it seems they didn’t want the job, either.

Risner says Salazar’s petitions were full of falsified signatures, a claim he says he verified himself by knocking on doors to question Republican voters whose names were used.

This week, Risner sued the Harris County Republican Party, arguing that it violated election law by allowing Salazar on the ballot even though party officials had been notified of the alleged forgeries.

Question of integrity

Party Chairman Jared Woodfill told reporters after a Thursday court hearing that he got word of irregularities too late. Meanwhile, questions are swirling about whether any other judicial races will be affected.

Party chairmen say most of their judicial candidates get signatures themselves, or at signing parties sponsored by the party, but they’re aware that some turn to outside individuals for help.

Terry O’Rourke, special counsel to the Harris County attorney, has said his office is working with the District Attorney’s Office to review all judicial races, both Republican and Democrat.

“We regard it as extraordinarily serious. This appears to be forgeries and a fraud on the election,” O’Rourke said this week, referring to the Pasadena race. “This goes to the heart of the integrity of the judicial system of the state of Texas.”

Buck Wood, a veteran Austin election lawyer who is representing Risner, says the Legislature began requiring judicial candidates in the largest counties to get signatures as a way to cut down on candidates whose qualifications amounted to little more than, say, a common, voter-friendly name. He says many judges despise the tedious process, though, and it’s become more common for candidates to hire somebody else to do it.

“It’s getting to be more prevalent and that’s leading to these kinds of situations,” Wood told me. “First of all, they get people who maybe don’t even know it’s against the law and they go and do this crazy stuff. Or maybe they know it’s against the law but they don’t care.”

Not the first time

The kind of election fraud alleged in Salazar’s race isn’t new.

Wood and others have cited an infamous Harris County case in the late 1980s where a Republican political consultant named Rocky Mountain – yes, that’s his actual name – admitted plying a group of Houston teenagers with beer and telling them to “drink up” and “sign some petitions” during what became known as a “forging party” aimed at getting former Delaware Gov. “Pete” du Pont on the Republican presidential primary ballot in Texas.

The teens, hired as temp workers, copied names off voter registration lists onto the petitions, girls signing women’s names, boys signing men’s names, all instructed to occasionally change pens. Mountain received a one-year probated sentence and, along with his political consulting firm, fines totaling $50,000 after a forgery conviction.

Wood said he wouldn’t be surprised if similar problems are found in other judicial races. Several of the petition “circulators” named in the case apparently are hired by other candidates of both parties.

Woodfill said Thursday he’s concerned about two races, but said he couldn’t recall the name of candidates in the other race.

County Democratic Party Chairman Lane Lewis said there are several candidate petitions he believes may be affected, none from Democrats.

I asked how he could be so sure. He cited the party’s efforts to train judicial candidates on the law and the fact that, after Risner raised red flags, Lewis ordered staffers to review Democratic petitions and came up with no evidence of forgery.

Shoe-leather sleuthing

As for Risner, yes, he’s hoping his Republican opponent gets booted off the ballot at some point so he can be assured re-election. But he doesn’t seem too put out by the whole ordeal. He says he actually made some Republican friends as he went door-to-door trying to verify their signatures on the petition.
Risner’s shoe-leather sleuthing no doubt stands in contrast to his opponent’s hands-off approach to gathering 250 signatures.

“If it’s not laziness, I don’t know what it is,” Risner says about candidates who hire out petitions. “You’re way too busy for the job.”

Greg Maddux says he won’t have a team logo on his lid for his Hall of Fame plaque. Name the different lids he wore during his MLB playing career.

Commentary attended the HCC Trustees Official Swearing-In Ceremony yesterday. I tweeted that David Wilson was not there. He actually was there but opted out of the public swearing-in. He walked in after the ceremony. He told me he didn’t want to rub salt into some wounds. I told him I didn’t think anyone there would have been too upset.

The Dean attended and was invited to say remarks.

New HCC Trustee Adriana Tamez gave her remarks in English and in Spanish – cool.

FYI – Adriana was actually officially sworn-in on December 23.

Commentary was out on the road this morning and traffic was light.

Greg Maddux wore Cubbie, The ATL, the Dodger blue, and Padres lids of course.

Nothing from The Yard today.

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Cheaters

Commentary learned of the following late last week. It is interesting in that the GOP likes to tout so called ballot integrity and the following happened in their own front yard. I have been told that they were alerted to the shenanigans and they did nothing – nada – zilch. I was told that the fake names were straight off of voter lists in street and alphabetical order. Now that’s real smart.

Props go to my pal Judge Risner and his sleuths. Here is the full Chron story that is must read if you like your campaigns honest:

The Harris County Attorney’s Office says it is reviewing documents filed by all local judicial candidates, Republican and Democrat, after learning that a candidate for justice of the peace may have used forged signatures in her application to get on the March 4 GOP primary ballot.

The allegation first was raised by longtime Precinct 2 Place 2 Justice of the Peace George Risner, who is suing the Harris County Republican Party, claiming it violated state election law by placing candidate Leonila Olivares-Salazar on its party ballot even after being told her application included hundreds of falsified petition signatures.

A hearing in state district court has been set for Thursday.

Risner’s petition asks that Olivares-Salazar, his presumed general election challenger, be removed from the ballot, and includes sworn affidavits from several people she hired to gather signatures saying they did not obtain most of the signatures themselves or witness or speak to the voters whose names are on the petitions.

Olivares-Salazar “has publicly admitted to hiring a company to collect the required number of valid signatures (250) to qualify her for the ballot,” the petition states. “There were at least four circulators that gathered signatures for Olivares-Salazar who were employed by the company Olivares-Salazar hired, who falsified signatures on Olivares-Salazar’s petitions.”

Risner, a Democrat first elected to his post in 1987, and Olivares-Salazar are running unopposed in their parties’ respective primaries, meaning they would face each other in the November general election.

Risner said he was suspicious about the validity of the 456 signatures his opponent submitted after some of his “friends and campaign workers looked them over,” and decided to go door-to-door to see whether people whose names appeared on the petitions actually had signed them.

“Ninety-nine point nine percent of them told me no,” he said. The petition claims 380 signatures were falsified.

‘Took no action’

Risner said his lawyer contacted Olivares-Salazar and Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill about the issue shortly after the Dec. 9 filing deadline, but “they took no action.”

“This could have been handled from the start,” he said.

Woodfill said he received no complaint from Risner in the five days after the filing deadline the party has to review applications, saying that “In this particular case, there was no formal challenge that was made.”

He said it will be up to a judge to determine whether the Olivares-Salazar’s name should be pulled from the ballot.

In response to a request for comment, Olivarez-Salazar stated in an email, “There is an investigation in process for which I have fully and completely cooperated.” She said she promised her lawyers she would not comment further until the matter was resolved.

Terry O’Rourke, special assistant to County Attorney Vince Ryan, said one of the sworn affidavits included in Risner’s petition indicates that more than one judicial candidate may have hired the same company to collect signatures. That prompted the office last week to begin looking into all judicial candidate applications. He said the Harris County District Attorney’s public integrity unit also is investigating, but a spokesman for that office would not confirm or deny that.

“It’s a serious issue and we simply have to look at it,” O’Rourke said.

The investigation could wrap up by the end of next week.

‘Found nothing’

Harris County Democratic Party Chair Lane Lewis said he reviewed all his party’s petitions after learning of Risner’s allegations and “found nothing.”

“We didn’t believe we would find anything because we check ours on the front end as they come in, to the best of our ability,” Lewis said, noting that the party has tried unsuccessfully to obtain original copies of Olivares-Salazar’s petitions. He said the county attorney is reviewing the petitions of Democratic judicial candidates next week.

Both Woodfill and Lewis said it is not uncommon for judicial candidates to hire third parties to gather petition signatures.

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, the overseer of local elections, said he hopes that if a judge decides Olivares-Salazar should be removed from the ballot, that it will be the November ballot rather than the March primary. He said the office already has printed and mailed about 12,000 absentee ballots for the spring primary election, and that a do-over would be costly.

“If you’re going to go down this path, you should have done it weeks ago,” Stanart said. “It would be very disruptive for us at this point in time.”


The ‘Stros Skipper had a brief MLB playing career that lasted 89 games over a three year period from 1999 – 2001. How many different team uniforms did he wear?

There is a lot of chatter out there about the Texans’ QB position. One thing is for sure, the new QB should not wear the numero 8. In fact, the team should trash that numero for a while.

Bo Porter of course played for the Cubbies, A’s, and Rangers.

The team did some more flag planting yesterday.

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