Archive for April 21st, 2014

A Rocket Hangover

Hey H-Town! How do you feel this morning? Staying up until midnight watching the Rockets lose the first one was frustrating – argh! In my case I just zapped off the flat screen and jumped into bed. At least I wasn’t part of the 18,200 and change at Toyota that had to get in their rides and drive home. I hate it when it happens on a Sunday because the following Monday is miserable and lousy. Did I say argh?

Today is San Jacinto Day! What is San Jacinto Day?

Commentary enjoys reading Joe Holley’s columns on Sunday. He writes about all stuff Texas. Yesterday he wrote about Tejanos that fought with Sam Houston 178 years ago. Here is a part:

As every Texan knows, that scruffy, mud-caked army, concerned that a Mexican attack was imminent, took the fight to the Mexicans the next afternoon. Marching into battle to the beat of a popular love song, the Texans overwhelmed Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna’s forces in minutes and then unleashed their post-Alamo, post-Goliad fury upon fleeing Mexican troops, killing some 700 men. The Texans lost nine.

Among Houston’s men on that April day in 1836 were a unit of “Tejanos,” Texans of Hispanic descent who had made the difficult decision to cast their lot with the mostly American-immigrant volunteers who made up the Texan army.

I have to disagree with his “every Texan knows” line. Just go ask a bunch of folks how the Lone Star State was born and you will get a bunch of different responses. Ask them what happened at the San Jacinto Battleground and you will probably get a number of blank stares. Ask them if they have ever been to the Battleground. Try asking them to ID the six flags that flew over Texas – huh! Oh well!

Barry Bonds dropped by the ‘Stros clubhouse this past weekend in Oakland. Bonds was the sixth pick in the 1985 MLB Amateur Player Draft. Name the fourth pick of the draft that year who is also in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

The Chron E-Board put it on the HCC Trustees this past weekend. Well deserved? Check it out:

You can learn a lot about political shenanigans at the Houston Community College system – just not necessarily in a classroom.

The most recent lesson has to do with the HCC Board of Trustees voting to reject construction contracts, which are part of the $425 million bond package that voters approved in 2012. The reason for the rejection? Money wasn’t going to enough firms – notably, the firms that supported the bond initiative.

Bond dollars aren’t a make-work project. They’re not a jobs program. And they’re certainly not a payoff to supporters. Those bond dollars are supposed to fund capital improvement projects for the community college system, one that Houston relies on to train the next generation of workers, thinkers and doers. But as Trustee Eva Loredo made clear at a March board meeting, far too many people view the bonds as “reciprocation.”

Apparently the board is in the business not of education, but of feathering nests. Insider dealing like this is nothing new for HCC. Trustee Carroll Robinson has been investigated for trying to direct contracts to an under-qualified friend.

Even the HCC’s oversight committee, which the board itself created, found that board members were micromanaging the contracting process. Yet at an HCC board meeting this week, Robinson proudly proclaimed that he would continue to interfere, claiming: “If that’s micromanaging, I’m going to micromanage.”

The time to plan capital construction projects was before board members sent a $425 million bond to voters. The way to pick contractors is via a statutorily defined bidding process.

It isn’t just about good governance, there are consequences for the board’s questionable decisions: HCC’s bonds could lose their tax exempt status if the dollars aren’t spent quickly enough. A change in contractors after the bidding process could make HCC the target of lawsuits.

All the while, HCC still lacks a permanent chancellor, and the board’s chaotic actions aren’t likely to attract qualified candidates.

Yet trustees seem to care more about loyalty to political friends than responsibility to taxpayers and students.

This isn’t micromanaging. This is sabotage.

Did I say ouch?

HCC Trustee Carroll Robinson sent this out in response:

Since voter approval of the HCC $425 million Bond Program, in 2012, to fund the improvement and expansion of HCC facilities, the Board of Trustees has been under attack.

There are special interests, in our community, who want to dictate how, where and with whom these funds should be spent without regard for the Board and our legal responsibility to protect the taxpayers’ money.

The Board has been criticized and maligned for doing what it was elected to do – manage the affairs of HCC. To date, the Bond Program is on time and on budget. 6 of 14 construction contract recommendations, made by the administration, will have been approved by Monday. The Board of Trustees is acting in a positive and responsible manner. Some people call this micromanaging, but it is not.

It’s called doing our fiduciary duty.

I will not vote blindly to approve projects that cost double the normal cost of construction, as some special interests are pushing us to do. I also will not, without questioning and reviewing, agree to build a 10 story building, for a college, that contains only 13 classrooms, no library but an entire floor dedicated to a gym.

This is not what HCC promised the voters their tax dollars would be used to build. HCC promised more classrooms, labs, library space and consensus among students, faculty, staff and administrators on what would be built.

The Board of Trustees job is not wasting taxpayers’ money and I won’t vote to do so no matter how loud the special interests scream.

HCC is in the business of educating the people of our community and those who want to improve their marketable skills with workforce training. That is what I am interested in seeing happen. This is why we are building more new buildings so that more people in our community have access to educational opportunities and workforce training.

There have been attempts to attack my character to silence me but I am the same person I have always been. I am up front, honest, fair, outspoken and a fighter for the taxpayers of our city. I have never been one to succumb to bullying. I don’t plan to start now.

I have always been, and will continue to be, a fighter for what I believe is right. If that means rubbing some people the wrong way, so be it. I will continue to ask the hard questions because I know that the taxpayers, the voters who elected me, and the people in our community who want An Opportunity To Do Better deserve no less.


Hall of Fame great Barry Larkin of course was selected by the Reds with the fourth pick in 1985.

I think it is time to end the Chris Carter experiment. He strikes out about half the time and he is only batting a buck twenty-three. I don’t know how much patience we should have with other players riding the interstate. The frustration showed on Friday night when the Skipper went bonkers when Lowrie bunted on the shift in the first inning. Saturday’s loss was a low point. It would not surprise me to see Jonathan Singleton in uniform this weekend at The Yard. We need a lot of help.

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