Archive for July 30th, 2014

Today the H-Town City Council will finally get around to settling the Taxi-Limo-Uber-Lyft ride sharing ordinance. The taxi folks added my old pal Craig Washington to their team. The Chron E-Board today told City Council to get off their arses and let Uber and Lyft into the game. You can check out the E-Board take by going here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Time-to-end-taxi-vs-Uber-debates-5655265.php.

I really stopped listening to sports talk radio close to a couple of years ago because I got tired of some of the hosts treating women like “babes” or talking down the WNBA and the LPGA. It is a culture that goes unchecked in sports media.

I wasn’t surprised last week when the NFL only gave Ray Rice a two game suspension for knocking out his then fiancée. Then he dragged her limp body out of the elevator and it was all over the internet. Two games? That’s the NFL for you and they go by their own rules and say F-You to all of us because we let them. They think they are better than the rest of us because we let them think so.

When some women in the sports world went off on the NFL via twitter, you should have seen some of the vicious and vulgar responses they received.

Last Friday, when the dumbarse on ESPN threw out the “provocation” word in domestic violence, a female colleague via twitter called him out. She too was subjected to vile and nasty tweets from the jerks of twitterville.

@ajpanos on twitter has compiled a list of the jerks that have gone after women. He put out the list yesterday. Good for him.

SI’s Richard Deitsch ‏@richarddeitsch put this out yesterday:

All day, every day. One long sh_tshow on Twitter for women in sports media.

You can say that again.

The A’s lead MLB with 66 wins. Who led the MLB in wins last season?

Commentary said this yesterday: I don’t think I would like to be serving on the H-Town City Council these days.

Here is more City financial bad news from today’s Chron:

With an estimated $144 million budget shortfall looming next summer, the city’s finance director delivered a harsh message Tuesday: even lifting a voter-imposed revenue cap will not save the day.

Instead, city officials will have to cobble together a package of contentious reforms, including possible service cuts, layoffs and new revenue sources, to close a budget gap that could swell to more than $200 million by fiscal year 2018 if nothing is done. Though the city’s revenue cap is among the problems facing the budget, removing or reducing that cap would not solve the city’s spiking pension costs and debt obligations.

Surging property tax appraisals are expected to run the city into the voter-imposed revenue cap next summer, forcing a cut in the property tax rate. But projections put the revenue lost to the cap at just 12 percent, or $17 million, of the deficit next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2015.

Changing or modifying the cap, which would require going to the voters, may be part of the city’s solution. But budget chief Kelly Dowe warned the budget and fiscal affairs committee that it can’t be the whole solution.

“There’s no silver bullet for bridging these gaps going into the future,” Dowe said.

So city officials are left with a long list of possible fixes, from service cuts to a garbage collection fee to a shift in health care costs to ambitious pension reforms.

Pension obligations are a large part of the city’s financial problems. Next fiscal year, the city will have to pay $50 million on top of its scheduled payment to the police pension, about $120 million. A contractual trigger requires the account to keep funding at least 80 percent.

Mayor Annise Parker has said she does not want to refinance debt and delay pension obligations, a move that could greatly reduce next year’s budget gap but would add to the city’s deficit later.

Dowe said the finance staff could probably “patch together something and push off the day of reckoning,” but they can’t solve long-term budget problems without council action.

Committee Chair Stephen Costello said Tuesday’s conversation was an important starting point for what’s likely to be a year-long debate about cutting the deficit. Costello said his top priority is scaling back pension costs, a task that would likely require legislative intervention.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” Costello said. “So moving forward, between now and next year’s budget cycle, we have to make some hard decisions. The real question is whether my colleagues are going to make some of those hard decisions.”

Some council members said they wanted a clearer understanding of how the city ended up in such a bind. Councilman C.O. “Brad” Bradford called for an analysis of the city’s core services and whether any “nonessential services” could be contracted out for less.

Though most council members are hesitant to sign on to specific cuts or new fees, Councilman Jack Christie said he would support a garbage fee that the solid waste director has proposed. That would run $3.76 a month, or $45.12 per home per year.

Tuesday’s forecast will help force that conversation, among others, Christie said.

“This is a beautiful, transparent document listing our challenges and possible solutions,” Christie said. “It lays it out, warts and all.”

Dowe is expected to come back with more specific recommendations in August.

Expect more bad news.

The Red Sox and San Luis led MLB in wins last season of course with a 97-65 record.

You just come to expect blowing a 4-1 lead in the ninth last night and losing 7-4. I have lost all confidence in the Skipper. Terrible, terrible, terrible!

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