Archive for August, 2014

That is how I have referred to the Lone Star State’s public school finance system. Yesterday a judge found the state’s school finance system unconstitutional.

The school finance issue has been in and out of the courthouse for close to fifty years now. It has been found to be unconstitutional when Dems were running things and when GOPers were in charge. We have yet to get it right while millions of school kids have gotten short-changed. Thanks Texas!

I have said it before. The only way we will get it right is when the state’s business community gets off their arses and makes this the top critical priority. Until then it will continue to be a political football of sorts.

Jason Castro smacked the team’s 5th grand salami last night. What is the team record for grand salamis in a season.

H-Town needs to do this. I would rather have the following anytime. Here is from the Statesman:

The Austin City Council approved a law Thursday banning the use of hand-held cellphones and many other portable electronic devices while driving.

The law takes effect Jan. 1, after which police will be able to cite motorists and bicyclists if caught chatting, texting or tapping away on smartphone applications while in motion.

I am kind of puzzled why we are not doing this. Isn’t it a no brainer?

Congrats to UH on the opening of their new football crib this evening. Take a bow! Let’s hope it leads to higher rankings!

Congrats to my friend Drayton McLane, Jr. for the crib in his name that will open this Sunday at Baylor!

I am going to say this and I may be proven wrong. At the end of the Texans’ football season, our biggest issue was at QB. Our biggest issue today is QB.

In 2001 and 2007 the team had seven grand salamis of course.

Tonight they are handing out Lone Star Series T-Shirts and tomorrow Nolan and Reid Ryan bobble heads.

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Buy In

The City of H-Town is thinking about creating a bike lane on Lamar Street in Downtown H-Town. Commentary is not a bike fella but I make sure I look out for bicycle riders. That being said, creating a Downtown bike lane is a big deal. You have to be on your toes when you are driving Downtown with construction, pedestrians, parking garages – you name it. Oh, I also forgot about the rail lines that will be opening on a couple of Downtown streets. If you are going to change things up Downtown then you better have buy-in from folks that make up Downtown. Apparently that is not the case. The building managers are not on board. What? These are the folks that make up Downtown. What the ____! Here is from Chron.com:

It turns out there may be some opposition to Houston’s first protected on-street bike route, to be placed on Lamar Street downtown, after all.

One lane of Lamar, which is devoted to parking except during rush hour, will be converted to a two-way bike path, separated from the traffic lanes by a two-foot barrier lined with plastic humps.

Several people involved in gathering support from businesses along the 11-block, roughly 0.7-mile stretch of Lamar from Sam Houston Park to Discovery Green said they had run into no stated opposition, though they acknowledged not all tenants had been contacted and that some had not responded to emails.

In an email today, however, Tammy Betancourt of Houston’s Building Owners and Managers Association said several of her members have expressed concern with the initiative and its impact on cars exiting parking garages along Lamar. (Downtown booster Bob Eury had noted that concern in today’s story).

An unnamed BOMA member, who oversees a building at 1000 Main that borders Lamar, expressed concern in an email to Betancourt that the decision already has been made to build the bike lane, while city sustainability director Laura Spanjian referred to the idea as a “proposal” in an email inviting stakeholders to a Thursday morning meeting.

“I have great concerns in regard to the impact this will have on traffic along Lamar including the already congested 900 Block that has two lanes being used for construction of the new Hillcorp building (the recently demolished Macy’s, which borders Lamar),” the BOMA member wrote.

As Betancourt put it, “This is just one more example of the Parker administration implementing public policy without the input of citizens or businesses as to what the unintended consequences of the initiatives may be.”

Spanjian said just because the project is moving forward does not prevent city officials from working with those affected to address their concerns.

“We’ve worked out issues with certain stakeholders and we will continue to work through issues with stakeholders to make sure their business is not impacted in a negative way,” she said. “We’re happy to talk to and work with any property owner or tenant on Lamar Street that might have missed our communication to them to work out any issues that they have.”

As for the writer’s traffic concerns, Jeff Weatherford of the city’s Department of Public Works and Engineering said traffic on Lamar isn’t bad from an engineering perspective. Spanjian again stressed that for most of the day the lane is for parking, not driving, and said portions of it today are taken up by taxi stands and commercial zones.

Come on! Can we talk? A Downtown bike lane may sound good but can we make sure everyone is on board?

The Rangers are in town for four. What is our record against the Rangers this season?

The HPD Police Chief threw out the first pitch at The Yard Tuesday evening and bounced it a third of the way down. I tweeted this right after:

Poor #HPDPoliceChief. Threw out first pitch tonight at #MMP and bounced it a third of the way down. #hounews #HPD #Astros


Hand it to @houstonpolice for transparency. Did not cover-up #HPDChief’s bouncer. #hounews #Astros

HPD put the errant toss on Vine. Good for them. Here it is: https://vine.co/v/MlrhbDa3W7O.

Maybe the Chief should have asked The Mayor for lessons on how to get it over the plate.

I am not going to say much about Lisa Falkenberg’s write-up yesterday on The Dean’s and UH Chancellor’s way of communicating with each other, other than to say I am obviously not caught up on the latest code words because I sure as heck can’t read between the lines if you know what I mean. What a lovely pair though!

Dynamic Pricing at The Yard is what they use to sell tickets. For instance, they charge more for the Yankees than they do for the Royals – got it. Like in Field Box, the closer you are to the field the higher the prices. That’s why the seats at the top of Field Box sections are in more use than those closer to the field. It is not like a few years ago when all Field Box tickets cost the same throughout the season.

Only season ticket holders get the lower prices. Of course, you have to buy 83 games worth of tickets.

The ‘Stros are 8-4 against the Rangers this season of course.

Chad Qualls blew a save last night. It is Dollar Dog Night this evening at The Yard. I wonder how many folks will show up to see two teams battle to stay out of last in the AL West.

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Dome Deal

I tweeted this out yesterday after I watched Hunker Down’s announcement on the newest Dome proposal:

World’s largest indoor park? Hiking trails? #HunkerDown didn’t appear to offer anything fresh for the #Astrodome, just a drawing board.

I will say this. Even though it is not fresh, it is simple and maybe simple sells. We have all heard the phrase: Keep it simple!

Here is from the Chron:

The Dome also could house permanent or temporary sports facilities, such as an archery range or horseshoe pits, he (Hunker Down) said.

Of course, I don’t know of anyone saying – hey, let’s drive over to the Dome and toss some horseshoes – washers, maybe.

Here is from today’s Chron E-Board:

The Astrodome is a public structure, and it should continue to serve the public. After years of proposals, from casinos to parking lots, perhaps this idea makes the most sense of all.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/A-sensible-idea-5714346.php.

Hey, I’ll throw one in. Maybe during the Christmas season they can deck out the inside with lights and boughs of holly and charge a little for folks to stroll through the experience. It can be the world’s largest indoor Christmas lights display. They can call it Santa’s Astrodome Christmas City. Sell hot chocolate and coffee, have a wine and cheese bar, and maybe have an area for local folks to sell their holiday loot. They can also throw in street performers and local musicians and of course have the Dome Santa for the kids.

Stay tuned because the Dome ain’t going anywhere for now!

Our closer Chad Qualls might be gone today. He doesn’t want to leave H-Town. Qualls has played on eight MLB clubs. Name them?

Coming to a neighborhood near year. I got this from a GOP source:

STATEWIDE SUPER SATURDAY BLOCK WALK: On Saturday, September 6th, the Republican Party of Texas, in conjunction with Republican campaigns across the state, will be canvassing in neighborhoods near you.

10 Houston Area Locations: Katy, Spring, Heights, Cypress, Tomball, Pasadena, Clear Lake, Kingwood, Cinco Ranch, and West Houston.

Find details on the locations here: http://www.texasgop.org/super-saturday/.

Is your ‘hood included?

I also tweeted out this yesterday:

I wonder how #StephenColbert celebrated Women’s Equality Day? #OneFemaleWriter #Emmys

Colbert deservedly got nailed nationally on this. There are no excuses.

Chad Qualls has been a member of the ‘Stros, D-Backs, Fish, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Rays, and Yankees of course.

Let’s see, Chris Carter’s 32nd dinger kept the A’s out of first and Altuve still leads MLB in hitting. 17,000 and change showed up.

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After Jim Parsons snagged his fourth Emmy last night I think it is time the City of H-Town start planning a “Jim Parsons Day.”

Only three other actors have won the Emmy for Best Comedy Actor four times – Carrol O’Connor, Michael J. Fox, and Kelsey Grammer – not bad company if you ask me. He is in high cotton.

He now pulls down one mil per episode.

He went to UH. He is on commercials promoting H-Town. He made a video last year to help recruit Dwight Howard. He’s a homer for sure.

It is time for a “Jim Parsons Day!”

Chris Carter had his 31st dinger of the season last night. 40 maybe? Name the last ‘Stro to venture into the 40 plus dinger season?

Hunker Down put out a press release yesterday saying he would unveil a new Dome proposal today at 2 pm. The event will take place at the Dome. I thought we had seen it all! Maybe an indoor drive-in theater? Maybe a shopping mall? Maybe an indoor farmers market? Maybe the site for the One Bin for All facility? Stay tuned!

The front page of today’s Chron has a story about the Team Davis and AG Abbott ad wars. Team Davis has been on the attack. Here is from the Chron:

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis has spent about $4 million this month to hammer her Republican opponent Greg Abbott with a torrent of attack ads on television, according to people who track the industry and a San Antonio Express-News/Houston Chronicle review of public documents.

With little more than two months before voters select a new governor, Davis is at a roughly three-to-one cash disadvantage and lagging anywhere from eight to 16 percentage points depending on the poll of the day.

Her campaign’s key strategy to make up ground and energize donors in the homestretch: Go negative.

I don’t have a problem with that. Here is more Chron on the AG Abbott ads:

Taking a different approach early, Abbott on Monday wrapped up a roughly two-week run of ads featuring his mother-in-law talking about what a swell guy he is. The campaign spent more than $2.1 million to run more than 2,200 spots over that period, airing the ads in English and Spanish, according to contracts filed with television stations.

“That’s a front-runner strategy we’re seeing from Abbott,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Policy Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “From the Davis campaign, there’s also an element of textbook campaign politics here. When you’re behind as the campaign wears on there’s more and more pressure to go on the attack.”


Abbott’s camp, in a statement highlighting the barrage of political ads Texans can expect come the start of football season, labeled the Davis attacks a “blitz of desperate ads.”

“Indicative of a candidate with no plan or vision for Texas, Sen. Davis’ attacks have repeatedly failed to reach the end zone, and her latest ads continue to fumble the facts,” said Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch.

Duh! I’m sorry fellas but running ads introducing us to AG Abbott’s “Madrina” doesn’t exactly fall in the Vision for Texas category. Show me the vision!

In 2006, The Big Puma had 45 dingers of course.

This season has been a tale of two teams. We have a good team and bad team with no in-betweens. Last night the bad team showed up. Speaking of showing up – only 14,000 plus change made it to The Yard last night.

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One Bin or Two Bins

H-Town’s proposed “One Bin for All” proposal got some run in the Trib today. Commentary is not convinced this is the way to go. Of course, maybe I don’t have all the facts. I will say that the City has not done a good job of encouraging folks to recycle. Heck, we didn’t get our green bin until recently. I don’t think there has ever been an awareness campaign on recycling except for maybe a little flyer that comes in your water bill. The city’s effort on recycling has been a little half arse. If we do end up going with the one bin I say let’s put the mega-facility next to the ‘hood of those that want it and not next to a low income neighborhood. Here is a bit from the Trib:

Houston’s “One Bin for All” proposal, which would let residents throw their trash and recycling into a single bin instead of separating them first, has been debated for months. Supporters, including some national climate change organizations, believe the plan could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and costs. They say it would cut truck traffic, because there would be no need for two pickups, and argue that sorting trash from recyclables at a centralized facility is more effective than relying on residents to do it themselves. Today, Houston recycles only 6 percent of the waste it collects, compared with the national average of 34.5 percent.

But detractors like the Sierra Club and paper and steel industry groups say it cannot be done cost effectively and represents an outdated approach to waste management. They say the city should focus on expanding its recycling service and charging a garbage fee, which it has never done.

More recently, critics have seized on another aspect of the plan: where the new sorting facility would be located. While the bids from several companies vying are sealed, city officials say it makes sense to locate the facility near an existing landfill. Bullard and others fear that the McCarty landfill, which is operated by a company that also submitted a bid for the “One Bin” project, could be a prime target.

Here is the entire Trib piece: http://www.texastribune.org/2014/08/25/environmental-justice-advocates-question-houstons-/.

The A’s are in town for three. Name the last member of the A’s to win the AL MVP Award?

I had the flat screen on yesterday morning on ABC’s “This Week” when the host brought up Guv Dude and the indictments. Panelist Peggy Noonan called them “local Democratic overreach” and again I asked myself why do I waste my time watching the Sunday morning talkies. Noonan’s response drew this tweet from the Dallas Morning News’ Wayne Slater:

Unencumbered by facts, @Peggynoonannyc on ABC: Perry indictment “local Democratic overreach.” Looks confused when told prosecutor is GOP

Wayne was way too kind.

Richard Attenborough left us yesterday. He was one of the film community greats. He won a couple of Oscars for directing and producing the Best Picture “Gandhi.” He also directed “Chaplin” with Robert Downey, Jr. and the creepy “Magic” with Anthony Hopkins. Of course, most folks remember him as Dr. Hammond from the megahit “Jurassic Park.” I liked him “The Great Escape,” “Flight of the Phoenix,” and “The Sand Pebbles.” He definitely had an impact on cinema.

Miguel Tejada of course won the 2002 AL MVP Award as a member of the A’s.

The ‘Stros have never had a season dinger champ. Chris Carter with 30 is 4 behind the league leader so now you have another reason to head out to The Yard this week.

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Go Find the Money

In today’s Chron there is another story about the Mayor and the Firefighters’ pension. The Firefighters are not backing down. No way Jose.

Police and Firefighters have the toughest and most dangerous jobs. The head of the Firefighters’ pension board is telling the City – you want us, you go find the money to pay for us. That is his bottom line. Here is a part of the Chron article:

Todd Clark, who chairs the fire pension board, told a City Council committee on Thursday that the proposal would “put a firefighter on welfare,” hurt morale and weaken the department’s ability to retain and recruit staff.

Council members Larry Green, Jerry Davis and Jack Christie pushed back, asking Clark whether there was room for compromise.

‘We have a problem’

“I understand that you think the fire pension doesn’t have a problem, but as someone who has just gone through the budget process for the city of Houston, we have a problem,” Green said. “Our objective is not to become Detroit. What’s the solution?”

Clark responded, “The best thing you can do is just come up with the money. It’s not my job to balance the city’s budget. What the city should be doing is finding ways to meet the promises made, not trying to cut the benefits. No changes need to be made to our system. We’re a very strong and healthy pension system.”

Clark is saying – go raise taxes and please leave us alone. He does have a point. It is not their job to balance the budget. They didn’t run for City Council. Politically, this is a tough one. Stay tuned!

Name the MLB pitcher with the second highest complete games this season?

Commentary doesn’t have a problem with the new UT Chancellor getting $1.2 mil a year. Don’t have a problemo with $300,000 in annual bonuses. Don’t have a problemo with $400,000 in supplemental retirement payments. But $300,000 in moving expenses! Come on! Where is The Dean when you need him?

Dallas Keuchel of course is second in the MLB with five complete games.

We took four out six from the Yankees this season so I guess you can call it progress.

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A Little Response

Yesterday was Dante’s 15th BD. We celebrated at a local eatery. As you all know, Dante hangs with me at The Yard once or twice a homie. Happy Birthday Yesterday Dante!

Today is my Dad’s 91st BD. Wow! Happy Birthday Dad!

I guess The Dean checked Commentary yesterday and sent me this:

Small Sampling of the Support my Office has received:

“Thank you for speaking up and stopping the dumb policy. I would have negatively affected Mexican Americans.”

Just wanted to mention I saw the Senator’s comments regarding Uof H considering the requirement of incoming freshmen to live on campus. My son will probably be attending U of H Fall of 2016 and this requirement had me quite concerned, for various reasons related to my son. I’m very grateful for the Senator speaking up as he did. Such valid points he made! Thank you Senator! 🙂

Dr. ______ called to commend you for your comments in the Chronicle today. He said you were right on the money and that he shared a similar experience to yours when he went to UH. Should you want to reach out to Dr. _______ he can be reached on his direct office line at _______.

Thank you for your action that ultimately resulted in stopping the ill-conceived plan to require on-campus residency at the University of Houston. Except for my first year and a half of college immediately after high school I was a commuting student. I would not have been able to complete my higher education otherwise. I commuted through my remaining undergraduate, masters, and doctorate degree requirements. As a working married person with children I could never have finished my formal education otherwise. During my studies I met many commuting students like myself. As a professor I had many commuting students who could not have gotten their degrees without commuting. The College of Technology, where I taught, offered many evening courses on a rotating basis for the student who had families and jobs, and for whom commuting was the only viable means of attending UH.

Michael Cuddyer of the Rockies hit for the cycle this past weekend against Cincy. As a member of the Twins back in 2009, Cuddyer hit for the cycle against the Brewers. He became the third player in MLB history to hit for the cycle in different leagues. Name the other two former MLBers who hit for the cycle?

The Trib yesterday ran a story on who is going to foot the bill for Guv Dude’s legal fees. It would be unprecedented for the state to cover the costs. Dude, that’s an easy one. You got around 4 mil in RickPAC or just put together a legal defense fund. Take that issue off the table. That’s PR101. You would be a dumbarse to take heat on this while 4 mil is sitting in the bank. Duh! Here is the Trib story:


Here is an update from the Trib:

Gov. Rick Perry, who has been using taxpayer dollars to pay his defense lawyers, will tap campaign funds from now on to compensate the attorneys who are fighting his felony indictments, his spokesman said Wednesday night.

Perry spokesman Felix Browne said the governor, who has blasted the indictments as a “farce,” did not want to saddle taxpayers with the cost of a wrongful prosecution.

“This is an assault on the Constitution,” Browne said. “We don’t want it to be an assault on the taxpayers as well.”

Perry will use funds in his state campaign account, he said. As of June 30, the account had more than $4 million in it.

State records show taxpayers have spent about $80,000 so far to represent Perry as he faced criminal investigation. He was indicted last week on two felony counts stemming for allegedly abusing his office with a threat to veto funds destined for the state’s public integrity unit, which oversees public corruption cases.

I guess they read my mind. That is a good move on Dude’s part.

Bob Watson hit for the cycle as a ‘Stro (1977) and Red Sox (1979) and John Olerud hit for the cycle as a Met (1997) and Mariner (2001) of course.

I don’t know what to think about the ’Stros. We split four at Fenway. We’ve taken the first two at Yankee Stadium. Then you never know if we will drop five straight.

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