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Archive for September, 2014

17,000 plus at The Yard last night saw Jose Altuve get three base hits last night to put him at 209, just one behind B-G-O. We also put a damper on Cleveland’s faint hopes of making the playoffs. Commentary also snagged foul ball numero six of the season.

When B-G-O got his 210 base hits in 1998, he was only third in the MLB in base hits. Name the players ahead of him that season?

This past Saturday the Chron E-Board kind of put it on HCC Trustee Carroll Robinson, HCC, and a procurement deal investigation – if you want to call it an investigation. Of course, rumor is Trustee Robinson wants to run for another office – maybe City Controller – so this is certainly a distraction. Here is the entire E-Board take:

A Houston Community College trustee may have been cleared of ethical violations to a recently publicized summary report, but something still stinks. The exculpatory conclusion reached by the Gardere law firm, which HCC hired to investigate a contracting scandal last year, doesn’t do a good enough job connecting the dots. This report looks more like a cleanup operation than an investigation.

Taxpayer dollars and bond initiatives don’t exist to reward friends or pay back community supporters. HCC’s public dollars must be spent efficiently and effectively to educate students. That’s not what is happening at HCC. Instead, subcontractors are being selected based on connections over skill and politics over policy. Meanwhile, trustees are promoting agendas that would discourage whistleblowers from coming forward.

This all began at the end of last year, when allegations arose that Trustee Carroll G. Robinson helped a personal friend land a $1.4 million subcontract with Jacobs Project Management, a major HCC contractor. The million-dollar subcontract was for public relations work. The friend’s firm, Five Woods, specialized in landscaping and janitorial work. Whether or not Robinson violated board ethics rules and suggested a subcontractor to a vendor, this mismatch of skills smacked of poor public policy. In fact, the odd arrangement was so striking that it caught the attention of Michelle Morris, an attorney HCC retained to monitor procurement.

As she wrote in a lengthy internal e-mail at the time, “No one had ever heard of the company […] and Jacobs has not ever used this firm before.”

When Morris asked Jacobs representatives to explain the deal with Five Woods, they revealed that “the Five Woods representative was ‘sent’ to them by Trustee [Carroll] Robinson,” she wrote.

In her letter, Morris also described the response to her questions as “a nervous one,” and added, “they outright told me that they are in a ‘precarious position’ (their words not mine).”

Apparently the situation was so precarious that, upon Gardere’s investigation, the Jacobs representative denied making any such statement. According to Gardere’s report, there was simply no reliable evidence that trustee Robinson improperly tried to help Five Woods land the contract.

What the study fails to address, however, is that Robinson proposed the automatic suspension of any HCC contract upon allegations of impropriety. The proposal also called for the automatic termination of a contract if the board of trustees determined that allegations of impropriety were proven to be true. This policy would have punished Jacobs for its whistleblowers, cutting its contract for employees admitting that they were pressured to take part in HCC’s improper practices. After Robinson put forth this policy, the Jacobs employees changed their story.

How convenient.

So while HCC may have received an official clean bill of health, the whole thing still looks sick to us. After all, the report does confirm many of the concerns raised last year:

Five Woods lacked relevant experience.

The “price and scope” of Five Woods’ proposed services were “inconsistent” with HCC’s needs.

Jacobs selected Five Woods because of “relevant relationships” at HCC.

Relevant relationships? That just sounds like code for cronyism.

According to the report, Robinson was responsible for connecting Jacobs with Five Woods during HCC’s 2012 bond campaign. Jacobs selected Five Woods based on its relationship with HCC trustees. Despite this selection, Five Woods was not qualified for its subcontract. If Jacobs employees admitted that they were pressured to hire Five Woods, Jacobs could have lost its entire contract. Yet somehow, all of this does not violate HCC’s ethics code.

Whether or not there was an official policy violation, the whole thing is far too reminiscent of the ethical improprieties that tarnished past HCC board members. The fact that Robinson himself declined to be interviewed by HCC’s law firm should also make the end report all the more suspect. When news first broke, we wrote that any investigations should include statements taken under oath. Apparently neither HCC nor Robinson seemed to think that was necessary.

When interviewed last year by education writer Ericka Mellon, Robinson said that he didn’t “appreciate anybody dragging my good name through the mud.”

This isn’t about Robinson’s reputation. This is about HCC. Our community college helps train the important middle-skill laborers who make our energy economy hum and fill Houston’s middle class. These scandals leave a mark on the institution and distract from its true educational mission. These scandals also cost money: Gardere has charged HCC $271,500 for its investigation, and two more invoices are expected.

Taxpayer dollars should be spent educating students, not cleaning mud off trustee members. But until elected officials stop trying to play fast and loose with public funds, HCC will remain an institution in need of a deep cleaning.

Trustee Robinson tried to hit back yesterday with his own email, of course, he doesn’t have the reach of the E-Board. Here is his email:

The flawed logic and ignorance of the facts expressed in the Houston Chronicle editorial “HCC problems” (September 12, 2014) are stunning and amazing but not surprising. They reflect the continuing decline in the quality and objectivity of the Chronicle. Our city deserves and truly needs a quality flagship daily newspaper right now, that’s not the Houston Chronicle.

The Chronicle’s editorial complains that the $400,000 HCC investigation that determined that I did nothing wrong in regards to the allegation that I tried to help a friend get a contract at HCC “doesn’t do a good enough job connecting the dots.”

Essentially, the Chronicle editorial was written to continue its ongoing attack against me and to undermine my efforts to improve local small business participation at HCC by asserting that my efforts are intended to only “reward friends or pay back community supporters.”

When did local elected officials supporting local businesses and community organizations become a bad thing?

Taxpayer funding is used to support the Greater Houston Partnership, the biggest local business advocacy organization in our area. Does the Chronicle consider that improper? Should the member businesses of the Partnership be disqualified from doing business with local governmental entities?

Let’s connect the dots on the HCC Jacobs issue.

First, the procurement staff of HCC (including Michelle Morris who the Chronicle portrays as the star of their editorial) recommended Jacobs along with its subcontractor Five Woods to the Board of Trustees in June of 2013 as qualified to be the Program Manager team for the HCC Bond Program. This was months before Michelle Morris would write her memo saying that a representative of Jacobs told her I “sent” Five Woods to them. If that was the case, why didn’t the Jacobs representative say so before they and Five Woods were recommended to the HCC Board of Trustees in June of 2013 to be awarded the contract to serve as Program Manager? (This was also months before I made my policy proposal that the contract of businesses accused of wrongdoing be suspended.)

It wasn’t until after the Board of Trustees voted to select Jacobs in June of 2013 and their contract was signed that anyone (including Michelle Morris) started complaining that Five Woods was unqualified and that I allegedly “sent” them to Jacobs.

If Five Woods was unqualified, then it was the HCC procurement process and Michelle Morris that failed. They were the ones who recommended Jacobs and Five Woods to the Board of Trustees in June of 2013 and said nothing about Five Woods being unqualified at that time.

Second, the Chronicle is now asserting that it is improper for anyone who knows an elected official to do business with the governmental entity represented by that elected official.

If that is the Chronicle’s new standard, then I look forward to all their forthcoming editorials on all the friends of elected officials in our area – not just the minority ones – doing business with governmental entities.

Third, the Chronicle now says that suspending the contract of a business that is accused of possibly engaging in improper conduct is an attempt to prohibit whistleblowing.

Why should taxpayers continue paying a company that might have agreed to violate the law?

The Chronicle’s logic amounts to advocating that taxpayers should pay a business who may have broken the law to confess that they did break the law. What kind of logic is that?

Finally, I agree with the Chronicle that HCC wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer’s dollars. It wasn’t however because HCC was trying to clean mud off my name. It’s because no one had the courage to connect the dots and point out the simple fact that Michelle Morris’ allegations did not add up.

Instead of speculating and making things up, the Chronicle should deal with the facts and get out of the business of writing fiction.

Its time for the Chronicle to deal with the reality that the problem at HCC is not the Board of Trustees but rather, a broken procurement system and a lack of commitment to local small business contracting. (Maybe this will change now that HCC has a new Chancellor. I hope so.)

Fighting to improve the contracting process at HCC and strengthening the System’s small business program is not unethical or illegal.

It’s time for the Chronicle to move on and stop attacking HCC.

What I want to know is why didn’t Trustee Robinson just allow himself to be interviewed by the law firm? Also, I don’t know about waging war against the Chron. Oh well!

The Vikings are letting Adrian Peterson play this weekend. Here is what the owner said: “To be clear, we take very seriously any matter that involves the welfare of a child.”

Here is what the owner was thinking: “To be clear, we take very seriously winning.”

Just an FYI: To those of us that have been using the Holy Name near north side Early Voting location the last few cycles, we are back at Moody next month.

In 1998, B-G-O had 210 base hits and trailed Dante Bichette with 219 and A-Roid with 213 of course.

All eyes will be on Altuve tonight for sure as he now holds an eleven point lead in the batting title chase.

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Hello Empower

A conservative PAC will be setting up shop in H-Town this week. Welcome to H-Town Empower Texans! I guess they will focus on City of H-Town stuff. Are they going to organize, endorse candidates, and get out their voters? Are they going to put out position papers and studies? Are they going to lobby at City Hall and engage members of City Council? Or are they just going to make noise? We will see! Here is the Chron story by Theodore Schleifer:

Empower Texans said Sunday it will open a political outpost in Houston, a signal that the conservative political action committee may emerge as a player in upcoming municipal elections.

Charles Blain, currently a field organizer for Greg Abbott’s campaign in Montgomery County, will lead Empower’s second permanent operation, the organization told supporters Sunday. A public announcement is expected Monday.

Empower opens its Houston office more than a year after starting its Dallas-area office that focuses on local issues and elections. While the Austin-based umbrella organization focuses on statewide lobbying and elections, the Metroplex office has endorsed area candidates in school board and municipal elections.

On Friday, Empower’s fiscal policy analyst Christopher Paxton criticized Houston’s elected officials for complaining about having to rein in government spending.

“Too many Houston politicians have decided the real problem is the limit on government growth, not endlessly growing government,” Paxton said in a blog post. “It is high time that Houstonians held their elected officials accountable and demand that the council address major fiscal challenges without raising taxes or complaints.”

That “high time” may come next year, when Houston voters will elect a new mayor and 16 city council members. Several Republicans are expected to run for the city’s top job – meaning Empower’s endorsement could help a candidate advance to the runoff in a crowded field.

Jose Altuve now has 206 base hits. Name the player that trails him?

Team Davis put out a new attack ad this morning. Here is from the Chron:

State Sen. Wendy Davis’ campaign for governor released a TV ad Monday accusing opponent Greg Abbott of looking the other way as attorney general when his office learned of sexual assault allegations at a state-run school nearly a decade ago.

Titled “Time Went By,” the 30-second commercial draws attention to an investigation into claims of rape and sexual abuse starting in 2005 at West Texas State School in Pyote. A Texas Ranger asked Abbott to get involved, raising concerns about whether local authorities could handle the growing scandal involving the Texas Youth Commission, which operated the juvenile detention facility.

“Abbott does nothing,” a narrator says over somber music as shadowy cutouts of newspaper headlines appear on the screen. In the 11 months following the ranger’s request for Abbott’s help, 16 more cases of “abuse, neglect or violations” were confirmed at the school, according to the Davis campaign, which cites state records.

“But Abbott didn’t pursue the case,” the narrator repeats, reviving an attack from the Davis’ first two TV ads: “What insider was Greg Abbott covering up for this time?”

Abbott eventually stepped in, helping with the prosecution of two top officials at the facility. More allegations surfaced in the following years, and the school closed in 2010.

The commercial is Davis’ fourth for the general election. Davis spokeswoman Rebecca Acuna said the ad is running in “targeted markets throughout the state.” Davis’ campaign did not immediately say when the spot went on the air.

Abbott’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ad.

Here is a link to the ad: http://blog.chron.com/texaspolitics/2014/09/davis-commercial-abbott-ignored-rape-claims-at-state-run-school/

I am trying think – has AG Abbott’s campaign gone negative with ads yet?

Cleveland’s Michael Brantley trails Altuve with 180 base hits.

For those who care and not many do, the ‘Stros’ last homie begins tonight with four against Cleveland who have faint hopes of making the playoffs and then a three game weekend series with the Mariners who have a very good chance of advancing. You can also watch Jose Altuve who is leading the MLB in batting by eight points. The ‘Stros won yesterday and took the roadie 5-4.

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It’s a War

Secretary of State John Kerry says we are not at war with ISIL. Here is what he told CNN yesterday:

“What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counter-terrorism operation. It’s going to go on for some period of time. If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with ISIL, they can do so, but the fact is it’s a major counter-terrorism operation that will have many different moving parts.”

We are going to end up spending billions. We are going bombs away. We are going to knock off a bunch of bad guys. It is going to last for a while. It is a war.

Jose Altuve is the only MLB player with 200 base hits this season. Nobody had 200 last season. Two players had 200 plus base hits in 2012 – name them?

I am going to have to give credit to the Chron these days for putting out more campaign stories. On today’s front page there is a story on AG Abbott filing an ethics complaint against Team Davis for mixing the book tour with the campaign. Oh brother!

There is also a story about where is Sen. Dan Patrick. Apparently he is not doing a lot of campaigning. Here is a line from the Patrick story that will probably get a smirk or two:

The down-low strategy is new for Patrick, a 64-year-old who has served in the state Senate since 2007.

Oops!

There is also a story in the City/State section on the polls. Way to go Chron! You are doing your part to inform voters.

On “What is Trending on ‘Today’” over 60% of folks that tweeted in wanted the NFL Commissioner to resign. Remember when former Secretary of State Condi Rice said she wanted to be NFL Commissioner. Now some folks are talking her up.

After September 11, MLB went dark for a week. The season resumed for the ‘Stros a week later with a three games series in San Francisco beginning on Tuesday, September 18. We swept the Giants. Then we came home to The Yard for a three game weekend series with the Cubbies. All three games were standing-room-only crowds. Just thought you might want to know.

In 2012, Derek Jeter had 216 base hits and Miguel Cabrera had 205 of course.

Altuve is now chasing B-G-O’s 210 and he still holds the MLB lead in batting average as the team is in Anaheim this weekend to take on the best in MLB.

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Wars, Wars, Wars!

I remember. I will never forget.

It looks like the entire Obama Presidency will be consumed by war. Who would have thought? I don’t think it was supposed to be that way.

Sometimes I think it has been longer that thirteen years ago.

From the it ain’t over ‘til it’s over department, here is from Chron.com:

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis is trailing Republican opponent Greg Abbott by single digits for the first time this year in her campaign’s internal polling, according to a copy of it obtained by the Chronicle.

The Davis campaign’s latest survey, which was conducted last week, shows her taking 38 percent of the vote to Abbott’s 46 percent. A Rasmussen poll released last month also found Davis down by 8 percentage points.

I wonder how the Chron obtained the poll. Keep hope alive!

From the it’s over department, here is from Burkablog:

Why is Greg Abbott still raising money for his race for governor when he already has enough stashed away to win two or three races? Abbott is on his way to assembling the largest campaign war chest in Texas history, but it’s not because he’s worried about Wendy Davis.

It’s because Abbott knows he is likely to face a future race against the real threat to his political career in 2018: Dan Patrick (we might as well call him “lieutenant governor-elect”). He and Patrick are on a collision course for the Governor’s Mansion that year, when Abbott will be running for reelection and Patrick could mount a serious primary challenge.

Keep hope alive!

If this keeps up it may fall into the it ain’t over ‘til it’s over department:

Some of state Sen. Wendy Davis’ detractors are questioning her motives after she disclosed terminating two pregnancies due to serious medical issues, with one conservative writer even asking whether she really had an abortion.

“Maybe she had the abortion, maybe she didn’t. Maybe her reasons were as compelling as she claims. But the reasons Davis gives for having had her abortions are unproven and statistically unlikely,” wrote Dustin Siggins in the conservative National Review Online. Its headline: “Wendy Davis’s Convenient Abortion Stories – Struggling Texas candidate tugs heartstrings with unverifiable personal tales.”

Some political observers have warned about the potential for a backlash if Republicans unleash harsh criticism of the decisions detailed by Davis, the Democratic candidate for governor, in her new memoir.

Except for that Stephen A. idiot from ESPN’s “First Take”, I can’t find anyone that wants the NFL Commissioner to stick around. The NFL just hired a high profile figure to conduct an investigation to clear them of any wrong doing. Stay tuned!

I am skipping the MLB quiz today.

Last night Jose Altuve became the second ‘Stro to reach the 200 base hit mark. B-G-O had 210 in 1998. Altuve still leads for the MLB batting title. We played spoiler again last night and we are now 11 ahead of the last place Rangers.

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He has 1.2 mil twitter followers. He has staked out a good pro-Latino position on immigration reform. He doesn’t have a problem calling out the President. He has his own Sunday morning talk show on Univision and an English-speaking show on Fusion TV. I am talking about Jorge Ramos. Here is from a recent voxxi piece on Ramos:

President Barack Obama’s disappointing decision to push back his decision on immigration reform, what The Washington Post called his “immigration train wreck,” may be the consummate example of the failure of the Obama presidency.

It is also a tell-tale sign of the trouble the Democratic Party finds itself in politically, and an incredible opening for the GOP, if it can ever decide to take the courageous steps needed to broaden its base and not fumble the opportunity.

Sadly, for Latinos, it is also another broken promise from a president in whom much hope was placed, and not surprisingly it has been Univision broadcaster Jorge Ramos who has been at the forefront of the criticism.

“A promise is a promise,” Ramos tweeted Saturday, further stamping himself as the leading non-partisan Hispanic critic of President Obama. “Una promesa es una promesa.”

Obama had promised on June 30 to finally take action on immigration and his administration’s oft-criticized deportation policies. Now, facing the prospect of a ruinous midterm election, he has said he will delay such action until after the November voting.

It is especially galling for Ramos because he knows that Obama promised to introduce immigration reform in 2009 and never followed through. Obama then vowed to act before this summer, and he has again disappointed.

Now Jorge Ramos’s criticism has taken on a life of its own, not only because he’s perhaps the best nationally known Latino advocating progressive immigration reform, but also by the fact that Univision and its new Fusion network offer him the biggest platform in Spanish and English enjoyed by any Hispanic leader.

It’s not that some Latino Democratic leaders haven’t also been critical of Obama’s broken promises, but their criticism has been understandably muted by comparison – their own party’s fate is at stake, after all.

Latino Democrats and partisans also are not about to call the president and their party’s leader a bald-faced liar, which is what Ramos effectively has called Obama. He can get away with it — perhaps because he’s not beholden to the Democratic Party, but possibly because of that charming accented English of his that allows him to be harsher than he actually sounds.

Any other journalist might be accused of being rude, but not Jorge Ramos, who perhaps should be called the linguistic Barack Obama. Like Obama at the height of his popularity in 2008, Ramos is a man of color whose presence and style don’t immediately alienate a white audience.

But Ramos does have some of those Latino Democratic leaders pulling at their hair, because they fear that his criticism only adds more fuel to the fire potentially burning their party’s hopes this fall as they try to hold control of at least one chamber of Congress for President Obama’s final two years in office.

Here is the entire piece: http://voxxi.com/2014/09/09/jorge-ramos-criticizes-obama-immigration/.

I will say this. Ramos does have the audience and folks certainly pay attention to him. A case could be made that today he is the most interesting man in the Latino community. Stay political thirsty my friend!

The ‘Stros are looking for a new Skipper. Name the former ‘Stros Skipper with the most games as a ‘Stros Skipper?

I have to hand it to Norah O’Donnell of CBS News for her handling of her interview yesterday with the NFL Commissioner. Here is what I tweeted yesterday:

Nice job by @NorahODonnell this evening to make @nflcommish look totally clueless. #NFL #DomesticViolenceAwareness

Here is what MLB.com’s Alyson Footer tweeted:

This Goodell interview is absolutely comical. He is a terrible liar.

And:

He could have sent an intern over w/2 autographed footballs and gotten a copy of the tape.

I will say this. If Goodell’s investigators couldn’t get the tape, then maybe he ought to fire his current investigators.

Bill Virdon of course has 1,066 games as a ‘Stros Skipper.

Well we continued to play the spoiler role last night as we edged the Mariners 2-1 and Altuve still holds a slim lead in the race for the batting title.

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Commentary said this yesterday about The President delaying action on immigration and Latinos:

Now one of the story lines of the upcoming election will be “do Latinos turnout to vote after being told to wait on immigration.”

The more that this is talked about, the more likely Latinos will stay home. Sorry Dem folks!

Here is part of an Op-Ed in Politico today written by Carmen Velasquez, founder and retired executive director of Alivio Medical Center in Chicago:

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Illinois Reps. Brad Schneider and Bill Foster — all Democrats who have kept their promises to the Latino community and consistently supported reform — will face reelection and risk losing if disaffected Latinos refuse to show up at the polls.

Between now and the midterms, more than 60,000 Latinos and immigrants will very likely be separated from their loved ones and thousands of U.S. citizen children will be left without a mother or a father before the president acts. Most of these human beings have lived in the United States for more than a decade and do backbreaking work that Americans do not want to do, contributing to and growing industries that Americans cannot do without. All they ask is for a chance to get right with the law, legally enter the workforce and stay together with their families. Obama’s broken promise and delayed action will mean many of them will be deported.

Their suffering and that of their families, friends and children should weigh on the consciences of the president and the Democrats who encouraged Obama to put off — again and again and again and again and again — the push for immigration reform.

As for our own plan of action? It’s hard for me to imagine many of us voting for Republicans, who have at times been downright hostile to immigrant communities. But maybe Latinos in places like Colorado, Florida, Arkansas and North Carolina — states with closely contested Senate or governor’s races — should sit this election out. Maybe only by paying a price at the polls will Democrats finally stop throwing us under the bus.

This MLB Hall of Fame great had his numero 9 and 44 retired by two different teams – who am I talking about?

I said also this on Thursday about the Team Davis Book Tour:

In this current political climate of ethics complaints being filed on a regular basis, don’t be surprised if a GOP affiliated group files an ethics complaint against Team Davis for not having a political disclaimer printed on the book. Oh well!

Sure Enough! As expected! This came out yesterday in the Trib:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott’s campaign manager is requesting a ruling from the Texas Ethics Commission on whether Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ book deal and tour are illegal corporate campaign contributions.

In the three page letter sent Monday morning, Abbott campaign manager Wayne Hamilton argues the book is tied to her campaign. Corporate campaign contributions are illegal in Texas elections.

“The book will be serving as a promotion of the issues the candidate has been highlighting over the course of the campaign,” Hamilton wrote in his letter. “Because of the proximity of the book’s publishing and the election, the candidate will be using political funds on voter contact at the same time the publisher is using corporate funds to promote the book.”

Some things are just predictable.

Don’t give kudos to the Ravens or the NFL for giving Ray Rice the boot. Save your kudos for TMZ.

Reggie Jackson of course had his numero 9 retired by the A’s and his numero 44 by the Yankees.

The ‘Stros’ 2015 schedule was released yesterday and once again we will be spending the three holidays on the road. Memorial Day in B’More, Fourth of July at Fenway, and Labor Day at O.co. All of our interleague games are against NL West clubs. We play two in San Fran, and they visit us for two. We play two at Coors, and they visit us for two. We go to San Diego for three and the Dodgers visit us for three. The D-Backs visit us for three and we close the season in their crib for three. The Yankees visit us in June and Red Sox are here in July.

We lost last night as Jose Altuve holds a slim lead in the batting title chase.

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I am sure a number of Latinos Dems feel used this morning. This one does.

The President said this weekend that he would wait until after the election to act on immigration.

This is not going to help Latino voter turnout this fall. Let me explain.

In the last few election cycles, the immigration issue and immigration activists have been the most effective in driving up Latino voter turnout. This morning the immigration activist community is disappointed and p___ed off. Don’t expect them to get enthusiastic about the November election.

Latino voters also read and watch the news. Here are the messages they are hearing.

The November elections are more important than the Latino community.

A few Democratic U.S. Senators are more important that the Latino community.

Other Dem groups can get theirs, but Latinos have to wait.

Latinos help carry key states in the last few elections, but that doesn’t matter now.

Now one of the story lines of the upcoming election will be “do Latinos turnout to vote after being told to wait on immigration.”

The more that this is talked about, the more likely Latinos will stay home. Sorry Dem folks!

Here is sampling of what is being written:

“When candidate Obama asked our community for support in 2008 and 2012, he urged us all to vote based on our hopes, not our fears,” said Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza. “Today, President Obama gave in to the fears of Democratic political operatives, crushing the hopes of millions of hard-working people living under the constant threat of deportation and family separation.”

And:

“To paraphrase the revolutionary writer Thomas Paine, these politicians are simply sunshine opportunists, who expect Latino voters to support them in good times, but when the going gets tough, they abandon Latinos and their issues as fast as you can say piñata,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration advocacy group America’s Voice.

And:

“It’s clear that playing it safe is what is going on at the White House … walking away from our values and our principles,”‘ the Illinois Democrat (Cong. Luis Gutierrez) said on ABC’s “This Week.”

And:

This presidential delay means that more innocent people will be deported and more families separated. It’s the triumph of partisan politics…..Jorge Ramos

Our season with the A’s is over. Last year they owned us 15-4. What was our record with the A’s this season?

It says something that the first major story written by the new political reporter for the Chron is about the lack of Latino representation in Congress from the H-Town area. It also landed as the lead front page story in yesterday’s Chron. So the folks that run the Chron certainly think it is an important issue.

Having a Dem Latino or Latina in Congress from the H-Town area would be empowering to the community. What is missing is an articulate voice for us in Congress like on a day when the immigration issue is front and center. Who is going to argue with that?

I don’t buy into the notion that just because the local Latino leaders aren’t for something, it won’t happen. I can still recall the spontaneous immigration marches a few years ago that local Latino leaders were scrambling to lead.

I can picture a scenario where an articulate bilingual Latino or Latina leader steps up, grabs an issue and captures the attention of the community. That is certainly not racist, that’s politics. This discussion isn’t going away. Here is the entire article:

Houston Hispanics had a reason to celebrate. They had won.

After decades of rapid growth in the local Latino population, Texas legislators had set up a new congressional district to elect someone from their community to Congress. The 29th congressional district, local Hispanic leaders said in August 1991, would send new breeds of Americans to Congress.

“Today is a very, very historic day,” said Rep. Roman Martinez, a Houston Democrat who crafted the district in the House. “It is a plan that would elect a Hispanic to Congress for the very first time ever in Harris County.”

Except it didn’t happen.

Two decades after local political leaders thought they had solved the demographic puzzle with a new “opportunity district” that is today three-quarters Latino, no Hispanic has represented it.

As of this election cycle, Houston remains the most Hispanic major metropolitan area in the country without a Latino elected to Congress, a distinction that could revitalize concerns about how historic the 1991 redistricting truly was. The dozen congressional lawmakers who represent Greater Houston’s 2.2 million Hispanics can say they are voices for the community, but Latino leaders worry that because none of them are of the community, Hispanics’ voice in Washington may be muffled.

“When people see the growth … where we’re at politically, I think more and more people are opining, ‘Hey, when are we going to do it?’ ” said Democratic consultant Marc Campos. “People are becoming a little bit more sophisticated about the demographics and what it means for our community.”

What it means is that potential Latino candidates, mollified with political savvy and dispirited by political incumbency, have demurred from challenging the non-Hispanic – Gene Green – who represents them in Congress, and according to some, has served his constituents well. But with each successive election, the path to reversing the trend seems increasingly daunting.

And it draws fresh attention to the challenge that animates community organizers, Democratic groups and even apolitical Hispanics who would like to see a more representative Houston metropolitan area, a lawmaker who can bellow into a megaphone in Spanish on the population’s behalf.

“Wow,” said Maximo Diaz, 66, his face twisting as he reacted to the news in a Fiesta Mart in East Houston. “Our culture here is Hispanic in this area, and there’s never been a Hispanic congressman? That’s surprising.”

Hispanic leaders see reversing the statistical anomaly as only a matter of time.

Nearly 36 percent of those who live in the Houston metropolitan area are Hispanic, according to census figures analyzed by the Pew Hispanic Center, ranking it the fifth most Hispanic metropolitan area among those with more than a million Hispanics.

The Miami and San Antonio areas, both majority Latino, elected Hispanics to Congress decades ago. The Los Angeles area has a rich history of sending Latinos to Congress, and six members of its current delegation are Hispanic. The Inland Empire region, east of Los Angeles, is 48 percent Hispanic and used to hold the distinction that Houston now claims, but has recently produced new Latino leadership – in 2012, voters in Eastern California elected their second Hispanic legislator.

That mantle now falls to Houston.

Hispanic political leaders say they are eager to elect someone who looks like them to Washington. But a far different story has played out in practice.

First victory by 180 votes

Ever since 1992, Latinos in the 29th district have been represented by Green. The congressman bested his Latino opponent in the Democratic primary runoff, Ben Reyes, by 180 votes that year and has not faced a tight primary challenge since he beat Reyes again by 3,000 votes two years later. Reyes later went to federal prison on a bribery conviction.

Other districts in the Houston area are 20 percent to 40 percent Hispanic, but no district epitomizes Hispanics’ struggle for representation like the 29th, centered in east Houston.

Today, Latinos make up 75 percent of that district, but only half of registered voters. Green evokes comparisons to Congressman Steve Cohen, a white Democrat who represents a district in Memphis, Tenn., that is 65 percent African-American. But Green says he is obviously representing his Hispanic constituents – just look at the results, he says.

“We’re not South Africa under apartheid. They’ve had the opportunity, and they made that decision,” Green said, adding, “I’m up every two years.”

And every two years for the past 20, Hispanic voters in the 29th district have sent Green back to Congress. He does not speak Spanish, but political observers note how Green has shrewdly won over the Hispanic community by co-opting threatening Latino leaders and hustling to keep tabs on the community’s pulse. That has kept Hispanic challengers at bay.

“He’s a very smart politician and has done his homework in terms of coming home,” said Maria Jimenez, a longtime Hispanic organizer in Houston.

The district is rich with potential Latino candidates, such as Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia and state Sen. Sylvia Garcia and Rep. Carol Alvarado. Hispanic leaders say there is a steady drumbeat of chatter about a Latino challenging Green in a primary, but Green has hired many of these prominent Hispanics over the decades and has built personal loyalties that area Latinos are reluctant to violate.

Workhorse reputation

There is also a harsher political reality: Everyone knows Gene Green.

“If there’s five people meeting in the civic club, I tell you: Gene Green is there,” said Armando Walle, a Hispanic state representative from Houston who once worked for Green. “He can continue to be a member of Congress as long as he wants.”

Green, 66, returns to the district every weekend when Congress is in session and has earned a reputation as a workhorse. Green maintains that is what matters in his district.

“It’s more of a service-oriented district. People want to know what you’re doing to help,” Green said. “I don’t think I’d get re-elected or elected if I wasn’t doing the job.”

That philosophy is echoed in Hispanic Houston, where activists say Green has represented Latinos well in Washington despite not being a member of their community. Politically, that representation means that Green has not created an impetus for change – even if the seat was designed with a Latino lawmaker in mind.

“If you have a good member of Congress that represents their district well, I think it really comes down to – who is clamoring for change?” asked Joaquin Guerra, political director for the Texas Organizing Project in Houston. “When you have a 20-plus congressional incumbent, obviously they seem to be doing something right.”

Because Green has not had a recent primary challenge from a Latino candidate, it remains unclear whether his political power comes from popular support or instead from political muscle. Green has not run a campaign in decades, and some political analysts say that Green would be beatable with the right Hispanic candidate in a presidential election year when minority turnout is generally higher.

First took office in 1972

2016 may be a promising opportunity for this primary. If Green had faced a Hispanic challenger in the 2008 Democratic primary, when the contest between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama drove Latinos to the polls, Green “would have been history,” said one local Hispanic analyst, who has crunched the numbers but was not authorized to comment on them.

Mounting this challenge against Green, however, would involve upsetting voters’ comfort with the legislator who has represented East Houston since 1972 when he was elected to the state House. Green sits on a $1 million war chest he has never had to spend, donors he has never had to tap and political chips he has never had to collect.

Though many Latinos in the area have slowly come to support Green, this support is partially motivated by how mystifying the path to dethroning Green would be.

“I think they finally gave up,” said Chris Bell, a former congressman who is said to be weighing a bid for mayor next year. “The elections were so competitive before and bloody that there really wasn’t an opportunity there.”

Community trusts Green

Garcia, who represents most of Green’s district and was one of the three Latinos who initially ran for the seat in the tough 1992 election, said that race was Hispanics’ best chance to finally elect a Hispanic from the area. Times now have changed, she conceded, and defeating Green is not a priority of the current generation of Hispanic political leadership.

“It’s probably in the back of the mind of a lot of us who follow politics, but we have to be realistic,” she said. “It’s not on anybody’s to-do list in the near future.”

The consequence of this patience is that a seat carved out for a Hispanic two decades ago has eluded the Latino community. But this patience has joined forces with a new post-identity politics that looks beyond legislators’ skin color – Hispanic leaders voice comfort with a non-Latino leader of a heavily Latino district as long as he looks out for their community, which they insist Green is.

“There was outrage at that time that the political system excluded us,” said Jimenez, the godmother of political activists in the Houston area. But when it comes to ethnicity, “the community is now convinced that it doesn’t make a difference.”

The congressman was starker in his criticism of the notion that only a Hispanic could represent Hispanics, labeling the idea “racist.”

“That’s not what our country’s about,” Green said. “We don’t select someone based on their race or ethnicity. We give that majority population the right to make that decision.”

Hispanic leaders today have two routes to shedding the unwanted distinction as the nation’s most unrepresentative city. One path is to carve a second “opportunity district” for Hispanics in the area, as several legislators sought to do during the 2011 redistricting process. Many of those lawmakers expect better luck after the next census, which is expected to show even more Latino growth in Harris County.

Open field waiting to happen

But the more politically foreseeable solution, leaders said, is to simply wait Green out. After four decades of politics, the veteran congressman shows no signs of waning – though he said he does recognize that Latino talent is waiting for his exit.

The Latino political community in Houston is at times divided and lacks an obvious political leader who would clear the field when Green steps down. Garcia, the state senator sometimes mentioned as a potential Green replacement, said the open speculation would quickly turn into an open field once any announcement was made.

“It basically would be a free-for-all because there not has been a real opportunity since the ’90s,” she said.

CNN “Reliable Sources” had an interview yesterday with Chuck Todd, the new moderator for “Meet the Press.” He said he knew folks were tired of DC and the DC media so he was going to try to be a bit different. I watched his debut yesterday. He interviewed the President and he didn’t have any partisan operatives on the program. Not bad!

I then watched “This Week” and switched channels once they brought on the partisan operatives.

The ‘Stros were 8-11 against the A’s this season and it is now official – we won’t lose 100 this season – whew!

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Public Conversations

Let’s see now. The Dean handed over to the Chron his conversations with the UH Chancellor and they were published.

Let’s see now. The UH Student Government leader handed over to the Cougar his conversations with The Dean and they were published. So why did folks get upset with the leader? Oh well.

Bench Coach Adam Everett was a ‘Stro for seven years. He also played for three other MLB clubs – name them?

HISD is asking for 1,500 volunteers to help solve the literacy problem in the schools? Huh! What are teachers for? Here is from the Chron:

Leaders of the Houston Independent School District turned to the community on Thursday, launching the district’s largest volunteer recruitment effort in recent years – all to help solve HISD’s intractable literacy problem.

The nation’s seventh-largest school system put out a call for 1,500 volunteers – business professionals, retirees and others – to work weekly with first-graders across the district who are struggling to read.

The volunteer effort is part of Superintendent Terry Grier’s latest literacy plan, which sets a goal that all students will read on grade level by third grade. Last school year, only one-third of HISD’s third-graders hit the state’s recommended level on the reading test; about two-thirds met the easier minimum standards.

“This is a big, big issue, and together we’re going to be able to do this,” Grier said at a news conference at Garcia Elementary, addressing the business and nonprofit executives helping to fund and coordinate the volunteer effort.

Oh well again!

You have to go pick up the Chron to check out another outstanding column by Lisa Falkenberg on Harris County’s grand jury system. It is absolutely incredible that Falkenberg is having to point out to judges – Dems included – transparency issues and the law. Absolutely incredible! Here is how her column ends:

With all due respect, Your Honors, stop sealing public information and hand over the records. They belong to us, the people who elected you.

I am thinking that Falkenberg’s columns on our grand jury system are going to get her some serious recognition if you know what I mean.

Well Sunday the Texans kick-off their season against the team from D.C. I’ll be paying attention to our QB situation.

Adam Everett also played with the Tigers, Cleveland, and Twins of course.

Can you believe that we are eight games ahead of the last place Rangers?

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Book Sale

It is a good move by Team Davis to schedule a book tour next week. If it will get her more attention – go for it. Here is what the Chron said on its front page:

With her gubernatorial campaign nearing the home stretch, state Sen. Wendy Davis will take five timeouts next week to promote her new book, prompting her opponent on Wednesday to renew criticism of her vision for Texas’ future.

Even so, political experts suggested the unusual timing of Davis’ book tour will probably benefit her campaign, still trailing in the polls with just two months to go before Election Day.

And:

For its part, Abbott’s campaign on Wednesday said the tour underscores Davis’ shortcomings. “Sen. Davis has shown she can’t sell a vision for Texas’ future, so maybe she’ll have better luck selling books,” said Abbott campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch.

Political observers suggested the book visits are nothing if not political.

“The book signings may not be political, but when you’re running in a statewide race like she is, it’s political,” said Jerry Polinard, a political scientist at the University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg. “All the people at those events know she’s running, and they’re not there because she’s just an author.”

In this current political climate of ethics complaints being filed on a regular basis, don’t be surprised if a GOP affiliated group files an ethics complaint against Team Davis for not having a political disclaimer printed on the book. Oh well!

B-G-O made his last Opening Day start at second base in 2007. Who was our Opening Day starter at second base in 2008?

Commentary is not a fan of “One Bin for All.” I think it is kind of pie-in-the-sky thinking. The Chron has a front page story on the City of H-Town and One-Bin. We need to wait and see if the One-Bin technology is really out there. We have not done a good job in educating the community on how to recycle. Heck, a lot of homes still don’t have the tall green bins. Let’s focus on this first before we head into uncharted territory. Here is from the Chron:

Ever since city officials announced an ambitious plan to overhaul lackluster recycling in Houston, allowing residents to mix all of their waste in one bin to be sorted and converted into marketable materials at a first-of-its-kind facility, the idea has been dogged by environmental concerns.

Now, with five “One Bin for All” company bids under consideration, city officials are facing more practical questions: Can the technology succeed, and at the right price? If not, the one-bin plan will be scrapped and the city’s focus will shift to expanding curbside recycling.

City officials say the advanced sorting technology required for a one-bin program is proven, but critics contend there is less of a track record for “gasification,” a process that converts food, tree waste and other items into fuel and that could determine the commercial success of the program. Both critics and proponents point to a growing list of cities and counties that have tried similar one-bin models and met with varying success.

“These are goals that we know may be difficult to achieve,” said Laura Spanjian, the city’s sustainability director. “We’ve done lots of research, we’ve toured different facilities. We believe this is possible.”

And:

Critics urging the city to drop the one-bin plan say it is risky and the technology it would require is unproven. Time and effort spent vetting one-bin proposals would be better spent expanding the existing recycling program, said Melanie Scruggs, Houston program director for Texas Campaign for the Environment. The group strongly opposes the city proposal, and released a report last month detailing stories of cities and counties that apparently have tried and failed to launch similar programs or meet diversion goals.

“If the city of Houston is looking for examples of one-bin waste facilities that are recycling 75 percent of whatever goes in there, that simply doesn’t exist,” Scruggs said. “It’s not out there, it’s not working. We’ve looked.”

Good luck!

Also from the Chron is a bit about the threats made to the former head of the firefighters union:

“If someone made a threat to someone’s family, they deserve criminal charges,” (Mayor) Parker said. “And if, in fact, they can be proven, they deserve to go to jail.”

Alvin White, interim local president, released a statement Wednesday saying (Bryan) Sky-Eagle’s allegations “conveniently deflect from his troubled tenure as HPFFA president and upcoming trial on administrative charges.”

An earlier statement following Sky-Eagle’s resignation said the 3,800 members increasingly lost confidence in his leadership.

“We hope a proper investigation of the ‘threats’ occurs,” White said in his statement.

White also pointed to Parker’s historically tense relationship with the union.

“We also urge the mayor, whose administration worked closely with Mr. Sky-Eagle, to await the findings of the investigation before she resumes disparaging Houston firefighters,” White said.

I wonder if the next mayor will get along with the union because this one certainly doesn’t.

Mark Loretta of course was our Opening Day second baseman in 2008.

I told you about heading out to The Yard. Last night we put it on the Angels again. Altuve had his 194th base hit and Chris Carter had another multi dinger evening. He now has 35. The team is off today then we head off on a nine game roadie this weekend. Spoilers?

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Come on! I am starting to believe we are going a bit overboard and prosecuting hardball politics. I agree with The Dean that this is “silly.” The Dean might have been a bit aggressive and a little on the bully side with the UH Chancellor but he certainly wasn’t doing anything against the law. He was just being The Dean and being The Dean ain’t illegal.

Just for the sake of consistency, I am thinking right now that all Guv Dude was doing was playing hardball politics. Convince me otherwise! Here is the Chron story on The Dean:

A conservative group has filed a criminal complaint against state Sen. John Whitmire, accusing him of coercion in an exchange of text messages with University of Houston President Renu Khator that was published in the Houston Chronicle.

In the Aug. 16 conversation, Whitmire told Khator he would “stop dead and pass leg (legislation)” unless she killed a plan to require freshmen to live on campus. Khator agreed to withdraw the proposal and asked Whitmire to forgive her.

The complaint, filed Aug. 29 with Travis County’s Public Integrity Unit by the Conservative Action Fund, cites the exchange. The unit investigates claims against elected officials.

“Senator Whitmire directly attempted to influence — and did in fact influence — a public servant (the UH President) ‘in a specific exercise of [her] official power,'” the complaint says. “He achieved such influence by means of ‘coercion,’ that is, by threatening to ‘take…action as a public servant’ in the Legislature if UH did not bow to his demand.”

Whitmire dismissed the complaint as “absolutely silly.”

“I haven’t even given it a second thought,” Whitmire said. “Obviously a group of lawyers have got too much time on their hands.”

The complaint seems to be meant, in part at least, as a defense of Gov. Rick Perry, who was indicted last month on similar charges. Perry threatened to, and later did, veto funding for the Travis County-based Public Integrity Unit, if Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg did not step down after being arrested for drunken driving.

The Conservative Action Fund complaint says repeatedly that if Perry committed a crime, so did Whitmire. The Houston Democrat is the dean of the state senate.

“If your office is intent on prosecuting Governor Perry for exercising his lawful legislative authority (the veto) to encourage action by another public servant (Lehmberg), then we suppose that you would be troubled to know of two publicly documented violations of the same criminal statute by a powerful Texas Democrat,” the complaint says.

It also claims Whitmire coerced the Texas Department of Criminal Justice executive director into ending the practice of last meals for death row inmates. The complaint cites a New York Times article that says, in “a phone call and letter to the executive director of the state prison agency, Mr. Whitmire asked that the agency end the practice of last meals or he would get the State Legislature to pass a bill doing so.”

Former ‘Stro shortstop Adam Everett is now the team’s bench coach. Everett was our Opening Day starting shortstop from 2004-2007. Who was our Opening Day shortstop in 2008?

One of the folks that threw out the first pitch last night was a fella that punched over 220,000 MLB All Star Game ballots. How did he do it?

Jon Singleton’s walk up tune is Jimmy Dean’s “Big John.” Singleton’s only hitting .176 so he is a long way away from Big Bad John status.

Miguel Tejada of course was our Opening Day starting shortstop in 2008.

Only 15,000 and change saw us put it on the Angels last night. Altuve had another four hit night and is now sitting at .340 with 193 base hits.

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