Archive for December 8th, 2014

The Trib had a piece this past weekend on the latest endangered species – White Dems in the Texas Legislature – the Magnificent Seven, the Lucky Seven, or the Dwindling Seven – ouch!

A couple of weeks ago Commentary talked about the importance of Lone Star State Dems implementing a “Small Ball” strategy. Last week, the State GOP put out the following that Dems should put up on our locker room bulletin boards throughout the state – kind of as a reminder and an incentive. This is our reality:

The Republican Party of Texas is pleased to announce that after completing a survey of the most recent election results around the state, that we have set yet another record for the total number of Republicans in elected office.

This last election cycle, we added a net increase of 360 Republicans. This is the second highest incremental increase in the Party’s history. During the 2010 cycle, we added a net increase of 500 which is the most we have ever added during any cycle. After the 2008 cycle, Republicans held 2,395 offices around the state compared to the 3,653 we hold today. After the 2008 cycle, Republicans held less than half of all the elected offices in the state. Today Republicans hold approximately 7 out of every 10 offices around state.

State Chairman Munisteri commented, “During the last three election cycles, we have set a record each time with total number of Republicans elected across the state. Today, there are 1,262 more Republicans holding office in the state of Texas then there were when I took over as State Chairman. I am very proud of the staff here at the RPT, our Republican activists, and our candidates who worked so hard to make this happen. The fact that we just added another 360 Republicans, mostly at the local level, is another indication that the Democrat’s big push to turn Texas blue, and their stated goal of working to increase Democrat officeholders on the local level has been by any objective standard, a complete and total failure.”

“And miles to go before I sleep.”

The ‘Stros had 163 teams dingers this past season that put them fourth in the MLB. Name the three teams ahead of the ‘Stros in the team dinger category?

Yesterday the Chron E-Board put out their take on the H-Town City Charter proposals currently being considered. They do not appear to be in support of Executive Sessions and City Council Members putting items on the agenda. Here is yesterday’s E-Board take:

According to Matthew McConaughey’s character in the HBO show “True Detective,” time is a flat circle. But at Houston’s City Hall, time is a horseshoe – in that we measure the flow of time in the rise and fall of the elected representatives who sit around the horseshoe-shaped council table. Our city charter’s combination of two-year election cycles and a three-term maximum means that time ends rather quickly for our municipal politicians. Once council members have enough experience under their belts to understand the long-term policy picture or the nuances of city government, they’re forced into retirement and the education process starts all over again. Lessons learned go forgotten. City employees face agendas that shift without a clutch every two years. We keep having the same debates about planning, pensions and infrastructure without fully addressing the big picture. Time at the horseshoe doesn’t really end, it just repeats.

City Council should work to break this cycle, and it met on Thursday to do just that. At the second ad hoc charter review committee, council members addressed potential changes to the city charter, including extending term limits from three, two-year terms to two, four-year terms (“City Council agrees any charter changes belong on November ballot,” HoustonChronicle.com, Thursday). We’re not sure that two, four-year terms is the best option, but it is certainly better.

Council members also agreed that any vote to change the charter should go on the November ballot instead of during a special May election.

The city charter serves as the underlying constitution of local governance. Elections to change that document should be timed to garner the highest possible number of voters, ensuring that Houstonians have a direct say in the manner that they’re governed. The mayoral election in November 2015 promises to be the most heated municipal election in some time. It would be a prime occasion to hold a vote on charter changes.

In addition to changing term limits, the committee also is addressing three other proposals: repeal the city’s revenue cap to help pay down the general fund debt; allow closed-door executive sessions for City Council; and remove the mayor’s exclusive control over the council agenda and allow items to be added to the agenda through a six-member vote.

The revenue cap puts an unnecessary and fiscally irresponsible limit on City Hall’s ability to draw up a budget. A wise investor would dedicate the windfall of Houston’s economic boom toward important projects like repairing infrastructure or paying down debt. A charter vote on the revenue cap will grant Houstonians the opportunity to untie the ropes that bind a steady hand of government.

The other two proposed changes, however, seem less prudent.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and council meetings closed to the public will cast a shadow on the transparency that Houstonians should want in their government. At the Thursday meeting, Council Member C.O. Bradford pointed out that plenty of other jurisdictions have the ability to hold closed-door sessions for specific issues that require discretion, such as personnel problems. If council really wants this power, the burden is on them to prove its necessity on an ad hoc basis.

The plan to grant councilmembers the power to put items on the city agenda also should be viewed as an uphill battle. Houston entrusts the mayor with both executive and legislative powers. Gutting the mayor’s control over council meetings will radically change the way that City Hall works.
A sudden change in government style will have unforeseeable consequences. This proposal would work better as a stand-alone issue that Houston can address another day.

This isn’t the first time that Houston has considered expanding our term limits or changing the mayor’s power over the agenda, and it probably won’t be the last. But with growing pension burdens and potholes galore, it is about time we granted City Hall some room to work on long-term issues instead of rushing through a two-year election cycle.

Houston can address other concerns afterward. After all, time at the horseshoe doesn’t end, it just repeats.

Well last night on “The Newsroom” Charlie Skinner left us. “The Newsroom” is getting some heat today over one of last night’s plot lines – the female student. It is kind of eerie in light of the weekend’s “Rolling Stone” apology and apology over the apology – got it. I am also trying to figure out the significance of “Oh Shenandoah” at the end. Only one episode left and that is all. I am thinking Neal will return and then all the staff will resign from ACN.

Oh Shenandoah,
I long to see you,
Away you rolling river.
Oh Shenandoah,
I long to hear you,
Away, I’m bound away,
‘cross the wide Missouri.

Commentary is not going to get worked up about the college football playoffs. There will never be a system that satisfies folks. Sorry.

B’More had 211 team dingers, the Rockies 186, the Jays 177, and then the ‘Stros of course.

Add another honor for the ‘Stros this season. Check this from Tags:

Astros mascot Orbit has been named the 2014 Best Mascot by GameOps.com, which is considered the No. 1 resource website for the sports operations and entertainment industry. Orbit beat nominees from all sports and leagues, including the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, Minor League affiliates and the NCAA.

GameOps.com has been handing out its Best Mascot Award for 14 years, and Orbit is the first MLB mascot to win the award. Previous winners include Benny the Bull from the Chicago Bulls (2012-13), Rocky from the Denver Nuggets (2001-02, 2011) and Clutch from the Houston Rockets (2003).

This award caps off an impressive year for Orbit, who recently appeared in an ESPN SportsCenter commercial and was the only mascot to represent Major League Baseball in MLB’s All-Star Japan Series last month. Orbit also represented the Astros at the 2014 MLB All-Star Game and was nominated for a GIBBY Award.

Off the field, Orbit was a fixture in the community, making more than 250 appearances, which was highlighted by his 180-mile bike ride in the 30th Annual BP MS 150 in April.

Upon hearing the news, Orbit was speechless.

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