Archive for January, 2015

Show Me Your Potholes!

I wonder if Belton GOP State Rep. Molly White is aware that there are 422,000 Muslims living in the Lone Star State or roughly 21 times the size of folks in Belton. If they all lived together as a city, the city would be the 7th largest in the state, ahead of Arlington’s 380,000. I wonder if the 422,000 Muslims feel welcome at our State Capitol this morning.

Who sang the National Anthem at last year’s MLB All Star Game at Target?

Over two weeks ago Bill King tweeted out this:

Bill King @BillKingForHou • Jan 14
Pothole on Elgin across from UH. I thought I bent rim for sure. #HoustonPotholes.

And then this:

Bill King @BillKingForHou • Jan 15
Got this by text from a friend – “Kirby across from charter school” Where is your “favorite” pothole?

It looks like Bill has some company? I am talking about Channel 11 wanting viewers to show them their H-Town potholes. Bill King started tweeting out potholes a couple of weeks ago or so then folks started tweeting him their potholes. A week later Channel 11 started airing an announcement asking folks to send in their potholes. Did Channel 11 copycat Bill’s idea or were they just on the same wavelength if you know what I mean.

Hey you can’t go wrong launching a political attack on potholes. They don’t have any friends, allies, or a constituency. It is a nice issue for Bill so it will be interesting to see if the other Mayoral candidates jump in or worse, accuse Bill of exploiting potholes for political gain – HUH! Tell that to your tires! Here is a Chron story on the potholes:

KHOU 11 is fed up with potholes, so they’re challenging the City of Houston to fix the streets.

The month-long initiative to prevent punctured tires and fix the city’s streets is called Pothole Patrol.

Throughout the month, Houstonians can photograph and share stories of their own pothole disasters through KHOU’s website. KHOU’s I-Team will forward the complaints to the City Council to address and the worst problem spots will be featured on the station’s news broadcast.

Throughout the Pothole Patrol, the station will track repairs – or lack thereof – to see if the City followed up on its citizens complaints.

After the intensive efforts during February to have these holes filled, KHOU 11 will continue to crusade for all of Houston’s streets to be fixed. All 16 city councilmembers have committed to use all of their resources in efforts to make the pothole problem a thing of the past.

I-Team’s Jeremy Rogalski acknowledges that they can’t force the city to act, but he promises Houstonians won’t be ignored.

“Whether you’re driving a BMW or an old jalopy,” he said, “this problem will be addressed.”

In June 2014, the City of Houston approved a $10 million budget to fix the city’s worst roads.

Last night Channel 11 went a bit further and exposed the City and how it has tried to hide the pothole facts. Channel 11 makes the City look like they are trying to pull a fast one on us. Here is a part of the story:

The City of Houston has been playing fuzzy math with how it handles your pothole complaints—making it look like they are taken care of, when they’re really not.

That’s what the KHOU 11 News I-Team discovered after reviewing thousands of citizen complaints to the city’s 311 service helpline. When you open a 311 pothole complaint, the city gives itself 10 days to “close” that complaint as part of a service level agreement.

The 10-day self-imposed deadline sounds simple enough.

But that’s where the rubber really meets the road.

The I-Team identified hundreds of street repair requests in which the Houston Department of Public Works and Engineering “closed” on paper, without doing any repair work whatsoever.


But instead of fixed, the I-Team wanted to know: Is the fix in? On paper, the city appears to be doing an A-plus job. In its performance insight quarterly performance management reports, the city routinely listed more than 99 percent of 311 pothole complaints being closed and completed within the 10-day service agreement deadline.

But when you hit the streets, it’s a far different story. In the 200 block of Fairview in the Montrose area, more than a dozen 311 complaints since February 2014 were opened and “closed” with no apparent repair work ever done.

Here is the entire story: http://www.khou.com/longform/news/investigations/2015/01/28/pothole-patrol-houston-closes-pothole-cases-without-repairs/22490165/.

That is kind of sad if you ask me. The potholes issue is not going away.

Only three members of the public spoke yesterday at the H-Town City Council Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee meeting. Yesterday’s topic was term limits. Three folks testifying is not a whole lot of citizen participation if you ask me especially if you are talking about changing term limits. The committee came out for two four-year terms. They shot down serving two consecutive four-year terms then sitting out a term and then being able to run for a couple of more terms, then sitting out a term, then ….. got it! Two four-year terms will obviously eliminate some campaigning but certainly not the 24/7 fundraising that is now how we do business. And of course, an ambitious council member that is looking beyond serving on council can continue to raise money right up until her or his last day in office.

Idina Menzel sang the National Anthem at the 2014 MLB All Star Game of course and will also sing it this Sunday at the Super Bowl.

Ok. Are your ready for Super Bowl 49 this Sunday?

As usual, I’ll be checking and making notes on the ads. I will probably put a wager on the over-under of Giselle shots during the game. Most likely I will bet the over because she is Giselle of course. It won’t bother me at all if Bill Belichick and Tom Brady win another ring. They have kind of been put through the ringer the past week or so and we still haven’t been shown a smoking gun.

Nothing to report from The Yard today.

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The H-Town City Council Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee is meeting this morning at City Hall to discuss term limits. You can check out the meeting online. I wonder how many folks will show up and offer their two cents.

Right now Council Member C.O. Bradford is making a good point about who is going to put together a public campaign to push for the city charter proposals that will be on the ballot this November. CM Bradford also wants to know who will fund the campaign. I wholeheartedly agree with him. Where’s the beef? Most folks will probably give their money to mayoral or council candidates this year and not to term limits campaigns. Stay tuned!

When Baggy won the 1994 NL MVP Award, how many first place votes did he receive out of the 28 votes cast?

The City of H-Town’s proposed justice center is in the news again today. The Mayor is now looking at the old Exxon building Downtown as the new site. Now this is a new wrinkle. Here is from today’s Chron:

City Council members are questioning Mayor Annise Parker’s surprise announcement late Wednesday that the city may move its police and courts operations into the Exxon tower downtown.

A deal is far from done, officials cautioned, but the city may lease the 45-story building at 800 Bell from Shorenstein Properties, which has launched a joint venture with Griffin Partners for the “possible redevelopment” of the tower, a Griffin press release said, to house courtrooms and other city needs.

The announcement comes two weeks after Parker pushed the council to vote on the future of the city’s police-and-courts buildings, offering a choice between constructing a new “justice complex” or repairing the city’s crumbling facilities. With both options ranging from hundreds of millions of dollars to more than $1 billion, and with both requiring voter approval and perhaps even a tax increase to fund, the council balked, punting the item back to Parker.

The mayor had said she was seeking input on how to proceed, and griped that the council had “ducked” a hard decision. However, Parker did not list leasing space as an option, so the topic was not discussed.

Parker did mention the idea offhand, however, then saying she would “continue to explore all options, including lease space.”

Security, tech concerns

Councilman and former police chief C.O. Bradford said leasing such a space concerns him because the building’s age may prevent it from accommodating technology and security upgrades, and said the tower’s height and underground parking are security risks.

Bradford added, “It’s hard to believe” the idea was not under discussion when the council considered justice complex options.

Andy Icken, the city’s chief development officer, said the Exxon option was first formally proposed Tuesday. Though Icken said neither the nature of the lease nor any costs associated with it have been discussed, he said Shorenstein hopes to complete the deal in six weeks.

“Although their proposal is interesting and potentially a lower cost alternative, there are many unanswered questions as to whether this facility can meet the needs for our ‘Justice Center’ and whether the property is affordable to the City,” Parker wrote in a Wednesday memo. “We now intend to begin an intense effort to make that assessment.”

Informed of the six-week timeline, Bradford said, “Oh, come on.”

Here is the entire Chron piece behind the paywall: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/In-surprise-move-Parker-now-looks-to-lease-6047196.php#/0.

As a reminder here is what I said a week or so ago on this:

We all know the City of H-Town needs to improve its criminal justice facilities but it ain’t going to be cheap. The Mayor knows this and kind of laid out some options that were handed back to her at City Council yesterday. Here is from the Chron today:

Pushed by Mayor Annise Parker to decide whether Houston’s aging police and courts buildings should get patchwork repairs or be fully replaced, with both options carrying staggering price tags, City Council members instead opted for indecision.

By a 12-4 vote, the body sidestepped both options – one of which could cost more than $1 billion – and referred the item back to the Parker administration. The measure was a nonbinding resolution, meaning any choice would have seen no money spent and no plan formally committed to.

Parker, however, said she presented the item to gauge whether council was willing to move forward with building a new cops-and-courts complex, as several million dollars are needed to continue the planning process, money that could be wasted if the council has no plans to ultimately approve the project itself.

“It’s either put hundreds of millions of dollars into the existing buildings or put hundreds of millions of dollars into new construction,” Parker said. “Council members want to vote ‘none of the above,’ and my job is to tell them you can’t say ‘none of the above.’ The buildings are becoming hazardous. It’s clear council members don’t want to take a position. When there’s no good answers, if they can duck, they’re going to duck as long as they can.”

City Hall insiders saw hypocrisy on both sides, however.

Just as Parker complained that council members, many of whom often complain about being excluded from key decisions, punted when given the chance to make a hard call. However, those suspicious of the mayor griped that Parker sought council input only when it was convenient for her to share the heat over a potentially unpopular proposal.

Here is the entire Chron piece that is behind the paywall: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Council-sidesteps-decision-on-justice-center-6016115.php.

I don’t blame the Mayor. This is a big ticket item that she probably won’t get enough support for from Council this year so go on ahead and punt it over to the next administration. I don’t have a problem with justifiable punting on this.

This is important and needs a good and healthy discussion. I will say this. Have you ever been to the Municipal Courts Building close to Downtown? You know what I am talking about. Make sure the next Municipal Courts Building is convenient and with no hassle parking – please!

Jeb Bush is in town tonight to raise money for his campaign. My pal Jacob Monty is raising funds for Bush. Here is from the Chron:

Jacob Monty, an immigration attorney who pledged to raise $100,000 for Bush, said he sensed some “Bush magic” among Houston’s business community.

“There are people who haven’t given money to any of my endeavors in five or six years, that said, ‘Yes, I’m in,'” Monty said. “Raising money for Bushes is different, especially in Houston.”

I wonder if Jeb is going to tell Jacob to ask some his clients to “politely” leave the country.

Baggy of course received all 28 first place votes for the 1994 NL MVP Award.

In case you wanted to know, top ‘Stros pitching prospect Mark Appel is currently reading the biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas – HUH!

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Yesterday’s Public Session at the H-Town City Council meeting lasted longer than usual because of concerns over the reconstruction of Post Oak Boulevard in Uptown. A number of business owners on Post Oak say they are going to take a financial hit during the construction. They are probably right. The Uptown District folks say the reconstruction will help ease congestion in the area including on the ever so bad West Loop. I don’t know about that. I think that part of town – West Loop, Galleria, and Uptown – will be congested for a long, long time. City Council will vote to approve the construction budget today. I am kind of surprised I didn’t find any news coverage of the issue today.

It looks like Baggy will go to Spring Training in March to lend a hand. What was Baggy’s batting average during the 2005 World Serious versus the White Sox?

I am thinking Jeb Bush’s campaign for president isn’t going very far. On the immigration reform issue, he is going a baby step past Mitt Romney and instead of asking paperless folks to “self-deport,” he wants to ask them to “politely” leave. Of course they are going to politely stay. Here is part of the story on the Jeb Bush lite polite policy:

Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush could be adopting a slightly tougher stance on illegal immigration to win over far-right primary voters ahead of the 2016 White House race. Bush said it was time to fix the nation’s “broken immigration system” during a speech at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention Friday. Bush added that the government should find immigrants without legal status and “politely ask them to leave.”

“First and foremost we need to control our border,” said Bush, a former governor of Florida. “The 40 percent of the people that have come here illegally came with a legal visa and overstayed their bounds. We ought to be able to figure out where they are and politely ask them to leave.”

Bush’s remarks slowly were made public this week and conservatives responded with a big shrug. Bush has gotten into trouble with far-right Republicans for his more liberal views on illegal immigration in the past. In April, Bush said many immigrants who enter the U.S. illegally do so out of an “act of love” for their families, according to the Washington Post. Bush also used the polite line at that time. “A great country ought to know where those folks are and politely ask them to leave,” he said then while speaking during an event marking the 25th anniversary of the presidency of his father, George H.W. Bush.

Is that the best he can do on immigration reform? Really?

Here are two stories on the HERO petitions courthouse doings from yesterday. It is pretty much as expected. First from FOX 26 News:


And from behind the Chron paywall: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/As-ERO-trial-begins-fraud-allegations-take-6044207.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Yesterday I watched the GoDaddy Super Bowl puppy ad that premiered on “Today.” I thought it was funny because it poked fun at past Super Bowl puppy ads, most notably the recent Budweiser ads. A whole lot of others from across the country thought the ad was insensitive and cruel so GoDaddy buckled and yanked the ad. Really?

Pardon the pun but I guess we dodged a bullet yesterday when the Lt. Governor said the votes were not there for Open Carry. I hope he sticks with his guns on this and pardon the pun again. I wonder how he feels being on the Panic Button Most Wanted List?

Baggy went 1 for 8 of course in the 2005 World Serious for a .125 batting average.

Speaking of, on Friday, August 14 when the Tigers visit The Yard, the team will hand out 2005 NLCS T-Shirts – cool!

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I try not to get into the business of telling our local news organizations how to conduct their operations.   I will say this.  If newsies are going to cover the H-Town Mayor, the former City Attorney, and the sermon subpoenas, then they have to cover the trial of the HERO petitions if you ask me.  After all, the story has gone freaking national!

I really didn’t find much detailed coverage of what happened yesterday over at the courthouse on the first day of the petitions trial.

Kris Banks retweeted this:

Kris Banks retweeted

Houston Equality @HOUequality  ·  21h 21 hours ago

Mayoral candidate Ben Hall just came into courtroom and sat with #HERO opponents. #HOUequality

And this:

Kris Banks retweeted

Houston Equality @HOUequality  ·  20h 20 hours ago

Mayoral candidate Ben Hall to #HERO opponent Pastor Nash in court corridor, “This is gonna happen.” #HOUequality

I really couldn’t find anything in the Chron or much with the local TVs with the exception of Fox 26 here:

Chances are you’ve heard of the fairly new Houston ordinance that allows transgender men to use women’s restrooms among other things. Now a judge and jury will hear about the ordinance. Today is day one of a trial that names Mayor Annise Parker as a defendant.

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance or HERO as it’s called has been at the center of a lot of controversy since before the law was passed by Houston City Council last summer. There was a petition with thousands of signatures to try to get the law repealed. The city decided the petition isn’t valid and that brings us to where we are today. A trial started this morning to decide if the signatures on that petition are acceptable or not worth the paper they’re written on.

“We will fight to the legal death to repeal this bad law,” says the plaintiff’s attorney Andy Taylor. 65 people showed up but only 12 will be chosen as jurors to hear all about the petition opposing the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, known as HERO, which among other things gives transgender men the right to use public ladies restrooms.

“Why in the world would we create a law that confers special rights on men who just want to pretend they are women so they can go into female restrooms in Houston and take advantage of young girls?” asks Taylor.

“The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance provides protection for all Houstonians. There are 15 protective classes in the ordinance. I believe the majority of Houstonians support the equal rights ordinance,” says Christina Gorczynski a HERO supporter who was in the courtroom.

This trial isn’t to decide if the law is right or wrong. It’s to see if a petition against the ordinance, with 54,000 signatures, is valid. Defense attorneys claim the document is full of forgeries, fraud and people who signed more than once. “That kind of stuff is a tiny, tiny part of these signatures. So can the city come up with a couple hundred or couple thousand signatures that aren’t valid? Sure they can,” says Taylor. Taylor represents Houstonian Jared Woodfill and several pastors who are suing Mayor Annise Parker, The City of Houston and long time City Secretary Anna Russell. Russell first told the group they had more than the minimum number of signatures to get the law repealed and get the ordinance put on an election ballot to have voters decide on it.

“She’s going to testify in this trial and she’s going to say we had enough signatures to get this on the ballot and you know what? Anna Russell has outlasted a lot of Mayor Parkers. Russell has served as City Secretary under eleven different Houston Mayors. Taylor claims this case is going to trial not because of an invalid petition but because Mayor Parker doesn’t want the issue on the ballot.

“She just told her lawyers kill this thing. Smother this thing in the crib because she doesn’t want voters to have a chance to pass on the lunacy of this bathroom ordinance. Well her day off reckoning is about to come.,” Taylor says. Pastors from Grace Community Church, First Baptist and Second Baptist, to name a few, are among those fighting for the validity of the petition. A number of ministers are said to have jumped on board after the city moved to subpoena church sermons regarding the equal rights ordinance. “We have so much support for our side because of that one lone solitary idiotic move by the mayor. We are very confident the jury, after it hears all the evidence, is going to say one thing, mayor you got it wrong. Let the people vote,” says Taylor.

Attorneys for the mayor and the city declined to comment until after a jury is chosen. The trial is expected to last two to four weeks. If the jury decides the petition is valid city council will have to decide whether to repeal the ordinance. If they don’t, there will be an election in November so voters can decide.

You better follow Houston Equality @HOUequality for the latest from the courthouse.

It wasn’t until 1986 that a ‘Stro got a first place vote in the NL MVP Award balloting – 6 first place votes for a second place finish.  Name the 1986 ‘Stro?

Everybody knows that concussions are a very serious problem in the NFL – well just about everyone.   Check out what our local NFL owner had to say in GQ:

By the summer of 2013, (NFL Commissioner Roger) Goodell was determined to put Bountygate and the broader concussion issue behind him. He held a series of meetings with team owners in New York and persuaded them to settle the class-action lawsuit brought by more than 5,000 players who were seeking financial payouts for concussion-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and depression. Goodell argued that while the league could fight in court and likely prevail, the litigation would be a festering wound on the league’s image.

“It was about protecting the brand,” recalled Bob McNair, who attended the sessions. “Do we want the brand attacked on this for the next ten years? Or do we want to go ahead and take the high road? In effect, we don’t think most of these concussions referenced even occurred in the NFL, but we’re not going to complain about it.”

Chron.com put the above out yesterday but it is not in today’s hard copy.  I give credit to KHOU-TV’s Bob Allen for calling out McNair yesterday.   I didn’t see anything else locally.  I hope the local newsies are not giving the owner a local homer pass during this Super Bowl Week.  Stay tuned!

Glenn Davis of course scored 6 first place votes out of 24 for second place in the NL MVP Award balloting in 1986.  Mike Schmidt won that year.

The new MLB Commissioner is thinking about doing away with one the ‘Stros’ key strategies – the defensive shift.  Oh no!   Say it ain’t so!

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The first regular season game the ‘Stros, err Colt .45s ever played was on April 10, 1962 at Colt Stadium. Name the player who hit the first ever dinger against the Colt .45s that day?

And they are off! Chris Bell announced for H-Town Mayor yesterday and Teddy Schleifer sent out a few tweets from Sam Houston Park – the campaign kick-off site – including this one:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 50m50 minutes ago
Bell on his opponents talking about him losing races: “If necessary, I’ll talk about the races they’ve lost.” Get used to this, Houston.

The Rep. Sylvester Turner Campaign is the only campaign that I know of that has brought up Chris’ career campaign won-loss record. I guess Chris was aiming his remarks at Rep. Turner’s campaign and his three career losses. Hey in this business somebody is always going to have to come up short. It is not as though any of these two lost to lousy campaigners. This kind of discussion doesn’t fill a pothole if you ask me. Families aren’t going to be sitting around the table saying – “now let’s see, Bell lost to Lee Brown, Al Green, Rick Perry, and Joan Huffman and Turner lost to Bob Lanier, Bill White, and El Franco Lee, now who should we vote for?” NOT GONNA HAPPEN!

I have to hand it to new Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for keeping his campaign promises.

Speaking of, who is behind the Chris Bell parody twitter account? See this:

Chris Bell @chrisbell4mayor
@chrisbell4mayor FOLLOWS YOU
There’s an election this year, which means I’m running for something. PARODY ACCOUNT

In the past three or four months or so, if anybody has bothered to ask me who I am supporting for H-Town Mayor, I have told them Bill King. Bill is a longtime friend. He is certainly talking about what concerns folks in H-Town. He is well versed on the issues. He has certainly shared his takes with all of H-Town over the past few years. I honestly believe he would make a great Mayor.

I have had the conversation about my supporting Bill with a number of players including James, Kathryn, Teddy, Carol, my parents, Roman, Claudia, Anna, Leah, and others. It is not a secret. I mention this because the following was tweeted Saturday morning – first from Teddy Schleifer:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 47m47 minutes ago
.@miyashay @BillKingForHou @GeorgeHWBush @jgm41 Plus @rrjara, Sue Walden. And @MarcCommentary supporting King too.

Then from Miya Shay:

Miya Shay 36m36 minutes ago
@teddyschleifer @jgm41 @rrjara @MarcCommentary @TheGoodBegala you’re a bad consultant if you’re not on someone’s payroll this cycle.

Then from Teddy again:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 42m42 minutes ago
@jgm41 @miyashay @BillKingForHou @GeorgeHWBush @rrjara @MarcCommentary @TheGoodBegala Is any Houston strategist not on this campaign?

Then from Kris Banks:

Kris Banks ‏@KrisBanks 33m33 minutes ago
@miyashay @teddyschleifer @jgm41 @rrjara @MarcCommentary @TheGoodBegala Can’t buy a base #justsayin

Let me say at this point I am supporting Bill but I am not consulting on the campaign as of this morning. Always a proponent of full disclosure, I will let folks know if I ever do consult on Bill’s campaign.

As for Kris’ “can’t buy a base” phrase, I am certainly not going to discuss here the Bill King strategy for winning.

Kris is also a great guy so I know he is not implying that Bill’s team is bought just like the consultants that have been hired by Rep. Sylvester Turner, Council Members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington, Chris Bell, Ben Hall, and the Sheriff are not bought.

On April 10, 1962, Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks of course hit a 7th inning solo dinger off of Bobby Shantz for the first ever dinger against the new H-Town MLB franchise. The game will certainly miss Mr. Cub!

I have to admit I got a chuckle or two while reading yesterday’s Chron E-Board take on the pensions and state legislators. The E-Board is urging legislators to give the City the authority to do its job when it comes to firefighter pensions. I chuckled when I read what The Dean had to say.

Here is a part of the E-Board take:

Whether they decide to act, state legislators can’t escape their role at the core of the pension fight.

In addition to employee contributions, the firefighter pension is funded by tax dollars collected by City Hall. However, City Hall can’t set the amount it is obligated to pay. State law creates a framework that dictates what Houston taxpayers owe. Local tax dollars should be controlled by the elected officials at City Hall, but that isn’t what Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire thinks.

“Do you really want [Council Member Michael] Kubosh to be in charge of a $3 billion fund?” Whitmire asked the Chronicle editorial board during the past election season. “Do you want [Council Member] Dwight Boykins to be in charge of a $3 billion fund?”

Yes. In fact, that’s exactly what Houstonians elected them to do. City officials control the city budget.

Pardon me, but I had to LOL! I wonder what CMs Kubosh and Boykins had to say about The Dean’s take?

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/It-s-city-business-6036503.php.

I also tweeted this yesterday after I saw a Channel 11 announcement asking for folks to send in a pic of their favorite pothole. Wasn’t that Bill King’s idea first?

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 5h 5 hours ago
#KHOU wants your pothole horror stories: http://www.khou.com/story/news/local/2015/01/24/pothole-patrol-share-your-horror-stories/22260077/ … #HouNews

Yesterday was Rob Manfred’s first day as Major League Baseball Commissioner. Congratulations and good luck!

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When was the first time the ‘Stros threw a shutout on Opening Day?

Commentary has said it before and I will say it again. I am not ready to give any of the candidates for H-Town Mayor the lead dog status, frontrunner position, or the candidate to beat designation. I won’t hand it to Rep. Sylvester Turner even though he has a million in the bank because he can’t raise anymore dough until mid-June and he will be spending some serious change in the meantime. I can’t give it to the Sheriff because he is not in the race yet and even if he got in tomorrow, he only has $57,000 in the bank.

Teddy Schleifer has a Chron front page lead story piece out today on the Sheriff thinking about getting in the race and if you haven’t seen it, I have it here for your perusal.

Some observers are saying that as soon as the Sheriff gets in, he jumps to the head of the line and is an instant upper tier contender. That’s where the expectation game comes into play. With upper tier status comes upper tier expectations.

If he gets in he will almost immediately have to demonstrate that his fundraising capability is top of the line. That means he will have to roll out H-Town money folks on his team with proven political fundraising and bundling experience that can get the campaign to that $2.5 million threshold.

He will have to release a list of endorsements and supporters that include elected officials, activists, and business and civic leaders. He will also pretty much have to have the enthusiastic support from the city’s Latino leadership and community.

He will also have to quickly develop an articulate message and vision for the city that addresses the issues and our concerns, stands out, and resonates with the voters.

In short, if he announces for Mayor, his campaign has to show the most movement. Some may ask if is fair to set the expectation game for his candidacy. Hey, the Chron gave him front page lead story status today. On page two of today’s City/State section you can find a much smaller story on Chris Bell’s announcement. That ought to tell you and me something.

Rep. Sylvester Turner has already set his marker down. We know what he has in the bank. We know he can’t raise any money right now. So we pretty much know the status of his campaign effort.

The other candidates like Council Members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington and Bill King are pretty much staying off of the radar and have really yet to show any of their cards.

For the Sheriff it is obviously a different game. One that comes with a different set of risks. If he decides to get out there and run he won’t have a choice and will have to play the expectation game. If he falls short of his goals and stumbles, you have to wonder what those that gave him upper tier status will have to say then. They set the bar – I didn’t.

Here is today’s Chron story:

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia is sending every possible message that he intends to run for mayor this year, aggressively increasing his political operations and signaling to some of his closest advisers and fiercest backers that a campaign may be imminent.

Garcia, under the Texas constitution, would have to resign as a county official immediately upon declaring his candidacy. That presents Garcia, who watchers expect to rocket to the field’s top tier if he joins the burgeoning mayoral fray, with a fateful decision: Does he step down as the county’s premier Democratic officeholder to make a bid that will make him Houston’s first Latino mayor or politically unemployed?

“At the end of the day, it’s like standing at the craps table, placing the bet – and you could walk away with nothing,” said Garcia confidant Greg Compean.

It is a bet Garcia allies said this week he has grappled with and seems willing to make.

“I’d be really surprised if he didn’t,” Compean said.

Garcia, who said last week he still is listening to others and has not yet officially committed to the race, has met with many of the city’s political leaders in advance of an announcement and privately is telling some close allies that he will run. And other evidence is mounting.

The sheriff spent $350,000 in the last six months of 2014, according to his campaign finance report released last week. That sum, spent in a year when he was not on the ballot and 10 times what he spent during the last six months of 2010, nearly depleted the coffers of his political action committee, which, under city ordinance, may not be allowed to transfer more than $10,000 to a mayoral bid.

The report also revealed that Garcia had hired new fundraising and digital advertising shops along with spending $100,000 on tele-town halls, some of it after last November’s election, that gave him a chance to reach and gather data on up to 500,000 voters. Garcia’s political operation also hired an analyst to parse through that data.

This month, he commissioned a poll to gauge his viability, people with knowledge of the poll said.

Garcia also slowly has been building his profile locally and nationally: He was invited to the White House in November to discuss immigration policy. He has continued his high-octane social media presence and leveraged it to build an email list. And he spent a fair amount of money this cycle giving to the Democratic interest groups that can help decide future elections, noted Marc Campos, a Houston Democratic strategist not committed to Garcia.

“The only way to explain spending all that money is to let everybody know that he’s a good Democrat,” Campos said. Garcia likely did so to remind them that “‘of all the candidates that have a Democratic base, I was the one who was working the hardest this past November,'” Campos said.

Perhaps most tellingly, county sources say, is that Garcia’s top staff at the sheriff’s office are looking to jump as they eye other county positions that would give them a landing place beyond Garcia’s tenure and vest them in the county’s pension system. Garcia’s top lieutenant and close friend, Armando Tello, left last month for a lower-profile post in Precinct 6, and other executive officers currently are scoping out other opportunities.

“He’s running,” said Hispanic Chamber of Commerce head Laura Murillo, who once considered her own bid for mayor. “He’s getting ready to make his announcement very soon.”

Murillo is not in Garcia’s inner-circle, but several other Garcia allies confirmed a bid is all but inevitable.

Former Houston mayor Bill White, who long has mentored Garcia but said he has not committed to any candidate, said the sheriff told him he was “seriously considering” the race in a visit at the end of the year.

“I did sense a gleam in his eye that was like a racehorse that wanted to go on the track,” White said.

To a certain extent, that race already has begun. Ever since a federal judge declared Houston’s fundraising blackout period unconstitutional two weeks ago, all but one of the eight candidates running for mayor have scrambled to contact donors and set up the political infrastructure to accept those contributions.

Meanwhile, Rep. Sylvester Turner, who political observers consider the current front-runner, is sidelined from fundraising until June, when the legislature’s still-on-the-books blackout period expires.

Every day that Garcia sits the race out is another day less that he has to raise the $2 million most experts say that any candidate would need to run a serious campaign and catch Turner, who will try to transfer much of the $1 million he already has in his state representative campaign account.

Backers of Garcia have high hopes he could raise the money to compete and that he could win voters beyond Houston’s Latinos, who comprise more than 40 percent of the city but at the most only 15 percent of the electorate. The county’s highest vote-getter in 2012, Garcia is expected to make appeals to some Republican voters in the nonpartisan election.

Garcia also would open himself up to personal attacks over a yearlong political brawl. Some in political circles for months quietly have questioned whether Garcia, who has no college education, can handle the rigors of the city’s top job. And if Garcia resigns as sheriff, some Democratic judges and Latino leaders worry whether the party and the Hispanic community would be hurt without him leading the local ticket.

Harris County Commissioners Court is almost certain to replace Garcia as sheriff with a Republican, though one Democrat, Constable Alan Rosen, is said to be interested. Constable Ron Hickman and Rep. Allen Fletcher are considered the most viable replacements.

Even if his seat flipping would upset the Democratic hands who labored to elect and reelect him, his donors and backers in the Latino community seem to be carrying more weight.

“You got to put our best foot forward,” said Massey Villarreal, a Hispanic Republican who has been pushing Garcia to run. “I think I’ve got him on the five-yard line.”

Kuffer has more on this: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=65100.

Here is the Chron story on Chris Bell – equal time – sort of:

Former Democratic congressman Chris Bell will announce his mayoral bid Sunday afternoon in Sam Houston Park, becoming the first candidate in a crowded field to officially kick off a run to lead City Hall.

“Houston has challenges but it also has a great future,” Bell said in his invitation to supporters. “We’re going to talk about how we move to the next level, taking advantage of talent and technology so we can reach our full potential.”

A former city councilman, Bell has spoken openly about an impending bid for at least six months. Bell began his career as a radio reporter and then turned to law and politics. He lost races for mayor in 2001 and for governor in 2006.

As many as a dozen candidates could run for mayor this year, each of whom would likely need to raise $2 million to be competitive.

In recent weeks, Bell has hired finance and policy staff, and he has been working with Bill Hyers, who mostly recently advised Bill de Blasio’s come-from-behind campaign for mayor in New York, to plot his campaign moves.

Bell’s most aggressive step toward a mayoral run has been his lawsuit against the city charging that Rep. Sylvester Turner should not be allowed to transfer much of his $1 million in his officeholder account to Turner’s mayoral run. That suit, heard in state district court earlier this month, will likely move to federal court.

Bell will host his first fundraiser on Feb. 12.

Roy O and Brad Lidge shutout the Fish on Opening Day of 2006 of course for the first and only time the ‘Stros have ever shutout an Opening Day opponent.

The game times for the ‘Stros 2015 season were released yesterday. There will be five weekday day (1:10 pm starts) games at The Yard this season.

Giveaways include three bobbles, a gnome, and a Craig Biggio replica Hall of Fame plaque. They won’t be giving away umbrellas this season – darn!

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Chris Bell will be the first H-Town Mayoral candidate out of the gate this Sunday when he officially kicks off his campaign. It will be interesting to hear what he has to say and what he lays out as his vision for Houston – along with his priorities. Maybe Teddy Schleifer will give us a pre-announcement preview of what Chris’ campaign will look like. Here is Chris’ announcement tweet from yesterday:

Chris Bell @ChrisBell2015 • 14h 14 hours ago
Announcing my candidacy for Mayor of Houston this Sunday, 1/25, at 3:00 at Sam Houston Park, 1000 Bagby. Please retweet and join us!

He is going to need a lot more followers

I have to admit to having the same reaction when I heard the California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer announcement that she was retiring and DC Dem players are handpicking as her successor a non-Latino. They completely and conveniently forgot that it is the Latino vote that is largely responsible for California being the bluest of blue states. Talk about insensitive dumbarses. Here is from Politico today:

The procession of prominent Washington Democrats who lined up last week to sing the praises of California Attorney General Kamala Harris for Senate had the feel of an anointment. Sen. Cory Booker said he was “so excited” about her candidacy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called Harris, a favorite of the Obama White House, “smart” and “tough.” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand told supporters she needed Harris “by my side.”

But back in California, a backlash is brewing among Latinos, who say the Democratic establishment’s quick embrace of Harris threatens to deny a Hispanic candidate a fair shot at the state’s first open Senate seat in more than two decades. Latinos are an outsize force in California politics: With nearly 40 percent of the population, they have moved ahead of whites to become the state’s largest demographic group. Since 1990, Latino representation in the Legislature has more than tripled, and Hispanics have been chosen in recent years to lead both chambers of the state Capitol.

Nothing against Harris, Latino officials say, but there needs to be a level competition for the seat that Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer is vacating in 2016.

“National figures should slow their roll a bit and allow this process to evolve naturally so we can all rally around one strong Democratic candidate,” said state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat.

“I think Hispanic leaders are concerned about some kind of coronation, as opposed to a real electoral campaign,” added Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “There are certainly talented Latinos who could run for that seat.”

A number of possible Latino candidates have been floated as possible candidates since Boxer announced her retirement earlier this month, from Rep. Xavier Becerra, the House Democratic Caucus chairman, to Alex Padilla, the just-elected California secretary of state. But most of the speculation has centered on Antonio Villaraigosa, the colorful and ambitious 61-year-old former Los Angeles mayor. In recent days, prominent Hispanics across the country have urged Villaraigosa to jump in, frustrated by the clamor for Harris before the race has really begun.

Among the Villaraigosa suitors has been Henry Cisneros, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary. The two spoke by phone over the weekend, and in an email, Cisneros said he expected Villaraigosa — whom he hailed as a “trailblazer in a California Latino tradition that is proud and rich in history” — to enter the race.

What a shame! I am most disappointed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren. I thought she would know better. I have said it before. Latinos just need to lead and have the non-Latino Dems follow. When are we going to learn? We are the present and the future!

Here is the entire Politico story: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/hispanics-kamala-harris-2016-california-senate-election-114474.html?hp=t4_r.

New ‘Stro Colby Rasmus was picked by San Luis in the first round of the 2005 MLB Amateur Player Draft with the 28th overall selection. Who did the ‘Stros pick with the 24th selection of the first round?

On “Today” this morning, chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell was reporting from Cuba where an American delegation was meeting with Cuban officials. The two leading American diplomats are female and Mitchell said this about the delegation – “led by two strong women.” I have to say if they were both men, I doubt Mitchell would have referred to them as “strong.” Just an observation.

I am not going to spend a whole lot of time talking about the Texas State Senate doing away with the two-thirds rule yesterday other than to say that at least they didn’t take away the Dem Senators’ parking privileges at the State Capitol.

Brian Bogusevic of course was selected by the ‘Stros with the 24th pick back in 2005. Bogusevic didn’t play last year and is trying to get back to MLB with the Phillies this season.

We traded away catcher Carlos Corporan to the Rangers yesterday.

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Like 30 million or so folks, I watched the President’s speech last night. I watched the NBC coverage at first because I wanted to hear the takes afterwards of their two White House correspondents and their chief foreign affairs reporter. I didn’t want to hear the first takes of the partisan talking heads on CNN – they are too predictable. After NBC’s coverage ended I switched to CNN.

I found it interesting that CNN – Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper – announced that their poll of State of the Union watchers found that 51% of the watchers found the President’s second-to-the-last State of the Union speech to be very positive. They mentioned that President George W. Bush’s second-to-the-last State of the Union speech in 2007 drew a 41% very positive rating from watchers.

Blitzer/Tapper went on to explain that watchers are usually skewed toward the political party who controls the White House meaning more Dems than normal were watching last night’s speech. Of course they didn’t have time to mention that more GOPers than normal must have been watching W’s 2007 speech that only drew a 41% very positive rating.

I am getting more and more convinced that on The President’s policies, CNN loses its objectivity in order to hold onto GOP viewers. That’s my take.

I am also thinking that the so-called State of the Union opposition party response is a waste of my time and yours. Last night the Commander-in-Chief spoke for over an hour on a number of pressing national security and domestic issues. The opposition spokesperson who has been a U.S. Senator for a couple of weeks or so addressed us for about ten minutes and let us know that she wore used plastic bread bags on her shoes on rainy days when she was a kid.

I guess that is why her team tweeted out her service-issued camo high heels an hour or so before she went on the air.

CNN tried to draw a comparison between the President’s speech and that of Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and that is when I started surfing the movie channels.

The opposition response by both political parties is nothing more than a showcase of their potential talent and rising stars and really has nothing to do with an opposition response. It is impossible to properly respond to an hour long or so address in ten minutes. It is getting silly and ridiculous. Let’s just do away with this very lame tradition. It really serves no purpose.

Back to last night’s poll numbers. A lot has been said lately about DC gridlock and changing how Washington works, err doesn’t work. The House Speaker and his GOP members probably handed the President some bonus poll points when they refused to give him some applause and just sat there looking like lost toads on issues like equal pay for women and child care tax breaks for middle class families. Nice job!

As of yesterday, name the ‘Stro on the current roster with the most career dingers?

Here is Burkablog’s take on yesterday’s doings in Austin:

What If They Held an Inauguration (And Nobody Came)? That is how I felt about the inauguration of Governor Greg Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. The crowds were modest, at best, on the south lawn of the Capitol for the actual swearing-in. During the parade down Congress Avenue that followed, I saw mostly empty sidewalks with only a few onlookers. Perhaps they were all at Zilker Park enjoying the afternoon instead? Or perhaps I should not have been surprised. After all, nobody voted in the election, so why should anyone expect people to attend the parade?

This is what happens in a one-party state when only a small group knows or cares about the candidates. In a way, it was reminiscent of the election that preceded it. Just as hardly anyone showed to vote in the election, today, hardly anyone showed to observe the festivities. And that’s the future of Texas politics: Candidates whom voters barely know, and insiders who excel at dominating the process. Texas politics is strictly an insiders’ game, and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

Brand new ‘Stro Colby Rasmus of course has 116 career dingers.

Are more team moves on the way?

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Commentary wasn’t doing Commentary when Guv Dude took office so I didn’t put out a take on his first day in office. Now that we are fixing to have Governor Greg Abbott around noon today I am obliged to have a take on his first day. Good luck! I really do hope you want to move all folks forward. I hope you don’t get caught up in moving forward an agenda that divides us. I hope you celebrate our diversity.

I hope you remember that there are a bunch of folks that make our economy grow including folks that don’t have their papers. I hope you can find the time to meet with some dedicated and productive DREAMERs, have dinner with them, and listen to their side and stories before you get out in front of a mean spirited policy or legislation.

I also hope you take the time to visit with and discuss the issues with Dems at the Capitol including folks like The Dean and Reps. Senfronia Thompson, Sylvester Turner, Garnet Coleman, and Carol Alvarado.

The campaign is over and hopefully the partisan rhetoric can be toned down. Try to keep the red meat in the fridge or freezer. Don’t govern by sound bite. Listen to what Hunker Down said the other day: “We need to get over the idea that everything connected to Washington is bad. We’ve got to get over the rhetoric.”

But most of all, try being a leader for all of us and not just the folks that voted in last year’s GOP Primary. Good luck!

I went to see “American Sniper” yesterday. I recommend this very powerful movie. When the movie was over folks just got up and walked out. Nobody said a thing.

The last scenes with the credits rolling to Ennio Morricone’s music was a very appropriate way to end this movie.

(Morricone also did the music to “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” “The Mission,” and “The Untouchables” to name a few.)

From the More The Merry Department, it looks like we may have a third candidate for City Controller according to Teddy Schleifer. Check this:

METRO board member Dwight Jefferson is weighing a bid for city controller and expects to decide whether to join that race in the next month or so, he told the Chronicle Monday.

Jefferson would join a field currently led by Houston Community College trustee Carroll Robinson and 2013 Controller runner-up Bill Frazer. The race for Houston’s top financial officer may be overshadowed by the wide-open mayoral race, but it is expected to be competitive.

Jefferson, a former district court judge, expressed in an email an agenda that would try to “limit unfunded mandates” from state government and manage the city in a fiscally conservative way.

“As you can see, I have given the office considerable thought,” Jefferson said, “the question is, can I generate the necessary support to make a run both feasible and viable? That’s what I will be gauging over the next several weeks.”

Who was the lead-off batter for the ‘Stros last season on Opening Day?

BTW: Yesterday’s one matinee flick ticket, a medium soft drink, and a medium popcorn was $21.25. Hey, it was worth it for Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, Clint Eastwood, and fake baby.

I really don’t want to complain but I sat through seven trailers yesterday before the movie started: the new “Mad Max” flick, another “Fast and Furious,” another “Terminator,”, “Chappie,”, “Kingsman,” “Most Violent Year,” and a new “Moby Dick” movie by Ron Howard.

Dexter Fowler of course was our Opening Day lead-off batter against the Yankees last year. Speaking of, here is Tags:

The Astros pulled off their second trade in a week on Monday, acquiring right-handed pitcher Dan Straily and infielder Luis Valbuena from the Cubs in exchange for veteran outfielder Dexter Fowler, who will be joining his third team in three years.

The move helps the Astros fill needs at starting pitcher and third base while freeing up a crowded outfield picture. Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow said Straily will compete for a spot in the rotation and Valbuena will be in the mix to start at third base, though he can play elsewhere.

I don’t agree with getting rid of Fowler.

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Today is the last full day of Guv Dude’s fourteen plus years at the Mansion. I am not going to say anything negative about his last full day.

Speaking of Dude’s first full year in office – 2001, who was the lead-off hitter for the ‘Stros on Opening Day in 2001 and it wasn’t Craig Biggio.

Kuffer has a take on the H-Town Mayoral campaign fundraising here: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=64961.

Commentary is kind of disappointed the City Attorney didn’t put up a more vigorous defense of the City’s fundraising ordinances. Have mercy on us all if they do away with individual and PAC limits. Then only a couple of folks would control City Council.

It is official! From the “No Se Puede Department” it looks like the GOP is already writing off the Latino vote in the 2016 Presidential election. On Friday they released their Presidential Debate partners. Left off the list was Univision. It is pretty simple to Commentary and other observers. The GOP is scared of having to deal with the immigration issue and further alienate Latino voters. Well this move isn’t going to certainly help. Here is what Univision had to say:

“There is a very simple political reality – Hispanics will decide the 2016 presidential election. No one can match Univision’s reach and ability to inform, provide access and empower Hispanic America. Anyone who wants to reach and engage Hispanics will have to do it through Univision. The Hispanic community deserves to hear the policies and views of all political parties and Univision is committed to providing access to all points of view. We have an open invitation to all political parties to address our community on issues of importance and relevance. Candidates should not miss the opportunity to inform and engage with the fastest growing segment of the electorate.”

Here is who made the cut and a general schedule and locale:

1.Fox News, August 2015, Ohio

2. CNN, September 2015, California, at the Ronald Reagan presidential library

3. CNBC, October 2015, Colorado

4. Fox Business, November 2015, Wisconsin

5. CNN, December 2015, Nevada

6. Fox News, January 2016, Iowa

7. ABC News, February 2016, New Hampshire

8. CBS News, February 2016, South Carolina

9. NBC/Telemundo, February 2016, Florida

Three more are pending:

10. Fox News, March 2016, location TBD

11. CNN, March 2016, location TBD

12. Conservative Media Debate, date TBD, locations TBD

Here is a story on the big time snub: http://www.businessinsider.com/gop-criticized-for-snubbing-univision-in-2016-debates-2015-1.

Shortstop Julio Lugo of course was the lead-off batter for the ‘Stros on Opening Day 2001.

Nothing to report from The Yard today.

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