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Archive for January, 2015

I am waiting for The Dean to put out the over-under on when Health and Human Service Commission top dog Kyle Janek will turn in his resignation.

New ‘Stro Evan Gattis will wear the numero 11. Name the Hall of Fame great who wore the numero 11 for the ‘Stros in 1967? Hint: He has something in common with Gattis.

$57,000: That is how much the Harris County Sheriff has in his campaign account for those wondering if he will make the race for H-Town Mayor. Commentary thought he would have a lot more than that, after all, you need a lot more than that. Meanwhile, State Rep. Sylvester Turner is sitting on a million or so assuming he can use it and spend it. Council Member Oliver Pennington has $116,000 in his account. Council Member Stephen Costello has $275,000 plus another $250,000 that he has raised in the last week.

As a member of the Texas Legislature, Rep. Turner cannot raise campaign funds until after the legislative session ends. But he is sitting on a million and he can still call potential donors and ask them to write him a check in June.

Council Members Costello and Pennington are picking up checks right now. Same goes for the other candidates.

The clock is ticking so to speak on the Sheriff. Of course, we all know his situation. Once he says he is running for H-Town Mayor, he has to turn in his Sheriff’s badge and then the GOP Commissioners Court will name a GOP Sheriff.

We also know that H-Town’s fundraising rules are in a state of flux right now so what is to prevent the Sheriff from holding fundraisers, raising money and build up his war chest under the guise of getting ready for his 2016 reelection bid– wink, wink – and then hold off on making a Mayoral announcement until the Spring or early Summer. He could go this route but risk missing out on going through the early screening and endorsement processes of various groups and organizations.

The other challenge he faces is the reluctance of “players” to stand on the sidelines and wait until he makes a decision. All the other candidates are reaching out to the “players” and securing commitments. It is hard to “keep your powder dry” these days.

The conventional thinking from the handicappers the day after the campaign finance reports were submitted is that Rep. Turner has an edge – some may go on and say he is the frontrunner. Commentary won’t go there. I prefer to wait to see what happens over the next five months. Now that fundraising has begun in earnest and “players” are focused on November, 2015, let’s see which campaigns can grow, generate a buzz, and engage the electorate.

Back to the Sheriff’s $57,000 question – to use a football term – let’s see if they are good at clock management so stay tuned!

Hall of Fame great Eddie Mathews of course wore the number 11 for the ‘Stros in 1967 and like Gattis, Mathews played with The ATL.

We now have four catchers on the roster – huh!

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Commentary attended last night’s H-Town City Council Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee meeting at City Hall and it was interesting. The meeting lasted just a bit over four hours – yikes! While I was there I sent out a couple of tweets. Here they are:

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 14h 14 hours ago
75 or so folks here at City Hall for Council Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee meeting. #FeedingTheHomeless supporters? pic.twitter.com/6Y5vMYo3bB.

And:

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 12h 12 hours ago
H-Town City Council Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee decides not to pursue Executive Sessions. #hounews #Transparency

First up was a presentation by the City Attorney on Executive Session. It turns out H-Town is one of the few municipalities in the Lone Star State without Executive Sessions. The City Attorney kind of made the case for H-Town getting into the Executive Session business.

Six folks testified against and nobody for. The most persuasive argument against came from well-respected neighborhood activist Jane Cahill West who said “we ought to be proud we are one of the few without Executive Session.” She was very effective.

There wasn’t any stomach on Council for moving forward on this so they voted not to pursue. And that’s the end of that!

Doing away with the feeding the homeless ordinance got a ton of play last night. The charge against was led by Council Member Michael Kubosh.

Around 30 or so folks spoke against including a few members of the Kubosh family. I don’t think anyone spoke for.

The City Attorney kind of signaled last night that the administration doesn’t think this issue is charter amendment worthy. This one is going to another Council committee so we all better stay tuned.

Name the MLBer with the nickname “El Oso Blanco?”

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.

New ‘Stro Evan Gattis of course is El Oso Blanco.

And here is from Tags on some news from The Yard:

The chance to add a power bat to their lineup to improve the club for 2015 was enticing enough for the Astros to trade three prospects — pitchers Mike Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman, and third baseman Rio Ruiz — to the Braves on Wednesday in exchange for slugger Evan Gattis and Minor League right-hander James Hoyt.

Gattis, 28, has hit 43 homers in 211 games in his first two seasons in the Major Leagues with the Braves. He’s battled injury problems during his career, but he passed a physical on Wednesday. Gattis gives the Astros another 30-homer threat at Minute Maid Park with Chris Carter and George Springer.

“Offense is hard to find, and for us to have an opportunity to acquire a young player with four years of control who has the offensive potential of Evan Gattis, that’s something that we found very attractive,” general manager Jeff Luhnow said. “When we look at our lineup for 2015, having Springer and Carter, and Gattis and [Jason] Castro, we’re talking about a lineup that can compete in our [American League West] division, and I think that’s really what we’re looking to accomplish.”

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At City Hall

On the MLB Hall of Fame, did Craig Biggio have a higher career batting average against fellow inductee Pedro Martinez or against fellow inductee John Smoltz?

I guess you can say it is happening at City Hall these days. Yesterday the City found out a bench trial is out of the question for the HERO petition signatures court case. I guess you can call it a setback of sorts for City Legal. The jury trial is expected to begin next week so get ready for the posturing, dramatic antics, and all that other irrelevant stuff. Here are bits from today’s Chron:

A state district judge ruled Tuesday that the lawsuit surrounding the city’s embattled equal rights ordinance will go before a jury trial rather than a bench trial, a decision that conservative opponents of the law are hailing as a major victory.

Critics suing the city over its equal rights ordinance had been pushing for the case to go before a jury, a move Mayor Annise Parker’s administration said was not in compliance with state election law.

Judge Robert Schaffer issued a brief decision late Tuesday afternoon, one week before the trial is set to begin. Schaffer’s order denied the city’s request for a bench trial, a response to the plaintiffs’ earlier filing for a jury trial.

“It’s great news,” plaintiff Jared Woodfill said. “It’s great to see that this judge is not going to allow (the city) to keep the vote from the people.”

Meanwhile, Kuffer has a take on the former City of H-Town fundraising ordinance here:

It’s my understanding that there is a separate ordinance that regulates the transfer of funds from one account to another, and it is this ordinance, which was not addressed in the Gordon lawsuit, that is at issue here. That’s my understanding, and I’m not a lawyer, so if you know better please say so in the comments. Be that as it may, I do broadly agree that if the blackout period is illegal, then it makes no sense for Turner to be barred from transferring the money he raised in his State Rep account to a Mayoral account. He would have been raising Mayoral money last year if he could have been.

Here is the entire Kuffer take: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=64899.

And if you still can’t get enough of your City Hall fix, you can drop by the City Council’s Ad Hoc Charter Review Committee meeting this evening at City Hall and learn why the City wants to head into the Executive Session arena without you and me. Bad idea if you ask me!

I am thinking not a whole lot of folks will show up – the weather thing.

The campaign fundraising and expense reports are due tomorrow. Folks are going to be interested in Mayoral campaign activity like how much money is in the campaign bank accounts of Council Members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington, State Rep. Sylvester Turner, and the Harris County Sheriff.

Of course, we still don’t know if Rep. Turner can spend it and the Sheriff said yesterday “if the people want me to serve them at a different level then I am open to hearing from them.” I hate to say this but “people” don’t really communicate with potential candidates like that these days. They have other things on their minds.

And on Day 1 of the 84th Texas Legislature, I got to thinking why in the heck would we want to let the folks that were Open Carry lobbying to openly carry – got it!

Craig Biggio went 13-for-43 against Pedro Martinez for a .302 average and 27-for-104 against John Smoltz for a .260 average of course.

Nothing from The Yard today.

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It looks like the City of H-Town is fixing to wave the white flag on some of the City’s campaign fundraising rules. The City Attorney is now saying that the so-called fundraising blackout period is unconstitutional after a federal judge said so this past Friday. I guess we have been conducting unconstitutional campaigns for over 20 years now. So I guess we are fixing to be a 24/7 fundraising City. I don’t know about that.

The City Attorney also says that Chris Bell’s courthouse move to prevent State Rep. Sylvester Turner from transferring dough from his state rep campaign account into a Mayoral campaign war chest is moot because Turner raised the funds during a blackout period that didn’t exist because it was unconstitutional – huh! I thought the Bell folks were challenging the maximum amount Turner could transfer – $10,000.

An issue Commentary has is how could have Rep. Turner raised campaign funds for a Mayoral race if he didn’t have a Treasurer on file over at the City Secretary’s Office?

The City Attorney will be out of office in less than a couple of weeks and on his way out he is fixing to alter the fundraising rules. I sure hope he has been talking about these proposed changes this with key members of City Council – at the least. I would sure hope that more folks get to have a say in this if you know what I mean. After all, it is how we conduct campaigns.

I think this issue is important so I am putting out all of Teddy Schleifer’s piece from today’s Chron here:

City officials will argue that the city’s election ordinance is unconstitutional as part of a strategy to strengthen their position in a lawsuit that could shape the early stages of this year’s mayor’s race.

After defending the city Monday in civil court, City Attorney David Feldman said he would write an opinion explaining to the City Council why its fundraising “blackout” rule is unconstitutional. A federal judge on Friday ruled that law likely violated the First Amendment.

A separate lawsuit by likely mayoral candidate Chris Bell, the subject of a hearing in state court Monday, accused the city of failing to strictly enforce its fundraising law. Feldman intends to take advantage of the ruling in the federal case to convince the judge in the Bell lawsuit that Bell no longer has a case.

The strategy, hatched in closed chambers by Feldman after more than an hour of heated debate in the 165th District Court, amounts to the city capitalizing on its own loss just days before.

“In the first instance, we have some obligation to defend the constitutionality of (city) ordinances,” Feldman said in an interview following Monday’s hearing. “But we have a ruling from a federal district court judge that the blackout period is unconstitutional. I believe he is correct.”

Houston’s blackout period, passed in 1992, prohibits city candidates from raising money for 10 months before the February of an election year. The blackout, meant to limit corruption, effectively froze campaigning until Feb. 1, when a frenzy of renewed fund-raising ensued.

But this fall, two lawsuits challenged Houston’s rules. Bell’s suit charged that the city is allowing mayoral candidate Rep. Sylvester Turner to transfer too much money from his legislative account. In the other lawsuit, a City Council candidate alleged the blackout infringed on his free speech rights.

Now the cases are converging.

On Friday. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake enjoined the city from enforcing the blackout. The city is not asking for a stay of the decision and on Monday confirmed it will not defend the law.

Also on Monday, Bell and Feldman’s team quarreled in front of Judge Elizabeth Ray, who is presiding in the Bell case. Bell is challenging Turner’s strategy of raising money for his unopposed state legislative campaign during the blackout period and then transferring that money to a future mayoral account.

Bell argued Turner should be allowed to transfer only $10,000 – the maximum permitted from any political action committee. The city and Turner say the candidate can transfer the first $5,000 of each individual donation, allowing him to build a huge war chest.

And that, Bell’s attorney said, is Feldman’s fault.

“Mr. Feldman has no authority to provide legal advice to Mr. Turner or anybody else,” said Bell attorney Geoff Berg, as Feldman shook his head. “But he did it anyway.”

Turner asked Feldman for approval of his plan in May and Feldman gave it. The City Attorney said his job involves giving his thoughts on legal issues brought to his attention.

City officials said Friday’s decision made Bell’s lawsuit moot. If no blackout period is in effect, then Turner’s fundraising during that period is proper, the city argued, and there is no need to transfer any money.

Bell said he would challenge Friday’s decision in a new lawsuit in federal court.

It is kind of messy so I guess we have to stay tuned.

Among active MLBers, who has the most career At-Bats?

Kuffer put out a take today on stuff I mentioned last week. Here it is: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=64754.

I am not going to say anything about the member of Congress from down the road who compared the President to Hitler on the Paris rally.

Just like I am not going to say anything about some GOPers criticizing the President for not going to France to pick up a couple of orders of freedom fries.

I will say that Nick Anderson has a good one today here: http://blog.chron.com/nickanderson/2015/01/leader-of-the-free-world/.

A-Roid of course leads all active – yes A-Roid is now active – MLBers with 9,818 career At-Bats.

We will see A-Roid at The Yard for four in late June.

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I Do, Podnuh!

On the Golden Globes last night, I kind of found it a little disappointing that those in attendance were a bit uncomfortable with the Bill Cosby lines put out by Amy and Tina during the opening monologue. Come on Hollywood!

I think George Clooney maintains his photo in the dictionary besides the word “cool.”

I am thinking Salma Hayek is wondering why she had to be paired as a presenter with that Kevin Hart fella from “Ride Along” – not funny.

J-Lo – “I have the nails.” Jeremy Renner – “You’ve got the globes, too.” Juvenile!

Commentary has been trying to follow the same-sex marriage court challenge here in the Lone Star State and was kind of caught off guard Friday evening when I read that the state threw out the term “subsidy” in their defense – huh! Here is the definition of subsidy you and I know from the dictionary:

money that is paid usually by a government to keep the price of a product or service low or to help a business or organization to continue to function,

And:

a grant by a government to a private person or company to assist an enterprise deemed advantageous to the public,

I am kind of a bit baffled on the state pulling this one out. So I am thinking sooner rather than later? I am talking about same-sex marriages here in the Lone Star State in a few months. 18 months or so ago I wouldn’t have bet it was on the horizon but after Friday’s hearing in New Orleans before a panel of the Fifth, supporters are encouraged. Here is from Saturday’s Chron:

Same-sex marriage advocates were buoyed by a long-awaited hearing in a New Orleans federal appeals court Friday, as a majority of the judges who will decide whether to knock down bans on gay unions in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi appeared skeptical of the states’ reasons for continuing the fight.

Attorneys spent the better part of four hours telling a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals why it should uphold gay marriage bans in those states, arguing that overturning the laws would amount to an improper federal intrusion into state sovereignty.

Two of the three judges, however, appeared critical of their arguments, especially Texas’ core assertion that marriage is a state-controlled “subsidy” primarily meant to encourage responsible procreation.

And from the Trib:

Signaling significant doubt about the constitutionality of Texas’ ban on same-sex marriages, two federal appeals judges on Friday questioned a state attorney’s argument that marriage is a “subsidy” that the state has the right to grant and withhold.

In sharp exchanges with two judges of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Jonathan Mitchell of the Texas attorney general’s office argued during the roughly hourlong hearing that defining marriage should be left to the states, not the courts or the federal government. He added that the state should not be forced to recognize marriages that are not between a man and a woman because such marriages do less to “further the state’s interest” in the procreation of its residents.

Mitchell likened the recognition of marriage to subsidies for school lunches, saying that the state chooses to subsidize lunches for poorer Texas children — and not the full school population — because it’s more likely to advance the state’s interests. Opposite-sex marriages receive recognition by the state because they are more beneficial to the state’s interests by helping prevent unplanned, out-of-wedlock births, he said.

“So marriage is just a subsidy and not a right?” Judge James E. Graves, an Obama appointee, asked Mitchell during the hearing. Mitchell said marriage is a right that comes with benefits the state is entitled to control.

I do, podnuh!

“Boyhood” was a big winner last night. Name the ‘Stro player who hits a dinger during the flick?

It looks like a federal judge struck down key parts of the City of H-Town’s fundraising ordinance. Here are parts of Teddy Schleifer’s piece from the Chron:

A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked a law limiting when candidates in Houston municipal elections can raise money, prompting a scramble to contact donors sooner than campaigns had intended.

And:

Mayor Annise Parker said Friday the city had no plans to appeal the injunction and that it would respect Lake’s decision, though it disagreed with it.

“While we fundamentally disagree with the plaintiff – in fact, having a period where candidates cannot raise money benefits challengers much more than incumbents – we will accept this federal judge’s ruling,” she said.

I really don’t think it has much of an impact in this year’s races because it only moves up fundraising three weeks. It will change the way we handle campaigns in the future though.

I am having a problem trying to understand how challengers may have an advantage over incumbents. Whatever happened to the power of the incumbency? Maybe when I run into the Mayor she will ‘splain it to me.

From last Saturday’s Chron E-Board Thumbs Down:

(Thumbs down) While you’re at it, (Astro owner) Jim (Crane), please get rid of those horribly dull uniforms. Bring back the rainbow.

Please don’t! We’ve had way too many uniform changes!

Former ‘Stro Jason Lane of course smacks a dinger in “Boyhood.”

I can’t think of another Golden Globe winning movie that has a scene from The Yard!

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Randy Johnson was the top vote getter in the MLB Hall of Fame voting earlier this week with a yes vote on 97.3% of ballots cast. Name the Hall of Famer with the highest vote percentage of ballots cast since 2006?

Have I been spending too much time heaping praise on new Hall of Famer Craig Biggio that I missed the soon to be Governor Greg Abbott resolving our highway funding mess. Did he already fix our public schools and made college more affordable. What the heck is he doing cracking on local officials on how they run their cities?

I thought Abbott ran for governor and not big brother.

Why does he give a rat’s arse on our going plastic, paper or none of the above?

City government is probably the closest form of government to the people you can have. It is where folks first turn to on issues of public safety, infrastructure, transportation, and quality of life issues. Mayors and council members interact on a near hourly basis with the folks they represent. City Hall doesn’t act in a vacuum. Does Abbott not respect this?

Here is from the Chron:

Gov.-elect Greg Abbott on Thursday took aim at local regulations affecting tree cutting, plastic bags and fracking, saying that they are contrary to his vision for the state.

“Texas is being California-ized and you may not even be noticing it,” Abbott told the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an organization in favor of limited government. “This is being done at the city level with bag bans, fracking bans, tree-cutting bans. We’re forming a patchwork quilt of bans and rules nd regulations that is eroding the Texas model.”

Since when did local control become California-ized? California is the state that operates as the result of statewide voter initiatives. Our cities and towns make up the backbone, brains, and character of our state. The last thing we need is Big Brother from the State Capitol telling us how to run our local business and completely ignore local control. Here is more from the Chron:

Abbott took particular aim at tree-cutting measures, saying they amount to “collectivism.” Numerous Texas cities, including Houston and San Antonio, have tree ordinances.

“Now think about it — few things are more important in Texas than private property rights. Yet some cities are telling citizens that you don’t own some of the things on your own property that you have bought and purchased and owned for a long time. Things like trees. This is a form of collectivism,” Abbott said.

“Some cities claim that the trees on private property belong to the community, not to the private property owner. Large cities that represent about 75 percent of the population in this state are doing this to us,” Abbott said, and referring to the organizations’ name, added, “Unchecked overregulation by cities will turn the Texas miracle into the California nightmare faster than you can spell TPPF.”

Besides tree-cutting regulations in various cities, Denton voters approved a fracking ban that is being challenged by the oil and gas industry and the state.

Austin, Laredo and South Padre Island have plastic-bag bans, and Dallas has imposed a 5-cent environmental fee on paper and plastic sacks to be collected by retailers.

Legislative efforts in the past to infringe on cities’ rule-making authority have met with pushback from those citing the need for local control.

“My vision is one where individual liberties are not bound by city limit signs,” Abbott said. “I will insist on protecing unlimited liberty to ensure that Texas will continue to grow and prosper.”

Honestly, I think Abbott has been living in Austin for way too long. Remember, for decades he’s been a district judge, a Supreme Court Justice, the AG, and now he will be Governor. He has never served on City Council. He has never had to deal on a daily basis with neighborhood/civic clubs. He has no idea how local city governments operate in today’s world. He certainly doesn’t have an idea on what is going on in H-Town. Yeah, maybe here locally there have been some folks that didn’t get what they wanted the last year or so, but for the most part we are pretty much a collaborative bunch that work stuff out with input from the stakeholders.

Cities do Ok and for the most part operate free of partisanship. We have all heard the line before – there are no Republican or Democratic potholes. If after a lengthy debate and discussion a local City Hall decides plastic bags are a problem, what business is it of Big Brother?

In 2007, Cal Ripken, Jr. of course scored 98.5% of Hall of Fame Ballots cast.

Craig Biggio will be honored late this afternoon at The Yard!

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I try to be understanding of workers in labor disputes because they are usually getting the shaft. I don’t know about bus drivers not showing up for work and leaving a number of kids out in the very cold weather this morning. I hope they have a good reason and I hope all the kids are OK. Here is from the Chron:

Hundreds of Houston ISD students had their school bus service interrupted Thursday morning after numerous bus drivers refused to drive their routes over a pay dispute.

The Houston Independent School District had substitute drivers on hand but still was unable to staff about 40 routes, said chief of staff Jason Spencer. The staffing shortage forced some drivers to cover double routes, which meant students were left waiting in sub-freezing weather and arrived late for school.

Here is the entire piece – brrr: http://www.chron.com/news/education/article/HISD-students-left-in-the-cold-by-bus-driver-pay-6001695.php.

Last night Commentary watched Letterman and sent out the following tweet on new Hall of Famers Craig Biggio, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz doing the Top Ten. Here is the tweet:

Marc Campos‏@MarcCommentary 10h10 hours ago
#CraigBiggio on #LettermanTopTen. #MLBHallOfFame @astros.
https://twitter.com/MarcCommentary/status/553053589476634625/photo/1.

The ‘Stros retweeted me this morning and I got a lot of run, responses, and retweets – cool!

I was surprised though that the Big Unit went along with the mid-air bird explosion line.

What was Biggio’s career batting average versus Randy Johnson?

The Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) court case got discussed some yesterday at the H-Town City Council meeting. Each side has to do what each side has to do. Here is a bit from the Chron:

(Mayor Annise) Parker and (City Attorney Dave) Feldman defended the city’s position Wednesday, describing the filing to prevent a jury trial as routine.

“If you’re afraid you’re not going to be able to win in court, you start trying to win in the court of public opinion,” Parker said. “Apparently, that’s what’s been going on here.”

“They were playing politics in the chamber and that is what happens in the council chamber,” Parker said of the members who raised objections.

And:

(Jared) Woodfill, (Council Member Michael) Kubosh and (City Council Member C.O.) Bradford all said the city would be wise to allow a jury trial in light of the recent controversy over the city’s subpoenaing of sermons and other materials belonging to certain pastors who helped organize the petition.

Amid a firestorm of national criticism, the city eventually withdrew those subpoenas.

On Wednesday, however, Parker responded to City Council comments by drawing a parallel between the recent jury trial motion and the subpoenas. Both are routine legal maneuvers, she said.

It’s “just like filing a subpoena request in response to people who are actually suing us,” the mayor said. “The other side does a really great job of PR.”

Well, in this case they do a good job of doing good PR because they were handed a juicy PR talking point on a silver platter. Stay tuned!

Here is the entire Chron article that is also behind the paywall: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/ERO-foes-push-for-jury-trial-6000759.php.

I guess after 14 years as Governor, the Chron E-Board thinks Guv Dude ought to get a shout out of sorts today. Here is how it ends:

We have our political differences with the man who’s been our governor for so many years, but we salute his service to the state he obviously loves.

Here is the entire E-Board take on Dude: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/A-salute-to-Rick-Perry-6000333.php.

I have said before that I am always learning something like not knowing that we had a Texas Music Office. I learned yesterday we did when it was reported in the Statesman that the fella in charge was being replaced. Here is a bit from the Trib:

Since the Texas Music Office was established in 1990, the division housed in the Texas governor’s office has been run by Casey Monahan, a former music writer. After a quarter century, that’s about to change.

In a phone interview, Monahan said that he was recently informed by a member of Gov.-elect Greg Abbott’s transition team that he would not be kept in the $75,000-a-year post. His last day will be in February, he said.

The news of his departure was first reported by the Austin American-Statesman.

According to yesterday’s Chron, Craig Biggio was 0-14 against Randy Johnson of course.

Don’t forget the Biggio rally at The Yard tomorrow!

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On a MLB Hall of Fame related note, name the player who won the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year Award?

A discussion on bike safety and automobile drivers can sometime get a bit heated so I have kind of avoided the topic over the years. I am not much of a bike rider but I certainly respect cyclists and do support aggressive enforcement of laws and ordinances designed to protect them. Here is a bit from a Chron story from behind the paywall today:

A law authorizing police to ticket drivers for encroaching on bicyclists and pedestrians has yielded fewer than a dozen citations in the 20 months it has been on the books, though law enforcement officials and biking advocates said they are reluctant to use enforcement as a measure of success.

“You don’t have to ride around Houston very long to know that this is a very low number of citations given the frequency of the occurrence,” said Michael Payne, executive director of BikeHouston, which is working with city officials on cycling improvements.

After some high-profile incidents involving cyclists hit by cars, and numerous complaints of bike riders being run off city streets by aggressive drivers, Houston officials approved a safe passing ordinance effective May 7, 2013. The law requires drivers to provide three feet of space to vulnerable road users such as bicyclists, pedestrians or people in wheelchairs. Commercial vehicles must provide six feet of space.

When the law took effect, police focused on making drivers and community groups aware of it, said Lt. Michelle Chavez, who oversees some traffic safety operations.

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/Few-citations-issued-under-law-protecting-5997480.php?cmpid=btfpm#/0.

On a kind of related note, don’t you think we ought to have a law requiring cyclists to wear helmets – at least if they are riding on major thoroughfares? I kind of also find it annoying when I see a cyclist blow through a red light – is that allowed? Oh well!

I am sure at some point in the near future the City of H-Town will designate a Craig Biggio Day and bring him to City Hall and give him his proclamation and let every member of Council talk about their favorite Biggio memory. This season the ‘Stros will have seven or so Biggio commemoration days where they will probably hand out a new bobble, replica jersey, poster and stuff like that.

But yesterday was truly Craig Biggio Day and you can’t argue that.

The local twitterverse exploded when his named was announced.

He got run throughout the afternoon and evening on ESPN and the MLB Network. The local TV newscasts led off with the Biggio news.

Accolades came in from throughout the universe from Bush 41 to Bob Costas to Drayton McLane, Jr. to the great Yogi Berra.

Nick Anderson drew up a cartoon for him here: http://blog.chron.com/nickanderson/2015/01/biggio/.

The Chron E-Board put out a take on him here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Biggggggio-5997839.php.

The ‘Stros announced a rally for him this Friday at The Yard.

The Chron drew up an illustration on what his Hall of Fame plaque should look like. It takes up the front page of today’s sports section.

The Biggio faithful throughout the area are now digging out their Biggio memorabilia. Biggio stuff I have include t-shirts, a number 7 jersey pin, a media badge for his 3,000 hit celebration, numerous bobbleheads, a 3,000 hit commemorative engraved bat, a Matsui foul ball from the 3,000 hit game, his jersey name patch, a FiveSeven Grille lid, and the list goes on and on.

Biggio said yesterday that the 1998 team was arguably the best. When asked yesterday if he has a lid preference for his Hall of Fame plaque, he said it didn’t matter. The Chron illustration has him wearing the open star lid from the World Series days. The 1998 team wore the gold star. It doesn’t matter to me.

Yesterday was huge for H-Town. We got us our first MLB Hall of Famer. Way to go!

Mike Piazza of course who finished fifth with 69.9% of the vote in yesterday’s Hall of Fame balloting and just missed out was the 1993 NL Rookie of the Year.

Not a bad day out at The Yard yesterday!

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In Teddy Schleifer’s piece about the H-Town Mayor considering running for a higher office he mentioned that the Mayor might endorse a candidate in the upcoming Mayoral contest. Don’t expect an endorsement anytime soon though. Here are a couple of lines from Teddy’s piece:

Mayor Annise Parker left open the idea on Sunday that she would endorse one of the dozen candidates positioning to possibly succeed her, though she said she hoped to avoid doing that early in the race.

“I don’t know that I will endorse. I will stay out of it as long as I can possibly do that,” Parker said in an interview on KPRC’s “Newsmakers” on Sunday morning. “I cannot get involved in the campaigns.

For City Hall observers, it is going to be interesting to see if the Mayor can exercise patience during the race to succeed her. Over the next few months a few of her accomplishments, policies, and positions will surely be discussed, praised, scrutinized, criticized, and even lambasted. Will she just ignore the campaign rhetoric and babble or regularly weigh in?

Council Members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington are expected to make the race so I don’t see the Mayor endorsing either of them before a runoff because an endorsement would p-__-off some in the Mayor’s base – hard core Dems.

I would not expect her to endorse any of the non-Council Members anytime soon. She couldn’t afford to stick a knife into the back of her Budget Committee Chair – Costello – as the budget process approaches. An endorsement of a non-Council Member would also create a bit of unneeded friction and opposition from CMs Costello and Pennington on remaining projects that the Mayor might want to get though Council in her last year in office.

A Mayoral endorsement doesn’t come without a price for the so-called lucky endorsee. All the folks that don’t like the Mayor could get fired up and come out and oppose the Mayor’s endorsed candidate. Remember, the best the Mayor has ever scored in her three Mayoral runs is 57.22% of the vote.

There is also a downside to the Mayor coming out and endorsing a candidate. If the Mayor’s candidate loses, the Mayor’s legacy is somewhat tarnished on her way out office and you never want to leave office with your last political act being rejected by the voters.

So all in all, I don’t expect a Mayoral endorsement being a part of the Mayoral campaign landscape until maybe after November 3.

When B-G-O gets a call from the Hall this afternoon, he will be the first to make the MLB Hall of Fame from the MLB Draft Class of what year?

This is going to be a great day in H-Town history. At 1 pm today I will be watching the MLB network. I have got nothing but great karma in place right now as I am wearing my Baseball Hall of Fame pullover.

B-G-O will be the first MLB Hall of Fame member from the 1987 MLB Draft Class of course.

I am sure all the local media will be parked in front of the B-G-O statue at The Yard today.

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Wanting to Run

The Chron has a story today on Baggy and the 1998 ‘Stros, arguably our best team ever. We finished 102-56 that season. Was our 1998 record the best in MLB that season?

The H-Town Mayor said on the flat screen yesterday that she wants to continue to be an elected official. Here is a line or two from Teddy Schleifer’s piece in the Chron:

Houston’s departing mayor also said she was likely to run for higher office, hinting at a potential statewide bid in 2016 or 2018.

And:

“I hope to be able to continue to serve the citizens of this city or this state, but a lot about politics is timing,” she said, noting that many statewide officials were just elected in 2014. “I’m going to need some work to do.”

Either she has not read Burkablog’s latest or doesn’t agree with him. Here is again is what he said last week:

I was surprised to read that Wendy Davis intends to make another run at public office, as yet unspecified. Among other things, she has retracted her support for open carry. But it is hard to see what kind of future Davis has, particularly when Battleground Texas proved to be as much of a disaster as the rest of the Davis organization. If Battleground has no future, what is the point of Davis running?

The governor’s race proved that there is no constituency for Democrats here. It is going to take years, perhaps decades, before there is likely to be any significant change in Texas politics. The margin of Abbott’s victory in the governor’s race is all anyone needs to know about the course of Texas politics going forward: more of same. Texas is a red state, arguably the reddest of red states, and it’s hard to see how the Democrats can change the course of Texas politics.

Then I said this:

I am not going to argue with Burkablog on his take. I will note that we are not seeing any articles these days about potential Dems that could be running statewide in the next election cycles. That is our new reality. I mentioned a few weeks ago that Dems ought to focus on small ball. We have to go local and recognize that we have to build and that starts at home. I have said before that if we are ever going to compete on a statewide level, it starts here in Harris County.

And here again is my small ball take from a few weeks ago:

It is time for small ball instead of the big inning.

In baseball, small ball is a strategy where you manufacture runs by utilizing the bunt, stealing bases, the hit and run, walks, hitting behind the runner, and contact hitting. You have to use this strategy if your offense is short of bashers. The big inning is a strategy where you rely heavily on the extra base hit, the walks, dingers, and have the capability of scoring a lot of runs in an inning. You need to have a lineup that includes a few power hitters and fence swingers.

Moving forward, Dems in the Lone Star State should consider utilizing the small ball strategy. We need to look at where we can pick up a run here and there. Let’s look at the map and see here we have a shot at a legislative seat, a county commissioner, county judgeship, district judgeship, county clerk, JP, constable – you get the picture. In a state with 254 counties, don’t tell me there are not any opportunities.

We are not ready for big inning play and I am not talking about a lack of quality statewide candidates. We had a good slate this past go-around. We just didn’t have the weapons to swing for the fences – a solid, organized, and energetic base. We build the base by playing small ball and picking up a run here and there. That’s how you manufacture some Ws.

Maybe the Mayor is thinking the statewide political environment will dramatically be altered in two or four years. Maybe she thinks the GOP in charge of our state government will run our state into the ground and the voters will be ready for the Mayor’s leadership. Of course, the GOP has been running the state for ten years now and they have only gotten more votes. Or maybe she has the confidence she can put together a big inning style campaign. I don’t know about that. Maybe she just wants to make sure that her name stays out there in the mix along with all the other politicos that have gotten previous statewide potential mention.

All I can say is get on out to places like Lufkin, Brownwood, Raymondville, Sherman, and Odessa and see if folks are interested.

In 1998, the Yankees finished at 114-48 and The ATL at 106-56 of course.

The MLB Hall of Fame inductees will be announced tomorrow.

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