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Archive for March 11th, 2015

Don’t kick this tweet down the road:

Teddy Schleifer retweeted
John Arnold ‏@JohnArnoldFndtn 1h1 hour ago
Houston mayor kicks the can to the next generation to solve the pension crisis. http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/McGee-Firefighters-pension-deal-will-cost-more-6126228.php?t=9318cf1266cca1ae63&cmpid=twitter-premium … @anniseparker #generationaltheft

“Kicking the can down the road” could very well be the local political phrase of the year this campaign season. The phrase is often associated with politics. We have been hearing it a lot lately in regards to pensions. The latest is in an Op-Ed in today’s Chron from Josh McGee from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation on the proposed pension deal. Here are parts:

After complaining that previous administrations have failed to fix the city’s broken pension system, some city leaders are now doing exactly what they have faulted their predecessors for. They are kicking the can down the road.

The recent deal between the city of Houston and the firefighters’ pension board does nothing to solve the pension problem.

And:

There is no reason that officials from elsewhere in Texas should be dictating how Houston structures its retirement plans.

State law already allows most cities to make these decisions locally. Houston and all of the major cities in Texas should have that same authority.

It is time for the city and the pension board to stop pushing the pension problem into the future.

Mayor Annise Parker herself has said the deal is “not pension reform,” it is merely “cost avoidance.” The city and the board should implement responsible funding practices now and should work with the Legislature to obtain local control of the pension system in order to implement a structure that is affordable, sustainable, and secure.

Firefighters risk their lives to protect our city. They shouldn’t have to risk their retirement, too.

Here is the entire Josh McGee Op-Ed: http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/McGee-Firefighters-pension-deal-will-cost-more-6126228.php.

BTW: Did you check out Laura Arnold’s Op-Ed on a death penalty lawyer in yesterday’s Chron here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/outlook/article/Texas-defender-drew-unfair-treatment-6124191.php.

This Chron.com story today on the state legislator who was supposed to be the City’s point man on pension reform says a lot. Here are parts:

Houston lawmakers introduced dueling bills this week to reform the city’s fire pension system, with one piece of legislation backed by City Hall and the fire pension board and the other backed by neither.

Democratic Rep. Sylvester Turner introduced the bill backed by Mayor Annise Parker and unveiled on Friday that would lower the city’s pension costs over the next three years.

Also Monday, Republican Rep. Jim Murphy, who has introduced pension reform legislation in the past and was seen by City Hall as an ally on this issue in the Legislature, introduced his own bill.

Murphy’s bill would eliminate the state’s involvement in Texas cities’ pension systems, granting the local control that Parker long has sought to negotiate binding agreements with the city’s fire pension board.

“There’s no real reason for why people in Austin should decide what people in Houston should either pay in taxes or receive in benefits,” Murphy said. “My very wise father once told me: ‘If it’s none of your money, it’s none of your business.'”

And:

Parker will not formally lobby for or against Murphy’s bill, mayoral spokeswoman Janice Evans said, though the mayor has attempted to push local control bills in the previous two sessions.

“Best of luck as he tries for a third time,” Evans said.

Thanks a lot! I am sure Janice Evans didn’t mean to sound this grateful – ouch!

Here is the entire piece on Rep. Murphy’s bill:
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Murphy-introduces-competing-fire-pension-bill-to-6126041.php.

The pension deal is supposed to be discussed at City Council today so stay tuned!

BTW: Some fella named Steven Houston has posted a couple of comments on this website on the pension deal.

Jeff Bagwell stopped by Spring Training yesterday. When Baggy won the NL MVP Award in 1994, how many first place votes did he receive out of the 28 votes cast?

State Rep. Carol Alvarado’s online over registration bill got the lead editorial in today’s Chron. Here it is:

During a week in which President Barack Obama, civil rights icon John Lewis and some 80,000 Americans gathered in Selma, Ala., to commemorate a people’s valiant effort to secure the sacred right to vote, it’s appropriate for a Texas lawmaker to remind us that it’s the obligation of government to encourage voting, not to erect barriers.

Toward that end, state Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, is sponsoring legislation that would allow Texans to register to vote online. It’s an idea – a simple one, in fact – that’s long overdue.

Alvarado points out that we do everything else online, including banking, taxes and stock transactions, so why not voter registration? Twenty states already offer an online voter-registration application, and the Texas Association of Elections Administrators also supports the idea. It’s convenient, it saves money and it’s safe against fraud and cyberattacks.

Arizona was one of the first states to implement online registration. Alvarado notes that officials in Arizona’s largest county have reported that the cost of a single registration dropped from 83 cents per registration card to 3 cents. Applying those numbers to the slightly more than 14 million Texans registered to vote, the savings to taxpayers would amount to more than $11 million.

For those worried about the integrity of the process, Alvarado’s House Bill 953 would cross-check driver’s license information with Department of Public Safety records and would be rejected if the information the would-be voter provided was inaccurate. The applicant also would have to have a signature on file with DPS.

Minnesota, one of the 20 states that provides online registration, traditionally leads the nation in voter turnout. It was a cause for alarm among Minnesotans last fall when turnout fell to 50 percent. The Texas turnout, meanwhile, was a dismal 24.9 percent. Obviously, a variety of factors account for the difference in turnout between the states, but registration convenience must surely be one of them.

Parties, politicians and Texans overall benefit when more citizens participate in the governance of their state. Ease of voting, including online registration, is one way to nurture a healthy democracy.

Nice job Rep. Alvarado!

I tweeted the following yesterday during Secretary Hillary Clinton’s press conference:

Marc Campos ‏@MarcCommentary 1h1 hour ago
#ClintonEmails press conference responses are not going to satisfy GOP critics. #PersonalEmails pic.twitter.com/bOltLiSpBn

Then this was tweeted:

Teddy Schleifer retweeted
Carly Fiorina ‏@CarlyFiorina 28m28 minutes ago
In effect, @HillaryClinton told us to trust her. Nothing in her track record suggests we should do so.

Knock yourself out! 23 years! That’s how long the GOP has been trying to take down the Clintons.

On a related note, GOP U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who admits he has never sent an email is criticizing Hillary on her emails. Sorry pal! If you haven’t used email then you don’t know what you are talking about!

In 1994, Jeff Bagwell received first place votes from all of the 28 writers who cast a NL MVP Award ballot of course.

I got this from The Yard yesterday:

Join the Houston Astros as we celebrate Craig Biggio’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame!

2015 Hall of Fame Travel Packages

Official Astros 2015 National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Weekend packages are available now. Choose from the following packages:

Induction Weekend Package – $795
• Three Days/Two Nights Hotel Accommodations
Hampton Inn, Albany, NY – July 24-26, 2015
• Induction Ceremony Lawn Seating

Induction Weekend Extra Innings Package – $995
• Four Days/Three Nights Hotel Accommodations
Comfort Inn & Suites, Albany, NY – July 24-27, 2015
• Induction Ceremony Lawn Seating
• Legends of the Game Roundtable

VIP Induction Weekend Package – $1250
• Three Days/Two Nights Hotel Accommodations
Albany Marriott, Albany, NY – July 24-26, 2015
• Induction Ceremony VIP Seating

Ultimate VIP Induction Weekend Package – $1795
• Three Days/Two Nights Hotel Accommodations
Albany Marriott, Albany, NY – July 24-27, 2015
• Baseball Hall of Fame Artifact Spotlight
• Induction Ceremony VIP Seating
• Legends of the Game Roundtable
• Autographed Baseball

What’s in your wallet!

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