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Archive for September, 2015

We have to get this right. I am talking about selecting the next HISD Superintendent. It has to be a process that feels inclusive and open. Yesterday the HISD Board met to discuss the first steps. Here is from Margaret Downing of the Houston Press:

A divided Houston ISD school board, distracted in part as word started coming in about the tragic school bus accident that morning that left two teenage passengers dead, stopped its closed-door proceedings Tuesday and called it a day on the question of appointing an interim superintendent, saying they would resume discussions later.

Last week, Terry Grier announced he was resigning after six years as superintendent of the sprawling district. He said he would work through March 1 – his educator retirement criteria play a part in this – and trustees began discussing what they should do in the next six months and called Tuesday’s meeting to discuss the possibility of an interim superintendent. Grier has missed days for recent knee surgery and has another round scheduled in November.

From discussions with board members it appears there were some who were ready to appoint Deputy Superintendent/Chief Financial Officer Don Huewitt at last week’s meeting. As deputy superintendent Huewitt already handles some of the superintendent’s duties when Grier is out on leave.

Other trustees feel that especially since there are a lot of concerns about how the 2012 bond program has proceeded, as well as a highly critical, just-released audit of how the district is administrating its construction contracts, that it would be better to wait.

Trustee Anna Eastman said after the meeting that she continues to have a lot of questions about how the job-order contracts have been administered. Among other things the audit showed that the district’s Construction and Facilities Service Department wasn’t asking for detailed information about costs before writing big checks to contractors and that it was cutting up the same project into different pieces so that it could come in under the $500,000 state-mandated threshold and grant contracts without having to ask permission from that pesky school board.

“Someone’s got to be held accountable for it. There’s been too many ‘oops.’” Eastman said. “I have concerns about people with less authority in the organization taking all the responsibility. I think leadership has to take responsibility for anyone in the organization thinking that was ok or that was the right thing to do.”

As for the interim question:

“The board cannot name an interim unless we officially reassign the superintendent to other duties which he has to agree upon,” said Eastman. “It would have to be a negotiated agreement, or we would agree on a quicker termination of his contract and I don’t think the board is interested in that or the superintendent.”

Eastman said she thinks the board should concentrate on finding a new superintendent and wait till after Grier’s March 1 departure to appoint an interim. “I’d like to see a person [new superintendent] in place before the next school year. Dr. Grier started in September so basically the organization that was in place was his predecessor’s organization.” Eastman also said it was important for any new board members to be part of the process, as well as the community.

Board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones thinks the board should work quickly in moving along the process for a new superintendent, but not so fast that they don’t get input from all aspects of the community to make sure that person is a good match for HISD and its demands.

As for the interim spot, Skillern-Jones said, “I don’t think it’s unanimous around the board that we not appoint one now. We have a superintendent who is out on leave. He has an acting deputy superintendent which is in place [Don Huewitt] I have some trouble with that situation as it exists. We suspect that the superintendent may be out on medical leave for a long period of time. And I have some concern about where responsibility rests in that situation.

“Does it rest with the superintendent who is physically absent or does it rest with the deputy superintendent and who gets to decide where that responsibility rests is the board? So until we have a clear cut picture of who’s responsible, who’s actually at the helm, and who we hold accountable then I’m uncomfortable with that as a situation. So I think that should be temporary. It may not be popular opinion. We’re looking at six months out of a nine-month school year. A lot of things can happen. Who do we hold accountable and in what way?”
We better stay tuned on this. It is good to know that my trustee is on top of things.

When was the first time we won a division title?

After yesterday’s school bus tragedy, the Mayor tweeted this:

Annise Parker ‏@AnniseParker 2m2 minutes ago
Getting updates on today’s deadly accident. Should prompt school districts to have serious discussions about seat belts on school buses.-A

That’s good. It is going to be a cost to ISDs. Then they have to adopt policies on mandating seat belt use.

Just like it is going to cost the city to put up some signs banning cell phone use in school zones.

Let’s all do the right thing.

We won our first division title in 1980 of course after going 93-70.

It was painful to watch us lose last night. Now we are a half game out of first. We need to turn things around or our season will be over on October 3.

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This was tweeted during the game last night:

Randy Harvey ‏@randyharvey 10h10 hours ago
Jonathan Villar is the #Astros version of #Texans Keshawn Martin. Lot of talent but seldom does anything positive.

I agree. When Villar entered the game I felt our chances of winning decreased.

We lost.

When was the last year we won a division title?

Yesterday the Chron’s front page headline read:

Race for mayor still stuck in neutral

Here is how the article by Rebecca Elliott started:

With a bevy of candidates and midyear fundraising that collectively topped $7 million, Houston’s 2015 mayoral race has been poised to be a blockbuster.

Yet, just five weeks before the start of early voting, the race has remained relatively stagnant.

For the most part, the candidates still are spending little, agreeing often and floating only modestly different visions for the city’s future.

The Mayor must have read the article and decided to spice things up with this tweet she put out last night:

Annise Parker ‏@AnniseParker 1m1 minute ago
Annise Parker retweeted BOFA DEEZ
I’m not endorsing. 13 candidates but only 5 choices: Bell, Costello, Garcia, McVey or Turner.-A https://twitter.com/duhkluhat/status/643496194803679232
Annise Parker added,
BOFA DEEZ @DuhkLuhAT
@AnniseParker who should we elect next for mayor?

You know the Mayor is just itching to get involved in this race. I don’t have a problem with that. To spice things up, she may as well be asked to participate in some of the remaining forums. The city budget, Rebuild Houston, pensions, infrastructure, and now cell phones in school zones are topics that are being discussed. Commentary can pretty much tell you at this stage what all the candidates are going to say. Having the Mayor there with a mic in her hand would certainly be interesting.

Commentary fully expects the Mayor to weigh in every now and then before November 3. The folks she can influence have pretty much made up their minds so her involvement doesn’t hurt Bill King or Ben Hall. Some might say it probably helps. Stay tuned!

We last won a division title in 2001 when we went 93-69 of course.

Last night was one of those nights. We had our opportunities. Now a measly half-game lead with 18 to go.

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More Politics

Picking the Picks? Kuffer put out a take yesterday on who he thinks the Chron E-Board will endorse in the H-Town City, HISD, and HCC races. Hey, he picks three out of four of Commentary’s clients. Check out Kuffer’s picks here: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=69618.

Commentary went to another couple of mayoral forums yesterday. At the Masjid WDM Mosque in southeast Houston, Ben Hall got applause for opposing the HERO. It was the bathroom thing.

A Human Trafficking Forum was held late yesterday afternoon at a church in northwest Houston. Not many folks showed up and only four of the mayoral candidates attended. I thought this was one of the more interesting forums of the season. Of course, human trafficking doesn’t bring folks to the polls.

The Chron’s Rebecca Elliott has a front page piece today on the state of the mayoral contest. Here is a line from the piece:

HERO is expected to draw many to the polls who typically do not vote in city elections, boosting Houston’s historically low turnout – 19 percent in the last open mayor’s race six years ago.

Who are these voters?

Here is the piece: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/election/local/article/No-breakout-in-mayor-s-race-as-election-day-6502353.php?cmpid=btfpm.

The ‘Stros have 19 games remaining. How many are with true contenders?

I don’t think HISD Trustee Juliet Stipeche thinks much of the HISD Superintendent. Here is from this weekend’s Chron:

“The writing was on the wall that he didn’t have the support for an extension,” said trustee Juliet Stipeche, who chairs the board’s audit committee. “I believe that people whose opinion he trusts and relies upon strongly encouraged him to leave at this point, so the district could get a new leader who can be devoted to trying to solve many of the problems that currently exist.”

The latest polls have Hillary behind Bernie by 10 in Iowa and 22 in New Hampshire.

I am not going to say much about the Texans and quarterbacks other than to say the head coach has botched it.

I just noticed this. If you follow the ‘Stros or MLB beat writers on twitter, a few hours before the game they will tweet out the starting line-ups in batting order with the last name of the player and the numerical position: pitcher is 1, catcher is 2, you know, and 9 being the right fielder, but the DH is DH. How come nobody has come around to give the DH a number, like a 10?

It looks like ESPN will televise the Pirates and Cubbies on Sunday, September 27 and not the Rangers and ‘Stros.

The ‘Stros still have seven games with the Rangers and three with the Angels of course.

I was sitting in a church pew yesterday and checking out twitter thinking that we would be heading to Arlington with a half-game lead when all of a sudden we snatched a victory. Now we have a very important four game series with the Rangers. Every game is a must win.

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I’ll be watching MSNBC again this morning and will never forget.

Let’s take off the gloves. Commentary is talking about the H-Town mayoral forums and debates.

At yesterday’s BOMA forum: Ben Hall to Council Member Steve Costello on permitting – “You have no credibility. You have been at city hall for six years and it has gotten worse.”

CM Costello went after Bill King. I think most observers know why.

On the HERO, Ben Hall received applause from a lot of BOMA folks for opposing.

I don’t think there were any older Acres Homes African American voters in attendance at BOMA so that’s why Rep. Sylvester Turner and Adrian Garcia quickly said “I support HERO.”

At last night’s televised debate, CM Costello again called out Bill King. Like I said, I think most observers know why.

Garcia was asked by Marty McVey about the Sheriff Department’s lousy record on solving rape cases under Garcia’s watch. Garcia had that uh-oh look and avoided answering the question. This question is going to dog Garcia for sure.

Commentary was disappointed that Bill King was never asked a question on the city budget, pensions, or infrastructure. I guess that is just the way it played out.

I also don’t think the debate organizers did a good job on their first round of questions. Some got tough questions and some didn’t. That is kind of lazy work if you ask me.

There were a lot of empty seats last night at the venue. I think the sponsors were a bit stingy on ticket distribution. They should have invited more folks.

Here is the Chron’s take on last night’s debate: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/In-first-televised-debate-mayoral-candidates-6497311.php.

Name the MLB club with the most home wins his season?

Here we go again. It kind of sounds like a broken record. Another effort to get more tourists to visit H-Town. Here is from today’s Chron:

It’s time to lay any lingering concerns over Houston as a “cultural wasteland” to rest and start actively promoting the city’s bounty of arts and culinary destinations to tourists, city officials said Thursday, kicking off the latest marketing and image campaign.

“Yes, it’s hot. Yes, we have mosquitoes. Let’s get over that,” Mayor Annise Parker told a group of 700 at Houston First Corp.’s inaugural Tourism Summit on Thursday. “After they get here, people fall in love with the city. They don’t want to leave.”

Houston First, the city’s main tourism arm, hopes to shift visitors’ focus beyond the oil and gas business and to brand the city as the “culinary and cultural capital of the South.” A new advertising and marketing blitz is part of its ambitious goal to boost visitors by 35 percent, to20 million annually, over the next three years.

Television spots feature famous Houstonians – members of ZZ Top, “Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons and singers Lyle Lovett and Kam Franklin – explaining what outsiders may be missing. The campaign includes images of not just the downtown skyline but also Midtown hot spots, fancy sushi bars, world-class museums and more.

Here is the entire story: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Tourism-officials-shift-focus-beyond-business-6496986.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Save your money, please. It is not going to work. It hasn’t in the past. It won’t in the future. Not even with the help of Sheldon Cooper. We are who we are.

San Luis of course leads MLB with 50 wins at home. The Royals and the ‘Stros follow with 48 each.

We now have a two and a half game lead with 22 left and we are in Anaheim for the next three. One game at a time.

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Latinos Con Bernie?

It is going to be a busy day and evening. The H-Town mayoral candidates will participate in a forum during lunch. This evening is the first televised mayoral candidate debate sponsored by Channel 13 and Univision. It will be live streamed at 6 pm and air on the flat screen at 10:30 tonight.

The H-Town City Council District H candidates will participate in a forum this evening at MECA on Kane.

We also have the start of the NFL season with the Pats and Steelers on Channel 2.

Back to the TV debate, expect Ben Hall to go after Rep. Sylvester Turner, Adrian Garcia, Council Member Steve Costello, or Bill King.

Let me say that HISD Trustee Anna Eastman is Commentary’s good friend and client. She commands a ton of respect out there. She knows what she is talking about. Here is from the front page of today’s Chron by Ericka Mellon:

Houston ISD overpaid contractors and may have violated state law by exceeding construction contract limits without required school board approval, according to a newly released audit.

The auditors found that the district appeared to skirt a $500,000 contracting cap multiple times by improperly submitting separate work orders tied to the same project. The auditors also noted that the district failed to catch inaccurate and inappropriate charges and at times asked the school board to sign off on work after it had been done.

“State law and district policies were at the very least ignored, but more likely knowingly circumvented,” HISD trustee Anna Eastman, a member of the board’s audit committee, said Wednesday. “I’m not satisfied with the administrative response of ignorance and, ‘We’ll do it differently next time.’ Someone needs to be held accountable for this.”

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/Audit-finds-HISD-exceeded-contract-limits-without-6494427.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Stay tuned for sure.

From MLB.com:

With one powerful swing, Marwin Gonzalez helped Houston match a Major League team record, becoming the 11th Astros player to record double-digit home runs this season, tying the mark set by the Detroit Tigers in 2004.

Name the other ten ‘Stros players?

Latinos con Sanders strikes back with this letter to the editor in the SA Express News. I will say this. The Bernie Sanders folks are organizing in the Latino community. They are not ignoring this key Dem voting community. Why do you think the Hillary command sent Congressman Castro to put a hit on Bernie? Here is the first part of the letter:

My name is Rick Treviño and I am a proud supporter of Bernie Sanders for president of the United States. I’m writing to push back on Rep. Joaquin Castro’s recent claims in the Texas Tribune that Sanders has not reached out to the Latino community.

Castro’s comments were untrue, inaccurate and suggest that Bernie doesn’t care about the Latino community, which is flat out wrong. As a son of an immigrant myself, I have no doubt that by far the best candidate for Latinos is unequivocally Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator is offering a vision that not only will benefit my people, but all people in our great nation.

For too long the Latino community has been treated as a one-issue demographic by the Democratic and Republican establishments. Immigration is a very important issue in the Latino community, and rightly so, but we also have economic, health and educational concerns for ourselves.

Bernie’s plan for a living wage, universal health care and tuition-free access to public colleges and universities are the types of policies that will lift millions of hardworking Latinos into the middle class. Sanders has articulated his policy platform directly to Latino groups. In Kansas City, he spoke at the National Council of La Raza’s annual convention and received the most standing ovations of any presidential candidate, including Hillary Clinton.

In his speech, he directly addressed the 11 million undocumented immigrants that are living in the shadows, and he boldly supported a pathway for citizenship for these people. Bernie has spoken to Univision’s brave anchor Jorge Ramos, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Javier Palomarez. He also spoke to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Las Vegas, spoke to a diverse crowd of 11,000 in Phoenix and a diverse crowd of 27,000 in Los Angeles. In each of those electrifying speeches, he addressed the needs and concerns of Latinos and earned praise for his positions.

Here is the entire letter: http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/commentary/article/Sanders-vision-best-for-Latinos-6484215.php.

The latest poll released this morning now has Bernie Sanders with a slight lead in Iowa. Meanwhile, Hillary’s campaign continues to stumble.

The ten other ‘Stros with 10 dingers or more this season are Gattis (23), Valbuena (22), Rasmus (19), Carter (18), Correa (17), Springer (13), Tucker (12), Altuve (11), Castro (11), and Conger (10) of course. Marisnick sits at 9.

Our lead is two games with 22 games remaining. We have the day off.

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The Bell Ad

Chris Bell has a TV ad. Go to his website and check it out. The flat screen fonts include: NO SCANDALS, NO BAGGAGE, PRO-CHOICE, EQUAL RIGHTS. I guess he is going at Adrian Garcia, and going after the Dem female voter and the GLBT voter. I guess. It is a good ad.

What was the big news in MLB 50 years ago today? Hint: Dodger blue.

Commentary is not impressed with the folks that Hillary recruited to run her campaign. They have blown a huge lead. I thought she had the best Dem talent. Her inner circle has to take some of the blame. It may be time for heads to roll.

The first H-Town Mayoral TV debate is tomorrow evening. It is being sponsored by Channel 13 and Univision. It will air tomorrow night at 10:30 pm. I am thinking it will only be watched by older voters who happen to stay up late.

Taylor Swift will be at The Yard this evening and she will have a packed house. She usually has a celebrity guest join her on stage. J.J. Watt, maybe?

50 years ago today, Sandy Koufax threw a perfecto of course against the Cubbies at Dodger Stadium.

This tweet says it all:

Brian McTaggart ⚾️ retweeted
Richard Justice ‏@richardjustice 50m50 minutes ago
The @Rangers have picked up 7 games on the @Astros in 39 days. Two teams now tied in loss column. Rangers 23-11 since Aug 2, Astros 16-18.

We now have a one game lead.

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Prop 6

Commentary doesn’t hunt or fish. I don’t look forward to the first day for white-winged dove or the first day of dear season. My thing is Opening Day at The Yard and I try to get to as many of the 83 homies as I can. I don’t sit in deer blinds, I sit in Field Box.

The state of Texas issues around 2.5 million hunting and fishing licenses each year. Hunting and fishing is a huge industry in Texas. It is serious business for a lot of folks. That’s why when you go vote in the next few weeks and read the proposed constitutional amendments, Prop 6 will read as follows:

“The constitutional amendment recognizing the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation.”

Go here to get an objective take on why this is on the ballot: http://ballotpedia.org/Texas_Right_to_Hunt,_Fish_and_Harvest_Amendment,_Proposition_6_(2015).

Well, I am thinking that some of the 2.5 million license holders are registered voters. How many of them are in H-Town and are they being engaged to come out and vote for Prop 6? What are their voting histories – GOPers, Dems, or casual voters? Who do they like in the race for H-Town Mayor and what do they think of the HERO.

There are seven proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot this year. A couple deal with ad valorem taxes and one deals with funding for roads and highways. Prop 6 is by far the most interesting to me. I wonder why these folks think they need this right?

I am thinking voter turnout here in H-Town might be a bit unusual.

There is an H-Town City Council District H candidate forum this evening at Hogg Middle School.

As of today, five MLB clubs have more wins than they did in all of 2014 – name the clubs.

Mike Morris of the Chron has a story today on the City of H-Town’s fiscal woes. It has a bit of finger pointing and whining. We know we have a problem. We know how we got here. It is going to be up to the next mayor to take the lead on this. Here is the Morris piece:
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Reports-warn-of-finance-trouble-6489701.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Here is from a NY Times story yesterday:

Republicans are growing increasingly concerned that Donald J. Trump’s inflammatory language is damaging the party, fearing that his remarks are hardening the tone of other candidates on racial issues in ways that could repel the voters they need to take back the White House.

Some party leaders worry that the favorable response Mr. Trump has received from the Republican electorate is luring other candidates to adopt or echo his remarks. It is a pattern, they say, that could tarnish the party’s image among minority voters.

Here is the entire piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/08/us/politics/republicans-fear-donald-trump-is-hardening-partys-tone-on-race.html?smid=tw-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0.

In all fairness to Trump, he is just piling on what was already in motion. The GOP knew at the end of 2012 that they had a problem, but instead of toning down the anti-immigrant rhetoric, they ramped it up in 2014 and Trump is just cashing in.

Saturday night at The Yard, a bunch of folks started hitting their iphone flashes. It looked like the old cigarette lighters from the old concert days. What was up with that?

The Cubbies, 79 wins today, 73 in 2014, the ‘Stros 75 to 70, the Rangers, 72 to 67, the Twins, 71 to 70, and the D-Backs, 66 to 64, all have won more games this season than in all of 2014 of course.

Our lead is back down to 2.

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69 and Counting

Today, Alicia and Tony Campos are celebrating 69 years of being married. Way to go Mom and Dad!

I’ll be heading to Baytown today to pay them a visit.

Today is Labor Day. How about remembering those who risked their lives and livelihoods so we could enjoy days like today, paid vacation, and workplace safety – just to name a few.

Dante and I were at The Yard Saturday evening and the KissKam came on with the usual kissing. Then they showed two fellas in ‘Stros gear within a heart with this proposal caption: “Douglas, Will You Marry Me? Love, Cary.” Then the fans applauded. I didn’t hear any boos.

My ticket neighbors who sit right behind me and who hail from far northwest Harris County, their eighth grader said, “Hey they didn’t play the music.” Usually when they show a KissKam proposal, they play the generic wedding tune intro. That’s what the eighth grader noticed.

Way to go ‘Stros!

Name the pitcher with the most innings tossed this season?

Bernie Sanders is leading Hillary in New Hampshire. What coronation?

The City of H-Town continues to hold their ground and not move forward on banning cell phone use in school zones. Hard to believe, isn’t it? Here is from Saturday’s Chron:

Houston City Attorney Donna Edmundson and her predecessor, David Feldman, however, said they interpret enforcement as optional.

The debate centers on a provision about installing signs advising motorists of the prohibition.

“The law does not require the City or other entities to enforce the ban. However, if the City or other entities are going to enforce it, proper signs must be posted,” Edmundson said in a statement Friday.

And:

Houston Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday that school districts, most of which have their own police forces, could assume the burden if they wanted. She questioned the value of mounting signs and said the decision also comes down to money.

And:

Houston City Councilman C.O. “Brad” Bradford, a former Houston police chief, said earlier this week that the city should install the signs. Councilman Dave Martin agreed.

“I don’t know why we can’t do it and I don’t know why anyone would object to it,” he said. “Cellphones are a problem, especially in school zones.”

Councilwoman Brenda Stardig, whose district includes Spring Branch ISD, said she’s heard from a concerned school board member. In that school district, some school zones have the signs because other local cities there have installed them.

“It became a battle over who was going to pay for it,” Stardig said. “If I had my negotiating hat on, I would ask each entity to put up half and move forward and keep our children safe.”

And:

Houston mayoral candidate Bill King held a news conference Friday and pledged that, if elected, he would have the signs installed within 30 days. He said Houston’s price estimate seemed too high.

“But even if it did cost $2 million, how can we not have the money to prioritize the safety of our children?” King asked, adding that he would be willing to take the funds from the budgets of the mayor’s office and City Council.

Like I said earlier. It is a matter of priorities. It is kind of sad to see the City lamely hold their ground.

Dallas Keuchel of course leads MLB with 200 2/3 innings pitched.

Our lead is at three with 25 to go. The next 10 are on the road. This is it folks

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Where is Home?

On the District H campaign trail, Karla Cisneros talks about being a 30-year resident of Woodland Heights.

Roland Chavez talks about growing up in the First Ward and moving to Woodland Heights.

Jason Cisneroz talks about living in the Near North Side.

Abel Davila talks about residing in the Second Ward. At last night’s District H candidate forum at the Montie Beach Community Center, Davila was asked by a voter where he lived and how many homes did he have? Davila said he lived in Second Ward and once owned a million dollar home in the The Woodlands and now has two residences in District H – the one in Second Ward and one in Woodland Heights. It was kind of a testy exchange.

Obviously, there is something going on if that question is being asked.

The next District H candidate forum is next week in Woodland Heights. I wonder if Davila will tell forum attendees that he is a resident of Woodland Heights.

The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball teams for Sunday evening, September 27, have not been announced. As of today, only two games scheduled to play that day feature four true contenders and will likely be considered for the Sunday night game. Name the teams?

These tweets from this morning are related to banning cell phone use in H-Town school zones.

Bill King ‏@BillKingForHou 56m56 minutes ago
Budget for mayor and council offices up $12 million since 2009. But we cannot find $2 million to protect our kids?

Ericka Mellon ‏@e_mellon 1h1 hour ago
Houston candidate Bill King said he would have the school zone cellphone ban signs up within 30 days if mayor.

Like I said, it is hard to argue against this.

The Chron’s Rebecca Elliott has a story today on endorsements in the race for H-Town mayor. Here is how it starts:

Houston mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner has the backing of the city’s three unions. Do you care?

The C Club, a group of top conservative donors, supports former Kemah Mayor Bill King, and a handful of Houston pastors publicly have thrown their weight behind 2013 mayoral runner-up Ben Hall. Will that impact who you vote for?

For most Houston voters, the answer likely is no. Rather, political observers said, a candidate’s ability to marshal support from political power-brokers demonstrates viability to deep-pocketed donors and, in certain instances, provides the campaign with added organizational muscle.

“Endorsements are primarily an inside game that influence money and, on some occasions, votes,” local political analyst Nancy Sims said. “But to the overall voters, it usually doesn’t matter.”

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/election/local/article/Candidates-tout-endorsements-but-do-voters-care-6483963.php?cmpid=btfpm.

On Sunday, September 27, the Cubbies host the Pirates and the Rangers visit The Yard of course.

Sunday night baseball in H-Town would be nice.

After this weekend’s series with the Twins, the ‘Stros go on a ten game roadie then return for their final nine game homie. It is not too late to plan for a game or two. The team needs your love.

Our lead is still at two.

Have a nice Labor Day weekend.

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In Two Months

Two months from tonight the votes will be counted.

I guess it was worth it to get up this morning and head out to the Near Northwest Management District Mayoral Candidate Forum. Ben Hall and Rep. Sylvester Turner mixed it up on pensions.

Council Member Steve Costello started using some of Bill King’s lines on HPD stats.

We found out CM Costello, Adrian Garcia and Marty McVey live inside the loop and Chris Bell, Hall, Bill, and Rep. Turner don’t.

CM Costello hit Rep. Turner’s timeline on adding more police officers.

The HERO was not brought up until Hall did in his closing.

The grub was nice.

Coming back from an eatery on HWY 290 and Bingle was definitely a challenge.

The District H candidates will participate in a forum this evening at Montie Beach.

Which MLB division has the closest race for first place?

Commentary said this yesterday:

There is certainly no argument here. It is just a matter of priorities. I am talking about the City of H-Town dropping the ball big time on cracking down on cell phone use by drivers in school zones.

Well, the Mayor continues to hold her ground – sort of – according to today’s front page Chron story by Ericka Mellon. Here is the entire piece:

Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday that she is not convinced that installing signs alerting drivers to a 6-year-old state law banning texting and the use of hand-held cellphones in school zones is worth the cost.

The question is whether the city has any choice.

The 2009 law prohibiting cellphone use in school zones states that cities, counties or other political entities “shall post a sign” at the start of each school zone about the ban. Such signs were posted years ago in other major Texas cities – Austin, Dallas and San Antonio – and in Houston’s neighbors, including Conroe, Bellaire and the villages in Spring Branch. Harris County also has put up signs in school zones it covers.

But, citing a $2.34 million price tag for installing the signs, Houston opted not to do so and has not issued citations in the belief that without the signs, the law was unenforceable.

However, in addition to the directive that cities “shall” post signs, the law says that ticketed drivers could defend themselves against prosecution if no sign advising of the cellphone ban was posted.

Former state Rep. Dan Branch, the Dallas Republican who sponsored the bill, declined Wednesday to state whether Houston was violating the state law.

“I think the bill should speak for itself,” said Branch, an attorney.

Parker said Wednesday that school districts could assume responsibility for enforcing the cellphone ban, noting that they have their own police forces.

“They have the ability to do this,” she said. “They have defaulted to the city, and our position has been we want a statewide ban (on texting while driving anywhere). We want a clear and consistent policy, not just in the school zones.”

Parker added that the decision not to mount the signs also comes down to cost. The city estimates the signs would cost $300 each for 7,800 signs in school zones covering numerous districts.

However, the Texas Department of Transportation said the price tag should be about $100, assuming the cellphone notice could be mounted to existing school zone signs. Dallas officials said the material cost for signs installed in 2010 equaled about $10 each, and Austin paid about $47 each for signs and labor, according to city representatives.

Harris County Precinct 4 estimated the material cost for its internally produced signs at $12 each.

The city’s price difference may be attributed to anti-graffiti coating and mounting hardware, said spokesw0man Janice Evans.

State transportation department spokesman David Glessner confirmed that a school district with a police force that enforces traffic laws should be able to place the signs on most roads.

“It comes down to the cost of installing the signs – who bears that cost and whether there’s enough of a benefit to make it worthwhile,” Parker said. “Clearly if it saved one child’s life, it would be a worthwhile investment.

“But we don’t believe that putting up a bunch of signs stops anybody from doing anything. Because if they don’t already know it’s dangerous to do … I don’t think there’s any education we can do to stop people from being stupid. It’s an enforcement issue.”

Houston school board president Rhonda Skillern-Jones said Wednesday that she planned to discuss the issue with her fellow trustees.

“I would like to see there be some cooperation between the school district and the city,” she said. “The safety of our students should be a collaboration between the two entities.”

Marney Sims, general counsel for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, said she was surprised to find out that the district’s three schools under city jurisdiction did not have the cellphone signs. She said she planned to verify that the district had the authority to install them. “If we do,” she said, “then we will pay to add those.”

Parker, talking to reporters after a City Council meeting Wednesday, noted that she had led a public awareness campaign against texting and driving. She wrote a May 2013 opinion piece in the Chronicle calling on the community to work together to end the practice.

“Public safety is the responsibility of local government,” she wrote. “Saving lives is the responsibility of us all.”

Like I said yesterday. It is a matter of priorities and how you go about changing a culture. If we had had signs put up a couple of years ago, I think folks would have gotten the message. And if one thinks banning texting while driving should be law, why not enact it here by ordinance? Counting on state government – good luck!

The closest division race is in the AL East where the Jays lead the Yankees by 1 ½. We are not far behind with our two game lead over the Rangers.

Only 18,000 plus showed up last night for Dollar Dogs. We can do better. What are you waiting on? SpringerDinger?

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