Archive for November, 2015

In Four Weeks and a Day

How many career dingers does Colby Rasmus have?

It will be all over four weeks from tomorrow night.

At the GLBT Caucus meeting the other night, the HERO got some mention.

In today’s Chron, there are Point/Counterpoint Op-Eds on the HERO. I glanced at them but I will not post them. Go check them out if you want.

So far, the HERO has not been a topic among the mayoral runoff candidates.

So far.

What is the over/under on how many times the HERO will be brought up during the televised debates?

From Chron.com:

Colby Rasmus will be back with the Astros for one more season.

Rasmus, the outfielder with the hot bat during the playoffs, agreed to accept the Astros’ one-year qualifying offer of $15.8 million, a source familiar with the process told the Chronicle. The deal was first reported by Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.

Colby Rasmus has 141 career dingers of course.

From the ‘Stros website:

Astros second baseman Jose Altuve added another award to his mantel on Thursday when he was named the winner of the Silver Slugger Award as the top offensive second baseman in the American League. He’s the third player in franchise history to win a Silver Slugger Award, presented by Louisville Slugger, and a Gold Glove Award in the same season, joining second baseman Craig Biggio (1994-95, ’97) and first baseman Jeff Bagwell (1994).

Altuve hit .313 with 40 doubles and four triples and set career highs with 15 home runs and 66 RBIs in 154 games last season. He led all AL second basemen in hits and doubles, while ranking second in batting average.

Among all AL players, Altuve led the league in hits (200) and stolen bases (38) for the second consecutive season, joining the Yankees’ Snuffy Stirnweiss (1944-45) as the only players in Major League history to lead the AL in hits and steals in consecutive seasons. Altuve also became the first player in franchise history to reach 200 hits in a season twice.


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More Endorsements

Karla Cisneros won the endorsement of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus last night.

Check this tweet:

Rebecca Elliott ‏@rfelliott 3h3 hours ago
ICYMI Costello endorses Turner in #houmayor runoff as group of Hispanic Rs formerly behind Garcia back King http://www.chron.com/news/politics/houston/article/Costello-endorses-Turner-for-Houston-mayor-6624860.php … #houvote

I am not surprised. Bill King banged on Rebuild Houston and Costello bragged about being the architect of Rebuild. Check this though from the Chron:

An engineer who finished sixth on Election Day with 7 percent of the vote, Costello is not likely to sway a large share of the electorate, but his endorsement could bolster Turner’s fundraising efforts, particularly among local engineers and contractors, who are consistent donors in municipal races.


Texas Southern University political scientist Michael Adams called Costello’s endorsement “very important for Turner,” mentioning the three-term councilman’s sway with Houston engineers and contractors, as well as moderate Republican and independent city voters.

Here is the entire piece behind the paywall:http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Costello-backs-Turner-in-runoff-6626191.php.

I like Costello, but excuse me for scratching my head on this one. He raises the third most money in this race and finished in single digits and in sixth place and so now he can sway engineer bucks toward Rep. Sylvester Turner’s campaign? Go on ahead! Wowza!

Bill picked up Latino endorsements yesterday including former H-Town Council Members Felix Fraga and James Rodriguez – both Dems.

The ‘Stros may be looking for a better closer this off season. Of course, Billy Wagner was our best closer ever and now he is on the Hall of Fame ballot. What number did her wear for the ‘Stros?

Here is more on the HERO aftermath from the Trib:

Just hours after it became clear that Houston’s non-discrimination ordinance, HERO, would be trounced at the polls last week, Houston Mayor Annise Parker predicted a “direct, economic backlash” for the city, akin to criticism and boycott threats in Arizona and Indiana following similar controversies.

But so far, any visible backlash has yet to materialize, and Houston appears at no risk of losing two upcoming major sporting events.

Here is the entire piece: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/11/12/after-hero-loss-economic-impact-remains-unclear/.

If you ask me, it is a little early for this article. Let’s wait until the beginning of next year.

And Kuffer revisits Diana Davila’s win over Juliet Stipeche over at HISD. Here is how he ends it:

So did HERO have an effect in this particular election? I can’t say it did, and I can’t say it didn’t. Or to put it another way, I think it was a factor, but I don’t know how much of one. It probably wasn’t a difference maker, but who knows? Wish I could be more definitive, but sometimes all you can do is shrug.

Here is all of Kuffer: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=70841.

I have said it before. Like it or not, she is a player and knows how to win, and works hard.

Billy Wagner wore the 13 of course.

If Wagner does make it into the Hall, does he wear a ‘Stros lid?

They played cricket at The Yard last night

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Latinos for Bill King

Key Latino leaders who supported and campaigned for Adrian Garcia will endorse Bill King for mayor this morning. Among the key supporters endorsing King is Garcia campaign treasurer Massey Villarreal.

Yesterday, a number of Latino elected officials endorsed State Rep. Sylvester Turner.

I just hope the Turner attack squad doesn’t say something like the Latinos supporting Bill all look like Ted Cruz or something like that.

So who wins the Latino vote? Stay tuned!

Yesterday, Jose Altuve won the AL Gold Glove for a second baseman. How many times did Craig Biggio win the NL Gold Glove as a second baseman?

The Chron E-Board weighs in on the new term limits at H-Town City Hall:

The job of city councilman may technically be part-time, but changes at City Hall threaten to transform our elected officials into full-time fundraisers.

On Election Day, voters expanded term limits from two to four years by passing Proposition 2. This will give elected officials more time to study and implement long-term plans that Houston needs to balance the budget, fix roads and keep our city growing. It also gives incumbent politicians an unabated four years to raise campaign funds.

Before this year’s election cycle, expanding term limits wouldn’t have had any major impact on campaign fundraising. Houston voters passed an anti-corruption measure back in 1992 that only permitted soliciting contributions from the February before an election until a few months after it concluded. Whether politicians served two years or four, the fundraising timeline would have been the same.

However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the 2010 Citizens’ United case has rendered unconstitutional campaign finance laws in cities and states across the nation. Houston is no exception: Our blackout period on fundraising was knocked down by a federal court at the beginning of the year.

Now City Hall faces the unexplored consequences of mixing full-time fundraising with extended terms, threatening to give incumbent politicos an unprecedented upper hand over challengers.

In this post-Citizens United legal landscape, how can voters maintain control over the democratic process?

For one, they can head to the voting booth.

Here is the entire take: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Fundraising-boost-6623416.php.

I think it will work out.

Craig Biggio won four Gold Gloves of course as a second baseman.

And this from the ‘Stros website:

Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel was just as happy for teammate Jose Altuve to take home his first Rawlings Gold Glove on Tuesday night as he was to learn he had won his second.

Keuchel, who’s already won the Players Choice Award as Outstanding Pitcher in the American League and is a finalist for the AL Cy Young Award, took home his second consecutive Gold Glove. Altuve, a former batting champion, added a Gold Glove to his resume by topping the field at second base.

“I’m extremely excited,” Keuchel said of Altuve. “I just texted him. He deserves everything he gets. He’s a tremendous worker. He’s one of those guys who’s had to work for everything, like myself, so I think we have a common bond there. We know the competitive end one another shares, and I can’t be more happy for that guy.”


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The Cruz Non-Factor

The AL Cy Young Award winner will be announced soon and Dallas Keuchel is a contender for sure. In 1979, our own Joe Niekro went 21-11 and came in second for the NL Cy Young Award. Who won the NL Cy Young that year.

Here is from today’s Trib:

Now the campaign of (State Rep. Sylvester) Turner, a longtime Democrat, is planning to draw attention to the (U.S. Sen. Ted) Cruz factor as it sharpens his differences with (Bill) King, a Republican-leaning businessman. Turner’s team got its start Sunday with a tweet linking Cruz to King, calling them both “too extreme for Houston.”


Commentary has spent a whole lot of time in a bunch of ‘hoods this season and Ted Cruz isn’t on the minds of voters when you are talking about this election. Folks want to know why their ‘hoods aren’t getting enough love from City Hall.

I am thinking that balance the budget, fix the streets, catch the crooks, and back to basics is pretty darn appealing. So I guess the other guys think they have to inject Cruz control.

Here is the entire Trib piece: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/11/09/houston-mayors-race-cruzs-support-draws-attention/.

So go on ahead and play this card.

In 1979, Bruce Sutter of the Cubbies won the NL Cy Young Award of course.

And this from the ‘Stros website:

The awards keep piling up for the Astros.

Three Astros took home Players Choice Awards on Monday night, with lefty Dallas Keuchel being voted by his peers as American League Outstanding Pitcher, shortstop Carlos Correa winning American League Outstanding Rookie and second baseman Jose Altuve taking the first Majestic Athletic Always Game Award.

The Players Choice Awards, which have been in existence since 1992, are voted on by all Major League players. The players annually honor the top player, rookie, pitcher and comeback player in each league and name a Player of the Year and Man of the Year regardless of league.

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The Leader Man

Commentary actually picks up The Leader (the neighborhood/community weekly newspaper) and runs through it to see if there is anything going on in the ‘hood that I need to know about. I have said it before, the fella that runs The Leader doesn’t like the Mayor. What did City Hall do to this fella?

Here is how he ends his take on last Tuesday’s election:

Why did voters do this, and why did they speak so forcefully to the outgoing mayor? For starters, the campaign against HERO worked – controversy sells. More importantly, in my opinion, people have tired of Parker and her brash manner of dictating to the city rather than working for the city.

No better example could be found than on Tuesday night, when Parker stood before a room and repeatedly referred to the opponents of HERO as “small” and “deliberate liars” and, my favorite, “a calculated campaign by… right-wing ideologues and the religionous (sic) right.”

I don’t know what Parker meant by “religionous” and I don’t know if I’m even spelling that correctly, but the outright “angrous” arrogance and political ineptitude of our current mayor was on full display Tuesday.

What Parker seems to forget is that, for almost two decades, she has worked as a servant for our city. She has made a great living in a great city that has, thrice, elected a gay mayor. Yet when her pet project failed, she stood for all the world to see and basically begged businesses and major sporting events to punish her city for not supporting an ordinance that could have easily passed.

“I fear this will have stained Houston’s reputation as a tolerant, welcoming, global city,” she said. “And I absolutely fear there will be a direct, economic backlash as a result of this ordinance going into defeat.”

Parker was elected three times to care for this city, and she has been given a pass by the major media in Houston for leading an administration that has left our infrastructure rotting and our finances in peril.

On Tuesday night, Parker’s feelings were so hurt that she cast our entire city in a negative light. She was the retiring CEO who tried to ruin her company on her last day. She was the pitiful example of why politicians are so scorned today – they care more about personal agendas than service to you and me. And instead of being gracious in defeat, her screams and vitriol toward our city – the largest city to ever elect an openly gay mayor – are reason enough to look forward to either a Turner or King Administration.

Here is the entire Leader take: http://theleadernews.com/opinion/election-analysis-easy-predictions-so-long-parker/.

I think it is a bit too harsh if you ask me. I think we all just need to cool it. Oh, well.

This Hall of Fame great is 84 today and is in the Hall wearing a San Luis lid. This Hall of Fame great is 80 today and is also in the Hall wearing a San Luis lid. Who am I talking about?

Commentary believes in transparency in campaign contributions and expenditures reporting. I want to know who is giving and how it is being spent.

There is a growing practice where campaigns and PACs write a big check to a consultant and the consultant does not report if some of the bucks are going to vendors.

I want to know who the vendors are – mail, signs, phones – you get the picture.

Some consultants who defend the practice say they are entitled to protect trade secrets. That is a bunch of BS.

The Texas Ethics Commission is looking into this and on HoustonChronicle.com there is a story and here is how it starts:

Wading into the hush-hush world of political operatives, Texas’ campaign finance regulator is considering how to get more details disclosed when a consultant spends a candidate’s money to shape state and local elections.

The Texas Ethics Commission has set its sights on large lump sum payments to consultants from campaigns and political action committees – six-figure totals, on occasion, that are disclosed on campaign finance reports only as “consulting” or “consulting fees.”

Those expenses can be payments for actual consulting services.

However, regulators say they believe campaigns and PACs are increasingly writing big checks to operatives for a wide range of activities to influence elections – hiring boots on the ground, purchasing mailing lists, production costs for ads – and the details are never reported. That allows a campaign or a PAC to essentially mask who and what it’s paying for by outsourcing expenditures through a consultant, they argue.

It’s proven to be a touchy subject for political operatives who consider their strategies, including pricing agreements and even the names of third-party vendors, akin to classified material.

In meetings over the summer, several commissioners appeared fired up, describing the lump sum payments with no details as defeating the requirements of state disclosure laws. The commission even came up with a catchy name for the practice: “campaign in a box.”

However, months after airing the issue in meetings, and taking public comment in a series of letters, the state regulator has yet figure out a path forward – and it’s not clear anything will result from the effort.

One reason: pushback from consultants has been strong. Consultants and PAC treasurers have written to the commission with a largely unison message: back off.

Here is the entire story: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Campaign-in-a-box-fires-up-commissioners-6618678.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Put me solidly on the side of transparency. There is nothing wrong knowing where every penny is spent.

Happy Birthday today to Hall of Fame greats Whitey Herzog (84) and Bob Gibson (80) of course.

The ‘Stros made an offer to #ColbyJack.

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To HERO or Not

The Big Puma is still in good standing with the ‘Stros despite his recent involvement with the anti-HERO campaign according to the Chron. Oh, well.

Commentary said yesterday that The Big Puma was a five time All Star as a ‘Stro. He also played with the Yankees, San Luis, and Rangers. Did he ever make it to the All Star game with any of the other three teams?

I kind of was thinking the next five weeks in the mayoral runoff would be about balancing the budget, fixing the streets, catching the crooks, getting back to basics, and pensions.

Maybe not. Check this from Chron.com:

After the failure of her nondiscrimination ordinance at the ballot box, Mayor Annise Parker said she may try to pass similar or related protections before leaving office at the end of the year.

Some of the 10 council members who voted with her in passing the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance in 2014, she said, have suggested bringing the protections in segments, such as banning discrimination in employment, then housing, then public accommodations. But Parker said she has no set plan and must speak with council members.

“I’m going to sit down with the council members and see how they want to proceed,” Parker said. “We will also, of course, evaluate what the national and international response from the business community is, because that certainly will make a difference.”

Parker said she had received calls from business interests given pause by the ordinance’s rejection but refused to elaborate.

“You may have noticed that I’m trying to clear as many things off my desk as possible. I don’t really want to leave a whole lot of contentious items for the next administration,” Parker said. “I’m going to try not to leave this one, as well. I think we have a responsibility to try to be thoughtful and figure out a way to bring those protections back.”


Councilman Dave Martin, who opposed the ordinance, said the strong opinions generated by the campaign make it illogical to reintroduce the law this year, particularly for the four incumbent council members facing runoffs.

“To talk about bringing it back this year doesn’t sit well with me because it’s almost like a slap in the face to the voters who overwhelmingly decided that HERO was not an ordinance they wanted to have within the city of Houston at this point in time,” Martin said. “I think you have to walk away from it a little while letting the emotions die down and then maybe look at this under a new administration.”

Cohen said the options of what precisely to bring back could, in theory, resemble closely the ordinance that was rejected, could mirror some other cities’ wording to exempt bathrooms, locker rooms and shower facilities from coverage under the “public accommodations” section of the ordinance, or could come piecemeal, as Parker discussed.

Parker stressed that any proposal she brings forward will include all 15 protected classes – including transgender residents – and said she is not interested in advancing a measure that exempts changing rooms or related areas.

University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray said it may be politically difficult for Parker to reintroduce the item, noting that the mayor pulled off an unfortunate and unusual “hat trick” by uniting three of Houston’s four voting blocks (blacks, Hispanics and conservative whites) against the proposition. The ballot measure gained only the support of liberal whites; of the city’s 11 council districts, only progressive, urban District C voted yes.

“This mayor has expended so much of her political capital on this and basically come up empty,” Murray said. “For her – having lost an election decisively – to try to bring it back, opponents would be suspicious and leery and saying, ‘The voters have spoken; you lost, move on.’ ”

If the Mayor moves forward on this, how does HERO impact the runoff? The Mayor is certainly not going to ask Bill King for his two cents. I wonder if she will ask Sylvester.

I am thinking that most city council members will want to take a pass on this for now. Stay tuned!

The Big Puma was an All Star in 2011 and wore the San Luis uniform of course.

The ‘Stros will start looking at free agents in the coming days and weeks.

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Ballot Winner

The Big Puma says he was persecuted for being anti-HERO. Aww!

What did he expect after weighing in?

How many times was The Big Puma an All Star as a ‘Stro?

Doug Miller was the winner of The Roundtable 2015 Ballot Election Pool followed closely by Miya Shay for the number two slot. Now I have to go ask them about local politics for the next year.

Here is a headline from the front section of today’s Chron City State section:

Well-known name, aggressive campaign helped Davila defeat HISD trustee

Davila’s win aided by anti-HERO turnout, smart campaign strategy

Here is the article behind the paywall: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Well-known-name-aggressive-campaign-helped-6611262.php.

One of our city’s smartest politicos told me yesterday that Diana was no pushover. I have to agree.

I am thinking that she knows what has been said and written about her lately. She will be OK. I will even say she is probably what is needed on the HISD Board these days. She’s smart.

Same goes for Jolanda.

All of us need to be paying attention to what is going on at HISD.

The lead story in the Chron today is on the HERO’s demise and the bathroom ad. Here is from one of the stories:

The pro-HERO campaign relied in part on outsiders to shape their message. They brought in national and state American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Campaign staffers to help spearhead the effort along with campaign manager Richard Carlbom, a strategist from Minnesota who led the state’s recent marriage equality campaign.

Their opponents, however, relied mostly on local activists, helped in part by the Houston Area Pastor Council, which urged local ministers to speak out against HERO from the pulpit. They also were the first to hit the airwaves in mid-August, and their ads aired on several historically black stations.

Of course, most of the local pro-HERO operatives were already committed to local races.

Here is the deal plain and simple. Don’t blame the thousands of Dems who voted against the HERO. H-Town City Hall should take the full blame for bungling this deal – period. That is all the analysis you need.

The Big Puma was a five time All Star as a ‘Stro of course.

Nothing to report from The Yard today.

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Wins and Not

How did the ‘Stros do against the World Serious Champs this past season?

Let me get out of the way a good shout out to my winning clients on the HCC Board – Trustees Adriana Tamez and Eva Loredo. Nice job!

Commentary made it a point not to talk much about the H-Town City Council District H race. This morning folks have to be impressed with Karla Cisneros. Just go look at the results. 35% of the vote.

Just about every organization endorsed her opponents. Karla got the nod from the Chron.

A lot of the elected and political types endorsed her opponents. Karla got the nod from HISD Trustee Anna Eastman, former H-Town Council Member Melissa Noreiga, former HISD Trustee Paula Arnold, and former HCDE Trustee Jim Henley.

Karla was also big time outspent. She was also way outraised in the contribution department by the second and third place finishers.

And, she was the last candidate to enter the race, kicking off her campaign the weekend after this past school year – May 31.

Was I surprised with the results? Nope! We knew what we were doing and we know what we have to do.

Way to go Karla!

All I am going to say is I never underestimate the Davilas. Last night she beat an incumbent by over 1300 votes. Diana Davila is returning to the HISD Board of Education.

Nice job Team King. Say what you want and analyze what you want but most of you didn’t give Bill King much of a shot when he first entered the race way back when. He too didn’t raise or spend the most and look where he is at this morning.

Way to go Bill!

I don’t know what to say about Prop 1 other than to look at what the Fort Bend County boxes said: For 1513 (31.55%), Against 3283 (68.45%).

We beat the Royals 4-2 in the regular season and lost to them 3-2 in the ALDS so make if 6-5 of course.

Chad Qualls won’t be coming back next season.

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Briefly, Vote!

I am going to keep it brief and skip the MLB question today because it has been a bit hectic this morning. At some African American and Latino boxes I visited this morning there was a lot of Anti Prop 1 signage – a lot.

This is the only prediction I saw:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 21m21 minutes ago Washington, DC
#houmayor eve predictions, because I don’t cover this daily and feel like it:
Turner 28
King 18
Garcia 16
Costello 16
Hall 11
Bell 9
Rest 2

I made my picks in The Roundtable Ballot. We will see as we end the first round this evening at 7 pm.

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Any Bets?

The Royals won it all and I will not be one of those that talks about the eighth inning of Game 4 of the ALDS over at The Yard on October 12. Name the player with the most base hits in the 2015 Serious?

The analysis is over. Any bets on the outcome? I guess if you filled out The Roundtable ballot you kind of predicted what is going to happen in the citywide races. Of course, The Roundtable ballots are not subject to an open records request. We will only know who the winner picked. Some news media outlets have quoted some folks on the mayoral and HERO contests, but that’s about it.

Some groups and individuals have put out their endorsements, recommendations, and slates, but those are not predictions.

Not a lot has been said about what might happen in the other races down the ballot.

For instance, it looks like the HISD Bond program has some budget issues. Does this impact the race between incumbent Juliet Stipeche and former Trustee Diana Davila? How about incumbent Manuel Rodriguez?

The Stipeche – Davila race is kind of interesting. You usually have a candidate who has lost a seat to come back and try to win their old seat. This isn’t the case.

Diana first won that seat in 2003 by beating 3 other opponents in an open district position taking close to 60% of the vote in the first round. She won reelection in 2007 and didn’t have an opponent. She resigned in the summer of 2010, so she has never lost out there. District VIII was changed some after 2011 redistricting but not significantly.

Juliet Stipeche ran to fill the vacancy in the 2010 general election. A runoff was held a few weeks later between Stipeche and Judith Cruz. It was the only race on the ballot and around 2000 plus showed up to vote and Stipeche won by 42 or so votes. Stipeche had an opponent in 2011 and won with 58% of the vote.

I said Friday that I am one of those that doesn’t underestimate the Davilas. They have their own way of conducting their campaigns and it has worked. This time they have put out some mail, they have yard signs in some yards, they have big signs, and I have seen evidence of them going door to door. So they are having a conversation with some voters.

They have been able to be successful without your help or mine. We will see.

Here is a part of yesterday’s Kuffer on turnout:

Along these same lines, the effect of higher than usual turnout on the other citywide races, for Controller and At Large Council seats, is very much an open question. What do voters do when they don’t know the candidates, as will often be the case in these races, since it costs a lot of money to really get your name out there? I suspect that more than the usual number will skip these races – undervotes in the 30% range or higher, perhaps – and some will pick a name that sounds familiar to them.

In 2009, here was the undervote in the open seats: District A – 18%, District G – 23%, At-Large 1 – 28%, and At-Large 4 – 28%.

Serious MVP Salvador Perez had a Serious leading eight base hits of course.

MLB baseball returns to The Yard in about five months.

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