Archive for December, 2015

That’s It, 2015!

No doubt, the nation’s top political story of 2015 is Donald Trump. No ifs, ands, or buts on this one.

Locally it has to be the mayoral race followed closely by the HERO.

On the local sports scene, it has to be the ‘Stros.

This past season, the ‘Stros had 230 dingers. When was the last time the team finished with under 100 dingers?

I am thinking a whole lot of H-Town will be watching #GoCoogs on ESPN from 11 am until around 2:30ish.

Council Member Ellen Cohen just got named Mayor Pro Tem. I wonder if any other CM is disappointed they did not get selected? Oh, well.

Remember this Rebecca Elliott article about the new term limits for H-Town City Council and how it might impact future elections. Here is her article again and I have a take afterwards. Here:

The already difficult task of ousting incumbent Houston officeholders likely has become even tougher.

City elected officials now have an extended runway to accumulate cash before returning to the campaign trail, thanks to a voter-approved extension of term limits and the elimination of Houston’s fundraising blackout during non-election seasons.

Experts agreed the changes could be a boon to incumbents, though were split over the magnitude of that boost.

“It’s huge, hugely significant,” Texas Southern University political scientist Jay Aiyer said. “We’re, basically, giving people an eight-year term.”

Local government finance lawyer Neil Thomas, however, characterized the shift as marginal.

“It certainly gives candidates and officeholders a longer period of time to raise funds, but incumbents always have an advantage,” Thomas said.

Both the January ruling undoing Houston’s 23-year-old fundraising moratorium and last month’s vote to switch to two four-year terms from three two-year terms were lost amid the chaos of an open-seat mayor’s race and the noisy campaign over Houston’s equal rights ordinance.

The effects were delayed in part because the federal opinion calling an end to Houston’s temporal fundraising ban came just weeks before candidates otherwise would have been able to begin soliciting cash.

Under the 1992 measure, which the city said reduced actual and perceived corruption, the fundraising clock for city races started the February before an election and ran until about four months after its conclusion.

The plaintiff, Brent Trebor Gordon, was planning to run for City Council and argued that the abridged window kept him from amassing enough money to effectively challenge an incumbent, violating his and his potential contributors’ First Amendment rights to freedom of speech.

In siding with Gordon, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake said the city failed to present evidence that the law was “necessary to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption.”

Even though Gordon argued that the now-defunct blackout period disproportionately benefited incumbents, attorneys and political scientists said its absence only puts officeholders further ahead.

“Incumbents always have an advantage, but this will enhance their advantage,” Austin campaign finance lawyer Buck Wood said, noting that donors generally are more willing to support officeholders because they hold decision-making power and are likely to be re-elected. “In some cases, it could be significant, because it may be that there’s some big issue pending before City Council with moneyed interests on both sides. So, it just gives you leverage to raise money.”

Limits still in place

Of 12 City Council candidates up for re-election in November, 11 retained their seats. District F Councilman Richard Nguyen, who ousted two-term Councilman Al Hoang two years ago, was himself unseated by physician Steve Le.

Under the new regulations, candidates will be allowed to solicit donations year-round, though the city’s $5,000 individual contribution limit and $10,000 cap for political action committees per election cycle remain. Thomas said that cap mitigates the impact of abolishing the blackout.

“I would think that any additional amounts that they might raise would really affect any advantage an incumbent might have only marginally, because the base limits still remain in effect,” Thomas said. “Yes, there may be some events that wouldn’t otherwise occur, but I don’t see any big change.”

Thomas and local fundraiser Pat Strong also noted that elected officials regularly draw down campaign funds for officeholder expenses, so not all of the money raised over four years necessarily will accumulate in the form of a campaign war chest.

“Now that they can raise money year-round, they can actually enhance their outreach by reaching into their campaign funds rather than relying on taxpayer funds to cover their officeholder expenses,” said Strong, who raised money for mayor-elect Sylvester Turner.

‘Pay-to-play’ perception

Challengers do not have those same financial obligations, Strong said.

Echoing the city’s legal argument, some voiced concern that abolishing the moratorium has opened the door for additional conflict of interest problems at City Hall, since those doing business with the city now will be able to contribute relatively close to council votes, regardless of the proximity of an election.

“At least a perception of pay-to-play can be developed,” Aiyer said. “It would be important for the mayor … to make sure council members aren’t unduly influenced.”

Others pointed to the fact that city contractors already are barred from contributing during contract award periods. The court also rejected the city’s anti-corruption argument.

Wayne Klotz, president of a local engineering firm and regular municipal donor, called for additional guidance from the city about the new contribution guidelines.

“Do I think there’s going to be changes? Yes. Do I know what they are? No,” Klotz said. “I’m going to be very cautious moving forward.”

They didn’t do away with the donor limits: $5,000 per individual, $10,000 per PAC – that you can donate per election. Under the now defunct system, an election was generally considered the time you could begin fundraising until the time you couldn’t. A runoff is considered a separate election.   When does the 2015 election cycle end and when does the 2019 cycle begin?

If you can only take the $5,000 and $10,000 every four years instead of every two years but you are going to be spending more dough out of you campaign fund on community politics and stuff, it does not seem like that big of an advantage. Oh, well.

In 2011, the ‘Stros had a total of 95 dingers of course.

Last night I went over to my niece’s for dinner and in the course of the evening I taught Dante and Lucas how to play dominoes.

I hope everyone is careful this evening because we certainly have a lot to look forward to next year.

I will be back Monday.

Happy New Year!

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Does It Matter?

Will folks change their shopping habits because of this from the Houston Press?  See this:

Grocery store chains H-E-B, Whole Foods and Safeway (which owns Randall’s) announced last week that they will not allow open carry inside their Texas locations. “As a retailer of alcohol, long guns and unlicensed guns are prohibited on our property under the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission rules,” H-E-B said in a statement, according to USA Today. “H-E-B maintains the same policy we have for years, only concealed licensed handguns are allowed on our property.” 

But gun owners can carry their handguns openly in Kroger grocery stores, Breitbart reported last week. “If the local gun laws are to allow open carry, we’ll certainly allow customers to do that based on what the local laws are,” Kroger CFO Michael Schlotman told CNBC in March, according to Breitbart. “We don’t believe it’s up to us to legislate what the local gun control laws should be. It’s up to the local legislators to decide to do that.”


It’s hard to tell if the businesses who have declined to clarify their open carry policies have done so out of ignorance of the new law or to preserve their public image, but it’s clear that many businesses won’t have gun policies in place by January 1, which doesn’t really do anyone — lawful gun-toting customers or citizens simply seeking gun-free zones — much good.   

I am a Kroger guy more out of convenience. I really prefer not to be around folks that are openly carrying. What is their point? Oh, what to do!

How many of the Top Ten MLB career dinger leaders ARE NOT in the Hall of Fame?

I don’t know about this from NFL.com:

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was openly disappointed with quarterback Brandon Weeden‘s 0-3 stretch in Dallas after Tony Romo went down, going as far as saying that Matt Cassel would have won those games against the then-undefeated Falcons, the Saints and the Patriots

Weeden, who is now 26 of 42 for 305 yards and three touchdowns in two appearances (one start) for the Texans, remembers this well. 

When asked on an Oklahoma radio station if guiding the Texans into the playoffs was “extra satisfying because of what Jerry said, to see the Cowboys completely just turn into a dumpster fire if you’re in the playoffs?” 

Weeden’s response on 107.7 FM: “I mean, yeah. Absolutely. We get to play extra football and he’ll be watching on his couch. That’s what it’s all about. We’re playing for something and this is a fun time of the year.”

You never see Commentary trash talk with Dallas on NFL stuff. They got rings and we don’t.

Six of the Top Ten MLB career dinger leaders ARE NOT in the Hall of Fame of course: Barry Bonds (762), A-Rod (687), Ken Griffey, Jr. (630), Jim Thome (612), Sammy Sosa (609), and Mark McGwire (583).

I don’t have anything from The Yard.

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Three Days Left

With three days left in the year, I am thinking we will be getting some announcements to digest over the New Year Weekend so stay tuned!

Chris Carter led the ‘Stros last season with 57 walks. When was the last time a ‘Stros hitter had 100 or more walks in a season?

We are going to be hearing about this for a while now – this tweet:

NYT Politics ‏@nytpolitics 12m12 minutes ago

Donald Trump tied with Pope Francis as the second most admired man in the world, a poll found. http://nyti.ms/1OV0Hkt

Trump has had a very good year. Ditto for Sen. Ted Cruz.

I know a little bit about The Beatles and I got a Beatles wall calendar for Christmas. The “Today” show crew told us about their fav Beatles tune. Here is this:

TODAY ‏@TODAYshow 34m34 minutes ago

Favorite Beatles songs:

Savannah- Something

Carson- Revolution

Al- Little Help From My Friends

Natalie- Hey Jude

Dylan- Lucy in the Sky…

I am not going to argue with any of the five. I will go with Natalie’s pick though.

Tags poses five questions for the 2016 ‘Stros:

Who will fill out the bottom of the rotation?

Will A.J. Reed make an impact in 2016?

How does Keuchel keep it going?

Can Correa contend for the MVP?

How good is the bullpen following the offseason acquisitions?

We will see.

In 2006, Morgan Ensberg led the ‘Stros with 101 walks of course.

The Team Store is closed this week.

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The Final Week

This is the last week of the year. Next week we will have a new mayor and some new city council members.

The final week usually produces the best and worst lists. Yesterday the Chron came out with H-Town’s 2015 Most Fascinating folks. Of the 44 Most Fascinating only two were Latino – Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. No se puede when it comes to most fascinating for nuestra gente I guess. We have to do better in 2016.

Evan Gattis led the team last season with 88 RBIs. When was the last time a ‘Stro had 100 or more RBIs in a season?

Talk about a bonehead move. I tried exchanging a gift at the Memorial City Mall Macy’s on the day after Christmas at around 2 pm. I could not find a parking place – period. Now that is what you call a wasted hour.

The Chron’s Ken Hoffman says not so to CBS billing upcoming Super Bowl 50 as “historic.” I agree. Super Bowls are not historic, memorable on occasion, but not historic. Here is from Hoffman;

Off the top of my head, I came up with five televised events that fit the bill for “historic” – I’m sure you have others.

  1. The 9/11 terrorist attack.
  2. The Kennedy-Nixon debates.
  3. The 1980 U.S. vs. Soviet Union in Olympics Hockey
  4. Election nights 2000 and 2008.
  5. The moon landing.

I might have to put up there the JFK assassination coverage. We were all glued to the TV for three and a half days.

Tags gives us the top 5 storylines of the past ‘Stros season:

  1. Astros advance to ALDS
  2. Keuchel wins team’s third Cy Young
  3. Correa wins Rookie of the Year
  4. Altuve keeps on truckin’
  5. Fiers throws a no-hitter

I can’t argue with that.

In 2009, Carlos Lee had 102 RBIs of course.

I got some good team gear for Christmas – cool!

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And on Christmas Eve Donald Trump still holds a double digit lead in the latest national poll. You have to wonder who will bow out first, Jeb! or Christie. I am not ready to start thinking who Ted Cruz will pick as a running mate. Having a Latino as the GOP nominee for president would certainly pressure Hillary into selecting a Latino VP – don’t you think?

The Houston Press has their favorite Texas political stories of the year. Here they are:

  1. Rick Perry wasn’t crazy enough on the presidential campaign trail
  2. Ted Cruz, a viable presidential candidate? 
  3. Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, the caricature of Texas politics
  4. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s lackluster year
  5. State Rep. Molly White becomes loudly anti-Muslim

I would have put Ted Cruz as the top story.

Here is the story: http://www.houstonpress.com/news/our-favorite-texas-political-stories-of-2015-8013481.

I wonder if they will put out an H-Town favorites or top political stories. Certainly the mayoral contest and the HERO would be up there. I am biased on this but I would put Karla’s win up there too.

That’s about all I have to say about politics until next Monday.

Next season will be our seventeenth at The Yard. How many winning seasons versus losing seasons have we had during The Yard era?

Commentary is a lousy wrapper of Christmas gifts.   It is like I wrap with ten thumbs. I use way too much wrapping paper and scotch tape. I can’t even make the gift in the decorative bag look good. I mean, how much skill does that take? I lack the touch. Oh, how I miss Bethany and Marisol during the Christmas season. Hey, it is the gift that counts – right?

Commentary let my family know that I am good with sweaters. I have plenty of nice, cool, and warm sweaters. ‘Stros gear is another matter. No lids though. I like mine size fitted.

At around 12:20 pm yesterday, Commentary lost email contact. Turns out an oversized train took out some utility poles and in the process took out the server feed – drats! I got it back last night around 11 pm.

It will be tamales front and center in Baytown tomorrow.

Since moving to The Yard in 2000, the ‘Stros have had eight winning seasons and eight losing seasons of course.

I forgot to mention that the ‘Stros will finally be back on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball on April 24 versus the Red Sox at The Yard!

If you are out tonight, be careful out there.

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

Merry Christmas!

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In Cruz Control

It still happens. I am talking about anytime Jose Cruz is introduced at The Yard, fans respond with “Cruuuuuuuuuuz!”

When the GOP convenes at their national convention in Cleveland next July, I am wondering if the delegates will be going all “Cruuuuuuuuuuz!”

You have to talk about what might happen. Sen. Ted Cruz could very well be the GOP nominee for president. If he wins Iowa, who is going to stop him. Wow!

I am trying to figure out what kind of impact it will have on the local elections. Will it mean a sweep for the GOP here in Harris County since a homie will be heading the ticket?   I really don’t think anyone knows at this point what a Cruz presidential nominee will mean in Harris County.

The ‘Stros are still looking for another starting pitcher.   Dallas Keuchel was our Opening Day starter last season. Who started the second game?

As expected, the local electeds came out in support of Cong. Gene Green yesterday.   So that is news I guess. Of course, I don’t think it is news.  It would be news if they were not supporting him- got it.

Yesterday at the H-Town City Council meeting a resident of Council District F spoke and complained about the new council member from F. She claims he didn’t fulfill the residency requirement to run. That is the first I have heard about this. How come she didn’t come speak to council right after he filed? Oh, well.

I guess we are not having a race for Dem Party Chair here in Harris County. That is probably a good thing.

Scott Feldman of course started the second game of the season against Cleveland back on April 8. The team doesn’t know if Feldman will be ready to pitch this season.

I picked up some cool stuff from the Team Store yesterday.


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Mostly CD 29

It is that time of year when I go looking for next year’s wall calendar for my office. Last year I got started late and the best I could do was a Disney “Frozen” calendar. Yesterday I saw a ‘Stros calendar that featured Chris Carter, Jed Lowrie, and Chad Qualls – nope. They also had a Beers of Texas calendar without a Saint Arnold mention – also nope.

This Hall of Fame great who was also born on Christmas Day holds the MLB record for career runs scored – name him? Hint: He still is with us.

Remember when “Hail Mary” was invoked last week in the CD 29 race? Well this doesn’t look like a prevent defense. Check Teddy’s tweet:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 2h2 hours ago Washington, DC

Most of Houston’s Latino powerplayers appear to be organizing AGAINST @AdrianGarciaHTX‘s run vs. @RepGeneGreen: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/12/21/houston-leaders-back-gene-green/ …

And here is from Kuffer today:

Not a big surprise

U.S. Rep. Gene Green, a Houston Democrat, will pick up support from several Houston political players Tuesday.

The 12-term congressman faces what could be a formidable primary challenge in the form of former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. According to a Green campaign press release, seven Houston Democrats are ready to back his re-election: state Sens. Sylvia R. Garcia and John Whitmire, state Reps. Ana Hernandez, Garnet F. Coleman, Armando Walle and Carol Alvarado, and Harris County Constable Chris Diaz.

The endorsements’ apparent aim is to give Green cover against Garcia’s argument that the mostly-Hispanic district would be better served with Hispanic congressional representation. With residual name identification from his unsuccessful run for Houston mayor, Garcia could pose a viable threat to Green’s re-election.

I received a copy of the press release as well as the pre-release on Friday that didn’t contain the officials’ names. The event will take place at 11 AM at the Vecino Health Center (Denver Harbor Family Clinic), 424 Hahlo St., in case anyone wants to attend. As I said before, I was looking to see who might be endorsing whom in this race. Whatever the effect is on the final result, this does affect the narrative of the race. Reps. Walle, Hernandez, and Alvarado all once worked for Green, so their solidarity with their former boss is to be expected, but Sylvia Garcia was one of the candidates for the seat back in 1992; she finished third, behind Green and Ben Reyes, whom Green then defeated in the runoff and again in the 1994 primary. She had previously been talked about as a potential opponent for Green in more recent years, before her election to the State Senate. Make of that what you will.

Going back through my archives, I came across this post from 2014 about Green representing a Latino district and when that might change. Here’s what Campos, who is now working on the Garcia campaign, said at the time:

Having a Dem Latino or Latina in Congress from the H-Town area would be empowering to the community. What is missing is an articulate voice for us in Congress like on a day when the immigration issue is front and center. Who is going to argue with that?

I don’t buy into the notion that just because the local Latino leaders aren’t for something, it won’t happen. I can still recall the spontaneous immigration marches a few years ago that local Latino leaders were scrambling to lead.

I can picture a scenario where an articulate bilingual Latino or Latina leader steps up, grabs an issue and captures the attention of the community. That is certainly not racist, that’s politics. This discussion isn’t going away.

And my comment on that:

Sure, that could happen, and I agree that if it were to happen it would likely be a talented newcomer who can inspire people to pose a serious threat to Rep. Green. The problem is that that’s not sufficient. Look at the recent history of Democratic primary challenges in Texas legislative races, and you’ll see that there are generally two paths to knocking off an incumbent that don’t rely on them getting hosed in redistricting. One is via the self-inflicted wounds of an incumbent with some kind of ethics problems – think Gabi Canales or Naomi Gonzales, for example – or an incumbent that has genuinely lost touch with the base. In the past decade in Texas that has mostly meant Craddick Democrats, though one could argue that Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s win over Silvestre Reyes had elements of that.

What I’m saying is simply that there has to be a reason to dump the current officeholder. Look no further than the other Anglo Texas Democrat in Congress for that. The GOP has marked Rep. Lloyd Doggett for extinction twice, each time drawing him into a heavily Latino district in the hope of seeing him get knocked off in a primary. He survived the DeLay re-redistricting of 2003, then he faced the same kind of challenge again in 2012. His opponent, Sylvia Romo, was an experienced officeholder running in a district that was drawn to elect a Hispanic candidate from Bexar County. Having interviewed her, I can attest that she’d have made a perfectly fine member of Congress. But she never identified a policy item on which she disagreed with Doggett, and she never could give an answer to the question why the voters should replace their existing perfectly good member of Congress and his boatload of seniority with a rookie, however promising.

That’s the question any theoretical opponent to Gene Green will have to answer as well.

I think both my statement and Marc’s would stand up today. I’d say we’re likely to hear some form of these arguments over the next two months. In the meantime, I wonder if Garcia will roll out his own list of supporters soon. Better still if that list is accompanied by reasons why Garcia is the superior choice, and where he differs in matters of policy. I know that’s what I’d want to hear about if I lived in that district.

Here is the rest of the Trib piece that Kuffer put out:

But beyond these nods, Green also garnered implicit support from at least one delegation member, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela. The Brownsville Democrat recently gave his blessing to a staffer to join the Green campaign.

Green is raring for this fight, which will come to a head on the March 1 primary. In the immediate aftermath of learning Garcia — an old friend — would run against him, Green declared the challenge a “Hail Mary.” 

It looks like the race is getting interest from national political players of the Latino persuasion. Check out this National Journal piece today by Kimberly Railey @KimberlyRailey .

Lati­nos’ fight for great­er rep­res­ent­a­tion in Con­gress is com­ing to Hou­s­ton in a race pit­ting two close friends against each oth­er. 

Rep. Gene Green faces a Demo­crat­ic primary chal­lenge from former Har­ris County Sher­iff Ad­ri­an Gar­cia, a long­time ally who is test­ing wheth­er voters in the ma­jor­ity-His­pan­ic dis­trict will trade in a pop­u­lar in­cum­bent for one of their own.

Hou­s­ton re­mains the most His­pan­ic ma­jor city without a Latino rep­res­ent­at­ive in Con­gress, and this race will de­cide wheth­er that will change.

“If you are look­ing at con­gres­sion­al seats in terms of where His­pan­ics can be elec­ted to Con­gress, this is as good a seat as any,” said Oscar Ramirez, one of the Demo­crat­ic Party’s top Latino donors. “From that per­spect­ive, it is a missed op­por­tun­ity if Ad­ri­an doesn’t win.” 

A po­ten­tial chal­lenge from a His­pan­ic can­did­ate has long lingered for Green, a 12-term, white Demo­crat whose dis­trict is three-quar­ters His­pan­ic. The dis­trict was drawn in 1991 to elect a Latino, but Green has faced little sig­ni­fic­ant primary op­pos­i­tion since win­ning a hard-fought primary against a His­pan­ic can­did­ate in 1992.

Gar­cia’s bid, which comes on the heels of his third-place fin­ish in the Hou­s­ton may­or­al race, sig­nals a re­cog­ni­tion of the grow­ing elect­or­al power of the Latino vote. But it also high­lights the dif­fi­culty His­pan­ics have had con­vert­ing pop­u­la­tion gains in­to polit­ic­al power: Lati­nos ac­count for about 17 per­cent of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion but hold just 7 per­cent of the seats in Con­gress. 

“It was de­signed to be a His­pan­ic-op­por­tun­ity dis­trict,” Gar­cia said in an in­ter­view. “And I am simply ex­er­cising my right to that op­por­tun­ity.”

For Gar­cia, se­cur­ing re­sources is crit­ic­al to coun­ter­ing Green, who already has nearly $1.2 mil­lion in the bank. But an­oth­er bar­ri­er is over­com­ing an op­pon­ent with a pos­it­ive re­cord on Latino is­sues. 

That has kept po­ten­tial op­pon­ents on the side­line for two dec­ades—un­til Gar­cia’s chal­lenge. 

“It’s a con­cern­ing obstacle,” Green said in an in­ter­view. “But if most people thought I could be beat, they prob­ably would have tried by now.”

Over the years, Green has shrewdly forged ties with the His­pan­ic com­munity, hir­ing many well-known Lati­nos and build­ing per­son­al re­la­tion­ships with them. On Tues­day, sev­en His­pan­ic elec­ted of­fi­cials in Hou­s­ton will pub­licly en­dorse Green, in­clud­ing two state sen­at­ors and four state House mem­bers. 

“Gene has been ex­tremely loy­al to the Latino com­munity,” said one of those en­dors­ers, state Rep. Car­ol Al­varado, who is a former staffer in Green’s Cap­it­ol Hill of­fice. “He spends prob­ably every mo­ment when he’s in Hou­s­ton in the dis­trict with his con­stitu­ents.” 

Green’s last close primary came after his first term, when he de­feated Ben Reyes in a re­match of the 1992 open-seat primary. Last week, The Texas Tribune re­por­ted that José Bor­jon, a top ad­viser to Demo­crat­ic Rep. Filem­on Vela, is work­ing for Green, a sign that Green’s camp views the Gar­cia bid ser­i­ously. 

Green is also close to many mem­bers of the Con­gres­sion­al His­pan­ic Caucus and reg­u­larly at­tends the group’s events. The CHC’s fun­drais­ing arm, BOLD PAC, could play in the race. Spokes­man Paul Kin­caid said the group looks at all dis­tricts with large His­pan­ic pop­u­la­tions or where a mem­ber has ad­voc­ated for Latino is­sues—a po­s­i­tion that leaves the door open to a Green en­dorse­ment.

Some Demo­crats say a pres­id­en­tial-elec­tion year with high­er turnout could hold more prom­ise for a His­pan­ic can­did­ate. And some Latino groups are already talk­ing up Gar­cia’s bid, eager to elect a rep­res­ent­at­ive who matches the dis­trict demo­graph­ics. In the may­or­al race, Gar­cia proved his fun­drais­ing mettle, rais­ing more than $2.5 mil­lion in six months. 

“We have a lead­er in Ad­ri­an, with a proven track re­cord, who is ad­mired in the com­munity and re­flects the com­munity’s val­ues,” said Cristóbal Alex, pres­id­ent of the Latino Vic­tory Pro­ject, whose en­dorse­ment could lead to ground sup­port for Gar­cia. “We are ex­tremely ex­cited about that race.” 

Green sup­por­ted Gar­cia when he ran for city coun­cil, sher­iff, and then for may­or—a race in which Gar­cia earned 17 per­cent of the Novem­ber vote in a 13-can­did­ate field, miss­ing the run­off. Gar­cia, a one-time pre­sumptive front-run­ner in that race, came un­der at­tacks for his al­leged mis­hand­ling of cases of in­mate ab­use at the Har­ris County Jail, which he led as sher­iff.

“The dis­trict still has chal­lenges with in­di­vidu­als who have a lack of ac­cess to men­tal-health care,” Gar­cia said, em­phas­iz­ing that crim­in­al-justice is­sues are part of his bid. Gar­cia also said real es­tate mogul Don­ald Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial com­ments on His­pan­ics are a chief reas­on for his cam­paign. 

In San Ant­o­nio, an­oth­er His­pan­ic-heavy city in Texas, His­pan­ic can­did­ates haven’t fared well re­cently. In the San Ant­o­nio may­or’s race this year, for ex­ample, voters elec­ted their first black may­or, Ivy Taylor, over Leti­cia Van de Putte. Last year, Rep. Will Hurd, a black Re­pub­lic­an, de­feated former Rep. Pete Gal­lego, a His­pan­ic Demo­crat, in a dis­trict that stretches from San Ant­o­nio to El Paso. 

In Green’s 29th Dis­trict, where the in­cum­bent’s name re­cog­ni­tion and Gar­cia’s Latino back­ground will be as­sets, ob­serv­ers said neither should bank on those ad­vant­ages.

“I wouldn’t want Gene Green to take his reelec­tion for gran­ted be­cause he’s an in­cum­bent,” said Ar­turo Var­gas, the ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or of the Na­tion­al As­so­ci­ation of Latino Elec­ted and Ap­poin­ted Of­fi­cials, which is stay­ing neut­ral in the race. “And I wouldn’t want Ad­ri­an Gar­cia think­ing Lati­nos are auto­mat­ic­ally go­ing to vote for him be­cause he’s Latino.”

Hall of Fame great Rickey Henderson who was born on Christmas Day, 1958 holds the MLB record with 2,295 career runs scored of course.

I’ll try to do some Christmas shopping at The Yard today.


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The Christmas Week

Baby it’s warm outside. Winter begins today. I guess I am Okay with it being a warm Christmas week – not really

Name the Hall of Fame great who was born on Christmas Day who also wore a ‘Stros uniform? He is no longer with us and he wore the numero 2 as a ‘Stro.

It was brought to my attention that the GOP is showing some serious love for a couple of Latino candidates for Prez – Sens. Cruz and Rubio – and at the same time Latino Dems are outraged at Trumpisms.  I have to think about that one.

Speaking of, this is from this past Saturday’s Chron E-Board Thumbs Ups and Downs:

[Twiddled] It’s tempting, but we won’t chime in about former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s decision to challenge Houston Congressman Gene Green. Voters and Democratic Party politics will figure that one out. But the unexpected race does spotlight political parties’ practice of self-protectionism: They draw “safe seats” that allow office holders to largely go unchallenged. No one should be a congressman for life.

Full Disclosure: Commentary is working for the Adrian Garcia Campaign.

From the Don’t Tell That to the Kris Banks Twitter Department, here is from this past Friday tweet:

Bill Kelly ‏@billkellytexas 2h2 hours ago Houston, TX

“We are not Democrats, we are not Republicans, we are Houstonians. My challenge to you is to make tomorrow better than today.” – @s_costello

This past Saturday afternoon, Commentary, Dante, and my niece Cristina went to look for a Christmas tree for my parents. First stop was a Garden Center on I-10 – slim pickings. Next stop was a Home Depot on I-10 – only a handful of trees to check out. Third stop was a Loew’s on the Beltway and Wallisville. The remaining scraggly trees were already in the dumpster. After a few frantic phone calls we headed to a Home Depot in Baytown and found the perfect tree. My Mom was very, very happy. In Baytown, we were joined by my nephew Dave and his son Jackson and my sister Sylvia. We went to work and put up the tree and strung up the outdoor lights.   Ready for Christmas!

Nellie Fox of course was born on Christmas Day of 1927.

I guess I’ll try to swing by The Yard this week to check out potential gifts from the Team Store. I am thinking ‘Stros gear might be popular this Christmas.

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Marisol’s Heartfelt Message

Rebecca has this right. Check out this piece on what is happening here:

Rebecca Elliott ‏@rfelliott 52s53 seconds ago

The new attack on Hispanic voting rights — a must-read by @jimrutenberg on redrawing Pasadena City Council districts http://nyti.ms/1m9KEbn 

I am skipping today’s MLB question and ‘Stros take.

Some of us received the following from Marisol Valero last night. It needs no explanation. Here:

Dear friends, I’m sharing something very personal and close to my heart and hope you will take a minute (or seven) to read what I wrote. I had to share my story, not only as part of my grieving process, but also to raise awareness of some of the struggles immigrant families face (specially as we enter the 2016 elections). Feel free to share it if you’d like. – Marisol

I grew up, for the most part, in the United States. My parents went back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico a few times while I was young. Although I don’t remember much from before I was four, I do have some memories of my life with my grandparents when I was five years old. I remember holding my grandmother’s hand on our way to pick up sweet bread at the break of dawn: I remember her cooking on her man-made wood-fired stove; I remember my grandfather getting on his bicycle and heading off to tend to his crops. These are some of the memories that I hold dear to my heart. It was bliss, sort of. Both of my parents were off working far, far away: my father in the U.S. and my mother teaching in a small village too far to travel back and forth from each day. So my brother and I were left with our maternal grandparents to look after us. This was 25 years ago, and since then, my mom migrated with my brother and me to the U.S. to be with my father in search of the American dream.

I buried my grandfather (mom’s dad), Francisco Torres Cortez, on November 11, 2015. I booked my flight to Mexico as soon as I found out. There was no time to cry, only to act. As I prepared my suitcase, I saw my mother with a very resolved look on her face. She was sad, sure, but mainly she was angry. Through that anger had come a decision that would shake me to the core … she had decided to move back to Mexico. A couple of hours before my flight left, she told me that when I came back, she wanted me to help her plan her and my father’s move back to their country.

My grandfather was buried on a beautiful Wednesday morning. The sun rose to a clear sky and my brother and I woke up to the sound of pots being washed outside, to the matriarchs of my extended family cooking in large pots on the patio, and to the patriarchs gathering outside the gates of my grandparents’ home with shovels and a couple of bottles of tequila.

By midday all of the food had been cooked, and my brother came back with a story. He had left with all the men early in the morning to go to the cemetery to take part in digging the hole where my grandfather would be buried. In Mexico, it’s a tradition, at least in the small town where we are from, to gather the deceased’s closest friends and family to partake in digging the grave.

He explained that he did some digging, but there were so many men that loved my grandfather helping to dig that he mostly stood around and listened to stories, about my grandfather, about the townspeople, about who was buried in that cemetery, and about many other things. He also told me that our grandfather would be buried on top of his mother, Gudelia; his father, Antonio; and his son, Diego. Part of the work the men had done in digging the grave had been to break apart the concrete slab that was on top of the grave of my great-grandparents and uncle who had been buried on top of each other (not all at the same time, of course).

As the time came closer to head to church, I kept thinking of my mother. While I was sad that my grandfather had passed away, I was devastated that my mom couldn’t come to bury her father. I also kept looking at my grandmother. She hadn’t shed a tear; instead, she kept praying and didn’t leave my grandfather’s casket, which had been placed by the funeral home right next to the dining/living area of her home. It’s customary to keep your loved one in your home (after embalmment, of course) until they are buried. I knew this coming to Mexico and it didn’t scare me; to the contrary, it brought me peace knowing he was in our home, safe, and with the people he loved and who loved him.

The final church bell rang at 4 p.m. My grandfather’s coffin was carried by friends and family from our home to the church. While all of this was happening and I saw it for the first time, I knew I wanted to always remember it and I wanted to share it with my mom. I took out my iPhone, and without caring about what anyone said or thought, I started taking pictures of everything I thought was important for her to see.

When my grandfather arrived at the entrance of the church, I was given one of four candles to carry in with the casket. We carried him into church and I carried the second candle to the left of my grandfather. The priest gave a beautiful sermon and then we began our procession on foot toward the cemetery. The funeral home had provided a hearse but the men decided to carry my grandfather through the town and to the cemetery.

Prayers led the way. Still carrying one of the candles, I took care that it never went out throughout the procession. When we arrived at the cemetery, my grandfather’s body was lowered down into the grave, and we were given the opportunity to bless his casket. We each took turns, grabbing a flower, submerging it in holy water, and sprinkling it on the casket as we made the sign of the cross. When it was my turn, I did the same and told my abuelito that my mom, Teo (as he lovingly called her), said goodbye, too.

Immigration reform has not come in the last two (almost three) decades. My parents arrived in the United States in the late 80’s and have worked hard all of their life, leaving friends, brothers and sisters, and their parents behind in search of a better future for their children. I’d always known that my parents’ sacrifice had been great, but it wasn’t until this tragic event that I completely understood and felt this sacrifice so deeply. While there have been various modifications to immigration policy that enabled family reunification, none have applied to my parents. Then, the horrific events of 9/11 sealed the unfortunate fate for most undocumented people in the United States. Immigration laws became harsher and immigrants have been blamed for many things in the years after.

A small victory won in 2012 by us, the Dreamers, allowed certain undocumented youth the opportunity to work legally in the U.S. without fear of deportation. Unfortunately, these administrative policies didn’t shield our parents, whom some, including myself, would call, the “original dreamers”. Thus, my parents have remained in the country as undocumented immigrants until today. The passing of my paternal grandmother two years ago was also very difficult, and at the time I was undocumented, too and, like my dad, I was unable to attend the funeral. I didn’t have an opportunity to say goodbye for myself or on behalf of my dad.

I became a Lawful Permanent Resident in February 2014 (through a VAWA petition) and spent two weeks, during the Christmas and New Year holidays, reconnecting with my grandparents that same year. I had purchased my plane ticket to see them again one week before my maternal grandfather’s passing from a heart attack. It was a painful surprise to all of us.

November 2016 is when my parents are set to leave. Once they cross the U.S.-Mexico border (or any border), they will trigger a ten-year bar, which will prevent them from re-entering the U.S. for ten years. This is because they had previously entered the U.S. unlawfully and stayed. I have been dealing with this angst since the passing of my grandfather, but all I can do now is provide support. It is my time to look over them as they have looked over me for so many years. They, on their own, put me through college, and taught me to fight for what I believe is right, and showed me how to work hard for my dreams to become reality.

My mom will see her mother, care for her, and be there when she needs her. I will be there for mine, but will fight my hardest to bring them back. Going to law school could be the start of this uphill battle but not my only strategy.

I am proud that you have been a part of my life Marisol. I am with you all the way.

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Get used to it. These are the times we live in. I wonder how many parents will keep their kids home today. Check this tweet from last night:

Lisa Falkenberg ‏@ChronFalkenberg 11h11 hours ago

Lisa Falkenberg Retweeted Ericka Mellon

Semi-serious question. When was the last time someone actually planning a mass murder provided advanced warning? https://twitter.com/e_mellon/status/677337296551747589 …

Lisa Falkenberg added,

Ericka Mellon @e_mellon

Corrected date: #HISD schools remain open Thurs. following email threatening violence, similar to those sent to NY and LA. Police alerted.

I guess for folks that don’t have access to today’s Chron because you don’t subscribe, you probably don’t want to read the story about holding up the City of H-Town contracts to expand IAH. It is kind of sad.

Our new closer Ken Giles had 15 saves last season with the Phillies. How many games did the Phillies win last season?

Here is from MLB.Com:

By now, you’ve heard the names. Luis Valbuena will start at first base or third base, general manager Jeff Luhnow said, and Minor Leaguers A.J. Reed (No. 4 on Astros’ Top 30 prospects list, per MLBPipeline.com), Tyler White (No. 28) and Matt Duffy (No. 30) will be in the mix at both positions, along with Jon Singleton. Luhnow said at the Winter Meetings that the first-base job was Singleton’s to lose, though manager A.J. Hinch said he sees it as an open competition.

“Jon Singleton has answered a lot of questions in the Minor Leagues, and he hasn’t been given an opportunity, certainly on my watch, to play significant days in the big leagues,” Hinch said. “We didn’t give him enough at-bats last year due to a lot of reasons, and we weren’t afforded, sort of, the opening.”

Singleton, 24, remains the wild card at the corners. He’s crushed Minor League pitching the last couple of years, but hasn’t been able to swing the bat consistently well enough in the big leagues to stick on the roster. Last season, he hit .191 with one homer and six RBIS in 58 plate appearances, drawing 10 walks against 17 strikeouts. At Triple-A Fresno, he hit .254 with 25 doubles, 22 homers and 83 RBIs in 448 plate appearances, drawing 64 walks against 99 strikeouts.

Signed to a five-year, $10 million contract the same year he was first called up to the big leagues (2014), Singleton’s left-handed power is enticing, but now is the time to prove his worth considering the options the Astros have, including slugger Reed knocking on the door this spring.

“Where our club is today, [Singleton] needs to perform to stay on the team, and he knows that,” Luhnow said. “He knows coming into Spring Training, it’s his job to lose, but he’s gotta keep it. He’s gotta perform to help the club win games, and he’s capable of doing that. I have confidence that he’ll step up to the occasion.”

I finally got around to Colvitaire last night for my annual Christmas season dinner with Marisol and her coworker Jill. Colvitaire is a very nice place to grub out.

The Phillies were 63-99 last season of course.

At this point I have no idea who will be our starting first baseman on Opening Day.


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