Archive for December, 2015

Storybook Love

As we head toward the end of the year, Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts/The Man In Black, Buttercup, Prince Humperdinck, Inigo Montoya/a Spaniard, Fezzik, Vizzini, Miracle Max, The Impressive Clergyman, The Albino, and Yellin have made it into the presidential debate. I am talking about the folks from Rob Reiner’s “The Princess Bride”, one of Commentary’s favorite flicks. Prepare to die!

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Lisa Falkenberg has a “The Princess Bride” take today so check it out.

BTW: “Storybook Love” is the Oscar nominated tune that is sung at the end of the classic – also a favorite of Commentary’s. As you wish!

Speaking of, who directed the flick “61”, the movie about Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in 1961 chasing Babe Ruth’s 60 dingers in a season record?

Kuffer has a good take on who is running in the primaries. Check it out here: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=71474.

Interesting. Can Ed Gonzalez win the five person sheriff’s race without a runoff?

Who is Priscilla Vasquez, the candidate running against Justice of the Peace Richard Vara, who has held that position since 1975 – I think?

I am guessing the sharks smell blood in JP Precinct 7.

Former H-Town City Council member Jarvis Johnson is running for Sylvester’s seat. I wonder how he will do? I guess they will also call a special election sometime next year to fill the vacancy.

So far JP Precinct 1 candidate Harold Landreneau is the only candidate with signs in my ‘hood.

Finally, expect some shenanigans from the challenger in the HD 148 race. This will not surprise me. I live in 148 so I will get to see the crud.

FYI: The City of H-Town Inauguration Day is Monday, January 4, 2016.

Miracle Max, err Billy Crystal of course directed “61.”

Nothing to report from The Yard this morning.

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CD 29

As expected, Adrian Garcia is running in the 29th Congressional District Dem Primary.

The 29th was created in 1991 after a lengthy and heated redistricting battle that Commentary help lead.

I have said this before – from a Teddy tweet yesterday:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 14h14 hours ago

Context for @AdrianGarciaHTX bid in TX: Houston is the most Hispanic part of country without Hispanic in Congress. | http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Houston-most-Hispanic-part-of-country-without-5738987.php …

I don’t follow that many people but after Adrian filed yesterday, the positive response was from Latinos, the negative response was from Anglos, and I didn’t see anything about Gene.

The betting is that most Latino elected officials will stick with Gene but Latino voters won’t. That will cause some squirming for sure.

Adrian just spent the last two weeks campaigning for Sylvester. I didn’t see much of Gene, so I wonder how that plays in Adrian’s favor.

And from the snarky department or was that really necessary department:

Annise Parker ‏@AnniseParker 14h14 hours ago

Funny, I thought he wanted to be Mayor of Houston.-A

Why even comment?

Here is the most interesting part of the Rebecca Elliott piece on Adrian running:

“What I am doing is with all the intention to strengthen the party and help cultivate a Hispanic electorate that can help move the country forward,” Garcia told the Chronicle as he filed his paperwork, less than an hour before Monday’s 6 p.m. deadline. “I’m not challenging Gene Green. I’m challenging Donald Trump with all of his vitriol, rhetoric, dividing the community and insulting hardworking men and women.”

Stay tuned!

It looks like Ken Giles will be wearing the numero 53 for the ‘Stros. There is only one numero 53 retired jersey in MLB. Name the Hall of Fame great who wore it. Hint: He is no longer with us.

The Chron E-Board gave the next H-Town City Council some run today. Here it is:

Sylvester Turner may have won the runoff race for mayor, but he came in second on Saturday in the contest for top vote-getter. That award went to Amanda Edwards, the new council member in the At-Large 4 seat. While two established figures went head-to-head at the top of the ballot, the 33-year-old attorney was able to cut through the partisan rhetoric and garner more support than anyone else with her positive, forward-looking vision for Houston. After such a divisive election, perhaps it is a sign that Houstonians are ready to once again unite and work to make our city even better.

But City Hall won’t have the luxury of focusing on new and interesting ideas unless our elected officials tackle Houston’s core problems: infrastructure, the budget and, above all, pensions.

The new city controller, Chris Brown, has his work cut out for him. After six years of a quiet chief financial officer, we’re ready for a bold voice to take up the fiscal bullhorn.

Change also came to District F, which elected its third council member in as many election cycles. The diverse west Houston district, which covers much of the city’s Asian community, replaced first-term Councilman Richard Nguyen with Steve Le. This switch comes only two years after Nguyen replaced Al Hoang.

It will be sad to see that political neophyte leave City Hall so soon, but Nguyen made his mark with a heartfelt speech in support of the Houston equal rights ordinance during that rancorous debate.

Other newcomers include Mike Knox in At-Large 1 and Karla Cisneros in District H, an L-shaped district that covers Near Northside and Woodland Heights, and the townhouse rows of the East End.

Knox, a former police officer, proved himself particularly knowledgeable on the campaign trail and should have no trouble coming up to speed on the issues at City Hall.

Cisneros, who served on the HISD board of education from 2000 to 2006, ran an impressive door-to-door campaign. We look forward to hearing more of her ideas on addressing the opportunity gap between Houston’s wealthy and poor neighborhoods.

Two City Council workhorses were able to keep their seats against challengers, with David Robinson in At-Large 2 and Jack Christie in At-Large 5. Both are smart, soft-spoken men who contribute to the daily duties of City Hall. Councilman Mike Laster also kept his seat in District F for a third and final term. All of their experience will be needed as Houston confronts the challenges ahead.

I had never heard of this Nassif fella before he ran for H-Town City Council and now he wants to be our Harris County Dem Party Chair – seriously? What is up with that?

The great Don Drysdale of course wore the Dodger blue numero 53.

Our next closer was introduced yesterday at The Yard but the club refused to say he was our closer out of respect to last season’s closer – oh, brother! Let’s just play ball!

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Congrats to Mayor-Elect Sylvester Turner and his team.

Unofficially it was 108,389 to 104,307. They said it would be close and it sure was.

Team Turner did a 4,082 vote job better than us of getting their side out. I know Grant Martin, Sue Davis, and David Mincberg – they are all folks I highly respect. They did their job.

Sylvester is a good guy. I have known him since 1987, right before his first legislative race. I wish him nothing but the best. He is going to have a tough job.

Bill King is a good guy. I have known him since 1994.

He was an asterisk when this thing got started. In fact, when the Chron wrote an article of potential candidates in August of 2014 – Bill was not mentioned.

Bill stuck to his message and drove a large part of the mayoral campaign debate.

Here is from the Chron E-Board today:

The former Kemah mayor and Chronicle columnist also set the tone of the campaign conversation with his emphasis on city basics and his warnings about the city’s unsustainable pension obligations.

We just came up short in vote department.

We had a great diverse team led by my longtime friend Robert Jara. I enjoyed working with my old friend Sue Walden and her son Danny. It was also pleasure working with GOP consultants Jessica Colon, Sarah Tropoli, Jim McGrath, and Chris Begala – these folks are pros.

Basya Benshushan. Kelly Randall, Julia McGowen, Chris Watson, Robin Glover, Phil Kuneta, and Nick Reed all did a heck of a job.

Our Finance Chair James Calaway and Campaign Treasurer and my dear friend Paula Arnold were outstanding.

I am going to leave the analysis to others. I will say that my precinct – Reagan High – went 481 for Bill and 514 for Sylvester. The Hipstrict, City Council District C, went for Bill. So I guess that makes Bill the Hipstricter. I wonder what Council Member Ellen Cohen thinks of that?

I don’t have a problem with pundits and observers saying Sylvester ran a great or good or better campaign, after all, they got scoreboard. But they can’t say we ran a bad or lousy campaign. Not if you look at where we came from and where we ended up.

Here is from today’s E-Board:

In what turned out to be the closest mayoral race in modern times, businessman Bill King came within a few thousand votes of an upset by relying on what one analyst called “a skillful and almost flawless” campaign, …

On a final note, once the final boxes were in and we didn’t make it, Bill immediately placed a call to Sylvester to concede and congratulate him because that is what you have to do.   That is part of the business.

It was close.

Who was the first overall pick of the 2013 MLB Draft?

What about Karla Cisneros! (My client and very good friend.)

I personally saw her grow into a great candidate. She worked very, very hard and stayed focused.

She went door-to-door-to-door-to-door-to-door.

When we started the race back on May 31, we knew we had to be strategic and smart. In Round 1, we knew it was going to be tough to get any of the interest group endorsements but we still filled out the countless questionnaires, went to screenings, and attended the endorsement meetings, and got shut out.

We looked at the map and did the math. We embarked on a strategy of her personally walking and going door-to-door in precincts where she could be most effective. She did that all summer and right up through the day before early voting began in October.

We made a point of not tweeting when and where we were walking. There were no tweets of Karla engaging voters on Bayland or 33rd Streets. Why let the opposition know what you are doing?

The endorsement of HISD Trustee Anna Eastman was major. The Chron E-Board endorsement was huge and landed at just about the right time.

In Round 2, getting the GLBT and Fire Fighters was very important.

I looked at the precinct results yesterday and Karla won the areas she walked by roughly a two to one margin.

Karla is the real deal and District H voters responded to her message.

In her home precinct in Woodland Heights, she bested her opponent 408 to 97. In his home precinct in Lindale/Northside, he won 265 to 189.

Not bad considering she was outraised in the money department and outspent.

She won by 972 votes out of 9,998 cast.

Nice job Karla! Now Karla gets to represent District H for the next four years.

Let me also say that the Chron gets a shout out from me for upping their local campaign coverage this go around. Nice job Rebecca Elliott, Mike Morris, Katherine Driessen and the rest of the crew.

Now today’s focus is who files in the party primaries. ‘tis the season!

Mark Appel of course was the Number 1 draft pick in 2013 and by the way we selected him and just traded him this past weekend in the Ken Giles deal.


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Vote Tomorrow

Ken Giles is our new closer. How many MLB seasons has he pitched?

In this morning’s inbox, the President has endorsed Sylvester but the Turner camp doesn’t want everybody to know it. Hey, he is my President too and if he’s getting involved in my burg, I want to know. Oh, well.

Also from the last minute department, “A Chance At History” card fell in my inbox yesterday. It says eight African Americans could be on the H-Town City Council after the votes are cast tomorrow.  That would be a record.  We will see!

In the mayoral contest – anything goes.

In the District H race, I feel pretty good despite being outraised in the contribution department two to one.

There are now four candidates running for Harris County Sheriff in the Dem Primary.

The 2016 season will be the third for Ken Giles of course.

We signed Tony Sipp for three years – for a lot of dough.

Go vote tomorrow!


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Wrapping Up

It is two weeks from Christmas Eve. It is two days from E-Day. Things are wrapping up.

Let’s see. The Turner campaign puts Linebarger in their ads against Bill. Linebarger is a Turner law firm client. Turner drops by the Linebarger Christmas party last night. That’s politics.

The Houston Press is not impressed with the race though. Here is what they had to say:

In its rather backhanded re-endorsement of Turner, the Chronicle editorial board reiterated there’s not much separating the two candidates—other than Turner’s willingness to sling dirt, that is. The board ultimately threw its weight behind Turner, saying his “political skill” is needed to tackle, among other things, the detente on pension reform.

Maybe Turner really can bring the unions to the table and convince the legislature to give Houston back local control over its public employee pensions; maybe, as King’s camp warns, he’s just too close to the unions to score anything other than token reforms that fail to address the slow-motion train wreck headed our way.

But it all just makes for an election that’s very hard to get excited about. 

Stay tuned!

At the MLB Winter Meetings, teams are expressing an interest in SpringerDinger. Did SpringerDinger have a post season dinger this past October?

BTW: There is another Garcia running in CD 29 so we could have two Garcias in the race.

The Golden Globes are being announced and once again I am clueless on who and what is being nominated. My shows for the most part are not on the nominations list.

SpringerDinger got a dinger against the Royals in the ALDS of course.

It looks like we got us a bona fide closer. Welcome to H-Town Ken Giles. Here is from Richard Justice:

Giles is 25 years old and relies on a fastball/slider combination. His fastball was clocked consistently in the 97 mph range and regularly ticked 100 mph. In two seasons in the big leagues, his ERA is 1.56. Among all big league relievers, only Wade Davis (0.97) and Dellin Betances (1.45) have been better. In fact — and this one will impress your friends — that 1.56 ERA is the lowest in baseball history among players with a minimum of 100 innings pitched.


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The Primaries

It was a packed house last night for a Bill King fundraiser hosted by Latino business leaders. Nice job!

According to the Chron sports section this morning,  Jon Singleton has been told by the ‘Stros leadership that he will be given a shot at starting at first base. “… it’s at this point his job to lose,” said GM Jeff Luhnow. Is Singleton’s MLB career batting average above or below the Mendoza Line?

Commentary is focused on the next four days. I will take a few to mention the upcoming primary.

H-Town City Council member Ed Gonzalez is running for sheriff. I don’t have a problem with that. If he is the Dem Party nominee, he will be attacked by the GOP on the files he had sitting in his garage. That is for sure. Of course, he knows that.

Adrian Garcia is rumored to be running for Congress against Gene Green. I don’t have a problem with that either. We need a spirited contest in CD 29. In this contest, Adrian will be running against an incumbent. I will have more on this as it develops.

As of yesterday in H-Town within Harris County, 27,153 mail ballots were in versus 29,902 in round 1. 86,233 voted early in person versus 104,203 in round 1.

I will say it again. A couple of months ago, folks didn’t think much of Bill King’s chances. Not today! Here is from today’s Chron on the latest poll:

The Houston mayor’s race appears to be a dead heat after the close of early voting Tuesday, according to a new poll and political experts who have reviewed ballot records, setting the stage for a four-day campaign sprint to usher voters to the polls on Saturday.

More than 113,000 voters had cast ballots by the end of early voting Tuesday. Through Monday, turnout had been concentrated in the same African-American and white conservative precincts that vaulted state Rep. Sylvester Turner and businessman Bill King into the runoff to succeed term-limited Mayor Annise Parker.

The end of early voting coincided with the release of the first independent poll of the runoff, showing Turner and King tied at 38 percent support among likely voters.

“I’ve never seen a race this close this late in the election,” said Rice University political scientist Bob Stein, who conducted the survey for the University of Houston’s Hobby Center for Public Policy on behalf of KHOU-11 and Houston Public Media.

Turner finished first on Nov. 3 with 31 percent of the vote, winning five majority-minority City Council districts. King received 25 percent of the vote, taking the city’s three conservative districts and progressive District C, most of which are majority-white. 

Now, political observers say the election will come down to who turns out his base in greater numbers – African-Americans for Turner, conservatives for King – and where potential swing voters gravitate.

“I think this race will be decided largely by Latino and Anglo Democrats,” Texas Southern University political scientist Michael Adams said.

Party labels will not accompany Turner and King’s names on Saturday’s ballot, but this year’s race has evolved into a decidedly partisan contest all the same, with Democrats lining up behind Turner as Republicans side with King.

The Hobby Center poll, in which 24 percent of respondents were undecided or declined to answer, shows votes falling along partisan and racial lines, with Turner backed by 73 percent of Democratic voters and 75 percent of African-Americans. Meanwhile, 81 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of Anglos supported King.

Roughly 54 percent of those who had cast a ballot by the close of voting Monday were white, 29 percent African-American and 8 percent Hispanic, according to Stein.

“As the only Democrat in the runoff, I think Turner has the structural advantage in his favor,” Adams said, projecting a narrow Turner victory. “I think the partisan advantage could prove to be too much for King to overcome, although I think the margin will likely be very close.”

Stein and University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus agreed. Rice University political scientist Mark Jones gave King the edge, however.

“Right now, I would say that King has the momentum and Turner is on the defensive,” Jones said in an email, citing what he said were King’s more concrete policy proposals and Turner’s negative campaigning. “I think the election outcome could rest on how effective Turner is in mobilizing African-American voters on Election Day.”

Turner’s campaign released internal polling last week showing him seven points ahead of King, while King’s campaign has touted a survey conducted by the Houston Realty Business Coalition, which has endorsed King, putting him five points ahead.

King spokesman Jim McGrath framed turnout as decisive in such a close race.

“Voters clearly want change, and we are encouraged at the way Bill’s back-to-basics message is resonating across the entire city over the last few weeks,” McGrath said in an email. “You can quibble over the fine details when it comes to polling, but the bottom line is, the data we are seeing confirm that this election will be won by the campaign that gets their voters to the polls.”

Turner spokeswoman Sue Davis similarly pointed to get-out-the-vote efforts.

“We’ve always said this race will come down to turnout. I believe Houstonians will vote to move our city forward, not back. But we have to earn it,” Davis said in an email. “That’s why we are mobilizing all our supporters for our massive turnout on Election Day.”

Turnout projections ranged from 150,000 to 210,000, with most expecting about 200,000 voters to cast a ballot in the mayor’s race.

The weighted poll of 469 registered Houston voters who reported they cast a ballot in the Nov. 3 general election and said they had already voted in the runoff, or were certain or very likely to do so, was conducted from Nov. 30 through Monday and has a margin of error of plus- or minus-4.5 percentage points.

Jon Singleton has a .171 career batting average of course – yikes!

I don’t like the Singleton at first base move.


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Strategy and Tactics

It is a night I will never forget. 35 years ago tonight when watching the Patriots and Dolphins, Howard Cosell told us that John Lennon had been murdered. I was stunned. The rest of the night I played Beatles tunes.

This has “dumb move” written all over it. A D.C. based group put in an open records request on the six members of the H-Town City Council who voted against the HERO – nine days before the election. Talk about getting some voters stirred up and motivated. Council Member Michael Kubosh will be holding a press conference today to further heat things up.

I don’t know about this move. I might have waited until after the election to file the request. Why get one side of an issue to get all worked up.

This was sent to me yesterday:

On December 3rd, 2015 the Campaign for Accountability headquartered in Washington D.C. filed an open records request for all communications between the 6 Council Members that voted against Mayor Parker’s equal rights ordinance and numerous other organizations.  Specifically, they have asked for communications between Council Member Kubosh’s office and 51 other individuals and organizations. See attached document. 

Their goal appears to be to harass and intimidate all elected officials who voted no on the Mayor’s Equal Rights Ordinance.  The equal rights ordinance was overwhelmingly rejected with 61% of Houstonians saying no to the Mayor’s Ordinance. Council Member Kubosh who received 109,985 votes in that election was one of the Council Members who voted against the Mayor’s Ordinance. 

Council Member Kubosh issues the following Statement: 

“Those that voted for the equal rights ordinance were rewarded with a bottle of Wine from the Mayor those that voted no were rewarded with an open records request which requires the Council Members employees to devote countless hours going over 10’s of thousands of emails. 

This type of attack is an overt way of not only intimidating elected officials but also anyone who has participated in the petition gathering process.  These actions trample on democracy and the will of the people.  I believe that this out of state group is attempting to set up a civil rights lawsuit against the City of Houston and I am calling on Mayor Parker to publically condemn their actions.” A press conference with Council Member Kubosh will take place in the rotunda on the first floor of City Hall. 



Was it a California red?

Former ‘Stro Jason Lane is now a Brewers coach. Lane was part of the 2005 World Serious team. How many post season dingers did he have as a ‘Stro?

On a more positive note, the following is nice. I just hope she doesn’t get the treatment from the usual suspects:

Mayor White’s city finance director, Michelle Mitchell, today announced she is endorsing Bill King for mayor.   

“Bill King was one of the very first to recognize that the City of Houston is on an unsustainable financial course, especially as it relates to its pension systems,” Mitchell said. “He has thoughtfully and responsibly considered how to address the financial challenges the city faces without breaking its promises to existing retirees and employees, and he is my clear choice to get City Hall back on the right course with respect to its finances.” 

Ms. Mitchell served as the City of Houston’s finance director from 2006-2010 after a distinguished career at the blue chip investment banking firm Goldman Sachs. 

“The Turner campaign’s recent report that describes our pension system as ‘pay-as-you-go’ reflects a fundamental lack of understanding of Houston’s current pension dilemma,” Ms. Mitchell added. “The net effect of the current system is that the city is financing its $4 billion in pension debt to the three pension plans at an interest rate of 8.5 percent.  There is no question that refinancing this debt in the bond market, as part of a comprehensive resolution of the pension issues, would save Houston taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.” 

King noted Ms. Mitchell joins over 100 CPAs and top finance leaders throughout the city who are endorsing his candidacy over the career politician he is opposing. 

“To have this endorsement from Mayor White’s finance director, a true professional I have long respected, means a great deal,” King said. “As important as anything, it means that the course I have laid out is the right path going forward for our city. Coming on the heels of my opponent’s failure to deliver the pension solution he promised earlier this year — his failure to clean up the mess he helped create — it also means a vote for our campaign is the only clear choice for a workable solution to our approaching financial crisis.”

Jason Lane had four post season dingers of course. One against The ATL in the 2004 NLDS, two against San Luis in the 2005 NLCS, and one against the White Sox in the World Serious.

The team is trying to make some deals.


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Five Days

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. Seventy-four years ago. It hardly gets a mention these days. I’ll give my Dad a call today or maybe drive on over to see him.

This is a line from Pulitzer Prize winning Lisa Falkenberg’s column yesterday:

So, we have two moderate, compassionate, qualified, law-abiding candidates in a runoff.

I guess she gets a pass from the usual suspects.

Everyone knows that Commentary doesn’t approve of taking down your opponent’s political campaign signs. The yard signs nearly cost three bucks apiece and the 4x4s over ten bucks each. This morning at Ripley House and at Moody Park Bill King’s signs disappeared. Same for Karla’s opponent. Go figure because I am not.

The Big Puma was a starter for the NL All Stars in 2004 and 2008. What positions did he play in those games?

Commentary’s mug was on TV behind moderator Len Cannon during the Saturday evening debate on Channel 11. Hey, it was assigned seating.

No more televised debates. That’s it. No more forums either – I think.

Only five days left.

I am thinking a lot of H-Town folks will be spending New Year’s Eve in The ATL. That’s a good thing.

The Big Puma started in center field in the 2004 All Star Game and started at first base in the 2008 game of course.

Nothing from The Yard this morning.

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Poll the Boat

I don’t really know about Max Stassi as our next backup catcher now that Panda Crusher is gone. How many at-bats does Stassi have as a ‘Stro?

The Bill King campaign keeps hearing we are ahead or tied or it is close. I am really not that surprised. If you get out into some ‘hoods, folks are concerned about illegal dumping or a city government that has forgotten about them. Yet some folks would rather discuss the name of a boat and the kitchen sink is now in the game. Here is part of what came into the Bill King inbox yesterday:

The Houston Realty Business Coalition (HRBC) released a poll of 300 active voters today measuring support of Mayoral candidates in the December runoff election.  

“Bill King has built a broad base of support throughout the city of Houston,” said Chairman Alan Hassenflu.  “Bill King is the only candidate offering thoughtful solutions to the fiscal disaster facing the city of Houston.  King’s message of getting back to basics has earned him the support of our organization and is resonating with voters who are concerned with the current fiscal crisis facing city hall.” 

The survey shows voters across Houston are seeing past Sylvester Turner’s negative campaign and looking towards Bill King to fix the city’s financial mess.  Only 9% of Houston voters say they have yet to decide who they will support in the upcoming election.   

Founded in 1967, HRBC, comprised of top business leaders, has become Houston’s Premier Business Coalition by supporting public policy, elected officials and candidates for elected office that promote its core values of limited government, capitalism and private property rights. 


In the upcoming runoff election for Mayor, if you had to choose, would you be voting for Bill King or Sylvester Turner? 

Bill King                  48%

Sylvester Turner       43%

Undecided                  9%

The State Rep. Sylvester Turner campaign then put out their poll. Tell them to send it to you.

Here is a bit of what Kuffer said:

HRBC had the one poll from the November election that correctly had HERO losing, and they were the only pollster to show King with a clear lead over Adrian Garcia. As such, I would not dismiss this result.

We will certainly know eight days from tonight.

There is another televised debate tonight on Channel 2 and one tomorrow night on Channel 11 and I wonder if the boat will be discussed.

Don’t worry. They didn’t shout “stop the presses!” I’m talking about the Mayor endorsing Sylvester yesterday.

Max Stassi has been up in the bigs for a few games over the past three season and he has 42 at-bats, a .357 batting average, and 1 dinger of course in 21 games.

That’s all I have from The Yard.

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An Extreme Career

I really don’t think the career politician thing is sitting well with Bill King’s opponent. During last night’s debate, they played the one ad with Mattress Mac and the fella sitting next to me mumbled – “I haven’t seen that one yet.”

Commentary is in full Christmas tune mode in my ride. I get to hear the Bill King ads. The police union and Fire Fighters 341 combo ad with the 14 second disclaimer. Yesterday, the Turner camp put out an ad that says Bill is “too extreme” for H-Town. Okay.

There were quite a few younger folks in attendance last night so I don’t know if they got the falling off the boat reference.

The next debate is tomorrow night on Channel 2 at 7 pm.

Chris Carter and Panda Crusher are no longer ‘Stros. How many dingers and RBIs from last season are we letting go.

Here is the Chron story on last night’s debate:

Houston mayoral candidates Bill King and Sylvester Turner took aim Wednesday at each other’s plans for financing road repairs and solving the city’s pension problem during a tense first televised runoff debate that featured a string of personal attacks.

The showdown, hosted by KTRK-13, Univision and Mi Familia Vota from the University of Houston-Downtown, hit topics ranging from gun violence, sanctuary cities and Syrian refugees to public safety, education and inequality.

Yet King and Turner butted heads most vigorously on questions of fiscal policy that have defined the campaign as Houston confronts a projected $126 million deficit next fiscal year, largely the product of a voter-approved cap on property tax collections, soaring pension obligations and a looming spike in city debt payments.

“You go from complex to impenetrable when you start to talk about the specifics of these issues and how each campaign is misrepresenting the issues of the other campaign,” said University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus, who attended the debate. “You’ve got confusing positions and you’ve got confused voters, both of which are a recipe, in a low-turnout election, for people simply to not turn out to vote.”

Turner, a 26-year state representative running his third campaign for Houston mayor, finished atop a 13-candidate mayoral field on Nov. 3, earning 31 percent of the vote to King’s 25 percent. Early voting for the Dec. 12 runoff runs through Dec. 8.

Turner won most of Houston’s left-leaning, majority-minority City Council districts, while King took three conservative council districts, most of them majority-white, and earned a plurality in progressive District C.

The once-cordial opponents looking to replace term-limited Mayor Annise Parker were not shy Wednesday about launching personal attacks, echoing some of the criticisms being levied in their television commercials and delivered to voters’ mailboxes.

King, the former mayor of Kemah, took Turner to task for repeatedly criticizing him for naming a boat he previously owned “Hard Times.”

“The boat was named after a boat that was owned by the founder of Kemah, where I grew up,” King said, later accusing Turner of lying about the origins of the name. “Why did y’all lie about it and say I named it Hard Times to mock poor people?”

King then used an anecdote about falling out of his boat into Galveston Bay as a thinly-veiled reference to an incendiary KTRK story aired during the 1991 mayor’s race, in Turner’s first bid for the office. The broadcast linked Turner to an alleged insurance scam, devastating his campaign.

“I was out one day I was trying to get a line loose and I fell off the boat into Galveston Bay, but instead of vanishing and turning in a false insurance claim I just swam back over and got back on my boat,” King said, as the crowd stirred.

Turner sued KTRK and the reporter for libel. Turner won the case and a $5.5 million award in trial, but both were overturned on appeal.

‘Kind of nasty’

Turner attacked King’s business record, criticizing him for the 1980s bankruptcy of a savings and loan he ran, among other ventures.

“You cannot say that you’re the businessperson if you have been in three businesses – a savings and loan in particular – and they’ve gone under and you’ve left people holding the bag,” Turner said, before addressing his own record in business and elected office. “No, I’m not a career politician. I’m a public servant. Everything in my public record is fair game, but I have been a successful public servant for 26 years.”

Rottinghaus cast the exchange, which led to some fidgeting among the crowd, as “kind of nasty.”

“These interactions, I think, can be telling,” he said. “Mayors have to negotiate with people. How they can punch and counterpunch should be meaningful to people.”

Asked whether he could be expected to address the city’s rising pension costs when Houston’s three employee groups have all endorsed him, Turner named a slate of other prominent supporters, and said they know solving problems is about building consensus.

“They recognize I’ve been in the Legislature 26 years working with Democrats and Republicans alike building a consensus,” Turner said.

Turner criticized King’s proposal to issue bonds to cover the city’s pension underfunding of $3.2 billion as part of a reform package reducing retirement benefits for new hires.

“The math simply doesn’t add up,” Turner said, contending issuing that much debt risks tax increases, credit downgrades, or even bankruptcy.

ReBuild Houston

King dismissed these assertions, saying the city is paying those debts today with each pension payment, at an interest rate of 8 to 8.5 percent, the pension funds’ assumed rates of return on their investments. Interest on the bonds he wants to issue could be half that, King said.

“If you had a house loan at 8 percent, wouldn’t you want to refinance it at 4 percent? That’s not increasing the debt, that’s reducing your debt service,” King said. “The problem is Sylvester’s friends. We’re borrowing it from them at 8 percent and they want us to keep doing that. I don’t think that’s fair to the taxpayers.”

The mayoral hopefuls later confronted each other over ReBuild Houston, the city’s controversial pay-as-you-go street and drainage improvement program.

“We passed this ReBuild Houston program five years ago, we agree to impose an additional $100 million a year in taxes on ourselves to fix the streets and drainage,” King said. “So far I haven’t met anybody who thinks the streets and drainage are better off than they were five years ago.”

King said the drainage fee he opposes could be scrapped and still leave plenty of funds for roads repairs if the city could issue debt using the other dollars still left in the dedicated ReBuild fund.

Turner reiterated his support for a pay-as-you-go approach to infrastructure investment.

“We are a growing, developing city, which means we have been lagging behind in our infrastructure. We can’t do it the way we used to do it. Bill proposes issuing bonds, but you’ve got to pay the debt service,” Turner said. “We shouldn’t do it that way. We need to do the pay-as-you-go and move forward.”

More than 29,000 Houston voters cast a ballot during the first day of early voting Wednesday, about 11,000 of them in person and another 18,000 by mail. These do not include city residents living in Fort Bend or Montgomery counties.

Chris Carter had 24 dingers and 64 RBIs and Panda Crusher had 11 dingers and 33 RBIs of course. That is a healthy amount of offense.

Carter also struck out 151 times and Crusher 63.   That’s a lot of strikeouts.

It looks like the ‘Stros and Padres may play an exhibition game or two in Mexico City next March. In 2004, the ‘Stros and Fish played beisbol in DF.


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