Archive for January, 2016

Mimi’s Take

Mimi Swartz has an interesting take in Texas Monthly about H-Town, the Mayor, and the issues we confront. Here is from her take:

We may be the global capital of the energy business, a supposed economic powerhouse, and a mind-blowing melting pot, but the price of oil is tumbling and some dicey bills are coming due at city hall. There is a pervasive sense that the city’s legendary optimism isn’t going to be enough to pull us through this time.

Well that doesn’t make me feel good.

And this from her take:

Finally, there is the biggest problem of all: the payout of pensions to police, fire, and city employees, which could bankrupt the city. In the nineties the city had its retirement plans under control, paying reasonable pensions to its employees. Then, in and around 2001, state senator Mario Gallegos, a former firefighter, and then-mayor Lee P. Brown, a former police officer, among others, persuaded the Legislature to raise those benefits. According to a report by the Greater Houston Partnership—switching from cheerleader to Cassandra—retirement contributions to city, police, and fire employees that amounted to around 12 percent of the city’s payroll contributions in 2011 are now at around 20 percent.

Here is the entire Mimi take that you may want to check out: http://www.texasmonthly.com/politics/open-letter-to-sylvester-turner-houston-mayor/.

Everyone knows that Evan Gattis led the team with 11 triples last season. Who was number two with triples?

The Chron E-Board took on the pensions today. A little aggressive – maybe? Here is how it starts:

Houstonians have grown accustomed to seeing our city’s name in headlines, whether on the New York Times’ top places to visit or the Washington Post’s list of best food cities. But at the beginning of 2016, we’re starting to make headlines for less auspicious reasons: pension problems.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg News reported on Houston’s pension shortfall of about $5 billion. This follows on a Wall Street Journal article at the end of last year that documented how our city’s credit rating was being threatened by the burden of pension obligations, debt payments and a revenue cap.

Instead of being listed alongside Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle for our culture and cuisine, Houston is starting to be associated with the fiscal challenges of Chicago and Detroit.

We’re heading in the wrong direction, and the Greater Houston Partnership has put its weight into turning our city around. At the partnership’s annual meeting earlier this week, Chairman Jamey Rootes, president of the Houston Texans, stated that the mounting public pension debt at City Hall would be a top priority for 2016.

And this is how it ends:

Turner was elected to office on the promise of being a uniter. But he shouldn’t be afraid to place the burden of the fix on the part of the city budget most responsible for the current fiscal crisis. Already, Turner looks like he’d rather kick the problem down to the next mayor by framing the long-term solution as a 10-year timeline. This is a multi-decade challenge, and Turner has to take it seriously. We can only imagine what the national headlines will say if he fails.

I don’t know about that. Be a little patient. He has only been in office a few weeks. Oh, well.

Hey, if you want to check out the entire E-Board take, subscribe.

I was at a TCEQ hearing last night in Pasadena. There sure were a lot of folks of the Latino persuasion in attendance. Many of them were using those translation ear piece gizmos. It is good to see that they care about their neighborhoods.

I don’t think I saw any elected officials in attendance.

Jose Altuve and Jake Marisnick came in second in the triples department of course with four each.

This from Tags:

The Astros’ starting rotation, which was second in the American League last season with a 3.71 ERA, got even deeper on Thursday when the team announced the signing of free-agent right-hander Doug Fister to a one-year deal.

Fister, who gets a base salary of $7 million and could earn another $5 million in incentives based on the number of innings pitched, spent the previous two seasons with the Nationals, going 5-7 with a 4.19 ERA in 25 games last year (15 starts). He went 16-6 with a 2.41 ERA for the Nats in 2014 and finished eighth in the National League Cy Young Award voting.

For sure now the price of a Saint Arnold is going up at The Yard.

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Keeping You Informed

Weird as this may sound, one would probably think that the indictments on the Planned Parenthood undercover videos will probably help Devon Anderson’s reelection. Yes, I said it. Here is what the Chron E-Board said today:

In today’s hyperpartisan political climate, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson’s straightforward description of the grand jury’s findings in its investigation of charges that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue for profit was a breath of fresh air: “We had to follow the evidence where it led us,” she said, and that evidence exonerated Planned Parenthood. But it didn’t stop there. In a stunning twist, the grand jury handed down indictments against David Daleiden, director of the anti-abortion front organization Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt, an employee, who created the videos at the heart of the allegations.

Here is what Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Lisa Falkenberg had to say:

It’s my job to criticize politicians, not to praise them. And I certainly have criticized Anderson’s handling of other cases. Not this time.

She deserves praise for doing the right thing under pressure and for giving us a reason to believe in a system that fails too often.

This isn’t the first time Anderson has made a tough choice. Under pressure from the police union to retry Alfred Dewayne Brown in a Houston police officer’s callous murder, Anderson decided last year there wasn’t sufficient evidence, and Brown went free.

Anderson has recently implemented reforms, including expanded diversions for first-time offenders, and spoke out in favor of a controversial idea to allow defense attorneys at probable cause hearings.

We know now that Daleiden is a fake, a phony. And so are politicians who find it politically expedient to pretend he’s not.

Devon Anderson, meanwhile, might just be the real thing.

Now Anderson is getting pressure from the lawyers for the indicted two to “dismiss the charges” and have another grand jury look at it. Here us what Anderson had to say about that:

“We have a long standing policy against grand jury shopping. That means when a grand jury comes back with a decision we don’t like we don’t go and find another one to get the result we want. That violates the integrity of the whole system. The only time we re-present is if new evidence comes to light.”

Now isn’t that what you want the DA to say.

Yeah, I know. It is a long time between now and the November election and a lot of things can happen, plus we still don’t know who will be our Dem nominee for DA, but you have to figure Anderson probably scored some points with a bunch of folks including some Dems and even some Planned Parenthood supporters.

It helps her when dumb stuff like the following is tweeted:

George P. Bush ‏@georgepbush 17h17 hours ago

Charges against the makers of PP videos are upsetting. Shameful that DA’s office didn’t recuse itself w/ PP board member working there.

Oh, well.

Among MLB greats still living, who had the most innings pitched in their career

I didn’t know the following. This is probably a good thing. Here is from a Rebecca Elliott article:

Houston elected officials who become a candidate for another elected office are now automatically required to resign their current seat, uncharted territory for city officeholders who previously had not been subject to the so-called “resign-to-run” provision of the Texas Constitution.

The requirement that has long applied to county officials also covers officeholders in municipalities whose terms are longer than two years. Voters extended the terms of Houston elected officials to four years, from two, last November, triggering the change.

The “resign-to-run” clause pertains to those with more than one year and 30 days left in their terms who announce their candidacy or become a candidate in any general, special or primary election.

The provision does not appear to immediately affect the three City Council members — Dwight Boykins, Jerry Davis and Larry Green — who have expressed interest in running for Harris County commissioner, Precinct 1, because former Commissioner El Franco Lee’s replacement on the November ballot is set to be chosen by Democratic precinct chairs, not voters.

Thanks for the info.  We will see how this works

And do you really think that the funds announced yesterday for the H-Town area is really going to relieve traffic congestion? I don’t.

Phil Niekro of course leads all living former MLBers wsith 5,404 1/3 innings pitched. Cy Young is the all-time leader with 7,356.

Nothing from The Yard today.

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Debates, Please

Let’s see. New Hampshire Dems want a debate before their primary. The candidates say they will debate. NBC news is a sponsor. So what is the hold-up?

The DNC.

Here is from a McClatchy story:

NBC News and the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper on Tuesday invited Democratic candidates to participate in an unsanctioned presidential debate next week in New Hampshire.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is running a distant third in the race, has agreed to participate. Hillary Clinton spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri said Clinton would participate in the debate if the other candidates agree, allowing the party to sanction the debate. Bernie Sanders’ campaign did not immediately respond to questions.

“In keeping with the best traditions of the New Hampshire primary, we have always believed that the voters of the Granite State deserve more than one opportunity to see their candidates for president debate side by side,” said John Bivona, O’Malley’s New Hampshire state director. “That’s why Gov. O’Malley was the only Democratic candidate for president to consistently call out the DNC for its unprecedented role in silencing debate, and to lead the charge for more debates.”

The Democratic National Committee had said any candidates who participated in non-sanctioned debates would not be invited to the official six. Four debates have been conducted, but the next DNC debate doesn’t come until Feb. 11.

Late Tuesday, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the debate would not be sanctioned. “We have no plans to sanction any further debates before the upcoming first in the nation caucuses and primary, but will reconvene with our campaigns after those two contests to review our schedule,” she said.

The three candidates are scheduled to appear on the same stage next week for the New Hampshire Democratic Party dinner Feb. 5.

The new debate is proposed for Feb. 4, five days before the New Hampshire primary. The moderators would be NBC News’ Chuck Todd and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Here is the entire article: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/election/article56670263.html.

My feeling on this is I kind of do not like the political parties dictating the terms of the debates. Look what the RNC did to NBC News.   I think the DNC is wrong on this one. They need to get out of the way. Debates are a good thing.

I have to hand it to Donald Trump for continuing to dominate the GOP stage. Heck, he gets covered for not showing up.

Among active MLBers, who has played in the most games?

This tweet came out yesterday:

Rebecca Elliott ‏@rfelliott 18h18 hours ago

With the Houston mayor’s race behind us, I’m thrilled to be joining @mmorris011 covering City Hall for the Chronicle

She certainly has a lot to cover at City Hall.

Abe Vigoda left us yesterday. His Sal Tessio was a most memorable role. Like when he told Michael: “I can arrange security. On my territory.”

And that final exchange with Tom Hagen:

TESSIO: “Tom, can you get me off the hook? For old time’s sake?”

HAGEN: “Can’t do it, Sally.”

He will be missed but never be forgotten in the best movie of all time.

A-Rod of course has played in 2,719 games.

Nothing to report from The Yard.


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I tweeted this yesterday evening:

Marc Campos ‏@MarcCommentary 14h14 hours ago

Not so smart @CNN talking head said a while ago that @DADevonAnderson was a Democrat. #PlannedParenthood

It is downright pathetic to see the GOP state leadership run and hide from a Harris County grand jury decision. Scoreboard says it all. I don’t think I need to say anything else about this.

I watched the Dems last night on CNN and I thought they all did OK.

Jose Altuve led the team with 86 runs scored last season. Who was number 2?

It was really good to see a number of Latino community leaders yesterday at an Adrian Garcia for Congress press conference at Moody Park. I was actually surprised at the turnout. It really felt that these folks are the pulse of the Latino community. There certainly was enthusiasm in the air. One precinct chair told me before the press conference that this should have happened a long time ago. I could not agree more. If we are going to move forward as a community, this is where it starts.

This is the type of coverage the CD 29 race needs. Here is from Rebecca Elliott:

Months after mounting a passive, ultimately unsuccessful Houston mayoral campaign, Adrian Garcia has swiftly taken on the role of attack dog in his bid to oust longtime U.S. Rep. Gene Green from the 29th District in the Democratic primary.

A Garcia press release out Monday morning proclaimed in all caps, “GENE GREEN SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIRED A LONG TIME AGO,” the latest in a series of statements slamming the incumbent’s record on issues ranging from gun safety to the environment.

Political observers said Garcia’s about-face reflects lessons learned from his recent loss and the nature of a quick primary challenge.

“He needs to give folks a reason not to vote for the entrenched incumbent, so he’s trying to create a differentiation based on policy,” Texas Southern University political scientist Jay Aiyer said of Garcia.

“If you think you lost last time because you were too passive, this time you’re going to be more aggressive, and I think there’s a certain element of that involved, as well.”

Garcia was a presumptive front-runner when he entered the crowded mayoral field last May, but his campaign was slow to respond to attacks on his record as Harris County sheriff.

The former lawman resisted swinging back until the weekend before early voting began, when his poll numbers already had begun to fall.

“He emerged as the piñata that everybody else took a stick to, so it was all incoming fire and he didn’t know where to direct his fire,” University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray said.

Now, seeking to cultivate the 29th District’s Hispanic electorate, Garcia has traded campaign staff and tactics.

Over the last three weeks, Garcia has criticized Green’s voting record on gun safety and environmental legislation while tying him to the district’s comparatively high poverty rate and low rate of educational attainment, among other issues.

“When you know that you’ve got one in three children living in poverty, you’re expecting some leadership from that point,” Garcia said after a press conference Monday announcing the backing of several Latino community leaders. “I’m just speaking to the record.”

‘About the job’

Roughly 24 percent of the 29th District’s 750,000 residents lived below the poverty level in 2014, according to U.S. Census data, up about 2 percentage points since 2000. Fifty-nine percent of the district had a high school degree or higher in 2014, an increase of about 6 percentage points over the same time period.

By comparison, about 17 percent of all Texans were living below the poverty level in 2014, and 82 percent had a high school degree or higher.

“It’s only on the statistics in the district. You haven’t seen us go after Gene Green on character, anything about him personally,” campaign manager Ian Rivera said. “This is solely about the job.”

Green knocked Garcia for being hypocritical.

“He didn’t say that back when I supported him when he ran for City Council back 10 years ago,” Green said, referring to Garcia’s email Monday. “He didn’t say that when I supported him when he ran for sheriff in ’08, and he didn’t say that when I actually supported him when he ran for mayor last year.”

Green also defended his voting record and pointed to recent increases in household income and high-school education rates in the district. Census data shows median household income in the 29th District was $39,580 in 2014, up from $32,218 in 2000.

“I do believe people have the right to protect themselves and the Second Amendment, but I also think there’s reasons to make sure that not everyone has access to a firearm,” Green said.

Referring to his environmental positions, he added, “I do represent a blue-collar part of town, and the jobs at our plants and our industry along the channel is important.”

Iowa and New Hampshire

Green has received the backing of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ fundraising arm and many local elected officials whose districts overlap with his.

The contest between the longtime allies – both known as effective retail politicians – is expected to come down to voter participation in a low-turnout area that is more than 76 percent Hispanic. Higher turnout is thought to benefit Garcia.

“The higher the turnout, the more Hispanics, because they’re really the delta in this, the change,” Aiyer said, noting that participation will be swayed in part by how competitive the Democratic primary is by the time Texans cast their ballots on March 1. “CD29 could be more impacted by what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire than anything.”

Political newcomer Dominique Garcia also is running in the 29th District primary. Early voting begins Feb. 16.

#ColbyJack was number two on the team last season with 67 runs scored.

That is all I have from The Yard.


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Hillary’s Campaign

Here is from a Texas Tribune piece on the status of the Hillary campaign in Texas:

After Amanda Renteria introduced herself to a crowd of die-hard Hillary Clinton supporters in Austin Sunday evening, she asked how many in the room thought the Clinton campaign should have been in Texas a month ago.

All hands in the room went up.

“Two months ago,” called out one volunteer among murmurs.

It was a sentiment Renteria, the Clinton campaign’s national political director, had been expecting. While pointing to some volunteer-led events as evidence that grassroots support for Clinton in Texas had been building for months, the campaign hasn’t yet done the work needed to consolidate support ahead of the March 1 primary, she admitted. 

“One of my big fears is that when we get people excited, they have nowhere to go,” Renteria said. “It hasn’t been an organized effort that has a real infrastructure around it.”

Here is the entire story: http://www.texastribune.org/2016/01/24/texas-democratic-presidential-primary-steps-gear/.

In my ‘hood, I have seen a few Bernie yard signs and not a single Hillary sign. The Clinton campaign is obviously putting most of their resources into Iowa and New Hampshire. That is why Hillary only has one staffer in Texas. Things will probably pick up here right after Iowa because the punditry will say Texas is going to help put the Clinton campaign back on track. It will be a tough fight though.

Check this tweet from a couple of days ago:

Teddy Schleifer Retweeted

Robert Yoon ‏@robyoon 2h2 hours ago

No Dem pres primary candidate endorsed by by @DMRegister has ever won the #IowaCaucuses, the nomination or the White House. #IowaCaucus

We all know Dallas Keuchel led the team with 20 wins. Who led the team in losses?

Check this from an HBAD press release:


Houston Black-American Democrats announce endorsement of Former Sheriff for Congressional Seat 

Houston, Texas – One of the most important African-American Democratic Organizations in the state endorses Adrian Garcia for Congress. 

 “By an overwhelming 73 to 27 percent of the vote, Adrian Garcia gets our organization’s endorsement. Adrian Garcia’s strong advocacy and continued presence in our community is what, I believe, led to the outpouring of support by our members for his candidacy in District 29.” says HBAD President Glen Austin. 

 “District residents have expressed concerns over consistently high levels of poverty and drop-outs, which coincide with alarmingly low college graduate rates. Our membership felt that it was time for new energy to represent the District to fight the problems we continue to face, ” added Austin. 

“I’m honored to receive this endorsement. As a member of Congress, I will continue to fight for the African-American Community like I did as Sheriff.  Houston Black-American Democrats are supporting me because of my record of bringing results to this community,” said Adrian Garcia. 

 “As a 30-year law enforcement veteran I’ve had an inside view of fair and dedicated police force practices, but also incidents of police brutality. I’m encouraged by movements, like Black Lives Matter, that bring all stakeholders to the table on these issues,” added Adrian Garcia. 

“The African American Community accounts for 55% of gun fatalities while being 13% of the population. There were six accidental child shootings last year, and we know of two accidental child shootings this year in the last three days,” said Garcia. “Gene Green voted against the Brady Bill, against child safety locks, for the assault weapons ban repeal and for keeping the gun show loophole. We need to support Gun Safety Legislation now, so these tragedies stop,” commented the former Sheriff.

Every endorsement helps. Nice job!

Other notables are interested in the Harris County Commissioner Precinct 1 position. Here is from the Chron:

State Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said late Thursday that he intends to run, sacrificing 25 years of legislative seniority in a bid for a powerful local office. City Councilmen Jerry Davis, Dwight Boykins and Larry Green said Friday they have begun campaigning, such as it is, under these unusual circumstances. Councilman C.O. Bradford said constituents had encouraged him to run, and he’s considering it.

Go for it.

I agree with Jerome Solomon’s Commentary this morning.  Here is a part:

But individually, (Gary) Kubiak and (Wade) Phillips are two of the classiest men in the business, and tight end Owen Daniels, who had two touchdown catches Sunday, is an all-time great Texan. Houston should certainly be happy for them.

I am glad to see Coach Kubiak make it to the big game. I will be rooting for him. He is a good guy.

Dallas Keuchel of course led the team with 8 pitching losses.

More than 12,000 folks showed up at Fan Fest this past Saturday – wow! And this from Tags on Fan Fest:

The Astros on Saturday unveiled a new game jersey that will be worn during Sunday games this season at Minute Maid Park.

Mike Acosta, the Astros’ authentication manager, said the jersey will mark the first time since the 1970s the team will have “Astros” across their chests in orange. The side panels of the jersey feature the original pattern of the iconic Astros “rainbow” uniform worn from 1975-86. This jersey will be worn with a new hat that has an orange crown and a blue visor.

I think I will get me that lid.

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Lost Cred

The ‘Stros have signed Wandy Rodriguez to a minor league deal and he will be at spring training camp next month. So that makes Wandy and Chad Qualls as the only ‘Stros players from the 2005 World Serious still playing in MLB. Who saw more action in the 2005 Serious – Qualls or Wandy?

The Chron E-Board took on the gun issue a week or so ago and said this:

The gun group and its lapdog lawmakers may not realize it yet, but they’re living on borrowed time. With polls showing broad support, even among gun owners, for sensible gun measures, with state and local officials at last standing up to the bullies – although not in Texas, of course – and with grass-roots groups organizing around the country, the nation is beginning to realize that the Second Amendment absolutists are not all-powerful.

Gene Green has an A Rating from the NRA and the Chron endorsed him today. They’ve lost all gun cred with this subscriber. From now on, if I see one of their E-Board takes on guns, I am not even going to bother to read.

They could have made a statement but instead they took the chicken route and continue to empower the gun lobby. They lost cred on this so talk about something else please.

Here is the E-Board take:

Green for the 29th

After 23 years, Gene Green is still the right fit for this key, mostly east Houston district.

Copyright 2016: Houston Chronicle

January 21, 2016

Former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia can point to 23 years on the Houston police force, six years on City Council, where he served as mayor pro tem, and six years as sheriff of Harris County, the third-largest sheriff’s department in the country. Despite long-festering problems in the Harris County Jail he ultimately was unable to resolve, his is a stellar record of public service.

Now he wants to extend it. In the wake of his unsuccessful run for mayor, the 55-year-old native Houstonian announced that he would challenge veteran congressman Gene Green, a fellow Democrat and family friend, in a bid to represent the 29th Congressional District. Also running is political neophyte Dominique Garcia.

Why? That’s the question local political junkies are asking about the former sheriff. Why now and why this seat? That’s also the question district voters will have to ponder as they decide whether to replace an experienced elected official with a solid record of service and a well-earned reputation for responding to his constituents’ needs.

The district was crafted in 1991 as a Hispanic opportunity district, which means that its line are drawn so that Hispanics are able to choose their representative, who may or may not be Hispanic. Green, a 68-year-old former state legislator who grew up in the district, in the now largely Hispanic Lindale neighborhood, defeated a prominent Hispanic candidate in 1992 and has not faced a primary opponent since 1996.

This “hard-working, blue-collar district” (Green’s description) covers mostly east Houston, including Galena Park and South Houston and a portion of Pasadena, as well as parts of north Houston. The Hispanic share of the district’s population has grown to more than 76 percent, higher than all but four congressional districts nationwide, according to the Pew Research Center. Hispanics make up about 61 percent of eligible voters.

Garcia contends that it’s time for the district to elect an Hispanic, particularly in the face of mounting insults and attacks on Hispanics from the likes of Donald Trump. He also insists that the incumbent has been too cozy with the National Rife Association. In addition to gun safety, his priorities include boosting educational opportunity, reforming immigration procedures, dealing with traffic congestion and growing the economy.

We’re glad that both challengers are running; in principle, the process works best when incumbents have to respond to challenges, particularly when they’ve been in office for a long time. This particular district, though, has been well served by the incumbent.

Green is familiar with the need for jobs, educational opportunity and health care in a district where roughly 24 percent of the residents struggle to get by on incomes below the poverty level. He’s worked over the years on air-quality issues affecting neighborhoods that abut one of the most industrialized areas in the nation, a district where children grow up in the shadow of refinery towers and petrochemical plants. He’s also responsive to the concerns of those very same economic mainstays.

Green pays close attention to his constituents, hosting clinics to give children free vaccinations, job fairs and workshops to help immigrants applying for citizenship. In Washington, he wields what power and influence he can in a calcified Congress controlled by Republicans, serving as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and as the ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Health.

We respect Adrian Garcia’s record of service to the community, service that we expect will continue in one form or another, but we see no need at this time to make a change in the 29th Congressional District. Along with the financial arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and a number of local Hispanic organizations, we endorse Gene Green.

Feb. 1 is the last day to register for the March 1 primary election. Early voting is Feb. 16-26.


We respect Adrian Garcia’s record of service to the community, service that we expect will continue in one form or another, but we see no need at this time to make a change in the 29th Congressional District.

That sounds a little patronizing.  Thanks for the pat on Adrian’s head. Let us know when you will support him for which position.

State Sen. Rodney Ellis is asking the Dem precinct chairs to make him the Precinct 1 Commissioner nominee. Sen. Ellis is also on the ballot. So if he gets the Precinct 1 nod, he will have to give up his Senate District 13 slot and the SD 13 Dem precinct chairs get to pick the SD 13 nominee.  Got it?

And this from CNN:

Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in Iowa as Sen. Bernie Sanders takes control of the Democratic race in the critical first-in-the-nation voting state, according to a new CNN/ORC poll released Thursday.

Trump leads Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who is in second place in the GOP race, among likely Republican caucus-goers, 37% to 26%. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, is in third at 14%, the only other Republican in double digits. Ben Carson failed to register half of Rubio’s support and is in fourth place at 6%.

Sanders, meanwhile, has opened up an eight-point lead over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, leading her in Iowa 51% to 43% among likely Democratic presidential caucus-goers.

Some folks are starting say this is looking like 2008 again for Hillary. It certainly is not looking good for Hillary as she is in attack mode and Bernie has them all coming to look for America.

The Chron’s Ericka Mellon has a piece today on HISD Board Trustee attendance. Here is how it starts:

The attendance record of HISD trustees at meetings came under increased scrutiny this month after the board voted to give outgoing Superintendent Terry Grier a bonus with barely a quorum present.

Trustee Anna Eastman, who has complained repeatedly about her colleagues’ attendance, reiterated her concerns Jan. 11 after that 3-2 vote to pay Grier another $75,420. Trustee Jolanda Jones, in her first meeting Jan. 14, called out those who don’t “show up.”

“I wasn’t on the board when they voted for a bonus for the superintendent. I’m certain I would have voted against it. But I wasn’t on the board, and that’s fine. I understand that,” Jones said. “But I find it curious: There’s a lot of talk in the media about the number of people that weren’t there and how did they vote without the people being there. I’ll say this: The world is run by those who show up. It was a meeting. So if people weren’t there, that’s on them. No disrespect intended.

“But I’m going to say it one more time: The world is run by those who show up. We were elected to show up.”

Here is the entire Mellon article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/Some-HISD-trustees-rack-up-absences-6774653.php?t=33f4992666438d9cbb&cmpid=twitter-premium.

Chad Qualls made three appearances in the 2005 World Serious and pitched 5 1/3 innings and Wandy Rodriguez made two appearances and pitched 3 2/3 innings of course.

Fan Fest is this weekend at The Yard but I am not going.


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Not Much to Say

Hunker Down has made his pick for Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner. All we know is that the next Commissioner will be an African American Democrat.   I wonder if he or she has agreed to be a caretaker and not spend the next few weeks lobbying the precinct chairs?  Here is from the Chron:

Emmett began getting calls from interested parties within an hour after news broke of Lee’s death.


Tags tweeted out this morning if anyone had the deck of playing cards that was handed out at The Yard in 2006 featuring the 2005 ‘Stros.  I do.  Name the player on the Ace of Spades?

Now this is going to be an interesting local debate over the next few years. I am talking about UT buying up some land just down the street from the Astrodome outside of the South Loop. Here is from the Chron:

UT’s plans to expand in Houston, announced late last year, have alarmed UH leaders and some state lawmakers. They fear the project could siphon research funding and faculty from the city’s rising research school.

The concerns have not slowed UT, which closed on the first 100 acres last week. A donor made it known that the land was available, and UT jumped at the opportunity to have a “blank canvas” in the nation’s fourth-largest city. (Chancellor William) McRaven said he wants to build an “intellectual hub” on the site, and he wants those planning the development to think outside the confines of conventional higher education strategy.

“We want to astound people with our boldness,” he said.

Boldness? Maybe they got a plan to save the Dome – now that’s Boldness!

The Rocket is on the Ace of Spades of course.

The team caravan is down the street from my ‘hood today.

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HISD, Again

Commentary is not going to spend a lot of time on changing the names of some HISD schools. I think more energy ought to be spent on educating the kids at HISD. I will say though that just in case folks don’t know, Jefferson Davis was the president of the Confederacy and a slave owner. He wasn’t a reluctant Johnny Reb corporal.

Yesterday’s ‘Stros twitter trivia question was about post season dingers. Everyone now knows that Carlos Beltran holds the team record with eight post season dingers in 2004. How many did he hit in the 2004 NLDS and how many did he hit in the 2004 NLCS?

From CNN yesterday:

Bernie Sanders’ lead over Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire is on the rise, with the Vermont senator leading the former secretary of state by 27 points, 60% to 33%, a new CNN/WMUR poll has found.

How does that happen? Team Hillary is now saying that this race could last a while.   Well that means Texas is in play so maybe both campaigns will invest in our primary. That’s a good thing.

The Chron E-Board has some words for the HISD Board of Education today. All I can say is the Board knows what they are doing. Here is from the E-Board.


First impression

Ideological battles must not compromise our goals and ambitions for HISD students.

Copyright 2016: Houston Chronicle

January 19, 2016

“Another such victory and I shall be ruined.”

– King Pyrrhus of Epirius in Greece after losing almost all his men in the battle of Asculum.

The children of the Houston Independent School District are not soldiers, but the metaphor is pointedly apt to describe last week’s HISD school board meeting. A 5-4 board majority successfully demonstrated it can control what happens in the district. But at what cost the Pyrrhic victory?

Take the split board decision about magnet school designations. With no public input, the board set aside its own rules for determining which schools qualify for magnet status – one that automatically will draw extra funds to the designated campuses. Ten schools got the nod; five were in the outgoing board president’s north Houston district even though only three had applied.

“I decided to stop listening to all the reasons why we can kick the can down the road and become more proactive about stopping that inequity that has persisted in this district since I came here in kindergarten,” outgoing board President Rhonda Skillern-Jones said at the meeting Thursday.

Whether magnet schools are inequitably distributed is a valid and important question for a district that has made strides in closing the achievement gap for minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. But the board’s expedited process for this vote and others last Thursday (not the least of them, the weakening of ethics rules) are an example of poorly considered governance and will erode public trust. Whatever good intentions may have been the motivation for the board majority, why not wait to gather public feedback, develop a fiscal analysis and build consensus about the allocation of district resources?

School and community leaders know they won’t always get the resources they ask for. But they deserve a fair hearing.

“The secrecy of all this suggests cronyism and corruption,” Patty McGrail, president of the parent group at Field Elementary, told trustees Thursday. Field did not get a magnet program despite applying for one.

Administrative leadership is not the role of the board. Two new board members joined the board Thursday, though neither is new to the district nor to the notion of a governing body’s proper role. Former trustee Diana Davila and former City Councilwoman Jolanda Jones joined the HISD board for the first time Thursday. Unfortunately, the introduction of the new board to the community did not leave a good first impression.

That’s worrisome in particular because of the picture it paints for prospective candidates who will seek to replace Superintendent Terry Grier. His resignation is effective Feb. 29, and the board has not yet extended an offer to a new leader.

Surely, that future leader will want to know that the HISD school board works collaboratively and effectively, and values input from the community and school leaders. The best potential candidates will be attracted to major school districts in which the board has strong support from a broad cross-section of parents and taxpayers. If the pattern of split votes that revealed itself last Thursday continues, it will raise a red flag for the prospective superintendent.

The dustup caused by last Thursday’s meeting notwithstanding, the district must move forward. Our community needs a reliable pipeline of educated workers, and HISD is our largest public school system with 216,000 students and a $1.86 billion operating budget. Ideological battles must not compromise the goal of providing the best education our community can deliver.

Now potential superintendent candidates have E-Board takes to read. Oh, well!

Carlos Beltran had four dingers in the 2004 NLDS and four dingers in the 2004 NLCS of course.

Nothing to report from the team caravan.

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Names, Please

This is very good news from the Chron this morning:

The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday morning to consider an Obama administration plan to provide work permits to nearly 5 million immigrants here illegally and shield them from deportation. 

The Justice Department in November asked the court to review a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a Texas federal judge’s decision blocking the immigration initiative.

It will be good to be having a national debate on immigration right in the middle of a presidential campaign.

Chris Carter was our starting first baseman on Opening Day last year. He is now with another team. The team says the first baseman position is Jon Singleton’s to lose. Who has a higher career batting average – Carter or Singleton?

Hunker Down will select the next Harris County Precinct 1 Commissioner this week. I guess he is not going to give us the names of the dignity violators. Here is from the Chron:

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Monday announced he expects to appoint a successor by Friday to complete El Franco Lee’s term on the county’s governing body. Emmett wants the new Precinct 1 commissioner to be in place for the court’s yearly budget meeting the following Tuesday, Jan. 26, a spokesman said. 

Lee, the longest-serving member of Commissioners Court, died Jan. 3 of an apparent heart attack at age 66. His death, after 30 years in office, left a political vacuum with Democrats scrambling to select a long-term replacement. After the March primary, Democratic precinct chairs will pick a candidate to replace Lee on the November ballot. Lee was running unopposed, which means whoever the chairs pick will be the next commissioner.

In the short term, it falls upon the county judge to name a replacement if a commissioner dies or leaves office, according to state law.

Emmett spokesman Joe Stinebaker said Emmett has been making and taking phone calls related to the open seat on a daily basis. Stinebaker said Emmett, who is a Republican, hoped to name a black Democrat to Lee’s seat. Lee was the only Democrat on Commissioners Court.

The real power brokers are the Dem precinct chairs in Precinct 1. I know Kuffer has let us know that he is chair so he gets a vote. I live in Precinct 1 and I think I know who my chair is. I wonder if the County Dem Party will put out the list of all the precinct chairs from Precinct 1 so we will all know who gets to decide. It is after all a very powerful position.   Show us the names, please.

Chris Carter has a .217 career batting average and Jon Singleton .171 of course. We need to get a lot better out of the first baseman position if you ask me.

They don’t ask me.



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HISD for Now

Hall of Fame inductee Ken Griffey, Jr. was the first pick overall of the 1987 MLB Draft. Name the other player picked in the first round that year who is in the Hall of Fame?

Whoever becomes the next HISD Superintendent better make sure she or he watches the tapes of the HISD meetings so they will know what to expect.   Here is how the Houston Press described the first meeting of the year with some new board members:

In a long, combative night in which accusations of racial bias and unfair privilege were hurled about the room, the Houston ISD school board Thursday elected an all-minority slate of officers led by Manuel Rodriguez, while white trustees impotently hunkered down on the losing side of a series of 5-4 votes. 

New to the board trustee Jolanda Jones, who at first said she wasn’t going to comment much on her first night, could not restrain herself, making it clear who was going to be running things now and that she had little regard for practices and procedures of the past. And they certainly weren’t going to stand in her way.  

“I’m just going to say it because it’s a big white elephant in this room. Certain schools get everything and other schools get nothing. And the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And so I say this: Prior to this board election, the people that were here complaining looked different. This board is majority minority and so what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” said Jones in arguing for more magnet schools.

“Let’s not sit here and pretend that this school board has been fair and that the policies that have been set in place have been followed for all of HISD,” she charged. “Equity matters.”

Here is the entire Houston Press article: http://www.houstonpress.com/news/a-racially-divided-hisd-school-board-kicks-off-2016-8074525.

Of course, the board was also majority minority before this past election. I don’t think this will be a very good superintendent recruitment video. Oh, well.

I watched the debate last night.   Bernie was certainly holding his own. The next two weeks will be interesting.

Craig Biggio of course was the 22nd overall pick by the ‘Stros in the 1987 draft.

The team handed out some hefty pay raises to a few players a few days ago. It would not surprise me if the price of a Saint Arnold goes up.

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