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Archive for January 29th, 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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