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Archive for January, 2016

Can’t Hide

The Chron E-board doesn’t like the process to select the next Harris County Commissioner for Precinct 1, but that is the law. Here is how they end today’s take on the matter:

Normally editorials urge voters to select good candidates, but now that duty falls upon Democratic Party officials. We encourage them to follow County Judge Ed Emmett’s example and reject the politicians who rushed at first word of Lee’s untimely death to ask for an appointment. Harris County needs commissioners who are mindful of the future. There’s nearly as many people living in the unincorporated county as there are in the city of Houston, and county governance wasn’t designed to handle that burden. 

Precinct chairs should look for someone ready to tackle this issue, and that should include discussions about incorporation in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, merging city and county services, and bringing greater transparency to county business. The next commissioner of Precinct 1 also will have the responsibility of saving the Astrodome. 

El Franco Lee served the people of Harris County well over his 30 years as commissioner. The bar is set high for the Democrats’ next choice.

Hunker Down needs to tell the precincts chairs who jumped the gun on the dignity thing.

If you want to read the entire E-Board take, go get you a newspaper.

Kuffer is a Precinct 1 precinct chair and he has a very good take on who he wants. Check it out here: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=71981.

Among active MLBers, who has the most career doubles?

The CD 29 Dem candidates went before the E-Board yesterday and this was reported:

Should a Hispanic represent the 29th congressional district?

By Rebecca Elliott

January 14, 2016

More than 76 percent of the residents in Texas’ 29th congressional district are Hispanic, as are about 61 percent of the district’s eligible voters. Yet, the area carved out in 1991 to represent the Houston area’s Latino population has never had a Hispanic representative. 

This year, longtime Democratic Congressman Gene Green is facing primary challenges from two candidates seeking to become the district’s first Hispanic member of Congress. Former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia is expected to be Green’s strongest opponent in a race that pits Green’s experience and establishment support against the power of identity politics and the desire for a fresh perspective.

During an editorial board meeting Thursday with the 29th District’s Democratic hopefuls, the Chronicle asked if the candidates thought the district should be represented by a Hispanic. Here are their responses, edited and condensed: 

Gene Green: www.genegreencampaign.com

“We drew the district in 1991 to be a majority-Hispanic district. The best we could do then was 61-62 percent. Now it’s grown to be in the high 70s. The court on creating these voting rights districts — it is not that you guarantee you’re going to elect someone who’s whatever ethnicity. (It is) that the majority of those voters have the opportunity to elect a person that they want. And I think over my last 22 years I’ve represented a majority, growing majority-Hispanic district. We do services that address the Hispanic community, predominantly Mexican-American in our area, and I think that’s why for many years I’ve been able to represent that district. I grew up there. I went to a high school that was majority-Mexican-American in the 60s. I learned growing up in that neighborhood the values of the Mexican-American community, and I think that’s why I’ve been successful.”

Adrian Garcia: www.adriangarcia.com

“It’s a matter of choices. You put a vision and ideas and commitments in front of the community, and the community decides. That’s really ultimately how I think it moves forward. When Gene was elected, yeah, the community made a decision then. But the community has had very few choices since, or almost none for quite some time. So, it’s a matter of giving the folks options. When you have 80 percent of the district, you know, representing the community and you have a lot of the challenges that are specific to the community. I think that sometimes when you have a familiar walk of life, you understand things a little differently. You’re apt to be more empathetic in a different way. You’re apt to understand the circumstances that folks are confronted with in a different way. And I think it can help.”

Dominique Garcia: www.dgarcia4congress2016.com

“I would say yes. Because this position is supposed to represent its constituents. And yes, being a Hispanic or Latin American does help you, because that district is comprised of just about 80 percent Hispanics. And I’ve been in the community. I’ve dealt with a lot of the business owners in that community. I know and I struggle and I work with them, and I know a lot of their viewpoints. So, yes.”

It looks like there could very well be a discussion on this. Si se puede!

The HISD Board of Education watered down their ethics policy yesterday and voted on other stuff. You do what you have to do but it becomes part of your record and now you can’t hide from it.

David Ortiz – Big Papi – of course, leads all active MLBers with 584 career doubles.

Bib Papi and the Red Sox visit The Yard on Friday, April 22 for a weekend series.

 

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HISD on Stage

The folks on the HISD Board of Education are all grown-ups. They know what they are doing. If they want to be ridiculed, that is OK with me. They meet today and they have some things on the agenda that the Chron and Houston Press are writing about. Here is from the Chron E-Board today:

Most worrisome is the proposal to end an ethics policy concerning campaign finance. The policy in place now prohibits trustees from voting on contracts involving donors who have contributed $500 or more to their campaigns in the past year. HISD is in the midst of a major construction project, stemming from the 2012 $1.89 billion bond to replace and repair 40 schools across the district, with many contracts yet to be inked. Skillern-Jones told Mellon that each of the items she added had support from at least three trustees.

Approval of this policy change would send a signal to the community that this new board is less concerned with ethics than its predecessor, and raise suspicions about quid pro quo arrangements.

In the end, even as the concerns we’ve outlined are important to watch, they are needless distractions – for the public and particularly for trustees. The incoming school board’s main focus should be on finding a new superintendent to innovate public education in our city. There are not many people with the right experience, and those who do have the right stuff will shy away from a board that does not act in the best interests of the district or students.

Here it the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/All-eyes-on-HISD-6757337.php.

Then this from Ericka Mellon:

Manuel Rodriguez Jr., the HISD board’s first vice president, said Wednesday that he supports changing the policy, especially after coming off a tight re-election campaign late last year. He said some candidates feel handicapped in fundraising under the current rules – which still allow trustees to accept donations greater than $500 but require recusal from voting.

“If anybody’s going to sell their soul for $2,000, then shame on them,” said Rodriguez, who is expected to become the new board president Thursday. “But there’s nothing wrong with receiving a $2,000 contribution and still voting on a particular issue or contract. I have never sold my vote to anyone.”

New board president? Yep, that’s the same Manuel Rodriguez. If this needs ‘splaining then I can’t help it if you have been on another planet the last few years.

In honor of this, I am skipping today’s MLB question.

And here is the Houston Press take on HISD: http://www.houstonpress.com/news/lets-remember-why-hisd-needed-an-ethics-policy-to-begin-with-8069202.

Like I said. They are grown-ups. They know what they are doing. They certainly know that they will be designated the most tone deaf local elected body in the region if they continue to head in this direction. Nice job.

One of my favorite movie villains is no longer with us. I am talking about Alan Rickman of “Die Hard.”

St. Louis lost their football team. That’s life with the NFL. They look out for their owners and hold cities hostage. In this case, the city couldn’t come up with the ransom.

I don’t have anything from The Yard.

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Last night, before the State of the Union speech, Cong. Green tweeted a photo of himself and Cong. Luis Gutierrez and called Adrian Garcia the “deporter-in-chief”. Now I guess they deleted their tweet. Never mind.

In what venue was the first West Coast World Serious game played in?

Kuffer has a take on the CD 29 race today. Here are parts:

I’ll say again, as with just about every election involving an incumbent, it’s about whether the voters want to replace this person with that person. They’ll have their own criteria for that. This district was drawn to elect a Latino, and the historic nature of Adrian Garcia being elected may well sway some folks, but Gene Green isn’t a 20+ year incumbent by accident. He’s popular among the voters in CD29 and he will get plenty of Latino votes – he’s already received a lot of institutional Latino support. I’d be wary about drawing any conclusions about “the power of the Latino vote” regardless of the outcome in this race.

And:

Of course, Democrats broke records for primary turnout in 2008, with over 400,000 March ballots being cast in Harris County. With Clinton/Sanders likely to be still burning bright, I’d expect decent turnout in the county, though not at that level. Maybe 200,000 overall? That might be high, but I don’t think it’s out of the question. I’m totally guessing. Whatever the case, I do agree that CD29 will be leading the pack.

Here is all of Kuffer: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=71956.

It all depends.

From ESPN:

ESPN announced today its new Sunday Night Baseball team, which will debut at the start of the 2016 Major League Baseball season. Dan Shulman, the voice of Sunday Night Baseball, will be joined by newly-named analysts Jessica Mendoza and Aaron Boone, and returning reporter Buster Olney. The quartet will make its regular-season debut on Sunday Night Baseball, April 3, as part of ESPN’s exclusive Opening Night coverage of the World Series rematch – New York Mets at World Series Champion Kansas City Royals – at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Mendoza made history in 2015 by becoming the first female analyst for a nationally-televised MLB postseason game (AL Wild Card Game on ESPN), and the first female ESPN MLB game analyst. Mendoza regularly appeared on Sunday Night Baseball with Shulman and Olney during the stretch run of the 2015 season and also worked a Sunday Night Baseball telecast alongside Boone.

Way to go, Jessica Mendoza!

The first ever World Serious game played on the West Coast was played at the LA Memorial Coliseum of course in 1959. The Dodgers beat the White Sox in six.

Just salary stuff from The Yard today.

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Watering Down Ethics

This was in Rebecca Elliott’s article yesterday on the CD 29 race:

About 42,000 voters cast a ballot in 29th district Democratic primary in 2008. That figure dropped to just 6,200 in 2014. 

Redistricting has given CD 29 a different look in 2016.

In 2008, actually close to 54,000 CD 29 Dems showed up to vote in the Dem Primary. Only 42,000 and change voted in the CD 29 race. Cong. Green was unopposed. Close to 12,000 skipped voting in the race – we call them under votes or 21.6%.

If you look at two competitive state house races in Harris County during the 2008 Dem primary, you see a different under vote. In the Dist. 140 race (Walle-Bailey), there was a 13% under vote. In the Dist. 145 race (Alvarado-De La Garza), there was a 12% under vote.

It is hard to say today what the 2016 turnout will be in the Dem Primary in Harris County. It all depends on what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire. I will say that a competitive CD 29 race will produce a lower under vote this time around so stay tuned.

Everybody knows that Jose Altuve led the team in stolen bases this past season with 38. Who was number two?

Check out from the Houston Press what may happen at the HISD board meeting in a couple of days.

HISD Trustees May Vote to Gut That Pesky Ethics Policy

By Margaret Downing 

Poised to make history in a whole different kind of way, the Houston ISD Board of Trustees Thursday night may vote to essentially gut their ethics policy by removing or significantly changing a key provision.

That provision states that a board member who accepts $500 or more in one year from particular vendor must publicly disclose that and recuse himself or herself from any discussion on contracts that vendor is vying for. Said board member also cannot vote on that vendor’s contract.

You can still take the money. You just got to tell the world you did and then not vote or influence a vote for the people or business that was so specially nice to you. 

Passed in 2012 after months of gnashing of teeth and countless expert ethical help, the ethics policy was designed to stop any actuality (or at least appearance) that trustees getting were getting rich off their positions or making sure that their pals are taken care of.  But now, three members of the school board have asked that the matter be reconsidered, according to trustee Rhonda Skillern-Jones.

Skillern-Jones presided over the board’s Monday agenda meeting in which the matter was supposed to be discussed. But it was not and other agenda items were not because outgoing trustee Paula Harris left after voting on Superintendent Terry Grier’s bonus (more on that later), leaving the board without a quorum.

Asked which three board members had asked for a re-vote on the ethics policy, Skillern-Jones refused to give up their names. Talk about working in the back rooms. So much for transparency. 

In fact, the only thing the five trustees achieved after an executive session lasting more than an hour was to approve a bonus of $75,420.45 for Superintendent Terry Grier, who’s out of here as of March 1. Normally the superintendent bonus is based upon student test scores and other data, but it was too early in the year, so a negotiated bonus was settled on instead, according to HISD spokeswoman Holly Huffman. The vote was 3-2 with Harvin Moore, Manuel Rodriguez and Harris voting in favor and Anna Eastman and Skillern-Jones voting against. Board members Michael Lunceford, Greg Meyers, Wanda Adams and Juliet Stipeche did not attend. 

Asked if she’d ever known a board to rescind its own ethics policy, Skillern-Jones replied: “I’ve never seen it done, but we’ve rescinded other policies.”

Trustee Moore, a longtime opponent of re-votes to change board decisions, said after the meeting: “I think it’s confusing to the public. When an elected board makes a decision, they should not go back on it. As far as I know, we have a very good ethics policy, one of the strongest of any school district, of any governmental body.”

And asked if she thought the ethics policy would be significantly changed, trustee Eastman said after the agenda meeting: “I don’t know and I’m very disappointed that it’s even being considered. The campaign finance section only triggers a disclosure; a trustee can take as much money as he wants but there has to be a recusal from discussion and abstention from voting.”

The ethics policy isn’t the only one up for a do-over. Trustees voted earlier this year not to exempt all students at the second grade level and younger from suspensions. Instead, it voted to strongly urge such suspensions be avoided, but concluded that teachers and principals should still have the power to remove disruptive students from a class. Now it’s back on the agenda. 

There’s a proposal to add ten new magnet programs at Atherton, Crockett, Hartsfield, Kashmere Gardens and Stevens elementaries; Dowling, Key, and Ortiz middle schools and Kashmere and Westbury High Schools – some of whom we’re told didn’t even formally apply for magnet status.

Also up for reconsideration: a new funding policy for those special extra people at a school – nurses, counselors and librarians. Hey, let’s run through it all.

With agenda items added right and left, a veritable smorgasbord of pet projects and possible programs, this could be a testament to why a school district does not operate well with a lame duck superintendent at the helm (sort of) for the last several months.

Just in time for all this new and re-newed voting: the new board members are being sworn in at 11 a.m. Thursday, just hours before that night’s meeting. Diana Davila and Jolanda Jones will take the places of Stipeche (defeated in her re-election attempt) and Harris (who chose to leave the board at the end of her term).

Don’t you want to come Thursday night to hear why trustees should be able to vote on contracts for their pals? To hear them brazen it out that somehow this is a good thing? Don’t you want to be there for that historically shameful moment?

And by the way, shouldn’t the board be focused on its new superintendent search?

I am not going to get too worked up on this because my trustee, Anna Eastman, will be on the right side and lead the effort to do the right thing.

If a trustee wants to water down the ethics policy – go on ahead. If they decide to run for another office, they will have to run with that on their record.

They will also be electing new officers of the board. If you wake up Friday morning and don’t like who is leading the board, blame yourself. Try calling your trustee and see what they are fixing to do. I called mine.

That was a good game last night.

Jake Marisnick of course was number two on team with 24 stolen bases.

That’s all I have from The Yard.

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CD 29 in the Chron

The CD 29 race gets coverage today on the front page of the Chron in an article by Rebecca Elliott. News coverage is good. Here it is:

House race pitting Garcia, Green tests power of Latino vote

Garcia challenging Green to become 29th District’s first Hispanic delegate

By Rebecca Elliott

January 10, 2016

When Adrian Garcia called last month asking for support in his congressional bid, East End community activist Jessica Hulsey did not hesitate. 

“I said, ‘Adrian, you’re my brother,’ ” Hulsey, 65, recalled. “ ’I identify with you, and I identify the need.’ ” 

Fresh off an unsuccessful Houston mayoral run, the former Harris County sheriff is looking to fill that need by empowering a growing Latino community in the 29th Congressional District. 

His bid to unseat longtime Democratic Congressman Gene Green promises to again test the burgeoning power of the Hispanic vote. 

Drawn in 1991 to reflect the area’s Hispanic population, the 29th District never has had a Latino representative, despite the influx of Hispanic residents. 

From 1992, when Green was first elected, to 2012, the Latino share of the district’s population climbed 16 percentage points 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 the 29th District’s eligible voters. 

“There’s been the opportunity to cultivate that Hispanic electorate for 23 years, and so that’s one of the things that I look to accomplish,” Garcia said last week before a town hall at a Northside civic club. “In every election I’ve ever been in, the question’s always been, ‘Where is the Hispanic community? When are they going to vote?'” 

Green touted his record of providing constituent services in the district covering much of eastern Houston and part of Pasadena, as well as his support from Hispanic elected officials. 

“Over the years we’ve identified problems in the district that people have brought up: access to health care, quality of the education, ‘how do I afford to send my kids to college,’ jobs … and of course immigration reform,” Green said. “No matter what the pigmentation of your skin, you can serve an area.” 

Knocking on doors 

Garcia has drawn an early distinction with Green on gun control, but otherwise the candidates largely agree on the top issues facing the district. Garcia said boosting educational opportunity – and particularly college access – is among his top priorities, as are jobs and the economy. Green said he will be campaigning on his record and highlighted past initiatives in the areas of health care, citizenship, employment and education. 

With just five weeks to go before the start of early voting in Texas’ March 1 primary, both sides have scrambled to raise cash and assemble field operations in a race expected to be heavy on retail politics. 

Garcia began knocking on doors in Houston’s East End last weekend, and his campaign has two full-time paid field staff leading its ground efforts. 

“It’s about talking to people, knocking on doors, getting in the community, and it will be me more directly than having it come from a regular TV set,” said Garcia, who has the advantage of being able to campaign full time while Green is in Washington. The former sheriff and Houston city councilman also boasts high name identification and a record of formidable fundraising. 

Juanita Rodriguez, 47, was among the attendees at Garcia’s recent town hall, where he voiced support for increased gun control. 

“It might be good for a fresher perspective, out-of-the-box thinking,” said Rodriguez, who said she has voted for Green in the past, but now is undecided. “Obviously, there’s always room for improvement. There’s always more that can be done, particularly in lower income areas.” 

Census data shows that roughly 24 percent of the district of 750,000 was below the poverty level in 2014, about six percentage points above the state average. 

“Garcia has structural advantages in this race that make the race tilt in his favor,” Texas Southern University political scientist Michael Adams said, pointing to the fact that the area was designed as a Hispanic-opportunity district. 

Long-standing ties 

However, University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray said that even with demographics on Garcia’s side, it may be difficult for him to overcome Green’s financial advantage, familiarity with the district and establishment backing. 

The fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus recently endorsed Green, who had $1.2 million in the bank as of last September, and many of the local elected officials whose districts overlap with Green’s quickly lined up behind the congressman. They included state Sens. Sylvia Garcia and John Whitmire, and state Reps. Carol Alvarado, Garnet Coleman, Ana Hernandez and Armando Walle. 

“You can’t block up the Latino vote very easily if a bunch of the opinion leaders are saying, ‘No, no, yeah we want a Hispanic district, but not with this Hispanic,’ ” Murray said. “In terms of winning this district in a short fuse, one-on-one primary, that’s gonna be tough.” 

Garcia’s candidacy also has created some enmity among local Democrats with long-standing ties to Green. 

“Gene Green, everybody loves Gene Green,” said Freddy Blanco, a Democratic precinct chair in the East End. “No elected official responds the way he responds immediately.” 

Blanco block-walked or made calls almost nightly for Garcia’s mayoral campaign, but when the former sheriff called Blanco about his congressional bid, Blanco said he did not pick up the phone. 

“I don’t know why people think about races and colors when it’s about our city,” said Blanco, 64. 

Weekend trips 

Steven Flores, president of the local Communications Workers of America union, agreed. 

“Gene has been such a good advocate for the community, whether it be black, Hispanic or Anglo,” said Flores, 61, who added that he does not think Garcia is nearly as qualified. “I know he doesn’t have a Sanchez or a Rodriguez or Flores or Gonzalez last name, but man that guy has been great to our community.” 

Green, who last faced a primary opponent in 1996, plans to continue flying home to his district on weekends, and his campaign was scheduled to launch a paid canvassing effort of more than 20 people Saturday. 

“You identify your voters, you motivate them and get them to the polls,” Green said. 

Without a contested Democratic primary in more than two decades, it is difficult to project March turnout. Yet Rice University political scientist Bob Stein estimated that 37,500 to 40,000 ballots would be cast in the district in the Democratic primary, about 53 to 57 percent of them by Hispanic voters. 

About 42,000 voters cast a ballot in 29th district Democratic primary in 2008. That figure dropped to just 6,200 in 2014. 

Coverage is good. It is good to have a conversation on this. Like it is good for the Dem Party to have a competitive presidential primary.

Only three ‘Stros pitchers got a base hit last season. Name the three?

The Mayor and the City Controller got a thumbs down from the Chron E-Board this past Saturday. Check this:

[Down] Our New Year’s resolution was to focus on the good stuff. Seriously, it was. OK, maybe not. We did plan on giving Sylvester Turner a few weeks before slinging darts toward City Hall. But then about two hours into his term comes an email inviting constituents to a Wednesday fundraiser. PACs had to pony up $10,000. For regular folks, it was a thousand bucks. Is this what “Turner Time” at City Hall means? 

[Down) Not to be outdone, probable 2023 mayoral candidate and new city Controller Chris Brown also got into the act. His fundraiser at La Griglia on Jan. 21 is small potatoes: $250. But the optics are equally disappointing. Memo to Sylvester and Chris: Think about how employees at City Hall must feel – either I write a check or I lose my job. Shameful.

I need to ask the E-Board when is a good time for an H-Town city elected official to start soliciting campaign fund without getting the treatment from the E-Board.

I don’t have anything to say about the folks that think all of us Texans fans are a bunch of dumbarses. I am talking about the folks that run the Texans. They are probably the only ones in H-Town that don’t think they have a QB problem.

They get away with it because folks go to NRG regardless of how the team is doing. It is not that way with the ‘Stros. That is why the ‘Stros went out and got them a better closer this off season.

I will put my money on the Texans not getting serious about addressing the QB situation. They will just go get another retread and tell us to be proud of their selection.

I am not going to say anything about the kicker who missed a so called chip shot in zero degree weather yesterday.

Scott Feldman, Dallas Keuchel, and Collin McHugh each got a single this past season of course.

Opening Day is 12 weeks from today – I think.

 

 

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Jeff Bagwell was our Opening Day starting first baseman from 1991-2005. Who was our Opening Day starting first baseman in 1990?

Well the gloves are off in the CD 29 race. Here is from the Chron:

Rep. Luis Gutierrez of (D-Ill.), however, criticized (Adrian) Garcia for his role as sheriff in a federal jail screening program that resulted in the deportation of thousands of immigrants living in the United States illegally.  

“We cannot elect someone to Congress who is willing to work with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to deport people who have simply been pulled over for a speeding ticket or other minor traffic violations. Those are not the Hispanic community’s values,” Gutierrez said in a statement calling Garcia a “deporter-in-chief.” “Gene is on the right side of history by supporting comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. His opponent is not.”

Here is from an Adrian Garcia press release yesterday:

“Gene Green is the NRA’s favorite Democrat in Congress. He’s part of the reason our President has had to use Executive Action to protect our people. When House Democrats reclaim a majority, the NRA will still have Gene Green in their pocket to block progressive gun safety measures. He is their insurance policy,” states Sheriff Garcia. 

“It’s no wonder the Congressman has a lifetime A rating from the NRA: He signed on to a letter with Texas Republicans to prevent the restriction of armor-piercing bullets. He voted against the Brady Bill, he’s voted against child safety locks, and later voted for the assault weapons ban repeal. He also voted for keeping the gun show loophole*,” added Garcia.

Here is from an online story on the President’s proposal to close the gun show loophole on background checks:

Support for the measures crosses party lines, with 67% of those asked saying they favor the changes. Some 85% of Democrats, 65% of independents and 51% of Republicans support the President’s moves.

Here is what the President said the other day on his proposals:

“So all of us need to demand a Congress brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby’s lies.  All of us need to stand up and protect its citizens.  All of us need to demand governors and legislatures and businesses do their part to make our communities safer.  We need the wide majority of responsible gun owners who grieve with us every time this happens and feel like your views are not being properly represented to join with us to demand something better.  (Applause.) 

And we need voters who want safer gun laws, and who are disappointed in leaders who stand in their way, to remember come election time.  (Applause.)”

And here is from last night’s CNN town hall meeting with Anderson Cooper:

COOPER: You wrote an op-ed that just got published.

OBAMA: Yes.

COOPER: A lot of people probably have not read it yet. One of the things you say in it is that you are not going to campaign for, vote for any candidate, regardless of what party they are in, if they do not support commonsense gun reform.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Yes. I meant what I said. And the reason — the reason I said that is this. The majority of people in this country are a lot more sensible than what you see in Washington. And the reason that Washington doesn’t work well in part is because the loudest, shrillest voices, the least compromising, the most powerful, or those with the most money have the most influence.

And the way Washington changes is when people vote. And the way we break the deadlock on this issue is when Congress does not have just a stranglehold on this debate — or, excuse me, the NRA does not have a stranglehold on Congress in this debate…

(APPLAUSE)

… but it is balanced by a whole bunch of folks, gun-owners, law enforcement, the majority of the American people, when their voices are heard, then things get done.

The proposals that we’ve put forward are a version — a lawful, more narrow version of what was proposed by Joe Manchin and Senator Toomey of Pennsylvania, a Republican and a Democrat, both of whom get straight A scores from the NRA. And somehow after Newtown that did not pass the Senate. The majority of senators wanted it, but 90 percent of Republicans voted against it. And I’ll be honest with you. Ninety percent of those senators didn’t disagree with the proposal, but they were fearful that it was going to affect them during the election.

So all I’m saying is, is that this debate will not change and get balanced out so that lawful gun-owners and their Second Amendment rights are protected, but we’re also creating a pathway towards a safer set of communities, it’s not going to change until those who are concerned about violence are not as focused and disciplined during election time as those who are.

And, you know, I’m going to throw my shoulders behind folks who want to actually solve problems instead of just, you know, getting a high score from an interest group.

And from an AP story in today’s Chron:

Ahead of the town hall, Obama put political candidates on notice that he would refuse to support or campaign for anyone who “does not support common-sense gun reform” — including Democrats.

Interesting. So I am thinking the President won’t get involved in the DC 29 race. If he endorses Cong. Green, he is going too kind of lose a ton of credibility on this issue and those tears he shed the other day are going to really be ridiculed.

Stay tuned on this.

Glenn Davis of course was our starting first baseman on Opening Day of 1990.

Nothing from The Yard today.

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Nice Turnout

This was expected. Check these stories:

http://www.texastribune.org/2016/01/06/congressional-hispanic-group-endorses-gene-green/

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Fundraising-arm-of-Congressional-Hispanic-Caucus-6740376.php

All I can say is the more noise in CD29, the merrier.

It was SRO last night at the GLBT Political Caucus meeting. Maybe that bodes well for turnout in the coming primaries.

Jim Edmunds who received 11 Hall of Fame votes and Brad Ausmus who got none won’t be on the ballot next year. Of course, we all remember the Edmunds snag of an Ausmus shot in Game 7 of the 2004 NLCS. Name the other players on this year’s ballot who also saw action in the 2004 NLCS?

Jeff Bagwell missed getting into the Hall of Fame by 15 votes. I agree with those who say that if Bagwell had played in New York, Boston, or LA, he would have already been in the Hall. He should get in next year.

How about this tweet:

Jim Bowden‏@JimBowden_ESPN 34m34 minutes ago

Jeff Idleson, President of the National Baseball Hall of Fame left open the possibility of Ken Griffey Jr. hat being on backwards on plaque

A few seasons ago, Dante and I were at The Yard. Dante was asked to be the kid that says “let’s play ball” right before the first pitch. We were ushered down to field and Dante had his lid on backwards. ‘Stros great Jimmy Wynn walked by and asked Dante if he was going to do the “let’s play ball.” Dante said yes so Wynn then told him to wear the lid correctly out of respect for the game.

I am thinking Ken Griffey Jr. will also wear the lid correctly on his plaque.

Jeff Bagwell, Roger Clemens, Jeff Kent, and Larry Walker of course were on the Hall of Fame ballot and also saw action in the 2004 NLCS.

Nothing from The Yard today.

 

 

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Bagwell

It looks like it is going to be close. I am talking about Jeff Bagwell getting into the Hall of Fame today. According to the ballots (roughly 1/3) that have been made public, Bagwell is at a little over 79% and you need 75% or better to get in. I plan to be watching the MLB Network today at 5 pm when the results are announced.

How many times did Bagwell play in all 162 games of the season?

It looks like the media is giving Hunker Down a pass on going public with the names of the dignity violators. Whatever happened to transparency? If Hunker Down has disqualified three to five Precinct One Commissioner wannabees, I think we are entitled to know the names – don’t you? I would also like to know the timeframe of the dignity zone. When was it appropriate to approach Hunker Down about filling the vacancy without getting disqualified?

This is from an article today by Rebecca Elliott:

When Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee died unexpectedly Sunday, he left friends and allies in mourning, political hopefuls jockeying for his job and an uncommonly large campaign war chest of nearly $4 million.

Wow!

And here is from Kuffer today:

And speaking as a precinct chair in Precinct 1, I agree with Campos about knowing who the eagerest beavers are, so I can take that into account at the CEC meeting when we decide who the nominee will be. I’m already dreading the emails and phone calls I expect I’ll be getting in the months ahead. But as long as we’re discussing this, let me say that one of my priorities for a new Commissioner is someone who will pledge to work with the local party and candidates to support GOTV efforts. With great power comes great responsibility, and all that. KUHF and PDiddie have more.

Here is all of Kuffer: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=71814

Hopefully, Kuffer’s colleagues will listen to him and get in writing from the next Commissioner that he or she is going to put some of their campaign funds into GOTV efforts. GET IT IN WRITING, PLEASE!

Jeff Bagwell played in all 162 games of the season four times of course: 1992, 1996, 1997, and 1999.

Good luck today, Jeff Bagwell!

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The Dignity Thing

Here is from today’s Chron:

Within hours of longtime Commissioner El Franco Lee’s sudden death Sunday, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett received calls from three people vying for his seat. 

Emmett, who alone must appoint a temporary successor, said he will not consider these three or five others who by day’s end expressed their interest. 

“There’s such a thing as dignity,” Emmett said on Monday. 

While these contenders may have shrugged off grace and propriety, they and others coming forward more quietly understand that being precinct commissioner with a base annual salary of about $167,000 is a plum job wielding power to build roads and parks with minimal legislative wrangling and without the pressure of term limits.

The County Judge has the right to set his criteria on this appointment, but if he is going to rule out those that violated the dignity thing, he ought to at least give us the names of those he disqualified.

The real power is in the hands of the Democratic Party precinct chairs of Commissioner Precinct 1. They get to pick the Dem Party’s nominee who will be elected in November for a four-year term. Judge Emmett gets to pick someone who will only serve through the end of this year.

I don’t know if the precinct chairs have established a dignity criteria so stay tuned!

The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the new inductees tomorrow. Of all the Hall of Fame greats who played catcher for most of their careers, name the player with the most career dingers?

Here is this from the Tribune:

Congressional District 29: Gene Green vs. Adrian Garcia 

U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, learned in the last hours of filing day that former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, a friend and fellow Democrat, would challenge him for his seat, which represents parts of north and east Houston. 

Garcia says that it is time for a Latino to represent the district and that as a Hispanic, he is a better voice to counter the incendiary remarks of people like GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. 

Green, who has served in CD-29 since he was elected in 1992, faces a series of challenges with Garcia’s candidacy. Hispanics make up about 80 percent of the district, and Garcia has residual name identification from his unsuccessful 2015 Houston mayoral race. 

Garcia’s last-minute filing could have been a sneak attack against Green, an incumbent who has perennially glided to re-election.

But the incumbent doesn’t appear to have been caught sleeping. Green came out of the gate swinging at Garcia, calling the challenge a “Hail Mary.” He has well over $1 million at the ready, and several people in the Houston area say that Green is using connections made over his 20-plus years in office to consolidate his Democratic support.

A third Democrat, Dominique M. Garcia, could pull enough votes to kick this to a runoff. Two Republicans — Julio Garza and Robert Schafranek — also filed, but this safely Democratic district is expected to come down to Green or Adrian Garcia. 

Hall of Fame great Johnny Bench of course has 389 career dingers to lead those in the Hall who played catcher for most of their MLB career.

We will find out tomorrow if Jeff Bagwell gets the call to the Hall.

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The Abuela Vote

I was absolutely shocked to hear about the passing of Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee. His service will certainly be missed. Unassuming but always getting the job done. He was a great guy.   I was a fan of his for sure.

I met him in the mid-1970s. He was one of Mickey Leland’s guys and he ran for Mickey’s State House seat when Mickey ran for Congress way back in 1978.  What a loss.

The Mayor was sworn in a couple of days ago. Today at Jones Hall, the inauguration ceremony will take place. I will be there.

Columnist Ruben Navarrette, Jr. jumped into the Hillary and abuela thing. Oh, brother!

Here is how he starts his column:

If Hillary Clinton plans to mislead, malign and manipulate her way back into the White House, I’d appreciate it if she’d leave my grandmothers out of it.

For Latinos, our abuelas are sacred, and we’d rather not see them turned into political props. The Democratic front-runner and her campaign recently made a condescending attempt to convince Latinos that La Hillary is just like us. Or rather just like our grandmothers.

Don’t go there.

I don’t think this fella likes Hillary and now has an excuse to pile on. My mom is an abuela and she intends to vote for Hillary. My sister is an abuela and she is going to be supporting Hillary.

I am kind of thinking that Hillary will probably win the abuela vote.

I am also kind of thinking that non-Latinos think their grandmas are also sacred.

This was in Politico this past weekend.

Top 9 primaries to watch in 2016

Texas’ 29th District: Democratic Rep. Gene Green

However critical the Latino vote has become in some states, there’s still more potential than actual political influence in the population. Former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia hopes to show that 2016 is the year that will change. He has no policy quarrel with Green, but Green’s Houston district is nearly 80 percent Latino, and the two-decade incumbent is white. Garcia’s made his Democratic primary expressly about identity politics, and if he can activate a new pool of voters, he could surprise Green. In response, Green has been aggressively touting support from Latino leaders who have worked with him for years. It will be Garcia’s daunting task — one that has fazed many Latino candidates before him — to mobilize Hispanics who do not often vote to support his campaign.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/01/senate-house-primaries-to-watch-2016-217118#ixzz3wBc1Xbsr

I am passing on the MLB question today and there is nothing to report from The Yard.

 

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