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Archive for April, 2016

Dumb Lights

Sorry for the delay. The computer decided to upgrade and it took longer than expected.

Commentary watched the debate last night. I have a simple question. Why doesn’t Secretary Hillary Clinton release her speeches? What the heck are in the speeches anyway? Oh, well.

Which team leads MLB in strikeouts by hitters this early in the season?

Here is the deal. In 1996, Harris County voters approved a baseball and football stadium and how to pay for it. In 1997, legislation was passed creating the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority. The Sports Authority then leased the baseball stadium to the ‘Stros for 30 years. It is ours but they run it.

During this past off season the ‘Stros decided to go to with LED system for The Yard because it would be more efficient – cheaper light bills I guess.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that it was uncomfortable. I also said that it looked like players were having trouble seeing some fly balls. Well guess what happened last night? Here is Tags’ piece:

As a small gathering of reporters waited at his locker Thursday night, Astros right fielder George Springer got dressed and turned around and said, “Lights.” No questions were needed, though Springer took some time to express his frustration over losing a ball in the Minute Maid Park lights in a crucial sixth inning.

The Royals rallied for five runs after two outs after Springer couldn’t track down a sinking line drive off the bat of Lorenzo Cain in the lights. The Royals pulled away and held on for a 6-2 win, taking three of four games from the Astros.

Springer has appeared to have trouble with the new LED lights at Minute Maid Park at least four times this year, but losing Cain’s ball proved to be costly.

“Yeah, they’re tough,” he said. “It’s bright. It’s not easy to see the ball. It cost us a game today.”

When asked what can be done about the lights, Springer quipped: “Play during the day so they don’t turn them on.”

Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Springer and the rest of the outfielders need to make adjustments.

“We’re going to play the most games here of anybody in the league, so it’s certainly something to continue to work on,” he said. “There’s not much you can do about it. The lights are there and they’re not moving. We’ll make the adjustments.

“I don’t know if because it’s straight on in dead right field or if it’s the trajectories of some of the balls off the bats against the righties or lefties or what the issue is. It could be just bad luck, too. Everybody’s got to play under the same conditions. We certainly don’t want misfortune to find us all the time.”

Springer said the lights are trouble for a right fielder on balls hit into the gap.

“[The lights] are not ideal but I’m not going to complain about it,” Springer said. “It is what it is, and we’re just going to have to learn to play with it.”

After Cain reached on what was originally ruled an error and changed to a single, Eric Hosmer hit the first of three consecutive doubles, and the Royals were off and running.

“It’s a pretty helpless feeling, but you can’t do anything about it,” Springer said. “I catch that ball if it’s not in the lights.”

Yes they can do something about it! A few hundred millions of taxpayer dollars went in to build the stadium. Heck we are still paying for it. We are not supposed to have a lighting system that is going to create vision issues for our outfielders. We are not supposed to have a lighting system that is going to cost us some games. It is also ridiculous to have a lighting system that is going to be uncomfortable for some fans.

Adjustments my arse!

The ‘Stros front office hasn’t said much about this but when one of your key players says it is a problem, then it is a problem!

Commentary likes to brag that we have one of the best baseball venues in all of MLB. I can’t say that today with that dumb lighting system they got out there. What is it going to take to fix the lights? Losing out of the playoffs by one freaking game?

Fix the durn lights!

‘Stros hitters lead MLB with 102 whiffs of course.

We are 3-7 with the Tigers in town for three.  We certainly do not look like the 2015 ‘Stros.

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Commentary is pretty much ready to say that TIRZs are the most powerful special interests at H-Town City Hall. Do you care to challenge Commentary on this?

For the first time ever (I think), TIRZs were debated at length during last year’s H-Town City elections. They came up at forums. They were on a lot of candidate questionnaires. The sense was they were starting to wear out their welcome.

Today the Chron E-Board calls on “TIRZ transparency.” Good luck on that. Here is part of the E-Board’s take:

Less than half of TIRZ boards have websites listed with the city. While the city of Houston posts online the minutes of upcoming TIRZ meetings, many of those agendas are from months, or even years, ago.

People have grown impatient with these behind-the-scenes TIRZ board meetings. Galleria-area residents are waging a political war against the Uptown TIRZ, and people living in the Memorial City area have expressed frustration with the lack of direct representation on their local TIRZ board. Even Mayor Sylvester Turner’s transition team report specifically pinpointed a lack of TIRZ transparency as a problem that needs fixing.

Here is the entire E-Board TIRZ take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/article/TIRZ-cameras-7246930.php.

The Houston Press also has a take on TIRZs today. Check this:

“‘Require a higher level of transparency?!’ What is the difference between having this and actually studying their budgets before they approve them?,” says (TIRZ researcher Daphne) Scarbrough. “The Memorial City TIRZ, which is totally composed of Metro National Developers, has not even submitted a budget for over a year and is the only TIRZ in the City to not have one.”

As far as the recommendation to “adopt TIRZ board composition guidelines to encourage diversity in all respects such as ethnicity, gender, age, occupation and stakeholder interests,” Scarbrough, a Montrose business owner, says, “Pretty funny, the Mayor has the ability to do that now.”

“The Montrose District only has four out of 15 board members who own commercial property in the district and pay the tax. All of the others are political appointees [and] many never rotate off the board. There is no provision for conflict of interest or nepotism, no enforcement for competitive bids.”

Here is the entire Press take: http://www.houstonpress.com/news/is-another-houston-metro-bond-referendum-on-the-table-mayor-turner-isnt-saying-either-way-8321012.

How mighty are TIRZs? If TIRZs are going to be fixed, made more transparent or reformed, it is going to require expending a lot of political capital. You are taking on entrenched insiders, law firms, and other powerful players. Not an easy task if you are going to do it right.

The TIRZs are going to push back. They are not going to give up this nice perk they control.  They will probably offer a meaningless concession and try to convince us that they gave up a lot.  This is definitely going to be one to watch in the coming weeks or months or years or maybe never.

Name the ‘Stro hitter who leads the team in strikeouts?

Council Member Karla Cisneros mentioned www.haulingglasshouston.com at the H-Town City Council meeting yesterday.

Here is from the Hauling Glass home page:

The city of Houston just okayed a new contract  with Waste Management that doesn’t allow us to put glass in our big green curbside bins anymore. Pan thinks it’s a crying shame, so he decided to do something about it and pickup glass around his neighborhood. Right now we’re only pickup up in area codes 77007, 77008 and 77009. If you don’t live in that zip code and want us to grab your glass, you can send a request for us to expand to your neck of the woods and when we have enough requests, we will expand to you!

Good luck!

CM Cisneros also mentioned the North Main facility where you can drop off your recyclables. I mentioned yesterday that it needs to be more user friendly.

From Tags:

Astros backup catcher Erik Kratz was presented with a Royals 2015 World Series ring on Tuesday by Kansas City manager Ned Yost. Kratz played in four games for the Royals last year and had just one RBI, but the Royals gave rings to any player who spent time on their 25-man roster.

“It’s an honor of a lifetime,” Kratz said. “It’s something as a kid you dream for.”

The Royals also give Kratz one of the jerseys with gold stitching they wore during the first series of the season against the Mets.

“That just shows the class of the organization,” he said.

Not bad for four games.  Nice.

George Springer of course leads the team with 13 whiffs.

Our team needs to up their game. After nine games we are not getting anything out of Carlos Gomez and Luis Valbuena. A couple of triples is all we are getting out of Jason Castro. George Spinger needs to hit in the clutch. Ken Giles, our new reliever, is on a pace to give up 100 dingers. You get the picture.

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A week or so ago the City sent me a postcard letting me know that glass would no longer be accepted in the green bins. OK. Last Friday, I hauled my glass to the City drop-off facility on North Main. I thought it was going to be like the facility the City used to have behind the Star Pizza off of Washington and Heights where you just drive in, drop off your recyclables and drive off – no wait time. Nope.

The North Main facility has only one lane to get in. There was a long line of pick-up trucks and vehicles hauling trailers loaded with junk like old mattresses and furniture. Apparently the City accepts this material. That’s OK by me but you need more than one lane to get in. Rather than wait 20 minutes or so in line. I parked across the street and hauled my glass to the bins. It was definitely not user friendly.

I don’t think folks are going to wait in line for 20 to 30 minutes to drop off their glass. I hope the City makes this facility more accessible.

It is early in the season but who leads MLB in stolen bases?

Check this from today’s Chron:

Astros fans dream of having a beer and some wings with Craig Biggio. Now they can. Sort of.

The Astros All-Star is lending his name to a sports bar set to open downtown in November.

The two-level sports bar, Biggio’s, will be a high-profile drawing card for the new Marriott Marquis Houston, under construction at 1777 Walker near Discovery Green. The sports bar will target foodies as well as baseball fans, said Jay Marsella, director of sales and marketing for the hotel.

The menu has yet to be finalized, but Marsella describes Biggio’s as an upscale sports bar where diners can get a good steak as well as bar food like burgers and wings. Local craft beer, wines by the glass and craft cocktails will also have their place on the menu.

But the hottest item on the menu will be the Hall of Famer himself.

Biggio said he plans to be on site as much as he can. “I love the fans and look forward to seeing them enjoy themselves there,” he said.

Here is the story: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/entertainment/restaurants-bars/article/Craig-Biggio-to-open-sports-bar-in-downtown-7244377.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Now that is pretty cool.

All I can say about the following is expect more. This is preparation for the fall election. Check this:

In the shadow of the fight for the Democratic nomination for president, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is drawing heat from left-leaning groups unhappy with a little-known HUD program selling delinquent mortgages to banks.

More than a dozen groups, some backing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, on Tuesday started an online campaign and petition drive targeting what their new website calls “Julian Castro’s Wall Street Giveway.”

With Castro mentioned frequently as a potential running mate to Clinton, some of the activists are questioning his suitability for the national Democratic ticket.

“If Castro allows banks to continue to loot communities, more people are going to connect him to the housing disaster, which would make him a toxic asset to the campaign,” said Matt Nelson, managing director of Presente.org, a California-based group that bills itself as the nation’s largest online Latino organization.

Here is the entire piece: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/article/HUD-Secretary-Castro-s-progressive-credentials-7244515.php.

This is peanuts compared to what the GOP would throw at him.

When I heard about this yesterday, I wondered what took so long? I mean, the song has been out there for like 45 years. Check this from MSN.com:

A trial is needed to determine if Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” copies its opening notes from a song performed by the rock band Spirit, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S District Judge R. Gary Klausner ruled Friday that lawyers for the trustee of late Spirit guitarist Randy Wolfe had shown enough evidence to support a case that “Stairway to Heaven” copies music from the Spirit song “Taurus.”

“Taurus” was written by Wolfe in either 1966 or 1967, years before Led Zeppelin released “Stairway to Heaven” in 1971. Klausner wrote that while the songs have some differences, lawyers for Wolfe’s trustee may be able to prove they are substantially similar.

Led Zeppelin and Spirit performed at some concerts and festivals around the same time, but not on the same stage. Klausner wrote that the evidence presented so far represented a circumstantial case that Led Zeppelin may have heard “Taurus” performed before “Stairway to Heaven” was created.

After-hours phone and email messages sent to Helene M. Freeman, Led Zeppelin’s attorney, were not immediately returned. Experts hired by the band contend both “Stairway to Heaven” and “Taurus” use notes that have been used in music for centuries.

Francis Alexander Malofiy, attorney for Wolfe’s trustee Michael Skidmore, praised the ruling. He said while many copyright cases are an uphill battle, Klausner’s ruling brings his client one step closer to getting Wolfe credit for helping create one of the most recognizable song introductions in rock history.

Skidmore was able to overcome statute-of-limitations hurdles to sue over “Stairway to Heaven” because the song was remastered and re-released in 2014.

A lot of folks don’t know or remember Spirit. Do you remember “I Got a Line on You”, “Mechanical World”, or “Nature’s Way?”

Jose Altuve of course leads MLB with six stolen bases.

We should have won last night. Lack of situational hitting for sure. George Springer taking a called third strike right down the middle with the winning run on base in the bottom of the ninth hurt big time.

Oh well, it’s Dollar Dog Night this evening.

 

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Before the game last night, AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel and AL Rookie of the Year winner Carlos Correa were presented brand new pick-up trucks. Here is a tweet from after the game:

Brian McTaggart ‏@brianmctaggart 9h9 hours ago

Correa on getting a cool truck: “Especially the streets here in downtown Houston are very bad, so it’s good to drive a truck around.”

Jerome Solomon of the Chron says attendance at The Yard this season may hit the 3 million mark. When was the last time we hit 3 million?

I don’t know if this story has legs and I don’t know if I care. Commentary is talking about the Mayor’s Transition Committee Report being kept from the public. Here is from the Houston Press:

Not long after his swearing in earlier this year, Mayor Sylvester Turner assembled a “transition team” comprised of more than 250 local academics, business leaders, politicians and everyday citizens to study nearly every corner of city government and report back their policy recommendations. The mayor called the effort “unprecedented” in scope and inclusiveness, saying the team’s “advice and counsel will be invaluable as we move Houston forward toward that better tomorrow I promised in my inaugural address.”

Invaluable and kinda secret, turns out.

Soon after City Hall sent out a 17-page “Transition Team Report” last week, we started to hear grumblings that the report left out some important recommendations and information that had been submitted to Turner’s office. When the Houston Press contacted Turner’s office for a basic explanation of some of the recommendations that did manage to make it into the mayor’s report (for instance, what exactly does it mean to “Improve the transparency of the citizen complaint process” for the Houston Police Department?), Turner spokeswoman Janice Evans said she couldn’t help us because “The transition team process was conducted entirely outside of city government.” Evans also told us transition team members “do not do media interviews.”

At least not on the record they don’t. Several transition team members wouldn’t talk about the process publicly for fear of getting on the new-ish mayor’s bad side. None would send us the individual transition team reports that were submitted to the mayor’s office – reports that supposedly discuss in detail some of the most pressing issues facing the city, from budgeting and finances to public safety and police accountability.

“We were under the impression that these would be public documents,” one transition team member told us. It was only in recent weeks, the team member said, that officials in charge of the process “started saying these documents are to be kept quiet.”

Here is the entire Houston Press story: http://www.houstonpress.com/news/does-mayor-turner-have-a-transparency-problem-8316438.

We will see if any other media outlets ask for the report. This is interesting but Commentary will let others get into this debate.   It is probably just some criticism of department heads.

The LED lights at The Yard are getting twitter run. Here is this:

MoiseKapenda Bower ‏@moisekapenda 14h14 hours ago

The new lights inside Minute Maid Park are extremely bright. Feels like I’m on the Cooper Station in Interstellar. #Astros #KCRvsHOU 

Mayra Moreno ABC13 ‏@ABC13Mayra 4h4 hours ago

So the lights are too bright at #MinuteMaidPark according to some @astros fans but it saves lots of energy! did you notice the lights?

tony renteria ‏@ugotiger 2h2 hours ago Houston, TX

@CourtneyABC13 @tomkochnews @astros horrible…go back to old system lights..I saw the difference and they blinded me watching pop fly balls

From where I sit, I can’t even make out the upper deck seats across the field. It is like a bright haze.

Commentary got an easy foul ball last night and missed one that was hit hard.

The Chron has a story on the parking around The Yard last night. I took the light rail.

How about these tweets:

Jake Kaplan ‏@jakemkaplan 10h10 hours ago

Carlos Correa is the first shortstop to drive in 74 runs over his first 106 major-league games since 1942 (Vern Stephens). 

Jake Kaplan ‏@jakemkaplan 10h10 hours ago

Tyler White is the first player in Astros history to tally 12 hits in his first seven major-league games.

3,020, 405 made it to The Yard in 2007 of course.

Last night’s win was nice. It is just one win but it sure was an energizer for an Opening Day. Nice. Nice. Nice.

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Opening Day 2016

The World Serious champs who also ended our season last October are in town.

Commentary thinks it is healthy for Latino and Latina politics when folks like Rosario Dawson can talk about the legend she played in a movie. Dolores Huerta can certainly take care of herself. I want to see Latina and Latino celebs like Dawson and Eva Longoria and others out there stumping.

What a joke! Check this story:

Donald Trump has a big lead in polling in his home state of New York, but he won’t be getting the votes of two of his biggest advocates there: His kids.

Trump conceded Monday that two of his children – Eric and Ivanka Trump – failed to register as Republicans in the state in time to be eligible to vote for him in New York’s April 19 primary.

“They were unaware of the rules and they didn’t register in time,” Trump said on Fox News. “So they feel very, very guilty. They feel very guilty but it’s fine.”

The deadline for new voters to register to vote in New York’s closed primary was March 25, and the deadline to change party affiliation was back in October.

“Eric and Ivanka, I guess, won’t be voting,” Trump said.

Oops!

Marisol tweeted this yesterday:

Marisol Valero ‏@marisol_valero 15h15 hours ago Houston, TX View translation

Houston Dash! #equalplayequalpay @ BBVA Compass Stadium

Here is from Texas Leftist from last year:

But even as the whole nation celebrates a well-deserving championship team, the National Women’s Soccer League continues to endure blatant inequality.  While their male counterparts in the MLS (Major Leage Soccer) receive average salaries well in excess of 6 figures, NWSL players are lucky to earn a living wage, with some paid as little as $6,000/yr. Shocking as it seems, these numbers are not made up.  Women playing professional sports and doing every bit of the same work as men (let’s be honest… more work given that they likely have full-time jobs just to support their passion for the game, and other life needs) are literally being paid pennies on the dollar.  And need we be reminded that men’s soccer in the United States has yet to produce a World Cup championship team?

Here is the entire Leftist take: http://texasleftist.com/tag/houston-dash-salaries/.

There is a story out today about some women soccer players talking about boycotting the Olympics this summer.  Go for it!

Well inequality is happening right in our back yard at Compass.

From Tags’ book, what years did we wear the rainbow jerseys?

On this Opening Day the Chron has a pretty good front page story on parking at The Yard. If you are going to the game, it is a must read.

Here is a part:

Fans heading downtown for Monday’s home opener may be in for a rude shock: Those favorite parking spots of years past could very well have a shiny new building on them, or at least a big hole in the ground.

The transformation of downtown from a work place that empties after dark to a true community is finally underway in earnest, with residents, retail shops, and restaurants that remain open long after the lunch rush. The building boom is everywhere, and that includes the area around Minute Maid, which had been the domain of abandoned warehouses and repeating squares of blacktop.

As new development gradually alters the timeworn tableau of skyscrapers, hotels and parking lots, the matter of where to put all the cars that flood into the area – be it for work in the day, governmental dealings, or nighttime entertainment – becomes a bit less obvious. Nowhere is that more true than in downtown’s eastern precinct, home to the Astros, Rockets, Dynamo, George R. Brown Convention Center and Discovery Green.

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/health/article/Texans-cheerleader-puts-in-the-hard-work-7237532.php.

I actually did some recon on the parking situation by The Yard a few days ago. You better have a plan for this evening. Those lots close to The Yard will probably be charging $40 to $50 a slot. Street parking is probably going to fill up fast like by 5 pm for the 7 pm game. Prepare to park a few blocks from The Yard. If you think the Light Rail is a good fit, make the deal. I have my plan down.

BTW: I would never pay $40 to park.

This is from the Chron:

Whether you call him Tyler “Great” White or Tyler Blanco, there’s no doubting the Astros rookie first baseman is White hot. 

White went 0 for 3 with a walk in Sunday’s loss at Milwaukee, but that only dropped his average to .556 through the first six games of the season. 

His 10 hits, three home runs and nine RBIs in the first five games were the most for any Astros player in the first five games of their career. 

Of course, success for one week doesn’t necessarily equate to career greatness. 

Remember Astros shortstop Orlando Miller? Probably not, but 12 years ago, he was every Astros fans’ newest favorite player. In his first six games in 1994, Miller hit .450 with two home runs and seven RBIs. Three years later, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers and was out of baseball a year after that. 

Then, there’s all-time Astros greats like Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and Lance Berkman who were pretty awful in their first six big-league games.

The team wore the rainbow jerseys from 1975 to 1986 of course.

All I can say is the team played sloppy yesterday. There is no excuse for baserunners getting picked off of base – period.

This will be the 17th season at The Yard and this will be Commentary’s 17th Opening Day at The Yard.

Wear orange, please!

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Posturing

Governor Greg Abbott is coming out with a book and some folks are now speculating that he may be thinking about running for higher office. I guess that would be running for president in four years or eight. Oh, well. Erica Grieder from Texas Monthly has a take on this and here is a bit of it:

I remain skeptical of such speculation in light of the simple fact that Abbott already has, arguably, the best job in American politics. As governor of Texas he is the chief executive of the best state in the country, and arguably the most important one; in other words, he already has a sufficiently high office, without having even a fraction of the hassles that accompany the office of the presidency. Plus, one can assume that Abbott expects his protégé, Cruz, to do well in this year’s campaign; any presidential run he’s planning would be penciled in for 2024, and who knows if there will even still be a Republican Party then?

Here is the entire Grieder take: http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/greg-abbott-auteur/.

Texas Governor is the best job in American politics? Nope. Not even close. President would be on the top of my list for sure.

Best state in the country? I love being a native Texan. I love living in H-Town and yes I don’t think I would want to live anywhere else. I bet some folks that live in places like Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Hawaii, New York and on and on feel the same about their states.

Are we the most important state? Why? If we are so important, then why don’t we do stuff that important states should be doing? Health insurance, high school graduates, you get the picture.

What was our record last season after three games?

Remember when I said this yesterday:

The Chron has a story today about the HISD Board of Trustees suspending their chief auditor. The board president said the suspension had “nothing to do with sex or anything of that nature. And they’re alleged, so I don’t want to get into what the allegations are until the investigation is over.” OK! Got it! Stay tuned!

The Houston Press has a story today on a meeting yesterday of the HISD Board Audit Committee. Here is a part:

(Trustee Jolanda) Jones, who was nominated to be chair of the three-member Audit Committee on Thursday by Diana Davila and elected in a 2-1 vote (Anna Eastman who has been on the audit committee for several years, abstained), made it clear she doesn’t think much of former Superintendent Terry Grier, telling the Chronicle that this investigation may be retaliation by some board members against Patton supposedly because they didn’t like the questions he was asking.

“My opinion is, who is Dr. Grier? I mean he’s got axes to grind with the district as well. No disrespect intended but he doesn’t have the vote on this. That’s another reason I ran for the school board. Because of him my son couldn’t go to Yates. So all I’m saying is I don’t know why he’s weighing in on this. He’s the ex-superintendent.”

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonpress.com/news/hisd-audit-chiefs-alleged-misdeeds-kept-under-tight-wrap-8307217.

Oh, stop the posturing. If the investigation is conducted properly, then Grier will be interviewed. And what does attending Yates High School have to do with this anyway?   Hop on the roller coaster for sure.

Ken Hoffman reports on what is new in the grub department at The Yard this season. Check this:

Sweet Potato Waffle Chicken Sandwich: Homemade waffles with sweet potato puree in the batter, grilled chicken breast, Greek yogurt, baby spinach and sliced tomatoes. 

Irish Nachos: Kettle chips smothered in jalapeno queso, picadillo ground beef and assorted nacho toppings. 

Hand Dipped Corn Dogs: Freshly deep-fried. No more heated-up, store-bought frozen corn dogs. 

Loop Artisan Pretzel: My favorite in the bunch. Loved the German-style pretzel with lager mustard dipping sauce. That’ll clear your sinuses. Also available with 3 cheese sauce.

I will stick to the dogs and peanuts.

Last season after three games we were 1-2 just like this morning and a game out just like this morning.   We are now in Milwaukee for three.

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Commentary talked about this during the 2015 city elections. I am talking about the City of H-Town issuing city ID cards to folks including those without papers. My thing was the security thing. You put all the names and addresses of folks in a city database and then the anti-paperless folks crowd gets the list through an open records request and voila, they now know where all the paperless folks live. Dumb idea. I think I said last year that this hasn’t been properly thought out by those proposing this idea and those candidates that supported.

Plus, a municipality that goes forward with this invites a debate on the sanctuary city thing. Here is from the Trib on the City of El Paso grappling with this:

An El Paso-based immigrant rights group could see its hopes for a municipal ID card dashed after leaders there determined that issuing the card might prompt immigration hardliners to label the town a “sanctuary city.”

In 2014, the El Paso-based Border Network for Human Rights launched a petition drive asking the city council to consider creating a standardized ID card available to city residents. The card would not reflect a person’s legal status in the country but could be used as proof of residency by undocumented immigrants waiting to apply for President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which is stalled in the courts.  

The ID could also be used to open bank accounts, protect day laborers and other workers paid day-to-day from predatory check-cashing agencies that charge high fees and be used to access city services like libraries and emergency care, proponents argue. 

Oakland and San Francisco issue similar cards, and the petition to launch them in El Paso garnered more than 10,000 signatures.

But an analysis of the program released by the city reflected leaders’ concerns over what, if any, reprisals could come from state and federal leaders who oppose sanctuary cities, the common term for municipal governments that don’t enforce federal immigration laws.

Here is the entire Trib story: https://www.texastribune.org/2016/04/07/sanctuary-city-fears-could-thwart-municipal-id-pro/.

I don’t think this is going anywhere soon here in H-Town.

Collin McHugh lasted a third of an inning last night at Yankee Stadium after giving up five earned runs. Care to guess his ERA?

Back in January, Sen. Ted Cruz probably thought he was scoring some points by going after “New York values.” I am sure the April 19 New York primary wasn’t on his mind back then. Now he got a big front page “FU” from one of the NY dailies. Plus, Donald Trump is hanging the values take around his neck and Cruz is having to defend it and walk it back. It is so uncharacteristic of Cruz and Commentary loves it!

The Chron has a story today about the HISD Board of Trustees suspending their chief auditor. The board president said the suspension had “nothing to do with sex or anything of that nature. And they’re alleged, so I don’t want to get into what the allegations are until the investigation is over.” OK! Got it! Stay tuned!

My pal, Jeff Balke of the Houston Press, has a take on places to hang before the first pitch on Opening Day next Monday including a favorite of mine. Here it is:

Christian’s Tailgate (Downtown): One of the best burger joints in town is also one of its coolest sports bars. The original location on Interstate 10 and Washington may have the history, but the downtown location has a great atmosphere, plenty of big screens and those incredible signature burgers.

Here is the entire Balke take: http://www.houstonpress.com/news/the-8-best-places-to-hang-out-near-the-ballpark-on-opening-day-8302719.

Collin McHugh’s ERA is 135.00 of course – yikes!

You can’t say anything good about getting our arses whupped last night by a 16-6 score. The SpingerDinger grand salami and the two Carlos Correa dingers weren’t enough to make it close. Let’s hope we can win the series this afternoon.

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So we have been used to watching scripted political party national conventions like forever. Some of the networks have severely curtailed their coverage the last few conventions because of the scripted conventions. Now it looks as though we are headed toward our first unscripted convention in decades. I have already checked my schedule and the ‘Stros are in Oakland the week of the Republican National Convention.  I will be glued to the flat screen.

Now that the Sen. Ted Cruz Campaign and D.C. GOP insiders are working together against Donald Trump, we are probably not going to hear Cruz criticize the “Washington Cartel.” Heck, they are now united.

According to a number of articles today and yesterday, the Clintons are growing more frustrated that this primary keeps dragging on and on. The Clintons need to blame the Dems across the country that gave the Sen. Bernie Sanders Campaign $44 million last month. A number of Dem voters want to see this race continue. If Sanders doesn’t get the dough, he folds, but that isn’t happening.

The ‘Stros have now won four Opening Day games in a row. In 2012, who did we lose to on Opening Day?

For Latinos, it’s personal. This is why the GOP can kiss off Latino voters this November. Now Trump is saying we can’t send our hard earned money to our families in Mexico.   This is from an AP story:

Donald Trump would try to force Mexico to pay for a border wall by targeting billions of dollars in remittances sent by immigrants living in the U.S., according to a memo released by his campaign Tuesday.

The memo outlines in new detail how Trump would try to compel Mexico to pay for the 1,000-mile wall he’s promised to build along the Southern border if he becomes president.

In his proposal, Trump threatened to change a rule under the USA Patriot Act, an anti-terrorism law, to cut off a portion of the funds sent to Mexico through money transfers known as remittances. His plan would also bar non-Americans from wiring money outside of the U.S. unless they can provide documentation establishing their legal status in the country.

Trump said he would withdraw the threat if Mexico makes “a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” to finance the wall.

Why is there silence from GOP leaders on this? Is this OK? Does Trump have you so spooked that not allowing folks to send their own hard earned money to family in Mexico is OK. This is personal. Hey GOP!  Say adios to Latino voters this presidential election!

Talking about a bridge too far. Yesterday I switched the flat screen to the H-Town City Council meeting after the ballgame and some residents from neighborhoods around Richmond and Weslayan streets were complaining about the city fixing to apply for highway grant money to build a 1000 foot long bridge on Richmond to go over the railroad tracks in that area. They were complaining that nobody from the surrounding neighborhoods has been consulted and they have had absolutely zilch input. Their council member Greg Travis didn’t know about the grant application either and is clearly on their side.

In listening to their concerns, the residents acknowledge that they have to sit in their cars on Richmond as trains roll by and seem to have accepted this.

Here is what I don’t get. A few years ago, some folks in the East End had a huge emotional debate over Metro’s plan to construct an overpass over railroad tracks on Harrisburg to accommodate the East End Light Rail Line. Weren’t the folks over at City Hall paying attention to what was going on in the East End? I am anxious to learn how the City ‘splains why they were moving forward with an application without input from the neighborhoods.

The last time the ‘Stros lost on Opening Day was in 2012 when we lost to the Rockies 5-4 at The Yard of course.

That was a pretty good win yesterday.

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Get It in Writing

The Chron has a story today on County Commissioner Gene Locke changing his mind and now wanting to become the Dem nominee for Commissioner. It looks like a race between Gene and State Sen. Rodney Ellis. The Chron mentions a few others that may be interested though.

Here is from the story today that Commentary finds interesting:

Lane Lewis, Democratic Party county chair, said he does not know which candidate the roughly 150 precinct chairs lean toward. So far, he said, the chairs have expressed concern about two main issues when considering contenders: whether the nominee will invest more within Houston city limits, since city residents also pay county taxes, and whether the nominee will play a more active role in Democratic Party politics.

Get it in writing folks or at least on YouTube. Make the county commissioner candidates say that they will start spending more of our tax dollars on projects within the H-Town City limits. How much? How about proportionately?

On the second point, we all know that county commissioners can raise a ton of campaign funds. Get them to say that in general election years, they will spend ten percent of what they have in their campaign bank account on Dem GOTV efforts in Harris County or at least within their precinct. If they have a million in the bank, then they commit to spend $100,000. No more of this piling up funds in their campaign bank account and hoarding it while the Dem Party continues to hold bake sales.

Make them take the pledge, please. Don’t let this opportunity slip through your fingers.

Here is the Chron story: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Harris-County-Commissioner-Locke-changes-mind-and-7227840.php.

We all know that we ended the Yankees’ season last October in the Wild Card game. Closer Luke Gregerson pitched the ninth and only faced the minimum of three batters. Name the three Yankee hitters Gregerson faced?

I think it is pretty obvious that if Donald Trump doesn’t have the 1,237 delegates heading into Cleveland he’s not going to get the nomination. I would give the advantage to Sen. Ted Cruz if this thing goes to a second ballot. The Cruz campaign is already preparing for this scenario. Trump isn’t.

I have to agree with this Cruz statement yesterday:

“This fevered pipe dream of Washington that at the convention they will parachute in some white knight who will save the Washington establishment – it is nothing less than a pipe dream. It ain’t gonna happen. If it did, the people would quite rightly revolt.”

Like I said, the Cruz campaign is preparing and setting the stage if Trump doesn’t have the 1,237 on the first ballot.

Wow! I am talking about the buzzer beater last night. Then the wild and crazy reaction on twitter. Wow!

In the bottom of the ninth in the 2015 AL Wild Card game, Luke Gregerson struck out Carlos Beltran and A-Rod and then got Brian McCann to ground out to short of course.

Our season finally gets underway at noon our time and I will be watching.

Colby Rasmus told Tags that he’s going to the opera after the game.

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This tweet just in:

Houston Chronicle ‏@HoustonChron 6m6 minutes ago

Breaking: Today’s @Astros, @Yankees game has been postponed due to bad weather: http://www.chron.com/sports/astros/article/Astros-Yankees-opening-day-game-in-New-York-7226389.php … #OpeningDay

And:

Houston Astros ‏@astros 16m16 minutes ago

Today’s Opening Day game has been postponed due to inclement weather. It will be made up tomorrow, April 5, at 12:05 PM CT.

If you take the Chron, you read yesterday’s front page story on how State Sen. Rodney Ellis makes a living. Nothing new to me except for the details.

Here is what Kuffer said about the article:

There’s no allegation of any wrongdoing – indeed, as Smith notes, Sen. Ellis has been a leader on ethical issues. He’s also made money off the system as it exists, playing within the rules while also having a hand in writing those rules. How you feel about this is up to you. I’m of a mind that we imperfect human beings to office, and human beings by their nature seek to do well for themselves. What I want from my political leaders is a commitment to making things better for everyone. On that score, Sen. Ellis has a lot of accomplishments. You tell me what the rest of it means to you.

Here is all of Kuffer: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=73558.

Charles is a Dem precinct chair in Precinct 1. He does not say if he is voting for Sen. Ellis for Commissioner.

Ok. I get why the Chron put Rodney on the front page. I wonder if the Chron will give the same treatment to the others wanting to be the next Commissioner.

I am sure if the Chron gives Commissioner Gene Locke the front page treatment, they will probably focus on his clients and Gene being the ultimate insider and there is nothing wrong with that. Gene is very knowledgeable on local politics – the players, policies, and institutions. He is one of the best if not the best.

I like both Gene and Rodney and I get along well with both. Both are hard workers.

Are there any others making a serious run at this?

Stay tuned for sure.

The MLB season is on. MLB Commissioner Manfred sent us a letter yesterday. Here is a part of the letter:

As we begin our 2016 regular season, millions of fans around the world can realistically hope that their team will be playing October baseball and contending for a World Championship. Our game is characterized by great competitive balance. The last five seasons have produced more playoff teams – 24 – than any such period in baseball history and we have now gone a record 15 straight years without a repeat World Series Champion.

Ok, name the last repeat World Serious champion?

I tweeted this from The Yard this past Friday:

Marc Campos ‏@MarcCommentary Apr 1

Hey @astros . @twhite409 is a first baseman and not a tight end. Give him a real number.

Tyler White will be wearing the number 13.

Commentary went by Barnes and Noble on Saturday and got me a signed copy of Tags’ “100 Things Astros Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.”

The Yankees of course won World Serious rings in 1998, 1999 and 2000 for a threepeat – got it!

This tweet just in:

Julia Morales ‏@JuliaMorales 10m10 minutes ago Bronx, NY

Hinch says Gregerson will be the primary closer.

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