Archive for May, 2016


43 years ago today hearings began in the U.S. Senate on the mother of all political scandals – Watergate. It was certainly must see TV.

Where do the ‘Stros rank this season in MLB on offensive production from their center fielders?

Tonight is a gathering of HISPANIC PAC.  The invitation says “Representing Hispanic Political Interests Since 1988.”

Commentary and Mustafa Tameez will participate in a “Panel Discussion” on “The State of Hispanic Politics in Houston.”

There will also be a “Website & Social Media Unveiling at the Reception.”

It is at 6 pm this evening at Post Oak Grill.

Obviously Commentary supports this effort and wish them nothing but the best. The last thing they want is my advice. However, in order for this to work, they are going to have to be fiercely independent, not have hidden agendas, and not be an extension of or co-opted by the elected officials.

HISPANIC PAC is certainly needed at this point. Good luck!

The ‘Stros ranked 28th in MLB (ahead of the Nats and Tigers) of course in the offensive production from their center fielder category.

Let’s see, we visit the AL Central first place White Sox this evening, host the AL West first place Rangers this weekend, and then host the AL East first place B’More next week. That is a lot of firsts.

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New EV Location

Finally! It’s about time. There is a new Early Voting location in Commentary’s zip code. It is at the SPJST Lodge #88, 1435 Beall St., 77008. That is four or five blocks west of N. Durham at 15th. I did a quick check and it is 1.8 miles from me versus Moody Park at 1.9 miles. Regardless, a lot of voters in my ‘hood will use this location for sure. I hope this is a permanent deal.   FYI: They hold bingo there on Thursday evenings.

I read that New York Times article on Donald Trump this past Saturday. Here is the tweet on it:

NYT Politics ‏@nytpolitics 12m12 minutes ago

Donald Trump has repeatedly unnerved women in private over 40 years. Here are their stories. http://nyti.ms/27mWaDO

It is very troubling read if you ask me. Of course, Trump is denying. That is what he does, and does well.

Yesterday’s column by Lisa Falkenberg was about the renaming of UH’s Hofheinz Pavilion. Here is part of a line that struck me:

“(UH)officials wouldn’t talk to me for this column.”

Really? UH doesn’t want to talk to a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist? Oh, brother!

Here is her column: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/falkenberg/article/UH-shouldn-t-forget-Hofheinz-s-legacy-and-largesse-7469138.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Carlos Beltran hit his 400th career dinger yesterday. How many dingers did he have as a ‘Stro back in 2004?

I pulled this from Journal-isms.com. It is about the way Chron sports columnist Brian Smith accurately quoted ‘Stro center fielder Carlos Gomez a week and a half ago and the reaction. Gomez did not like the way he sounded I guess. Here is the quote:

“For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed.”

Here is the headline and the story:

Some Fellow Journalists Sided With Angered Player

Houston Chronicle Editor Nancy Barnes told Journal-isms on Friday, “We sincerely apologize for any offense that was taken” when a Chronicle sports columnist quoted a Latino ballplayer speaking in broken English, angering the ballplayer and prompting other journalists to come to the player’s defense.

Barnes cited what she called “less than adequate” Associated Press guidelines on quoting news sources for whom English is not their first language.

In a May 4 column headlined, “Carlos Gomez knows he’s a disappointment to Astros fans,” [available via search engine], Brian T. Smith wrote of Gomez, ” ‘For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed,’ said Gomez as he roamed center field against the team with which he spent 2008-09. . . .”

On alldigitocracy.com, Britni de la Cretaz, who is white, wrote May 6, “Quoting Gomez in this way is incredibly offensive. It makes him sound unintelligent when, in reality, he’s experiencing a language barrier. In fact, Gomez even took to Twitter to tell Smith exactly that, suggesting, ‘next time you want an interview have Google translate on hand.’

“But this is what happens when you have a white journalist who is not attuned to the cultural issues affecting the person he is reporting on. And when you have a largely all-white staff, like the Houston Chronicle does, there’s possibly no one to catch the mistake (or, like in the case of SB Nation’s incredibly misguided piece on convicted rapist cop Daniel Holtzclaw, white editors who refused to listen to the Black woman who told them not to run the story). . . .”

Barnes told Journal-isms by email, “With regards to quoting Carlos Gomez: We sincerely apologize for any offense that was taken. Our writers are encouraged to adhere to AP style rules, which are quoted below. I reviewed the rules myself after this arose and found the guidelines on quotes to be less than adequate for a community like ours, full of immigrants from all over the world, and for whom English is often a second language. I’ve asked some top editors to review this policy, research best practices, and recommend guidance for all of our writers in the future. We always want to be respectful of those we are interviewing.”

The AP guidelines say, in part, “The same care that is used to ensure that quotes are accurate should also be used to ensure that quotes are not taken out of context.

“We do not alter quotations, even to correct grammatical errors or word usage. If a quotation is flawed because of grammar or lack of clarity, the writer must be able to paraphrase in a way that is completely true to the original quote. If a quote’s meaning is too murky to be paraphrased accurately, it should not be used. . . .”

An Associated Press spokeswoman provided guidelines that also say, “Do not use substandard spellings such as gonna or wanna in attempts to convey regional dialects or informal pronunciations, except to help a desired touch or to convey an emphasis by the speaker.”

Other news organizations likewise prohibit altering quotations but specifically address the issue of quotations that seem to ridicule.

Philip B. Corbett, associate editor for standards at the New York Times, told Journal-isms Friday by email, “The short answer is, we don’t ‘clean up’ quotes, a potentially risky and subjective practice that could leave readers uncertain as to what exactly was said. When someone’s grammar is nonstandard — for whatever reason — we often paraphrase, or use partial quotations. That way we can avoid seeming to ridicule or treat someone unfairly, while still preserving the integrity of any direct quotations.”

The Washington Post style book says, “Quotations of people whose speech is marked by dialect, incorrect grammar or profanity often present difficult choices.

“Giving the exact words of people who are poorly educated or who are not native speakers of English may be needlessly embarrassing to them. . . . When quoting people for whom English is not their first language, special care should be taken. If such quotations make the speaker look stupid or foolish, we should consider paraphrasing them (outside of quotation marks of course). When appropriate, a story should note that a source was struggling with English. . . .”

Gomez, a native of the Dominican Republic, spoke in Spanish with ESPN Radio’s “Max y Marly” on Thursday, in an interview that became part of a podcast (audio).

Gomez told ESPN’s Max Bretos and Marly Rivera that he was demeaned by the quote used in the article.

That person knew exactly what he was writing, and he did it intentionally to ridicule me,” Gomez said. “… I do not wish for him to lose his job because he may be a father and have a family, but he should have given a better thought process before writing such comments. Because [he] not only [hurt] a Dominican, but every Latino who makes an effort [to learn] the language.”

Rivera told listeners that others in the Houston press corps volunteered to Gomez that they disapproved of the way Smith quoted him.

“Where is the editor . . .at the Houston Chronicle?” Rivera asked.

ESPN reported on its One Nacion blog, “The podcast producers tried to contact and get comment from the writer involved, Brian T. Smith, but he didn’t respond to requests to appear on the show.” Gomez said on the podcast that he would rather not use a translator.

“As a baseball player, I like to express myself the way I want to, not that I say something and an interpreter makes it prettier,” he said. “I would like it if a reporter sits and listens to me and then writes things — but in a professional way, not in a way to make fun of me like he did.”

The incident came a month after Jose de Jesus Ortiz, who is bilingual and covered major league baseball for most of the last two decades, left the Chronicle to become a sports columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In the 2015 edition of the annual newsroom diversity survey of the American Society of News Editors, the Chronicle reported 25.4 percent journalists of color [PDF], of whom 14 percent were Hispanic, 7.3 percent black and 4.1 percent Asian American.

A lack of bilingual reporters can be costly. In 2004, a language misunderstanding led to a libel suit against the Miami Herald that was settled out of court.

Jockey Jose Santos rode Funny Cide to victories in the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He filed suit, accusing the Herald of printing an article that falsely accused Santos of carrying an unauthorized and illegal object in his hand during his Kentucky Derby ride.

The newspaper reported that Santos said he carried an object in his hand during the race and that he described it as a “cue” ring to alert an outrider to his presence. Derby racing stewards later concluded Santos was holding only his whip.

The jockey, who speaks English with a heavy accent, later said there was a misunderstanding: He was talking about his “Q-Ray” bracelet for arthritis.

“If we have a situation again where a Spanish-speaking jockey [talks to] a non-Spanish-speaking reporter, we’ll have a Spanish speaker conduct the interview,” the Herald’s then-executive editor, Tom Fiedler, said in hindsight, according to Miami New Times.

Commentary respects MLB’s Alyson Footer who is based in H-Town. She is a pro who knows the MLB biz. Here are a few of her responses:

Alyson Footer ‏@alysonfooter 24m24 minutes ago

Hiding behind murky AP style guidelines is a laughable and pathetic excuse. Give. Me. A. Break. 

Alyson Footer ‏@alysonfooter 23m23 minutes ago

News flash: English speaking reporters clean up grammar mistakes for players who speak English as 2nd language. Happens 100x a day thru MLB.

Alyson Footer ‏@alysonfooter 29m29 minutes ago

Pitcher: “I not throw my curveball for strikes.” Me: “Hm. What does he mean by that? Lemme check AP style guide.” NO THIS NEVER HAPPENS 

Alyson Footer ‏@alysonfooter 45s45 seconds ago

An appropriate way to apologize after trying to make a player look illiterate: “We are sorry. There are no excuses. Terrible judgement.”

When I read the Brian Smith article back on Cinco de Mayo, I didn’t think much of it in terms of it making Gomez look bad. In the past, I have kind of been taken aback when I hear a Latino player being interviewed on radio or on TV and thinking he sure doesn’t sound that way in the newspaper if you know what I mean.

Gomez is batting a paltry .182. As a season ticket holder, I ‘d rather him focus on increasing his offensive production rather than improving his English speaking skills. He is definitely not contributing.

Speaking of, the ‘Stros – Red Sox game on Saturday was on national TV sort of. It was on the Fox Sports One network. Commentary respects baseball writer Ken Rosenthal who works for Fox Sports. During the game Rosenthal talked about the slump Gomez is in and said part of Gomez’s problem was his unwillingness to make adjustments – ouch. He also said the ‘Stros’ trade for Gomez last year was starting to look like a bad deal for the ‘Stros – ouch again.

Carlos Beltran had 23 dingers the three months plus change he played with the ‘Stros back in 2004 of course. He also had four dingers against The ATL in the 2004 NLDS and another four against San Luis in the 2004 NLCS.

It was brutal to get the double treatment from Big Papi on Saturday. I have to say it was a bonehead move to pitch to him in the 11th inning with first base open. Come on! Michael Feliz versus Big Papi?

And then yesterday to see the ball drop between George Springer and Gomez allowing the Red Sox to tie the game and then to go on to win it.   Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy!

See these tweets:

Brian McTaggart ‏@brianmctaggart 8m8 minutes ago Westminster, CO

Carlos Gomez: “It’s my fault. We lost the game because of me today. There’s nothing I can say. And every day, we lost because of me.”

Jake Kaplan ‏@jakemkaplan 33m33 minutes ago

More from Gomez: “I don’t have any excuses. I call it, I’m supposed to catch it. I called it and I didn’t catch it.”

Brian McTaggart ‏@brianmctaggart 52m52 minutes ago

candid Gomez says “I’ve been playing brutal.”

Over a year ago, the house next door to me was demolished and a bigger one was built and is on the market. The parking lot on the other side of my house that belonged to the former Fiesta was dug up and a huge house is being built. A house across the street was just demolished a few days ago so another huge house can be built. It seems like it has been 18 months or so of living in a construction zone and it doesn’t appear to be letting up.

If you are a fan of the ‘Stros, go check out Brian Smith’s piece on Jose Altuve yesterday. Here is a bit:

It’s time to stop taking Jose Altuve for granted.

He’s clearly the best Astro standing. He’s one of the greatest overall hitters in the modern game. And if you ask yourself who is the most underrated athlete in Major League Baseball – or all professional sports, for that matter- No. 27 deserves the vote as much as anyone.

The Astros have let us down in 2016. Altuve? Are you kidding me? He’s playing the same game on another field.

Now go get yesterday’s sports section and check it out. It is definitely must read.

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Just In

From the Trib:

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday issued a ruling upholding the state’s public school funding system as constitutional, while asserting it could be better. 

“Our Byzantine school funding ‘system’ is undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement. But it satisfies minimum constitutional requirements,” Justice Don Willett wrote in the court’s 100-page opinion, which asserted that the court’s “lenient standard of review in this policy-laden area counsels modesty.”

“The judicial role is not to second-guess whether our system is optimal, but whether it is constitutional,” the ruling said.

Here is the entire story: https://www.texastribune.org/2016/05/13/texas-supreme-court-issues-school-finance-ruling/.

I have said it before, school finance  has been the mother of all state public policy issues for close to fifty years now.

Meanwhile, as Commentary writes this, our Lieutenant Governor is fixing to hold a press conference on bathrooms. I am glad our top elected officials have their priorities in order.

This is a headline form a Houston Press story today on the HISD meeting yesterday:

New Names Finalized For 7 Schools in an Extraordinarily Calm HISD Meeting

Here is the start of the story:

Perhaps aided by the absence of trustee Jolanda Jones, who was attending her son’s college graduation out of state, the Houston ISD board of education moved things along Thursday night refraining from too much more rhetoric before voting to approve all the proposed name changes at seven district schools.

Why am I not surprised? That says it all, I guess.

Here is the Press story on the meeting: http://www.houstonpress.com/news/new-names-finalized-for-7-schools-in-an-extraordinarily-calm-hisd-meeting-8399683.

Ok, so there are nine HISD trustees and Jones was absent. So check these tweets from yesterday evening:

Houston News Retweeted

Tracy Clemons ‏@TracyABC13 43m43 minutes ago

#HISD voted 7-4 to change the name of Reagan to Heights High School


Houston News Retweeted

Tracy Clemons ‏@TracyABC13 54m54 minutes ago

#HISD board votes 6-4 to change Stonewall Jackson Middle School to Yolanda Black Navarro Middle School.

Hmm. 11 votes and 10 votes. How did that happen?

Dallas Keuchel was rocked last night at Fenway. He now has a 5.58 ERA. What was his ERA last season?

One of the Killer Bees left us a couple of days ago. Former Dem State Senator Chet Brooks passed. Here is the Chron obit: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=chester-brooks&pid=179970009&fhid=5106.

I am thinking the Obama administration’s decision to get involved in the transgender student issue is a preemptive strike. Playing offense is always better than playing defense. It is good move on their part.

This is from a NY Times story today:

Donald J. Trump said Friday that he doesn’t believe voters have a right to see his tax returns, and insisted it’s “none of your business” when pressed on what tax rate he himself pays — a question that tripped up Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race.

Now this will bite him in the arse. Just wait and see.

He can flip flop on the Muslim ban and building a wall, but not on releasing your tax returns.

Last season, Keuchel had a 2.48 ERA of course.

Check this out from the Chron beat writer covering the ‘Stros:

Jake Kaplan ‏@jakemkaplan 57m57 minutes ago

Jose Altuve has more extra-base hits (9) and RBI (6) in the first innings of games than Carlos Gomez has all season.

We are eight games out of first. Can you believe that?

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Yesterday’s ‘Stros game was a day game so I knew parking would be a hassle so I took the light rail.

A few weeks ago the Mayor sort of addressed parking lot price gouging during key events held Downtown.   The Chron E-board has a take on the issue today and here is how it starts:

An exasperated mother driving her daughter to a Taylor Swift concert in downtown Houston added an interesting word to our city’s lexicography. After paying a whopping $60 to park her car, Jennifer Moncrief coined a term to describe the startling avarice of parking lot owners near Minute Maid Park: “landsharking.”

Just when you thought it was safe to go downtown, visitors venturing into the city’s central business district are getting gouged with outrageous prices for parking. All too often, prime parking spaces in private lots cost even more than some of the tickets to concerts and ballgames.

Well it turns out that maybe the Mayor actually can do something about it. Here is more from the E-Board’s take:

It’s especially troubling that one of the most expensive lots during these concerts sits on public property. That $80 lot at the Beyoncé concert? It belongs to taxpayers. It’s the Diamond Lot adjacent to Minute Maid Park.


Although the Astros control the lot next to Minute Maid Park, the mayor and the sports authority should encourage the team to set an example by avoiding the temptation to boost prices for popular concerts. What’s good for downtown is good for the Astros and good for the team’s owner, Jim Crane, who should step up to the plate by holding the line on high parking prices.

Houston First is about to open a new garage adjacent to the convention center, adding 1,900 new spaces within walking distance of Minute Maid Park and the Toyota Center. A couple of years ago, this government-created entity quietly imposed a price hike in the garages around the Theater District, raising the old $7 evening rate to $10. We hope the mayor will remind Houston First the new garage’s primary mission is easing downtown’s parking problems, not generating a bonanza of revenue for Houston First.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Parking-lot-bandits-7463146.php.

I am thinking the ‘Stros will continue to charge whatever they want for parking despite what the Mayor opines on the issue. After all, they are getting away with charging $10.50 for a Saint Arnold and $5 for a bottle of water.

Same thing for Houston First. Why should they? They look at those 1,900 parking spaces as a potential gold mine. They will give us some BS line that the parking money helps pay for the Thanksgiving Day parade or something like that. You know, a kind of convoluted public service thing.  Oh, well, get used to the landsharking.

This tweet came out yesterday after the game yesterday:

Julia Morales ‏@JuliaMorales 14h14 hours ago

5 hours and 9 minutes. Third longest game in Minute Maid Park history.

What is the longest game in Minute Maid Park history?

You know you are in a world of hurt when you have to pull the God card. I am talking about the Texas Attorney General. Here is from today’s Statesman:

The next step in the criminal case against Attorney General Ken Paxton begins Thursday morning with oral arguments before a state appeals court that will consider Paxton’s bid to have the felony charges dismissed.

In anticipation of the hearing before the Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals, Paxton released a video Wednesday evening in which he labeled the criminal charges against him politically motivated and false, blaming his legal trouble an unnamed “political adversary” and those “who are mad that I am a conservative Christian and made no bones about it.”

Here is the entire article:


Here is Paxton’s first line from his opening argument:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

I am thinking that Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS was the longest game ever at The Yard with the ‘Stros taking the The ATL in 18 innings in 5 hours and 50 minutes by a 7-6 score of course.

We are certainly having a winning May but now play four in Fenway beginning this evening. Yesterday, in the first two innings we loaded the bases but we could not score. Luis Valbuena is hitting a measly .202 and Carlos Gomez a pitiful .204. You can’t contend with this kind of production from your third baseman and center fielder.

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In Fort Bend

To all local Dems. Listen to what the Chron E-Board has to say today:

Texas’ Attorney General Ken Paxton has been indicted for securities fraud. Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller is under criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers for misusing state funds.

When corruption and criminality become the go-to descriptors for statewide Republicans, it becomes that much easier for Democrats to claim a moral high ground.

State Rep. Ron Reynolds makes it that much harder.


Last year, Reynolds, D-Missouri City, was convicted of misdemeanor barratry – the crime of illegally soliciting clients for his law practice. He’s appealing that decision, which has him facing up to a year in jail.

Reynolds was also hit with a $500,000 court judgment last month for failing to give his former client, who had lost a daughter in a car crash, her share of a $250,000 settlement.

Legal troubles are nothing new to this high-ranking Democrat. Reynolds has been sanctioned twice by the State Bar since he first ran for office in 2008. He’s also been fined $10,000 by the Texas Ethics Commission for failing to file campaign-finance disclosures.

If Democratic voters want to show that theirs is the moral compass that points to true north, then they should vote out Reynolds and replace him with his challenger in the runoff for District 27: Angelique Bartholomew.

Bartholomew, 46, is a certified mediator and director of compliance for a medical firm. A mother of five, she has degrees from Fisk University and Miles Law School and has been endorsed by Annie’s List.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/recommendations/article/For-District-27-7455264.php.

Put me on the side of those that say it is time for a change out there. Care to join?

Name the ‘Stro player who was born in H-Town?

The list is growing. I am talking about the list of folks that think this is going to be a close presidential election. It does not help that Sem. Bernie Sanders keeps racking up wins like last night. The latest polls from battleground states also point to a close election.

From Lisa Falkenberg today on the bathroom thing:

But it’s bathrooms we’re talking about.

I know, I know. It’s a slippery-slope thing. If we allow people the freedom to use the bathroom they deem appropriate, one can only guess what would happen next!

Actually, we don’t have to guess. They’ve been doing it for decades. Without much fanfare. Until it became a handy dog-whistle issue for Republican primary voters. Now it’s the end of civilization.

There’s no evidence that this is a public safety issue. As the mother of two young girls, I have no concern about sharing a restroom with a transgender woman. We’ve probably done it a dozen times already without noticing. Giving transgender people that right doesn’t undermine laws that prohibit entering bathrooms with the intent to harm or harass others.

Here is all of her take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/falkenberg/article/Bathroom-policy-fast-becoming-hot-button-issue-7456233.php.

At least Donald Trump is on the right side of this issue.

Reliever Will Harris of course was born in H-Town back in 1984 but was raised in Louisiana.

It is a day game today.

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Lawyering Up

The suspended HISD auditor is arming himself so to speak. He hired former H-Town City Attorney David Feldman. Now he has Feldman and Wayne Dolcefino on his side.

Here is from the Chron’s Ericka Mellon:

An attorney for the Houston Independent School District’s suspended chief auditor said Monday that he thinks the school board removed Richard Patton from his job two months ago in retaliation for blowing the whistle on suspected illegal behavior.

David Feldman, who is representing Patton and previously served as the city of Houston’s top attorney, said he plans to file a whistleblower grievance with the school district this month. Feldman declined to specify what Patton, the district’s chief internal watchdog, will allege but noted state law protects those who report alleged illegal activity in good faith to appropriate law enforcement authorities.

“I’m just hoping the grievance process itself can be meaningful,” Feldman said. “But if it’s not, we’ll just go into the courthouse.

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Lawyer-claims-HISD-chief-watchdog-s-suspension-a-7423955.php.

This just keeps getting more interesting.

And on May 10, Jose Altuve is at the top in three major offensive categories. Care to guess?

Not everyone was on the same page on the passing of Carl Whitmarsh. My good friend Nick Hellyar certainly had something to say.   That’s the way it goes.

Here is what Texas’ Lite Guv put out on the Fort Worth ISD trangender guidelines:

“After less than a year as superintendent, Dr. Scribner has lost his focus and thereby his ability to lead the Fort Worth ISD. He has placed his own personal political agenda ahead of the more than 86,000 students attending 146 schools in the district by unilaterally adopting ‘Transgender Student Guidelines.’ Without any discussion with parents, board members, principals, and other community leaders, Dr. Scribner’s unilateral action, underscores this lack of fitness to hold his position as superintendent. Campus safety should be of paramount concern for anyone in his position. Every parent, especially those of young girls, should be outraged. The State of Texas has an affirmative responsibility to provide a safe environment in the schools where attendance is compulsory. While this may be an example of the need for the Legislature to pass a meaningful School Choice Bill, we must not allow the actions of Dr. Scribner to go unnoticed or unanswered. I call upon the parents within the Fort Worth ISD to take immediate steps to repeal this stealthy scheme and remove Dr. Scribner from his post.”

Here is from a Fort Worth area TV story:

A district official responded by saying the school board and the district had been working on a more inclusive policy since 2014 and drafted a new set of guidelines last summer. The official said Scribner told the school board he signed those guidelines.

“We have enormous confidence in Superintendent Kent P. Scribner, his team and our Board,” school board president Jacinto Ramos, Jr. said in a statement. “We are focused on creating a strong, safe, and productive learning environment for ALL students.”

The district considers the new rules “guidelines,” which do not require a vote by the school board.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

What is the point in Dan Patrick’s involvement?  Stay in your lane dude and let the locals run their business. Stop the meddling, please!

Jose Altuve is tied for the lead in runs score with 31, tied for the lead in doubles with 15, and leads outright in stolen bases with 13 of course. Not bad at all.

That was a nice win last night. The team is playing a lot better.

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That’s how then the Chron’s Alan Bernstein once described my buddy Carl Whitmarsh.

Here is the Chron story on his passing: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Democratic-activist-towered-in-local-politics-7421896.php.

A few years ago when he was feeling better he kept us all informed. Heck, he put me on a lot of screens.

I am just stunned this morning. We had just talked a couple or so weeks ago about mindless gossip.   What happened?

I am skipping the MLB question today.

Let’s see. The Uber and Lyft folks spent a kazillion buckos in Austin and got their arses handed to them by the people and now some GOPers legislators want to bail them out. ‘Splain this to me, please!

Hey, go get you a copy of the Chron this morning and read Rebecca Elliott’s take on the Mayor’s first four months in office.

Thank you Donald. Check this from the front page of the Chron:

The prospect of a Donald Trump presidency has led to a surge in applications for citizenship and voter registrations among Hispanics angered by the presumptive Republican nominee’s incendiary comments about Mexicans and his threats to deport all immigrants in the country illegally.

Since last summer, when Trump ignited a furor by labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers, average monthly citizenship applications nationwide spiked nearly 15 percent to about 64,800 between August and January compared to the same period the year before.

Such an uptick in naturalizations doesn’t bode well for Trump, or Republicans in general, because nearly half of all new Americans are Latinos, who in polls overwhelmingly express disapproval of the candidate at the top of the ticket, political analysts say.

In all, about 730,000 immigrants became citizens last year, a 12 percent increase from 2014. In Texas, the number of new Americans grew by a quarter in 2015 to 66,000.

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Trump-anxiety-spurs-Latino-voter-registration-7390800.php.

At our Mother’s Day gathering in Baytown yesterday, talk about the Donald and Latinos was front and center. He asked for it.

All I can say is I am not looking forward to the Fourth of July. That is when we face Robinson Cano again.

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Jose Altuve hit another lead-off dinger last night. That’s his sixth of the young season. Who holds the MLB record for most lead-off dingers in a season?

Commentary doesn’t talk about college athletics because the athletes don’t get paid. My take today really isn’t about the college athletes. I am talking about the move over at UH to change the name of Hofheinz Pavilion.

I think the folks that run UH ought to take a course in the history of Houston or Houston visionaries. If they did, they might learn the impact Judge Roy Hofheinz had on H-Town.

Let me just let you check what Chron sports columnist Jerome Solomon has to say about the proposed change today:

After dishonoring the Roy Hofheinz family by letting the university’s basketball arena become a run-down, ready-to-be-condemned mess, UH has decided to put money ahead of honor and integrity.

The school wants to drop the name Hofheinz Pavilion and sell the naming rights for the soon-to-be-refurbished arena to the highest bidder. How pathetic and embarrassing.

Here is Jerome’s entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/columnists/solomon/article/UH-needs-to-honor-its-commitment-to-Hofheinz-7396732.php?cmpid=btfpm.

In Tags’ “100 Things Astros Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die”, the number one thing we should know is titled “The Judge” after Judge Hofheinz. Here is from Tags’ “The Judge:”

“He’s one of the most important historical figures in the history of Houston and one of the men responsible for bringing Major League Baseball to Houston.”


“Perhaps his biggest contribution to the city of Houston was the acquisition of the first National League franchise in the southern United States. Hofheinz, his partner R.E. “Bob” Smith, and several other influential figures brought big league baseball to Houston and laid out plans for what would soon become the Astrodome. Known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” the first air-conditioned domed stadium changed the way sports was played and viewed across the country.”

Need I say more? Of course I will.

That huge complex now called NRG Park wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for Hofheinz’s vision.

And then there is this from our own MLB’s Alyson Footer from a couple of years ago:

He prefaced the conversation with a brief caveat, emphasizing that the events happened so long ago that “my memory of the details may not be great.”

He then rattled off a list of details about one of the most important eras in the history of Houston as if it had happened just last week, and not more than 50 years ago, when the city was in the early stages of booming and was ready to take on racism in a daring, controversial and, ultimately, effective manner.

The Rev. Bill Lawson is now in his 80s, sharp as a tack, and can look back on a rich, meaningful career with enough highlights to fill dozens of pages on a resume.

It began a half-century ago when he founded the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church with no more than 40 or 50 members, and he has watched it grow to more than 5,000 congregants.

Lawson was in the thick of Houston’s efforts to integrate in a way that had no margin for error, one that had to be implemented perfectly, to the letter, with the cooperation of dozens of city leaders, all of whom had the same vision: desegregate, quietly and effectively, and reap the benefits for generations to come.

This story has a baseball tie — a big one. The Astrodome wasn’t just the Eighth Wonder of the World. It was a driving force as to why the city needed to be integrated sooner rather than later. More on that in a bit.

The premise for what was dubbed “Blackout in Houston” by Time magazine was simple. Over the course of one day, every square foot of Houston would desegregate, all at once. “Whites Only” signs would come down. Department stores would welcome African-American customers without hassle. Hotels would no longer be sectioned off for whites and blacks. Houston would integrate in a manner untapped by any other city — especially those in the South — without a smidgeon of riots or protests.

It would be swift, and peaceful. And it worked.

“It was agreed that the signs would come down — water fountains, buses, all the places where there were signs,” Lawson recalled. “And where there were no signs, like department stores, you could go in. You could go into Sakowitz, you could go into Neiman Marcus. There were no signs there. It was just understood [that blacks were not welcome]. But that practice would be stopped, on that same day. When a black person went into a department store, there would be people that were welcoming them and saying, ‘Would you like to try on something?'”

If an African-American got on a bus, they would be invited to sit in the front.

“It worked very well,” Lawson said. “Blacks were as shocked as whites were.”

Interestingly, the movement was less about doing what was right and more about making the city money. That’s how integration got started in the Bayou City — Houston was on the rise and ready to, figuratively speaking, boom.

The Johnson Space Center was newly built. The Ship Channel had expanded, allowing Houston to bid for the major oil and gas industries. And the city was granted a National League franchise, under the promise that a weather-proof domed stadium would be built, all but guaranteeing survival in a city by protecting the team and patrons from outside elements — heat, rain and mosquitoes — that could hamper the game experience.

In other words, there was a lot to be gained by ensuring all citizens of Houston — including blacks and whites — would have equal opportunities, to work, to live, and, of course, to spend.

Business leaders, noting the unrest that surrounded the riots in Birmingham, Ala., knew Houston had to take a different route to integration.

“The black business community, which of course was not as big and powerful as the white business community, helped to drive this notion that if you don’t want to have the same kind of black eye that Birmingham has, and if you do want to court the oil and gas industry into Houston, you’re going to have to do something about this Civil War mentality,” Lawson said.

And so the plan was hatched during meetings behind closed doors at the downtown Rice Hotel. City leaders met with heads of the Houston Restaurant Association, the transportation industry and department stores. Segregation was to end, fully and completely. Now.

And in the middle of everything was Judge Roy Hofheinz, former mayor of Houston and the driving force behind Houston being awarded a Major League team, to begin play in 1962, and the building of the Astrodome, which was completed three years later. The Dome would put Houston on the worldwide map, and no one wanted to see negative publicity derail the long-term vision.

“To bring in black players, like Willie Mays, we could hardly have national publicity about Willie Mays being turned down by some white hotel,” Lawson said. “It wasn’t really a moral issue. It was basically a financial issue.”

Needing a bond passed to complete the building of the Dome, Hofheinz went directly to local black leaders, guaranteeing that the building would be all-inclusive, with no tolerance for discrimination. The narrow passing of the issue can be traced directly back to the black community’s backing of Hofheinz and his vision.

Meanwhile, to integrate the city, everyone had to be on board — including the media, which was asked not to cover the story until the project was complete.

Such a secret mission could never be implemented today, not with the flurry of news outlets aching to be first to break stories through the immediacy of social media. “Please don’t run this until it’s over” is a laughable concept in modern times. Fifty-plus years ago, however, it was a reasonable request, and one that was agreed upon by all of the heavy hitters — the Chronicle, the Post, the Press and the major television outlets.

During a time when college students were organizing peaceful protests to wipe out segregation, the older, more reasoned advocates knew discretion was the key. And they were correct. “They were part of these meetings and they agreed that the best way to do it was to do it quickly and silently,” Lawson said. “The media had to agree not to publicize it. A story that big was kind of hard to silence. But if they didn’t silence it, then this would be a major story, one where the students won and the business community lost.”

With sports being the main headline-grabber, the Astrodome’s role in the integration of Houston was anything but a footnote. It wasn’t the only element to help springboard the civil rights movement in Houston, but it was a big one. And the prognosticators were correct — the Dome became a worldwide phenomenon, and it did so fully integrated, just as Hofheinz promised.

Economically, the city’s thriving nature could, without argument, be traced back to two or three specific days in the ’60s, when leaders assembled in secret, banded together and emerged with a sound, if not foolproof, plan.

Morally, the outcome was equally impactful. The city’s doors — in the stores, the restaurants and the Dome — opened with one collective swoop, never to close again.

“Blacks would say, ‘I don’t think I can,” Lawson said. “They’d say, ‘Yes, you can. Come on with me.'”

Now is this how we treat our visionaries? We can do better, can’t we?

Alfonso Soriano of course has the record for lead-off dingers in a season with 13 in 2003 when he was playing with the Yankees.

Altuve had four hits last night and the rest of the team had four. We have to do better than that. The bullpen gave up five runs last night. We have to do better than that.

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Flood Czar

The Mayor named former council member Steve Costello to the position of H-Town flood czar. Here is from Rebecca Elliott’s article on the Mayor’s State of the City speech yesterday where the Costello announcement was made:

Costello, a civil engineer and unsuccessful 2015 mayoral candidate, said he expects to assume the full-time role in the next two weeks. At that point, he intends to sit down with Turner to determine existing regional funding for flood and drainage control, as well as identify potential short- and long-term mitigation strategies.

“Obviously there needs to be more of a regional and sub-regional approach to detention. That’s where ReBuild can play an important role in terms of funding,” Costello said, referring to the city’s pay-as-you-go street and drainage repair program. “There’s always been this division of labor between the governmental entities where the city was responsible for drainage, and then the county was responsible for flood control. I think the two of them can blend together to where, with multiple funding sources, we can achieve both goals at the same time.”

I saw a few tweets yesterday lauding the Costello selection. Steve is a smart and sharp fella and he certainly knows the issue.

What I want hear is something along the lines of we have to do things differently. There needs to be a shifting in thinking on how we do things around here and where we do things around here because there is not enough funding out there to deal with the flooding problem. Rebuild and “multiple funding sources” alone aren’t going to cut it.

Bold initiative and new strategies are required. Initiatives and strategies that some stakeholders will be reluctant to accept. If we truly want a “regional and sub-regional approach”, we are going to need a buy-in from our regional partners. We will need to take the first step. The City of H-Town has to be the first to move with a bold initiative that says we are willing to do shift our way of thinking as well as lead.

This kind of has a Cinco de Mayo flavor. Name the former MLB pitcher who won the NL Cy Young Award and NL Rookie of the Year Award in 1981? This is easy.

41 and 43 are staying out of this year’s presidential election. I wonder what Jeb and the Texas Land Commissioner will do?

I don’t always agree with Erica Grieder of Texas Monthly on her takes but this one is OK.  He is her latest:

Stopping Trump from winning the presidency is now up to us

By “us” I mean all Americans, regardless of ideology or party affiliations. In the wake of Trump’s victory in Indiana, Republican leaders will be forced to confront the question that many were clearly hoping to avoid, over whether to support his candidacy should he become the party’s nominee. I was disappointed to see that our governor, Greg Abbott, is among those who have decided to do so, and I disagree with his suggestion that Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, is worse than Trump. She’s not.

Here is her entire take: http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/the-morning-after-in-america/.

Here is from a Texas GOP consultant today: “What makes me sad is that I always trust the voters, and the voters let me down.”

Secretary Hillary Clinton told Anderson Cooper yesterday that Donald Trump didn’t know s__t – sorta.  Then CNN’s Dana Bash said Donald didn’t need to know s__t – sorta.

This is from a fella that I thought always wanted to be part of the inside the Beltway political class:

Fox News ‏@FoxNews 13h13 hours ago

.@PatrickBuchanan: “The Trump success is a repudiation of the political class in the Beltway & especially in the GOP Party…b/c it’s failed.”

I thought Newt was part of the elite. Here is this:

Fox News ‏@FoxNews 16h16 hours ago

.@newtgingrich: “There’s something happening out here with the American people that none of the elites get.”

“Today” made an announcement today that has me bummed. They are moving one of my favs Natalie Morales to LA to anchor the West Coast “Today” that we don’t get to watch – BUMMER. The move will occur in July.

Fernando Valenzuela of course who was born in Mexico won the 1981 NL Cy Young Award and NL Rookie of the Year Award with the Dodgers.

I had two dollar dogs to go with the 16 runs and 3 oppo dingers last night – NICE. The only starter who didn’t get a hit was Marwin Gonzalez. I sure hope they turned the page.

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“Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,

We’re finally on our own.

This summer I hear the drumming,

Four dead in Ohio.”

This is from Neil Young’s “Ohio” which was recorded by Crosby, Still, Nash & Young.

I remember the day vividly 46 years ago today. Kent State definitely had an impact on my view of politics.

Sen. Ted Cruz is a very smart guy. So it does not surprise me that he dropped out last night. There was no way for him to get the nomination.

Former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal was on CNN yesterday and was asked about Cruz’s rant on Donald Trump earlier in the day. Jindal reminded us that Cruz was the last of the 16 GOP presidential candidates to go after Trump and was praising Trump as late as this past September. Jindal and a whole lot of GOP national leaders are not the least bit bothered that Cruz is now out of the race. Now that’s what you call a Washington cartel reaction.

Here is a good story on the Cruz campaign from Politico.com: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/05/ted-cruz-2016-drop-out-presidential-race-indiana-213868.

Now it is up to Latino Dem leaders all across the country to get Latino voters to the polls this November in record numbers. We have one heck of a motivator so if we don’t show up, we may never will. Si se puede?

Check out what Nate Silver says here about the Trump campaign: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-republican-voters-decided-on-trump/.

Commentary is going to say it again. The GOP deserves Donald Trump as their 2016 leader. Back in the President’s first term, when Trump was leading the birther charge, the national GOP leadership was silent. Heck, during the 2012 GOP presidential primary, Mitt Romney went to Trump Tower to get Trump’s blessing. Last year, when Trump launched his bid and went off on immigrants, most of the GOP leadership was once again silent. Well, now Trump is their drum major so don’t act shocked.

This tweet came out today:

Miya Shay ‏@miyashay 1h1 hour ago

As of today, Houstonians will once again have Sen. Ted Cruz all to ourselves. Will we see him at community events? #abc13

Well, he’s never played the role of a U.S. Senator from Texas. He started running for president once he got elected in 2012 and I kind of suspect that he’s going to keep on running for the 2020 nod. I don’t expect him to be spending much time going to local chamber of commerce banquets or Rotary Club luncheons.

I am skipping the MLB question today.

I tweeted this from The Yard last night:

Marc Campos ‏@MarcCommentary 14h14 hours ago

Just announced to a dozen @astros fans at #MMP that @TedCruz was out and nobody was upset. #GoAstros #RoofOpen

A couple of folks applauded and another couple gave me the thumbs up.

A SpringerDinger left The Yard last night – literally. It hit the top of the railroad tracks and made its way toward Crawford.   I wonder who scooped it up? We pulled out the victory and it is Dollar Dog Night this evening.

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