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Archive for December, 2016

#MRGA

Make Russia Great Again.

There is a pretty good story today in Politico on why Russia got involved in our elections. They were getting payback. Once again, I hope the President gives them some serious payback before he leaves office.

Here is the Politico story: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/12/russia-putin-hack-dnc-clinton-election-2016-cold-war-214532.

By mid-May, this MLB club will have their numbers 1 through 10 retired. Who am I talking about.

This is just horrible and very sick. Don’t even bother to argue with me about what Trump said yesterday:

“We did great with the African American community. So good. Remember — remember the famous line, because I talk about crime, I talk about lack of education, I talk about no jobs. And I’d say, what the hell do you have to lose? Right? It’s true. And they’re smart and they picked up on it like you wouldn’t believe. And you know what else? They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was a big — so thank you to the African American community.”

This is sad. This guy is just plain crazy.

Let’s say that all Dems just boycott North Carolina for the rest of our lives. Why not? Talk about sore GOP losers.

Our next door is saying a number of folks are having packages stolen from their doorsteps.  Back in the ‘80s when I lived in Austin, some folks broke into our place two days before Christmas and stole all of our Christmas presents we had bought for friends and relatives.

On May 14, 2017, the Yankees will retire Derek Jeters’s number 2 and will then have their 1 through 10 retired of course.

Nothing from The Yard today.

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The Ineptness

This is such an outrageous read. I am talking about the story in Politico yesterday about the Hillary Clinton Campaign honchos completely blowing this election. I hope none of them are ever involved in a presidential campaign in the future. This was arrogance and ineptness and plain old stupidity. Shame on all of them!

Here is the must read: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/michigan-hillary-clinton-trump-232547.

Same goes for the DNC. They were alerted by the FBI that they were hacked and they didn’t take the alert seriously until after it was too late. Shame on them too!

Some baseball writers are posting their Hall of Fame ballots and Jeff Bagwell is getting quite a few votes.   How many seasons did Bagwell play in the bigs?

There is a lengthy story on the front page of today’s Chron on local governments doing their best to protect paperless folks. Here is from the Chron:

Dozens of cities and universities across the country are promising to do what they can to fight the broad deportation of immigrants here illegally even as President-elect Donald Trump and other top Republicans have said they would block funding for those who enact sanctuary-type policies.

Mayors of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and other mostly Democratic-led cities have said they would continue to limit local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration officials.

In some cases, they said they would go even further, shoring up money to help immigrants during deportation proceedings in California. Universities across the nation have also been flooded with petitions to declare their campuses sanctuary spaces, largely a symbolic gesture to signal their support for immigrant students.

And:

Harris County Sheriff-elect Ed Gonzalez said in an interview that he, too, is worried about holding inmates without pending charges for immigration enforcement and would study the issue. He has said he would end the county’s controversial 287 (g) contract with federal authorities allowing jailers to interview inmates about their immigration status.

And:

This month, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also said he would cut state funding to what he said were sanctuary campuses and cities.

And this:

In unveiling an Office for New Americans and Immigrant Communities this week, Mayor Sylvester Turner promised to protect immigrants and refugees from discrimination. But he skirted a reporter’s question about if he would officially designate Houston a sanctuary city, prompting an outburst from a heckler who accused it of already being one.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Advocates-vow-to-fight-broad-deportation-of-10797042.php?cmpid=btfpm.

So what is Governor Abbott going to cut? Our highway funds? That would impact a lot of his voters? Our higher education funds? Our public education funds? Come on!

It is all nothing but talk in my book and the proof is in this story from the Trib. Here is how it starts:

A year after taxpayers began shelling out a record $800 million to shore up the porous Texas-Mexico border, The Texas Tribune requested sit-down interviews with Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus to discuss the politics and policy implications of border security and immigration.

Each refused.

The Tribune then emailed several detailed questions about their role in ensuring Texas employers don’t hire undocumented immigrants, as state law allows. Spokesmen for Abbott and Straus released prepared statements (pasted below) without specific reference to the various questions asked. Patrick’s office did not respond.

Here is the entire read: https://www.texastribune.org/2016/12/14/dont-ask-your-leaders-about-immigrants-workplace/.

Like I said, it is nothing but talk. Cities just need to tell folks like Abbott and others to you know what off.

Jeff Bagwell played 15 season of course.

Here is an interesting fact on Bagwell:

Jeff Bagwell reached base safely 331 times in 1999. Most by a right-handed batter in a single season in baseball history.

That’s all from The Yard.

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Department of Oops

Rick Perry is also a punk pure and simple. Now he wants to run the Department of Oops.

I guess green acres is the place to be.

Same for Carly.

I am still not doing the MLB question and I have not heard back from the ‘Stros after I told them I would not pay the ticket printing charge.

‘Tis the season. Tamales anyone? On next door there has been a debate going on regarding where to get the best tamales. Alamo?

We will see.

I hear they are having a hard time getting A-List performers for the inauguration.  Ted Nugent and Kanye are locks so far, I think.

Baseball America had a piece a couple of days ago on how the ‘Stros got over on a Cuban prospect. Here it is:

Cionel Perez, a Cuban left-handed pitcher, signed with the Astros for $2 million on Friday, and in the aftermath, the 20-year-old has a few frustrations with the way things went down.

“I am happy to begin my professional career but I feel abused by this system,” Perez said in the letter provided by his agency, Octagon, that is addressed to Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.

Baseball America has the full details on the situation, but some of the basic key points are as follows:

  • Perez originally agreed to a $5.15 million deal with the Astros, but an issue in his left elbow during his physical arose. The Astros voided the original deal and then signed him for $2 million.
  • The Astros signed him to the new deal one day after the Rule 5 draft. Had he been signed before the Rule 5, BA reports he “almost certainly” would have been taken in the Rule 5 draft if the Astros signed him to the new deal earlier.
  • Perez and his agent believe he should have been exempted from international bonus pools. Had that been the case, he could have signed elsewhere after his deal with the Astros fell apart.
  • Since he wasn’t exempt, the Astros were charged a $2 million overage tax on him. So the club believes he’s a $4 million player and Perez is only getting $2 million.
  • Perez’s camp indicates the Orioles were willing to give him $10 million if he were exempted from the bonus pools. Since he is subject to the bonus pools, he has to sign a minor-league deal at a much cheaper rate.

Again, it’s a very complicated situation and anyone interested in every last detail should check out the BA article.

In 2013-14, Perez pitched as a 17 and 18 year old in Cuba. In 139 innings, he had a 2.20 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 100 strikeouts against 61 walks. At 5-foot-10 and 160 pounds, he’s not a big lefty. Reports indicate he can work up into the mid-90s with his fastball while mixing in a sinker, slider and change.

Hey, they are trying to get over on me on my tickets. Just saying

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Christmas Greed

For obvious reasons, I am not doing an MLB question today. I got this from the team yesterday:

We are ramping up for another exciting season of Astros baseball and look forward to seeing you back in the ballpark! Today, we want to share a couple of important updates regarding your 2017 Season Ticket delivery.

The default ticket delivery option this season is our digital ticketing program, which makes managing your tickets even easier and more convenient than ever before! You can access, transfer and upgrade your tickets from your smartphone or mobile device in seconds through the MLB.com Ballpark App, or print them from the My Tickets portal on your personal computer.

As we draw closer to Opening Day, you can begin to manage your Season Tickets through the digital ticketing program and get more information about the team and special offers all season long. As a special gift for utilizing your digital tickets, Season Ticket Holders will receive limited-edition, printed Commemorative 2017 Opening Day Tickets, free of charge. More information on our digital ticketing platform can be found at Astros.com/TicketTechnology.

If you would still like to receive printed tickets for the 2017 season, please contact your Account Manager by January 6th. Printed tickets will cost $125 per seat.

Sorry, I am not going to fork over another $250 over the thousands I am already and have already paid for my season tickets. This is a rip-off. This is ridiculous. They already jacked up the price of the tickets this season. If they want to cancel me out, they can.

Greedy, greedy, greedy!

Does it really cost $250 to print up my tickets?

Greedy, greedy, greedy.

I support this. Here is from the NY Times:

WASHINGTON — Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez has told three senior Democrats that he intends to run for chairman of the Democratic National Committee, challenging the front-running candidate, Representative Keith Ellison, and inserting an ally of President Obama into the contest to rebuild a bruised party.

Mr. Perez, who had also been considering a run for Maryland governor, is expected to reveal his plan to seek the D.N.C. chairmanship this week, according to Democratic officials briefed on his decision who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. He did not respond to inquiries about his decision-making.

He has been wooed by prominent Democrats for weeks to seek the party post, a lobbying campaign that included entreaties from high-level allies of Mr. Obama. Mr. Perez, who has been on the phone with a number of Democratic governors and other party leaders, is expected to meet with the president himself to discuss the position this week.

While Mr. Obama may not offer a formal endorsement of his labor secretary’s candidacy, Mr. Perez will effectively have the imprimatur of the president who appointed him to his cabinet. Mr. Perez’s entry into the race could start a proxy battle between Democrats loyal to the Mr. Obama and those from the more liberal wing of the party represented by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is backing Mr. Ellison, a Minnesota progressive, for party chairman.

Here is the entire read: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/12/us/politics/thomas-perez-democratic-national-committee.html?_r=0.

This tweet is right about that punk, Mitt Romney:

Amanda Rykoff ‏@amandarykoff 13h13 hours ago

Amanda Rykoff Retweeted Bradd Jaffy

Shocker. He just wanted to humiliate him and make him kiss the ring before dissing him. What a petty, vindictive tool.

Like I said, Romney’s a punk for sure.

Just Christmas greediness from The Yard these days.

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Dem Messaging

Commentary said this on Friday:

I think it is pretty safe and sad to say that Breitbart was a winner this past election.

Let me add this:

I think it is pretty safe and sad to say that Russia was a winner this past election.

Heck, Russia even gets to pick the next Secretary of State.

I sure hope the President has some payback in store for Russia before he leaves office.

Name the MLB pitcher who tossed the most strikeouts this past season?

It was a 27 vote difference in the HISD Trustee runoff race that ended this past Saturday out of 6,545 who voted in the race. Another voter over-voted on their mail ballot. Another two voters under-voted on their mail ballots. Another 9 under-voted on the gizmos.

It is not a surprise that a recount has been requested.

I did a city council district race way back in the ‘90s and in the first go-around we went to bed on election night with a 12 vote lead over the third place finisher and we were headed to a runoff. The next day we got a call from the county clerk who informed us that a box of ballots had not been counted and when they were counted that morning we were in third place – 13 votes out. We asked for a recount and made up 12 votes and missed the runoff by a vote – yes, a single vote.

A few years ago, I was involved in a stand alone runoff like the one HISD just had and over 2,000 folks voted and we lost by like 42 votes. That still hurts.

I was in involved in a legislative recount back in the ‘80s and one candidate prevailed over the other by like 13 votes.

There is a story today in Politico on national Dem messaging these days. Here are parts of the story.

As Donald Trump’s inauguration draws near, Democrats fear they remain woefully unprepared to fight the new president’s agenda.

The party loses its standard-bearer once President Barack Obama leaves office, and the Democratic National Committee won’t get a permanent chairman and staff until March, two months into the presidency. That Democratic power vacuum has raised concerns about the party’s ability to provide a united message — or even to stand up a centralized rapid response operation — for the president’s first 100 days in office.

And:

It’s a very serious concern. I just went on TV twice today on Fox and MSNBC on the Cabinet appointments and I winged it,” said Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor and 2008 presidential candidate. “You need something right now. Trump every day is doing something outrageous. What do we do? Criticize everything he does? Hold back a bit? I know we need to develop an economic message but that’s long term. We need something now. Most of the Democrats I talk to are down, and they’re asking who’s in charge.”

And:

Democrats are hardly without any response. The DNC’s opposition research department has been working overtime since Trump was elected while the communications staff cranks out a nonstop stream of pro-Obama and anti-Trump press releases. Party officials have also been in touch with Senate and House leadership communications and research teams to work out the plan moving forward, particularly as Trump seeks to confirm his cabinet picks.

But the party was caught flat-footed by Trump’s victory, and there was no detailed contingency plan in the event Hillary Clinton was defeated. The widespread expectation was that President Clinton’s handpicked choice for DNC chairman would take over on January 21, a day after the inauguration. That Democrat — likely a prominent figure practiced in both fundraising and television pontificating — would be armed with a building brimming with operatives shipped down from Clinton’s Brooklyn campaign headquarters.

Here is the entire article: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/democrats-donald-trump-232491.

It is not that difficult folks. Just be relentless on calling out his lies and calling him a liar. Be relentless in going after his choices. Be relentless in going after his ethics. Be relentless in going after his policies. Just stay in his face.

Max Scherzer of course led the bigs with 284 strikeouts.

I don’t have anything from The Yard.

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100 Today

Kirk Douglas is 100 today. Wow!

In a 1958 flick, he was killed by a character named Erik.

In a 1960 flick, he kills a character named Antoninus.

Erik and Antoninus were played by the same actor who is no longer with us. Name the actor and the flicks.

How about Tony Curtis played Erik in “The Vikings” in 1958 and Antoninus in “Spartacus” of course in 1960. So now you know.

Kirk Douglas was in a lot of great flicks. One of my favorites is “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral”.

Everybody knows that in the 2012 MLB Amateur Player Draft, our first pick was Carlos Correa. Who was our second pick in 2012?

Memo to those who don’t like straight ticket voting in Texas.  Remember the long lines during early voting?  Just think how irritated the voters will be when they no longer have a straight ticket option?

I think it is pretty safe and sad to say that Breitbart was a winner this past election. If you watch their tweets, they are doing a pretty good job of rubbing it in.

Well, this is settled. Check this tweet:

Joseph Duarte Verified account ‏@Joseph_Duarte 29m29 minutes ago

BREAKING: University of Houston has hired offensive coordinator Major Applewhite as its next head football coach

Good for him.

Well, this tweet:

TR Sullivan ‏@Sullivan_Ranger 9m9 minutes ago

Rangers news. …former manager Bobby Valentine being considered by Donald Trump to be ambassador to Japan…..Tom Schieffer’s old position

Just a refresher from Fox Sports:

June 9, 1999. An otherwise normal day on the MLB calendar turned historically significant when New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine found the most creative of ways to respond to an ejection.

In the 12th inning of what would be a 14-inning game against the Toronto Blue Jays, Mets catcher Mike Piazza was called for catcher’s interference. Valentine argued and was tossed.

An ejected manager is supposed to leave the field and catch the rest of the game from the clubhouse, but Valentine had other ideas. He returned to the dugout wearing sunglasses and a fake mustache in a humorous attempt to elude detection.

Major League Baseball didn’t enjoy the ruse so much. The league fined Valentine $5,000 and suspended two games for the antics.

Is Curt Schilling next? How about Bob Knight and Lou Holtz?

You could spend hours commenting on the announcements that have been made.

Lance McCullers of course was our second pick in the 2012 draft.

Nothing from The Yard today.

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What a Shame!

As a Dem, I can’t believe that this is allowed to happen. Latinos and African American voters are the most loyal Dem voters. Here is from Politico today:

Senate Democrats are facing growing pressure to break the white male stranglehold on senior staff positions in their ranks — a push that’s uniting consultants and lobbyists inside the Beltway with Black Lives Matter and other minority leaders who are accusing the party of “soft bigotry.” 

The attacks are prompting uncomfortable discussions among Democrats even as they welcome their historic Senate freshman class, which includes the chamber’s first Latina and Indian-American members.

Frustrations over the lack of diversity among the ranks of top Senate Democratic aides began seeping into public view after Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss deprived the party’s donors and lobbyists of a critical opening to build on the Obama administration’s minority-hiring efforts. Now, activists are shaming Senate Democrats, noting that the chamber’s only African-American chief of staff works for Republican Sen. Tim Scott. And civil rights groups are holding a public conference call on Thursday to escalate their campaign for more diverse hiring by newly elected senators.

It’s not just the chief of staff disparity — minorities are under-represented throughout the ranks of Senate staffers. African-Americans and Latinos represent more than a third of self-identified Democrats nationwide but hold less than 3 percent of senior staff positions for Senate Democrats, according to a report last year by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Here is all of the Politico read:http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/senate-democrats-race-232312.

It is a downright shame. Same goes for Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan’s shop here locally. All his top leaders are white dudes.   Latinos and African American voters help get Vince elected. I can’t believe local Dem electeds let Vince get away with this. Well, I guess I can. After all, we let our U.S. Dem senators off the hook on their mostly all white top hires.

Who won the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year Award?

Kuffer says today that 35,879 cast ballots in the HISD Trustee special election a month ago.  25,315 also over or under-voted in that race.

So the Chron’s Mike Morris wrote a story on City of H-Town pensions that ran on the front page of Tuesday’s Chron.

So at yesterday H-Town City Council meeting, this tweet came out:

Rebecca Elliott ‏@rfelliott Dec 7

Turner on @mmorris011‘s deeply-reported story: “That was pulled out of the air & put into the paper & should have been in the opinion page.”

Then this one:

Mike Morris ‏@mmorris011 24h24 hours ago

Mike Morris Retweeted Rebecca Elliott

As usual, Mayor @SylvesterTurner and his PR team seem to believe any story not headlined “Mayor is world’s best mayor” is unfair/inaccurate.

Then this one:

Janice Evans ‏@Jevansdavis 22h22 hours ago Houston, TX

MYR @SylvesterTurner pushes back on critical news report about his pension plan, saying if going to be critical need to have an alternative.

Then this one:

Rebecca Elliott ‏@rfelliott 21h21 hours ago

Rebecca Elliott Retweeted Janice Evans

This reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of journalism.

Touchy, touchy.

I was entertained though.

FYI: Janice used to be a journalist.

Carlos Beltran of course was the AL Rookie of the Year in 1999.

I don’t think I have anything from The Yard today.

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Seventy-five years ago tomorrow, FDR addressed Congress and started with this:

Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

Too bad not a whole lot of folks remember what happened at Pearl Harbor seventy-five years ago today. It got us into WWII earlier than expected.

Just so you know, here is the definition of infamy:

evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking, or brutal

an extreme and publicly known criminal or evil act

the state of being infamous

Now you know, in case you didn’t.

I saw this tweet last night:

In reply to Rebecca Elliott

Bill Kelly ‏@billkellytexas 16h16 hours ago

@rfelliott Also the last time Bill King mattered in a pension discussion.

Bill King sent this out this morning:

Open Letter to City of Houston Employees & Retirees: Part 2

Why You Should be Demanding Defined Contribution Plans for New Employees 

The City and your pension plans’ management are leading you down a path that will seriously impact your pensions for years to come. 

Defined benefit pension plans are a broken financial model.  They were originally put in place in a time that most people only lived a few years after retirement and financial markets were much more stable.  Neither of those conditions exist today.  As a result, the costs of defined benefit plans have inexorably risen over the last several decades causing the private sector to almost completely abandon them. 

Every new employee added to this broken model makes your pension plan weaker and your pension less secure. 

This is not an opinion.  It is just math. 

The latest data from the City (which is still unrealistically optimistic) shows that the City would have to contribute over $8 billion just to pay the benefits that you have earned so far. 

The proposed plan represents an average 12% cut in the benefits you thought you were going to get.  Of course, this comes after City leaders repeatedly promised you they would honor all pension commitments.  And trust me, these cuts will not be the last you see.  In fact, this is just the beginning.

Automatic Future Benefit Cuts or Increased Contributions  

The term sheets agreed to by your pension boards include automatic additional cuts if the City’s costs exceed the “corridor”.  The term sheets specifically say that once the corridor is exceeded that the pensions will further cut the cost-of-living adjustments (COLA), extend retirement ages, and/or increase contributions. 

Of course, no one can predict the future, but it is highly likely that the corridor limits will be exceeded sooner rather than later, as was suggested by Tuesday’s Houston Chronicle story.   Many investment professionals question whether the new 7% return assumption is reasonable.  Warren Buffet has said that pension plans should not be using anything above 6%.  His company’s plan is based on 4.5%.   Over the last two years your plans have averaged returns of less than 3%.  Both the police and fire plans lost money last year.

You have been told that this plan provides certainty about your future benefits, when the exact opposite is true.  And the plan is so complex it will undoubtedly result in years of litigation over how it is to be interpreted, if it ever passes. 

Forget about Future Raises or Increasing Staff  

The proposed plan sets the target contribution for the City at 32% of payroll.  The upper limit is about 37%.  How can the City possibly afford to hire new employees and pay them a decent salary when it must put up an additional 37% in a pension plan?   And what do you think are the chances of existing employees getting any kind of respectable pay raises with a 37% add-on for pensions?

Practically speaking, you can also forget about there ever being two officers in a patrol car, the City ever building any new fire stations, or hiring enough building inspectors, or addressing any of the other hundreds of critical needs Houston is facing. 

The Causes and The Cure  

There are two reasons that the City is in this mess.  The first is that the increases to pension benefits during the Lee Brown administration turned out to cost vastly more than was understood at the time.  This is what is frequently referred to as the “legacy costs” and we must come up with a plan to deal with those costs.

But an equally important driver of the out-of-control costs is the City’s blind commitment to indefinitely continue defined benefit pension plans.  The notion that we can hire people today and promise them a benefit based on their salary thirty years from now and have any idea what that is going to cost is absurd.  If the City continues to cling to defined benefit pension plans, the City’s – and your pension plans’ – finances will continue to deteriorate. 

The Right to Opt Out  

In addition to other needed reforms, you should have the right to opt out of the existing pension plans and to put your money in your own retirement savings account.  That may not be for everyone, but if you want out of the interminable controversy that has been and will be the history of these plans, you should have the right to do so and to take control of your future.

Property Tax Cap Will Not be Repealed  

Many of your leaders are assuring you that some of the financial pressure on the City will be relieved if voters repeal the property tax cap that was passed in 2004.  It is a fantasy.  It is not going to happen.  This issue has been polled extensively and over 70% of Houston voters oppose repealing the cap on property taxes.  And with tax bills already skyrocketing, can you blame them? 

Conclusion  

I am not predicting an imminent crisis or financial collapse of either the City or your pension plans.  But if we do not reform the City’s finances and begin providing reliable services at reasonable tax rates, the City will suffer a long, slow decline, or hollowing out, like other great American cities that failed to tame this problem.  And there will be a tipping point at which this becomes a crisis, just as it has in Dallas.  That should concern you because your benefits are paid over the long term as well.  If the City suffers financially, so will your pension plans.

We don’t know what all will be required to put the pension system on a sound footing and probably will not know for some years.  But the most obvious change that should be made immediately is to convert new employees to defined contribution plans.  This will not, by itself, solve the pension problems.  But as the old saying goes, when you are in a hole stop digging. 

Every city employee and retiree should not only be supporting defined contribution plans for new employees; they should be demanding it. 

Many of you have been upset with me for the last several years because I kept raising the alarm about the condition of your plans.  But I think if you look back at what I said and predicted about the City’s pensions, everything I told you or predicted was true or has come true.  In contrast, all the assurances you repeatedly got from your pensions’ management and the City, that there were not any problems, has proved completely wrong.

And please do not ever lose track of the fact that there is a whole cottage industry of pension executives, Wall Street bankers, lobbyists, accountants, actuaries and others that make a very nice living off your pension.  For example, why don’t you inquire about what the executive director of your pension plan is paid and compare that to your salary? 

Last year, your plans paid $50 million in expenses.  That is $50 million that could have gone to shore up your pension funds, but instead went into the pockets of bankers, pension bureaucrats and lobbyists, to name a few.  They are petrified that their gravy train might end someday, which switching new employees to defined contribution plans would eventually do that.  So, they will continue to spread misinformation about your plans, just like they have been doing for the last 20 years. 

I, on the other hand, have zero financial interest in this issue one way or the other.  My only interest is seeing that the City I love so dearly does not go the way of Detroit.

So, before you blindly follow your leadership and the City into yet another plan that is going to kick this can down the road until the current elected officials are out of office and your current leadership is retired, perhaps you should consider what is best for you. And believe me, that is not the continuation of defined benefit plans for new employees.

The pension issue is a big deal. Folks are not going to keep Bill out of the debate. That is just the way it is.

This is from yesterday’s next door:

Well, it looks like someone is making merry with other’s decorations. Our large wreath was removed from the front of our house last night. The next door neighbor’s wreath was removed from their gate the day before. I encourage everyone to secure your decorations as well as possible. But at the end of the day, out holiday will not be affected… Merry Christmas!

Come on! Who steals Christmas decorations?

Of course, someone stole my pal Roland’s one of a kind inflatable Santa in a fire engine.

Commentary is in full mode Christmas tunes in my ride on Sirius and 99.1 FM. “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” comes in different versions. My favs are Sara Bareilles and Seth McFarland, Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé, and Martina McBride and Dean Martin, dubbed of course.

There is no MLB question today.

Nothing new from The Yard today.

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No and Puppet Chair

Carlos Beltran will be wearing the number 15 as expected.   This is an easy one. Who wore the number 15 from 2010 through this past season?

No, no, no! This is a bad idea. And it is not an age thing just because he is 74 and would be 78 in 2020. We just need others to step up. Here is from a Politico story today:

Vice President Joe Biden is leaving his options open for 2020.

After presiding over the Senate Tuesday, where a cancer-treatment bill was renamed to honor his late son Beau, Biden spoke to reporters about his final days in the Senate before saying he was “going to run again.”

“Yeah I am. I am going to run, in 2020,” he said, with reporters responding with chuckles.

When asked what he was going to run for, he said: “For president, and also you know what, what the hell man.”

Biden was asked if he was kidding about running. After a pause, he said he was not “committing to anything.”

“I’m not committing to not running. I’m not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago fate has a strange way of intervening,” Biden said.

Biden considered running for president this year, but decided against it after Beau died from cancer in May 2015.

If he wanted the job, he should have stepped up this past go-around.

The New York Times tweeted this earlier today:

Donald Trump’s pick for national security adviser helped spread fake news stories on social media

This is the new new so to speak. What is the problem? The next national security adviser works for a guy who lies all the time. The new new.

I am thinking some local Dem folks want a puppet chair. Who cares? Latinos don’t. Local Latino voters did their thing here last month because of what they saw on Telemundo and Univision. For Latino voters, it wasn’t a Dem Party thing.

Here is from Kuffer on the local Dem Party chair thing:

Here’s the Chron story, which at this time doesn’t have any new information. This was announced at the Sunday CEC meeting, which I missed because I’m lame and had too many other things going on. I think Lewis has done a good job as HCDP Chair. Most people I talk to have a positive opinion of him, and the electoral results have been pretty good. The mail ballot program he instituted has been a success. Most importantly, there has been fairly little infighting, which is always a concern. There are still various fiefdoms within the county (and the state) that do their own thing and make it hard to tell who’s responsible for what – to be fair, I doubt any Chair could change this – and Lewis’ run for City Council in 2013 while still serving as Chair ruffled some feathers and opened questions about conflicts of interest that were never really addressed. I’d like to see the next Chair, whom I will get to help select, deal with that, and I’d like to see a more focused approach to stating and achieving our goals for 2018 and beyond. I will give some thoughts to what I want to see in the next HCDP Chair and write them up in the next few days. In the meantime, I’m sure I’ll be hearing from those who want to be that Chair shortly. My thanks to Lane Lewis for all his hard work at this often thankless job. Enjoy your retirement and best of luck at whatever comes next.

Like I said. I think some folks want a puppet. Someone they can control. I guess they call that democracy.

Jason Castro of course wore the 15 for the past seven seasons.

Here is a tweet from MLB’s Richard Justice.

Projected AL West standings via @fangraphs: Astros 91-71, Angels 85-77, Mariners 85-77, Rangers 82-80, A’s 78-84.

Ok.

 

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First to the goof.

On the top of the front page of yesterday’s Chron, they had a picture of new ‘Stro Carolos Beltran with this line:

“Eleven years after leading team to World Series, Carlos Beltran is returning.”

Oops. Carlos Beltran wasn’t on our 2005 World Serious team. I wonder if they are little bit embarrassed over at the Chron.

On the bright side, Jenny Dial Creech had an outstanding column yesterday on UH deciding not to interview Art Briles for the head coaching position. Here is how the column starts:

The University of Houston deserves a round of applause.

Cougars everywhere, you should take a minute or two to be extra proud of your school today.

In the midst of social media rumors and national media reports about the university interviewing the embattled Art Briles for its coaching vacancy, UH athletic director Hunter Yurachek shut it all down by releasing a statement Saturday making it clear Briles is not on any list of potential candidates.

Kudos to Yurachek, to UH president Renu Khator and to the rest of the university leadership that decided not to take a chance on Briles.

Briles was fired from Baylor in May after reportedly mishandling reports that several of his players had raped women.

Here is the entire column: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/columnists/dialcreech/article/By-excluding-Art-Briles-from-consideration-UH-10689887.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Commentary was glad UH didn’t go down Briles Drive.

Name the active MLBer who currently is 51st on the all-time career dinger list and 50th on the all-time career RBI list.

Memo to Latino and African American Dem leaders across the country. In four years, we will be running against a GOP ticket that refuses to repudiate white supremacists.   Insist that the Dem ticket in 2020 include a person of color. We have been carrying this party for too long now. No ifs, ands, or buts on this one from now on – ever.

The local Dem Party Chair is resigning.  What is up with that?  I guess he wants to go out a winner.

I’m not going to say anything about the Texans.  I only invested two hours of my time yesterday.

New ‘Stro Carlos Beltran of course has 421 career dingers to put him 51st on the all-time career dinger list and 1,536 RBIs to put him 50th on the all-time career RBL list. Just saying.

Beltran has worn the number 15 with the Royals, the ‘Stros, the Mets and the Giants. Nobody on the ‘Stros currently has the 15 so I wonder if Beltran will take it? We will see.

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