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Archive for February, 2017

DNC Chair

To the best of my knowledge, there has never been a Latino Chair of the Democratic National Committee. If Tom Perez gets elected this weekend, he would be the first. That is a good thing if you ask me.

I saw a story a couple of days ago, about some Cong. Keith Ellison supporters who are going to be upset if Cong. Ellison doesn’t get the Chair position. Check this from HuffPo:

That has some Ellison supporters worried that their chance to reshape the party is in danger of disappearing. In an attempt to head off Perez, some prominent Ellison supporters argue that failing to elect him would squander a major opportunity to energize the progressive grassroots and heal the wounds of the 2016 presidential primary.

“Keith Ellison had incredible support from the quote-unquote establishment side of the party, the progressive side of the party, the grassroots and the elected officials. Nobody was clamoring for another entrance, and yet we got one foisted upon us,” said Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, an organization fighting to expand Social Security benefits.

“If Tom Perez were to win, the message that would send to the grassroots, to labor unions that endorsed Ellison before Tom Perez joined the race, [is] that their voices, their muscle, their enthusiasm and turnout doesn’t matter,” Lawson added.

Ellison backers acknowledge that the liberal protest movement that has taken shape since President Donald Trump’s inauguration ― not the DNC race ― has become the focus of grassroots energy. A loss for Ellison now could limit the party’s ability to tap into that enthusiasm, but it wouldn’t stop the movement.

“If Perez wins, we’re not gonna come out with pitchforks and say, ‘No, no, no,’” said Murshed Zaheed, political director of Credo Action, an online progressive heavyweight that has experienced record growth since Trump’s inauguration. “But people are going to roll their eyes and just keeping doing what they do. It’s going to keep the DNC what it is: an irrelevant, old, stale entity that hasn’t been re-serviced since the Howard Dean days.” (Zaheed noted that he spoke to HuffPost in his personal capacity, since Credo isn’t endorsing in the race.)

Here is the entire read on HuffPo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/keith-ellison-dnc_us_58acc9c5e4b03d80af7075b3.

Ok. So, if the DNC elects its first Latino, this fella is going to get his pitchfork. That’s not a good message to send to a community whose vote is going to be critical next year in the mid-term elections.

I don’t know if this fella knows that there are whole lot of Latino families throughout the USA who are living in fear these days in case he hasn’t noticed. If a Latino emerges this weekend as the leader of the Democratic Party, a fellow Dem waving a pitchfork is sending the wrong message.

Muslims and Latinos are the primary targets of Trump and some of his advisors, err haters.

If Cong. Ellison wins, more power to him and our Party. Having a Muslim as our Chair sends a powerful message.

If Perez wins, more power to him and our Party. Having a Latino as our Chair sends a powerful message.

From the fellow who put together the plan to nail Bin Laden. Here is from the Statesman:

UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven on Tuesday night said President Trump’s recent description of the media as “the enemy of the American people” must be challenged and “this sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”

McRaven, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, is former commander of the Special Operations Command. He made the comment during the inaugural event of the Communication and Leadership Speaker Series at UT’s Belo Center for New Media. McRaven, who has served as chancellor for two years, is also a UT journalism alumnus. During his lecture, McRaven said the country needs journalists now more than ever before and they must continue to hold others accountable.

From the you better pay your tickets department, here is from the Star Telegram today:

A 25-year-old “Dreamer” was arrested for traffic warrants Tuesday night in Richardson, sparking fears among the immigration-rights community that he would be placed on an ICE detainer.

Edwin Romero was released shortly after 1:30 p.m. Wednesday from the Richardson Jail after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement declined to put a criminal hold on him, a police spokesman said.

An ICE hold, or detainer, refers to an official request from ICE to a local law enforcement agency that ICE be alerted before a person in custody is released so that ICE can then take over custody, according to the Washington, D.C.-based American Immigration Council. The detainer is a tool used to identify potentially deportable individuals who are housed in jails or prisons nationwide.

Romero’s friends took to social media to spread word of his arrest as lawyers worked to find more information. Attorneys with RAICES, a Texas nonprofit that assists immigration detainees, activated efforts to help Romero, a University of Texas at Dallas student who works for an animal clinic and volunteers in the community.

After his release, Romero spoke at an emotional news conference in Dallas, saying he was “overwhelmed. I feel so happy.”

“I knew that my community, my friends were going to act. I knew they had my back. I knew they were going to fight for me. But I just didn’t expect the result to be so quick,” he said.

Richardson police Sgt. Kevin Perlich said Romero was arrested Tuesday at 10:43 p.m. He was stopped for an expired registration, Perlich said, and police were notified that he had regional warrants for non-moving violations.

At the jail, he was asked if he is a U.S. citizen, Perlich said.

“He’s not a citizen, so ICE was contacted,” Perlich said, adding that initially ICE told Richardson police that a detainer was not necessary, then backtracked and asked for a hold for a civil matter.

“We are not detaining him for a civil matter,” Perlich said.

Like I said, pay your tickets.

On Sheriff Ed Gonzalez saying adios to the ICE program, here is from a Channel 11 story last night:

The head of Harris County’s GOP accused Gonzalez of playing politics.

“The sheriff, unlike prior Democratic and Republican sheriffs who kept the program in place, is discontinuing it for his own radical agenda, endangering the citizens of Houston and Harris County” said Harris GOP Chair Paul Simpson. “It’s an effort to turn Houston into an outlaw city.”

Get serious! You can say a lot of things about Ed Gonzalez, but “radical agenda” is certainly not one of them. Get serious!

The big news in MLB yesterday was the intentional walk. Rather than have the pitcher toss four balls, this season, the skipper is just going to signal to the ump that the intentional walk is on and no balls will be tossed. Barry Bonds leads all batters with getting intentionally walked 688 times in his career. Who is number two behind Bonds and who leads the ‘Stros hitters in career intentional walks.

They have benched Kellyanne Conway and are not letting her go on TV these days. Aww! I like it when she goes on because things blow up around her. You know it is bad when an administration that lies has to bench one of their best liars – got it? Here is from CNN yesterday:

Kellyanne Conway, once the most visible spokesperson for the Trump White House, has been sidelined from television appearances for making statements that were at odds with the administration’s official stance, White House sources told CNNMoney on Wednesday.

Conway has not given a television interview since early last week. On that Monday, she claimed that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had the president’s “full confidence.” Hours later, Flynn resigned.

The following day, Conway claimed Flynn had offered to resign, even though White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Trump had asked Flynn for his resignation.

She has not given a television interview since then.

Those statements, which came amid existing public scrutiny over Conway’s credibility, led the president and his top advisers to conclude that her appearances were doing more harm than good for the administration, the sources said.

Conway was “off message,” a White House source said.

Both Conway and the White House press office did not respond to requests for comment.

Conway’s absence from the airwaves has already lowered the level of controversy for the Trump White House, suggesting that the press office may be getting a better grip on its messaging strategy.

Even before the Flynn remarks, Conway had come under fire for encouraging Americans to purchase Ivanka Trump’s clothing products — a move House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz called “over the line” and “unacceptable.”

“Clearly they’re having much more of a drama-free week,” a source close to the White House said. “Having Kellyanne off television is helping them.”

Conway’s absence is also seen as a victory for White House press secretary Sean Spicer. As CNN reported last week, several sources in and outside the White House believe Conway was responsible for leaking negative stories about Spicer to the press, and making his job harder by contradicting him in interviews.

Days before the Flynn debacle, Conway told CNN that she was planning to scale back her television appearances. “I’m trying to reduce my television exposure,” she said.

In the wake of Conway’s Flynn remarks, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” announced it would no longer interview Conway because she lacked credibility. “She goes out and lies, and you find out about those lies a couple hours later,” co-host Joe Scarborough said. “It’s giving people dishonesty, it’s not worth the interview,” said co-host Mika Brzezinski.

Since last Wednesday, Conway’s media appearances have been limited to radio interviews, including a Tuesday interview with conservative talk shot host Hugh Hewitt.

Sources believe Conway will return to television, but that the administration is enjoying a reprieve from the controversy created by her appearances.

“Trump was using her as an effective surrogate, then she started becoming ineffective,” one of the sources said. “So they’re letting the heat cool off.”

After this story came out, they put her on Fox News last night. I need to check out what kind if lies she told.

Speaking of liars, this fella is a punk. Sean Spicer said yesterday that they have a “phenomenal” relationship with Mexico. Yeah, sure! Here is from the internet:

Asked about the Mexico City visit for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly that kicks off late Wednesday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the U.S.-Mexico relationship is “phenomenal.” Further, Spicer said Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who abruptly canceled a visit to Washington last month over Trump’s proposed border wall, would offer the same characterization.

And:

Spicer’s preview of the upcoming meeting differed from that of Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who said Wednesday that his nation will not accept the “unilateral” immigration policies currently being pursued by the Trump administration, according to a report from Reuters. Videgaray also said the Mexican government is willing to seek help from the United Nations in protecting immigrants in the U.S.

“I want to say clearly and emphatically that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept provisions that one government unilaterally wants to impose on the other,” the Mexican foreign minister said. “We will not accept it, because there’s no reason why we should, and because it is not in the interests of Mexico.”

What a dumbarse!

Albert Pujols is number 2 behind Barry Bonds with 302 career intentional walks and Jeff Bagwell of course was intentionally walked 155 times in a ‘Stro uniform.

Nothing much from The Yard today.

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Good News

This is much needed. I am glad to see this is happening. From the NY Times:

WASHINGTON — As President Trump is giving his first address to a joint session of Congress next week, Hispanic political leaders plan to meet in Washington to draft a strategy to counter his agenda, particularly his immigration crackdown.

The Latino Victory Fund, a political action committee that works to elect progressive Hispanic leaders, will meet on Tuesday, as Mr. Trump speaks to Congress, to begin recruiting candidates at the federal, state and local levels who can push back against the president’s policies, including in cities and municipalities where they are having immediate impact.

Those include in so-called sanctuary cities, which are jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with federal authorities seeking to detain unauthorized immigrants.

“As the president is outlining his plans to break up families, roll back civil rights protections and gut the environment, we are going to be finalizing our strategy to defeat him,” said Cristóbal Alex, the president of the Latino Victory Project, a civic group affiliated with the Latino Victory Fund.

Here is the entire read: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/us/politics/hispanic-leaders-plan-fight-against-trumps-agenda.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&smid=tw-nytpolitics&smtyp=cur&_r=0.

News from last night. Check this from the Chron:

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez has ended a controversial partnership with federal immigration authorities that trained a team of county deputies to determine the immigration status of jailed suspects and hold those selected for deportation.

Gonzalez, a Democrat who took office in January, said he will reassign 10 deputies trained under a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program known as 287(g) that cost at least $675,000 in salaries and deploy them to other law enforcement duties.

The withdrawal of sheriff’s deputies still will allow ICE officials to come to the jail and screen jail inmates to determine their immigration status, and the county will hold them for deportation if requested, Gonzalez said.

The sheriff said overcrowding in the county jail complex, where staff shortages have hiked overtime costs to $1 million every two weeks, has forced him to deploy his ICE-trained deputies elsewhere. He said his decision was not political “but an issue of resources,” explaining the deputies may be assigned to help improve clearance rates of major crimes or bolster the patrol division.

“After thoughtful consideration, I’ve decided to opt out of the voluntary 287(g) program,” said Gonzalez, who sent ICE officials notification of his decision Tuesday. “We’ll still be cooperating with local, state and federal authorities as we always have, we just won’t have our manpower resources inside the jail doing that.”

And this:

The exit from the ICE program could put Harris County in the crosshairs of Gov. Greg Abbott and local GOP senators, who are working to pass a “sanctuary city” law that would withhold funding from law agencies that do not cooperate with federal requests to hold inmates. The term sanctuary city has been used to criticize the refusal by certain cities and counties to cooperate with the enforcement of federal immigration law.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Sheriff-cuts-ties-with-ICE-program-over-immigrant-10949617.php.

Now let’s wait for the fallout and let’s push back hard at the haters, especially the whiny Greg Abbott.

Stace has a good take on this so check it out here: https://doscentavos.net/2017/02/22/sheriff-gonzalez-ends-287g/.

Watching Trump address anti-Semitism yesterday, one thing is certain, he is not sincere.

Joe Niekro leads all ‘Stros with 144 career pitching wins in a ‘Stro uniform. Roy O comes in at number 2 with 143 wins. How many pitching wins did Roy O rack up, after he left the ‘Stros?

I guess this was answered: No More 10 Best or Worst?

Here is from an Alyson Ward piece in the Chron:

On Tuesday morning, (Texas Monthly Editor-in-Chief Tim) Taliaferro softened his tone. He posted a note to readers on Texas Monthly’s website, saying he “unfortunately gave the CJR the wrong impression.” Politics coverage and longform stories, he said, are not going away.

In an email sent through a representative, Taliaferro further explained that while Texas Monthly isn’t abandoning politics, the magazine may focus more on in-depth coverage than day-to-day: “Our strength with political coverage is our analysis, our longform, and our voice. There are other outlets better equipped to do incremental legislative coverage.”

The magazine’s owner, Paul Hobby,  said he “strongly refutes” the notion that Texas Monthly won’t be covering politics.

“Texans and Texas Monthly readers care a great deal about politics and that’s why the Texas Lt. Governor is on the cover of the February issue,” Hobby wrote in an email. “Strong political coverage will remain the cornerstone to the magazine and any suggestion we would move away from our tradition of fine journalism is patently false.”

And this:

(Lyz) Lenz, the writer of the Columbia Journalism Review piece, defended her story in an email Tuesday morning:

“Taliaferro’s comments were reported accurately and given the appropriate context based on the interview he gave with me. That being said, Texas Monthly is home to some of the best long form journalism in the nation and some of the best writers in the world. As an avid fan of the magazine, I’m happy to see [Taliaferro] soften his stance with his most recent note to the readers. And I hope the magazine continues to be a standard bearer of quality journalism in a time when we need it the most.”

Mimi Swartz, a Texas Monthly executive editor who lives in Houston, said the flap has revealed at least one thing for sure: “It shows how loyal our readers are.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/entertainment/books/article/Is-Texas-Monthly-shifting-away-from-politics-10947638.php.

I guess this Taliaferro fella had to walk back his dumbarse remarks. Talk about getting called out on a statewide level. I wonder how long he will last as Editor-in-Chief?

Roy O of course had 20 more pitching wins after he left the ‘Stros and ended up with 163 for his career.

Carlos Correa is now working out

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No More 10 Best or Worst?

First, congrats to Ryan and Beth Arnold Trostad on the birth of Hayes early this morning!

Mike Snyder of the Chron had a one word tweet that pretty much described the article from the Columbia Journalism Review on where Texas Monthly is headed under new ownership – “disturbing.”  Here are parts of the article:

The new editor in chief of Texas Monthly plans to pull back from the kind of longform and political coverage that gave the title a national profile to focus instead on lifestyle coverage, website enhancements, and a live-events business.

Tim Taliaferro, who took over after the sale of the magazine to Genesis Park LP, tells CJR it would be foolish to walk away from the history of the magazine, but he hopes to focus on growing the lifestyle vertical because “lifestyle sells Texas Monthly better.” He added, “Literary circles have a bias against lifestyle, but lifestyle is an important part of the magazine, including travel and food.”

The change has alums and current staffers worried about the potential for layoffs and the future of the magazine as a home for ambitious journalism and celebrated writing. Several top journalists have left, and others are updating resumes.

Texas Monthly bears the tagline “The National Magazine of Texas”–and it has lived up to the billing. Since its founding in 1973, the magazine has won 13 national magazine awards for public interest, politics, feature writing, and general excellence.

And:

Taliaferro spoke with CJR about his plans for Texas Monthly, which are a departure from the magazine’s long history of in-depth political coverage and longform journalism. Of his plans to scale back local political coverage, he says, “Texans don’t care about politics.” As an example of the coverage he plans to cut back on, Taliaferro cited stories on transgender bathrooms.

Taliaferro replaced former editor in chief Brian Sweany, who told D Magazine that he was going to hole up in his office, grow a beard, and work on a book. Since the sale, senior editor Erica Grieder quit with no new immediate employment plans, and web editor Andrea Valdez left to work as a site editor for Wired. Stacy Hollister, director of editorial operations, also left after the sale.

http://www.cjr.org/business_of_news/texas-monthly-lifestyle-editor.php.

That is kind of a putdown on Texans that we don’t care about politics. I guess he thinks we care more about who has the best breakfast tacos – H-Town or Dallas. This fella is a little out of touch. Wow! I hope they at least have a proper burial for Burkablog. And I am guessing that we won’t see another Ten Best and Ten Worst Legislators List after this session. That’s too bad.

I am sure you saw in the Chron sport section yesterday that since the Big Puma left the ‘Stros in July of 2010, 18 different ‘Stros have started at first base – wow!  Name the former ‘Stro who has started the most games at first base since July of 2010?

The Chron E-Board today tried slapping The Dean around on the Astrodome bill. Here is from their take today:

Fix Child Protective Services. Overhaul public school funding. Reform Texas mental health services. Fight with Harris County about the Astrodome.

One of these things is not like the others.

At the beginning of this legislative session we expected state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, to be a contentious voice in the Austin wilderness, calling for his peers and coworkers to keep their focus on the big challenges facing our state.

Instead, he’s using his 44 years of experience in Austin to stoke a battle with Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, a Republican, on the future of the Astrodome. This is the sort of scheme you’d expect from some a legislator desperate for free publicity. But when it comes to Whitmire, expect the unexpected. The Democratic senator has a track record of directing his state authority at all manner of local issues. He even picked a fight with the University of Houston over a change to on-campus housing rules back in 2014.

Now the Dean of the Senate is pushing Senate Bill 884, which would require a referendum on a $105 million plan to maintain the Dome by creating underground parking spaces and a ground-level event space. Voters rejected a $217 million bond to fund a more cohesive project in 2013. The new plan, spearheaded by Emmett, can be paid for without requiring an independent bond initiative.

“It’s a little unusual for a legislator to file a piece of legislation that affects a specific piece of property that’s totally paid for,” Emmett, a Republican, said about Whitmire’s Dome bill. “I have never heard of that before. It’s also unusual to have legislation filed directly that tells a county how to operate without talking to the county.”

Furthermore, the Astrodome isn’t even in Whitmire’s district.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Astrodome-bill-10946107.php.

The last line is kind of silly. The Dome belongs to all of us.  The E-Board also suggests that The Dean should run against Hunker Down next year.  I don’t know about that.  Then he wouldn’t be The Dean.

Some folks think only the five members of the Commissioners Court ought to decide. Some folks think the legislature should have a say. Hey, it’s the Dome. Let the debate begin.

Now www.aframnews.com wants in on the Dome debate. Here is from their website:

AUSTIN– Houston is a diverse city, but nothing is more divisive than the priorities of wants and needs of leaders versus the community.

Decisions, Decisions

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and county commissioners are hell-bent on saving the Astrodome starting with at $105 million-plus redevelopment project, while Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has made it clear that Houstonians and Harris County needs to spend millions to solve its flooding problems, deal with homelessness issue and ensure all communities are provided equitable and affordable housing, modern schools, access to services, shopping and grocery stores and solid job and employment bases in surrounding disadvantaged neighborhoods.

It’s about setting proper priorities.

Who should have the greatest say in how tax dollars are spent in the city and Harris County?

Democratic State Sen. John Whitmire, a group of state senators from the Bayou City, and supported by Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick say the people should.

The group is united that the people’s voice is important and needs comes first and have filed Senate Bill 884 to pump the brakes on spending millions of tax dollars to foot the bill to fix, repair or preserve sports venues like the Astrodome.

Senate Bill 884 

SB 884, known as the “Harris County Taxpayer Protection Act,” applies to a county with a populations of 3.3 million or more.

“I have to represent my constituents and as a Harris County taxpayer, I say go back and get voter approval and honor previous selections before you engage in such an endeavor,” Whitmire said at a press conference.

Here is the entire article: http://www.aframnews.com/the-dean-puts-his-foot-down-for-harris-county-taxpayers/.

Like I said. A lot of folks are going to have their say on this and that is the way it should be.

Since the Big Puma’s exit back in 2010, former ‘Stro Brett Wallace leads in first base starts with 241 of course.

Roy O is in camp today.

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It’s coming, folks. The roundups. The raids. Mass deportations. The Chron E-Board had a take yesterday and in the hard copy the headline reads “ICE raids and more.”   Here is the end:

So far, (Greg) Abbott has tried to make an example of Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez, who announced in January that her office would not honor ICE detainer requests if the person in detention has not been accused of a serious crime. Abbott retaliated by terminating more than $1 million in state criminal-justice grants to Travis County. He also threatened to look for ways to remove Hernandez from office.

So far, the spotlight has been on Travis County, but soon the focus will shift to Harris County, where Sheriff Ed Gonzalez campaigned on the issue of terminating his office’s involvement with 287(g). What’s happened in Washington and in Austin has made it more difficult for the newly elected sheriff to honor that campaign promise, as his rambling response a few days ago to questions from KUHF-FM listeners underscored. He, in essence, said he wanted to end it, he had to consider all the stakeholders – the answer went on and on but reached no clear conclusion.

We encourage and fully expect Gonzalez to honor his campaign commitment. To do so may be costly, but to surrender to anti-immigrant hysteria is even costlier. Arresting people due to their immigration status would discourage victims or witnesses of crimes from cooperating with investigations. As Houston’s new police chief, Art Acevedo, pointed out recently to the New York Times, “I would rather have my officers focused on going after violent criminals and people breaking into homes than going after nannies and cooks.”

What’s infuriating is that Trump’s war against the immigrant, aided and abetted by the likes of the Texas governor, is unnecessary. Comprehensive immigration reform, including well-run guest-worker programs and a pathway to legal status for long-term, law-abiding residents, would solve the problems that so anger those who decry undocumented immigrants. Obviously, sensible immigration reform is not going to happen as long as Donald Trump occupies the White House.

Meanwhile, Houston and Harris County residents need to support local law enforcement, particularly Sheriff Gonzalez, who’ll face tremendous pressure when and if he rejects 287(g). This city of immigrants is bigger and braver than that. We must not surrender to bullying and fear.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/ICE-raids-and-more-10941967.php.

We will support our local sheriff. We are in a fight for sure folks.

Who gets to play?

Let me repeat.

If some folks think H-Town pension reform is going to happen if only the Mayor, city council, and the employee groups make a deal and that is all – go for it.  If some folks think Bill King and Sen. Paul Bettencourt are going to just sit on the sidelines during this debate – also go for it.

The Chron E-Board goes for the first line where only the Mayor, city council, and the employee groups have a say. Here is the beginning of yesterday’s E-Board take:

Consider it the political equivalent of the infamous 1954 Cotton Bowl Classic, when Alabama’s Tommy Lewis leaped from the bench to tackle Rice University running back Dicky Moegle in one of the most preposterous events in college football history.

State Sen. Joan Huffman is trying to pull off the legislative version of that 12th man tackle.

For years, the message out of Austin on pension reform has been that the city of Houston and our three public unions bear the burden of striking a deal. Apparently the rules of the game have changed.

Now Huffman, alongside state. Sen. Paul Bettencourt and former mayoral candidate Bill King, is trying to weigh in from the sidelines to make some deals of her own.

Huffman, a Republican, has inserted a requirement that there be a public referendum on $1 billion in pension obligation bonds, or POBs. That cash infusion is intended to make up for a decade of City Hall underfunding the municipal and police pensions. The city already owes the pension programs that $1 billion. Using the POBs gives the pensions a lump sum up front.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Pension-teamwork-10941963.php.

Let me repeat:

I guess it is too much to ask if all the parties got into a room and tried to work something out on this very important piece of public policy.  We don’t need a stand-off so to speak.  As far as “if they kill it, they own it”, I really don’t think that is how it works. 

I got news for folks.  Like I said before and earlier, Bill King is not going to sit on the sidelines on this.   He knows too much. 

This is too big of an issue for folks who know something about this to stay out of the debate. Sorry, that’s not the way it works or is supposed to work.

We all know what Donald Trump tweeted on Friday:

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

Nope!

Commentary takes this as an assault on our freedom.

I have been dealing with the media for over 40 years now. They are not perfect but neither are elected officials.   Neither are our local, state, and federal governments. Neither are our local, state, and federal judiciary.

Our elected officials, government, judiciary, and media are not my enemies.

We need to push back hard every time this fella says something that is considered an assault on our freedom.

Just see what he said this past Saturday. Here is from Yahoo News:

“You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible,” he (Trump) said, provoking mockery on social media.

His speech was aimed at defending his order last month that blocked refugees and travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States.

The order has been suspended by a federal appeals court, and Trump vowed to introduce a new order this week as a means of protecting Americans at home.

He went on to name Brussels, Nice and Paris — European cities that have been struck by deadly terror attacks.

Sweden’s embassy in Washington has asked for an explanation, the foreign ministry in Stockholm said Sunday.

“We have now contacted the American (State Department) to understand and receive clarity,” ministry press officer Catarina Axelsson told AFP.

Users on Twitter, Trump’s favorite communication platform, cracked jokes about the apparent miscue using the hashtags #lastnightinSweden and #SwedenIncident.

Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt asked: “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound.”

Gunnar Hokmark, a Swedish member of the European Parliament, retweeted a post that said “#lastnightinSweden my son dropped his hotdog in the campfire. So sad!”

Push back and push back hard! We can’t let this guy make up his own facts, err lies and get away with it.

You will never get this one in honor of President’s Day. Baseball fans should know that President William Howard Taft was the first president to ever throw out the first pitch at a MLB game. It was on April 14, 1910 and at the crib of the Washington Senators. Who were the Senators hosting that day?

So, this past week, Greg Abbott has taken some shots at the NFL on their stance on the bathroom bill.

Abbott tweeted this:

NFL decision makers also benched Tom Brady last season. It ended with NFL handing the Super Bowl trophy to Brady.

And this from a story on the internet:

He (Abbott) said that the NFL has its own share of problems, such as players committing acts of violence against women and not standing for the national anthem.

“The last thing the NFL needs to do is to get into the business of telling states how to operate their own political operations,” Abbott said.

He added that if the NFL tries to dictate policies to the state of Texas, then he might pass a bill mandating that players have to stand and place their hand over their hearts when the national anthem is played.

“The NFL has no business whatsoever trying to get into the politics of various states. The NFL has its own problems that it must fix.”

Now he is weaseling his way out of some of what he said and backing off:

“It was intentional hyperbole to make a point: demonstrating the NFL’s own shortcoming of how they are disconnecting with their fan base by allowing players to disrespect the U.S. flag.”

We know what is going to happen if the bill becomes law. Adios future Super Bowls and NBA All Star Games.   Even if the bill doesn’t get enacted, Abbott is not doing the state any good if it wants to host a future Super Bowl or All Star Game. What do you think competing cities are going to say about Abbott when future bids are requested? Heck, we may be off the list right now for all we know because of Abbott’s trash talking behavior.   Maybe GOP mega-donor Bob McNair ought to call Abbott and tell him to shut his piehole. Same for Jerry Jones, Peter Holt, Mark Cuban and Les Alexander. Commentary is thinking Abbott’s words are going to come back and haunt cities like Arlington, Dallas, H-Town and San Antonio in their efforts to snag the huge events. Just saying.

By the way Charlotte, how did you like hosting the NBA All Star Game festivities this past weekend? Oh, I forgot, you didn’t!

The Washington Senators hosted the Philadelphia Athletics on April 14, 1910 of course and the Athletics now play in Oakland.

Opening Day is six weeks from today.

 

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Richard Moya

My old friend Richard Moya left us yesterday.  Here is from the Statesman:

Richard Moya, political trailblazer and the first Mexican-American elected to public office in Travis County, died early Thursday after a battle with prostate cancer at age 84.

Moya, a Democrat, rode the first wave of successful Hispanic political activism in the county when he was elected to the Travis County Commissioners Court in 1970.

Former Austin Mayor Gus Garcia said that Moya was a brilliant politician in Austin, maybe the best in Travis County.

“Knowledgeable, astute, street smart,” Garcia said. “These are just but a few of the characteristics that describe Richard Moya.”

Politics runs in the family. His daughter, Lori Moya, served on the Austin school board from 2006 to 2014.

“He meant the world to me,” she said. “He was my best friend. He was my mentor. He was my coach. He was my conscience. He was my sports buddy.”

Moya was elected commissioner for the precinct representing the heavily Hispanic district in the southeastern portion of the county, where there were large pockets of poverty. His path was cleared when parts of East Austin north of the river were redistricted into Precinct 4.

He credited his election to the galvanizing effect on the Hispanic community of 252 workers who walked off their jobs in 1968 at the Economy Furniture factory, demanding better pay, benefits and workers’ rights. After winning union recognition in court, the strikers and an emerging coalition of Mexican-American organizations helped Moya get elected.

“The strikers walked the picket line, then came back to help my campaign,” Moya recalled at age 82. “A week before the election, John Treviño got six kids to run my campaign for nothing. But we really needed $1,200 for radio ads. I’d already borrowed money from my dad, so I talked to the strikers. They got $21 a week on the picket line. When they got paid, they gave me their checks.”

“He really appreciated what they sacrificed for him,” Lori Moya said. “And what it meant to his election.”

Other Latinos would soon follow Moya into office. Garcia was elected to the Austin school board, and state Rep. Gonzalo Barrientos (later state senator), a confidant of Moya’s, was elected to the Legislature, where he would serve until 2006.

Along with Austin City Council Member John Treviño, Moya was known in the 1970s as part of the “Brown Machine,” according to Garcia. It was also the nickname of Moya’s printing press, which saw a lot of political action.

Moya worked hard to reform welfare and hiring programs at the county. He pushed to add a child abuse unit to the district attorney’s office and to improve emergency services, rural transportation, mental health services and road maintenance.

After his first bruising election, Moya went on to win three more terms, leaving office in 1986. Moya summed up his old-fashioned political sense as: “If you can’t get the whole thing, take what you can get.”

He later served as deputy chief of staff under Gov. Ann Richards, then branched out, mostly into business ventures.

Here is the entire read: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/richard-moya-first-mexican-american-travis-county-officeholder-dies/cg4rTfkFdd8WAAis1hCcLK/.

 

I actually met Richard in the 60s during my fast-pitch softball days.  Richard was the manager of the old Austin Pan American Aces. 

 

Richard was a key player in the empowerment of Latinos statewide.  In politics, we worked closely on founding and creating the Mexican American Democrats (MAD) of Texas.  He was a pioneer in getting Latinos organized and recognized within the Texas Democratic Party.

 

Commentary served as MAD Chair from 1979-1981.  Richard succeeded me and served as Chair from 1981-1983.  He also presided over one of the most tumultuous MAD meetings ever in 1983 held in Austin – a doozy.

 

In 1982, after Mark White was selected as the Democrat’s nominee for Governor, Richard campaigned throughout the state for White and other statewide candidates.  The following year, Governor White named Richard to serve as Vice-Chair of the entity that implemented the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA).

 

Commissioner Richard Moya was a force in Austin, Travis County and the state of Texas.  He was one of the best and greats of our politics.  He will be missed but not forgotten.

 

Commentary said this yesterday: 

 

If some folks think H-Town pension reform is going to happen if only the Mayor, city council, and the employee groups make a deal and that is all – go for it. 

 

Here is from today’s Chron:

 

A state lawmaker carrying Houston’s pension reform bill says her version of the proposal will require a public referendum on a $1 billion cash infusion central to the negotiations, an idea Mayor Sylvester Turner called a “poison pill” that could derail the reforms and force “massive” layoffs.

 

The requirement that voters have a say on the $1 billion in pension obligation bonds is the brainchild of Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston. Fellow Houston Republican Sen. Joan Huffman, who is carrying the reforms in the higher chamber, said she understands the mayor’s frustration but said her bill – which still is being drafted – will not pass without the provision.

 

“It is a billion-dollar bond, and though it’s not new debt – it’s debt that the city owes to both the police pension fund and to the municipal pension fund – I can understand how the voters would want to have a voice in the issuance of the bonds,” Huffman said. “To get it out of the Senate, it’s a necessary addition to the bill.”

 

And:

 

“That is a poison pill, and you are saying you want this deal killed – and it will kill this deal,” Turner said at Wednesday’s council meeting. “If that’s the course that the Legislature chooses to take, then the Legislature must also say to people in this city – to businesses and property owners – ‘We are assuming responsibility because the state can do it better.'”

 

Turner also sought to spell out the consequences if the reforms fail: still-rising pension debts, an additional $134 million added to an already sizable deficit in the coming budget, and “massive layoffs” touching every city department.

 

Police union leader Joe Gamaldi noted Turner’s warning in accusing Bettencourt of trying to torpedo the deal to better position his friend and 2015 mayoral runner-up, pension hawk Bill King, to again challenge Turner.

 

“While Sen. Bettencourt and Bill King play political games,” Gamaldi said, “the safety of our city and of everyday Houstonians hangs in the balance.”

 

Here is the entire read:  http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Turner-decries-poison-pill-added-to-pension-10939070.php.

 

Commentary also said this yesterday:

 

I guess it is too much to ask if all the parties got into a room and tried to work something out on this very important piece of public policy.  We don’t need a stand-off so to speak.  As far as “if they kill it, they own it”, I really don’t think that is how it works.

 

If Donald Trump hates fake news, why he does spend so much time consuming it?  Yesterday’s rant on national TV was a response to the media covering his first 26 days in office.

 

And then this tweet from this morning:

 

ABC13 Houston ‏@abc13houston 11m11 minutes ago

 

BREAKING: Trump weighs mobilizing National Guard for immigration roundups http://abc13.com/1759618/

 

I am thinking that is not why folks signed up for the Guard.

 

2018 could be a record turnout year for the Latino vote.  

 

The fake news stuff hit home – sort of, yesterday.  My good friend Anna Eastman’s mug got some buzzfeed.com run.  You need to check out the story here:  https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/hollywood-funded-fake-local-news-and-this-real-local-newspap?utm_term=.jblQxJD3r#.xq5pPjJ8G.

 

I can believe it these days.

 

There is no MLB today.

 

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Who hold the record for most pitching career starts all time as a ‘Stro?

 

Well it looks like we won’t have a spousal abuser as labor secretary. Thanks, Oprah.

 

Commentary has said it before.  The following is not my fight.

 

Bill King and his pension takes are getting under some collars for sure.

 

If some folks think H-Town pension reform is going to happen if only the Mayor, city council, and the employee groups make a deal and that is all – go for it.  If some folks think Bill King and Sen. Paul Bettencourt are going to just sit on the sidelines during this debate – also go for it.

 

Check these tweets:

 

Miya Shay ‏@miyashay 22h22 hours ago

 

Mayor @SylvesterTurner: If #txlege Senators & Reps force changes on pension plan, they kill the deal. If they kill it, they own it. #abc13

 

And:

 

Gene Wu ‏@GeneforTexas 20h20 hours ago

 

I’m impressed that @BillKingForHou has so much influence, even from his yacht in the Mediterranean. #YachtLife #txlege

 

Then this story from Channel 11 yesterday: 

 

HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner gave an extensive update on Houston’s pension plan Wednesday.

 

Turner said that the city’s pension bill is being finalized by Houston’s legislative council and he expects it to go to Rep. Flynn on the House side and Sen. Huffman on the Senate side “very, very soon”.

 

The pension reform plan has already been approved by City Council and all three pension boards but the bill must pass through the Texas Legislature in Austin to become law.

 

Turner also added the Governor Abbott is getting an update on both Houston and Dallas’ pension plans on Wednesday.

 

If lawmakers don’t pass the plan, Mayor Turner ball-parked the job loss figure at around 1,500 jobs across all departments in 2018.

 

And: 

 

“If this bill does not go through in this legislative session, then in the next few months as we tackle the city’s budget, add another $130 some million dollars to your budgetary shortfall, which means there will be massive layoffs here at the city of Houston,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday morning, during the weekly City Council meeting. “There are no sacred cows. No one is spared.”

 

“He’s absolutely correct,” said Senior Police Officer Ray Hunt, who serves as President of the Houston Police Officers Union. “There’s only one way to (fix the shortfall), and that’s through layoffs, which we’re already 1,500 officers short in the Houston Police Department.”

 

And: 

 

So what roadblocks could the plan potentially hit in Austin?

 

“Look, I’m a lifelong Republican, but it’s coming from Bill King and (State Senator) Paul Bettencourt who want to put persons in a defined contribution plan, sort of like a 401k,” said Hunt. “The mayor has said that’s off the table. It’s something we believe will kill our recruiting if we ever did that.”

 

King, who narrowly lost to Turner in the mayoral runoff in December 2015, is a longtime pension reform advocate critical of defined benefit plans, which base an employee’s pension payments on how long they’ve been employed and their salary when they retire.

 

Sen. Bettencourt (R-Houston) introduced Senate Bill 151, which would require voters to approve pension obligation bonds, which are included in Houston’s plan.

 

Mayor Turner says he’s “very optimistic” his plan will pass, and Hunt agrees, telling KHOU 11 that Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick are both in support.  

 

Here is the whole story: http://www.khou.com/news/local/an-update-on-houstons-pension-plan/408643824.

 

I guess it is too much to ask if all the parties got into a room and tried to work something out on this very important piece of public policy.  We don’t need a stand-off so to speak.  As far as “if they kill it, they own it”, I really don’t think that is how it works.

 

I got news for folks.  Like I said before and earlier, Bill King is not going to sit on the sidelines on this.   He knows too much. 

 

And now to public safety at The Yard.  I am just down the line on this so I am not covered so to speak.  No more kids getting tossed the ball after the third out.  Here is from Tags: 

 

By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com | @brianmctaggart  

 

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Astros president Reid Ryan said Wednesday the club will expand protective netting at Minute Maid Park to run the length of both dugouts, beginning with the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic, March 3-5.

 

The net above the dugouts will be about 12 feet high, Ryan said, but it will be lowered during batting practice so fans can still have access to players for autographs. The netting behind home plate, which is 32 feet high, and above the dugouts will be replaced this season with a smaller mesh to allow better visibility, Ryan said.

 

“One of the things we were working on was that we’re going to have it be retractable, so it will actually be down during batting practice because we wanted to make sure fans would continue to have access to getting autographs from players and interacting with players,” Ryan said. “The net will be down for batting practice, and right before the game it will go up the length of the dugout and look a lot like what the Rangers have in Arlington.”

 

Ryan said the additional netting comes as the result of fans being more engaged with the game of baseball on social media via their mobile devices, thanks to improved high-speed internet at ballparks. The netting provides protection from foul balls and bats that might fly into the stands.

 

“I think people are interacting with the game at a new level, whether it’s commenting on the game during the game with their friends, taking pictures, things like that,” Ryan said. “We’ve just seen the demand for more fan choice really has gone up, and it’s really the market saying, ‘Hey, we want more options to sit behind protective netting.’

 

“By being able to go to the end of the dugouts, it’s going to service giving more fans that option and also it does bring a higher level of protection from flying bats and balls and stuff like that. The bottom line is today people experience the game differently, and there’s some folks that want to come and they want to watch the game and interact with their friends on social media, and we want them to have that ability to do that in an environment where they feel like they’re safe.”

 

Sooner or later this was going to happen.  It is probably a good thing.  That means foul balls will ricochet off of the screen and come my way.

 

Larry Dierker of course leads all ‘Stros all time with 320 career pitching starts.

 

Oso Blanco has a sore shoulder.

 

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ICE Trap?

No telling where this Russia and Donald Trump thing is headed but at least it has the GOP on defense.   Good!

I got the following from the GOP yesterday:

 

Listening Tour.

Di Me (Should be “Dime” – Tell me)

Te Escuchamos Houston! (We listen to you Houston)

Come join The Harris County Republican Party and the Republican Party of Texas as we kick-off a new engagement effort in the State of Texas. Join us for food, fellowship, and conversation at the first stop of our “Listening ‘Di Me” tour across Texas.

The Republican Party wants to know what’s really important to you and is ready to listen!

So, if you’re around Houston, TX, come on out, enjoy some taquitos and let us know what’s most important to you, so you can truly make it Your Party!!  

 

Wed, February 22, 2017
5:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Trini Mendenhall Community Center
1414 Wirt Road, Houston, TX 77055

 

Taquitos?  They must have been out of taco bowls.

 

I have never seen “Di Me” spelled that way.  I always thought it was “dime”. 

 

I am thinking this might be one those decoy traps.  Instead of a listening tour, unsuspecting Latinos will walk in and be greeted by ICE agents disguised as GOPers.  Of course, they won’t have to put on a whole lot of disguise gear – ICE agents and GOPers are kind of the same thing, sort of. 

 

Hard core ‘Stros fans know that Joe Niekro leads all ‘Stros pitchers with 144 career pitching wins in a ‘Stro uniform.  Roy Oswalt is number 2.  How many pitching wins does Roy O have in a ‘Stro uniform?

 

Lies, lies, and nothing but lies.

 

Here is from Politico on Kellyanne Conway:

 

Conway said Monday afternoon on MSNBC that (Michael) Flynn “enjoys the full confidence of the president.” On Tuesday, Conway claimed that her Monday afternoon statement had been true at the time, but that by the end of the evening, Flynn had made the decision to resign all on his own.

 

Huh!  So Sean Spicer said yesterday that Flynn’s trust factor had been eroding.  Now that was some quick eroding.

 

Best question of the day yesterday was Matt Lauer to Conway – “are you in the loop?”

 

And from Politico today:

 

Kellyanne Conway has an on-air credibility crisis.

 

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday, co-anchor Mika Brzezinski declared that she “will not interview her.”

 

“It’s giving people dishonesty, it’s not worth the interview,” she said, as co-host Joe Scarborough added, “She goes out and lies, and you find out about those lies a couple hours later.”

 

Here is the entire Politico read on Conway: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/kellyanne-conway-tv-media-trump-235022.

 

So what do you think?  When the Harris County Judge gives his state of the county speech, how much run will he give the Astrodome?   Here is from today’s Chron:

 

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett voiced concern Tuesday that a bill filed by a veteran state senator jeopardizes the county’s plan to revitalize the Astrodome, adding that county representatives would continue to try to persuade legislators to support the $105 million project.

 

Emmett said state Sen. John Whitmire’s bill, the Harris County Taxpayer Protection Act, was misleading and that Whitmire’s statements that some Astrodome renovation funds could be spent on Minute Maid Park or the Toyota Center were “demonstrably incorrect.”

 

“This bill is an example of state government making it more difficult for local government to do its job,” Emmett said.

 

Whitmire’s bill would require voter approval for a county plan to spend $105 million to raise the floor of the iconic, domed stadium and create 1,400 parking spaces and space for events or festivals.

 

Here is the entire read:  http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Lawmaker-s-bill-reopens-debate-over-105M-10932819.php.

 

I am thinking this Dome issue isn’t going to be solved soon.

 

Greg Abbott continues to rail against the NFL over the bathroom bill. He talked to Glenn Beck about it yesterday.  Here is from the Trib:

 

“For some low-level NFL adviser to come out and say that they are going to micromanage and try to dictate to the state of Texas what types of policies we’re going to pass in our state, that’s unacceptable,” Abbott told Beck. “We don’t care what the NFL thinks and certainly what their political policies are because they are not a political arm of the state of Texas or the United States of America. They need to learn their place in the United States, which is to govern football, not politics.”

 

The old know your place argument.  I think they know their place.  They own like about 21 Sundays of the year. They own about 17 Monday evenings and about 17 Thursday evenings.

 

You know you are losing the argument on this when you have to play the Colin Kaepernick card.  More from the Trib on this: 

 

“I cannot name or even count the number of Texans who told me that they were not watching the NFL,” Abbott said. “They were protesting the NFL this year because of the gross political statement allowed to be made by the NFL by allowing these players, who are not oppressed, who are now almost like snowflake little politicians themselves unable to take the United States National Anthem being played.” 

 

Oh, brother!  Not very many have been successful taking on the NFL.   Given the choice of Lone Star State NFL fans wearing Cowboy or Texan gear on game day or siding with Abbott, advice to Abbott – don’t order a whole lot of take out. 

 

Here is the entire Trib piece:  https://www.texastribune.org/2017/02/14/abbott-blasts-nfl-wading-bathroom-bill-debate/. 

 

Roy O of course has 143 pitching wins in a ‘Stro uniform.

 

The ‘Stros announced that Roy O will be a guest instructor during Spring Training. 

 

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