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Archive for February, 2017

Setting it Straight

If you run into my niece and goddaughter Rachel today, wish her a happy birthday.

What is the official name of our spring training crib?

The State Senate author of the H-Town pension reform bill had an Op-Ed in Sunday’s Chron to set the record straight of sorts. Sen. Joan Huffman is letting folks know she is a major player in this effort. Here is how her Op-Ed starts:

We can all agree that the time has come for real reform to Houston’s public retirement systems. Mayor Sylvester Turner should be commended for his hard work and for bringing everyone to the bargaining table. However, I respectfully disagree with his assertion that giving voters the decision to issue pension obligation bonds (POBs) is a “poison pill” for reform. As to the Chronicle’s accusation (“Pension teamwork” Page A31, Feb. 19) that I am trying to “weigh in from the sidelines” to make some deals of my own: As author of the bill that would allow the city of Houston to reform its public retirement systems, as Chair of the Senate committee with jurisdiction over pensions, and as one of 31 senators who will cast a vote, it is my duty to weigh in on the issue. I disagree with the Chronicle’s implication that the $1 billion bond obligation is too important to be entrusted to the voters.

We know that the bonds are not absolutely necessary to make the economics of the city’s reform plan work. In fact, the mayor has already recognized the possibility that the city would not be able to issue the full promised POB amount: The city’s draft bill language submitted to me already includes a provision that adjusts the “corridor” based on the timing and amount of POBs. (The “corridor” places a cap on future city contributions and requires additional benefit reductions if costs rise above that cap.) Although the POBs proposed do not create new debt, it is important that voters have input, as issuing bonds creates some budget risk for any government entity, and bonds could possibly be ripe for abuse by their issuing authority.

Before the city doubles existing POB obligation, there should be some widespread agreement. Like many of my constituents, I feel that is it prudent and fiscally responsible to provide taxpayers the opportunity to voice their opinion. The bottom line is, even if no POBs are issued, the reform plan still works and is a big step forward for the city of Houston.

Here is the entire Op-Ed: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Huffman-Voter-input-on-city-pension-reform-is-10962434.php.

Ok. Definitely a player!

I am certain some folks are blaming Bill King for the Op-Ed.

Despite what you hear, not everyone is on board on the pension reform deal. Here is part of what the Chron’s Mike Morris put out yesterday:

Houston’s fire pension board has blasted Mayor Sylvester Turner for ending negotiations on the final language of a pension reform bill.

Turner had said at last Wednesday’s City Council meeting that he was making good on earlier hints that the fire pension trustees’ failure to agree to reform terms would see the fund receive deeper benefit cuts than it had tentatively agreed to last fall. Turner said he had instructed legislative attorneys drafting the bill to roughly match the firefighters’ terms to those agreed to by the police pension.

“Our mayor, the former state legislator, has decided to use the insider’s game of the legislative process to pursue his own one-sided plan,” Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund chairman David Keller wrote in a letter to members released late Friday. “If the mayor’s plan for us is the version we last saw or worse, we will absolutely oppose it.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Fire-pension-chair-blasts-Turner-for-ending-talks-10958161.php?t=8ef2417caf438d9cbb&cmpid=twitter-premium.

They better get this fixed.

I am certain some folks are blaming Bill King for causing this dissension.

I kind of find it interesting that the three H-Town pension funds are all represented up in Austin by the same set of lobbyists.

Commentary is not going to say anything about how Kellyanne Cornpone sits on the couch in the Oval Office.

Commentary is also not going to comment on Donald Trump saying President Obama is organizing the protests.

The ‘Stros and the Nationals call the new Ballpark of the Palm Beaches their spring training crib of course.

They both open the new facility today.

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King’s Two Cents

My pal Jamie Hildreth is no longer with us. Jamie worked in the front office for the ‘Stros. Throughout the seasons, Jamie and I would visit on occasion before games over at the St. Arnold corner. He would always fill me in on the latest. The last time we talked was toward the end of last season and he told me they were thinking about giving the St. Arnold corner a makeover.   I’ll think about him a lot before games this season. He will be missed.

Bill Paxton also left us yesterday. He was in some great flicks including “Aliens”, “Apollo 13”, “Titanic” and “Twister.” One of the lines I best remember of his is from his Private Hudson character in “Aliens.” After his unit’s first encounter with the creatures goes horribly bad, he says “hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!”

Commentary is thinking that some folks don’t want Bill King’s two cents on the H-Town pension reform deal.

Commentary has said before that this isn’t my fight.

So, Bill has been writing and talking about this issue for the longest of anyone I know. Like maybe close to a decade.

He is arguably one of the most knowledgeable on the issue.

Bill runs for mayor and comes up short. (Heck, when he first got into the race, no one gave him a chance.)

So now he’s supposed to leave the room?

Here is from Saturday’s Chron:

Bill King ran for mayor in 2015 on a platform of fixing Houston’s pension mess and narrowly lost to Mayor Sylvester Turner, who is now pushing his own hard-fought pension reform deal in the Legislature that he says will do exactly that.

Far from bowing out of civic life, however, King has emerged as arguably the chief opponent of Turner’s broadly well-received proposal, a package the mayor spent much of his first year negotiating, to the exclusion of most other issues.

King has joined friend and ally Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, in rallying opposition to Turner’s proposal among conservatives. He has attended at least three dozen forums on the topic, by his count, and has been running social media ads touting his views on Facebook, has traveled to Austin to lobby legislators and has formed a pension-focused political action committee with Bettencourt.

The recent mayoral runner-up’s central role in his rival’s most important initiative is unprecedented, political observers say.

“It does somewhat seem like sour grapes for a defeated mayoral candidate to continue to campaign against his victorious opponent,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “It perhaps would have been more productive to allow Sylvester Turner to handle this himself for the first legislative session of his tenure and only get more actively involved if that session had not resulted in a significant improvement.”

And:

King insists the aim of his critiques is to improve Turner’s proposal, not kill it, and says he is not using the issue to position himself for another mayoral run.

His critics aren’t buying that. They accuse King of acting out of self-interest in seeking to torpedo the reforms, or of at least failing to grasp that his actions will make that result far more likely.

And:

“I would concede that it’s unusual, but I don’t understand why there’s anything wrong with it,” King said of his role. “Just because one candidate advocates some things and loses an election doesn’t mean that all those things are wrong and are off the table forever.”

King acknowledges his dozen email blasts attacking the proposal as a “secret” attempt to pass “a bad deal” that is “not real reform” and would “make the city a financial cripple” have sometimes been “harsh” or indulged in “hyperbole.” But King says his campaign is issue-based, not the start of a second mayoral bid. He would have a better platform, he argued, if Turner’s reforms passed untouched, because he could argue they were insufficient.

And:

“(King) feels strongly that there should be defined contribution plans. He ran on that. We had a vote, and he lost,” said Robert Miller, a former Metro chairman and a longtime lobbyist for the city’s three pensions, among dozens of other clients. “That was not something the employee groups were willing to agree to. If you stick that in, there’s a high likelihood that the agreement falls apart. He is seeking to kill the deal.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Former-mayoral-candidate-Bill-King-not-giving-up-10958336.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Kuffer has had it with King. Yesterday, Kuffer posted some of the Chron article and in place of King’s name, Kuffer substituted with “some dude.” Here is how Kuffer ended his take yesterday.

I’m sure you can tell who this story is about, but I have no desire to give him any more attention for it. I neither know nor care what this guy’s motivations are, but I do know this: He’s seeking to use the Legislature to overrule the voters who rejected him in 2015. I have no respect for that, and as such I no longer have any respect for him. Hope you’re happy, dude.

Bill responded to the Chron article with a letter to the editor yesterday and here it is:

Regarding “Pension teamwork” (Page A31, Feb. 19), your editorial suggested that state Sens. Joan Huffman and Paul Bettencourt and I were not on the team for pension reform. Hardly.

Houston’s pension crisis is the result of successive administrations going to Austin with the unions and pension boards in tow, and getting the Legislature to rubber stamp schemes that proved to be totally unsustainable and have now driven the city into insolvency.

What Mayor Sylvester Turner has proposed has many of the same elements that got us into this mess in the first place. Borrow more money, put off paying the pension debt, keep pretending defined benefit plans can be made to work.

Turner claims this plan is different because it supposedly caps city contributions, albeit at the absurd level of 37 percent of payroll. We can argue all day about whether this hideously complex, untested, experimental cap will work, but the truth is no one really knows.

However, we do know something that does work – phasing out defined benefit plans for defined contribution plans. We know that it works because the private sector has proved it works.

Many taxpayer groups have put themselves on the field this round by demanding their legislators include provisions that the city can only offer defined contribution plans to new employees and that new pension bonds must be submitted to voters for approval. Not exactly radical demands and in no way inconsistent with what Turner has proposed.

I am thinking that folks who didn’t support King for mayor want him to butt out of the pension reform debate. I am thinking that folks who supported King for mayor want him to keep on debating.

Commentary has said it before. How do you keep one of the most knowledgeable on this issue out of the debate?

And let me just add a comment to what my pals Robert Miller and Kuffer said. What happened in December of 2015 was about who gets to take the oath of office.

Warning to Bill King, they may be setting you up to take the blame if this deal does not happen.

Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday that he’s skipping the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. That’s good. He would have been a hypocrite to show up and break bread with the enemy of the people.

The best retweet I saw on this – “party’s back on!”

On the Oscars last night, stuff happens. On the opening number by Justin Timberlake – he nailed it. On the opening monologue by Jimmy Kimmel – he nailed it.

The Daily Beast has an accurate account about the snafu last night here:

This time, Warren Beatty really doesn’t think it’s about him.

The actor spent much of last night defiantly insisting to anyone who would listen that he was not to blame for the Moonlight / La La Land mix-up which marred the Oscars

Beatty and his co-presenter Faye Dunaway made a defiant appearance at the Governors Ball, the official Oscars after party last night, insisting they were not at fault for the Best Picture fiasco.

A pugnacious Beatty was still clutching the envelope he was wrongly handed by producers as proof of his innocence, amidst claims that Beatty’s representatives have demanded the Academy issue a statement clearing Beatty of blame.

The acclaimed stars of Bonnie and Clyde were bombarded with questions about the monster mix-up as they walked in to the party.

Walking past the backstage area at the Dolby Theatre en route to the Governors Ball, Beatty, 79, told a small group of reporters, “I don’t know anything … I don’t think anyone knows. I’ve asked and I haven’t got an answer.”

According to People, Beatty added: “I read the card that was in the envelope. I read it but I didn’t say La La Land. I thought, ‘This is very strange because it says Best Actress on the card.’ And I felt that maybe there was some sort of misprint.

“As planned, I gave it to Faye,” he added, still holding two envelopes in his hands as proof of his assertion. “And that’s all I want to say on the subject.”

DailyMail.com reports that Dunaway, 76, turned to Beatty, 79, as they walked in to the event and asked: “Are we in the sink?”

To which Beatty replied: “No. It wasn’t us.”

Beatty lost no opportunity to hammer home his case, telling DailyMail.com‘s long time showbiz reporter Baz Bamigboye: “People thought I was being dramatic but I wasn’t. There was something wrong. I showed it to Faye and she said La La Land.”

Hours after the blunder, accounting firm PwC, which collates votes and administers the awards, issued a statement saying: “We sincerely apologize to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected.

“We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”

According to reports, Beatty’s wife Annette Bening phoned him as he was entering the ball and suggested he head home but the iconic actor refused, saying once again that he had done nothing wrong.

According to USA Today, one of the accountants from PwC realised Beatty had been given the wrong envelope within seconds. The accountant jumped up, saying: “He took the wrong envelope!” 

Around the same time, according to the paper, a stagehand realized the mistake, yelling: “Oh f***, oh my God. He got the wrong envelope.”

When a security guard tried to take the envelope off Beatty, he refused, saying: “Security is not getting this. I’m giving it to (Moonlight director) Barry Jenkins at a later time.”

Not to mention preserving the evidence.

There is no MLB question today.

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The Deconstructionist

Commentary is wondering how long the rest of the GOP will go along with the Deconstructionist on the current remaking of the GOP. Today’s GOP sure doesn’t look like the GOP of a while back. Here is from the Washington Post:

Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s reclusive chief strategist and the intellectual force behind his nationalist agenda, said Thursday that the new administration is locked in an unending battle against the media and other globalist forces to “deconstruct” an outdated system of governance.

In his first public speaking appearance since Trump took office, Bannon made his comments alongside White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus at a gathering of conservative activists. They sought to prove that they are not rivals but partners in fighting on Trump’s behalf to transform Washington and the world order.

“They’re going to continue to fight,” Bannon said of the media, which he repeatedly described as “the opposition party,” and other forces he sees as standing in the president’s way. “If you think they are giving you your country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken.”

Atop Trump’s agenda, Bannon said, was the “deconstruction of the administrative state” — meaning a system of taxes, regulations and trade pacts that the president and his advisers believe stymie economic growth and infringe upon one’s sovereignty.

“If you look at these Cabinet nominees, they were selected for a reason, and that is deconstruction,” Bannon said. He posited that Trump’s announcement withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership was “one of the most pivotal moments in modern American history.”

Here is the entire Post story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/02/23/bannon-trump-administration-is-in-unending-battle-for-deconstruction-of-the-administrative-state/?postshare=161487879490400&tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.40dae0ed8209.

Bannon also said Trump had an “economic nationalist agenda.”

Nope.  Dream on.

I wouldn’t put your money on these fellas. It is just a matter of time. This is not who we are. Why do you think GOP members of congress are opting out of town hall meetings?

And then you have Trump tweeting against the FBI this morning. The FBI?

Just look at this from Politico:

Former House Speaker John Boehner predicted on Thursday that a full repeal and replace of Obamacare is “not what’s going to happen” and that Republicans will instead just make some fixes to the health care law.

And:

“In the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like. Not once,” Boehner said. “And all this happy talk that went on in November and December and January about repeal, repeal, repeal—yeah, we’ll do replace, replace—I started laughing, because if you pass repeal without replace, first, anything that happens is your fault. You broke it.”

Boehner added that he has told Republican leaders that unless a repeal is packaged with a replacement, GOP lawmakers would not likely reach a consensus about an alternative to Obamacare.

Here is all the Politico story: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/john-boehner-obamacare-republicans-235303.

What is the replacement?   Like I said, why do you think GOP members of congress are opting out of town hall meetings?

Last season, Jose Altuve batted .338. In 2015, .313. In 2014, .341. From 2010 through 2013, the ‘Stros didn’t have a player who played the entire season hit above .300.  Name the ‘Stro who hit for a .313 average in 2009.

Ouch! Check this from the Chron today:

A Harris County judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Landry’s Inc. against an animal rights organization that alleged four white tigers at the Downtown Aquarium were kept in living conditions that were inadequate.

The attorneys for the California-based Animal Legal Defense Fund said the defamation lawsuit filed against their client was intended to silence them from speaking out about the tigers’ housing. They said the tigers – Coral, Marina, Nero and Reef – hadn’t been outside in more than a decade and didn’t have access to adequate sunlight and fresh air.

The lawsuit, filed in November 2016, accused ALDF of  making “deliberately false accusations of animal mistreatment and criminal conduct” about the four captive-bred white Bengal tigers. 

In his order that was signed Wednesday, Harris County District Judge Steven Kirkland came down on the side of the animal rights organization. In addition to ordering Landry’s to pay out combined legal fees of almost $175,000, Kirkland formally sanctioned the company.

Landry’s was ordered to pay an additional $450,000 – with $250,000 going to ALDF and $200,000 for animal welfare advocate Cheryl Conley, also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Here is the entire read: http://www.chron.com/houston/article/Judge-tosses-defamation-lawsuit-over-Landry-s-10955409.php.

I hope Landry’s doesn’t take this personally and runs someone against the judge in 2020. Seen this before.

Miguel Tejada of course batted .313 in 2009 for the ‘Stros.

It’s the ‘Stros versus the Tigers tomorrow.

 

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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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Support Your Local Sheriff

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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