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Archive for February 27th, 2017

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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