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Archive for March, 2017

This may be the new norm if you ask me. Deservedly so. I mean, if you were a Mexican, would you want to visit the USA and spend your money here? Check this from the Statesman today:

SAN MARCOS — For years, the outlet malls in San Marcos have bustled with Mexican tourists looking for deals. Mexican license plates dotted the parking lot, and it was common to see people piling out of tour buses to do their shopping.

“I haven’t seen a bus in a while,” said Bradley Tanksley, store manager of New York, New York, after hanging a long gown on a rack above his head on a recent weekday. “We’ve had a lot more people from around here and the states, the closer states, but not a lot from Mexico.”

And hardly any Mexican license plates were to be seen in the lot just outside the store’s window.

San Marcos officials say sales tax revenue from February, based on January sales, was down about 9 percent, or $200,697, compared with the same month last year. They believe, at least in part, that the decrease is a result of fewer foreign travelers, particularly those from Mexico, making the city their shopping destination.

This marks the second consecutive decrease after January revenues saw a drop of more than 3 percent. Retail sales took a hit of almost 10 percent in January but were partially offset by a 9 percent increase in accommodation and food sales and a 36 percent increase in wholesale.

And:

The dip in sales tax revenue made sense to many shoppers at Tanger on a recent weekday. Carrying a bag with a new stuffed animal for his child from the Disney Store, Garvin Biscette, 40, said he had no doubt that the slowdown in international travel is a reaction to Trump’s political rhetoric and actions on immigration.

“I think that a lot of people will avoid America because of his policies,” said Biscette, who is originally from the Caribbean but lives in Austin now. “And that’s going to hurt the economy.”

I wonder how many of those folks who work at the outlet mall voted for Trump? Just asking.

The Brits put Trump and Sean Spicer in their place so to speak. Check this AP story. I would say that Sean Spicer and Trump are running out of excuses but I won’t. They will keep making up lies. Check this AP story:

LONDON (AP) — A spokesman for Britain’s prime minister says the White House has promised that it won’t repeat a claim that U.K. spies snooped on U.S. President Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, says the British government has made it clear to the U.S. that the “ridiculous” claims should be ignored. He said Friday that Washington has assured Britain they will not be repeated.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer on Thursday cited Fox News analyst Andrew Napolitano, who suggested that the British electronic surveillance agency GCHQ had helped former President Barack Obama spy on Trump before last year’s presidential election.

GCHQ took the unusual step of releasing a statement calling the claims “nonsense.”

It said “they are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

According to a story I read yesterday, some prominent Irish-American musicians declined invitations to perform yesterday at the White House St. Patrick’s Day reception. Not to worry. Toby O’Keith filled in at the last minute.

Commentary is wearing green socks today.

Speaking of green, how many MLB clubs have green on their uniforms?

Commentary checked out “Kong: Skull Island” in 3D and IMAX. There wasn’t a dull moment. There were some bad arse creatures in the flick and a couple were downright filthy. If you go check it out and if you are not in a hurry stay through the entire credits. They tease you afterwards about the next Kong flick with “Gozeela”, err Godzilla. Toward the end of the credits they mention Godzilla so I guess it was for the tease a minute or so later. Oh, this Kong is certainly the baddest.

Surprisingly, only two, ok three MLB clubs wear the green on a regular basis, the A’s and the Mariners of course, both AL West teams, and the D-Backs wear on some uniforms a turquoise so that is kind of green

A lot of teams will be sporting the St. Patrick’s Day green today.

From SportsOnEarth.com:

Houston Astros

No, I’m not identifying the Astros as a team all that likely to sell midseason. But the fact that a 7-17 April last year basically torched their season will invite plenty of public — and, perhaps, internal — anxiety should 2017 not start well.

At the moment, Houston is placing a big bet on its in-house rotation options, including a recovering Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers. Not for lack of effort, they didn’t land any of the big fish in the pitching trade market, and it will be interesting to see if that comes back to bite them or if all the concern about their starting set proves to be much ado about nothing.

This looks like a strong team with a more balanced offense, and, even with Jose Quintana still with the White Sox, the Astros are a popular pick to win the AL West. Still, they have a lot to prove as a result of the way last season unfolded — or, rather, unraveled.

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The H-Town Word

Commentary is not going to pile on Rachel Maddow on how she presented Donald Trump’s 2005 tax returns even though she only produced two pages. I look at it this way, it is two pages we didn’t have. Yeah, yeah, she went on and on before she got to the returns, but maybe the two pages is a sign of things to come.

For the second time, the Muslim ban has been put on hold.

We are learning this morning from a story on the internet that one of Trump’s key staffers is a registered Nazi. I guess a few other staff members haven’t registered yet.

Name the active MLB skipper with the most career wins as a skipper?

The Chron E-Board today calls out the University of Houston for trying to pull an #HTownTakeover of the word “Houston.” Huh! Here is the headline and sub-headline of the E-Board take:

Branding feud

The idea that UH should own rights to Sam Houston’s illustrious name is ludicrous.

This is how the take starts:

One of the most interesting legends about the founding of our fair city is the tale of how this settlement on the banks of Buffalo Bayou came to be known as Houston. At a dinner party one evening General Sam Houston, the hero of the battle of San Jacinto, proposed naming the city after his hostess, Charlotte Allen. But Allen, a shrewd businesswoman who’s never gotten the credit she deserves in our city’s history books, wisely convinced the general that the glory associated with his name would help put the fledgling city on the map.

Sam Houston agreed, because the man who won our state’s independence knew the value of his good name. Today we can’t help wondering what the general would think about somebody trying to claim exclusive rights to it.

Last year, University of Houston officials were understandably upset when they learned the South Texas College of Law planned to change its name to the Houston College of Law and adopt a color scheme that looked suspiciously similar to the Cougars’ red and white logo. UH sent its attorneys to the courthouse arguing that the downtown law school’s name change could have caused confusion, effectively diluting the good name built by the University of Houston Law School. A federal judge agreed.

Now, a mediated settlement of this legal dispute has opened the door to a much broader claim by UH. University officials included in the settlement a provision that will allow UH to pursue a federal trademark on the word “Houston” for educational purposes.

That prospect should raise the eyebrows and the blood pressure of anybody who’s ever attended Houston Baptist University, Houston Community College, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston or even a nursery school whose moniker incorporates the name of our city. Indeed, both Houston Community College and the Houston Astros have put the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on notice that they may oppose UH’s attempted takeover of Sam Houston’s illustrious name.

And here is how it ends:

We hope this notion of UH trademarking “Houston” is just the product of some lawyer’s over-active imagination. Charlotte Allen understood that our city’s name was a valuable commodity. The University of Houston needs to understand that General Sam Houston’s name belongs to all of us.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Branding-feud-11005076.php.

UH was successful in their law school battle with the South Texas College of Law over the name issue. They also put it on the UT System a couple of weeks ago or so and even bragged about it and thumped their chests.   I’m thinking the Chron E-Board doesn’t want them to get too greedy and pull an #HTownTakeover and try to own rights to the word H-Town even for educational purposes. I get it.

This is funny:

McDonald’s Twitter account slammed President Trump on Thursday in an uncharacteristically derogatory tweet. 

The tweet, sent at 9:16 a.m. on Thursday, reads: “@realDonaldTrump You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back, also you have tiny hands.”

The message was retweeted more than 200 times and deleted 25 minutes later. 

McDonald’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

It’s unclear if the message was sent by an employee or if the account was hacked. The account appeared to be sending on-brand messages before and after the tweet about Trump.

And this tweet is funnier:

Keir Murray‏ @houtopia 13m13 minutes ago

Redefining the Big Mac attack. #McDonalds

Bruce Bochy of the Giant has 1,789 career wins and Dusty Baker of the Nationals has 1,766 of course.

MLB returns to The Yard two weeks from today when the ‘Stros host the World Serious champs in an exhibition game.

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TAB vs GOP SCs

Who’s your daddy? That might as well be the taunt coming from GOP social conservatives to the Texas Association of Business (TAB).

R.G. put out a take yesterday on the TAB and the GOP State Senate. TAB got zero votes out of them yesterday on the bathroom bill. What else is news? Here is how R.G.’s take starts out:

The business establishment has run Texas since before any of us were born. They were the robber barons of the oil industry, and the corporate executives, particularly of the insurance companies. They believed in government so long as it was lean and stayed out of their way. They often opposed President Roosevelt’s “socialist” New Deal, and they coined the anti-union phrase “right to work.” When the Democratic Party started shifting further to the left in the 1960s, the business establishment led the effort, over about thirty years, to turn Texas into a Republican state.

And along the way, the establishment Republicans—once called country club Republicans—formed an alliance with a necessary constituency group: unruly Republican cousins of the evangelical, fundamentalist Christian variety more interested in social issues than in the idea that what is good for business is good for Texas. The alliance has been fraying for years. This session, in the Texas Senate at least, business Republicans found that they have lost control to the social conservatives. Whether it was the so-called bathroom bill to restrict transgender access to restrooms or the sanctuary city crackdowns on illegal immigrants, social conservatives are treating Texas business like an enemy rather than an ally.

When the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce announced opposition to the bathroom bill, Senate co-sponsor Kelly Hancock of North Richland Hills resigned his membership. (Hancock decline repeated requests to comment.)

After the Texas Association of Business sent the Senate a letter of opposition to sanctuary city legislation, the leader of the right-wing Empower Texans publicly urged tea party conservatives to boycott the organization’s members. The TAB is the umbrella organization for local chambers of commerce as well as individual business members, including some of the largest corporations in Texas.

During a committee hearing on the bathroom bill, Senator Paul Bettencourt of Houston publicly dressed down Texas Association of Business President Chris Wallace over a flawed study on the potential economic impact of the Legislature passing a bill perceived as discriminatory. Even with shortcomings in the study, Wallace said, there is no doubt that the bathroom bill would negatively affect some businesses in the state. Bettencourt exploded at Wallace: “It is absolutely fake news for the president of the Texas Association of Business to be quoting a study that has an absolutely zero credibility rating.”

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and bathroom bill author Lois Kolkhorst of Brenham held a press conference with groups such as Vision America and the US Pastor Council to announce a self-proclaimed “Christian” lobby effort to force passage of the bathroom bill in the Texas House.

Here is all of R.G.’s take: http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/great-republican-rift/.

Kuffer also weighs in here: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=79555.

It would be easy to say something glib like TAB made their own bed so sleep in it but I won’t. I really and truly hope that they are having discussions on rethinking their relationship with social conservative GOPers. TAB needs to forcefully draw a line and maybe look at helping some Dems who are taking on some of the social conservative GOPers in purple districts. This is a new era, so adjust.

Social conservative GOPers are absolutely showing no respect for groups like TAB.   TAB, it is time to respond in kind. They are not your daddy!

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is being played and Jose Altuve, Carlos Beltran, Alex Bregman, Carlos Correa and Luke Gregerson are some of the ‘Stros who are playing in the WBC. How many teams are in the WBC and can you name them?

When I read about State Rep. Jessica Farrar’s bill this past Friday “relating to the regulation of men’s health and safety; creating a civil penalty for unregulated masturbatory emissions”, I figured GOP retaliation was in store. You know, the truth hurts. So, yesterday’s antics didn’t come as a surprise. FYI: Rep. Farrar is Commentary’s state rep.

From The Hill:

President Trump is “extremely confident” that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will produce evidence that former President Obama wiretapped him last year, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday.

“I think he’s extremely confident,” Spicer said in response to a question about the accusation, adding that Trump believed the evidence would “vindicate him.”

“I think there’s significant reporting about surveillance techniques that existed throughout the 2016 election,” Spicer said at the daily White House briefing.

Here is the entire read: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/white-house-trump-confident-doj-will-produce-wiretapping-evidence/ar-AAolSJM?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=UE01DHP.

We are waiting! Let’s see what the FBI Director says today.

Drum roll please! The WBC teams are Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, USA and Venezuela of course.

‘Stros backup catcher Max Stassi is 26 today. With Brian McCann and Evan Gattis in camp, Stassi won’t be on the team on Opening Day.

 

 

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Latino Pioneer

Here is a brief history lesson for those that are not as old as Commentary and don’t know about some of the Latino pioneers in politics.   Here is from the SA Express News:

 A Hispanic pioneer in the world of state and national politics, former Congressman Eligio “Kika” de la Garza died Monday in a McAllen hospital.

He was 89.

Family told reporters that de la Garza was at Legends Transitional Healthcare. Cause of death has not been determined, but he had been in failing health in recent months.

The longtime Democratic representative for the 15th congressional district, de la Garza had an outsized impact in South Texas for more than 40 years, influencing generations of future elected officials from the region.

“Kika was an inspiration to South Texans and led the charge of building a better agricultural industry for our nation during his time as chairman of the Agriculture Committee,” said U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, who credited de la Garza for playing an important role in his decision to run for Congress. “He will be missed.”

Born in Mercedes and raised in Mission, Garza served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1952 to 1964, then held the 15th congressional district from 1965 to 1997 where he spearheaded far-reaching legislation on agriculture, including establishing a support program for sugar prices similar to the one for milk and creating a multi-billion dollar disaster relief fund to help farmers suffering from the drought of the 1980s.

As a young man, de la Garza served in the U.S. Navy before he went to U.S. Army Artillery School. He was a lieutenant in the Army and served in the 37th Field Artillery Regiment during the Korean War.

De la Garza would go on to earn his law degree at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio. For a time he was the only Hispanic member of the Texas House, where he made a name for himself crafting legislation to protect the environment and early childhood education.

He was only the second Hispanic elected to Congress from Texas (Henry B. Gonzalez of San Antonio was the first) and when he was named chairman of the U.S. House Agricultural Committee in 1981, he was the first Hispanic to lead a standing House Committee since 1945, according to Congress.gov.

Here is the entire read: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local/article/Longtime-Valley-Congressman-Kika-de-la-10999400.php.

A leader and pioneer for sure.

The following tweets are kind of par for the course:

The Associated Press‏Verified account @AP 17m17 minutes ago

BREAKING: Justice Dept. seeks more time to respond to congressional inquiry into unproven Trump wiretapping assertion.

 

CNN Breaking News‏Verified account @cnnbrk 11m11 minutes ago

DOJ asks House Intelligence Committee for more time to collect evidence on Trump’s wiretapping claims. http://cnn.it/2lUunvO

How much time do they need to produce nothing? It looks like Trump is telling DOJ to stall. Lies, lies, lies!

Since 1901 in MLB, there have been 11 instances where opposing pitchers hit dingers off of each other in the same game. The last time it happened was in 2012. Name the two pitchers, please? Hints: They are both still playing, they were both playing on NL teams, they have both tossed no nos and one of the pitchers now is in the AL.

Yesterday was a very bad day for the GOP in congress. Their healthcare plan got shredded by the Congressional Budget Office. The GOP was scrambling all over the place. Now Dems need to seize the stage. See this from CNN:

Democrats are finally back on the offensive on health care, brandishing an explosive new report stocked with damaging information about the Republicans’ plans to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Their new ammunition: 24 million more Americans would be uninsured by 2026 under a House Republican proposal, while premiums would skyrocket for some of the most vulnerable Americans, including low-income elderly patients, according to analysis released on Monday by the Congressional Budget Office.

Democrats mobilized quickly on Monday to begin lobbing a stream of attacks against the Republican health care proposal, marking a drastic role reversal for a party that has struggled to defend the Affordable Care Act for the past eight years — and suffered significant political losses along the way.

Particularly encouraging to Democrats is the CBO’s conclusion that the Republican bill would hurt demographic groups that President Donald Trump tended to perform better with, including older Americans.

Here is the entire CNN story: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/13/politics/cbo-democrats-beat-trump-obamacare/index.html.

Don’t let the GOP create alternative facts on this. Keep shoving it down their throats. Don’t let up. Make them own their garbage bill. Show them today’s Chron banner headline: Millions stand to lose coverage

Matt Cain of the Giants and Cole Hamels of the Phillies hit dingers off of each other in the same game back in 2012 of course. FYI: Cain’s no no was the perfecto against the ‘Stros also in 2012 and Hamels is now with the Rangers.

Marwin Gonzalez is 28 today and is leading off today and playing shortstop. Happy Birthday!

 

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On Progressives

Kellyanne Conway was on “Today” this morning and again was a total embarrassment. I certainly don’t feel sorry for her.

About the only CNN GOP talking head Commentary respects is Alice Stewart, aka @alicetweet. They asked her yesterday about the “SNL” take on Ivanka and she came across talking point free if you know what I mean. That’s why I follow her. Nice job.

This headline was on the front page below the fold in Saturday’s Chron:

Progressives fret over Turner’s focus

This was the sub-headline:

Chief of staff’s departure worries allies advocating for social justice

The story was written by Chron City Hall beat reporters Rebecca Elliott and Mike Morris.   Here is how it starts and parts:

The resignation of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s top deputy – a social justice advocate and one of the mayor’s few confidants in a sea of senior staff appointed by the previous mayor – is fueling worry among aides and allies about the administration’s commitment to the progressive policy goals on which he campaigned.

Turner for months has downplayed his unusual decision to entrust much of the implementation and communication of his policies to his predecessor’s staff, urging focus on big-ticket accomplishments, such as bringing a pension reform deal to the state legislature, soothing tempers on City Council and closing last year’s $160 million budget gap.

However, chief of staff Alison Brock’s departure just 15 months into Turner’s term has stoked renewed angst among supporters who think Turner has not championed the progressive platform for which they worked to get him elected.

“We’re a little concerned, because she was that voice at the table, so we were confident our concerns were being heard,” said Tarsha Jackson of the Texas Organizing Project. “Now, we’re just hopeful the mayor gets someone that shares his vision, the vision that he had when he ran for office. We don’t have an ally in the mayor’s office right now.”

Jackson, who met and befriended Brock in 2004 when she was Turner’s legislative aide, said TOP’s attempts to reform city economic development policies have stalled, despite Brock’s support.

Labor leader Linda Morales said the same of her efforts to push an ordinance asking city contractors to provide better wages, community engagement and job training.

“Labor wants to be a partner with the mayor,” she said. “We want him to speak to his staff and get on the program with us because it’s his agenda we’re trying to push.”

And:

…… Frances Valdez, state director of the immigration group United We Dream and a member of Turner’s criminal justice transition committee, questioned the mayor’s reluctance to weigh in on the national immigration debate.

“I had hoped that the mayor would have developed or implemented actual policies, especially to protect the immigrant community, and it seems like all he’s willing to do is make broad statements, which doesn’t actually provide protection,” Valdez said. “Saying Houston is a welcoming city doesn’t actually provide protection.”

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Progressives-fret-over-Turner-s-focus-10993920.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Commentary doesn’t spend his time defending the Mayor. He pays folks a whole lot of dough to do that. Commentary also respects Elliott and Morris and I think they do a very good job covering City Hall.

Let me say this. TOP, Labor, and DREAMERs are just part of the local progressive coalition or movement. What about Latino Dems, African American Dems, LGBTers, white libs, and so on? They may have different takes on this. The article would have been more convincing if others from the coalition had been included. Just saying.

I will say this. Whatever happened to the City ID cards for folks without papers that the Mayor committed to during the campaign? Commentary always thought that was a lousy idea. I sure would hate to put all those names and addresses in a database and then let Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick or ICE swoop in and snatch the data. Talk about handing them a raid on a silver platter.   I am ok with that commitment not being fulfilled. Are you with me on that yet?

Meanwhile, the Mayor put this statement out after the article came out:

I hear the concerns of those quoted in “Progressives fret over Turner’s focus” in today’s Houston Chronicle. I, too, will miss the advice and counsel of my Chief of Staff Alison Brock – we’ve fought many tough battles together over the last 18 years and I have great respect for her.

Alison’s departure notwithstanding, we need everyone in the boat right now. There are a lot of important issues in play that have the potential to greatly impact all Houstonians, including those of us who identify as progressives.  Make no mistake, these issues are all interconnected.

Take pension reform – we’re making history by moving controversial legislation through the Texas Legislature. For the first time ever, everyone is united and moving forward together.  Yet, if we fail, Houston will face drastic layoffs and severe service cuts. I’m working every day to prevent such a disaster – because the people who will be hurt the worst are those who rely on government the most: working families, homeless Houstonians, people living at the margins in our society, people who have been left behind as the income gap continues to widen.

Last year, we closed a $160 million shortfall without cutting services or laying off employees. This year, because of ballooning pension payments and the revenue cap that’s slowly strangling our ability to operate, we’re staring down another huge budget gap. Repealing the revenue cap should be a priority that unites every Houstonian, progressive or otherwise.

The fear that is gripping our immigrant communities is real. We’ve taken a stand that Houston is a welcoming city and taken steps to ensure our police officers do their jobs instead of the jobs of federal immigration agents. Is that enough? Of course not, and we will continue to move forward to protect vulnerable Houstonians.

We’re working to provide more flood relief, more affordable housing, thousands of summer jobs for our youth,  new skills and new jobs for the chronically unemployed, and a new holistic approach to homelessness – despite the threat of massive cuts in federal funding being debated right now in Washington.

These fights are about the soul of our city. They are much more important than who is, or is not, on my staff in city government. Winning them will take all of us working together.

Only 6 players have 10 or more career World Serious dingers. 5 are no longer with us. 5 were Yankee greats. 1 wore the Dodger blue. They are all in the Hall of Fame.   Name them, please?

Donald Trump is a known liar, no ifs, ands, or buts.

During the transition, he met with the NY Southern District U.S. Attorney who was appointed by President Obama.

After the meeting, the U.S. Attorney announced before the cameras that Trump and Jeff Sessions wanted him to stick around.

On Friday, U.S. attorneys across the country were told by the Justice Department to resign immediately and clear out their desks by midnight.

On Saturday, the NY SD U.S. Attorney said he was not leaving unless Trump fired him.

Trump fired him.

From the very beginning the U.S. Attorney should have just said at the transition meeting that he was moving on. But noooooo, he actually thought Trump the liar was being honest with him.

I don’t know what his weekend exercise proved. Once he was told to resign, he should have plain and simple. What was the point? Pitiful.

I guess it is time to start paying attention to college basketball.

Mickey Mantle had 18 career World Serious dingers, Babe Ruth 15, Yogi Berra 12, Duke Snider 11, and Lou Gehrig and Reggie Jackson 10 apiece of course.

In case you are wondering, Chase Utley leads all active MLBers with 7 career World Serious dingers. He got them as a Phillie.

Opening Day is three weeks from tonight!

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End of an Error

“End of an error” is the banner headline in today’s hard copy Chron sports section and I love it. Excellent! That’s why I subscribe.

While I am on the subject, Commentary has said before that just because you run a professional major sports franchise, that doesn’t make you smarter than the rest of us.

See this tweet:

ABC13 Houston‏Verified account @abc13houston 14h14 hours ago

Osweiler was a Texan for 364 days. That breaks down to $57,692 per day. Or $1.4 million per touchdown. #Texans http://abc13.co/2nkCCNM

Don’t argue, please. They are not smarter than the rest of us.

Name the two teams scheduled to play the first MLB Opening Day game on Sunday, April 2 on ESPN?

Eight weeks from tomorrow, HISD voters will go to the polls to decide on recapture or detachment. Here is from today’s Chron:

Houston ISD voters will face a choice of either paying the state’s $77.5 million recapture fee, or risk losing $98.4 million in tax revenue over the next fiscal year, according to new dollar figures given to trustees.

Those were the options presented to HISD trustees Thursday when for the first time school district officials gave firm numbers on both scenarios since voters last November told district officials to not pay the state’s recapture fee. Recapture involves the state’s mandate that the district pay millions to help subsidize poor districts.

Houston ISD faces recapture because, according to the state’s funding formula, the district is deemed property wealthy even though most of its student population is economically disadvantaged.

And:

If HISD keeps all its commercial properties and benefits from increased property values, Reed estimated the district could see its budget continue to grow over the next five years by $66.8 million after the recapture payment is made. If the commercial properties are detached, he said the district could see a loss of $98.4 million in 2017-2018 and would lose any future property value growth.

“A vote for detachment will see us lose some of our biggest revenue streams in the district,” said Trustee Anna Eastman. “If we don’t go back and vote yes it will begin to force us to dip into our budget or raise taxes to break even. If the law stays the same as it is now, payments will increase but our local budget will increase as well.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/article/For-first-time-HISD-trustees-given-firm-numbers-10991263.php.

We need to follow Anna’s lead on this one for sure.  Folks should have listened to her last fall.

State Rep. Carol Alvarado put this out yesterday:

As a young girl, I grew up in the shadow of the University of Houston just a few miles from campus.  I, like many Houstonians, know that UH is the beating heart of the academic community in Houston.  I could not be more proud of the tremendous success and achievements we have been able to reach under the leadership of Chancellor Khator. 

However, I still find myself unsatisfied.  In fact, I will never be satisfied until UH gets the respect and support we deserve from the State of Texas in the form of access to the Permanent University Fund or “PUF Fund”.  The University of Texas System and Texas A&M System have benefited for years from this fund that excludes UH and every other university system in Texas.  This inequity is why I filed HJR 110 that will create a second PUF Fund known as, PUF II, which will benefit the University of Houston System.  This additional funding source will be critical to the development and growth of our system as we continue to strive for excellence.

I am calling on all UH Cougars to call, write and tweet at your State Representative and Senator to support HJR 110. Let’s continue the H-Town Takeover in Austin this legislative session!

This is an uphill fight, but it is worthy of debate.

Mike Snyder of the Chron has a piece today on voting rights in Pasadena. Here is how it ends:

The Pasadena lawsuit has attracted the attention of national voting-rights activists in the aftermath of a 2013 Supreme Court decision eliminating a requirement that election changes in certain states be cleared in advance by the Justice Department or a federal court. Experts say it’s generally tougher for minority candidates to win elections in at-large, or citywide, races for city councils, county commissions and school boards.

I wondered if a decision by Pasadena to drop the appeal would necessarily be the ideal outcome for advocates of minority voting rights. Wouldn’t an affirmation of Rosenthal’s opinion by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals – or even the Supreme Court, should the case advance that far – send a stronger message?

But Nina Perales, an attorney with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund representing the plaintiffs, said she would have no problem with a victory by default.

“The job of an attorney is to secure a positive outcome for the client,” Perales said. “That’s what’s important here.”

If Isbell’s replacement chooses to drop the appeal, the case will quietly disappear. Pasadena residents will continue electing all eight council members from districts – a system being used this year because the 5th Circuit denied the city’s request for a stay of Rosenthal’s order. And the city government, some $2 million poorer but perhaps a bit wiser, can move on to other issues.

Here is the entire read:

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/greater-houston/article/Conclusion-of-Pasadena-voting-rights-case-could-10990945.php.

The only thing I am going to say about the Brock Osweiler deal is that I thought it was silly for HEB to have him in ads before he had even had taken a snap. Very dumb.

The Rays host the Yankees of course at 12 noon on Sunday, April 2 on ESPN.

Here is from the ‘Stros website:

The Astros’ promotional schedule this year includes five bobblehead giveaways and one gnome.

This year’s bobbleheads are creative with a “Handshake Series” to honor Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa’s postgame celebration behind second base. There also will be a George Springer bobblehead featuring one of his trademark diving catches. On the year he’s inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jeff Bagwell’s unique batting stance will be immortalized into a bobblehead, as will the celebration of Bagwell, Craig Biggio and Mike Hampton after the Astros clinched the National League Central title 20 years ago.

Lance McCullers drew the honors of being portrayed on a glow-in-the-dark gnome.

Don’t forget to spring forward this Sunday.

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Let’s see. Yesterday, the FBI Director said there is no such thing as privacy. Our rides can get hacked. Same for our elections. Our iphones and flat screens. Now this:

Chief Art Acevedo‏Verified account @ArtAcevedo 12h12 hours ago

If you are on @ATT Network there is a problem if you try to call 911. This may be a Nationwide issue. We are looking into the problem now.

 

Houston smells good‏Verified account @evan7257 12h12 hours ago

So this is not good

That is not what I wanted to hear from the police chief last night. Let’s hope it is a glitch and not a hack. We are already in trouble. This would certainly make it worse.

For those who care, the World Baseball Classic is underway. Carlos Correa is playing for Puerto Rico but is playing third base. Who is playing shortstop for Puerto Rico?

This is a no brainer. Can we get this passed, like right now? Here is from the Chron:

Armed with two more years of evidence that texting while driving is killing hundreds of Texans each year, State Rep. Tom Craddick is back in Austin advocating a statewide ban on sending and reading messages behind the wheel.

Craddick, R-Midland, was joined by numerous supporters Thursday morning in front of the House Transportation Committee. HB 62, a general ban on texting while driving, is again named for Alex Brown,  a 17-year-old West Texas high school senior killed Nov. 10, 2009, when she crashed her truck as she carried on up to four different texting conversations at the time of the crash.

Since, Brown’s parents have become vocal advocates for a texting ban, which has faced a very uphill battle in Texas. Craddick’s bill and similar others have failed to get enough traction to pass both legislative chambers and receive the governor’s signature.

In 2011, the bill came close before then-Gov. Rick Perry vetoed it, citing his concerns with “a government effort to micromanage the behavior of adults.”

Forty-six states ban texting while driving, and 17 ban the use of all handheld devices.

Back in early January, some fella ran a stop sign and I smacked his car pretty good. He got like three citations. A couple or so weeks ago I got three subpoenas to show up for night court last night. After plunking down $5 for parking,  I showed up for a 6 pm docket call. The fella who got the citations was there. So was one of the officers who wrote him up. I figured I was going to be there for at least a couple of hours. Guess what? I was out of there by 6:30. Nice job H-Town municipal courts!

Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor will play shortstop for Puerto Rico of course.

I don’t have anything from The Yard today

 

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Commentary would like to remind folks this morning that our official state motto is “friendship.” Sure. We sure don’t sound or act like the “Friendship State” today.

This came out this morning:

Texas Tribune Retweeted

Alexa Ura‏Verified account @alexazura 6h6 hours ago

Houston ISD opposes #SB6, says HISD trustee Anna Eastman — only school district to come out against bill at hearing #txlege

Good for my good friend Anna and HISD!

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Lisa Falkenberg also has something to say. Here is how she starts out:

Once upon a time, the Texas Senate was regarded as the stately grown-up body of the Legislature and the lower chamber was affectionately referred to as the Animal House.

No more. These days, if you want leadership in Austin, you look down, not up.

Take education policy.

This week, the House’s public education chairman, Houston Republican Rep. Dan Huberty, filed a $1.6 billion proposal that, while imperfect, takes an important first step in addressing some nagging inequities that have dogged the Texas public school finance system for decades.

On Tuesday, his committee heard initial testimony on the bill that would make modest but helpful changes, such as clearing out some of the cobwebs in funding formulas and boosting funding for long-neglected dyslexic students.

What were they doing over in the mature chamber?

The Senate’s Committee on State Affairs was hearing lengthy testimony on a bill regulating potty time for Texans.

And here is how it ends:

Thank the Lord for the House, starting with Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, who appointed Huberty to chair public education.

Huberty recently made headlines when he said at a Texas Tribune event that vouchers were dead on arrival in the lower chamber. He said the issue had been studied and debated, and there simply wasn’t the support for it in the House.

“Why don’t we talk about the real issues?” the Houston Republican asked. “The discussion needs to be about the 5.3 million children that are in our system today.”

That, my friends, is what a grown-up sounds like – in case some of the kids in the upper chamber forgot.

Here is all of Lisa’s column: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Who-are-the-grown-ups-in-Austin-on-education-10984775.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Nice job, Lisa. Tell it like it is!

The hard-core MLB fans know that this player played for 13 different teams (12 franchises) and holds the record for most career pinch hit dingers. He no longer plays but he certainly is still with us. Who am I talking about?

Then this tweet came out last night:

Fox News‏Verified account @FoxNews 13h13 hours ago

.@SenTomCotton: “There is no job in America that Americans will not do.” #oreillyfactor

I beg to differ and let me differ from experience. For the last two years, my part of the city block I live on has been under construction siege. Three house have been completely or near completely rebuilt – rebuilt, not remodeled. The houses on either side of me and one across the street. I am also talking about big and huge houses.   I have seen up close who is doing the heavy lifting so to speak. I hear what they are whistling while they work and they are not whistling American tunes.

Matt Stairs of course has the MLB record with 23 career pinch hit dingers. Stairs played with (in this order) the Expos, Red Sox, A’s, Cubbies, Brewers, Pirates, Royals, Rangers, Tigers, Blue Jays, Phillies, Padres and Nationals. He currently serves as the hitting coach for the Phillies.

As part of the giveaways at The Yard this season, on Friday, April 7 against the Royals, they are handing out 10,000 welcome mats.

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Spectacle Day

Leave it up to Dan Patrick to create a spectacle up in Austin today at the State Capitol.   This fella just loves to divide Texas.   I like R.G.’s take here:

Lobbyists and government insiders keep referring to the House as the “adults in the room,” because Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has kept the Senate focused on social conservative issues. The House seems more determined to resolve problems that affect the everyday lives of Texas. The contrast between the chambers may never be more evident this session than on Tuesday.

The stage was set Monday when Patrick—ahead of the bathroom bill committee hearing on Tuesday—busted down one of the great walls of American government: church and state. He announced at a press conference that he is joining with organizations of Christian ministers in “Operation of One Million Voices” to pressure the Legislature into passing the so-called bathroom bill that limits restroom visitations in publicly owned buildings to the gender on the person’s birth certificate. Many major corporations, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and transgender rights activists say the legislation is discriminatory.

While the bathroom bill always has been a measure aimed at social conservatives, Patrick’s embrace of it as a Christian issue was a surprising step over the invisible wall that has separated church issues from state issues throughout American history.

Here is all of R.G.’s take: http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/tale-two-legislatures/.

Ain’t it the truth, ain’t it the truth!  Can we just stop the hating?

This will be the fifth season of American League ball for the ‘Stros. Name the four AL teams we have played on Opening Day?

Commentary is curious to see where this is going. Check this from the Chron:

Prominent Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee on Monday accused Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg of “playing politics,” saying prosecutors are trying to revive a DWI case against him that has already been expunged.

Buzbee said Ogg’s office has filed a sealed motion seeking to reopen the criminal case by overturning a decision last month by a civil court judge that expunged the case files.

The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the details of the motion.

“We have filed a document that was sealed by the clerk,” said First Assistant District Attorney Tom Berg by e-mail. “As a result, we are not at liberty to discuss that document.”

Buzbee said Ogg singled him out because outgoing District Attorney Devon Anderson personally dismissed his case in the days before she left office at the end of the year.

And:

The dismissal made headlines after it happened Dec. 9 for several reasons, including that Anderson personally signed the form.

It also happened in a court with the only misdemeanor judge in Harris County who expressly prohibits “pretrial intervention” – a type of informal probation for suspects charged with driving while intoxicated.

Buzbee said he would have won the case at trial.

“The case is over; had it not been dismissed due to multiple irregularities that occurred,” he said, “I would have won it on the merits.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Prominent-attorney-may-land-back-in-court-over-10981644.php.

I am sure there is an explanation for all of this.  I am pretty sure we are going to be hearing a lot more about this deal so stay tuned for sure.

Let’s see, the Muslim back on.

This fella sure works his arse off to make sure everyone knows he’s a clown of the first order.   This is from probably a kazillion tweets this morning:

Republican Jason Chaffetz thinks the reason you couldn’t afford health insurance is because you bought an iPhone.

What a moron!  What a complete moron!

We have played Cleveland, the Rangers, the Royals, and the Yankees of course on Opening Day the past four seasons.

Move over Diamond Level. Move over Insperity Club. Check out the new premium seating or standing or catching BP fly balls at The Yard where Tal’s Hill used to be:

Whether you want to entertain clients, guests, or reward employees, our brand new Field Level Suite has the space to impress! The new renovations allow a premium space in center field for a one of a kind experience. This is another exciting update that showcases the commitment to making Minute Maid Park a great destination for fans of all ages by providing a modern, communal gathering place for fans to enjoy before, during and after games all season long.

  • All-inclusive food and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Access to a premium cash bar
  • Includes 100 tickets or can be split into two groups of 50 tickets
  • Includes the premium experience of being able to view major league batting practice on the field. Bring your gloves!They didn’t put out a price tag on this.
  • All sales are final and no refunds, cancellation or exchanges will be given
  • * Access to a premium cash bar
  • * Batting practice times subject to change or cancellation
  • * All participants must sign a personal injury waiver before entering the field

They didn’t put a price tag on this though.

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On this day in 1836, the Alamo fell. Remember! Now there is your Texas history.

This about sums up the weekend. From a Jake Tapper tweet:

POTUS makes wild accusation w/zero evidence

WH searches for evidence & cant find any

WH tells Congress to find evidence/no further comment

More from Jake:

4/Moreover we cannot pretend we haven’t been here before, w/POTUS putting out wild accusations that are untethered to reality.

And:

5/Obama’s birth certificate/ Vaccines/ Ted Cruz’s father & Lee Harvey Oswald / crowd sizes/ Vince Foster / Murder rate / 3-5 illegal votes

And:

WH officials with whom I spoke said POTUS got the info about wiretap from media – Breitbart, Levin – not from govt sources.

The FBI Director is saying it didn’t happen.

The Russians have Trump by the you know whats.

One thing is for sure. You pretty much give up your dignity when you go work for Donald Trump. The press secretary gave his up on day 2. Yesterday, the press secretary sent out his deputy to do the news shows and her dignity was shredded away. Pitiful.

The ‘Stros have 55 Opening Day games under their belt. Of the 15 NL teams, we have played 13 of them on Opening Day. Name the two that we haven’t played on Opening Day?

Now this one is probably a put down of sorts. Commentary is talking about yesterday’s E-Board take on the #HTownTakeover of the UT Chancellor. This is how the take starts:

There have been times in Texas history when small-minded meddling by elected officials has hampered, hindered or derailed efforts by the state’s colleges and universities to push beyond the regional, to be innovative and far-sighted. To lead.

That’s the role University of Texas System Chancellor William H. McRaven sought to play when he announced last year that the System would begin exploring opportunities to establish more of a presence in the state’s largest city. Perhaps the native San Antonian should have been aware that thinking big, particularly in the realm of higher education, occasionally makes folks nervous in this state.

He could have recalled Gov. “Farmer Jim” Ferguson, who, before being impeached, vetoed almost the entire budget of the University of Texas because he couldn’t oust professors and a president who provoked his ire. He might also have remembered Homer Rainey, the UT president fired by regents appointed by Govs. W. Lee “Pass the Biscuits, Pappy” O’Daniel and Coke Stevenson. Rainey lost his job in part because he refused to fire an English professor who assigned the John Dos Passos novel “USA.”

McRaven’s misbegotten Houston venture is less momentous than the aforementioned incidents, simply because plans for the 300-acre plot of land UT purchased in southeast Houston never got beyond the conceptual stage.

It goes on to say UH backers who opposed the UT move were “provincial” and during this effort, UH “allowed its insecurities to show.”

The end of the take is here:

Granted, McRaven could have kept this community and its elected officials better informed, particularly on the land deal that set the plan in motion. He could have worked harder to assure UH that UT wasn’t encroaching. As far as Houston is concerned, the chancellor’s mistakes are now academic, so to speak.

More pertinent to this community is the message we convey about our openness to big ideas and ambitious plans. Jesse Jones, Dominque de Menil, George Mitchell and Dr. Denton Cooley, among a host of Houston visionaries down through the years, would have said yes, we believe. Unlike Boston, New York and other cities eager to advance the frontiers of knowledge, Houston reverted to the Jim Ferguson, Pappy O’Daniel tradition.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Burned-orange-10977202.php.

Missed opportunity? Depends on your point of view. The E-Board take still is a put down of sorts.

From today’s Chron:

Harris County Democrats tapped a consultant and party fundraiser for chair Sunday, with hundreds of precinct chairs voting in a close race.

Lillie Schechter will replace Lane Lewis, who resigned in February after about five years of service.

Schechter said Sunday that the party must immediately begin recruiting and training candidates to run in 2018. Democrats must expand fundraising efforts by attracting new donors online, at events and in the membership of local progressive and millennial groups, she said.

The local party comes off sweeping success in the 2016 election, winning every countywide position on the ballot.

Ok. I wonder if that means recruiting candidates to run against Hunker Down and for Precinct 2 Commissioner. We will soon find out.

The ‘Stros have never played the D-Backs or Mets on Opening Day of course. FYI: We played the Nationals when they were the Expos.

Opening Day is four weeks from today.  You going?

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