Archive for May, 2017

Commentary got this response on my Hall of Cowards take from yesterday:

Interesting position. When is it acceptable for illegal aliens to come to where the legislators gather so as to try and influence duly elected representatives of the citizens? Then, to be threatened by another member on the State House floor, and further, to be called a coward by a partisan from the party enabling the lawlessness. Only in America can the lawless be portrayed as victims by the propagandists in the media. – royko

Let’s see.

How about Russia trying to influence the 2016 presidential election? Is that acceptable?

If paperless folks can fix our roofs, mow our lawns, wash our dishes when we eat out, why can’t they have opinions?

I get how our outrage is selective these days. That is the climate we are in and it has been exacerbated by Donald Trump.

When Kathy Griffin did her thing yesterday, Commentary just yawned. A ton of folks went ballistic.

When a state representative says he called ICE and starts a melee on the Texas House floor, why aren’t his GOP colleagues outraged?   Now it turns out there is no record of him calling ICE, so he made up a story and lied to his fellow House Members and purposely created a tense situation, where is the outrage?

The KKK is handing out recruitment flyers in Texas City, where is the outrage?

Donald Trump said 3 to 5 million folks voted illegally and he doesn’t have proof, where is the outrage?

ICE is breaking up families across the USA every day, where is the outrage?

Dan Patrick has declared war on transgender kids, where is the outrage?

The Chron today is reporting the City of Pasadena makes it nearly impossible for residents to get public information, where is the outrage?

Trump is going to pull out of the Paris agreement while our climate is going bonkers, where is the outrage.

Greg Abbott jokes about shooting reporters, where is the outrage.

Everybody gets to pick their own outrage these days. Now that’s outrageous.

37-16. Our previous best record after 53 games was 33-20 back in 1998. We are still up by 11 and wrap up the series with the Twins with a noontime start today.

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Hall of Cowards

This kind of sums up yesterday:

Carol Alvarado‏@RepAlvarado145 28m28 minutes ago

Carol Alvarado Retweeted Jason Sparks

Terrible way to end our #txlege session. Shame on you @MattRinaldiTX

Commentary wasn’t there but maybe all those brown faces in the gallery freaked out this Rimaldi fella. He may have thought he was at the Alamo on March 5, 1836. Then maybe he heard the “El Degüello” tune in his head and freaked out.

Honestly though, calling ICE was an act of a coward. In my book, Rinaldi and his actions will go down as one of the most cowardly in the history of the Texas Legislature – period. Get used to it, fella. Your plaque now hangs shamelessly on the wall of the Hall of Cowards. Come on! Who calls ICE just because a bunch of DREAMers are calling you out.

A response on the take of the upcoming repeal of the rev cap election:

We know that if the pension bonds are not approved by voters this fall, most of the legislation tied to lowering pension liabilities flies out the window as well. The exception for this are the cuts made to the firemen which are not tied to the bonds, so maybe the public will throw the cops and other city workers a bone while driving another nail into the hearts of the firemen. I suspect the revenue cap measure will have a campaign that espouses what types of cuts will have to be made if it doesn’t pass, fewer replacements for all the workers retiring to save earned benefits which translates to longer wait times, longer lines in city run facilities, less library hours, cutbacks to parks, and perhaps even finally cutting the Houston Zoo loose instead of simply deferring half the yearly operating subsidy as the proposed budget calls for.

The Mayor should keep it simple and point out the basics, less funds means less services. If voters are okay with that, let them try the county model for a few years. If that suits enough people, so be it. -Steve Houston

Folks know that Commentary is not fond of campaign sign stealing. It looks like one of the candidates for mayor of Pasadena got caught red-handed trying to steal one of his opponent’s signs. Really? Sigh! Grow-up! Not cool, buddy. Here is from the Chron:

Tensions are ratcheting up in Pasadena after one mayoral candidate lobbed allegations of attempted sign-stealing at his runoff opponent. The claims of campaign sign thievery surfaced over the weekend with photos showing candidate Jeff Wagner touching a sign of  his political foe, John Moon Jr.

“His wife was driving the getaway vehicle,” Moon alleged. “This is like a small-time Bonnie and Clyde, continuing the same dirty politics that have given Pasadena a bad name.”

But Wagner, who replaced the sign after touching it, denied the claim that he planned to make off with it.

“I have never or anyone working on my campaign has ever taken any of our opponents’ signs,” Wagner, a current District F councilman, said by text message Monday.

The supposed shenanigans sprouted up just before noon on Saturday, when three politically-minded Pasadenans eating at Shipley Do-Nuts spotted Wagner hovering by a roadside Moon sign staked in the ground along Richey Street.

“I did not witness it,” Moon said, “but I have talked to all three of the people who did and they said until they confronted him with the sign rolled up under his arm, he was planning to steal it.”

Two of the witnesses were campaign workers – one with Moon’s campaign – and the third was Daniel Vela, who’s in the runoff for District A’s council seat. 

“I personally couldn’t believe it,” Vela said. “I’ve known Jeff and I have respect for him, but why did he do this?”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/neighborhood/pasadena/news/article/Pasadena-mayoral-candidate-denies-claims-of-11181123.php.

Not a smart move for sure.  Guess he got bored with block-walking.

And now the Chron E-Board has endorsed Moon for Mayor. Here is how it starts:

The headlines don’t look good for Pasadena’s political status quo.

The city’s economic development agency has been hounded by criticism of unspent dollars, unfulfilled promises and secret – perhaps illegal – meetings. There are even allegations of lucrative contracts handed out to politically connected companies. At City Hall, longtime Mayor Johnny Isbell was found by a federal judge to have intentionally discriminated against Hispanic voters in a slapdash redistricting scheme. Now the city faces election oversight from the Department of Justice until 2023.

The second-largest city in Harris County could use a good shake-up.

That’s why voters should elect John “J.R.” Moon Jr. for mayor in the city’s runoff election.

Moon, 58, would bring the outsider perspective that Pasadena needs. He has spent the past decade as a trustee for the top-rated San Jacinto College. In addition to his public service, Moon also has the business credentials to make for a fine mayor of a growing city – he is a certified CPA and former chief financial officer at Moody Bank. Moon currently works as a commercial real estate agent.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/recommendations/article/Eyes-wide-open-11179593.php.

And Commentary will add that Moon doesn’t steal campaign signs.

Commentary is going to be skipping the MLB question for a while and I will probably be late posting over the next few days.

That doesn’t mean I can’t write about the ‘Stros. My Dad and I were watching the game yesterday and we were kind of lamenting being behind 8-2 going into the 8th. Then all hell broke loose for the ‘Stros. I don’t want to say I couldn’t believe it because I can believe it. It was a monster comeback for sure and a first.

We now are 20 games above .500 and have an 11 game lead and there are still 2 games left to play in May.

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100 Years Ago Today

President John F. Kennedy was born 100 years ago today! Just saying John F. Kennedy speaks volumes.

This is today’s MLB question. Who is quoted in the following from the NY Times yesterday:

Asked by The New York Times in March 2009 whether he felt betrayed by some Republican colleagues (this U.S. Senator) replied,  “When you’ve dealt with Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and Stan Musial, the people I’m dealing with are kind of down the scale.”

That is a cold-blooded quote so who said it?

Commentary is not going to say much about how moronic Greg Abbott comes across when he talks about guns and reporters. This guy has no class whatsoever.

Mike Morris has a piece today in the Chron about the expected repeal of the revenue cap election in H-Town this November. Here is a line from the article:

The Harris County Republican Party plans to campaign against (Mayor Sylvester) Turner’s repeal effort, and is expected to have company.

Who is the “company”? I must have missed who was named.

And this from the article:

Despite the cap’s complexity, conservative political strategist Denis Calabrese said he doubts there will be a shortage of voter education on the issue.

“Voters will come into that election very well informed and knowledgeable and they’ll be able to express their opinion,” he said. “The predisposition going into this is that voters don’t support the repeal of the cap, and we’ll see if that changes as a result of the education efforts on both sides.”

Two early polls – one by the UH Hobby School of Public Affairs and one by the polling firm Baselice & Associates – suggest voters want to keep the cap. The Baselice survey found 53 percent of respondents support keeping the cap and 36 percent want it repealed; the UH poll found broad support for property tax relief.

Democratic political consultant Keir Murray said most residents look only at their overall tax bill and do not notice the amount they pay to Houston ISD, for instance, is nearly double what they send to City Hall.

“Houstonians may theoretically recognize that there’s a revenue cap in place, but they don’t see their property tax bills going down,” Murray said. “We know that’s because of increasing appraisals, but it’s hard to make that distinction to voters.”

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Pension-fix-passed-mayor-turns-to-rev-cap-bond-11176977.php.

Here is what Kuffer had to say about the Morris article:

You know that I support repealing the cap. The question is how to sell that idea. I agree that the predisposition is likely to be to keep it, though I’d argue that most people know very little about the cap. I’d approach this primarily as a plea from Mayor Turner, as part of his overall plan to get the city’s finances in order. Have him say something like “I promised you I’d get a bill passed in the Legislature to rein in pension costs, and I did that. But the work isn’t done just yet, and I need your help to finish the job. The revenue cap limits Houston’s economic growth and lowers our city’s credit rating. To really get our finances in order, we need to repeal it.” You get the idea. Basically, the Mayor has as much credibility with the voters right now as he’ll likely ever have. That’s a huge asset, and he should leverage it.

Alternately, if the local GOP is going to oppose repealing the cap, then one might keep in mind that the city is much more Democratic than it is Republican, so if this becomes a partisan fight then the Mayor has a larger pool of voters available to him. There are also a lot of potential villains to demonize in such a campaign, from the President on down. This would almost certainly be the kind of low-information, high-heat campaign that makes newspaper columnists wring their hands about civility and discourse, but it would get people to the polls. I’d take my chances with it.

Here is all of Kuffer’s take: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=80823.

I really can’t agree with Charles on how to sell the repeal. Voters are going to want to know why they should pay more property taxes. The opponents are going to remind voters that we pay more in utility rates, we now pay a drainage fee and we’ve been paying more property taxes due to increased appraisals. If the repeal campaign says we need to repeal to put more cops on the streets, the opponents are going counter with that promise was made 10 years ago or so and not kept.

As far as making this a partisan issue, I wouldn’t go there because that assumes that Dems are in favor of paying more in property taxes and I don’t think that is true. Dems may want an increase in taxes, but we want the rich and major corporations to shoulder the increase.

The repeal campaign will no doubt be well funded. Commentary is hearing that the opposition will also be well funded. If that is the case, well then things will be very interesting.

Nice job, Council Member Cisneros. See this from this weekend’s Chron:

The first hint of the controversy to come appeared on a company website.

Whole Foods Market was building a grocery store to anchor a new shopping center along Yale Street in historic Independence Heights.

The store would be one of the company’s smaller “365” markets, promoted under the name of the neighboring, more-affluent Garden Oaks community.

Independence Heights took it personally.

“Calling the store ‘Garden Oaks 365’ robs the identity of Independence Heights and chisels away at the branding and identity of this important historic neighborhood,” Houston Councilmember Karla Cisneros wrote in a May 15 letter to the Austin-based company.

She called for a retail identity honoring the “historical significance of Independence Heights” and invited Whole Foods leaders to a meeting.

The response from the company was swift. Jeff Turnas, president of 365 by Whole Foods, called Cisneros, and by Thursday the online description had been changed to recognize Independence Heights as the store’s new home.

No offense was intended – the Garden Oaks reference online was simply an informal way to locate the store for the public, a Whole Foods spokeswoman said Thursday.

“We want it to be the most fitting to the community that we are in,” she said.

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Independence-Heights-wins-Whole-hearted-dispute-11176460.php.

Nice job, Karla.

Hall of Fame great and former GOP U.S. Senator from Kentucky Jim Bunning of course said “when you’ve dealt with Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and Stan Musial, the people I’m dealing with are kind of down the scale.”

Jim Bunning left us this past Saturday. He had a great pitching career that included the tossing of a perfecto and another no-no.

Ok, now for some ‘Stros. Here is from the Chron’s Brian Smith:

This is about more than believing or buying in. We’re past that.

This can’t be defined by a standard catch-all word such as resilient, gritty or united. That was 2015, and these Astros aren’t young anymore.

This is just a good baseball team 51 contests into a 162-game campaign. The best in the sport, if you want to stick to facts. The best in franchise history at this point in a six-month season, if you want to.

And this is how it ends:

“We’re playing with confidence, and we have a lot of talent in this group, and we trust each other,” said Carlos Correa, who’s now hitting a team-best .302. “So there’s no selfishness in this clubhouse. The chemistry’s great.”

It would take an immediate collapse to erase what’s set up as the summer of the Astros. It will take a few lost months to prevent a return to the postseason.

Believing? Buying in? Young and fun?

We’re past all that.

This is a good baseball team that could just be getting started. The best in Astros history, in fact, as June awaits.

Here is all of Brian Smith’s column: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/columnists/smith/article/Calendar-says-May-but-Astros-make-it-easy-to-11179853.php.

Here is how MLB.com’s Richard Justice starts his column today:

HOUSTON — What does a 10-game lead get you? On Memorial Day, it gets you nothing. Take it from the Houston Astros. On the other hand, maybe they’re really this good. Maybe this is going to be one of those special seasons players remember forever.

Here is all of Justice: http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article/233043112/houston-astros-putting-together-dynamic-year/.

I don’t know where we will be sitting in September, but we are playing great baseball. Having a 10 game lead on Memorial Day is a big deal. We have a good team.   I like our chances.   We start a 10 game roadie this afternoon at Target.



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B’More is in town for the weekend. Who was the most recently selected player to the Baseball Hall of Fame who wore a B’More uniform as a player?

The Chron E-Board gave the Mayor props today.  Here is how it ends:

Still, the mayor deserves a victory lap. Turner has earned his place in Houston history by cutting a Gordian knot that threatened to strangle our city’s financial future.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Turner-s-moment-11174609.php.

And here is a take sent to Commentary:

The Chairman of the state pension review board, Josh McGee, made it clear that not a single retiree would have their pension lowered due to this legislation, only slow how much benefits would increase in the future, pointed out how the benefits HFD enjoyed were still much better than anything the other groups receive, and reminded folks that the other pensions had been cut even more in the past. The investigative writers at the Chronicle pointed out how the cost of HFD benefits themselves, not any debt due to under funding, was in excess of 30%, and how none of the three pensions were as well funded as initially thought, even the best of the three was at 81% despite employees claiming otherwise.

Fiscal conservatives have pointed out how firemen benefits include pensions in excess of 60k a year with enormous bonus checks between a half million dollars “on up” or that some of the remaining cops still have the bonus check perk that was taken from them over a dozen years ago, the expectations of people going into negotiations guiding just how mad they were with the final results. Mayor Turner was supported by all three employee groups because his cuts were going to be the smallest of all the people running for office, those who watched any of those debates know he never said cuts to any specific group were off the table, even HFD’s pension board providing initial cuts of nearly 800 million bucks. If widows and disabled employees were so important to that pension board, they were free to craft different cuts instead but again, there were no “cuts” to existing retirees, only measures to slow down the growth of benefit increases.

Houston voters rejected giving employee pensions constitutional protections in 2004, the one time opt out passing by a 70 to 30 vote that May. As a result, cries that the legislation violates the state law come up short, nobody making that claim has been able to provide a credible response as to why the cuts were contrary to state law. The threats by HFD groups to sue, their willingness to toss out bogus numbers, and even the racial and sexual orientation slurs many of their people have directed toward the mayor on social media have lost them a lot of support of late, many in the legislature weren’t too fond to hear the threats of lawsuits to override their will either, apparently the group is no longer the darling of the legislature. That’s too bad but as they sowed, so shall they reap, their decision to turn down the city’s recent offer of raises reminding voters that they have done so before while claiming they get no raises. Maybe a different approach involving cooperation would help them next time? – Steve Houston

I guess that is all for pensions for a while.

I guess we will be discussing revenue caps next. Pay more for more? Pay more for less? Pay more for what? Let’s see who wins this argument.

Folks are always asking Commentary about the ‘Stros. So, check this from Chron.com:

If you’re bullish on the Astros winning the World Series, there might be some free furniture in it for you.

Houston furniture magnate Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale announced that his retailer Gallery Furniture will fully refund customers who purchase $3,000 or more of mattresses, box foundations or adjustable bed bases – including the Tempur-Pedic brand – if the Astros win this year’s World Series.

“It’s a great way to re-engage with our loyal customers and attract new ones,” McIngvale said. “We’re thrilled to be able to host such a fun promotion for Houstonians and give them another reason to get excited about our Astros this season.”

If you are in the need for over $3,000 in mattresses and related stuff, make the deal. We are playing good baseball.

Tim Raines of course who earlier this year was selected to the Hall of Fame played for B’More back in 2001.

Now you know.

To kick-off the Memorial Day weekend tonight, the ‘Stros will hand out 10,000 beach towels this evening.  Hope to see you at The Yard this weekend. Oh, yeah – 32-16 and 8 up.

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Fiscally Responsible

Name the 4 MLB division leaders who have better roadie records than homie records?

You have to give the H-Town Mayor and his team credit for getting the pension reform bill passed yesterday. You certainly have to be impressed.   Congrats to them.

Here is the front page Chron story: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Cornerstone-of-Turner-s-agenda-heads-to-11171875.php.

Here is from the Trib on the pension bill:

The Houston bill passed Wednesday without two amendments the House had previously added in an apparent attempt to appease firefighters. One amendment would have prevented the bill from impacting current firefighter retirees. The other could have allowed the firefighter pension system to bear a smaller burden in paying down unfunded liabilities shoring up billions in shortfalls in three city employee retirement funds.

That drew the anger of firefighter pension members, dozens of whom sat in the House gallery Wednesday. Some shouted down to representatives as they walked out after the vote. One woman could be heard yelling, “Shameful!”

After the vote, Houston firefighter pension board chairman David Keller said he was disappointed in the vote. During the session, pension officials had suggested such legislation could be unconstitutional because it determines the financial boundaries the fund should stay within. Keller said the Constitution says that power is left solely to the pension board.

Keller said it was too soon to determine if the pension board will file a lawsuit.

“We will explore every option available to us,” he said.

But state Rep. Dan Flynn, who carried the bill in the House, said that killing the bill because firefighters remained unhappy would have exasperated the dire financial situation the city and the retirement funds are experiencing. The bill addresses pensions for firefighters, police and municipal employees. 

“If we don’t pass it, there won’t be any pensions,” the Canton Republican told The Texas Tribune earlier this year. 

Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, authored the amendment that could have helped the firefighter pension fund bear less of the burden shoring up the city’s shortfalls. The amendment would have given pension officials more time to provide data showing that financial forecasts estimate the fund will be in better shape than Houston officials estimated.

But on Wednesday, he urged his colleagues to vote for the bill without the amendment.

“We’ve done everything we can to work hard in good faith,” Huberty said.

Keller, the pension chairman, said the pension board offered to provide the data under licensing agreements that included confidentiality provisions. He said the city never responded.

When asked if firefighters would campaign against any Houston-area state officials who backed the bill, Keller said “it’s hard to say.”

“But I know the firefighters are having a lot of emotions right now: loss, anger,” he said. “And they’ve been shown to be politically active.”

Well, you can’t go back in time.

Here is Kuffer’s take:

See here for the background. The firefighters are gonna do what the firefighters are gonna do. I get they’re unhappy and to an extent I don’t blame them, but this is where we are, and it took a lot of effort to get here. At this point, the main thing I’ll be looking for is who will be campaigning against the pension obligation bonds. It’s one thing to say we need to vote on those things (even if we hadn’t voted on them before), it’s another to say we should vote against them. Until then, kudos to all for getting this done, and congratulations to Mayor Turner for doing what once seemed to be impossible. The Mayor’s press release is here, and the Chron has more.

Here is all of Kuffer: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=80775.

On “firefighters are gonna do what the firefighters gonna do.” “A History of being Fiscally Responsible” was a sub-headline praising the Mayor in a mailer sent to H-Town voters by the Houston Fire Fighters PAC in their endorsement mailer back in 2015. They said it back then.

On “I get they’re unhappy and to an extent I don’t blame them.” The Houston Professional Fire Fighters Local 341 worked as hard as any organization to help get the Mayor elected. They were certainly out there and vocal. So, I don’t blame them either.

Like I said, it’s politics.  Like I also said, you can’t go back in time.

Sean Spicer was left off the list of folks from the White House who got to see the Pope.   Let’s see. Spicer knowingly defends and shills for a fella that lies and he perpetuates lies and he wants to visit with His Holiness. Naw! Something is wrong with this picture. Here is from New Republic:

Trump didn’t let Sean Spicer meet the Pope out of sheer meanness. According to CNN, Spicer, a passionate Catholic, was “eagerly anticipating” meeting Pope Francis as part of Donald Trump’s entourage during the president’s visit to the Vatican. But Spicer was not a part of the group, which included Trump’s daughter, son-in-law, and lower-ranking cronies like his longtime personal bodyguard Keith Schiller. When told about Spicer’s exclusion, one source close to the White House told CNN, “Wow. That’s all he wanted.” The same source added that this was “very much” a slight.

The gratutitious coldness of this move is all the more striking because of the sacrifices Spicer has made on behalf of Trump. Previously a well-liked Washington fixture, Spicer has turned himself into an international joke by loudly and aggressively defending Trump’s every outrage and nonsensical outburst. But Trump is angry at the bad press he continues to receive, which he blames on Spicer. So, the president sees fit to squash Spicer’s dream of meeting the Pope.

Don’t feel sorry for Spicer. He is getting what he deserves.

The ‘Stros have a 16-10 homie record and 15-6 roadie record, the Twins 11-13 and 14-5, the Rockies 13-10 and18-7, and the Brewers 12-13 and 13-8 of course are all in first place and have better roadie records that homie records.

Albert Pujols hit his 6th dinger of the season last night and now he has 597 career dingers. I sure hope he’s not flirting with numero 600 when he visits The Yard on June 9.

We still have a 7 game lead and still have the best record in MLB.

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A Few Things

A.J. Hinch is the skipper of the ‘Stros. What does the “A.J.” stand for?

Commentary went to The Yard yesterday evening. I did not notice an increased security presence. Maybe it was there but I didn’t notice anything.

It looks like pension reform will get a final vote in Austin today. Here is from the Chron:

“The people of Houston can now be assured that the pension systems will remain solvent in the years to come,” Sen. Joan Huffman, the Houston Republican who carried the bill, said after the vote. “They don’t have to worry that police and fire workers will have to be laid off. It’s a good solution for everybody, I think.”

Fire pension chairman David Keller disagreed, saying he was disappointed, though not surprised, by the vote. He called on the House to reject the proposal, which he says is “punitive” to firefighters.

“The House voted overwhelmingly to amend SB 2190 and to make it more fair for firefighters,” he said. “With these amendments stripped it is no longer the legislation they approved and sent to conference; it is now back to the unfair legislation it was before and should be defeated.”

Like I said before, it’s politics, baby!   More tomorrow after the vote.

Speaking of, there are a couple of responses in today’s Chron to Chris Bell’s Op-Ed opposing the H-Town revenue cap. Go check them out. On a related note, some folks are wondering why they have to cough up more dough to the city and still not be able to recycle glass. Good question.

It you watch the ‘Stros on the flat screen, you know Julia Morales. She does the interviews before and after the games. During the game, she gives us interesting info. Did you know that her dad is Victor Morales, the fella who was the Texas Dem nominee for U.S. Senator back in 1996? Remember the white pick-up truck? Now you know.

On the Chron’s website you can find some tidbits on Julia. Check it out here: http://www.chron.com/sports/texas-sports-nation/article/Things-to-know-about-Astros-reporter-Julia-Morales-11167767.php.

I was reading the team’s “Gameday” magazine before the game at The Yard yesterday. Every month they feature a season ticket holder. This issue they featured Cheryl and Kayla who sit nearby. In the feature, Kayla says her favorite player is #SpringerDinger. Last night, #SpingerDinger was playing right field and he caught a fly ball to end the eighth. As he headed back to the dugout he tossed the ball in my direction and I snagged it and then I walked over and handed the ball to Kayla. It made her night for sure.

Andrew Jay is for A.J. in A.J. Hinch of course.

We are now 31-15. We have a 7 game lead. We still have the best record in MLB. It is Dollar Dog Night tonight.

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Just Shut Up!

I saw this tweet this morning:

@SpeakerRyan: “We will never bow or bend to radical Islamic terror.”

Donald Trump didn’t have the balls to say the radical Islamic terrorist phrase in Saudi Arabia the other day so just shut the f__k up you weasel arse punk speaker.

On a morning when we learn one of last night’s victims was an eight-year old, the last thing I want to hear is some spineless arsehole like Paul Ryan trying to show leadership. America is on to your con job. Just shut up!

Add this to the Special Counsel’s agenda, from the Washington Post:

President Donald Trump asked two of the nation’s top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, according to current and former officials.

Trump made separate appeals to the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and to Adm. Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, urging them to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.

Coats and Rogers refused to comply with the requests, which they both deemed to be inappropriate, according to two current and two former officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private communications with the president.

Tsk, tsk, tsk!

Now this made my morning from the Chron:

A passenger wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and calling fellow air travelers “lesbian” and “Hillary” caused his United Airlines flight from Shanghai to New Jersey to be delayed seven hours and make an unexpected stop in San Francisco to replace a tired crew, officials and witnesses said Monday.

The man, whose name was not released, was pulled off the plane in Shanghai as fellow passengers chanted, “Lock him up” and “Charge him,” according to videos of the incident posted on social media.


Bond, James Bond. Sir Roger Moore is no longer with us. I liked him.

On my take on H-Town being a welcoming city, here is comment I received yesterday:

The concern about Houston cops running wild enforcing ICE dictates seems a huge stretch of the imagination given that the state law, if passed, only allows officers to ask about status, the Mayor and police chief certain to place every possible impediment to runaway officers auditioning for ICE on the city dime. Just the fact that the chief will require them to do an investigative report for each incidence is virtually certain to scale back any rogue actions but also consider that more than half their department are minorities, Latinos alone comprising at least a quarter of the manpower. Just how long do you think any of their officers are going to engage in such behaviors given the overwhelming disdain the bosses have shown for it, a great many supervisors knowing their careers will be on the line for the actions of their subordinates?

As far as ICE detainers and the like, the city is getting out of the jail business, farming it out to the county in their joint venture, so that shouldn’t be a problem either. Those who protest HPD policies as though the city was going to aggressively enforce this state led boondoggle might want to take a breath and ponder where their biggest threat is coming from because it sure in heck doesn’t appear to be HPD or the HCSO, much to the chagrin of the decreasing number of people demanding we start grabbing Latinos and busing them to the border at will. That doesn’t mean police won’t ask you a few questions when you’re arrested for a higher level crime, both departments have always done that and will continue to do so, but the belief that the new law will make material changes in how things are done doesn’t seem realistic.

PS: As a Beatles fan, you might want to look into the upcoming White Album and Sgt Peppers reissues, both have a lot of extra material for fans to appreciate. But “Let It Be” is for sale on Amazon on CD and DVD if you’re interested. – Steve Houston

I didn’t know about the White Album reissue.

We had a four pitcher one-hitter last night.  Pretty good if you ask me. 30-15 ain’t bad .  A six game lead also ain’t bad.

No MLB question today.

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This is all you need to know about yesterday’s bathroom bill amendment. This is from Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Lisa Falkenberg:

I just pray that this provision, which doesn’t make anybody safer, doesn’t end up killing a kid.

Just pitiful.

I talked at length to an immigration activist on Friday and I asked the activist if H-Town was a welcoming city and I got a resounding “f__k no!” The activist also said that they didn’t like the way the H-Town Police Chief talked down to them at the forum the other night. Oh, well.

Along these lines, here is Stace’s post from Friday:

At a community forum in which Mayor Sylvester Turner, Chief Art Acevedo and others participated, it seemed the City’s priorities did not include any concrete decisions regarding SB4. At least, not until later.

Turner said that his administration would evaluate the bill after the legislative session ends May 29.

For those of us who would be targeted for racial profiling by local cops (it’s not just immigrants, but brown people in general), the lack of prioritization on challenging SB4 and defending from Republican targeting of Latinos has left a community wondering if it matters to elected leaders.

From Turner, the response to SB4 all along has been the same:

“I want you to know that Houston will be a welcoming, just and compassionate city that will work to protect all people from discrimination.”

Acevedo who had previously said that his department would not be a local INS, changed his commentary, though:

Acevedo made clear that police will be required to fill out a report and detail why they felt it necessary to ask someone’s immigration status.

“If you stop somebody for jaywalking and the only reason you’re asking because they don’t speak English,” Acevedo said, “that will be profiling, and we will not tolerate it.”

So, it is pretty obvious that, much like Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, HPD intends to follow the law. But there is no indication of whether Houston will join other smaller cities and the City of Austin in suing the State of Texas to challenge the law’s constitutionality. Certainly, I don’t expect the right-wing-heavy commissioners court at the County level to do anything, and certainly, Judge Ed Emmett has remained quiet. Frankly, the City’s lawyers should already be studying the law in anticipation of a decision to sue BEFORE it goes in effect on September 1.

In my opinion, nothing says “welcoming city” like a city suing the state government because of a racist law that targets at least 50% of the population. Certainly, it would show the city’s leaders are fighting for people, and not just using “diversity” as a means to increase tourism and business profits.

No doubt, Mayor Turner is awaiting the fate of the pension bill, which is the city leadership’s top priority. But as much as our city’s coffers should be a priority, so should its inhabitants. Immigrant or not, brown or not, we all pay taxes and shouldn’t live in fear of our own law enforcement. And if city coffers are the priority, certainly, Mayor Turner and the City Council should also consider the feasibility of SB4’s enactment and its effect on HPD’s budget, considering that being a Local INS will cost a lot more–in monetary term and in terms of crime-reporting, as the Chief has already specified.

Obviously, let’s stay tuned.

Yeah, stay tuned for sure.

Speaking of two cents, Chris Bell has an Op-Ed in today’s Chron opposing the revenue cap. Here is how it starts out:

Years ago, when I was running for Houston City Council for the first time, a very smart, older friend pulled me aside just after I had finished making a speech to a roomful of people. He told me that in every speech, I needed to let people know all the things the city does for them so they would grasp the importance of the election. As he rightfully explained, people take just about everything the city does for granted; they don’t often realize or stop to consider that their streets, parks, libraries, water, garbage collection, public safety, and much more are all managed and controlled by their city government.

It was some of the best advice I ever received because it was so true. Now, as Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask voters to remove the city’s revenue cap next fall, it’s more important than ever to remind folks what the city does for them. My personal belief is that when people really stop to think about how much their overall quality of life is impacted by decisions at City Hall, they are more willing to make sure city departments have what they need in order to operate. Obviously, pension problems have done much to harm the city budget. But if the pension plan passes, which it appears it will, and that part of the problem is addressed, it’s incumbent upon the city to make sure the other major part of the problem is addressed as well and that’s the revenue cap.

Voters passed the revenue cap in 2004, amending the City Charter to limit the growth of property tax revenue to the combined rates of inflation and population growth, or 4.5 percent, whichever is lower. Voters then altered the cap in 2006, allowing the city to raise an additional $90 million above the cap for public safety expenditures.

Here is the entire Op-Ed: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Bell-The-city-s-revenue-cap-will-strangle-11160278.php.

Commentary has been listening to The Beatles channel on Sirius XM since this past Thursday. I have most of their CDs and some of the tunes are on my phone gizmo but this is a way whole lot better. You get the regular tunes from the CDs, their tunes from their solo days. I heard an “Imagine” cut from a live concert that I had never before. I heard Paul’s “My Valentine.” Then there are the tunes from other artists including Jennifer Hudson’s “Let it Be”, Richie Havens’ “Here Comes the Sun”, Emmylou Harris’ “Here, There and Everywhere” and from a “Beat Bugs” episode of James Corden singing “I’m a Loser.” Then they also throw all sorts of Beatles facts and trivia.

I am waiting to hear George’s “Cheer Down” which is played during the closing credits of “Lethal Weapon 2.”

I am also waiting to hear some tunes from “The Concert for Bangladesh.”

I am still waiting for the release of “Let it Be” the movie on CD. Word is it is not going to happen.

Now that was brutal. I am talking about getting swept at The Yard this past weekend. Even though our lead is down to 5 ½ games, we still have the best record in MLB. Let’s win as the Tigers visit for four.

No MLB question today.


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We are 29-12. If you read the Chron today, you know this answer. In the last 13 years, two other teams started out at 29-12 and won the World Serious. Name the two?

For the past year or so, the H-Town Mayor has been letting our immigrant community know that we are a “welcoming city.” It turns out that some DREAMERs don’t think so. Here is from today’s Chron:

“Houston is not a welcoming city no matter how many times (the mayor) says that,” said Oscar Hernandez, an organizer with United We Dream, in an interview, echoing concerns expressed at the town hall. “Houston is not a welcoming city to people of color or immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants.”

And this:

United We Dream Members chanted “Sue SB 4!” as the meeting came to an end.

(Mayor Sylvester) Turner said that his administration would evaluate the bill after the legislative session ends May 29.

Here is the entire article: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Mayor-police-chief-face-tough-questions-about-11157726.php.

This is a bit troubling that DREAMERs think this. On a lot of the immigration issue I defer to the DREAMERs because they are out there fighting the fight. So, if they are thinking this, then H-Town, maybe we have a bit of a problemo. This is serious and should not be swept under the rug. We need more of a discussion on this. We also need our Latino elected officials to weigh in.  The question:  how do we define “welcoming”?

On the SB 4 matter, it is a very bad bill. I understand why the Mayor still wants to “evaluate” the bill even though it doesn’t need evaluating.  He has to get the pension bill passed. If he starts messing with SB 4, his pension bill might be killed. It’s politics, so I understand.

One would think that the next FBI Director would be a person with a ton of law enforcement experience and not a political crony of Laurel and Hardy, err Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham. You need someone who will get near unanimous support. Here is from Politico:

In an interview, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) fumed about (former Sen. Joe) Lieberman’s efforts to undercut more generous Medicare benefits in Obamacare and his relative closeness to Trump. After a monologue on Lieberman’s faults, Brown ended by telling a reporter: “That’s all on the record.”

“Joe Lieberman has no real law enforcement credentials. Look where he works now, a Trump law firm. That tells me a lot,” Brown said, referring to the law firm where Lieberman now works that represents Trump.

Lieberman also opposed a Democratic proposal to extend Medicare to people 55 and older, infuriating liberals. “He’s the reason we lost Medicare at 55 … Couldn’t have had anything to do with the insurance industry lobbying in Hartford. I’m sure Lieberman couldn’t succumb to that,” Brown said sarcastically.

And to think Lieberman was on our ticket in 2000.

I saw this last night:

Lisa Falkenberg‏Verified account@ChronFalkenberg

The term #BREAKING news is broke. We wore it out. Chaos is now the regularly scheduled program. #TXLege #Trump #Trumprussia #TrumpLeaks

Folks like CNN wore it out. Everything is “BREAKING NEWS” on CNN these days.

The 2005 White Sox and the 2007 Red Sox both won the World Serious after starting out at 29-12 of course.

It is way too early to be talking about the World Serious. We just need to keep playing good baseball. We start a 10 game homie this evening.

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A Special

The ‘Stros lead MLB with 29 wins. Who is number two in wins?

The Beatles are now on Channel 18 on Sirius.

Commentary is not going to say anything bad about the fella who left us this morning and who help create one of the most divisive entities in the history of our country. Commentary is not going to say anything good about him either because there is nothing good to say about him.

Well, we got us a special. We asked for it.

The good news is we have a special counsel who folks say has an impeccable reputation. He and his team will run a thorough investigation and kick over every rock. If there is something there, he and his team will find it.

The bad news is we won’t be privy to what is going with the investigation and we probably will not get to hear from the former FBI Director.   The only things we can look forward to now are Donald Trump’s tweets like the ones he tweeted this morning.

Here is from the Chron today on the City of H-Town housing mess:

“I have to say that I’m embarrassed,” City Councilman Greg Travis said. “We as an institution need to do a better job. … We need to make sure we look at this in a systemic way to make sure that elsewhere it’s not happening.”

Councilmen Jerry Davis and Larry Green stressed that they asked several times for financial information on the local housing fund, to no avail.

“Housing would say, well, economic development has purview. Economic development would say, well, housing has purview. But we could never get a process of how the dollars were going to be spent, where they were or where they were even housed,” Green said. “The questions were asked. We just never got an answer.”

And the headline:

Mayor calls for housing overhaul

No s__t?  That’s sad.

Another pension take was sent to me. Check this:

A lot of people think firemen should be paid more, at least until they found out what the average fireman makes in retirement. Their own pension report from last year shows most firemen averaging over $60,000 a year in pension benefits with additional healthcare subsidies and each getting a giant check for many hundreds of thousands of dollars (it varies according to how long they stay). Leaving aside false comparisons to other jobs or pay comparisons to communities many miles away that some at HFD like to make, the people that question employees asking for 20% raises when the city is facing a shortfall of $123 million (and that is only if pension reform passes in Austin and voters affirm the pension bonds) seem to wonder if those at HFD should make a choice; pensions or pay but not both.

You can make a case that anyone working for the city of Houston is not paid enough if you try hard enough, there are always cities that pay better and there are always jobs to compare to that pay better. But Houston has long established itself as a place where “we do it OUR way”, not copying those in other places as though they know more than we do. The pension proposal is already too lucrative for many voters to agree with and any increase in pay means an increase in pension costs, a growing number of people thinking HFD wants to have their cake and eat it too. Dismissing the oft brought up argument against them regarding the way they work ~8 days a month, may sleep many shifts or tend to personal business on city time, or even that most calls for help have nothing to do with fires (EMS calls are increasingly more frequent, to the tune of over 80% of all calls) so sending large trucks with 4+ people is wasteful, it’s difficult to assess how to pay a group that refuses to provide detailed information on what the employees are being compensated with (to date, they refuse to provide full access to how much their individual employees make, knowing full well the number of millionaires would weigh against them in public opinion).

Leaving aside the RINO political blogs that give firemen a free pass simply to “stick it to Turner”, a well respected liberal democrat, rather than weigh the merits of proposals on their own merits, residents of Houston need to decide how they want their taxes spent. What the Bill Kings of the world leave out of their discussions is how fast health costs have soared, how city finances are tied to various expenses and programs, or even how much the revenue cap really costs Houstonians, most seniors are exempted and the increases for removing the revenue cap to better pay firemen, police, and fix streets, amount to around $25 a year. That’s about what a decent pizza costs and hardly an amount to break the bank if people expect credible services that do not take on the county model where you pay far more for much less via your HOA or directly contracting services on your own.

All the cherry picked statistics, many of them years out of date, by firemen arguing to have better pensions AND huge pay increases while the rest of the city falls apart, do not sway me any more than Mr. King’s sour grapes show trying to paint Houston into the proverbial corner. Most city employees currently employed by Houston have already taken serious cuts to pension benefits and will take more in coming months, the other two pensions long ago correcting mistakes that are still brought up by those desperate to convince folks how terrible they have it with HFD. Despite all this, the city has made offers recently and in the past that were turned down flat by HFD’s employees who now want to force taxpayers to pay for their better pensions no matter what the legislature does in Austin and likewise hand out huge raises by using the courts in both cases. Maybe a better solution would be to tie raises to how well those employees can increase efficiency, using the money saved to pay for whichever compensation they prefer most? – Steve Houston

It looks like this thing is coming to an end.

The Nationals and Rockies each have 25 wins of course.

We have the day off and Tags thinks  The Yard should be at full capacity this weekend? Did I say 29-12?

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