Archive for May 16th, 2017

Politics, Baby!

With a .282 batting average, the Nationals lead all other MLB clubs. Name the club with the second-best team batting average?

How about this tweet:

ABC13 Houston Retweeted

Greg Bailey‏Verified account@GregBailey13 13m13 minutes ago

#Astros are 27–12. That’s filthy.

If you are aghast over Donald Trump giving away top secret intel, you must have been on another planet the last couple of years.

It’s politics, baby! It happens. Check this from Mike Morris and the online Chron:

Firefighters, without a raise since their last contract expired three years ago, declared an impasse Monday with the city as the end of an extended negotiating period approaches next month.

Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association negotiators want raises of 6 percent, 6 percent and 8 percent in a new three-year deal. Over the last six years, firefighters have averaged a raise of 0.5 percent per year.

The city, union president Marty Lancton said, has countered with an offer of 2 percent, then 2 percent. That, Lancton added, would only barely offset the additional 1.5 percent of their pay firefighters would have to put toward their pensions rather than take home if Mayor Sylvester Turner’s pension reform package passes the Legislature in the coming weeks.

“What the city has been doing for a period of three years is nothing more than a delay tactic,” Lancton said. “City leaders have neglected the fire department and its people for nearly a generation. Enough is enough. Firefighters have earned the right for fair pay and working conditions.”

Union attorneys said they are open to entering mediation or arbitration, which would extend the negotiating deadline indefinitely. They also said they are willing to ask a state district court to grant firefighters a “prevailing wage” if the city is unwilling to talk.

Mayor Turner, at an afternoon news conference, said the city will remain at the bargaining table. He also said it is disingenuous for firefighter union leaders to demand higher pay when fire pension leaders are hoping to kill pension reforms that the mayor cast as the only way to keep HFD’s overall compensation affordable for taxpayers. 

And here is from a Channel 2 news story from yesterday:

“Firefighters in Houston no longer trust Mayor Sylvester Turner,” Lancton said. “He has erased 26 years of goodwill in only 16 months.”

It’s politics, baby! That is the way it goes in this business.

In their (Houston Fire Fighters PAC) 2015 endorsement mailer, the Mayor is described as “Fiscally Responsible.” Oh, well. It’s politics, baby!

Speaking of, it probably wouldn’t be a wild guess to say Bill King will be front and center leading the opposition to the “cap” election this November. Bill has an Op-Ed in today’s Chron on the issue. Here is how it starts:

Mayor Sylvester Turner, as candidate and now in office, has declared his intent to ask voters to remove the “revenue cap” that he – and most media reports – have incorrectly characterized.

There is no cap on city tax revenues. There is, however, a cap on how much the city can charge in property taxes every year. This distinction is important because property taxes only make up about 25 percent of the city’s total revenues. Under the City Charter, that is the only source of revenue that is capped. There is absolutely no cap on 75 percent of the city’s revenues.

And even to describe the charter limitation as a “cap” on property taxes is somewhat misleading because the charter still allows the property tax collections to increase every year by the sum of inflation and population growth. And increase, they have.

Since the charter amendment was enacted, the city’s property tax receipts have increased by 70 percent, rising from $646 million to $1.1 billion. The average increase since 2005 has been just under 5 percent. Twice since the charter was amended, the city has benefited from double-digit increases. For the last three years, the average increase was almost 7 percent.

And, according to the city’s most recent monthly report, property tax revenues so far this year are up an eye-popping 15 percent. Eventually, that number will come down some due to refunds from appeals of property appraisals, but the city is still projecting an increase of more than 5 percent even with these refunds. I feel certain that the city has overestimated the amount of refunds; it is a little embarrassing to ask voters to repeal the property tax cap in a year when the property taxes are increasing by double digits.

Here is the entire Bill King Op-Ed: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/King-It-s-not-a-revenue-cap-it-s-a-property-tax-11148014.php.

I am sure Bill’s opponents will try to ding him up some on social media soon enough. It’s politics, baby!

Sigh! Sigh! Sigh! Folks know how Commentary feels about this. Remember “Stronger Together.” Now Hillary Clinton is launching “Onward Together.” Even the logo has a similar look. I am not interested in watching a replay of the 2016 election. The GOP is just licking their chops on this move. Sigh!

Remember when Commentary put out this a week or so ago:

SiriusXM is pleased to announce The Beatles Channel, launching May 18 at 9:09 am ET exclusively on SiriusXM channel 18.

Why 9:09 am? Beatles fans know this one. How about “One After 909” from the “Let it Be” album.

“I said move over once, move over twice
Come on baby don’t be cold as ice
I said I’m trav’ling on the one after 909″

Now you know. This Thursday.

So columnist Ken Hoffman left the Chron and all we got was this from the Chron:

After 22 years at the Houston Chronicle, Ken Hoffman is giving up print deadlines and his newspaper column. We thank him for the times he made us smile, and we wish him the best.

To read his past columns, see houstonchronicle.com/kenhoffman.

Don’t worry, Hoffman put this out last night:

Here’s why I quit the Houston Chronicle after 22 years at “Houston’s leading information source” and joined CultureMap.

A long time ago, a good friend, whose advice I trust, said to me … “Go where they want you.”

That applies to jobs, people, relationships, schools, where you live … everything. I see so many people knocking their heads against the wall, trying to make things work, when there’s no chance of it ever happening.

“Don’t want nobody who don’t want me, ’cause there’s too many fish in the sea.” – the Marvelettes.

Plus I’m up for a new challenge.

I was not unhappy at the Chronicle. I liked it there. Best job I ever had. Some co-workers thought I was “Teacher’s Pet” even. They let me do what I wanted, I had freedom to write what I wanted. I had a close friendship with the managing editor, Vernon Loeb. We used to go to the tennis matches at River Oaks Country Club and Astros games at Minute Maid Park. We’re still going to do that. More “Ken Hoffman New York Hot Dogs” at the ballpark!

The Houston Chronicle was my dream job.

Until something dreamier came along. At least better for me: the offer to join CultureMap.

Obviously CultureMap is not as big or mighty or influential as the established Houston Chronicle. It will take some time to stop thinking of myself as “… from the Houston Chronicle.”

But I’m thinking of the advantages of working for CultureMap now. I am bringing my column over intact — with some added nonsense. I have some ideas that will fit CultureMap’s personality better than the Chronicle.

I’m still going to do weekly fast food reviews and the homeless pet feature. Still going to review concerts and write silly columns about life in Houston. Maybe bring back my Sunday letters column.

Nothing is going to change … except more.

It’s not like I’m diving into unchartered waters. The editor-in-chief of CultureMap is Clifford Pugh. I know him. For several years, I sat next to Clifford at the Houston Post before it closed. I don’t like to brag, but the Post was the biggest newspaper ever to fold in the U.S. I like to think I was a big part of that.

Clifford and I used to answer each other’s phones. I think both of our ears are still ringing from that. CultureMap? CultureShock!

Clifford and his husband, John, often eat Thanksgiving dinner at my house. When my son was born, they brought two gifts to the baby shower: a copy of Playboy Magazine and a copy of Blue Boy magazine. Clifford said, “It depends which way it turns out for the kid.”

The ladies of West U just loved that. One day their blood pressure will return to normal.

I also know David Gow, the owner of CultureMap and radio stations ESPN 97.5 FM and KGOW SB Nation 1560 AM. Ten years ago, to put money in a college fund, I hosted a show on 1560. I think the FCC is still listening to tapes and figuring out the fines.

So I’ll be around people I know, the CultureMap people, the radio guys, and I’ll still be writing about Houston. It’s funny, when you grow up in New Jersey, Houston and Texas are so exotic, like a whole other planet.

Now I have Houston in my heart. I love visiting schools on Career Day. I loved when Katie Couric came here to do a feature on Houston and asked to interview me, of all people. I loved hosting the lighting of the downtown Christmas tree. I look forward to eating everything on a stick at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. One of these days, I’m going to get cowboy boots.

This appeals to me: people will be able to read my column online at culturemap.com for free. No paywall, no subscription necessary, no minimum stories per month, no jumping through hoops.

I don’t write columns for my health. I would like people to read them. At CultureMap, it will be easier and cheaper for readers. I just have to get the word out. I’ll figure something.

So that’s why I left the Chronicle for CultureMap. There were no hard feelings at the Chronicle. I’m not a disgruntled former employee. In fact, I am probably the most grunted ex-Chron person in Houston. I will miss working there.

I just saw a better opportunity and took it.

Ok. Got it.

How about this:

Houston Astros Retweeted

Steve Grande‏@AstrosGrande 42m42 minutes ago

This is the first time the #Astros have hit grand slams in consecutive games in franchise history. Bregman last night, Gurriel tonight.

The ‘Stros of course are number two in MLB with a .273 team batting average.

15 games above .500 and an 8-game lead. A roadie record of 13-6. Best record in MLB. And it is only May 16. I know, I know, sooner or later we will hit a rough patch – or will we? Please get out to The Yard this weekend when Cleveland visits!


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