Archive for May 18th, 2017

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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