Archive for August, 2017

Good Call

My friend Bill King wrote an Op-Ed in the NY Times saying H-Town Mayor Sylvester Turner made the right call not to order an evacuation.   That is who Bill is and that is what Bill does. On evacuations and hurricanes, Bill knows his sh_t. The Op-Ed is also in today’s Chron and here it is:

As the rains from Tropical Storm Harvey continue to pound Houston, stranding thousands of people in their homes, a question has emerged: Should local officials, particularly Mayor Sylvester Turner, have ordered mandatory evacuations?

The answer is absolutely not.

It is logistically impossible to evacuate millions of people from low-lying coastal areas ahead of a major hurricane. The disastrous evacuation in preparation for Hurricane Rita in 2005 proved the case.

Hours before the hurricane hit 2.5 million Texans fled town at the same time, according to The Houston Chronicle. This caused enormous, daylong traffic jams. While stranded on highways, people were injured or killed from heat stroke. Others got in fights. And a bus that was transporting elderly people from a nursing home exploded, killing 23 people.

In total, some 130 people died in that evacuation, more than have ever perished in a hurricane in the state’s history, with the exception of the 1900 Galveston storm. Of those deaths, about half occurred before the storm hit Texas.

After Hurricane Rita, I served on a governor’s commission that studied what went wrong in the evacuation. In 2005, I headed a regional task force that held hearings for hundreds of hours, for nearly a year. The work of that commission became the basis for new evacuation plans that proved reasonably effective for the Hurricane Ike evacuation in 2008. I can tell you from that experience, any attempt to evacuate Houston ahead of Tropical Storm Harvey would have made the situation much worse and almost certainly resulted in more deaths.

I narrowly lost in a runoff to Mr. Turner in the December 2015 mayoral race. While he and I certainly have our political and policy differences, the current suggestion in the news media that he should have called for an evacuation of Houston is absurd.

Attempting to evacuate areas that might be affected by localized flooding because of rainfall is an entirely different problem from evacuating areas in danger of flooding by storm surge, the rise in seawater level caused by a storm’s winds pushing water onshore. We can predict with reasonable accuracy what areas will be flooded by storm surge based on the forecast and elevations. But flooding from rainfall is highly unpredictable and variable based on the dynamics of each particular rain event. Rarely will we know days in advance which areas will be flooded.

An evacuation of the entire city is a logistical impossibility. There is simply not enough roadway, gasoline in inventory or facilities in nearby cities to transport and house 2.3 million evacuees. Any such misguided attempt would have resulted in the same disaster we saw with Hurricane Rita, with thousands of disabled cars on the freeways and hundreds of thousands trapped on the road in the weather conditions we now endure.

While we do not have any hard numbers yet, my guess is that we will eventually learn that something less than 10 percent of the homes in the Houston region have been flooded by this storm. Had a general evacuation been called, 90 percent of the people would have evacuated for no reason.

Once the rains have passed and the waters have receded, there are plenty of legitimate questions that need to be asked about whether our regions are prepared for this kind of localized flooding. What plans were in place for high-water rescues? Why weren’t more rescue boats and high-water vehicles positioned, especially considering that we had several days’ warning that catastrophic rainfall was headed our direction?

Why were volunteer rescue organizations not activated earlier? Why are we having 100-year and 500-year floods every few years? Why, in this age of virtual networks, is our 911 system not expandable to handle a spike in calls? Why are we still licensing nursing homes in flood-prone areas? How is it that such a facility gets inundated with several feet of water and local officials learn about it on social media?

We should, and must, ask these questions at the appropriate time so that we do better next time. And trust me, there will be a next time. But second-guessing or speculating that Mayor Turner and other local officials should have called for mandatory evacuations is nonsense and betrays a fundamental ignorance of evacuation dynamics.

Once we get around to discussing how to deal with future disasters, Bill needs to be at the table to help answer the points he raises and others.  I hope we also start discussing dramatic changes in our way of thinking on what to do with all the rainwater when it gets here.

I finally got my four Chrons yesterday.

Here is what I know about baseball at The Yard this weekend. Friday’s scheduled game will be played on Saturday at 1 pm. Saturday’s scheduled game will start at 7 pm. Sunday’s at 1 pm.   The 10,000 Carlos Correa jerseys giveaways will be taken to a shelter or shelters for the evacuees.   A lot of the concessionaire folks won’t be able to work because they have been impacted by the flooding, so concessions will be limited, plus they don’t want to snatch up food that should be going to the shelters. I just hope they have the Saint Arnold kiosk staffed.   I wonder how many folks will show up?

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Yes, We Do, Mike

Someone from the Chron tweeted yesterday that 355 square miles of Harris County was covered by water. If that’s the case, that’s a fifth of Harris County since we have a total of 1,777 square miles – I think.

I hope you are part of the four-fifths.

Chron columnist Mike Snyder tweeted this about his column yesterday:

Column: Will Harvey prompt local leaders to challenge assumptions about development?

Here is his column: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/greater-houston/article/Will-Harvey-be-the-storm-that-leads-to-new-12116535.php?t=f23f1b4365.

Here is how Snyder’s column starts:

Even before Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast, the chorus of online scolding had begun.

“Houston will pay a high price for paving over its flood plains with sprawl,” Kriston Capps, a writer for CityLab, tweeted Friday afternoon as forecasters struggled to come up with adjectives — unprecedented, unimaginable, apocalyptic — to describe the deluge expected in the Houston area.

It’s tough to capture nuance in 140 characters, and Capps’ tweet failed to convey the complexity of the factors that make Greater Houston vulnerable to catastrophic floods. The role of development, however, is worthy of attention because, at least theoretically, we have the power to do something about it.

Then Snyder tweeted this:

Several readers say analysis like this inappropriate while flood still raging. Do you agree?

I disagree. Somebody needs to be talking about it. I was glad to see on Channel 2 Monday NBC’s Lester Holt and Channel 2’s Bill Balleza talking about how we have gone about developing in the H-Town area.

In the last couple of years, we have had three once in a kazillion years killer storms and the folks in charge blame it on too much rain and the rain doesn’t have any place to go. Duh? That’s the problem. Let’s figure out a plan on how to make sure there is a place for all this rain to go. Or this is going to keep happening. I know we can’t control the weather. But we shouldn’t stop at that. We can control what happens to the rain once it gets here.   That is going to require tough decisions and pi__ing off some folks, many of them current property owners. It is either that or waiting to get rolled by the next Harvey, Tax Day, Memorial Day, or whatever name we give it.

H-Town’s property owners did their part back in 2010 when we voted for the drainage fee. Do something, please!

FYI: Commentary worked on the Rebuild H-Town campaign.

I was having a discussion yesterday with a former elected official who I respect a ton. We were talking about last week’s “fake” memo that supposedly said a lot of what happened the last few days actually happened. I have not seen the memo.

Some folks are going to be justifiably asking if our leadership gave out enough info so folks could decide what to do other than stocking up on food, water, batteries, and booze.   Like the kind of info to help you decide whether you wanted to stay not, or would that kind of info create panic? I don’t know.

I don’t have a dog in the hunt. I live in a part of the Heights that if I ever get flooded, that’s going to be when H-Town is a total goner. My Dad’s house in Baytown next to Goose Creek came out ok. So did the homes of my niece, goddaughter, and Best Friend. Tens of thousands if not more were not so lucky. It is because of them that we need this discussion.

Joel Osteen’s reputation took a big hit yesterday. How does that happen?

Check this from NPR: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/29/547035773/after-pressure-mounts-joel-osteen-says-his-houston-megachurch-is-open-to-evacuee.

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Commentary is Ok with the New York and New Jersey members of Congress from both sides of the aisle saying they will support aid for the Harvey victims and at the same time reminding us that clowns like Sen. Ted Cruz would not help out victims of Sandy back in 2012.

Greg Koch is a former Green Bay Packer and Razorback, a lawyer, and local sports talk show host.   He is also entertaining. He tweeted this in reaction to CNN running a story on the decision not to evacuate H-Town.

Can your network just go back and create new fake news…we have work to do and d ont need your decisive bullsh_t!

I tweeted to him the Fox News story on the decision not to evacuate H-Town.

He didn’t say sh_t.

Saturday was the last day I had a Chron delivered. Nothing today.

If at all possible, let’s see if we can bring MLB baseball to The Yard this weekend. Come home, ‘Stros.

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I get the news I need on the weather report, I can gather all the news I need on the weather report.

…..Paul Simon

Harvey put a hurt on Commentary’s server yesterday so I couldn’t get email and stuff. I am back for now.

The Texans dedicated this season to H-Town.

Thanks, we needed that.

I did have to get around some yesterday and my phone gizmo’s traffic app came in real handy.

Everyone in these parts is getting clobbered.

Here is the Chron’s sad story on the theater district: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/entertainment/arts-theater/article/Shades-of-Allison-Houston-Theatre-District-12113867.php?cmpid=btfpm.

You really don’t need Commentary to tell folks what is going on with Harvey. So, a diversion of sorts is that it looks like we are finally be getting us a real rivalry with the Texas Rangers.

The ‘Stros will be hosting the Rangers this evening, tomorrow, and Thursday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. We will be the home team. We may end up playing the Mets there this weekend. Your guess is as good as mine as to how many folks will show up wearing ‘Stros, Rangers, or Rays gear.

When Ike slammed us the evening of Friday, September 12, 2008, we were supposed to play the Cubbies at The Yard. That game was cancelled. The next two with the Cubbies were moved to a neutral site, Wrigley North, err Miller Park. Chicago is like 90 miles from Milwaukee or like the distance between H-Town and Beaumont.

The first game was played Sunday evening, September 14 and over 23,000 showed up. The second game was played Monday afternoon and 15,000 and change showed up.   We then went on and played six regularly scheduled road games and returned to The Yard to play the Reds on Tuesday, September 23 – 10 days after Ike hit.

If we do end up hosting the Mets in St. Pete that would make it a 19 game roadie, remember, we have the make-up game with the A’s to play.

It is what it is.

Apparently, some folks here in H-Town didn’t take too kindly on how the Rangers front office handled the Harvey situation.

Here is from the Chron’s Jenny Dial Creech:

Up until Monday afternoon, the outpouring of support and genuine empathy from our neighbors up north had been really touching.

The Cowboys have graciously hosted the Texans. TCU is taking good care of the Rice football team. The city of Dallas has been phenomenal in its in efforts to reach out and help Houstonians.

Then, there are the Rangers.

The Astros were slotted to play the Rangers in Houston this week, but because of the destruction and devastation to the city from Hurricane Harvey, the games needed to be relocated.

The Astros are currently in Dallas.

The teams play again in late September in Arlington, so there was an easy solution for all of this. All they had to do was switch the home and home series and call it a day. 

Instead, the Rangers refused. The organization didn’t want to give up September home games, so now they will all go to St. Petersburg to play.

This is a shameful and classless move by the Rangers organization.

Astros starting pitcher said exactly that in a sarcastic tweet Monday evening.

“Classy as always, should be absolutely ashamed. Greed never takes off days, apparently. Stay strong #Htown! We hope to be home soon,” McCullers tweeted.

An entire city is going through one of the worst disasters imaginable.

Just step up and help in some small way – like by switching your schedule around and making life convenient for a team from Houston.

Several folks from the Houston area have evacuated to the Dallas area. A baseball game in the midst of of all of this devastation could have been a nice distraction, but because the two parties couldn’t agree to a fair solution, now the games will be in Florida.

It’s a real disappointment that the Rangers organization couldn’t step up and make this easy on Houston.

Thanks to all the other sports teams and universities – Baylor is hosting the Rice volleyball team, UT in Austin is hosting UH football – who did step up to be good neighbors.

The Rangers could learn a thing or two from the other organizations who found ways to help.

Equal time from Bleacher Report:

After the relocation of the Ranger’s series against the Astros came under fire Monday, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels defended his team’s stance in the decision.

Because of flooding due to Hurricane Harvey, the three-game series was moved from Minute Maid Park in Houston to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.      

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, after the league announced the move, Astros president Reid Ryan said the Rangers wanted the series at their home of Globe Life Park and weren’t willing to compromise:

“We went to the Rangers and said, ‘Hey, let’s switch series. You guys have our home series, we’ll take your home series.’ They rejected that and didn’t want to do that. The Rangers wanted us to play the next three days at their place, but they did not want to trade series with us. They wanted all six games at their park.”

In response, Daniels said the Rangers weren’t trying to shortchange the Astros: “We were prepared to make the event all about hurricane relief and helping our neighbors. It had nothing to do with looking for a competitive advantage. That’s an inaccurate portrayal.”

Daniels noted the main reason why the Rangers didn’t want to swap series with Houston: “We didn’t feel it was right to give our fans 24 hours notice that their tickets in late September were now good this week. We were willing to play this series anywhere the Astros and MLB wanted, including here in Arlington.”

The Astros and Rangers start the series Tuesday evening, with Houston designated as the home team.

It is a significant matchup for both teams since it has playoff implications. The Astros are defending a five-game lead at the top of the AL, while the Rangers are three games behind for the second wild-card spot in the AL.

In all fairness to the Rangers, they would have had to have a 12 game roadie toward the end of the season. Still, it would have been a nice gesture but I understand.

I wonder what the ‘Stros would have done if the shoe were on the other foot. We will never know because Arlington never gets hurricanes.

It is still good for the rivalry.

San Luis third baseman Matt Carpenter says he will donate $10,000 for every dinger he hits the rest of the season to the relief effort. Let’s hope he goes like his 2015 effort when he hit 8 dingers after September 1.

That’s all I have so stay safe.

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We got clobbered this weekend. It was and is brutal. This is my city and it hurts today.

If you live in the H-Town region and don’t know anyone who has been impacted, you are a very lonely person or just got here.

My niece and goddaughter are currently sweating out rising water in their yard or street. Others are without power.

My Dad’s medical appointment was cancelled today. Channel 11 flooded yesterday and was off the air for most of the afternoon. And on and on and on.

Commentary said this back in June:

Greg Abbott will go down in history as one of the worse governors in Texas history. He certainly earned it.

Abbott is a totally classless act. He didn’t have any business Friday telling folks from H-Town to hit the road and evacuate. Somebody needs to teach that fella how to be governor. Dude must have fallen asleep during the eulogy part of Gov. Mark White’s memorial service. Totally clueless.

For whatever reason, we are not good at evacuations. Discipline, sprawl, coordination, patience, plus, we don’t practice them.   We tried it twelve years ago and it ended up being a man-made disaster.

NBC News, the Trib, and the Daily Beast, to name a few, have put out stories on the decision not to evacuate. And a few talking heads have thrown in their two cents.   This isn’t debatable. Like I said, we are not good at evacuations.

Here is the Trib piece: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/27/why-not-evacuate-harvey-houston-leaders-defend-their-calls-stay-put/.

I drove around my ‘hood yesterday and with the exception of a couple of convenience stores, a noodle house, and a Jack-in-the-Box, nothing was open.

Also, not debatable is where the ‘Stros will play the next three. Putting on a MLB regular season game is a major undertaking.   You have to have folks that handle concessions, tickets, ushers, and security. Plus, getting in and out of Downtown is questionable.   We can’t handle this right now. Play the next three in Arlington.

No MLB question today. Take care and stay safe.

No Chron delivered yesterday or today.

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The night before Ike hit, the ‘Stros beat the Pirates at The Yard 6 zip and were 80-67 and three games back in the Wild Card race. How did we fare the rest of the season?

I remember my first hurricane. It was Carla back in 1961. I was eight. Our house was and still is by Goose Creek. The creek rose and came up to our next door neighbor’s house. A few houses at the end of our block by the creek flooded. Debris washed up with the rising water and I remember seeing toys amidst the debris. My grandfather and Dad told us not to pick up anything because it could be considered looting so we didn’t touch a thing.

The schools were closed for a couple of days. The day after Carla hit, we drove around to see the damage by the bay and there was all this debris in huge piles by the shore and  snakes were everywhere slithering through the debris.

I stayed in town during Rita. I didn’t get to participate in the mass exodus.   I never really thought about leaving. Plus, my Dad was in the hospital at the time having major surgery.

Of course, I posted extensively about Ike. I never want to go through that again. I was out of electricity for nearly 14 days.

I went to the Kroger in the Heights yesterday and folks were stocking up. They were even out of canned tuna.

Now this is dumb. This why you need a consultant. Check this first from the Trib:

SAN ANTONIO — Not long after U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, opened the floor to questions last month at a town hall here, Trish Florence rose to ask the U.S. Senate candidate about “the bromance” — his friendship with U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, that was cemented by a cross-country road trip in March. 

A few knowing chuckles rippled over the crowd. 

“I really, really want to get behind you,” Florence said, “but I can’t do it if you’re helping Hurd get re-elected.”

O’Rourke held firm in what’s become his go-to answer to such questions — that as a member of the minority party in Congress, he needs to work with everyone he can — including, yes, Republicans like Hurd — to get things done for his constituents. Yet the exchange put on vivid display the awkward position O’Rourke, who is challenging U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, finds himself in as he leads the Democrats’ statewide ticket for 2018 while maintaining a high-profile friendship with their No. 1 target.

The question that Florence and others are now pondering: Will O’Rourke stand on the sidelines as his party goes all out to defeat Hurd in 2018? 

The answer, for now at least, is yes. 

“I can’t work with Republicans if they think I’m trying to screw them by working against their re-election, so I’m going to stay out of that race,” O’Rourke said in a recent interview with The Texas Tribune. “I wish the people of that district the best in choosing the best person to represent their interests. I’m not going to be a voice in that election.”

Here is the entire read: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/25/2018-heats-orourkes-bromance-hurd/.

Nope! Tell Beto “no way.” You can’t stay out of this race. You have to be for the Dem. Nope, nope, nope! You can’t be the real deal and try to be cute at the same time. Nope, nope, nope!

From Steve Houston on the petitions:

Marc, despite my previous comments on the petition process, I think most people, including myself, agree the process should be streamlined. My point of contention recently is merely that the same people making false claims of the Mayor holding up the process never once complained about the process in the past so it is merely when their personal interests are at stake do they wail like little children about it. Given the people they hired to assist them in the process, there is no doubt they were aware that there would be no time to verify all the signatures, the group merely playing it like a violin to regain some of the sympathy they used to have before just about everyone in politics tore them a new one this past year (from their hand picked Mayor & city council to the GOP led state legislature and governor, to the courts).

I don’t know if setting a specific deadline for counting is the best way to go, what if several major petitions are submitted at the same time one year, the firefighter fall back plan of letting those who submit the petitions join in with the counting/verification process seems a bit too risky for my tastes, I’m sure you’d howl if a right wing immigration reform group wanting mass deportations offered to count their own signatures for example, but instead of making false claims like the firefighters have done, perhaps offering constructive suggestions (deadlines don’t verify signatures) for improving the nuts and bolts of the process might help?

After Ike hit, the ‘Stros lost the next five in a row and ended up going 6-8 and finishing at 86-75 and four games out of the Wild Card of course.

We still have a four game lead on the Red Sox with 35 left.

Stay safe this weekend!

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E-Board and Petitions

E-Board and Petitions

Last season, the ‘Stros ended up with five players hitting more than 100 base hits. How many have more than 100 this season?

A few folks chuckled at this post on our Next Door yesterday:

Does the city of Houston provide free sand bags.

New to the area and with the current storm on the way I was wondering if the City of Houston has places we can go to fill up sandbags.

Can’t fault them for wanting to be prepared. Are you?

Commentary is glad to see that I am not the only one who thinks the City of H-Town’s petition process is flawed. See how the Chron E-Board ends one of their takes today:

We’ve said before that we believe parity is bad public policy. Just because police and firefighters wear badges and uniforms and drive around in vehicles equipped with sirens doesn’t mean there’s a direct equivalence between their jobs. If there’s a crime wave, putting parity in the city charter could hamstring a future mayor struggling to spend more money on police.

Still, the process that kept this referendum off the ballot is flawed and it needs to change. Every petition for a referendum must be processed by the city secretary’s office, which conducts the time-consuming task of confirming how many people signing their names are actually registered Houston voters. In this case, City Secretary Anna Russell is following her longstanding practice of verifying voter petitions in the order in which they’re delivered to her office. She says her staff, in addition to its regular duties, has been dealing with another petition on pension reform delivered to City Hall earlier this year. Nothing in any city ordinance or state law sets a deadline for processing those petitions. As a result, neither of these issues will appear on the November ballot.

Our mayor and city council need to straighten this out. They need to set clearly defined timelines for processing petitions delivered to the city secretary’s office. If citizens like the firefighters want an issue to appear on the November ballot, they need to know a deadline for submitting petitions. That’s only fair, and it’s the only way to avoid accusations that the mayor and city secretary are playing fast and loose with election rules.

We probably haven’t seen the last of the firefighters’ parity pay plan. Assuming they gathered enough valid petition signatures to require a referendum, we’ll see it on the ballot next year. But unless our city sets clearly defined timelines for processing petitions, firefighters won’t be the last people to think they’ve been cheated out of their place on the ballot.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Off-the-ballot-11953935.php.

This tweet is asking folks to vote on a campaign promise:

ANTONIO ARELLANO‏Verified account @AntonioArellano

Should @SylvesterTurner keep campaign promise & issue Municipal IDs to all Houstonians, regardless of their immigration status?


Folks certainly know my feeling on this. It was a bad idea during the campaign. Playing to the crowd doesn’t always work.

The ‘Stros have seven players who have more than 100 base hits this season with Carlos Beltran sitting on 96 of course.

We won last night and are still four games up on the Red Sox with 36 to go.


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Why Stop at One?

So, some GOPers want to make the GOP Texas House Speaker the litmus test in the 2018 GOP State House primaries. I got it. That might work.

Check this from the Chron:

A  Texas lawmaker wants the University of Texas at Austin to give him the statue of a former governor that was removed from campus Sunday night along with three others representing the Confederacy.

State Rep. Dennis Bonnen, (R)-Angleton, sent a letter to the university calling the removal of James Stephen Hogg, Texas’ first native-born governor, “disrespectful.”

“[West Columbia] Mayor Laurie Kincannon and the citizens of West Columbia join me in expressing our disapointment in your decision, which has cast a negative light on a prominent and respected figure in Texas history,” Bonnen wrote. “Given the contributions to our state from Governor Hogg and the findings of the Task Force, I find the ‘so it all goes together’ argument wholly inadequate, dismissive, and disrespectful.”

Why not ask for all of the statues? Why stop at one? I wonder if all of the West Columbians feel the same way?

Who leads the ‘Stros in RBIs?

Steve Houston weighs in again here:

The mayoral election where King lost and Turner won showed every single candidate taking a stance on pensions as part of their platform but King had made it his number one issue for years prior and only diversified into other areas when Houston voters showed they just weren’t interested enough to elect King on that alone. Ask a random sample of voters for King’s key points and pension reform would likely be the sole talking point most of them (not including his base supporters like Marc) remember, the guy filling column after column of the Chronicle’s op-ed page driven largely on that one issue. I know Marc’s been his supporter for a long time now but the fact remains that King tied himself to the pension issue above all else for so long that Turner’s actual progress on the issue forces King to try and find traction somewhere else.

As far as the petition for pay parity is concerned, again, if you wait until just before a deadline to submit signatures, you deserve what you get; the firefighters themselves will tell you how many years they have gone without significant pay raises so why not submit a petition before now. Some form of public safety pay parity existed in the not so distant past yet they sat on their hands complaining but not taking action to revive it until just before the deadline, knowing full well that the other petition was in the process of being counted so the clock would run out. Keep in mind that they hired professionals well versed in the law surrounding election law, even the former city attorney they vilified for years, so the faux display of shock their proposal wouldn’t make it on this Fall’s ballot rings hollow. So buy the argument or don’t but suggesting the counting could’ve been done as in past petitions that were submitted in much more timely fashion is just an example of comparing apples to oranges. Is there a reason to suggest the people signing the 401k petition were any less deserving than those signing the parity petition? And why not complain to the state legislature that enacted the petition language years before unless it’s not about denying voters a chance to vote on petitions but about personal interests, the previous silence on counting signatures from firefighters speaking volumes about it as a general issue.

We are going to disagree on the petition process. That is all I will say about that.

Bill King can certainly defend himself. I will say that it is safe to say that Bill King was a well-versed candidate in the mayoral race – on pensions, city finances, crime stats, and core city issues. No one can deny that.

Commentary watched Donald Trump last night. All I will say is shame on folks who continue to defend this fella. You have no cred with me.

Marwin Gonzalez of course has 72 RBIs to lead the ‘Stros.

Our lead over the Red Sox is now 4.

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Sorry, No Petitions

Among active MLBers with less than 1,000 career games played, who has the most base hits?

The H-Town Firefighters didn’t get their petitions reviewed by the City of H-Town. So, we won’t get to vote on their issue this November. Maybe in May of 2018? Here is from the Chron:

That was upsetting to Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, Local 341. Mayor Sylvester Turner’s “petulance” had kept their pay parity proposal off the ballot, he wrote in a letter to members on Monday, while vowing to continue the push for “fair wages, benefits and working conditions.”

“The mayor refuses to say when the petitions will be counted,” Lancton wrote. “We note that, as the submitted petitions sat in the city secretary’s office for weeks, the mayor rejected at least three offers, including ours, to fund overtime pay for city staff to count the petitions. Others volunteered to count petitions. The mayor smugly ignored the offers and the City Council took no action on the issue.”

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/November-ballot-to-include-bonds-but-not-11948385.php.

Oh, well. What is the point in reminding folks who the Firefighters endorsed in 2015? That is the point!   They say that breaking up is hard to do.

Steve Houston disagreed with my take on the petitions yesterday. He also didn’t think much of Bill King’s take. Here is from Houston:

It’s inaccurate to say that citizens can’t petition their government, they do so successfully all the time. What they shouldn’t expect is to turn in over 50 thousand petitions while another petition is being counted and then expect the first petition to be sidelined in favor of theirs being counted, especially when they turn in those voluminous boxes of petitions so close to a deadline. If they were serious about having the petition voted on in a particular election, they would have started months ago so that is on them. A delay is not a denial by any means.

As far as Bill King’s commentary, it’s curious that he goes on and on about a laundry list of societal ills that will take gobs of money to fix when the crowd he panders to is all about paying less toward government solutions in a penny wise but pound foolish manner. For years now, he has carried on about city of Houston pensions as though they were the only ones in need of change yet now that those have been greatly modified to lower employee benefits and save the city money, he’s trying to reignite his one trick pony issue with the state as his whipping post.

So while the majority of people that have voted for him might like the idea of storm surge protection, they want someone else to pay for it, the same for better schools, Social Security, and drug treatment programs. In the meantime, as King points out, those voters actually want to pay less in taxes, property or otherwise, and don’t bother to vote since the choices are often mighty slim pickings, his own election results proving the point quite well. Voters just aren’t going to prioritize voting for politicians like himself when they know his proposed solutions aren’t workable any more than the city police are going to prioritize catching thieves that steal trash cans, lawn ornaments, and other things of modest value but have no leads to pursue; the cost of investigating such crimes outweighs pursuing the crooks.

Bill has a lot of things, but not just a “one trick pony issue.”  I will say that back in 2015, Bill was the fella who drove the pension issue. Folks can argue with me on this, but you are not going to change my mind. Bill has also been vocal on the revenue cap, so that’s another trick pony. He’s been a leading voice on hurricane evacuations along the Texas Gulf Coast, so that’s another trick pony. He has also staked out a position on the Ike Gate, another trick pony. He’s written a book, so another trick pony. Plus, he has some good takes on immigration reform, so that means he has him six trick pony issues if you are counting.

As far as the petitions go, if two groups are gathering signatures and one turns them in before another so the group that turns theirs in a few weeks later is f___ed? Commentary is not buying that argument. Sorry.

Speaking of campaign promises, check this from the Tribune today:

The El Paso City Council narrowly voted against creating a municipal identification card program amid concerns that the measure would lead to the border city being perceived as the kind of “sanctuary” jurisdiction that has been the target of President Donald Trump and Texas’ Republican leaders.

In a 5-4 vote, the council voted down funding the program, which immigrant rights groups and advocates for the poor have called for since 2014 as a way for those unable to obtain a driver’s license or other state-issued identification sign up for bank accounts and access city services such as libraries. Applicants would have had to prove they reside in the city to obtain the card. 

Mayor Dee Margo cast the deciding vote against the measure, explaining that he didn’t want El Paso to be perceived as “sanctuary” city – the common term for a jurisdiction that doesn’t enforce state or federal immigration laws.  

Here is the entire read: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/08/21/el-paso-votes-against-funding-municipal-id-program/.

Remember when folks wanted municipal IDs for folks in H-Town?   Commentary always thought that was a bad idea. It just gives ICE access to info they may not have.   Commentary is glad that promise has not been kept.

In 949 career games, Jose Altuve has 1,217 base hits of course to lead all active MLBers in the under 1,000 career games category.

There are only four MLB clubs with 70 or more wins this season. Two of them meet at The Yard this evening.

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Happy Birthday today to my Dad! Tony Campos is 94, nice!

Commentary doesn’t have a dog in this hunt. I am talking about the petition deadline for the H-Town Firefighters. Like I said, it is not my fight. However, there is something wrong when citizens can’t petition their local government. It kind of feels like the folks that signed the petitions were disrespected a bit – just saying. I mean like Insperity is right down the road – just saying, again.

The Nationals come in to town for a three-game series that starts tomorrow evening. The Nationals used to be the Expos. Name the three Hall of Famers who are wearing an Expo lid on their HOF plaque?

Commentary is not going to say much about yesterday’s Chron Sports Section. The story about the ‘Stros beating the A’s Saturday evening and being 76-47 was on page C9, yes, C9. The first four pages of the Sports Section was about the Texans winning a preseason game and other NFL stuff, yes, a preseason game.

It was good to see CEOs and others distance themselves from Donald Trump. I really hated to see Steve Bannon go.   Now we learned over the weekend that Trump will not have anything to do with the Kennedy Center Honors event. That’s a good thing.

I get where Bill King is going with his take from this past weekend. In case you missed it, here it is:

The Distraction of Monuments and Bathrooms

The national debt is rapidly closing in on $20 trillion.  And that does not include the future structural deficits in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  Millions of Americans still have no health insurance and we spend almost twice as much as any other country on healthcare.  Drug abuse (including alcohol and nicotine) continues to take a terrible toll on Americans.  

North Korea is rapidly moving to acquire intercontinental nuclear missile technology.  We are still running gaping trade deficits.  Terrorist attacks, international and domestic, continue unabated.  Our broken immigration system negatively impacts citizens and immigrants.  Income and wealth disparity continues to hollow out America’s middle class.  Our schools lag behind those in other developed countries.  

Texas’ largest metropolitan area continues to live under the existential threat of storm surge with no plan in sight to do anything about it.  The Texas Taxpayers and Research Association recently released a report that our state government will likely run a $8 billion deficit in next biennium and that does not take into account the state’s unfunded pension liability, which is currently reported at over $50 billion.  The real number is probably nearly twice that amount.

Our city government continues to careen into insolvency.  Our police department still only solves only 6% of the burglaries.  Progress on flood control projects is proceeding at a snail’s pace.  Property taxes are driving people out of their houses.  

I could go on, but you get the point.  

And in the face of these daunting challenges that affect the lives of our citizens every day, what do our elected officials choose to discuss?  Monuments and bathrooms.  Really?   

The problem is that the real issues we face are hard.  The solutions are complex and hard to explain to voters.  And the solutions might, perish the thought, ask us to make sacrifices.  Or worse yet, they might upset those who vote in the primaries.  So, if your principal objective is to get re-elected, it is much safer to demagogue some issue that will energize your primary base.  Why take on the tough problems that might get you unelected?   

While it is easy to be disgusted with our elected officials’ cowardice to take on the hard issues, we, as citizens, bear some of the responsibility as well.  We still vote in embarrassingly low numbers.  In the 2016 election, less than half of Texans eligible to vote bothered to go to the polls.  The turnout in the last City election was 21%.  Turnout in the parties’ primaries frequently is below 10%.  Runoffs are even worse.

And we too readily accept simple answers to complex issues, which are almost always wrong.  Often the simple answers involve the identification of some scapegoat, which we may find emotionally gratifying but rarely does anything to solve the real problem.  

Those of us who have raised children know that their conduct had a lot to do with our expectations for them.  If we gave them a pass, most of the time they will take it.  As long as we allow our elected officials to spend their time on fringe issues that have nothing to do with solving the serious issues our nation, state and region face, they will take the pass.   

So, here’s my suggestion: No more passes.

I wonder if Bill heard that UT-Austin removed some Johnny Reb statues late last night.

Gary Carter, Andre Dawson and Tim Raines of course are in the Hall of Fame wearing an Expos lid.

76-48 and 4 ½ ahead of the Red Sox with 38 left.

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These two current ‘Stros have a combined 693 career dingers. Who am I talking about?

Commentary has been laughing all week at some GOPers’ feeble defense of Confederate statues. When GOPers say they are members of the “Party of Lincoln”, laugh in their faces. Honestly? Do you think President Abraham Lincoln would approve of the statues?

Check this from the E-Board today:

Monuments honoring the Confederacy were erected for a very specific reason – to wipe out the memory of Reconstruction-era equality that briefly existed after the Civil War and replace it with a myth of the Lost Cause.

This intense and pervasive effort was launched decades after the Civil War had ended, during a period of time, roughly 1890-1920, that historians view as a nadir for African-Americans. Thousands were lynched and rigid segregation laws were implemented throughout the South. These edifices remain a testament to those decades of hate.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Buried-history-11882660.php.

Silly and stupid. Just shut up! Party of Lincoln, my arse!

This is from the SA Express News:

Mayor Ivy Taylor, soon after she lost her June runoff, filed a claim for unemployment benefits from the city of San Antonio through the Texas Workforce Commission, sources said.

The city contacted Taylor after she filed the claim, the sources said, and recommended that she withdraw it because it would otherwise be rejected. Taylor tried, they said, but the Texas Workforce Commission would not allow the claim to be withdrawn.

According to the Unemployment Compensation Act in the state’s Labor Code, elected officials do not qualify for unemployment benefits.

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said Thursday that he’d heard Taylor had filed a claim for unemployment benefits — a first for him. He called Taylor’s actions “really strange.”

“I lost two races. I should have thought of that when I lost,” Wolff joked.

Sad, if you ask me.

This is from Steve Houston:

Reports are that the City Secretary’s office hasn’t finished counting the pension petition to even start the pay parity petition, the deadline coming next week making it seem like both will be put off to the future. The firefighters demanding Ms. Russell set aside the first one to benefit their cause should understand that they never lifted a finger to help any other petition so why should they get to re-write the rules in their favor?

They could have started the petition drive last year when their pension representatives broke ranks as the city decided the initial cuts were not enough but they banked on political support from people well known to oppose worker’s rights, unions, DB pensions and the like; everyone knowing it was only a matter of time before those politicians took the opportunity to do what they do. I think they should take the offered raise for now and continue the fight via referendum next May or whenever the next election it can be heard. They just feel the public won’t give them a second boost after a 9.5% raise so they are sitting on it as though the offer will remain open forever…it won’t. Their social media campaign now suggests the city demanded concessions to get the 9.5% raise but when asked, not a single one of them can point any concessions out which sounds like more stonewalling.

73 is the record. That is what the record book says. I am talking about most dingers in a season set by Barry Bonds in 2001. I witnessed in person #70 off of Wilfredo Rodriguez at The Yard on October 4, 2001. That was the series that was made up after 9/11. ‘Stros fans were cheering and wanted to see Bonds tie the record of 70 set by Mark McGwire in 1998. That kind of upset ‘Stros Skipper Larry Dierker. Why am I talking about this? Check this from Yardbarker:

Giancarlo Stanton may have very little chance at surpassing Barry Bonds’ single-season record of 73 home runs, but the Miami Marlins star is eyeing a number that is certainly attainable and he believes is more legitimate.

That number is 61.

Stanton, who is currently on pace to hit 60 homers, said Wednesday that he considers 61 — the single-season home run mark set by Roger Maris in 1961, to be the real home run record.

“When you grow up watching all the old films of Babe Ruth and [Mickey] Mantle and those guys, 61 has always been that printed number as a kid,” Stanton said, via Andre Fernandez of the Miami Herald.

Catching Ruth’s mark of 60 would be quite the milestone, but Stanton said he considers that remarkable season tainted because baseball remained segregated in 1927. The five seasons better than Maris’ 61-homer season belong to Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. They all took place during the height of baseball’s steroid era.

“Considering some things I do (think those are tainted),” Stanton said. “But at the same time it doesn’t matter. The record is the record. But personally I think I do.”

Stanton did not homer in Miami’s 8-1 win over the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, snapping a streak of six straight games with a big fly. He now has 44 home runs on the season with 43 games remaining.

If you want to know if Stanton could surpass the 70-homer mark this season, just ask one of his teammates. But if the 27-year-old slugger gets to 61, a lot of people would agree that he has tied the “real” home run record.

Talk all you want. When you get to 73 or 74 we can talk about you tying or setting the record. That’s what the record book says.

I am for this. Donald Trump probably isn’t. From USA Today:

Boston Red Sox principal owner John Henry said it is time to rename Yawkey Way, the road outside Fenway Park that is a nod to former team owner who resisted integrating his club more than a decade after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947.

Henry told the Boston Herald in an email that he’s “haunted” by the street’s name and would be in favor of changing it to Big Papi Way as a tribute to former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Any change would have to be approved by Boston city officials.

Here is the entire read: http://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/mlb/red-sox-owner-john-henry-citing-racist-past-wants-to-change-name-of-yawkey-way/ar-AAqfXt8?ocid=UE01DHP.

Then this from Yahoo Sports:

Before considering the debate over whether Tom Yawkey was so racist he should no longer have a street named after him in Boston, know this: he was a terrible baseball owner.

From 1933 to his death in 1976, his Boston Red Sox never won a World Series and rarely won anything at all, reaching the postseason just three times. The occasional generational talent that would arrive (Ted Williams, most notably) would wither away via futility and frugality. Part of this was because of a stubborn inability to see obviously emerging trends, his most famous failure born from bigotry.

The Red Sox were the last team in Major League Baseball to integrate, in 1959, a full 12 seasons after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Brooklyn. Yawkey was so opposed to employing a black player, he chose, for a dozen seasons, to run his team at a decided competitive disadvantage. He demonstrably cared more about having an all-white team than winning.

He actually could have signed Robinson. In 1945, Boston politicians forced the Red Sox to have a tryout for African-American players under threat that they wouldn’t allow games to be played on Sunday. Robinson was one of three players brought to a sham of a workout. Robinson impressed the assembled media and some scouts, but never stood a chance with Yawkey.

Again, the entire read: https://sports.yahoo.com/let-people-boston-decide-fate-yawkey-way-001722029.html.

Carlos Beltran with 435 and Brain McCann with 258 have a combined 693 career dingers of course.

4 ½ games over the Red Sox with the A’s in for three.


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