Archive for September, 2017

Harvey in 2018

How many times have the ‘Stros won 90 or more games in a season?

This twitter headline got a lot of local run yesterday:


The headline came from yesterday’s Chron E-Board take.

Talk about getting it handed to us on a silver platter. This is just what Harris County Dems can use going into the 2018 countywide elections. All parts of Harris County took a hit from Harvey and look how GOP Gov. Greg Abbott responded.   GOP Harris County Commissioner Steve Radack came out in support of tapping the so-called Rainy Day Fund for local relief. Have not heard from Hunker Down. Sen. Ted Cruz?

We’re going to be feeling the pain from Harvey for a while. Commentary thinks it is a legitimate issue that can used by local Dems heading into the 2018 local elections. What is $50 million out of close to $10 bil.   This was the mother of all storms and Gov. Abbott turned his back on us when we needed it the most. Never forget. Beat the drum.

How does the local GOP respond?  DACA. Trump. Now, DROP DEAD. Beat the drums, Dems!

In 1980, we were 93-70. In 1986, 96-66. In 1998, 102-60. In 1999, 97-65. In 2001, 93-69. In 2004, 92-70. Today, 99-60.

That’s 7 seasons of 90 plus wins.

We are playing terrific baseball. So is Cleveland.   We have 3 left.

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Flood Pools

On the so-called Rainy Day Fund, here is from today’s Chron E-Board take:

By the way, this isn’t some partisan fight. Even Steve Radack, a conservative Republican Harris County commissioner, believes the governor must not wait until 2019 for legislative action. “I think it’s a terrible mistake,” Radack told the editorial board Wednesday. “There should be a special session.” The commissioner added that no area provides more sales tax revenue to the state than Harris County – $5.5 billion – and it’s time for Austin to send those funds back down Highway 290.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Abbott-must-act-and-now-is-the-time-12235954.php.

Gov. Greg Abbott is clueless for sure.

I have to hand it to the Chron’s outstanding coverage of Harvey. They are putting out a lot of great info. Yesterday, sadly, I learned about flood pools, yes, flood pools. Here is from an article that came out yesterday:

Hong Soule and her husband Charles bought their two-story house in Cinco Ranch Equestrian Village for its views of George Bush Park.

Soule, a native of Shanghai, gazed at that vast green space and saw fresh air, playgrounds, soccer fields and a dog park. She didn’t realize this bucolic setting was part of a reservoir – a lake bottom just waiting to fill. It took Hurricane Harvey to make that clear.

During the storm, Soule and her three children were stranded by rising floodwaters in their neighborhood, where people were taken to safety in military trucks.

Soule was among 31,000 property owners in Harris and Fort Bend counties who learned during Harvey’s mass evacuations that their homes lie in what the federal government considers emergency lake beds behind the Barker and Addicks dams. Engineers call them “flood pools.”

And this:

Fort Bend County officials began adding small-print warnings about reservoir flood pools to subdivision maps beginning in 1994. But few home buyers consult or even know about the maps, known as plats. Harris County, which has far more properties at risk from the flood pools, never added warnings to its subdivision maps.

“We had no idea – we were not told,” Soule said. “Why did they build a house here if they knew it was inside a flood pool? If we would have known, we would not have purchased this house.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Many-homeowners-unaware-they-lived-in-reservoir-12231188.php?cmpid=gsa-chron-result.

Wow! Commentary really hopes we act on these lessons.

Commentary received the following yesterday:

To All Ballplayer Everywhere….Take a Knee

Take a little trip to Valley Forge in January. If you don’t know where that is, just Google it from the sidelines. Hold a musket ball in your fingers and imagine it piercing your flesh and breaking a bone or two. There won’t be a doctor or trainer to assist you until after the battle, so just wait your turn. Take your cleats and socks off to get a real experience. Then take a knee. Then, take one at the beach in Normandy where man after American man stormed the beach, even as the one in front of him was shot to pieces…the very sea stained with American blood. The only blockers most had were the dead bodies in front of them, riddled with bullets from enemy fire. Take a knee in the sweat soaked jungles of Vietnam. from Khe Sanh to Saigon… Anywhere will do. REAL Americans died in all those jungles. There was no playbook that told them what was next, but they knew what flag they represented. When they came home, they were protested as well..and spit on for reasons only cowards know. Take another knee in the blood drenched sands of Fallujah in 110 degree heat.. Wear your Kevlar helmet and battle dress… Your number won’t be printed on it unless your number is up! You’ll need to stay hydrated but there won’t be anyone to squirt Gatorade into your mouth. You’re on your own. There’s a lot of places to take a knee. Real Americans have given their lives all over the world. When you use the banner under which they fought as a source for your displeasure, you dishonor the memories of those who bled for the very freedoms you have. That’s what the red stripes mean. It represents the blood of those who spilled a sea of it defending your liberty. While you’re on your knee, pray for those that came before you, not on a manicured lawn striped and printed with numbers to announce every inch of ground taken….but on nameless hills and bloodied beaches and sweltering forests and bitter cold mountains…every inch marked by an American life lost serving that flag you protest. No cheerleaders, no announcers, no coaches, no fans…just American men and women…delivering the real fight against those who chose to harm us…blazing a path so you would have the right to “take a knee.” You haven’t an inkling what it took to get you where you are; but your “protest” is duly noted. Not only is it disgraceful to a nation of real heroes, it serves the purpose of pointing to your ingratitude for those who chose to defend you under that banner that will still wave long after your jersey is issued to another… If you really feel the need to take a knee, come with me to church on Sunday and we’ll both kneel before Almighty God. We’ll thank Him for preserving this country for as long as He has. We’ll beg forgiveness for our ingratitude for all He has provided us. We’ll appeal to Him for understanding and wisdom. We’ll pray for liberty and justice for all….because He is the one who provides those things. And there will be no protest. There will only be gratitude for His provision and a plea for His continued grace and mercy on the land of the free and the home of the brave. It goes like this… GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Andrew Ortiz

Commentary stands by what I said earlier.

After we swept the Ranger yesterday in Arlington, ‘Stros fans put out on Twitter that Rangers fans didn’t have to see the routs in person if the games had been moved to The Yard after Harvey hit and we requested swapping dates. There are baseball gods.

I don’t know why we will have a debate on the AL MVP. We have a 20 game lead in our division.

We are still scoreboard watching with 4 games left.

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Playing Games

First of all, let’s stop calling it a Rainy Day Fund. Gov. Greg Abbott’s actions clearly demonstrates that it is not.

Abbott says the City of H-Town has all the money we need to clean up the Harvey mess. Huh?

What is wrong with you, dude?   Here is from the Trib:

If the state taps into the Rainy Day Fund to help with recovery following Hurricane Harvey, it won’t be until the next legislative session, Gov. Greg Abbott said during a news conference Tuesday.

Abbott’s announcement comes after Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner wrote to the governor asking the state to use the $10 billion fund. Turner said without significant state help, Houston will be forced to raise property taxes for one year to bring in $50 million for recovery efforts, which would cost the owner of an average Houston house $48.

Turner said he would not have proposed the tax hike had the governor called a special session to tap into the fund.

Abbott, who has said the state has enough resources to address Harvey-related needs between now and the next legislative session, added Tuesday that the state has already granted Houston almost $100 million for debris removal and established an “accelerated reimbursement program” for recovery efforts.

Abbott said he would pay any invoice the city submits to the state within 10 days.

Turner “has all the money that he needs,” Abbott said. “He just needs to tap into it,” referring to money in Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones.

In an emailed statement Tuesday, Turner spokesman Alan Bernstein said Houston “cannot raid funds that the state has indicated cannot be raided – and which are largely for drainage projects to prevent future flooding anyway.”

Here is the entire Trib piece: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/09/26/state-will-not-use-rainy-day-fund-harvey-recovery-until-next-legislati/.

And from the Chron:

AUSTIN — Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday strongly rejected suggestions from Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and other city officials that they could avoid raising local property taxes to pay for damage from Hurricane Harvey if the state would immediately tap its reserve funds.

“In times like these, it’s important to have fiscal responsibility as opposed to financial panic,” Abbott said following an afternoon briefing on Harvey recovery efforts with FEMA officials.

Added Abbott: “The mayor seems to be using [Harvey recovery] as hostage to raise taxes.”

This fella doesn’t get it and never will. He’s playing games with the lives of folks in these parts. What a sorry arse. Commentary has said it before. This fella will go down in Texas history as one of the worse governors. He has earned it for sure. There is no other explanation. He’s playing games. What a joke!

And shame on local H-Town GOPers for standing idly by and not speaking up for your fellow H-Town residents and for your city! You are better than this and you know it.  It is time to call out your governor on behalf of your city.  Don’t allow yourself to also be part of the problem.  What a shame!

Commentary has kind of watched the ‘Megyn Kelley, Today” the past couple of days. It is no big deal. Maybe it will be, but right now it is not.

About 75 folks showed up at the HISD District 1 candidates forum last night.

The first two games of the ALDS will be played next Thursday and Friday at The Yard. Yesterday I tweeted that we would probably host Boston but who knows? Cleveland is 98-59 and we are 97-60. Who knows?

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My Anthem

We all remember or rather try to forget the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons when the ‘Stros lost over 100 games in each. How many total games did we lose in those three seasons?

When it comes to the “The Star-Spangled Banner”, Commentary takes a back seat to no one. When my brother and I were little kids, when it was played, we stopped what we were doing and faced the TV and stood up.   My entire adult life, I have sung it proudly at events, mostly of the sporting variety. The don’t play it at church, at movies, at concerts, at plays, somehow it has landed at sporting events.

I sing it while most don’t – period. I sing it because it is played and to honor my country. I don’t sing it to honor any particular group of folks, or to honor any special events in our history, or to honor a particular way of living.

When Colin Kaepernick first took the knee last year, the last thing on my mind was that he was dissing the military or first responders. He said he was protesting police brutality, racial oppression, and the criminal justice system. In my book, being against police brutality is not being anti-police.

If he wants to take a knee and protest during the national anthem, that is his right.   Commentary didn’t know there were designated times when and when not to protest. I can’t find that in the Constitution.

With that in mind, it is kind of hard to argue with Bob Costas. Here is from yesterday from a sports magazine website:

NBC Sports broadcaster Bob Costas was a guest on CNN’s “New Day” Monday, to share his thoughts on Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about NFL players.

Costas was asked if NFL players were disrespecting the military and first responders by kneeling during the national anthem.

He delivered a powerful response, saying sports, patriotism and the flag have become so conflated that other gestures are excluded or criticized as unpatriotic.

“This is no disrespect to the military,” said Costas. “Martin Luther King was a patriot. Susan B. Anthony was a patriot. Dissidents are patriots. School teachers and social workers are patriots.”

Costas says he believes patriotism has been associated with the military only, but argues that patriotism is about more than just our brave soldiers.

“Patriotism comes in many forms and what has happened is that it’s been conflated with a bumper sticker-style kind of flag-waving and with the military only, so that people cannot see that in his own way Colin Kaepernick, however imperfectly, is doing a patriotic thing. And so too are some of these other players.”

Hard to argue and add the Cowboys and their owner to the list of knee takers.

It is my anthem too, you know.

Commentary is thinking that Trump and a lot of his supporters probably have never heard of Francis Scott Key.

Commentary watched the H-Town City Council public hearing last night on the proposed property tax increase.   Some folks opposed, some supported, some said use TIRZ money, and some said get the state to spend some bucks from the Rainy Day Fund. I still have not heard why we can’t spend money from the Rainy Day Fund. What else would you expect from Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick?

How about spending some of that TIRZ money?

From Bill King today:

Two Flood Bills Died in Committee in Legislature this Session 

Two bills were introduced in the last Legislative session to study flooding in the Houston region.  Both died in committee.  

SB1269 was authored by State Senator Boris Miles and co-sponsored by Senators John Whitmire and Sylvia Garcia.  The bill would have authorized $1.5 million to establish and fund a task force to complete a “comprehensive flood control infrastructure study.”  Not exactly bold leadership, but to the Senate’s credit SB1269 was approved unanimously.  

But it never saw the light of day in the House.  When it was received by the House from the Senate it was referred to the Natural Resources Committee.  There is no one from the Houston region on that committee.  No member of the Houston delegation picked up the bill.  The committee held about a five-minute perfunctory hearing.  Representative Armando Walle appears to have been the only Houston area representative to speak in favor of the bill.  The bill was “left pending” in the committee at the end of the session.

Senator Larry Taylor introduced SB2265, which would have restructured an existing entity to give it the power to begin constructing a coastal spine system to protect the region from storm surges.  But the bill did not authorize any funds and was contingent on the federal government funding the entire project.  It, too, was approved by the Senate unanimously.  

In the House, SB2265 was referred to the Special Purpose Districts Committee, which is chaired by Representative Jim Murphy.  Representative Wayne Faircloth, from Galveston, filed a companion bill, HB4308.  There are notations that these bills were heard briefly in committee, but both were also left pending at the end of the session.  

These bills were utterly inadequate compared to the challenges that our region faces from flooding.  They really called for nothing more than additional studies.  To paraphrase Mark Twain, there has been so much research on this subject “it is probable that if they continue we shall soon know nothing at all about it.”   

But the fact that our Legislature could not even pass these watered-down (excuse the pun) measures is pathetic.  Of course, the Legislature had time to argue about all manner of nonsense in this session, but when it came to actually doing something about one of the most persistent threats to our region, they took a powder.

The threat of large scale flooding from either a storm surge or massive rain events, such as what we just experienced, cannot be effectively addressed solely at the local level.  The scope of these events exceeds the jurisdictional limits of any single municipality or county.  While there is certainly a role for local entities, we also need a regional approach.  

Ideally, Governor Abbott should call a special session to deal with this problem.  At a minimum, we need a robust interim study so the Legislature is prepared to immediately take action on flooding in our region when the Legislature meets again in 2019.   

The time for shuffling our feet and thinking about maybe studying this problem is over.  Now is the time for action.

Mike Snyder has a column on the Pasadena mayor today and here is how it starts:

Unity is a worthy goal for any leader, but it can’t be achieved by pretending divisions don’t exist.

Pasadena Mayor Jeff Wagner seems to understand this.

“Some of our neighborhoods really felt that they had been ignored for years,” Wagner said during an interview in his office Monday, describing feedback he got from voters during his campaign last spring. “I stressed that if I became mayor, Pasadena was Pasadena to me. … What I meant was, we’re all in it together.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/greater-houston/article/New-Pasadena-mayor-seeks-to-unify-divided-city-12227627.php?utm_campaign=btfpm.

I have not met this mayor but I like him. I am rooting for him.

Welcome to H-Town Erica Grieder!

This from twitter yesterday:

Andrea Zelinski‏ @andreazelinski

It’s official: @EricaGrieder is joining the @HoustonChron staff as a political columnist. She starts next month and I. Can’t. Wait. #txlege

It is good to have the Chron name a political columnist. Way to go Chron!

Don’t forget about this tonight:

District I Candidate Forum – Tuesday, September 26 at 6:00pm at Hogg M.S.

District I Candidate Forum Tuesday, September 26 from 6:00pm- 8:00pm Hogg M.S. Auditorium, 1100 Merrill Street, Houston, TX 77009 Neighbors, please make plans to attend this public event, sponsored by the Hogg Middle School PTA, Travis Elementary PTA, Arabic Immersion Magnet School PTO, and Heights High School PTO. All District I Trustee candidates have been invited to participate and will discuss important issues. It will also give candidates an opportunity to hear the concerns of constituents; and ultimately, it will help all voters make an informed decision when casting their ballots on November 7th.

Those three seasons the ‘Stros lost a total of 324 games. 106 in 2011, 107 in 2012 and 111 in 2013.

In 2014, we were 70-92.

In 2015, we were 86-76 and went to the ALDS.

Last season, we were 84-78.

Today, we are 96-60 with 6 left and closing in on securing a home field advantage in the ALDS.

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The Knee Won

On a play of words, a knee reacting to the jerk.

Donald Trump decided to take on NFL players who take a knee during the playing of the national anthem and got major blowback.

The greatest basketball player on the planet called him a “bum.”

His buddy who owns the Super Bowl champs said he was “disappointed” in what Trump said.

The owner of the Texans who is a major GOP donor called Trump’s words “divisive and counterproductive.”

The NFL Commissioner condemned Trump’s remarks.

While just a few were taking the knee a week ago, quite a few more joined in yesterday and a few hundred more locked arms in support.

I am thinking the knee won.

I am ready to take it to the next level to like why don’t more folks sing the national anthem? In Commentary’s section at The Yard, Commentary is the only one who sings it. Come on! They even put the words up for you on El Grande.

What’s up with that?

Meanwhile, has anyone told Trump what is going on in Puerto Rico?

I am thinking the H-Town Mayor needs to talk to some of his help on the raising of taxes thing.  If you are going to talk about raising our taxes, why don’t you get specific on where the money is going to go. Here is from the Trib:

“The governor, lieutenant governor, legislative leaders need to say, ‘Let’s do a one-cent sales tax for the next three years,'” (HPD Police Chief Art) Acevedo said. “That’s more of a user tax. People that really can’t afford it aren’t going to spend it anyway. I don’t think anybody will go bankrupt over one cent.”


At a panel on flooding earlier Saturday, Houston’s newly appointed flood czar, Stephen Costello, said the city was facing unprecedented financial needs for Hurricane Harvey recovery and that a lot of that money is going to have to come from local governments. But it’s still unclear how local governments are going to cover funding shortfalls outside of federal recovery money, he said.

Costello said the public will need to “get over” a “no new taxes” mentality in order to fund flood mitigation infrastructure projects for the future.  

Here is the read: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/09/23/houston-police-chief-calls-state-leaders-help-rebuilding-post-harvey/.

They are not being helpful or productive if you ask Commentary. Specifics, please?

Put Commentary in the category that we don’t need a major Dem candidate to run for governor here in the Lone Star State. Here is from Burkablog:

Texas political reporters are chasing congressman Joaquin Castro with a single question: Will he challenge Governor Greg Abbott’s re-election? Castro, seemingly enjoying the attention, coquettishly says no without actually offering a definitive answer. As Castro demurs, other names pop up as potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates: Castro’s brother, Julián; University of Texas Chancellor Bill McRaven; Hill+Knowlton Strategies Chairman Jack Martin; and Dallas businessman Mark Cuban. Rumor upon rumor. But with the December 11 candidate filing deadline growing closer every day, the Democrats still have no challenger for Abbott.

The reason for that is fairly simple. A poll circulating among the state’s Democratic leadership—which I was given on the agreement that I would not identify its source, but I have confirmed the information with additional Democratic operatives—shows Abbott is currently the most popular politician in Texas, with less than 30 percent of the state’s voters viewing him unfavorably. If the election had been held when the poll was conducted this summer among 1,000 registered Texans likely to vote in 2016, Abbott would have received 49 percent of the vote, and a Democrat to be named later would have scored 38 percent. That’s about the same percentage of the vote Democrat Wendy Davis received in her 2014 loss to Abbott. The poll also notes that Abbott’s name identification among voters was 91 percent. Castro’s was 44 percent. It was not a general survey of voters, because it oversampled Hispanics and voters in some targeted state House districts. About 37 percent of the respondents were Democrats, 19 percent independents, and 44 percent Republicans.

Here is all of the read: https://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/democratic-polling-shows-abbott-is-almost-unbeatable/.

This is happening tomorrow in Commentary’s ‘hood:

District I Candidate Forum – Tuesday, September 26 at 6:00pm at Hogg M.S.

District I Candidate Forum Tuesday, September 26 from 6:00pm- 8:00pm Hogg M.S. Auditorium, 1100 Merrill Street, Houston, TX 77009 Neighbors, please make plans to attend this public event, sponsored by the Hogg Middle School PTA, Travis Elementary PTA, Arabic Immersion Magnet School PTO, and Heights High School PTO. All District I Trustee candidates have been invited to participate and will discuss important issues. It will also give candidates an opportunity to hear the concerns of constituents; and ultimately, it will help all voters make an informed decision when casting their ballots on November 7th.

It is looking more like we are shooting for the number 2 spot in the AL best record department.   We should have won last night and now play our final 7 in Arlington and Boston.


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Fall Friday

Fall begins today. I wonder if they will open the roof at The Yard this evening.

I can’t decide if it is funny or scary.  The name calling with the North Korea leader.

The Houston GLBT Political Caucus will hold a forum this evening at Bering Memorial.

Commentary gives a thumbs-up to most government agencies on their response to Harvey during and afterwards.   Convince me why I should include the Houston Housing Authority on this list. Here is from the Chron: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Elderly-Houston-residents-lambaste-city-for-12219457.php.

Reminds me of Brownie doing a hekuva job.

At least our leadership now knows that we are going to get hit hard again with a storm and they are finally getting serious about safety, mitigation, coastal barriers, regulations, reservoirs and development efforts to name a few. Everything needs to be on the table.

I try to take my Dad oysters once a week. He loves them with some crackers, red sauce and a cold one. Here is from the Chron:

Oyster lovers will shell out more for the marine delicacy this fall, as freshwater runoff from Hurricane Harvey’s historic floods killed virtually all of the bivalves in the prolific seabeds of Galveston Bay.

The storm was the latest setback to a multimillion-dollar commercial fishing and seafood-processing industry that appeared poised to finally rebound from floods, including two devastating tropical weather systems, and an extended drought in less than a decade. Shrimpers, crabbers and other fishermen who work the bay also will feel an impact.

But it’s most lethal in the case of the oysters, as Harvey-spawned rains and rainwater runoff drove down the bay’s salinity to fatal levels. Salinity levels of 12 to 30 parts per thousand are ideal for a healthy oyster harvest in Galveston Bay, which researchers say is the nation’s most bountiful. Yet preliminary tests performed by commercial fishers on Tuesday revealed salinity levels at 0 to 5 parts per thousand – and excessive water continues to drain into the bay.

Industry leaders fear no more than 10 percent of oysters in the bay prior to the storm have survived. It’s possible, they said, that the entire crop is lost.

“That much freshwater in the bay has taken its toll on us,” said Mark Lewis, sales representative for wholesaler, Jeri’s Seafood. “There’s nothing in Texas to buy.”

Wholesale and retail prices already have risen by 15 to 20 percent, according to one estimate. Given the expected length of the recovery and the added expense of shipping in oysters from other parts of the country, further price spikes are expected.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/retail/article/Harvey-decimated-Galveston-Bay-s-oyster-population-12218312.php?utm_campaign=btfpm.

Double sigh!

Speaking of my Dad, my niece Rachel is texting us that he is getting a lot of love at Hobby this morning as he prepares to board the Honor Flight – nice.

We only have three more regular season homies including tomorrow’s nooner and Sunday evening’s ESPNer. We lost last night and lost ground to Cleveland. Ten games left to play.


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Lacking Compassion

Commentary is thinking the leadership over at the Houston Housing Authority didn’t read the memo about showing compassion for folks after Harvey arrived. A few days ago, they informed a number of seniors that they had five days to pack their bags after the first floor was flooded at their high rise over near Memorial Drive. It caused a bit of a ruckus at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Now check out this from the Chron’s Rebecca Elliott:

Residents of at least one Houston public housing complex have been asked to pay September rent for flooded units deemed uninhabitable, even as Mayor Sylvester Turner has publicly condemned private landlords for similar practices.

Half a dozen tenants of Clayton Homes, which is owned by the Houston Housing Authority, said property management asked them about rent earlier this month, even though Hurricane Harvey had rendered their units unlivable. Most paid after being told they otherwise would lose their spot at the complex, one of the city’s few subsidized developments.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Housing-authority-charges-tenants-rent-for-12214626.php.

Tone deaf if you ask Commentary. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

When Ike hit back in 2008, the big issue afterwards was restoring power to neighborhoods. I remember some elected officials holding a press conference saying their neighborhoods were being overlooked. They kind of looked silly in light of the fact that just about everyone got clobbered because Ike didn’t discriminate.

Here is from the Chron on yesterday’s City Council meeting:

City Council members under pressure from constituents to remove the thousands of piles of Hurricane Harvey wreckage on Houston curbs spent Wednesday morning shouting over each other about the topic before delaying a proposal Mayor Sylvester Turner said is needed to meet the city’s goal of trucking 150,000 cubic yards of that debris to landfills each day.

Houston had removed a total of 400,000 cubic yards of debris by Tuesday night, the mayor said, noting the ongoing struggle to draw enough trucks into service. The difficulty is partly because the region is competing with a similar cleanup in Florida and partly because the debris removal rate the city had received through competitive bidding before Harvey proved too low to attract subcontractors.


“There’s a lot of debris everywhere. I know people want it up right now,” Turner said. Still, he said the process may be slower than desired because some truckers have sought even higher rates. “I’m not going to be aggressive in going beyond the FEMA-approved rate. I’m not going to assume an added amount more beyond that when we don’t know where those dollars are going to come from.”

Against a backdrop of intense constituent interest, the discussion quickly went sideways.

Turner already was miffed at questions from Councilmen Jerry Davis and Michael Kubosh about what value prime contractor DRC was providing for its fee when Councilman Larry Green chimed in, seeking information about minority contracting and when trucks were slated to visit neighborhoods in his southwest Houston district.

When Turner declined to answer his queries, Green responded by tagging the item, forcing a one-week delay.

The mayor accused Green of slowing the debris removal process and even suggested the other council members were acting irresponsibly by not voting to override Green’s tag – one of the few powers granted to council members in Houston’s strong-mayor system.

“No one is in a position right now to provide that specificity. There’s debris all over the city in large amounts,” Turner said. “Everybody wants it out of their districts. I got that. But it’s citywide, not just district-specific.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Mayor-council-clash-over-Harvey-debris-removal-12216212.php.

I really don’t think shouting solves things. There is lot of debris out there. I know it is difficult for an elected official to be patient when they see their neighborhoods engulfed in debris, but what else can they do. Just like in Ike, Harvey clobbered a whole lot of folks and didn’t discriminate.

This guy insists on being right up there on the liars list. Here is from Politico:

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he did not “knowingly” lie to the American people, adding that President Donald Trump has never asked him to lie.

In an interview broadcast Thursday on “Good Morning America,” his first one since appearing at the Emmy Awards on Sunday, Spicer said he doesn’t think he’s lied to the American people.

We won last night, so did Cleveland, so did Boston.


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Dad’s Honor Flight

Let me give a shout out to my niece Rachel for taking the lead in getting her Grandpa (My Dad) on the Honor Flight to D.C. this weekend. My Dad is understandably excited about the trip. Here is from the Honor Flight website:

Our Mission: To transport America’s Veterans to Washington, DC to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends.

Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.

Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation—and as a culturally diverse, free society. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day. Our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.

Here is the bio page for my Dad:

Tony Campos

Private First Class, Army of the United States. Campos served his country in World War II from 1943 – 1945.

Campos was born in Baytown, Texas on August 21, 1923.

He was drafted and June 23, 1943 was his date of entry into active service.   He trained at Camp Mackall, North Carolina and Fort Benning, Georgia.

He was a Machine Gunner, Heavy. Was with the 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion in combat in Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany. He fired a 50c:1 machine gun to protect artillery positions. He made one combat jump. Campos was most proud of fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. 

He was discharged on October 29, 1945. He returned home and married Alicia Torres in September of 1946. They were married for over 70 years with Alicia passing this past June. They had four children, nine grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

Campos was a graduate of Baylor University, had a career in public education, and devoted much of his time to the political participation process and civic endeavors including playing a key role in organizing the League of United Latin American Citizens’ (LULAC) Little School of the 400, a program created in Texas in 1957 that taught Spanish-speaking children 400 English words before they entered first grade.

This stuff ain’t made up folks. The military details are from his Discharge and Separation Qualification Record documents that are framed and hanging on a wall here. The Little School of the 400 details you can easily find online.

We are all so proud of Dad.

Here is from the Chron today:

AUSTIN – One of the top Republicans leaders in the Texas Legislature is slamming the city of Houston and other local governments for trying to raise taxes on homeowners in the name of hurricane recovery.

And he’s certain the increase will provoke a response of some sort from the Legislature.

“I don’t understand this mindset,” state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican from Houston, said. “It’s callous.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Post-Harvey-tax-increases-huge-mistake-key-12213414.php?utm_campaign=btfpm.

Nope!   Not spending the Rainy Day Fund is callous.

Lisa Falkenberg lays out the facts here on the Texas State Capitol confederate plaque: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Confederates-Texans-own-words-reveal-plaque-s-12213011.php.

Of course, the facts have never mattered to Johnny Reb.

I was at a Dem meeting yesterday and saw the candidate for Harris County Judge. Here is from her website:

Lina Hidalgo was raised in an immigrant family. She knows first-hand the sacrifices hard working Texans make every day to pave a better life for their families. Lina was born in Colombia, when the drug war still raged and everyone knew someone who had been kidnapped. Her parents had two goals: to make sure she had a good education and to get the family to a safer place. Lina grew up in Peru and Mexico, where her parents were offered job opportunities, before emigrating to America in 2005. Lina is a proud product of Texas public schools and, as her parents dreamed, was the first in her family to attend college in the U.S. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in political science the same year she became a U.S. citizen. Since arriving in Texas, Lina has been committed to giving back.

Lina has dedicated hundreds of hours to our County’s most vulnerable communities—from her time at the Texas Civil Rights Project to serving as a Spanish-English medical interpreter at the Texas Medical Center and supporting immigrants in search of lost loved ones. Over the past few years and while pursuing a joint degree in law and public policy at NYU and Harvard, Lina conducted research on criminal justice policies and coordinated with advocacy groups and governments to push for criminal justice reform. Before that, Lina worked throughout Southeast Asia to promote transparency and accountability by supporting journalists, bloggers and artists. She helped create and fund a program to bring Stanford students to public policy positions and has served the immigrant and incarcerated communities at any opportunity and in various states.

Lina Hidalgo, 2018 candidate for Harris County Judge.

Here is her website: http://www.linahidalgo.com/.


The meeting was actually a Dem forum for HISD candidates. At Dem events these days the judicial candidates are there getting petitions signed. During the forum I was listening to the questions and answers and a judicial candidate shoved a petitions clipboard in front of my face – bad form.

After the event I went to The Yard and ended up snagging a foul ball.

We won last night but didn’t make up ground on Cleveland.

I wonder if Hunker Down knows that 44 years ago today, the Astrodome hosted “The Battle of the Sexes.”



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Playoff City

I only watched the end of the Emmys so I didn’t get to see that Spicer fella. The fella has zilch credibility. He got paid to lie for a liar. If Colbert, CBS, and the Emmys want to pay a liar’s liar to be on TV, well, that is their money. I am not going to get worked up over a liar’s liar. I got better things to do like worry about the MLB Playoffs and which 25 ‘Stros will be on the playoff roster.

Same goes for the “Today” show on NBC. If they want to have a liar like Bill O’Reilly on like they did this morning, have at it.

BTW: Here is a Chron story on the playoff roster here: http://www.chron.com/sports/astros/article/Predicting-the-Astros-25-man-playoff-roster-ALDS-12207323.php#photo-14128592.

The Chron’s David Barron has a nice story on the Harris County Houston Sports Authority celebrating twenty years of existence here: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/article/Sports-authority-s-mission-has-evolved-in-last-20-12207653.php.

It was 21 years ago that Harris County voters approved the mechanism and funding for the baseball and football cribs. The legislature created the Sports Authority the next year. A few years later voters approve the basketball crib. Say what you want about the funding but the voters approved and I think Downtown H-Town has become a way much better place to visit.

This was the headline of a Chron tweet and online story yesterday:

Astros sell out of playoff tickets in two minutes

That is kind of not true. The tickets were made available yesterday to the general public at 12 noon and were gone in two minutes. For the three previous hours, 9 am to 11:59 am, they were available to current season ticket holders. Some season ticket holders I know had access to playoff tickets last week. Got it?

H-Town has over two weeks to get ready for Game One of the ALDS. Excitement is starting to build. Right now it looks like we will be hosting the Red Sox in the first game on Thursday, October 5. You have to figure since we are playing the Red Sox, we might get the evening time slot – maybe.

Tags has a piece on the pitching rotation right now here: http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article/254947112/astros-inbox-how-will-playoff-rotation-look/.

The playoffs start in 16 days.

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AL West Champs

Commentary has not said much about the ESPN woman who called Donald Trump a white supremacist. This is the same Trump who questioned the legitimacy of our first African American president so that is all I am going to say.

If you read anything this past weekend, I hope it was the front page story in the Chron yesterday on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last minute decision to release water from the reservoirs. Heart breaking, sad, you name it. How can this happen? This is a must read here: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/local/article/Residents-blast-Army-Corps-of-Engineers-for-12204736.php.

A great take from Bill King today:

Time to Tap Rainy Day Fund for Houston Flood Projects

The State of Texas prudently maintains a “Rainy Day” fund.  Currently the fund balance is just over $10 billion.  The technical name for the fund is the Economic Stabilization Fund.  Either of its monikers strongly suggest that it should be tapped at this time to jump start critical flood control projects in the Houston region.  

Our region is subject to two types of flood risks.  

The first is a storm surge from a hurricane.  A storm surge from a “Scenario 7” storm, a Category 4 or larger that makes landfall near Freeport, is an existential threat to our region.  Such a storm would flood all of Galveston County, about half of Brazoria County and about 20% of Harris County.  It would kill thousands, cause billions in property damages and inestimable ecological damage as the surge overruns sites with decades of industrial pollution.  It would also wreak havoc on the State and national economy as a large percentage of the refining and petrochemical capacity would be offline for months.  

The second risk is from massive rain events which outstrip our drainage system’s ability to move the rainwater to the Bay.  Of course, the recent Harvey flooding was an extreme example of such an event.  These events are occurring more frequently because we are getting more rain than we have in the past and because we poured concrete and asphalt over soil that used to soak up some of that rainfall without making adequate provision for the resulting increased runoff.

The good news is that there are solutions to both problems.  The bad news is that the solutions are expensive. . . . and I mean really expensive.  

The solution to storm surge flooding is a coastal barrier, as originally conceived by Texas A&M Galveston’s Bill Merrill, and subsequently refined by input from a variety of stakeholders.  The cost is $10-15 billion.   

The solution to Harvey-type flooding is more multifaceted and probably still requires some additional study.  But it clearly must include shoring up the Barker and Addicks reservoirs, adding massive amounts of additional detention, tightening up detention regulations and building codes, and potentially building a third reservoir.  The costs for these measures is less certain but could easily be another $5 billion.   

I am not suggesting we should drain the Rainy Day fund to build these projects.  Most of the tab will have to be picked up by the Federal government.  But the Federal government gives preference to projects where local and State governments are willing to pick up a share of the costs.  If our State leadership goes to the Feds with a commitment to use some of the Rainy Day fund, say $2 billion, we will stand a much better chance of getting Federal funding.

If we fail to address these risks there will be long-term, adverse economic consequences for our region, the State and indeed the entire nation.  The Houston region accounts for almost 30% of the State’s total GDP.  As goes Houston so goes the State.  

After a week of nonstop national news coverage about how vulnerable Houston is to flooding, what corporation is going to relocate here?  Would you schedule a convention in Houston during hurricane season?  How many companies are going to build a new plant in a place where it could be inundated by a 25-foot storm surge?   

Now is the time for bold leadership, not Republican primary posturing.  There is nothing conservative about failing to make investments that we know are needed to avoid future losses.  In fact, it is grossly irresponsible not to do so.

A hundred years from now no one is going to remember anything about bathroom bills or even know what that the hell a sanctuary city was.  But, as we remember the construction of the Galveston Seawall over a century after it was built, our grandchildren will remember whether we, as a generation, stepped up and ended the threat of devastating flooding to our region and the State’s largest economic engine.

Nice job

I guess H-Town needed this. Commentary is talking about the ‘Stros being the AL West Champs and playoff bound.   After getting thumped pretty good by Harvey we have something we can root, root, root for.

Commentary had other commitments yesterday, so I wasn’t able to attend the game. I did catch the last couple innings and the post-game celebration on the flat screen. Josh Reddick in a speedo – huh!

This is our first outright division championship since 1999 when we went 97-65 in the NL Central.   In 2001, we finished 93-69 along with San Luis but we had a better head-to-head record so we won the division champion slot in the playoffs – got it?

It is pretty cool that we get two weeks plus to prepare for the playoffs.   We are still battling Cleveland for the best record in the AL and we need to at least hold off Boston for the second best record so we can have home field advantage in the ALDS.  At Friday night’s game, I could see into the front office’s suite and they had Cleveland and Royals on their flat screen.

It was interesting to catch the confidence level of the players, Skipper, and GM. They seriously believe we are World Serious bound. I like that. If Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander do what they are supposed to do, they can be.

We have 6 homies remaining then finish the regular season with 7 roadies.

AL West Champs sounds pretty good to me.

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