Archive for September 14th, 2017


On a sad note on Jim Simmon. From the Chron:

“We are saddened at the news of the death of Jim Simmon, our former colleague,” said Chronicle Senior Editor Tony Freemantle.

“We remember him for his sharp wit, his commitment to facts and the truth, and his dedication to holding those in power accountable. He was also a very good man. Our thoughts are with his family and his many friends.”

And this:

As news of the death spread, Houstonians and current and former journalists mourned the loss. “Jim Simmon, my friend, my former editor, fellow product of 1954, fellow kayaker, an irascible blessing to Texas who could say a funny lot with a grunt and write like a Hunter S. Thompson of the Gulf Coast,” (Alan) Bernstein wrote online, “is lost to us now on a permanent basis, and, I hope, is enjoying perpetual roots music in another sphere.”

Here is the read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/article/Former-Houston-Chronicle-editor-found-dead-in-12195710.php.


I got letter from the Texas Secretary of State a couple of days ago letting me know that there will be seven constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot. Folks tend to not pay attention to these. If you have been out to The Yard the past two seasons and play the raffle where the winner gets half the prize money and the ‘Stros Foundation gets the other half that’s because a couple of years ago we voted for a constitutional amendment to allow the state’s major league pro sports teams to conduct these raffles. You’d be surprised at the number of folks – many of the most political savviest – don’t know this. Well now you know.

Just so you also know, this year’s Prop 5 deals with the issue again. This time they are adding the minor league clubs and other pro sports groups who want in on the action. Pay attention, please.

The H-Town Mayor is listening for sure. Before he has City Council vote on a tax increase, he is going to try to give us specifics. Here is from Mike Morris and the Chron:

The mayor said his staff will work over the next two to three weeks to better estimate what insurance policies will cover, what the Federal Emergency Management Agency will reimburse and what the city will be left to pay itself.

Bad move on the part of the Harris County GOP Chair for jumping the gun, not waiting for specifics, saying the County is managing the proper way, and making this a partisan issue. Bad move. I wonder if he will now oppose a Harris County tax hike. Bad move. Here again is from the Morris article:

Harris County GOP chair Paul Simpson issued a statement, accusing the city of “chronic waste and misuse of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars” and calling on council members to “reject this opportunistic Tragedy Tax.”

“Not only does the City have cash reserves to meet short-term cash flow needs, the open-ended nature of this tax hike means it would do little to solve real challenges,” Simpson said.

Instead, he said, the city should follow Harris County’s lead in managing its resources.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on Wednesday said he would support a large bond issue – perhaps upward of $1 billion – and a tax hike to pay for it to refocus the county’s flood control strategy, including the construction of a new reservoir, continued bayou widening projects and large-scale buyouts of properties that repeatedly flood.

Here is the entire Morris read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/City-plans-hearings-on-Harvey-related-property-12195951.php.

Bad move. When you make it a partisan issue over at the H-Town City Hall, you pretty much guarantee Dems will prevail. That is called counting your votes. Bad move.

Some folks were putting out yesterday’s Texas Trib piece on H-Town’s Flood Czar Stephen Costello. I was reminded by a key player that there was no mention in the Trib piece of the Rebuild H-Town fund which has been in place since 2011. H-Town voters passed the measure in 2010. How can the Rebuild H-Town fund not be mentioned in the Trib piece on flooding in H-Town? Don’t they know?

Here is the Trib piece here: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/09/13/follow-conversation-houstons-flood-czar/?utm_campaign=trib-social-buttons&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social.

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

From Steve Houston:

While FEMA and other forms of aid (no word from Governor Abbott whether the so-called “rainy day fund” will be used to cover what experts have called the “rainiest event in recorded US history”) will cover much of the city’s government losses, it won’t cover it all and in an already tight budget, the city is allowed to make an exception to the revenue cap so hopefully the hearings will allow Bill and others to get the kind of detailed information they will need to support or reject the measure. It should be noted that the average increase was stated at a little over $100, not Bill’s stated “hundreds of dollars”, but there’s some time for the Mayor to offer up specifics so there’s no need to jump the gun.

Bill’s continued attacks on Rebuild Houston also ignore the great many projects the program has accomplished but one need only go to the dedicated website and see what has been done, semantic games aside, a lot has been done that includes flood projects but in a pay as you go program, you’re not going to fund projects like Bill’s pet project, the Ike Dike, or revamp infrastructure that is wildly out of date and collapsing and everyone knows it. Might some of the funding going to buying out homes that repeatedly flood, much like the county plan, or on addressing some of the health concerns arising from the flooding? That seems likely but let’s wait before we join in to look like douches who try to capitalize on storms that made so many miserable. On a related note, contrary to popular opinion, most houses did not flood nor sustain any appreciable damage from Harvey, this needing to be said given the semantic games some politicians are playing.

On a last note, it’s surprising that neither Marc nor Bill made mention of Ed Emmett’s recent speech suggesting the county’s need to issue bonds, a minimum of a billion dollar’s worth at that, to address some of these concerns, as Bill has pointed out in the past, that form of financing can double the true costs, frankly, I’d rather pay an extra $118 now over issuing bonds but Ed is the leading GOP official for the county and has a better handle on these matters than all the Monday morning quarterbacks so I’m sure he’ll elaborate on specifics too when given a chance. Area flood control projects, including the billions championed by Bill for surge protection, are not going to come cheap, nor should we expect the feds to pay for it any more than the governor has made it a priority so get ready for more expenses.

On the ‘Stros: Unless Cleveland cools down, we need to aim for home field advantage in the ALDS and make sure the last four games at Fenway are meaningless. What else can I say?

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