Archive for September 18th, 2017

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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