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Archive for October, 2017

Never Mind?

Have we ever been up 2 games to 1 in a 7 game LCS?

What’s going on here? Why the change?   Commentary thought everything was set. Here is the Chron headline online on a story by Mike Morris:

Turner seeks to keep current property tax rate despite rev cap

Here is how the story starts:

Mayor Sylvester Turner plans to ask city council on Wednesday to sidestep the voter-imposed revenue cap by approving the same property tax rate as last year.

According to City Controller Chris Brown, the city would need to cut the property tax rate by about one fifth of one cent to comply with the revenue cap. The difference would mean about $7 next year to the average Houston homeowner, but the potential political damage to Turner could be much more.

Council must set the tax rate at its Wednesday meeting, but no specific rate was listed on the council agenda and no explanatory backup material was provided to council members until Monday night. Several council members, informed of Brown’s Monday afternoon memo outlining the mayor’s plan, responded with an incredulous, “What?”

The information angered the mayor’s critics and confused his allies on the council a week before voters begin heading to the polls to consider a crucial $1 billion bond that would cement Turner’s landmark pension reforms and another $495 million in city improvement bonds.

To comply with the revenue cap, Brown said, the council would need to set the tax rate at 58.421 cents per $100 of assessed value, not leave it at last year’s 58.642 cents. The difference to the city general fund, he estimated, is $7.9 million.

“I’d love to think of it as a misunderstanding,” Councilman David Robinson said. “Conspicuously on the agenda today it was not disclosed, so it certainly raised a lot of questions. Call it, what – $8 million? It sounds like a very small amount to have a standoff about.”

Turner had proposed a temporary 9 percent property tax rate hike to cover Hurricane Harvey-related costs, then cut that proposal in half when the federal government agreed to cover a larger share of expenses. He then scrapped it entirely late last month after Gov. Greg Abbott provided $50 million in state disaster funds.

The city would “continue to operate under the rev cap,” the mayor said at the time, referring to the 13-year-old, voter-imposed rule that limits what the city can collect in property taxes. Rising property values have forced City Council to cut the tax rate every year since 2014 to avoid collecting more revenue than the cap allows.

The mayor’s proposed rate increase was possible because Harvey placed the city under a federal disaster declaration, and would by law last only one year. Turner’s spokesman Alan Bernstein said Monday afternoon that the mayor’s proposal to leave the rate flat did not rely on invoking the disaster declaration language, but hours later acknowledged that clause is the basis for keeping the same rate.

“The mayor clearly said at this meeting, the press conference with the governor and everybody, ‘We are not going to be invoking the disaster clause,'” Brown said late Monday. “So, now they’re saying they’re going to do it. OK, they can do that. My opposition is not if they do it or don’t, my opposition is that they do it and nobody knows about it.”

Here is the entire Morris read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Turner-seeks-to-keep-current-property-tax-rate-12282925.php.

I guess H-Town City Hall has an explanation but it is still going to look bad. Do they really need this headache? They are just letting folks call them flip floppers, fibbers, going back on your word – you get the picture. They made a big deal about staying on course when Gov. Greg Abbott handed over the $50 million check.   Like I said. I hope they have an explanation because right now it looks like it ain’t worth it.

The Chron E-Board is making some serious accusations against the HISD Superintendent today on the suspension of the Furr High School principal. Here is part of today’s E-Board take:

After an outcry from students and parents, Houston ISD Superintendent Richard Carranza announced that investigators are now looking into a second set of “pretty serious” misconduct allegations.

In all likelihood, the district is combing through (Bertie) Simmons’ emails and interviewing teachers and others searching for an impropriety. “Show me the man, and I’ll find you the crime” is a tactic used in Stalinist Russia. All HISD employees must now be watching their backs.

There’s no other way to put this. This decision smells of political meddling. And this is the wrong time for the board of trustees to be engaged in that.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Furr-flap-12282434.php?utm_campaign=btfpm.

“Stalinist Russia!” Pretty strong words if you ask me. I don’t know if I would say that or go there.

This is what the H-Town region leaders, mostly past, got wrong. Sprawl to the wall.   Commentary is talking about highways and freeways over a genuine mass transit system. Now it looks like it could impact the Amazon deal. Here is from the Chron:

The nationwide bidding war for Amazon’s second headquarters has Houston leaders pitching the city as a diverse and dynamic marketplace, one with big industrial players and an emerging tech sector – the perfect place to plant seeds for new technological breakthroughs.

But a new report says Houston would rank low on Amazon’s wish list. The city came in at No. 52 among the major U.S. metro areas vying for the Seattle tech giant’s $5 billion campus, according to an analysis by economics research firm Moody’s Analytics, which examined the various things Amazon wants in a new hometown.

Houston is just one in the scores of U.S. cities cobbling together rival proposals to lure Amazon’s 50,000 new employees and a sprawling 8-million-square-foot development. On the list of places Amazon should go, Austin ranked No. 1, with its rapid job growth, crop of technology companies and the promise of cushy Texas incentive packages. Dallas was No. 37.

But Houston ranked low in two key areas that Amazon wants – transportation and quality of life. Census data compiled by Moody’s Analytics showed only 2 percent of the local population takes public transportation to work. Only 1 percent walk to work.

Compare that to Philadelphia, where almost a quarter of the workforce uses the mass transit system, and 7 percent walk.

“Amazon doesn’t want to build a place with 50,000 parking spots in it,” said Adam Ozimek, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics. “That, possibly more than anything else, is going to rule out Houston. Amazon looks at how people get to work. It’s a big ask.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/article/Houston-ranks-No-52-12281540.php.

That “50,000 parking spots” phrase is a deal killer.

That’s what we get when our unwritten policy has been moving cars and not people and we don’t even do a good job moving cars. When will we ever learn?

Commentary attended the Children at Risk HISD Board of Trustees Candidate Debate yesterday evening at Lamar High School.   One of the candidates criticized the amount of money some candidates had raised. Of course, this candidate had only reported raising like a little over $1,000. How does he think candidates are supposed to communicate with voters? Mail isn’t cheap.

Maybe about 125 folks in all showed up. It ended at about the bottom of the first inning.

In the 2005 NLCS, the ‘Stros were up 2-1 after 3 games.

Last night’s loss was ugly. There is no other way to describe the drubbing.

Game 4 is at 4 pm today.

Game 5 is at 4 pm tomorrow.

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Early Vote Next Week

Early Voting in Person starts next Monday here locally. We have state constitutional amendments, H-Town city bonds, and HISD and HCC trustee races.   Your guess is as good as anyone’s as to who will turn out to vote.

Sone folks say only the “hard core” voters will show up to vote. What is a hard core voter? Someone like Commentary who has not missed an election in like forever? Someone who hasn’t missed an election in the past 10 years? 5 years?

Who even knows that there is an election? Folks who read the Chron? Folks who read their campaign mailers? Folks who pay attention to campaign yard signs? City of H-Town employees?

We will start finding out next Monday.

Name the teams that the ‘Stros have eliminated in MLB playoff history?

Commentary thinks we are catching some good breaks in our playoff run.   Two years ago, the opposing catcher makes the catch and tags out Jose Altuve and we go into extra innings and lose. Altuve is out if Gary Sanchez holds on to the ball Saturday. Who would have thought that the Yankees would beat Cleveland in three straight and we win the ALCS home field advantage? Marwin Gonzalez’s and Josh Reddick’s throws Friday and Saturday. We are catching some breaks. It is about time.

The ‘Stros eliminated The ATL in the 2004 and 2005 NLDS, San Luis in the 2005 NLCS, the Yankees in the 2015 Wild Card game, and Boston in the 2017 ALDS of course.

Commentary snagged a foul ball at Saturday’s game.

Game 3 starts at 7 pm this evening.

Game 4 starts at 4 pm tomorrow.

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The Roof Factor

Just baseball today.

Of the players still in the MLB playoffs, who has the most career post season dingers – too easy?

Having a closed roof at The Yard during Games 3 and 4 of the 2005 World Serious would have changed the outcomes of the games. I know. We lost Game 3 in 14 innings 7-5 and Game 4 1-0. I argue we would have won both. It is called the home field advantage. As I recall, San Luis skipper Tony La Russa had complained to the media that the crowd cheering in a closed roof gave the ‘Stros an unfair advantage. Then Commissioner Bud Selig stepped in an ordered the roof open. One game started at 61 degrees and the other at 65 degrees and it got colder throughout the night. Heck, at one of the games I took my jacket and it was pretty cold. That’s why Bud Selig has arsehole status among a ton of ‘Stros fans. Deservedly so, may I add.

Having a closed roof guarantees fan comfort – period. If that gives us an advantage, so be it. If our opponents object, they can go add a roof to their crib.

I guess this is a first. Pretty cool.

Brian McTaggart‏Verified account @brianmctaggart 8h8 hours ago

 

America’s four largest cities are represented in the NLCS & ALCS. 1. New York 2. Los Angeles 3. Chicago 4. Houston

Also from Tags:

HOUSTON — The Astros said Thursday the retractable roof at Minute Maid Park would be closed for Friday’s Game 1 and Saturday’s Game 2 of the American League Championship Series presented by Camping World against the Yankees. The roof was closed for both home games of the AL Division Series presented by Doosan against Red Sox — both of which were day games — and for all but 14 regular-season games.

The Astros’ policy is to close the roof if there’s a threat of rain, a threat of excessive wind (above 30 mph), a heat index of about 88 degrees for a night game or if the temperature is below 65 degrees. It takes two to three hours to cool the ballpark once the roof is closed, which plays into the decision.

Major League Baseball has the final say over the roof during the postseason, and the Astros got the approval Thursday to close the roof based on the policy they’ve had in place. High temperatures in Houston are expected to be in the lower 90s on Friday and Saturday.

Section 11.7 of the MLB postseason manual states the Commissioner or a designated representative shall determine whether a ballpark’s retractable roof shall remain open or closed before and during any postseason game.

“The environment’s going to be crazy,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “The people here are hungry for baseball. They have been passionate about this team. This is an easy team to fall in love with. It’s been that way since the beginning of the season. Roof closed can be pretty hot — that’s a nice temperature outside to where you can close this roof and get pretty loud. So bring your earplugs. Be ready. It’s a pretty loud environment.”

Let’s hope we continue to have unseasonably warmer weather at least while we are hosting the games.

Our own Carlos Beltran of course leads all current MLB playoff players with 16 career post season dingers.  He hit 8 of them with us in the 2004 NLDS and NLCS.

My advice to those attending Games 1 and 2, figure out how to take the Metro Rail.

Go Astros!

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Home Field Advantage

Commentary didn’t want to say anything during last night’s game in Cleveland because I might have jinxed the game.  I am talking about the Wahoo fella on the lids of the Cleveland players.  Totally insensitive and classless and see what they got.  They are cleaning out their lockers today.  Maybe now they will get rid of the fella.

Who won the last LCS game played at The Yard?

She should be a goner

Commentary is talking about the soon to be former principal of HISD’s Furr High School. In this day and age and in 2017, you just don’t say this over the school PA:

“And those of you that are not dressed in dress code, you are to go to the gym, because we have over there a baseball bat and we’re going to work you over for being out of dress code. You’re going to meet with the assistant principal (indiscernible). We’re going to have a long talk about following rules in this school. When we ask you to do something, we expect you to do it. And if you don’t do it, we’re going to start taking some action against you. So, I want to congratulate everybody that is in dress code today. Thank you.”

Even though her legal team said she was just joking, you don’t make jokes like that over the PA if you are the principal. It is not an issue of political correctness, you just don’t talk like that to your students.

Here is the Chron story on the remarks: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/Houston-ISD-investigating-new-allegations-against-12270659.php.

This tweet came out yesterday:

Scott Lincicome‏Verified account @scottlincicome Oct 10

Massive list of state/local Chambers of Commerce practically beg POTUS to not scrap #NAFTA

Followed by this one:

EricaGrieder‏Verified account@EricaGrieder 14h14 hours ago

 

EricaGrieder Retweeted Scott Lincicome

Y’know, it would be cool if @GregAbbott_TX, @DanPatrick, Rs in #txlege and @TexasGOP could find the courage to weigh in on this

Don’t hold your breath. Commentary has said it before. Gov. Greg Abbott will go down as one of the lousiest governors in Texas history. The fella lacks leadership skills.

I don’t care what you think about NAFTA, it is a huge part of the Texas economy and Abbott doesn’t have the guts to support his own state’s economy on NAFTA. He can’t get the state’s congressional delegation on the same page on Harvey relief. What a joke!

The last LCS game at The Yard was played against San Luis on October 17, 2005 and you got it, Albert Pujols put it on Brad Lidge with that three run dinger in the top of the ninth and we lost 5-4 of course.

Like Dorothy Gale said, “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

Commentary wants to thank everyone for temporarily rooting for the Yankees yesterday. Job well done. We now have home field advantage in the ALCS. That means Game 1 starts tomorrow at 7 pm at The Yard and Game 2 is Saturday at 3 pm. Plus, we’re playing the Yankees. It will be rocking for sure. I love our chances!

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I Want to Hold Your Hand

Including the playoffs, what was our record against the Red Sox this season?

I wonder if someone caught the following two incidents on their phone video gizmos and for background lay in John and Paul’s hit tune from 1963. I am talking about a couple of H-Town firefighters refusing to shake the Mayor’s hand. I get why the Mayor is upset – the insubordination thing. I kind of get the firefighters’ deal – they helped get the Mayor elected and the rest is history.

Here is from the Chron:

Simmering tensions and acrimony between Houston firefighters and Mayor Sylvester Turner have boiled over after the mayor erupted at firefighters who spurned him at two recent public events.

The most recent incident, which took place at a Houston Rockets game Thursday, prompted the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association Local 341 to send Turner a letter warning him not to threaten the association’s membership.

“Twice in the past week, you threatened firefighters that declined to engage with you in public settings,” HPFFA President Marty Lancton wrote in a Friday letter sent to Turner and city councilmembers. “We believe these confrontations violate state law. If they occur again, we will take appropriate action.”

When asked about the incident, Turner said the firefighters had engaged in unprofessional and inappropriate behavior.

“If I’m going down and I’m shaking everybody’s hand, I’m shaking the firefighters’ hands, and then I get to this firefighter and this firefighter refuses to shake my hand, number one it’s not professional,” he said. “Do I ignore that? I think not. … What the president of the association is saying is that there should be no discipline taken against any firefighter that chooses not to engage with their mayor. Well, if you’re in uniform, on duty, whether it’s in a second job at a civic engagement, there is a code of conduct and you should adhere to it if you want to be a city employee.”

“You can’t tolerate that. And the association shouldn’t tolerate it either,” Turner said. “Because once you allow that to happen, you have lost total control of your force. And again 99% of employees are fine, but for those who choose to operate on that level, they should not be a part of the city of Houston employee base.”

And this:

“Firefighters deserve a good contract and a raise,” said Gaylon Davenport, president of the Houston Black Firefighters Association. “They do a good job and everyone knows that. They deserve a raise and it hasn’t happened and because of that it’s toxic.”

Davenport added, “If a man or woman does not want to speak or shake your hand, they have the right to do that, period. I don’t think in the job description it says you have to shake someone’s hand. I’ve never seen that.”

Lancton said a fire inspector had been working at the Rockets game Thursday, which Turner was attending. The firefighter – who has been with the department for 15 years – saw the mayor approaching and tried to walk away.

“You don’t walk away from me,” he said Turner yelled, threatening to make sure he wouldn’t be able to work security at the stadium in the future, and making him give his identification details to several cops working on his security detail.

“It’s absolutely inappropriate from anyone in power to intimidate and aggress someone — a classified member of the fire department — when they’re trying to diffuse a situation,” Lancton said. “There are clear guidelines and laws, if someone felt someone was behaving inappropriately. There are ways to handle that situation.”

Just days before, another firefighter had gotten crosswise with Turner at a National Night Out event in Gulfton, Lancton said.

After Turner spoke, he tried to speak to some firefighters also participating in the event, one of whom declined to shake his hand.

Turner apparently told the firefighter, “I’m still your boss,” and stormed off, Lancton said.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/article/Houston-firefighters-mayor-tangle-over-perceived-12266924.php#comments.

Today, the Chron E-Board put it on the firefighters pretty good. Here is how their take starts today:

Perhaps next they’ll start kneeling during the Pledge of Allegiance at City Council meetings.

Two Houston firefighters protested Mayor Sylvester Turner – one by refusing to shake his hand during a National Night Out event in the Gulfton area and the other by turning his back when the mayor approached during a Rockets’ game on Wednesday.

City employees serving in uniform have a responsibility to the public to uphold the highest standards of professionalism – especially while they’re on duty.

Imagine a football player refusing to talk to the head coach while in the middle of a game. This isn’t a protest – this is insubordination.

And end with this:

City Hall does not exist to serve the Houston Fire Department. Firefighters serve the city. Mayor Turner and City Council need to start asking the tough questions about how, exactly, HFD can best live up to that obligation.

We call on City Hall, yet again, to convene a blue-ribbon commission to study the future of the Houston Fire Department.

The rate of fires has been cut in half since the 1980s, according to the National Fire Protection Association. About 80 percent of HFD’s calls are related to emergency medical responses.

What should a 21st century fire department look like? Houstonians deserve an answer. City Hall can’t simply turn its back on taxpayers.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Tensions-between-Houston-firefighters-and-City-12268103.php.

Nope! Let’s see now, two years ago the firefighters endorsed the Mayor and the Mayor gladly accepted. The firefighters worked their arse off for the Mayor. The Chron E-Board endorsed the Mayor and the Mayor gladly accepted. Now the firefighters feel they got the short end of the stick. Nope!  Y’all figure out this mess.   Commentary is rooting for the Yankees.

Speaking of, remember when I said this yesterday:

It is pretty simple. It is a no brainer. In the MLB playoffs, teams strive for the home field advantage. We are in the ALCS and start play on Friday. The Yankees and Cleveland play tomorrow evening at Progressive in the deciding Game 5 of the ALDS. A Cleveland win and we play the first two, Friday and Saturday, at their crib. A Yankee win and we host the first two at The Yard. It is a no brainer. Go Yankees!

But no, there are a couple of articles on who should the ‘Stros face in the ALCS. Here is the headline from the Chron on Jake Kaplan’s piece:

Would it be best for Astros to face (Cleveland) or Yankees in the ALCS?

Here is the article if you care to read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/astros/article/Should-Astros-face-Indians-or-Yankees-in-the-ALCS-12268212.php.

And this headline from MLB.com and Mike Petriello:

How Astros fans should watch Yanks-(Cleveland) G5

Here is the piece: http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article/258141362/how-astros-fans-should-watch-yankees-indians/.

Sigh. I am thinking why the analysis? It’s the MLB playoffs. It’s about homefield advantage. We want the first two games at The Yard. The players want it. The front office wants it. The fans want it. The Skipper wants it. All of H-Town wants it.

I don’t have much to say about the NPL Commish talking about taking away the players’ right to take a knee before the game and I don’t have to explain NPL.

We were 7-4 against the Red Sox this season – 4-3 in the regular season and 3-1 in the ALDS of course.

The Red Sox skipper was fired this morning after winning two straight AL East titles.

Go Yankees!

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It is pretty simple. It is a no brainer. In the MLB playoffs, teams strive for the home field advantage. We are in the ALCS and start play on Friday. The Yankees and Cleveland play tomorrow evening at Progressive in the deciding Game 5 of the ALDS. A Cleveland win and we play the first two, Friday and Saturday, at their crib. A Yankee win and we host the first two at The Yard. It is a no brainer. Go Yankees!

During the ALDS, we had 3 pm, 1 pm, 1:30 pm, and 12 noon starts. Right now, Game 1 of the ALCS on Friday and Game 3 on Monday would be prime time starts, only because those are the only MLB playoff games scheduled those days. If we go up against the Yankees, we can probably count on additional prime time starts. Go Yankees!

This will be our fifth LCS and our first ALCS. What are the most runs we have ever scored in an NLCS game?

The Chron E-Board endorsed the City Bond today. Here is how their endorsement starts:

We Houstonians have a lot on our plates right now. We’re struggling to recover from the worst natural disaster in our history. The Astros are making a dazzling run at the World Series. And our most beloved defensive end -“Say it ain’t so, J.J.” – is out for the season.

With all these distractions, it’s easy to forget one of the most important Election Days in our city’s history is less than a month away. Voters will pass judgment on a series of critical bond issues and if they fail, Houston will be in very big trouble.

Here is the entire E-Board take:

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Vote-for-city-bonds-12264898.php.

Early Voting in Person is less than two weeks from today.

Commentary is not going to get all worked up over GOP State Rep. Briscoe Cain’s visit to TSU yesterday. What did he expect? Let’s see, the head of his GOP, Donald Trump, intentionally and knowingly fuels racial tensions in the country. What did he expect?

The most runs a ‘Stros team have scored in a NLCS game is 7 – three different times of course – in a 1980 Game 2 7-4 win against the Phillies in 10 innings, also in the 1980 Game 5 8-7 loss against the Phillies also in 10 innings, and in the 2004 Game 1 10-7 loss against San Luis.

Yesterday’s 4 hour and 7 minute game was a great one for sure. There sure were a lot of folks on twitter questioning the skipper on bringing in Justin Verlander and not starting Carlos Beltran in the DH position. Not Commentary. The skipper guided us to 101 regular season wins so he knows what he is doing.

The best team won the ALDS. We have a very good team. I like their attitude. They battled yesterday. I like our chances.

Go Yankees!

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The Breaks

Commentary is thinking folks in H-Town would rather forget yesterday. The ‘Stros got clobbered in Game 3 of the ALDS.  J.J. Watt went down for the season in front of our eyes and on national TV. I am convinced we just didn’t know how to channel all of our energy yesterday. Those are the breaks, folks.

The Trib has a piece on Gov. Greg Abbott and the Latino vote in 2018 here: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/10/07/abbott-chases-bigger-share-hispanic-vote-2018/.

All I can say is how many local GOPers who are running countywide are going to be with Abbott on SB 4, DACA, Trump, you get the picture.  Abbott ain’t going to score any new Latino votes here in Harris County. Hating on Latinos isn’t a Latino vote getter.

So, VP Pence left the Colts game yesterday because some African American fellas took a knee yesterday during the National Anthem.  Shocking!

It is funny to see some of the talking heads on Fox News trying to make that Weinstein movie fella the Dem’s MVP.  Huh?  Last I checked, he doesn’t vote on CHIP authorization. He doesn’t have a say on DACA. He can’t get us into a war with North Korea.  Got it?

Commentary is OK with Donald Trump calling out a GOP U.S. senator and the senator hitting back.  Fine with me. The more GOP in-fighting the better.

BTW, did you notice that when Sec. of State Tillerson called Trump a “moron”, nobody bothered to fact-check it?

This was in the Chron over the weekend:

A Boston Herald sportswriter added something to the list of misunderstandings Thursday: No, the Texas state flag and the Puerto Rico flag are not the same thing.

In the Boston Herald’s notes story about Thursday’s Astros win over the Red Sox, a description of the pregame ceremonies were included.

Here’s the passage near the end of notes:

“The Astros’ pregame ceremonies included a large Puerto Rican flag draped over the field next to a bigger American flag to honor the United States territory that was devastated recently by a hurricane. George Springer brought the Puerto Rican flag out with him when he was introduced and waved it back and forth to big applause.”

The Astros do have several Puerto Rican players on the team, including star shortstop Carlos Correa, so showing support for Puerto Rico could have been a nice touch, but no, that’s not what that was.

I always thought the Lone Star State flag was one of the most recognizable in the country. I guess I was wrong.

Commentary went to the Game 3 Watch Party at The Yard yesterday.  I noticed there were a lot of young Latino families in attendance.  I also noticed the price of a Saint Arnold went up by a buck for the playoffs.   You know what they say about karma on these matters.  I put out a tweet from The Yard yesterday on it being the largest sports bar in H-Town and the tweet got a ton of run.

Commentary is not going to panic. I think we can handle business at noon today at Fenway.  We don’t need a Game 5 at The Yard this Wednesday.

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Al-Three-Ve!

The Chron E-Board today rightfully called out some NRA lapdogs today. Here is a part:

Twenty-two thousand people, a gathering of men, women and children the size of Angleton or Alvin or Kerrville, found themselves running, falling, dying Sunday night as ripping, tearing death rained down upon them. In Las Vegas a crazy man, a meticulous monster from on high, dealt out gruesome death to as many helpless, innocent people as he possibly could before ending his own misbegotten life.

Nearly a week later, our sense of helplessness almost matches those concert-goers, who had no idea where to run or what to do to protect themselves and their loved ones. Almost a week later our frustration with elected officials who refuse to act in response to a spreading epidemic almost drives a person to drink. Or despair.

To have to witness, yet again, the hang-dog visage of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as we listen to him burble, yet again, some rote comment about “our thoughts and prayers” is to recall the scathing words directed at another U.S. senator decades ago: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?”

We ask the same question of House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Sens. Cornyn and Cruz, of Kevin Brady, Pete Olson, John Culberson, Ted Poe and others we have elected to represent us. Have you no sense of decency? At long last – after Las Vegas and Orlando and Charleston and Newtown, after this town and that town – have you no sense of duty, of obligation to your fellow Americans? Isn’t their safety of any concern to you?

Yes, we know about your absolute and unyielding devotion to the Second Amendment to the Constitution; you’ve reminded us often enough. But with all due respect, gentlemen, your pious fealty looks a whole lot like craven obeisance to a bullying organization that profits when people acquire weapons and kill each other.

Here is the entire take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Gun-control-now-12256907.php.

Let me answer the question.   They have no decency – period. Their way isn’t working folks.   Lapdogs for sure.  How else do you explain their positions?

Al-Three-Ve!

The above came from Channel 2 news this morning.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

The above was the headline of the Chron’s Sports Section today.

Wow!

Talk about making a statement yesterday. That’s what happens when MLB and the network TV big shots give us the matinee slot.

I wonder how many of those baseball writers who voted for Aaron Judge for AL MVP are feeling good about their vote this morning.

It was definitely electric at The Yard yesterday.

The ‘Stros looked like the best team in baseball yesterday.

Jose Altuve looked like the best player.

On a totally unrelated note, believe it or not, I ran into a H-Town City Council member yesterday who says he is seriously considering running for governor in 2018 as a Dem of course – believe it or not.

I took the METRO Rail to The Yard yesterday and I am glad I did. No parking hassles. I would recommend to folks to plan on arriving at least an hour ahead of the scheduled first pitch today. There were long lines and a heavy security presence so folks are going to have to be patient.

Game 2 of the ALDS is at 1 pm today.

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ALDS Time

How many runs did the ‘Stros score against the Royals in the 2015 ALDS?

This isn’t the first time Bill King has talked about the following take he put out yesterday. He brought it up a kazillion times during the campaign in 2015. Here is his take:

Uptown Bus Lanes Already Over Budget 

One of the worst public works boondoggles in our region is about to get worse unless our elected officials step in.  In 2014, the Uptown TIRZ proposed to build dedicated bus lanes down the middle of Post Oak Boulevard.   The cost of the project at that time was estimated to be $196 million, with over half that amount coming from local property taxes and the balance coming from State and federal transportation funds.  Last week, the Uptown TIRZ went to the Transportation Policy Council asking for an additional $30 million for the project.  And trust me, this will not be the last time Uptown comes back with its hand out.

Most of you have probably never heard of the Transportation Policy Council (TPC), but it wields enormous influence over regional mobility projects.  It is a committee of the Houston Galveston Area Council (HGAC), which is one of twenty-four regional councils of local governments that were established by the Texas Legislature.  Transportation policy councils in each of these regional organizations are made up of local officials who allocate State and federal transportation funds to various road and transit projects within their regions.

There are 27 members on our TPC.  Most are elected officials but there are also some appointed positions (such as the Metro chair and TXDOT’s district engineer).   You can see a complete list of the members [here].  

The TPC was notified of Uptown’s request for additional State funds on September 22.  Because of the size of the request, it could not be approved until the following meeting.  Fortunately, both County Judge Ed Emmett and Commissioner Steve Radack expressed concerns about the budget overrun in the meeting.  From their comments, it appears they will likely vote against bailing out Uptown, especially since Emmett voted against the project originally.  You can watch the video of the meeting [here].  Uptown’s request is discussed in agenda item number 5.  

Personally, I am very skeptical that the proposed bus lanes will ever achieve the projected ridership or congestion mitigation Uptown claims.  We have seen time and again that ridership projections are almost always overly optimistic.  Of particular concern is that the project is based on the assumption that commuters will either drive their car or take a park-and-ride to one of the ends of the bus lanes, then switch to the buses for the final leg of their trip.  In the transit world this is known as “two-seat trip”, meaning that the commuter must change modes during trip.  Historically, commuters have been reluctant to take two-seat trips except in the most congested areas, such as Manhattan.

And the project will undoubtedly impede the flow of vehicular traffic in the Galleria.  There is a particularly problematic proposed interchange at Post Oak and the Loop where the bus lanes will transition onto the Loop.  I cannot imagine that traffic will not be permanently snarled at that intersection.  

But regardless of the future effectiveness of the project, it is simply an idiotic use of $200 million of taxpayer money.  I could come up with a list of at least 100 other transportation projects that would represent a better value.  

This project was pushed through by TIRZ bureaucrats trying to justify their existence and special interests along Post Oak, some of whom have received multi-million dollar right-of-way payouts.  It is wildly unpopular with most of the businesses along Post Oak and residents in the Galleria.  Post Oak went from being one of our signature boulevards to a war zone.  I cannot even imagine what a nightmare the traffic is going to be during the holiday season.

Much of the work that has been done so far is utility work and right-of-way expansion.  Almost nothing has been done to actually begin construction of the bus lanes, which means that it is not too late to scrap this project.  A good step in that direction would be for the TPC to turn down Uptown’s request for additional funding.

So, I am encouraging everyone to first call Judge Emmett and Commissioner Radack to congratulate them on questioning the request and to encourage them to vote against it when it comes back to the TPC for final approval.  You might also consider calling Houston City Council Members David Robinson and Larry Green, who also serve on the TPC, and ask them to vote against the increase.   

Finally, it is also time for residents in the Galleria to make it clear to the Uptown board that they are opposed to this project.  You can reach the Uptown office at 713-621-2011 or you can email it [here].   You can see a list of their directors [here].  If you know any of these members, call them and let them know you are opposed to the project.  

This project is crony capitalism at its worst.  TIRZs were originally established to help “blighted” neighborhoods.  This project is using $200 million of taxpayer money to subsidize a project intended to benefit the most expensive real estate in the City.  In the meantime, there are many neighborhoods in our City going begging for basic services, like flood control projects!  

It is time to put an end to this boondoggle.

Bill is right.  With local governmental agencies throughout the region struggling financially, how does one justify this?

If you are not outraged by this then I can’t help you.

Check out this headline from Burkablog:

The Bathroom Bill Might Have Cost Texas 50,000 Jobs

The anti-transgender bathroom bill debate is a strike against any Texas city getting the Amazon HQ2.

Here is R.G.’s piece: https://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/have-dan-patrick-and-greg-abbott-already-cost-texas-50000-jobs/.

Consequences?

A letter to the Chron:

Picking school trustees

Regarding “HISD trustees” (Page A19, Saturday), a member of a school district board of trustees ought to have professional experience in education. Good judges have legal experience; good doctors have medical experience; good CEOs have business experience, and good board members must have education experience. If one group is likely to harm schools now, it is people with no education experience, whose trademarks are being anti-union and pro-charter schools. Charters have a well-documented record of failure across the country, often fueled by corrupt owners who profit from our tax dollars by skimming money after skimping on educational costs.

If you have ever worked in a classroom, run a school or sent your children to a school without proper air-conditioning, then you should understand why a board member would act assertively on behalf of every child in that school.

Every child in HISD deserves their basic human needs to be met, not just test preparation. Air-conditioning is a necessity in the classroom along with proper ventilation, good lighting, clean drinking water, healthy lunches and access to clean air outdoors away from highways and industry. On Nov. 7, consider candidates who will respond boldly to meet these basic human needs.

Elizabeth Spike, Houston

Ok. I really don’t think air conditioners are going to drive folks to the polls to vote on HISD trustee races in a few weeks.

The ‘Stros scored a total of 21 runs in the 2015 ALDS of course.

Well, they are here! The ALDS! If you are not pumped, then I also can’t help you.

This is why we support the ‘Stros and visit The Yard for baseball on October 5.

Tuves, SpringerDinger, Correa, Reddick, Beltran, Keuchel, McCann, Oso Blanco, MarGo, Devo, Verlandia y la Piña!

I’m ready! Listo!

Go Astros!

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Never Been To

How many of the ‘Stros regulars finished the season hitting .300 or above?

I will admit it. Having lived here in the H-Town area like for nearly forever, there are some places I have never visited – until last night. For years I have driven past an establishment in East Sunset Heights when I take the back streets to El Bolillo or Connie’s Seafood. Hello, Rose Garden, a nice little beer joint on Link Road!

Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Lisa Falkenberg has a column today on mass shootings in the USA and the “new normal.” Here is how it starts:

Horror.

Body count.

Thoughts and prayers.

Presidential address.

Motive identified. (Or not.)

Categorization of shooter, based on complexion and affiliations, as terrorist or lone wolf.

Calls for gun reform.

Calls for us not to discuss gun reform amid national tragedy.

Blood donations.

Vigil.

Mourning victims.

Burial.

No gun reform.

Move on.

Repeat.

Some suggest that this vicious cycle is the “new normal” in America. Others say mass shootings remain statistical aberrations and therefore can’t be normal.

But to me, the term is relative. Normal means familiar. Normal means a pattern of occurrence. Normal means a certain acceptance, even a sense of inevitability.

Here is the entire column: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/falkenberg/article/Tragedy-in-Vegas-gets-even-worse-if-we-let-it-12250964.php.

As long as the GOP continues to be the NRA’s lapdog, it is the new normal.

Now how many guns did the Vegas shooter have?

It is official! Check this from the Chron:

The Pasadena City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a $1.1 million settlement agreement of a lawsuit that challenged a city voting plan.

The move, recommended by new Mayor Jeff Wagner, came less than a year after a federal judge found the council election structure adopted in 2013 diluted Latino voting influence.

Councilman Cody Ray Wheeler said that after four years of litigation and $3.5 million in legal fees, he was glad to see the appeal come to an end.

“It all started out as a power grab that has now run its course,” Wheeler said. “In addition to the financial hit, the lawsuit gave the city a black eye in the national spotlight. It cost us progress and it cost us time.”

Councilman Phil Cayten said he would vote to end the lawsuit to save money even though he thought the city could have prevailed in an appeal.

“I think the three more conservative judges of the appeals court would rule in favor of the City of Pasadena,” said Cayten, who apologized to constituents who favored continuing the appeal. “Let me just say that I believe in my heart that the City of Pasadena did not violate the Voting Rights Act or adopt a discriminatory election system.”

And this:

(Former Pasadena Mayor Johnny) Isbell said by phone Tuesday that he opposed ending the appeal efforts.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed. I think it’s a mistake to settle it because I think we stood a good chance to have won the case on appeal and we would not have had to pay the $1.1 million settlement,” he said. “And, I certainly disagree with the judge that said we were trying to inhibit the voting rights of the Hispanic population. That is absolutely, categorically, not true.”

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/neighborhood/pasadena/news/article/Pasadena-council-agrees-to-settle-suit-12250148.php.

Sorry, Mayor Isbell. Your two cents are just that, two cents. There is a new sheriff in town and his name Mayor Jeff Wagner and he is calling the shots now and doing a great job.

Way to go, Pasadena!

I saw this on the “Today” show this morning:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson openly referred to President Donald Trump as a “moron” after a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon, according to NBC News, citing multiple senior administration officials.

According to three officials, Tillerson made the comment in front of members of Trump’s national security team and Cabinet members. The report also said Tillerson was on the verge of resigning this summer and had to be talked out of it by Vice President Mike Pence.

Officials said the tensions reached a high point around the time Trump gave a politicized speech to the Boy Scouts of America in late July. Tillerson was once leader of the organization.

The White House was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC and declined to comment on the record to NBC News for the story.

He will probably lose his job for being honest.

Jose Altvue hit .346, Carlos Correa .315, Josh Reddick .314, and Marwin Gonzalez .303.

And Yuli Gurriel hit .299.

From the Orange U Glad Dept. from the Chron:

As the Astros prepare to face the Red Sox in the American League Division Series, the Astros have encouraged fans to “Orange Out Houston” on Thursday and Friday, the days of Games 1 and 2 at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros are asking local businesses, schools, community leaders, organizations and Astros fans to wear orange clothing and accessories, decking out their buildings in orange and creatively displaying their Astros pride.

In a press release sent Tuesday, the Astros sent a thank you to Discovery Green, the George R. Brown Convention Center, Hilton Americas-Houston, Houston City Hall, the Houston Police Department, NASA Johnson Space Center and Space City Houston for joining in the Orange Out Houston effort.

Astros owner Jim Crane, relief pitcher Joe Musgrove, Orbit and the Shooting Stars will join Mayor Sylvester Turner at noon Wednesday in front of City Hall to kick off the playoff celebration.

The Astros also are asking fans to post photos of what they are doing to Orange Out Houston on social media with the hashtag #EarnHistory. Participating fans could win prizes from the Astros, including tickets, memorabilia and apparel.

I am ready for tomorrow!

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