Archive for December, 2017

The Year It Was

Taylor Swift was sort of skewered a couple of weeks or so ago because she said she had a pretty good year. I don’t get it. It is kind of silly to get skewered.

I lost my Mom this year, does that mean I had a bad year. Nope! It just means I lost my Mom. She was here for 91 years so I can’t complain plus she was ready to go – trust me.

Jim Crane and the ‘Stros had a durn good year. Heck, they even got a parade out of it.

‘Stros fans – this one included – had a great year.   Heck, we even decorated our Christmas tree in blue and orange with a bunch of ‘Stros ornaments.

If you are a Texans fan, we had a lousy year.

The Coastal Bend, H-Town region, and the Golden Triangle got hammered by Harvey, but a lot of folks responded and in these parts, we became Houston Strong that was even our catchphrase during our World Series run so bad and good, it made for a year that we will never forget.

Of course, if you still can’t get into your crib, your year is not so hot.

If you are a part of the cadre of folks who built or allowed the building in flood prone parts of H-Town, I hope you are not having a very good year.

If you support a fiscally sound City of H-Town, then I guess we had a good year, if the numbers do hold up.

If you are a neo-Nazi or white supremacist you think you are having a good year because the fella who now lives in the White House thinks you are fine people, but you know what, in my book you aren’t having a good year because you are still a neo-Nazi and white supremacist.

If you support equality for all, civil rights, and voting rights, we had a rough year, but Virginia and Alabama gave us a lot of hope going into next year.

If you support a free press, we are having a tough year, so keep subscribing. It’s worth it.

If you support DACA, the DREAMers, and immigration reform, we are not having a good year, so we will just have to take it out on the GOP in next year’s election.

If you opposed SB 4, we didn’t have a good year, so again we will just have to take it out on the GOP in next year’s election.

We all get to decide what kind of year we had.

For me, in 2017, I lost my Mom. I am now spending a lot more time with my 94-year old Dad. Our family is a bit closer and we were already close. I finally got to celebrate a H-Town World Series championship. A late year local political surprise has me working on stuff I didn’t expect to be working on.  2017 is what it was and I don’t have a problem with that. Ok?

Hope you have a nice ending to your year this weekend. Happy New Year and be careful out there.

And just so you don’t forget, the ‘Stros open in Arlington, three months from today.

I’ll be back next Tuesday.

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More for Tuves

How many career dingers does World Series MVP SpringerDinger have?

He is the most famous and recognizable Houstonian in the universe. Commentary is talking about Jose Altuve.

Altuve was just named to Univision’s 17 Latinas/Latinos who left a footprint here in the U.S. in 2017.

Congrats to Jose Altuve for bringing another major award to H-Town. Here is from the Chron:

As a historic 2017 for the World Series champion Astros comes to a close, their superstar second baseman continues to rack up accolades.

Jose Altuve was voted the Associated Press’ Male Athlete of the Year, the news agency announced Wednesday. He beat out New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the voting, which was held by U.S. editors and news directors.

Altuve, who’s listed at just 5-6 and 165 pounds, was previously recognized along with the Texans’ J.J. Watt as Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year. He also won the American League’s MVP Award last month, becoming only the second MVP in Astros history and the first since Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell in 1994.

“Winning the World Series, winning the MVP, you feel like you have everything,” Altuve told the AP. “But my perspective is to try and get better every year and if we win one World Series, why not win another one? Just keep playing for the team and keep playing for my city.”

It looks like he’s the face of H-Town these days. Not bad at all.

The Chron E-Board wants the City of H-Town to say goodbye to Steve Costello. See this tweet from yesterday:

Evan the Maccabee Retweeted

Chronicle Opinion‏@ChronOpinion 2h2 hours ago 

Editorial | Houston must learn our lessons from Harvey, and that includes replacing Costello as flood czar.

Interesting. It is nice to know that sometimes folks pay attention to what I have to say – sometimes.

I said this last Thursday on the Chron’s detailed piece on flooding after they named names including former Council Member Costello:

I am surprised the Chron didn’t mention that Costello was a key player in getting the Rebuild H-Town drainage fee passed and implemented.

The flooding devastation caused by Harvey was more than just a wake-up call. It was a call to action. No more studies, task forces, or blue ribbon panels. It is time for drastic and dramatic changes.  We know what we have to do.

I read the other day about some developers saying they were ready to make changes or something like that. That was just code for we want to be in the room when y’all are talking about putting down the hammer on us.

Commentary is kind of falling on the side of if you were part of the problem you really shouldn’t be part of the solution. Sure, you might have to leave a lot of experience and talent on the sidelines on decision making, but I’d rather have the folks who have been sounding the warnings leading the way, rather than those who ignored or denied the issue.

Nice job again, Chron!

Here is part of what the E-Board had to say on Christmas Eve:

For too long we’ve allowed our city to be run by developers and engineers who have a conflict of interest between private profit and public good. Mark Kilkenny and L.S. “Pat” Brown Jr. both sat on the city planning commission despite the fact that each had firms involved in building subdivisions inside the flood pools of Barker Reservoir. Steve Costello, who gets paid a $160,000 salary as the city’s current flood czar, also owned an engineering firm that was involved in construction projects within the flood pools. Costello has denied that he knew about the danger of building within the reservoir. Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawer and Rice professor, says he finds that “hard to believe.” As we wrote during the earliest days of Harvey, it is time to remove the people who got it wrong on flooding from the levers of power and start elevating those who had the foresight to warn us.

Here is the entire E-Board take from Christmas Eve: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Storm-warning-12452502.php.

I didn’t mind saying so myself.

SpringerDinger has 99 career dingers of course.

Academy is having a sale on World Series Championship gear. I have to go check it out.


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Agree or Not

Let’s see if you remember this. Who made the last out for the Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series?

Sometimes you agree with Bill King and sometimes you don’t. Agree or not? Here is what Bill sent out today:

Believe the Polling

A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that Americans favor Democratic control of Congress by a margin of 50%-38%.  Ten other polls conducted in the last ten days have found similar results, with the Democrats’ advantage ranging from 9%-18%.  The last time the Democrats had this kind of lead was in the 2006 and 2008 elections.  The Democrats picked up 52 seats in those two elections.  

What should be even more chilling to Republicans, as it relates to their long-term prospects, is that millennials preferred the Democratic Party by a margin of 68%-17%.  I have never seen a 51% margin in a party preference poll in any age bracket before. Millennials are now the largest voting bloc in the country, but, like previous generations, have been slow to start voting.  But that may be changing.  The Alabama Senate election results indicate that some of the Republicans’ positions on issues like gay marriage and climate change are beginning to motivate millennials.  

Republicans immediately attempted to discredit the polling, citing the 2016 Presidential election poll.  It has become a common retort to any polling unfavorable to Republicans to claim that polls cannot be trusted because they badly missed the 2016 results.  While there is no question that polling is as much an art as a science, it is foolhardy to completely disregard polls that are based on representative samples (as opposed to self-selected internet polls or “push” polls).

The trick in any poll is to try to match up the results from the interviews to a prediction about who will show up to vote by adjusting the actual results to more closely reflect the anticipated turnout.  Frequently the models used for this adjustment are based on historical turnout.  And that is where most polls got it wrong on the 2016 election.  

Over the last 20 years or so, whites without a college education have gradually become increasingly alienated from both political parties and as a result their participation has declined.  However, in Trump they found someone who articulated many of their frustrations.  They were energized and turned out in larger numbers than most pollsters predicted.  This is precisely the type of basic change in voting behavior that is the most problematic for pollsters.  

However, not all pollsters got it wrong.  One widely reported outlier was the USC/LA Times poll that consistently showed Trump doing better. For a more detailed described of how their methodology differed, [click here]

So, how far off were the 2016 polls?  Turns out, not that much.  Real Clear Politics is a website that aggregates poll results.  It listed 61 polls in the month before the election that included all four candidates.  Here is how the average of those polls stacked up against the actual results.  [Click here to review a list of the polls.]


So, where the pollsters got it wrong was underestimating Trump’s support.  The magnitude of the miss was relatively small, less than 3% outside the margin of error.  But because the election was so close, this relatively small miss was critical to the outcome.  (Note: It is important to remember that a 40,000 vote swing in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania would have changed the outcome of the election.)  

The 2016 polling results simply do not support the current narrative among Republicans that polling can be disregarded or that it dramatically understates their support.  When the polling shows a 12% spread (or a 51% spread!), trust me, the Republicans have a problem.  Of course, polling is a snapshot in time and it does not necessarily predict the future.  The attitude of the American people may well change by next November.  But if the election were held today, the Republican Party would be in a world of hurt.

I make this observation with no sense of celebration, but rather with great anxiety.  For as disgusted as I am with the child-molester-tolerant, Russian-infatuated, deficit-addicted party the GOP as turned into, the Democrats, who cannot do basic math, are even worse.  Hopefully we will soon have alternatives to these to out-of-touch, fringe-pandering, corrupt parties.  But I fear that may not be as soon as 2018. 

I hardly think we are worse than the GOP though. Do you?

I will say we have to do better than being anti-Trump.

This fella from Utah is a dumbarse for sure. Check this from Business Insider:

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah tweeted Monday night that he was “grateful” for the honor of being named The Salt Lake Tribune’s Utahn of the Year.

“Grateful for this great Christmas honor from the Salt Lake Tribune,” Hatch tweeted. “For the record, I voted for @SpencerJCox and @rudygobert27.”

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee followed up his tweet with one highlighting another editorial from the publication praising tax reform.

While on the surface that honor would seem to be one worth highlighting for the senator, a quick read of the Tribune’s editorial shows that the publication did not bestow him with the recognition for positive reasons.

“These things are often misunderstood,” the editorial began. “So, lest our readers, or the honoree himself, get the wrong impression, let us repeat the idea behind The Salt Lake Tribune’s Utahn of the Year designation. The criteria are not set in stone. But this year, as many times in the past, The Tribune has assigned the label to the Utahn who, over the past 12 months, has done the most. Has made the most news. Has had the biggest impact. For good or for ill.”

As reasons Hatch was chosen, The Tribune cited “his utter lack of integrity that rises from his unquenchable thirst for power” and what it called an “anti-environmental, anti-Native American and, yes, anti-business” move to scale back two major national monuments in the state.

Here is the entire read: http://www.businessinsider.com/orrin-hatch-praises-negative-salt-lake-tribune-editorial-2017-12.

I kind of used to respect Hatch but not anymore.

Dodger shortstop Corey Seager of course grounded out to end the World Series. You better remember this because it will always come up during team trivia.

Three months from today we will play a noon start game with the Brewers at The Yard to wrap up our Spring Training schedule. Hope the weather is better.


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Day After Christmas

Name the MLB team whose batters struck out the least this past season?

There is really not much to say on the day after Christmas other than to say according to twitter, ‘Stros fans got a lot of World Series gifts for Christmas. It was no different in our living room yesterday as World Series hoodies, t-shirts, jackets, Christmas tree ornaments, koozies, license plate frames, and photos were unwrapped. Cool.

This is probably one of the best lines I have heard about the ‘Stros this season:

“They have the best chance to win the World Series. That’s why we play, right?”

It came from our new reliever, Joe Smith, right after he signed with the club. We haven’t heard a line like that said about our teams since the Rockets days of the mid-1990s.

The E-Board gave the Thumbs down Saturday to Sen. Ted Cruz on here:

(Thumbs down) Ted Cruz is a senator but so was Jar Jar Binks. These days both of them command the same degree of respect. The senator, who should be fighting to get us a Harvey recovery bill, instead took to Twitter to engage in mud slinging with the actor who plays Luke Skywalker. Or to paraphrase Obi Wan Kenobi, “This is not the droid you’re looking for, Senator Cruz.”

What else can you say?   Who likes this fella anyway?

I don’t have anything to say about the Texans other than to say their owner has had a rough year.

The ‘Stros’ hitters of course struck out the least in MLB this past season with 1,087 Ks.

I also got me a Beatles 2018 wall calendar yesterday – nice.

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Merry Christmas!

This will be my first Christmas without my Mom. That is kind of hard to digest. We will be at my Mom’s house though and we do have a doozy of a Christmas tree that my Mom would love, appreciate, and enjoy. My Mom’s Christmas trees were always the most beautiful in the universe. She’d be very happy with the one we have standing in her living room.

My Mom really loved Christmas and we have so many Christmas traditions because of her. The family gathering at her house all day. Exchanging gifts. The younger ones getting the most. We probably overdo it in the gift giving department, but that is how we have been rolling for years. Tamales, ham, beans, tortillas, rice, cookies, guacamole, Siete chips, sweets and favorite drinks all day. Visits from my cousins Marcia, J.T., David, Jason and others.

We will all be hanging in the living room – kitchen area. My Mom’s living room is all decked out in Christmas decorations that is added to her thirteen – at last count – nativity scenes and countless angels.

I am sure we will talk about our Astros themed Christmas tree, family, those that are no longer with us, politics, the World Series, the latest chisme and of course reminiscing about Christmases and other times past.

Squeezing in some trivia games. Playing Christmas tunes non-stop including the Lennon Sisters, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Nat King Cole, the Very Special Christmas CDs, and our favorite that is played multiple times throughout the day, Eydie Gorme y Los Panchos “Blanca Navidad” album.

My Christmas weekend also includes getting together with Marisol, going to a birthday gathering for Laura whose birthday was yesterday, going to Al and Julie’s home, dinner at my niece Rachel’s new crib, and dropping by Vic, Yolanda and Carol’s family and friends gathering.

It has been over six months since my Mom left us. We handled Thanksgiving Day and Dinner without her last month and maybe for me it was because she was struggling mightily with her health the last few years and toward the end I knew she was ready the leave us.

On our Christmas tree is an ornament with the following inscription:

“Merry Christmas from Heaven. I love you all dearly, Now don’t shed a tear, I’m spending my Christmas With Jesus this year.”

The first time I saw the ornament was a few days after the tree went up. I don’t know where the ornament came from and neither does anyone else. It doesn’t matter. I know my Mom is Ok with not being here Christmas Day and I’m good with that because we will be Ok and spend another enjoyable Campos Family Christmas Day together. This time I’m sure we will spend a considerable amount of time telling our favorite Mom Christmas stories.

This is from today’s Chron:

A Houston Independent School District trustee has sued the Harris County Democratic Party for rejecting her application to run for a Harris County justice of the peace seat in the March primary.

Diana Davila said in a lawsuit filed Wednesday in state district court that her application to run for justice of the peace Precinct 6, Place 2 in the March primary election was inappropriately rejected by the Democratic Party.

The lawsuit states that Davila had submitted a petition containing 310 signatures that would qualify her to be on the ballot, but had omitted printing the name of the person circulating the petition on one line in the petition.

The name appeared elsewhere on the page and the petition was signed and notarized.

“The only thing that’s important is that this person signed their name before a notary,” said Davila’s attorney Keith Gross.

The lawsuit states that despite that omission, Davila should be allowed to run in the primary. She would face one challenger in the primary election, Angela Rodriguez.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/HISD-trustee-Diana-Davila-sues-Democratic-Party-12448824.php.

I don’t know how this is going to turn out. I will say this. If Diana stays on the ballot, she will win. Part of her HISD Trustee district is in Precinct 6, she has run before, she knows how to campaign, and she knows how to win.

Check what Tags tweeted yesterday:

Brian McTaggart‏Verified account@brianmctaggart 1h1 hour ago


Astros president Reid Ryan said team will unveil World Series championship banner at home opener. Rings unveiled the following day. Also, Gladys Knight will perform at team’s gala on Jan. 19 at MMP.

Was this really necessary? It seems like a lot of Christmas goodwill toward women and men was wasted. Here is this tweet:

Houston Astros‏Verified account@astros 5h5 hours ago

Our #WorldSeries trophy will be available to take photos with in the Team Store Friday from 2-6pm and Saturday 9am-noon! The Trophy photo opportunity will be available for purchase for $35 starting at 9am TOMORROW. Tickets only available at the Team Store.

I tweeted out last night that they also ought to hand out Grinch bobbleheads.

Of course, look at it from another perspective. Taking a picture with the World Series trophy for the price of three Saint Arnolds at The Yard.

I’ll be back next Tuesday and I hope you made the nice list!

Merry Christmas!

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Hello, Winter!

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria is now with the Giants. He’s played ten years in the bigs and has 261 career dingers with 40 coming off of B’More pitchers and 35 off of Yankees pitchers. How many career dingers does he have against ‘Stros pitchers?

Hello, Costello! I was thinking of making that my headline this morning but it would have been mean spirited four days before Christmas.

The Chron today has a good piece on how folks allowed housing developments in flood pools and devotes a number of paragraphs to former H-Town City Council Member, former mayoral candidate and current H-Town flood czar Steve Costello. Here are parts of the lengthy article:

In development and engineering circles, the dangers were well documented. But as Houston’s leaders repeatedly signed off on a relentless building boom, few mentioned them publicly or took them seriously.

In broad strokes, that’s how county and city officials approved the construction of 30,000 suburban homes and businesses in Katy and west Houston on the edges of Addicks and Barker reservoirs, inside invisible lakebeds that government and private engineers had long predicted would be inundated in an extreme storm.

More than 9,000 of those structures flooded during Hurricane Harvey, records show.

A large group of homeowners is now suing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dams. They contend that in allowing the reservoirs to spill into dozens of neighborhoods, the government seized their property without compensation. Many had no idea — until Harvey struck — that their homes were within the reservoirs’ footprint, in areas engineers call “flood pools.”

“It’s crazy that in a flood pool they can grant permission to build houses,” says Flavie LaPorte, a petroleum engineer from Venezuela whose family was forced to abandon their Grand Lakes home in the middle of the night.

She and other displaced homeowners want to know: Why were subdivisions built there in the first place?

And this:

Development of Grand Lakes, where LaPorte’s family lives, began in 1998, southwest of Cinco Ranch and Kelliwood. Much of it was engineered by Costello Inc., which also was hired by Harris County in 1996 to make recommendations on what to do about reservoir flood pool risks that developments such as Grand Lakes would magnify.

The firm’s report found that 6,000 properties worth $500  million were at risk upstream from Addicks and Barker dams, but it didn’t recommend buyouts or limiting development. At the time the report was published in 2000, Costello Inc. already was working on plans to add 1,500 more homes to Grand Lakes inside the Barker flood pool.

Since 2000, the number of structures inside the flood pools has swelled to 30,000, records show.

Steve Costello founded Costello Inc. with a partner in 1991. He was later elected to the City Council and now is Houston’s flood czar. Costello said he didn’t recall his firm’s study and said he didn’t realize until after Harvey that the two reservoir flood pools could swamp Grand Lakes and more than 200 other neighborhoods.

“I don’t look back at why,” he said. “I look (at) how we move forward and how we address everything …”

And finally this:

Steve Costello began his career as a civilian employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Galveston. His job involved helping draw federal flood plain maps. But he says then or later as a private engineer, he never calculated the size of the maximum flood pool for Houston’s two reservoirs prior to Hurricane Harvey and didn’t realize those flood pools could affect hundreds of neighborhoods — including Grand Lakes.

At least 20 sections of that subdivision and three of its municipal utility districts are labeled as inside the Barker “inundation” zone, according to Fort Bend County maps.

In Grand Lakes and other subdivisions, more than 4,000 homes and businesses were damaged near Barker’s Reservoir and more than 5,000 near Addicks, according to a Chronicle analysis of data provided by Harris and Fort Bend counties.

In an interview, Costello said he didn’t know that Fort Bend County required inundation warnings on subdivision maps, even though his firm did include them for Grand Lakes.

“Obviously there were people in my office that might have known about it,” he said. “I’m not sure about that, but I’m assuming they did.”

Costello was president and treasurer of Costello Inc. during the years that Grand Lakes was developed, state records show. He said he worked on many other projects and on municipal utility districts but was not personally involved in engineering the subdivisions or MUDs his firm established for Grand Lakes.

Records show that MUDs within the flood pool portion of Grand Lakes generated consulting work for his firm for more than a decade. Costello Inc. was listed as consulting engineer for the Grand Lakes’ MUDs and its water control district, which issued more than $71 million in bonds from 1999-2014.

Costello was elected to the City Council in 2009, having campaigned as an infrastructure expert. That same year, the Corps of Engineers declared Houston’s dams to be among the nation’s most dangerous because of their deteriorating condition and encroaching development.

Costello said he didn’t read the Corps’ report or raise the topic of reservoir flood pools in his years as a councilman from 2010-2015.

Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer and Rice professor, has authored papers on post-Harvey solutions and worked on lawsuits related to Houston flooding and its dams for decades. Blackburn said he finds Costello’s denials of knowledge about reservoir development dangers “hard to believe.”

Blackburn said Costello and other engineers involved in flood pool developments should consider whether they abandoned their duties under state administrative code to “protect the health, safety, property and welfare of the public.”

“I think it’s reflective of a cavalier attitude of engineers about a lot of these issues and I think that’s one of the issues that has to change in our community,” Blackburn said. “… Our engineers have to have a much stronger sense of their duty to the public, and if he doesn’t remember, then shame on him.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/For-buyers-within-flood-pools-no-warnings-12434078.php.

Ouch!  That’s why I subscribe.

I am surprised the Chron didn’t mention that Costello was a key player in getting the Rebuild H-Town drainage fee passed and implemented.

The flooding devastation caused by Harvey was more than just a wake-up call. It was a call to action. No more studies, task forces, or blue ribbon panels. It is time for drastic and dramatic changes.  We know what we have to do.

I read the other day about some developers saying they were ready to make changes or something like that. That was just code for we want to be in the room when y’all are talking about putting down the hammer on us.

Commentary is kind of falling on the side of if you were part of the problem you really shouldn’t be part of the solution. Sure, you might have to leave a lot of experience and talent on the sidelines on decision making, but I’d rather have the folks who have been sounding the warnings leading the way, rather than those who ignored or denied the issue. Nice job again, Chron!

From Bill King:

Second Judge Slaps Down the Montrose Management District 

For a second time in just two months, a District Court has slammed the Montrose Management District (“MMD”).  In November, the 333rd District Court issued its final judgement that the MMD had illegally imposed over $6.5 million of assessments against property owners.  It ordered the MMD to stop collecting the illegal assessments, refund the illegal assessments and prohibited the MMD from spending any of the illegal assessments that had not already been spent.  

Because of the widespread dissatisfaction with the MMD, property owners collected the signatures of 75% of the property owners subject to the assessment to dissolve the MMD.  Incredibly, under state law a management district can be formed by 25 property owners but 75% of all owners must petition to dissolve it.  But, taking a page from the City of Houston, the MMD board ignored the petitions, making bogus challenges regarding the validity of the signatures.  In response, the property owners filed a second suit, this time seeking to force the dissolution of the MMD.  

The second suit was filed in the 269th District Court, which last week entered a strongly worded temporary restraining order. [Click here to read TRO.]  The Court found that the property owners are likely to prevail in the action to dissolve the MMD and that the agenda for a meeting to be held on December 11 indicated that the board of the MMD intended to violate the orders of the 333rd District Court by continuing to spend and collect illegal assessments.  It is a startling finding.  But the agenda that was posted for the December 11 meeting seemed oblivious to orders issued in the first suit and gave every indication the MMD intended to continue to operate as normal.  [Click here to read the agenda.]

After the Court issued the TRO, the meeting was cancelled and the agenda has since been removed from the MMD’s website.  A few days later the board chair announced his resignation.   Personally, I cannot imagine why anyone would continue serving on that board.  All of the board members were sued individually, and the Court found in its TRO that they have likely committed ultra vires acts.  That could potentially subject them to personal liability.

I think 2018 is going to be the year of the TIRZs and management districts and not in a good way.  Increasingly, the shadowy dealings of these governmental entities are coming to light.  We are discovering that the salaries and fees being paid to managers are staggering.  Also evidence is emerging of self-dealing and conflicts of interest.  In the past, serving on the boards of these entities has been mostly honorific.  But based on the information coming out, a lot of these board members may soon be wishing they had declined the “honor.”

Winter begins today, and I am OK with that.

Check this tweet from yesterday:

Collin Myers ABC13‏Verified account@CollinMyers_ 18m18 minutes ago

Tomorrow is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. So, starting Friday, we gain light each day until next summer! I don’t know about you, but for me- That makes a huge difference.

I don’t know about that. I kind of like the short days because I’m not of fan of those days when it doesn’t get dark until a quarter until nine. Just saying.

During the World Series, my friend Laura and I were talking about the slogan that was on some ‘Stros gear that read “Fly the Pennant.” We both were not fond of the slogan because it really didn’t sound like H-Town. I told her that MLB probably hired one ad agency to handle slogans for the postseason. You can go on the Dodgers website and buy a Dodgers T-shirt with the “Fly the Pennant” slogan. I also only saw one Dodgers NL Champs T-shirt. What a difference Game 7 makes.

I have doubled my Christmas card intake. I am now at eight thanks to the Lunas, the Schnieders, Cristina and Alex, and Amy and Billy from Austin.

Evan Longoria has 9 career dingers off of ‘Stros pitching of course.

You already know that there are four days left until Christmas but you can still go to the Team Store for World Series gear.


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The Dodgers had 120 base hits in their 15 postseason games this past season. How many base hits did the ‘Stros have in their 18 postseason games?

What is your position on the DREAMers? That’s what I ask folks running for office these days – any office.  That’s THE ISSUE in my book. Stace has a good take on the DREAMers and I hope he doesn’t mind if I show it to you here:

DREAMer Reform Delayed? My Confidence Wanes

Posted on December 20, 2017 | Leave a comment

If Democrats weren’t able to pass any kind of relief for DREAMers in 2010 with a legislative majority, did you really expect Republicans to do anything? According to a Politico article, the groundwork has been laid for a January vote, though.

The problem? They can’t do anything until Trump adds his sadistic ideas to the plan, like the wall, more migra, and other mean-spirited things that Kelly and others at DHS may come up with under the heading, “border security.”

So, cynical me thinks this is how things will go:

  • A pretty crappy DREAM Act will be created–enforcement heavy, relief for fewer than ever. (Remember when Dems were fighting for 11 million people and willing to give them everything?)
  • Dems will say no to such an unclean DREAM Act (right?). There will be shock at how Republicans are just bad and mean. (Some of us are desensitized to it, actually, at least those of us who are undeportable.)
  • Then the Dems will have it as an issue for them to campaign on, and run away from in those hard-to-win districts, in 2018.
  • By then, the March deadline to resolve this has passed and even more young people are out of DACA status and under threat of removal. (Let’s not forget that right now 122 DREAMers per day are losing their DACA status).

I’m just guessing, of course.

I’ll leave it to the DREAMers to tell me if they want what results from the negotiation in the end. It’s a gun to their heads, but not necessarily a gun to either party’s. I say this because even the new Dems being elected during special elections are acting kind of shifty on most issues, and not just this one, as if bipartisanship even exists anymore.

Maybe the Dems should up the ante and ask for a path to something for 11,000,000 once Trump starts adding his crap to the bill. It’s a negotiation, right? Hell, put up a fight. For the whole lot of us, it’s the fight that earns a politician respect.

As I mentioned previously, Democrats love the issue for the campaign trail. It’s great at conventions and the use of the issue can be left to those officeholders and candidates who can get the most use out of it–or the least use if it may cost them re-election.

The problem with that is that, once elected, the Democrats don’t even put up a fight. And those that want to fight are scoffed at by leadership (Pelosi and Schumer) who have other priorities, such as keeping things like the DREAM Act a campaign issue. In other words, even if the Dems gain a majority in both chambers again, my confidence in them doing something on this and the entire issue is still weak.

Perhaps they worry about Republicans taking credit for the issue while they are the majority. Hell, I wouldn’t worry. All the “bipartisan” talk has been just talk for Republicans. Dems give them too much credit. And for the vast majority of them, it will always be talk. They’re bigoted. They’re hateful. And their quiet “moderates” who fail to fight back are just as guilty of allowing the hate and bigotry. So, why not fight back when we’re down?

Seven DREAMers and allies protested at Schumer’s office last week. They all ended up in jail. And most are still in jail and soon at risk of deportation. They’re willing to put their lives on the line. No one seems to care, though. I’m pretty sure Democrats will blame them for fighting back and messing with their negotiations. Ain’t it always the way?

Yes, I’m cynical.

Let’s be clear! Make no mistake! The GOP is the enemy of the DREAMers and immigration reform. Attacking immigrants and DREAMers has been the GOP’s core principle for years now. That is how the rev up their base by our attacking our folks – period.

That being said however, Commentary is not going to argue with Stace because he pretty much knows what he is talking about. Everyone knows Commentary is not a big fan of our national Dem leadership including Leader Nancy Pelosi. The DREAMers and immigration reform should have been taken care of during the first two years of the Obama presidency.   Pelosi was U.S. House Speakers at the time and look where we are at today. You can’t help but feel that we have been used.

Pelosi is the big headlinerfor the local Dem fundraiser next year. I wonder if someone will bother to tell her we have one of the largest DREAMer populations in America.

Taking care of the DREAMers is not a priority in my book, it is THE PRIORITY – period.

I am trying to figure out the end game of the GOP’s effort to destroy the reputation of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FBI. Is destroying the reputation of an institution like the FBI worth it? Is this all being done to protect Donald Trump? Really?

The H-Town Mayor was named Texan of the Year by the Dallas Morning News. He deserved the honor.  Congrats!

From the Chron:

The Astros will make two appearances on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball this season, the network announced.

The World Series champions will be on April 15 against the Rangers at Minute Maid and again on May 20 against the I…… (Cleveland). The network will announce its June through September dates during the season. (The May 20 game against Cleveland is also at The Yard).

Also, the Houston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America vote Jose Altuve as the team’s MVP for 2017, Dallas Keuchel and Brad Peacock as pitchers of the year, and Yuli Gurriel as rookie of the year. Carlos Correa was named the Darryl Kile Good Guy of the Year, Diamondbacks infielder Paul Goldschmidt was named the Houston-area player of the year, and Bob Watson was honored for long and meritorious service.

Speaking of, this was from USA today during the World Series:

Commissioner Rob Manfred sent a message that Major League Baseball will not tolerate racism when it suspended Houston Astros slugger Yuri Gurriel for making an inappropriate gesture in Game 3 of the World Series, he announced Saturday in Houston.

Yet Manfred and MLB, advocacy groups believe, have ceded the moral high ground on cultural sensitivity when it enables Chief Wahoo — the Cleveland Indians’ longtime logo that depicts a caricature of a grinning red-faced Native American — to remain.

Manfred tried to draw a distinction between Gurriel’s action, which was directed toward a single player, and the Indians’ Chief Wahoo logo.

“I see a difference in behavior from one player directed specifically at a player and a logo,” said Manfred. “While both are problematic, I don’t see them as the same issue.”

“We continue to have conversations about the Indians with the logo and I intend to revisit it in the off-season.”

Gurriel will serve a five-game suspension without pay in 2018 and attend sensitivity training this offseason. He was caught on camera making a slant-eyed gesture and laughing after his second-inning home run in Game 3 off Los Angeles  Dodgers starter Yu Darvish, a native of Japan

Gurriel apologized afterward, saying he did not mean to offend Darvish.

Manfred and Indians owner Paul Dolan have met multiple times since 2016 on the sensitive subject, which again became a national debate after the Indians reached to World Series last season. 

In April, Manfred said he would like to see the Indians “transition away” from the polarizing image, but nothing has been mandated. 

Sure. We’re waiting. Meanwhile, you can still go to the Cleveland team website and buy Chief Wahoo gear. Just saying.

The ‘Stros had 145 base hits during this past postseason of course.

You can’t go wrong with getting anyone in H-Town World Series gear for Christmas so you may want to drop by the Team Store before it’s too late because there are only five days until Christmas, but you already know that.

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Just Ask, Again

This Hall of Fame great is celebrating his 83rd birthday today. He played 22 years in the bigs, all with the same AL team. He had 3,007 career base hits and 399 career dingers. He made the AL All Star team 15 times. He was twice AL MVP runner-up. He played in a World Series and won a ring in seven games. Who am I wishing Happy Birthday today?

Commentary put this out in September of 2014:

Just Ask

Commentary was at The Yard yesterday and I snagged a foul ball and handed it over to Reggie Bibbs. Reggie was with a group that was sitting right next to me. Who is Reggie Bibbs? Here is from the Chron:

Reggie Bibbs, a member of a member of Second Baptist Church on Woodway, was looking fine in a suit and tie recently when he went on stage to receive a Gold Addy Award for his advertising campaign to raise awareness of a disfiguring disorder called neurofibromatosis.

It was a dressy affair at the Hyatt Regency Hotel downtown, which is why Bibbs, 42, wasn’t wearing the T-shirt that won him the award.

On the front is an abstract outline of Bibbs’ face, and on the back are the words “Just Ask.”

“I can see how people look at me, and they will just stare,” said Bibbs, who was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis as an infant, and has several tumors on his left leg and face.

“Some of them look at me like I’m an apparition. You can see they want to ask — but they don’t — and it puts both of us in an awkward position.

“I want them to know it’s okay to ask me what’s wrong (with me).”

Originally from Houston, and still living in the same house he in which he grew up, Bibbs said his mother first noticed something was amiss when she would try to put his shoes on his little feet.

Here is the entire Chron story on Reggie: http://www.chron.com/default/article/Reggie-Bibbs-receives-Gold-Addy-Award-1572760.php

I think Reggie kind of got excited that I gave him the foul ball. I felt good about it.

Then this Channel 13 story from yesterday:


A Houston man with an extreme case of a genetic disorder wants an apology from Uber. Reggie Bibbs, 52, suffers from neurofibromatosis which causes tumors to form on his skin. The condition is noticeable. Bibbs said last Monday he requested an Uber to take him to the Texas Medical Center for an appointment because he needed blood work done. Bibbs said the Uber driver came to his street. Bibbs said he was standing outside and made eye contact with the driver. Bibbs told ABC13 the driver noticed his appearance, drove off, and then cancelled the ride.

“I saw him pass by. He looked right at me. He was going real slow. He just passed the house. I could see the brake lights on. He went a couple of houses down. He turned around and came back by the house again. He went real slow,” said Bibbs. “I’m looking at him. He’s looking at me. He just keeps going down to the end of the street. When he got to the end of the street, I got a message that said unfortunately your driver canceled. That was it. There was no explanation.” Bibbs said he felt embarrassed and shocked. He said he believes the driver canceled the ride because of his appearance.

Bibbs works with the non-profit Courageous Faces Foundation. They are now exploring their legal options against Uber. Bibbs said he wants the company to offer sensitivity training to drivers working on their platform. Eyewitness News has reached out to the ride-sharing company for a response. They provided the following statement:

The situation described here is unacceptable and has no place on the Uber app or any place. We apologize to Mr. Bibbs for the experience reported to us and we have been in contact with the driver to re-emphasize Uber’s Community Guidelines, which prohibits any form of discrimination on the app. Here are our community guidelines, these ground rules are designed to ensure that riders and drivers have a five star ride when using Uber. We also have a national non-discrimination policy. Uber seeks to ensure that safe, reliable, and high-quality transportation options are available to everyone. Uber and its affiliates therefore prohibit discrimination against riders or drivers based on race, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, sex, marital status, gender identity, age or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law. Such discrimination includes, but is not limited to, refusing to provide or accept services based on any of these characteristics. Any rider or driver found to have violated this prohibition will lose access to the Uber platform.

Here is the Channel 13 story that you can watch: http://abc13.com/society/man-says-he-was-denied-an-uber-because-of-his-appearance/2795758/.

‘Tis the season, Uber!

On HISD Trustee Diana Davila’s bid to run for Harris County JP in Pct. 6, the Secretary of State’s website says her filing application was rejected. Check here: https://webservices.sos.state.tx.us/candidate-filing/cf-report.aspx.

Oh, well.

Did you get your Siete Foods Christmas package? I did. Bags of grain free tortilla chips and other goodies including a do-it-yourself ugly Christmas red sweater, err sweatshirt. Cool!

Happy Birthday today to Tigers great Al Kaline of course.

I also have a baseball with his John Hancock.

I went by the Team Store yesterday and picked out a few gifts and six days left until Christmas, but you already know this.



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Christmas Cards

Let me just say this and Commentary has said it before. Those folks who run our professional football team think they are smarter than the rest of us but we all know they are not. The Coog QB for the Vikings who has them at 11-3 and playoff bound used to play for us and that is all I will say about that. Pity the fans who will spend their Christmas Day afternoon at NRG – they must be on Santa’s naughty list.

During this past MLB postseason, only four players had more than 20 postseason base hits. Name the four? Hint: They will all receive their World Series rings at The Yard in a few months.

Christmas cards? Are they a dying breed?

Some of you remember I used to send them out with a quote from John and Paul. My brother and I would put it together. After he left us it wasn’t the same, so I stopped sending them.

When I was at my Dad’s a couple of days ago, I saw a stack on his desk that he had personally signed and prepared to send out. So far, this season, I have only received four. One from the famous H-Town MUD law firm, one from former H-Town Mayor and First Lady Bill and Andrea, one from Kyle and Celeste, and one from my good friend Kathryn that arrived this past Saturday.

Kathryn’s by far is a cool one for sure. I have to say I had a hand in it. It is picture of a postseason baseball at The Yard with her Alabama and Quissett photoshopped into the shot. The postseason baseball is a foul ball I snagged and gave it to Kathryn when we went together to Game 2 of the ALCS against the Yankees. I took a photo of the ball in Kathryn’s hand.

Here is the inscription on her card: Sending Holiday Cheer And New Year Wishes From Houston The Home Of The 2017 World Series Champions The Houston Astros.

Cool! Are they a dying breed?  We have a week to find out.

Is there zero tolerance? See this from Politico:

Democrat Andrea Ramsey has dropped out of the race to take on GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas after The Kansas City Star began questioning Ramsey about accusations made against her in a 2005 sexual harassment lawsuit.

Ramsey was accused of making sexual advances towards a former employee of LabOne, a company where she worked in human resources. The complaint filed against LabOne claimed that Ramsey made “unwelcome sexual advances as well as unwelcome, unwanted and offensive sexual comments and innuendos during his employment” and that Ramsey moved the employee’s desk, criticized him and eventually fired him after he declined the advances.

The lawsuit was dismissed in 2006. Multiple sources told the Kansas City Star that the employee received a settlement. Ramsey denied the allegations in a lengthy statement published Friday that explained her decision to drop out of the race, saying that the allegation is “a lie” and she didn’t “have any opportunity to participate in its resolution” because she was not named in the lawsuit. LabOne, Ramsey’s employer, was named as the defendant in the lawsuit.

Here is the entire read: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/15/andrea-ramsey-candidate-kansas-withdraws-sexual-harassment-297782.

Interesting turn of events.

The Chron E-Board kind of put it on local Dems this past Saturday. Deserved? Check the thumbs down here:

(Thumbs down) Looking at party success in Alabama and Virginia coupled with reprehensible behavior in Congress, you’d think Democrats would be lining up to run for office. So what happens in Harris County? After announcing his candidacy for Harris County judge with a scathing attack on incumbent Republican Ed Emmett, Houston attorney Mike Nichols dropped out of the race about 10 minutes after getting in. What’s wrong with that? Well, he chased away potential candidates, denied the party a robust primary discussion and generally wasted everyone’s time. If you’re going to run, see it though.

(Thumbs down) Brief thoughts about bad-behaving elected officials amongst us:

The Democratic Party seemed to have no interest in forcing convicted state Rep. Ron Reynolds, D-Missouri City, to resign. It is very possible he will run for office from jail next year. His conviction for barratry was upheld by an appeals court.

The same party seems content to let state Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston, avoid scrutiny after reports of vile and abusive behavior. He should step down.


When my nephew used to live in Vegas, some years I would give him $50 to plunk down on the ‘Stros to win the World Series when they were like 200 to 1 odds before the season started.   I figured maybe they will surprise us and be better than everyone thinks, and I win $10,000. I am thinking that is kind of why Chron columnist Erica Grieder is writing she thinks the Dems will win statewide in Texas next year. Nobody will think she is that kwazy if the GOP wins again next year, but folks will think she’s a freaking genius if the unthinkable happens even though I do think Cong. Beto O’Rourke has a good shot at knocking off Sen. Ted Cruz.

Here is how Greider starts her column:

The other day, while walking my dog, I had an awkward realization: I think Texas will turn blue in 2018.

That’s not a prediction, exactly; the primaries will be held in March, so as it stands, we don’t even know who all the Democratic candidates for statewide office will be.

Furthermore, I could easily be wrong, and there’s plenty of reason to think I will be. We all know the drill: Texas is a red state. The last time Democrats won statewide office was in 1994. In 2014, Republicans swept the top-of-the-ticket races by a 20-point margin. Although Democrats have outperformed expectations in other red states recently, the idea that they might win statewide in Texas next year no doubt strikes many of you as crazy.

With that said, stranger things have happened. In 1995, Donald Trump was a spokesman for Pizza Hut’s stuffed crust pizza. Today he has access to America’s nuclear arsenal.

And if you think about it, it really wouldn’t be that strange if Democrats won statewide in Texas next year. We all know they will do so eventually. And when they do, their victory will seem inevitable in retrospect. Texas is a young, diverse, urbanized and outward-looking state. Historians of the future – assuming humankind has a future, and one in which historians are valued as something other than a protein source – will probably wonder why we stayed red so long.

Here is her entire column: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/grieder/article/Could-Texas-turn-blue-in-2018-Stranger-things-12436230.php.

Interesting take for sure. Hopefully Dems go into 2018 charged and with a winning attitude for a change.

Edward Ybarra sent me this on Friday:

Regarding Precinct 6 contest, has it been clarified if Diana Davila still on the ballot? I understand that the other candidate, Angela Rodriguez, filed 500 signatures with her application.

Until I hear differently, I will stand by what I said last Tuesday and here is what I said:

My old buddy Justice of Peace Armando Rodriguez decided not to run for reelection. Heck, he was first elected like in 1974. His daughter Angela Rodriguez will be running for the JP, Pct. 6 slot. HISD Trustee Diana Davila filed in that seat but I heard her application was rejected because she didn’t have enough petition signatures.

Commentary has been listening to the Christmas tunes on 99.1 FM, SiriusXM and some CDs. I have to say one of the best Christmas CDs of all time is the Carpenters “Christmas Portrait”, the 1984 reissue that comes in at 70 minutes. It works best if you are listening at your home or on a lengthy drive like to Baytown and back. Nice!

This past MLB postseason, Jose Altuve had 22 base hits, and Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, and SpringerDinger had 21 each to lead all players of course.

I might drop by the Team Store today to see if they have any specials.

Christmas Day is a week from today but you know that!



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Name the pitcher who started the most games for the ‘Stros this past season?

Now this is certainly well deserved:

EMILY’s List‏Verified account @emilyslist 18h18 hours ago

@RepAlvarado145 is a tough, effective fighter for women & families with deep Houston roots. Whether she’s improving economic opportunity, public health, or public education, she’s a rising star & we’re thrilled to be working with her as she continues to run for higher office.

Nice. Moving onward for sure.

How about this:

EricaGrieder‏Verified account @EricaGrieder 13h13 hours ago

PSA: After a lot of conversations with both Ds and Rs this week…I think Texas is gonna turn blue in 2018. #txlege

I wonder if her twitter account was hacked? We will see.

This is not a very good idea and not so good public policy. It looks like someone is dropping the ball on this. You would think residents, property owners, and other stakeholders would be consulted.  Check this from the Chron:

Houston transit officials moved forward Thursday with a proposal to use a slice of a downtown bus depot for a homeless shelter, leaving much of the contentious debate for city council members.

Residents and business owners close to the proposed site along McKee and Buffalo Bayou vehemently opposed the plan in comments to the Metropolitan Transit Authority board. Many said they only learned about it in the past few days. They also cited crime and property value concerns, along with the sense that Metro was rushing ahead. 

Board chairwoman Carrin Patman, pushed for the approval Thursday citing the need to proceed in “deference to the city.” Patman said transit officials have the same safety questions, and feel they are addressed.

And this:

Citing the opposition of the local residents, Metro board member Jim Robinson opposed the plan, as did Lisa Castaneda. Patman and board members Lex Frieden, Sanjay Ramabhadran and Christof Spieler approved the proposal.

And this:

 Board members avoided debating the merits of the project.

“Fundamentally it feels to me this board is not the appropriate solution for homeless challenges,” Spieler said. “I think it is important for these concerns to be heard and the appropriate venue is city council.”

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Homeless-shelter-plan-for-Metro-spot-takes-step-12430849.php.

The METRO Board member seems to be speaking out of both sides of his piehole. If you don’t think METRO should be part of the solution, then don’t hand over the property. We are not dumbarses, you know!

Go on ahead and listen to Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” and read the following from the Chron:

In 16 years no employee in the Texas Senate has reported a formal sexual harassment complaint with the Secretary of Senate, the office that is supposed to handle such issues.

While some might take that to mean the Senate’s stated zero tolerance approach on the issue has prevented any problems, others are questioning why potential victims don’t feel comfortable reporting inappropriate behavior they experience or are witnessing.

“It seems odd to me,” Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, said during a hearing on the topic on Thursday.

Garcia was more blunt after the hearing, saying zero complaints in 16 years doesn’t jive with reality.

“Those numbers don’t reflect what is really going on out there,” she said.

Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Sexual-harassment-policies-in-Texas-Capitol-12431405.php.

What is going on? Oh, well!

Mike Fiers of course led the team with 28 starts as pitcher. Fiers is now with the Tigers.

There will be a royal wedding on May 19 and I will probably be at The Yard as we host one of Joe Smith’s, yes Joe Smith’s, former teams – Cleveland, for a 3 pm start.

Christmas Day is 10 days away.

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