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Archive for September, 2018

Not Fooled

Alex Bregman has 100 RBIs. Who was the first Astro to ever have 100 RBIs in a season?

The folks who run the Chron Opinion pages put out the funniest headline for an Op-Ed by a longtime GOPer, former state representative and staffer to President Bush 41, Chase Untermeyer. Here is the headline:

GOP values and standards need a champion, and it isn’t Trump [Opinion]

Chuckle, chuckle. The GOP doesn’t have values! Don’t even go bother to read the BS piece. What a joke!

Do take a look at a #TXCD7 piece in the Chron by George Will today here: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Will-In-Houston-a-Democratic-template-for-13228092.php.

My friend State Rep. Garnet Coleman endorsed Harris County Judge Ed Emmett yesterday. I sure hope other Dems don’t follow Garnet. Here is from the Chron:

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett used his annual State of the County address to hail the progress in emergency preparedness the region has made since Hurricane Ike, which made landfall 10 years ago Thursday.

Emmett praised Houston and Harris County officials for working closely during and after Hurricane Harvey a year ago, lauded the passage of a $2.5 billion flood infrastructure bond in August and said more must be done to protect against the future storms that are certain to wallop the county in years to come.

“Although the past year has seen Harris County focus on recovery from Harvey, I believe we have turned the corner and are now focused on the future,” Emmett said to more than 1,000 attendees during his lunchtime speech at NRG Center.

And this:

His opponent, 27-year-old political newcomer Lina Hidalgo, argues that Harris County failed to invest enough in flood protection in the years preceding Harvey.

Should more Democrats than Republicans turn out in Harris County in the midterm elections, as they did in the 2016 general election, Emmett’s coalition must include Democrats who are willing to vote across party lines.

Democratic state Rep. Garnet Coleman endorsed Emmett at the luncheon, and said the judge deserved support for making decisions to help the county manage flooding.

Here is the entire read: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Judge-Emmett-13226588.php.

Really! The H-Town area has had issues with flooding since the beginning. Harvey was nature’s way of calling us out and demanding that we do something. So, please, let’s not make Judge Emmett into some sort of hero. It was about time. Even the folks who run the Chron Opinion page have said Emmett has been part of the problem.

A lot of folks have been critical of GOP national leaders for letting Donald Trump get away with his racial and hateful policies and rhetoric. Why can’t we be critical of local GOPer like Judge Emmett for being silent while baby jails are being assembled right down the street from his office?

Don’t be fooled, folks!

I was at the Tejano Democrats meeting last night and toward the end of the meeting an attendee asked if the group was going to take a position on the H-Town Firefighters Prop B initiative. A brief debate ensued. A pro Prop B attendee informed us that a sinister type of social media tactic was in the works to discredit Firefighters and the initiative – interesting. Stay tuned!

Commentary had the flat screen on yesterday on CNN and I noticed that Chris Cuomo – who was reporting from North Carolina on the hurricane – had a cap on that read “Cuomo.” I couldn’t read the smaller lettering on the cap but thought that it must be the name of his show – “Cuomo Prime Time.” Regardless, on the day voters in New York were going to vote in their primary where his brother was on the ballot, I thought Chris Cuomo would probably get social media blowback for wearing the hat. I was right. He later put on a CNN lid.

Jimmy Wynn of course was the first Astro to hit the 100 RBI mark with 107 in 1967.

3 ½ game lead as we host the D-Backs at The Yard this weekend.

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Firefighters

Yesterday, Alex Bregman became the 19th MLBer to smack 30 dingers and 50 doubles in a season. Name the MLBer who first accomplished this feat back in 1927?

Ike made landfall on this day 10 years ago.

I saw this tweet yesterday:

Chief Art Acevedo‏ @ArtAcevedo 3h3 hours ago
Replying to @FirefightersHOU @KrisBanks @SylvesterTurner

Our police officers negotiated throughout the years (not in one swoop as you want which, in-fact, will put the city and taxpayers we serve in a hole). Your President needs to come to the town hall meetings and address the taxpayers directly.

I don’t think the Chief calling out Marty is sitting well with the folks over on Freeman Street. Just saying.

At an event on the day of the City of H-Town’s birthday last month, the Chief was asked what he wanted the City to get for its birthday. The Chief replied something along the lines of removing the City of H-Town’s revenue cap, so we could hire more police officers.

The H-Town Firefighters went out and got signatures to get their pay raises put on the ballot.

Commentary is thinking the reason we aren’t voting on removing the revenue cap this November is because H-Town voters probably would not be in the mood to support a removal.

From the wacko department, see this from the Chron:

As Hurricane Florence approached the Carolinas, the president picked a fresh fight over the administration’s response in Puerto Rico, tweeting: “When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000.”

Trump added: “This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico.”

Puerto Rico’s governor last month raised the U.S. territory’s official death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975 after an independent study found that the number of people who succumbed in the sweltering aftermath had been severely undercounted.

This also may happen. See this from the Trib: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/09/13/texas-senate-republican-supermajority/.

Desperate times, desperate measures. All you need to do is read the headline from this story:

Rudy Giuliani to headline Pete Sessions fundraiser

See this tweet about scoreboard watching:

Brian McTaggart‏ @brianmctaggart 3h3 hours ago

Astros need to go 8-8 to win 100 games. 10-6 would tie club-record 102 wins (1998).

The great Lou Gehrig of course was the first when he smacked 47 dingers and 52 doubles in 1927.

On September 11, 2008, as Ike was moving toward the H-Town region, I went to The Yard to catch the Astros and the Pirates. The team reported attendance at 31,000 plus. Nope! That’s how many tickets they sold. There were probably around 10,000 folks at The Yard. The team was short on staff because a lot of workers had headed out of town. A lot of the concession areas were closed.

3 games up on the A’s with 16 remaining. We have 7 roadies remaining, the A’s have 10 roadies remaining.

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Sen. Cornyn’s Shift

The Astros now have 91 wins. How many times in team franchise history has the team won 90 or more games in a season?

Let me say that Bill King has been studying, analyzing, commenting, writing and talking about City of H-Town finances longer than anyone in these parts. He pretty much has established a body of work on this subject with his takes. I would say he is one of the most knowledgeable folks out there when it comes to City of H-Town finances.

Bill has weighed in of sorts on the H-Town Firefighters Prop B initiative. Commentary chuckles when folks pull out some of Bill’s past takes and try to gotcha him. I don’t have a problem with that as long as folks consider all of his past takes.

After all, years ago Bill started warning us about stuff while others were saying Bill didn’t know what he was talking about and guess what? Bill knew what he was talking about.  Just saying.

Meanwhile, Pasadena Mayor Jeff Wagner isn’t messing around. See this from Chron.com:

The city of Pasadena is considering a tax rate increase of 4 cents per $100 valuation, but a few council members are arguing that the city can avoid the hike by cutting expenses and even provide a 3 percent raise for employees.

Two public hearings are scheduled before City Council can vote on the proposed rate, which would be 61.5 cents per $100 valuation.

And this:

City Councilman Phil Cayten has said the rate increase is needed to fund city services.

“A Property Tax rate increase for the City of Pasadena is long overdue,” Cayten said in a written statement. “Our Property Tax rate of $.575388 per $100.00 value has averaged the same rate for the past 35 years.”

For a home valued at $200,000 in 2017, a homeowner would pay $1,150 in taxes to the city under that rate, excluding any homestead or senior exemptions. If the proposed tax rate of 61.5 cents is approved and the home’s value stays the same, the city tax bill for same home would be $1,230, an increase of $80.

And finally, this:

Cayten noted that other area cities have increased their tax rates over the years.

“Everything it takes to run a city has gone up tremendously over the past 35 years, such as: Cost of employee salaries, employee insurance police cars, fire trucks, construction equipment, gasoline, electricity, and construction materials, etc,” Cayten said.

Like I said, not messing around.

Remember when Sen. John Cornyn said this about #BetoForTexas last year?

“Beto is going to give him a run, but I don’t think he’s got a chance,” said Cornyn.

This is from a Politico Story today about “BetoForTexas and Sen. Ted Cruz:

“We’re not bluffing, this is real, and it is a serious threat,” Cornyn said. 

A significant shift in attitude by Sen. Cornyn for sure.

Commentary is not surprised by this story. Check this:

Republicans have grown increasingly worried about losing control of the Senate, as President Trump’s approval rating tumbles and Democrats gain steam in key battleground races.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday sounded some of the most doubtful notes of Trump’s presidency that Republicans will keep the upper chamber of Congress, telling reporters, “I hope when the smoke clears, we’ll still have a majority.”

His comments came as Republican strategists and officials fretted over a fresh round of private polling on the Senate races, while public polls registered further erosion in Americans’ approval of Trump. “Shipwreck” was how one leading strategist described the situation, adding an expletive to underscore the severity of the party’s problems.

One of the most unexpected fights is in reliably GOP Texas, where Sen. Ted Cruz is trying to fend off Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Republicans are so fearful about losing the seat that they are diverting resources to Texas, a sore point in the White House after the animosity between Cruz and Trump in the 2016 Republican presidential primary.

Here is the entire story: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/%e2%80%98shipwreck%e2%80%99-gop-grows-fearful-about-losing-senate-as-candidates-struggle-trump-support-tumbles/ar-BBNcGdp?li=BBnbfcL&ocid=UE01DHP.

I have told folks privately that a Dem U.S. Senate majority could very well happen on November 6.

This will be the eighth time in franchise history that we hit the 90 plus win mark of course.

A 3 game lead with 17 left on the schedule and a noon start today.

 

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Seventeen Years Ago

We remember.

Never forget.

It was on a Tuesday.

I was at a Mayor Lee Brown Campaign Reelection Executive Committee Meeting at the Hyatt Downtown when we got word.

Before September 11, we never used to sing “God Bless America” at The Yard. Now we sing it on Sundays and on holidays.

Before September 11, NFL football players would come out on the field after the playing of the National Anthem.

Before September 11, hardly anyone sung the words of the National Anthem at sporting events. Some things never change.

Rudy Giuliani has certainly changed.

I guess this is why I subscribe. See this:

A note to readers from the editor of the Houston Chronicle

(This is also at the bottom of Page A3 in today’s hard copy)

In these challenging times for our country, with journalism and journalists often under attack, trust between a newspaper and its readers is absolutely essential.

We spend our days trying to ferret out the truth on school quality, taxes, development, the root causes of flooding, or why, as we reported Sunday, Houston is the deadliest city in America for driving.

We ask that you trust us that we’ve done everything we can to ensure what we’ve told you is fair and accurate. For that reason, I want to be completely transparent with readers and tell you that we have launched an investigation into the work of one of our own reporters.

Recently, another Houston Chronicle journalist flagged me with questions about the accuracy of a story written by veteran Austin reporter Mike Ward. Ward joined the Chronicle in 2014 after a long career with the Austin American-Statesman. Specifically, questions were raised about whether individuals quoted in one of his stories were real people.

Our own researchers, after an initial review, had difficulty finding a number of sources cited in Ward’s most recent reports.

Ward has insisted that his work was truthful, that his work involved real people, and that we would eventually find the individuals behind his “man-on-the-street” interviews. However, given the questions this review raised, he offered to resign and I accepted that resignation last week. If we were in another business, that might be enough.

As a journalism organization, we owe the public more. We owe our readers the truth and to tell you if, in fact, there were inaccuracies in anything we published. We simply do not know the full story yet.

To help us ferret this out, we have hired an independent, highly respected journalist to review Ward’s work for the last year, or further, if necessary, and determine whether any reporting transgressions occurred. We have given that journalist full access to our archives and promised access to our editors as well. Investigative work takes time, and it can be tedious. Tracking down and verifying sources, especially across a year or more of work, requires significant legwork.

And above all else, we need to be fair — to Ward, to our readers, and to other journalists concerned about their own reputations.

When this investigation is complete, we will publish a full accounting of our findings.

We owe our readers nothing less.

Nancy Barnes
Executive Editor

Wow! Stay tuned for sure.

There are Vote for H-Town Firefighters Prop B yard signs on my street. Just saying.

Last season, after 144 games, we were 87-57 with 18 games remaining, 9 at The Yard and 9 on the road, with 3 against a contender – at Fenway.

This season, after 144 games, we are 90-54 with 18 games remaining, 9 at The Yard and 9 on the road, with 6 against contenders, 3 with the D-Backs and 3 with the Mariners – both at The Yard.

Our lead is now 3 games. Got it?

 

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Out of Control

We very well could see the Red Sox in the playoffs again next month. Including last season’s ALDS, what is our record against the Red Sox over the past two seasons?

“OUT OF CONTROL” was the headline on the Chron’s hard copy front page yesterday and accompanied by two front page stores on the H-Town region leading the country in traffic fatalities.

Sad to say, but that is also who we are. It is hard to argue with the facts and stats. The more roads and parkways we build, the more freeways we expand, bad things are going happen. Then there are these folks. How many times have you slowed down for a yellow light while somebody in the next lane gunned it and ran through a red light?

My phone gizmo has an app that doesn’t allow me to text or receive texts while I am driving. Maybe they ought to make that mandatory. It can’t hurt.

From Tim Bacon on Bill King supporting the Firefighters Prop B:

King’s latest is a campaign piece. Long winded, but that’s King’s style. He still wants to be mayor. The Mayor, on the other hand, wants to be re-elected. Nonetheless, he is doing what is best for the city. He’s out talking reality to any group he can find. This may cost him his job, but he’s out there anyway. My guess is the firefighters will win, but Houston will lose.

Commentary likes President Obama, but I am not waiting for him to save the day for Dems. That train has already left the station. I watched President Obama’s speech last week and it was a good one, but Dems are already enthused. We’ve been enthused.

One of Donald Trump’s top staffers told GOP donors this past weekend that Sen. Ted Cruz could lose his reelection bid because he’s not likeable. Try telling us something we don’t know. Also, try adding because a lot of folks don’t respect him either. Sen Cruz only cares about Sen. Cruz.

Here is from Kuffer on the Trump staffer:

I mean, Mick Mulvaney is himself about as likable as a case of athlete’s foot, so this is really saying something. I’m not sure what I love more, that people feel so free to insult Ted Cruz, or that people feel so free to record such insults and leak them to reporters so the rest of us can enjoy it as well. Or maybe Mulvaney just internalized the lesson that Donald Trump taught us all, that the way to earn Ted Cruz’s affection and loyalty is to treat him like garbage. Has Mulvaney tweeted about Mrs. Cruz being ugly yet? That’s got to be next.

Here is all of Kuffer: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=87647.

Commentary went to the Pasadena Rodeo Parade Saturday morning. There sure were a lot of folks along the parade route. Mostly of the Latino persuasion. Heck, over two thirds of Pasadena is Latino.

Somebody put this on Next Door yesterday and a lot of folks replied with takes:

Los Cucos fail

So when you spend $50 on takeout order of fajitas for two and they forget the tortillas, shouldn’t they be responsible for delivering them? #LostACustomer

I picked up an order of menudo at Spanish Flower yesterday. Looked in the bag when they handed it to me: menudo, check, flower tortillas, check, hot sauce, check, tortilla chips, check, limes, check, chopped onions, check, chopped peppers, check. Not hard to do, folks.

Check these tweets:

ChronAstros Retweeted

Chandler Rome‏@Chandler_Rome 2h2 hours ago

Alex Bregman is the only player in Astros history to hit 30 home runs in a season prior to turning 25.

And this about Fenway:

Jeff Syptak liked

Mark Berman‏@MarkBermanFox26 6h6 hours ago

 

Red Sox play-by-play announcer during Boston’s broadcast: “There are so many orange shirts in the stands it’s ridiculous.”

Over the past two seasons, the Astros are 11-7 versus the Red Sox of course.

About a month or so ago, I told my best friend and a couple of other folks that if we met the Red Sox in the ALCS in October, they would take us in five or six. I am not thinking that these days.

2 ½ game AL West lead with 19 remaining.

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The headline for today’s hard copy of the Chron Sports section says it all:

Weekend in New England

We hosted the Red Sox for four back in late May and early June, how did we do against them?

Commentary was chuckling most of the day yesterday as the folks who work for Donald Trump were having their I Am Not Spartacus moment. Yuk, yuk, yuk!

We saw a first last night. An admission of guilt. Donald Trump urged his supporters to vote this November or else he would get impeached. He knows it.

A couple of media outlets are reporting that the Trump folks have narrowed down the list of anonymous suspects to twelve individuals and please don’t call them the “dirty dozen”, that would be a disservice to that great flick.

I have to go check out H-Town’s new Latino mural. I saw some pics off of Rep. Carol Alvarado’s tweet. I may be wrong but it looks like it features former City Controller Leonel Castillo, former City Council Members Gracie Saenz and Felix Fraga, Yolanda Black Navarro, JFK and Jackie, LBJ and Lady Bird, Lydia Mendoza, Lowriders, the Vaquero fella, and Christina Morales – COOL.

Bill King lays out why he is voting for Prop B here:

Unpacking the Fire Fighters’ Pay Ballot Proposition

Many of you have heard by now that Houstonians will be voting on a proposition on the November ballot to mandate a pay raise for Houston fire fighters. The history of how we got to this point is long and contorted. The issues regarding the merits of the proposition are complex. I wish I could summarize this in a few short sound bites, but to truly understand the issue, it is going to take some time to unpack.

The History

The following is a somewhat oversimplified version of how we got here, but I think it is a reasonably accurate summary. 

For most of the City’s history, police and fire fighters were paid from the same pay scale, which is sometimes referred to as “parity.” But in 2001, negotiations with the two groups separated and each had their own pay scale thereafter.

As funding the pension plans became more onerous after about 2000, successive administrations would offer City employees pay raises in exchange for skimping on the pension contributions. The police union and the municipal employees’ union generally went along with these proposals while the fire fighters would not. As a result, the fire fighters’ pay lagged, but their pension plan was significantly better funded than the other two plans.

The pay gap grew between the police and fire departments over time. Earlier this year, an outside consulting report commissioned by the City found that the fully-loaded cost of a police officer in 2017 was $124,456 versus $104,275 for a fire fighter, a difference of just under 20%.

The fire fighter’s have not had a pay raise since 2014. During 2011-2014, they received a 3% raise. So that is 3% over eight years. Inflation since 2011has been about 14%. As a result, fire fighter have seen a real pay cut of about 11%.

Conversely, the fire fighters’ pension was much better funded than the police or municipal plan. Immediately prior to the rework of the pension plans in 2017, the fire plan was about 85% funded while the police and municipal were about 60% and 50%, respectively.[i]

When Turner began negotiating a reduction in the City’s pension costs in 2017, the police and municipal were desperately in need of a cash infusion. So, Turner offered to issue pension bonds to make a one-time contribution to the plans in exchange for concessions on benefits and higher employee contributions.[ii]

But the fire fighter plan did not need any infusion and so the City had no real leverage over them in the negotiations. Ultimately the negotiations between the fire fighters and the City over the pension deal fell apart but the City was able to cram down benefit reductions and increased contributions at the Legislature over the fire fighters’ objections. Apparently because of Turner’s antipathy toward the fire fighters, the cuts to the fire fighters’ plan were significantly more severe than the other two plans. According to the fiscal note prepared by the Legislature when the pension bill was passed, the per-employee cuts were about $140,000 for fire fighters compared to about $90,000 for police and $45,000 for other municipal employees. And, significantly, the fire plan did not get any cash infusion from the bonds like the other two plans.

Current Round of Negotiations

The fire fighters believe that they were punished in the pension bill even though they had been financially more responsible by passing on raises to see that their pension plan was better funded. So, in the current round of negotiations the fire fighters have asked to be made whole on the raises the police got but they did not. Not surprisingly, the City declined.

The fire fighters and the City have completely different stories on what took place in the current round of negotiations. The City claims it offered a 9% raise which the fire fighters turned down. Actually, the offer was for a 3% raise in each of the next three years, but the City has intentionally and repeatedly suggested it was a one-time 9% raise. Even if it had been a one-time raise, it would not have matched inflation since the last pay raise.

But even that offer was not put on the table until after the fire fighters had declared an impasse. By the way, according to the fire fighters, neither Turner nor his city attorney attended a single negotiating session.

Unable to reach an agreement with the City, the fire fighters were forced to take their case to the voters. They collected enough signatures to force a vote on a charter amendment that would put them back on the same pay scale as the police, thus making the citizens of Houston the ultimate arbiters of the dispute.

How Much Does It Cost?

The City’s estimates of the cost of the proposition passing have been all over the map. Early on, they said it would cost $38 million, but more recently claimed the cost might be as high as $98 million. The truth is it is impossible to know until we see exactly how the change would be implemented.

But the consultant’s report that calculated the “all-in” personnel cost gives us some of idea of the range. According to that report, there is currently a 19% difference between police and fire ($124,000 vs. $104,000) or about $20,000 per employee. There are about 4,000 fire fighters on the HFD force. So, to bring them up to what the police are making (including all benefits) would cost something in the range of about $80 million annually. That would definitely create some budgetary pressures if the City were to implement the change immediately, but that is unlikely.

But to put that number is perspective, it is about a 1.5% increase in the City’s total budget. It is about equal to the increase in the City’s general fund revenue increase last year. It is less than half the money that is now funneled into the TIRZs.  Certainly, the City has found money when it wanted to spend it on its pet project, like the Post Oak bus lane boondoggle ($200 million). So, the administration’s dire predictions that passage of the proposal will lead to massive layoffs or other financial exigencies are greatly overstated. Also, the fire fighters have offered to phase in the increase over several years.

What is the Effect on the Pensions?       

The City administration has also made vague references that the passage of the proposition would “blow up” the pension bill passed in the last Legislature.   I see no evidence that would be case. The PFM study was based on an “all-in” cost, which obviously would include pensions. So, our $80 million estimate of the fully implemented cost would also cover any increase in pension costs.

Of course, it is axiomatic that higher salaries will ultimately increase benefits in a defined benefit plan and, therefore, the ultimate cost. But, ironically, an actuarial report released by the fire fighter pension board shows the raise would actually lower the percentage of payroll the City contributes, which is the controlling parameter of the so-called “corridor” mechanism. This farcical result is just one more indication of how flawed the corridor mechanism is. More on that later.

Morale Effects.

I think what worries me more about this dispute than anything else is the effect on the morale of the fire and police departments. Turner has cynically pitted the police and fire departments against each other by refusing to give the police a raise unless the fire ballot proposition is defeated.   HPOU is actually running a campaign to defeat the proposition. So much for labor solidarity. As a result, relations between the two departments have never been worse and the morale at both is abysmal.

These are the people on whom we rely to run into burning buildings, confront dangerous criminals and rush us to the hospital. We need the people in both departments to be excited about doing their jobs, not dispirited by an administration that is intentionally fermenting discord and animosity between the services.

Conclusion

Every Houstonian will have to decide for themselves how this dispute should be resolved. Personally, I hate this kind of inflexibility being written into the City charter, but I would also like an EMT to show up at my house if I have a heart attack.

No one has been more direct than I have been in telling the fire fighters that their pension plan is unsustainable in the long run. But I also hate the fact that we, as a City, have broken our word and taken away earned retirement benefits. That is something every mayoral candidate, including Turner and me, promised to never do, and as nearly has I can tell, has never been done before anywhere in the State of Texas.

This is going to be a mess either way it works out. There will be years of litigation regardless of the outcome. I have decided I am going to vote with the fire fighters. To me, a vote against them just adds insult to injury after what the City did to them in the pension deal and I fear would have a devastating effect on fire fighter morale.

I am sure Bill will catch some grief, but he can handle it.

I liked Burt Reynolds. I liked “Deliverance”, “The Longest Yard” (I don’t know why they made another one), “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, and “Sharky’s Machine.” In the early 1960s, he was a “Gunsmoke” regular – Quint Asper.

Commentary had the Golf Channel on the flat screen yesterday and you know why.

Back in late May and early June at The Yard, we took the first two from the Red Sox and they took the last two.

A reminder, Sunday’s game at Fenway is on ESPN at 7 pm.

 

 

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Anonymous Worms

Otra vez, back to my “Gameday” and the page on BASEBALL TERMS IN SPANISH, what is the Spanish word for RUBBER as in pitching RUBBER?

Last night, Bill King dropped by the City of H-Town hearing in Montrose on the H-Town Firefighters pay parity issue. Here is Bill’s tweet:

Bill King‏@BillKingHouston 11h11 hours ago

Went to the City townhall meeting tonight. About 150 people there of which about 120 were City employees and political consultants.

History will not be kind to folks who worked for or were appointed by Donald Trump – period. And this IS NOT the fault of the free press. The Bob Woodward book “FEAR” is based on folks who work for or are close to Trump. The latest is the anonymous worm who penned the Op-Ed. It is an absolute infestation of worms over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There is no other way to explain it. The press and folks like Woodward are just letting us know.

Commentary has said why I subscribe. Now let me talk about the subscription. Back in mid-August, I was told I would be billed monthly to my credit card. A few days ago, I saw a billing for the subscription on my credit card. I called customer service and they told me that they were billing me early for the next four weeks. I told them that I had a monthly subscription, not a four week subscription. They told me the monthly WAS the four week subscription. I told them they were the Chron and Chron shouldn’t be pulling fast ones like this. So, I guess I am really paying for a 13 month annual subscription. Got it?

You get a ring! You get a ring! Everybody gets a ring! I got this from the Astros yesterday:

As the 2018 regular season comes to an end, we wanted to say thank you to our fans. On September 23rd, we will celebrate Fan Appreciation Day and all ticketed fans in attendance will receive a Replica World Series Ring, presented by Coca-Cola, upon entering the gates.

Pitching RUBBER in Spanish is Goma (GO-mah), of course. Now you know.

Commentary has said that Alex Bregman is the most fun to watch and he didn’t let us down last night with his interview with Julia Morales that has gone viral. Classic!

87-53, 3 ½ lead, 20 games remaining.

 

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Campaign Town Halls

Once again, back to my “Gameday” and the page on BASEBALL TERMS IN SPANISH, what is the Spanish word for BUNT?

Look for the GOP and Sen. Ted Cruz to mock Beto’s appearance on Ellen’s show today. Here is from the Chron:

Democrat Beto O’Rourke gets a national television audience today for his campaign for the U.S. Senate.

O’Rourke is expected to be on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, thanks largely to a viral video in which O’Rourke defended the rights of football players to kneel during the national anthem. DeGeneres went on social media to laud his speech and declare her hopes to meet O’Rourke.

Her top-rated talk show is in its 16th season and, according to the Hollywood Reporter, had a 7 percent year-over-year growth among women 25-54 — a key demographic group in the midterm election cycle.

In the pre-recorded interview already viewable on her website, O’Rourke told DeGeneres he “just gave the answer of what was on my mind.”

Go check out the Chron E-Board take today on the racist Donald Trump trying to steal citizenships from Latinos along the border with Mexico. Commentary has family in Laredo. F__k those that work for Trump.

Check this line from a Chron story today on the H-Town Firefighters pay parity proposal:

City council members said they strongly expect the initiative to pass and expressed alarm at the possible impact it could have on other city services.

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/HFD-Chief-warns-pay-ballot-measure-could-cause-at-13204971.php?src=hp_totn.

This is why the Mayor is holding town hall meetings in every City Council district – to build opposition against the proposal. Here is from the Chron:

Mayor Sylvester Turner will begin a series of town hall meetings this week to discuss the two city ballot items that will appear on the November ballot.

The gatherings will run from 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. and will start Wednesday and run through the week before early voting starts in October.

Houston voters in November will consider a measure that would grant firefighters the same pay as police officers of corresponding rank and seniority, and also will weigh a second vote on the street and drainage repair program known as ReBuild Houston.

Turner repeatedly has called the firefighter pay parity issue “unaffordable” and has said its passage would force service cuts and layoffs. On the other hand, he has said he will continue to implement ReBuild Houston in the same manner regardless of the outcome of the vote. The controversial monthly drainage fee that is a key component of that program is not at issue in November.

They are going to need more than town hall meetings to defeat this. How did we even get to this? Oh, brother!

Speaking of H-Town City Hall, it would be nice if they fixed the audio on their live Council meeting broadcasts.  Maybe I ought to ask the Chron’s Mike Morris if he will write an investigative piece on this so it can get fixed.  Turn on the volume, please.

This is Commentary’s ha-ha moment. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is boycotting Nike. There are a lot of high schools and colleges whose football teams sport the swoosh – contractually. They are not going to give up their money because of what the Fox News toads or Dan Patrick say. That’s funny.

BUNT in Spanish is Toque (TOH-keh), of course. Now you know.

86-53, 23 games remaining, 3 ½ game lead.  Scoreboard watching for sure.  Not ready for magic numbers – not yet.

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NIKE Does it

Commentary apologizes for being offline the past couple of days. They told me it was a server issue. It was extremely frustrating. I am going to have to do something about that for sure.

Again, back to my “Gameday” and the page on BASEBALL TERMS IN SPANISH, what is the Spanish word for SOUTHPAW?

NIKE knows what they are doing. Just like the California burger chain knows what they were doing.

At a GOP rally in North Texas yesterday, an attendee yelled “send (Beto) O’Rourke back to Ireland.” The Calgarian replied “that’s good.”

Beto was born in El Paso, Texas and not in Alberta, Canada. Just saying.

Donald Trump is going to campaign in Texas with Sen. Ted Cruz. I wonder if local GOPers want Trump to visit these parts?

BTW: Sen. Cruz was wearing his NIKEs when he played basketball with Jimmy Kimmel.

In today’s Chron hard copy, there is story on the interim HISD Superintendent. Here is a bit:

In recent weeks, three trustees have suggested Lathan should be named the district’s permanent leader, but other board members and some community leaders have been reluctant to follow suit. Laura Murillo, president and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, said HISD trustees “must look high and low” for the district’s next superintendent.

“It’s best to move in a thoughtful, methodical way rather than to rush and select someone who will not fit the needs of our community,” Murillo said. “We know there are many qualified people who can come here and take HISD to the next level.”

https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/HISD-s-interim-leader-charges-ahead-amid-job-13197886.php.

Laura is one of our community’s key leaders for sure. I am glad she is keeping an eye on things.

SOUTHPAW in Spanish is Zurdo (SOOR-doh), of course. Now you know.

You get a ring! You get a ring! You get a ring!

I told you. One more World Series Replica Ring Giveaway on Monday, September 17th when the Mariners visit.

Commentary doesn’t have a problem with the dugout dinger celebrations led by Alex Bregman.

Let’s see. 85-53, 2 ½ game lead, with 24 remaining.

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Why I Subscribe, Again

Back to my “Gameday” and the page on BASEBALL TERMS IN SPANISH, what is the Spanish word for STARTER as in starting pitcher?

Commentary watched or listened to Sen. John McCain’s service on Saturday morning. Sen. McCain planned his own funeral. He knew there was going to be an eloquent takedown of Donald Trump by his daughter Meghan and Presidents Bush and Obama. Well done!

Commentary has let folks know before the reasons I subscribe to the Chron hard copy. Yesterday’s outstanding front page story by Mike Morris is reason enough. Here is the hard copy lead front page headline:

City let affordable housing rules slide

Here is from the story:

Homes sold through the program are being rented out, some by real estate investors, in violation of program rules. The city produced no evidence that it has taken action against these landlords.

Some residents sold their homes soon after buying, some because they saw little sign their neighborhoods were being revitalized. City officials acknowledge they have not acted to recoup their subsidies from owners who sold before they had lived in the homes for 10 years, as stipulated in program rules.

Some buyers — who had received a combined $389,000 in subsidies to help them make down payments — lost their homes to foreclosure.

More than 700 land bank lots remain vacant, and many have become overgrown or acted as illegal trash dumps, leading the agency to be repeatedly ticketed for city code violations. The agency also acquired and then later gave up on more than 200 other parcels it deemed unsuitable for development.

“We are faced with such an affordable housing crisis right now, especially among the lowest-income families within the city of Houston,” said Chrishelle Palay, Houston director of Texas Housers. “To know that those who could afford market-rate housing are given the deep subsidies that really should go to the lowest-income folks — that’s outrageous.”

Here is the entire Morris read: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Breaking-all-the-rules-Lax-oversight-undercuts-13197828.php.

What a mess!

It says something that the Chron and its City Hall beat writer had to do the legwork to figure out how screwed up a City housing program was. It also says something that the City housing honchos were unaware of the problems. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

That’s why I subscribe.

The new flick about the first folks on the moon has got some folks riled up because there is not a scene of Old Glory being planted on the moon. All I can say to those folks is they are free to go spend their own millions and make their own movie about the moon.

If you are going to get riled up about upcoming flicks, get pi__ed off if they don’t give Jennifer Garner a cool line along the lines of a particular set of skills or make my day in her new arse kicking role in “Peppermint.” What’s in your wallet?

You have to read Leonard Pitts Jr.’s column yesterday on his letter to Trump. Here are parts:

Dear Donald Trump:

Do you ever think about your own funeral?

The question is not meant to be morbid or to wish ill upon you. But given how churlishly you have behaved after the death of Sen. John McCain — was it really that hard for you to issue a laudatory statement and lower the flag in his honor? — it feels appropriate. Besides, it’s only human to wonder how you’ll be remembered once you exhale for the final time.

And this:

Two ex-presidents agreed to eulogize McCain, a man with whom neither was personally very close, but whom both regarded with respect. It’s hard to imagine any ex-presidents giving your eulogy. So, who do you think they’ll get?

Kid Rock? Vladimir Putin?

And finally, this:

When President Gerald Ford died, President Jimmy Carter thanked him “for all he did to heal our land.” No one can say that of you.

When President Ronald Reagan died, President George W. Bush noted that he “carried himself, even in the most powerful office, with a decency and attention to small kindnesses ….” Something else no one can say about you.

With so many of your friends lining up to testify against you, who will even be left to mourn, outside of your kids and whomever you happen to be married to at the time? Will Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort be out on parole by then? Will Don Jr.?

Maybe Stormy Daniels will be there, signing autographs and taking selfies with her fans. Maybe David Duke will show up and burn a cross in your honor. Maybe Sean Spicer will stand out front and announce that, “This will be the largest audience to witness a funeral, period, both in person and around the world.” Point being, there will be little mourning of the kind we’re seeing for John McCain.

Here is the entire column from yesterday’s Chron: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Donald-Trump-your-funeral-is-coming-Opinion-13199387.php.

Hilarious!

STARTER in Spanish is Titular (tee-too-LAR), of course. Now you know.

2 ½ game lead with 25 remaining and a 1 pm start today at The Yard.

Have a nice Labor Day!

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