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Archive for December, 2018

Nowhere Fast

Collin McHugh will be in the starting pitching rotation for the Astros next season. What are the most games he has won in a season as an Astro?

This was tweeted yesterday:

Texas Tribune Retweeted

Patrick Svitek‏Verified account@PatrickSvitek 41m41 minutes ago

From Blast this evening: Looking like state Sen.-elect Alvarado’s swearing-in will be Dec. 21 #SD6 #HD145 #txlege

 

Yep.

On a related note. In the #TXSD6Special:

Mail Ballots: 6,768.

Early Vote in Person: 3,865.

Election Day Voters: 4,646.

In the soon-to-be #TXHD145Special:

Christina Morales is in.

Martha Fierro is on.

On my take yesterday on the Big Cinco, I got this:

Bill Kelly‏@billkellytexas 22h22 hours ago

Replying to @MarcCommentary

 

Would also mention both Houston’s Police & Fire Chiefs: @ArtAcevedo & @FireChiefofHFD

Bill makes a good point, but I was talking about those Latinos that were elected by the voters. I could also add Port Chair Janiece Longoria.

Yesterday was green bin day. Early this morning when I went to fetch my Chronicle, I noticed my green bin had not been emptied by the City of H-Town. Then I read this in today’s Chron:

Houston City Councilman Dwight Boykins on Thursday proposed charging property owners a monthly garbage collection fee to finance raises for firefighters while avoiding job cuts for other city staff.

Under the proposal, most Houston homeowners would be charged a flat, monthly fee between $25 and $40 to help the city absorb the cost of raises for firefighters mandated by the pay parity charter amendment approved by voters last month.

Here is the entire read: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Boykins-pitches-trash-fee-to-pay-for-firefighter-13465192.php?src=hp_totn.

Nope. This went nowhere fast. Nope. No way.

This was also in the Chron:

Houston ISD trustees narrowly voted Thursday to not seek proposals from outside organizations to run long-struggling schools, a decision that keeps those campuses under local control but sets the stage for a possible state takeover of the district’s school board.

Barring an unexpected legislative or legal change, four HISD schools now must meet state academic standards in 2019 after missing the mark for four-plus consecutive years to stave off major state sanctions against the district. If any of those four schools fail to meet standard, the Texas Education Agency is legally required to replace HISD’s entire school board and appoint new members, or close still-failing schools.

HISD could have preempted any punishment for two years if the district temporarily surrendered control of the four schools to outside groups. TEA leaders have previously said they do not see closing schools as a strong option for improving student outcomes, though they have not committed to either option.

And this:

Trustees Wanda Adams, Diana Dávila, Jolanda Jones, Elizabeth Santos and Rhonda Skillern-Jones opposed seeking proposals. Trustees Sue Deigaard, Sergio Lira, Holly Maria Flynn Vilaseca and Anne Sung supported the option.

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/HISD-trustees-opt-against-seeking-partnership-13465379.php.

How can you surrender schools to an entity that doesn’t have a track record? Nobody has bought into this.

Here is from Royko on my take yesterday on voting in certain precincts:

Just wondering how many “Over Votes” that precinct had?

The votes are being canvassed on Tuesday. We will know then about over votes by precincts.

Collin McHugh of course went 19-7 in 2015.

 

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Commentary has no idea what the point is in creating a fake State Senator-Elect Carol Alvarado twitter account.

Very few folks in H-Town have as much experience as Commentary on working toward H-Town Latino political empowerment. Janie and Frumencio Reyes are two I would point out. It is going to feel real good come January when Lina Hidalgo becomes Harris County Judge, Sylvia Garcia becomes a member of Congress, Carol Alvarado will be a State Senator, and Adrian Garcia will be Harris County Commissioner. Plus, we already have Ed Gonzalez as our Harris County Sheriff.

That’s five Latinos in key positions in state, federal and local government. Our Big Cinco you could say.  We can say our efforts our paying off.  We can also say thank to #BetoForTexas.  Not bad at all, but we’re not done.

We need to continue to keep building on this. We don’t have time to rest on our laurels.

During the #TXSD6Special, it really irked Commentary when folks said there were two good choices. Nope! I read it among bloggers and newsies, including the Chron E-Board. Voters didn’t buy this line. Here are some interesting examples:

State Reps. Armando Walle and Mary Ann Perez were huge backers of State Rep. Ana Hernandez.   In Rep. Walle’s home precinct, it was 62 votes for Rep. Carol Alvarado and 31 for Rep. Hernandez, 23 for Martha Fierro. In Rep. Perez’s home precinct, 122 for Alvarado, 75 for Fierro, and 26 for Hernandez (third place). In Hernandez’s home precinct, Hernandez 54, Alvarado 49, and Fierro 14. In Alvarado’s home precinct, Alvarado 273, Hernandez 82, Fierro 45.

Of the precincts where Alvarado had 100 or more votes, one stood out in my book. Precinct 497 up I-69 just below the beltway that includes a neighborhood called Carol Place – I kid you not – Alvarado 104, Hernandez 12, Mia Mundy 5, Fierro 1. That’s 85% for Alvarado in Precinct 497.

Out of 15,276 votes cast, Alvarado led Hernandez by 3,932 votes.

A strong performance by Alvarado.  Every now and then, the voters know better than the pundits and newsies.

This is from today’s Chron:

Bill King, a Houston businessman who narrowly lost his bid for mayor in 2015, filed paperwork with the city secretary Wednesday marking his likely intent to challenge Mayor Sylvester Turner again in 2019.

King lost to Turner, then a state representative, in a runoff decided by about 4,000 votes, or 1.9 percentage points, out of more than 212,000 ballots cast.

Though King’s filing of a campaign treasurer’s report does not lock in his candidacy, he said in an interview that he is “leaning heavily” toward running.

“I’ve been watching City Hall for 40 years, and this is the most corrupt administration I’ve seen,” King said.

Here is the entire read: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Bill-King-files-paperwork-to-run-for-Houston-mayor-13460669.php.

Charlie Morton won’t be wearing an Astros uniform this year.

 

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Senator Carol Alvarado

That sounds nice, don’t you think?

Quite an impressive victory. No runoff! We really were not looking forward to campaigning during the holidays. Now that is off the table.

This has truly been a year long effort. It was non-stop campaigning throughout the district. She met and visited with numerous civic and neighborhood leaders and for the most part, they all signed on to support her.

She started block walking this past summer. I accompanied her on most of the walks to see how folks were taking to her candidacy. The responses were positive. They liked what she was talking about. They liked that she was going door-to-door even before an election date had been set. They liked that she was genuine. I kind of knew then that we would win this race.

The 33-day campaign worked in our favor because we had prepared. We had our team in place ready to go.

Getting the endorsements of EMILY’s List, Houston GLBT Political Caucus, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, the Houston Chronicle, Harris County Tejano Democrats and others was huge. Of course, the Firefighters have always been in her corner.

In looking at the precinct-by-precinct returns, Carol dominated in her legislative district. Scored big in Northside boxes. Had great margins in Montie Beach and Sheldon. Did very well in African American precincts. And even won a few boxes in Rep. Ana Hernandez’s legislative district.

I could go on and on, but I won’t.

We had a great team that included Keir Murray and the campaign manager Jaime Mercado, who is certainly one of the, if not the leading political operative(s) in the state. He managed the team well.

He brought in a sharp field team – the best I have ever dealt with. Aaron, Mason, Linh, Alejandra, Obet, Ramiro, Miguel, Hugo and others did their jobs well.

Julie Edwards and the team from Storefront Political Media were tremendous in handling key parts of the campaign. Same goes for Frank Eaton and Kevin McKeon from Putnam Partners. All are among the best pros in the business.

Of course, this can’t be done unless you have a great candidate and we did.

She was focused. She connected with the voters.

I have been in politics for 45 years plus. I can truly say that Carol is one of the best I have ever seen. She knows policy and issues. She is articulate. She is genuine. She listens to your story. She doesn’t get rattled. She has a great sense of humor. She is witty and great with one-liners. She cares about her community. She is an advocate. She is relentless. She has never forgotten where she came from because she is still there – if you get my picture. She works hard. I repeat, she works hard.   This campaign proved it.

In my book, she is a major player in the shaping of statewide public policy in the Texas Legislature from here on out.

My best friend, former State Rep. Al Luna texted me a congratulations this morning.

I replied that the young college kid who walked into Al’s campaign office to volunteer years ago will now be called Senator Carol Alvarado.

I am sure I will have more to say in the coming days.

Well deserved. Nice win.

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#TXSD6Special

Commentary is late today.  It happens sometimes on Election Day.

Signs are out and crews are going.

Special Elections are tough. Special Elections are tougher two weeks before Christmas.

More folks have voted by mail than early in person.

Go vote!

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Disenfranchised

38 years-ago this past Saturday, John Lennon was murdered in New York City.  I remember that night.

State Rep. Carol Alvarado was endorsed by the Harris County Tejano Democrats this past Friday night. Nice!

Commentary received this email this past Friday afternoon:

Due to the threat of Severe Flooding the Early Voting Site at Ripley House Will Close at 5 pm

 Houston, TX – Due to the threat of severe flooding, the early voting site at Ripley House, 4410 Navigation Boulevard, Houston, TX 77011, for the State Senate District 6 Special Election, will close at 5 pm. The neighborhood where the early voting site is situated is afflicted by major flooding whenever there is heavy rain.

Voters residing in and around the Second Ward neighborhood who want to vote early this evening are advised to go to the County Attorney Conference Center located at 1019 Congress in downtown Houston. It is the nearest early voting site to Ripley House. Voters may find the complete early voting schedule at www.HarrisVotes.com.

All other early voting locations will remain open until 7 p.m. Today is the last day to vote early in the State Senate District 6 Special Election. Election Day is Tuesday, December 11.

This is absolutely BS!

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, the Alvarado Campaign Manager, and Commentary all made phone calls trying to keep Ripley House open.

The Elections Division folks blamed BakerRipley. The BakerRipley folks blamed the Elections Division folks running the election at Ripley House.

The Carol Alvarado campaign stationed a poll worker at the front of the Ripley House polling location to redirect Early Voters to HCC Southeast or Moody Park.

It has been determined that there were some voters who did show up at Ripley House after 5 pm who were not allowed to vote. That is a real shame. Thanks to BakerRipley or the Elections Division folks, some voters were disenfranchised.

Commentary is hoping the new folks coming in to run Harris County government will look into what happened.  If in fact the folks who were running the election at Ripley House were to blame, then they should never be allowed to work in a local election again. If BakerRipley is to blame, then they need to hold the person or persons responsible accountable. This is certainly out of character for BakerRipley.

The email that was sent out Friday afternoon went to a pretty extensive list. The Carol Alvarado Campaign was the only one to raise hell on this. Come on folks! Get out of your comfort zone. One disenfranchised voter is one too many. In this case there were a few.

I was watching “What’s Your Point” on Fox26 yesterday morning and at the end of the show, Bill King said he was leaving the program because he was going to be preoccupied with another project. He is running for H-Town Mayor.

Election Day for the #TXSD6SpecialElection is tomorrow.

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77 years-ago today the Japanese attacked the United States.

More and more folks forget what happened that day. Not me!

Let’s see. GOP operatives in North Carolina scoop up and destroy mail ballots belonging to African Americans and the political party of voter suppression remains silent on this. This is the same political party who tries to lecture us on Voter I.D.s. You know what they can do with that Voter I.D.

Stay Home, Please!

This is from today’s Chron:

Houstonians should stay home Friday night, if possible, to avoid flash floods expected to start the weekend, county officials advised.

The Houston area will see 3 to 6 inches of rainfall, and at least 8 inches in a few isolated areas, said Francisco Sánchez, deputy emergency management coordinator of Harris County’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management.

Harris County Tejano Democrats have scheduled a Friday night meeting for this evening to endorse in the #TXSD6 Special Election. I wonder how many will brave the weather and attend with umbrellas and rain boots?

From the just kidding department, on a related note, the folks over at H-Town City Hall want us to clean our storm drains before the rains come this evening. I didn’t know that was our job. I guess they don’t have a storm drain cleaning department over at City Hall.

Heck, why am I even complaining? I got a ditch in front of my house. BTW: When I got home last night, on trash pick-up day, my black garbage bin was sitting head first in my ditch – nice. Oh, yeah, I forgot, they also want to run some of our schools. Like I said, just kidding, but I have to admit, they are giving us plenty of ammo to kid them.

This is from the Trib on the #TXSD6 Special Election debate:

At a debate Tuesday, the two collided when a moderator asked Hernandez about the Houston Chronicle editorial board’s recent endorsement of Alvarado, which commended her for climbing the leadership ranks in a Republican-led House.

Here is the Trib piece: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/12/06/sylvia-garcia-carol-alvarado-ana-hernandez-special-election/.

My pal, Jay Aiyer, has a great Op-Ed today on Dems taking over Harris County government here: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/A-100-day-agenda-for-Harris-County-s-new-13436389.php.

See this sad news from the Chron:

Luis Valbuena, the charismatic, bat-flipping third baseman who played an integral part on the Astros 2015 Wild Card team, died in a car accident following a winter ball game in his native Venezuela on Thursday along with former Astro Jose Castillo.

Valbuena hit 25 dingers with the Astros in 2015 and wore the number 18.

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Not Sold

Commentary is not sold on this. Right now, I don’t think it is a good idea. Check this from the Chron:

The city of Houston’s education czar and three well-connected, civically engaged residents plan in the coming weeks to seek control of some long-struggling Houston ISD schools in a bid to improve academic outcomes and help the district stave off major state sanctions tied to chronically low performance at the campuses.

State business records show Juliet Stipeche, the director of Mayor Sylvester Turner’s Office of Education Initiatives, and the three board members have formed the Coalition for Educational Excellence and Equity in Houston, a nonprofit that could partner with HISD to take over campuses under a state law encouraging charter agreements between school districts and private organizations.

If an agreement with HISD were struck, the nonprofit envisions assuming control of academics, finances and governance at an undetermined number of schools. The portfolio likely would include four campuses in danger of triggering sanctions — either forced campus closures or a state takeover of HISD’s locally elected school board — if any one of them fails to meet state academic standards in 2019. In exchange, the state would provide an additional $1,800 per student in funding to the nonprofit, and it would grant HISD a two-year reprieve from sanctions if it surrendered control of the four campuses.

HISD Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan and school board members have shown little enthusiasm for such arrangements to date, but they have not precluded the possibility ahead of a state-imposed deadline in early February 2019 to submit any agreements. The arrangements are intended to be temporary, with control over the campuses returned to a school district after a contractually agreed-upon period.

Stipeche, who served as an HISD trustee from 2010 to 2015, said the coalition will seek to engage other local civic organizations in providing resources to students who attend schools that often fail to meet state academic standards. The coalition has not yet solidified its educational framework or crafted a proposal for public viewing, Stipeche said.

“We envision working through a collective-impact approach to lock arms with the community, to reimagine what we can do to support our schools as centers of excellence, equity and innovation,” Stipeche said. “We are working on finalizing an overview of what we would like to present to the board for their consideration in terms of how we work, what our core values and vision are, and what our building blocks of success are.”

The coalition includes three founding board members: Trinidad “Trini” Mendenhall, the co-founder of the grocery chain Fiesta Mart and president of the real estate investment firm Fulton Shopping Center; Stephanie Nellons-Paige, the vice president of external affairs for Texas Central Railway and wife of former HISD superintendent Rod Paige; and Corbin Robertson Jr., CEO and chairman of the mining company Natural Resources Partners.

And this:

Mendenhall, Nellons-Paige and Robertson each have deep roots in Houston, with lengthy track records of civic activism that make them well-positioned to raise outside funds for the initiative. Mendenhall and Robertson, in particular, boast extensive management and nonprofit governance experience.

The well-heeled group, however, has few personal ties to the largely impoverished neighborhoods under consideration for partnerships. None of its members have been educators. The fast-approaching February 2019 deadline also gives the coalition little time to build trust in its vision.

Here is the entire read: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/Civic-group-including-mayor-s-ed-czar-may-13446066.php.

When I think of the functions of city government, I think public safety, garbage pick-up, and street repairs. I don’t think fixing up the schools. Plus, now the City of H-Town is in a huge wrestling match with Firefighters, I don’t see how they can add taking on this issue. We elect school board trustees and they select a superintendent to figure out fixing our schools. I prefer that the trustees take the lead on this rather than an untested idea with no track record and experience. That’s my take.

We are getting another football team for those who care.

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Here is the Chron story on last night’s #TXSD6 Special Election debate at UH Downtown: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Alvarado-Hernandez-throw-jabs-at-Senate-District-13443393.php.

Alvarado, Hernandez throw jabs at Senate District 6 debate

By Jasper Scherer

Updated 9:22 pm CST, Tuesday, December 4, 2018

State Reps. Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez swatted at each other’s legislative records Tuesday evening during the only debate in the special election to fill the Texas Senate seat vacated by Sylvia Garcia.

Hernandez suggested Alvarado “compromised her values” to win chairmanships and Alvarado pushed back that she was proud to gain leadership appointments under a moderate Republican speaker.

Otherwise, Hernandez, Alvarado and Mia Mundy, a Democrat also seeking the seat, laid out staunchly progressive platforms, calling for the state to kick in more funds for public education and registering agreement on each immigration issue raised, including unanimous opposition to a border wall and Texas’ anti-“sanctuary cities” law.

Martha Fierro, a precinct chair for the Harris County Republican Party who is also running, declined to attend the debate, which was hosted by KTRK-TV ABC 13 and Univison 45 at the University of Houston-Downtown.

The back-and-forth dialogue kicked off about 40 minutes into the event, when Hernandez was asked about the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board’s statement that she “hasn’t gained the sort of leadership positions that Alvarado boasts.”

Hernandez, first elected to the House in 2005, noted that she has served in the lower chamber under Republican leadership. With the GOP in control, she said she has not received chairmanships like Alvarado has because doing so “compromises the values that you’ve been elected to represent.”

“To have to compromise and negotiate to be in a leadership position, I will not do that,” she said. “I will represent the best interests of my constituents.”

Alvarado, given time to respond, said she and Hernandez have “pretty much the same” voting records, but indicated she believes it’s possible to be progressive while working with Republicans.

“When you have to get 76 votes to pass something, you have to work across the aisle,” said Alvarado, who chairs the Urban Affairs Committee and was first elected to the House in 2008. “And I’m proud of the trust and the confidence that a moderate Republican like (Speaker) Joe Straus placed in me not to chair one committee, but two committees.”

She went on to invoke the chairmanships of Democratic state Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Garnet Coleman.

“So I would say by mentioning the words ‘compromise your values,’ I’ve never done that,” she said. “I don’t forget where I come from. I live in my community, I actually live in this district.”

Hernandez, who said after the debate that she does in fact live in Senate District 6, shot back, saying, “This moderate Republican speaker that has appointed her (as) chair, it’s the same one that pushed SB 4” — a reference to the law that requires local law enforcement to abide by federal officials’ requests to detain people believed to have entered the country illegally.

“You tell me if that’s moderate,” Hernandez said, adding, “and I’m glad that you mentioned Senfronia Thompson and Garnet Coleman, because I am proud to have their endorsement for my candidacy for Senate District 6.”

In her closing statement, Alvarado appeared to make a veiled reference to the dialogue.

“I also realize that promises don’t equate to much if you don’t have the results to back them up,” she said.

Mundy, a first-time candidate and consultant at a Houston recruiting firm, urged the audience not to let her lack of experience “fool” them. She said her campaign was about “putting people first,” and promised to work with Republicans while staying true to Democratic principles, saying she is the type of person who “surrounds myself with different thinkers.”

Pitching her candidacy, Alvarado, who previously served on Houston City Council, drew on her work supporting air quality monitoring requirements and advocating for areas related to “women’s reproductive health.” She once drew attention for holding a sonogram on the House floor during a debate over legislation that would require doctors to conduct the procedure on women before performing abortions. She played up her her roots in the district, too, mentioning her education at Houston ISD.

Hernandez, who was born in Mexico and brought to the United States by her parents, on Tuesday emphasized her backstory, as she has done on the campaign trail. Immigration received a heavy focus in Tuesday’s debate, providing Hernandez with ample opportunities to speak about her experience as an undocumented immigrant.

“There are many families that come here just like mine, looking for a better opportunity for their children,” she said.

“I think that we need to fight these policies, as I have in the Texas Legislature, not just defying SB 4 on the House floor, but continuing that fight in the court,” Hernandez said.

Senate District 6, which voted strongly for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and has previously elected Democrats by wide margins, covers parts of Houston’s East End, South Houston, Pasadena and Baytown. Its population is about three-quarters Hispanic, according to Census data.

On Monday, Alvarado and Hernandez reported having $172,000 and $147,000 in campaign funds, respectively, heading into the home stretch, with Alvarado vastly outspending Hernandez and the rest of the field. Mundy had not raised or spent any money, her report indicated, while Fierro had about $4,000 cash on hand.

Early voting began Nov. 26 and continues through Friday, ahead of a Dec. 11 Election Day. More than 7,700 people have already cast ballots, with about two-thirds of the vote coming by mail.

The election will go to a runoff between the top two candidates if nobody receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

jasper.scherer@chron.com

twitter.com/jaspscherer

Nope! I really don’t think my pals Reps. Senfronia Thompson and Garnet Coleman have compromised their positions or values to be House Committee Chairs.

Oh, brother on the residency thing. It’s not a secret. It might be news to the Chron, but most political players in the loop know she doesn’t live in the district she represents – never has. A lot of players I know say who cares. Maybe so. Then just admit it.

Remember the fella who said, “lock her up.” He must have ratted out big time since he might not get locked up. Check this out:

WASHINGTON – Special counsel Robert Mueller III on Tuesday recommended that former national security adviser Michael Flynn serve no prison time, citing his “substantial assistance” with several ongoing investigations, according to a new court filing.

Oh, well.

We signed up a catcher yesterday.

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Campaign Reports

The campaign and expenditure reports for the #TXSD6 Special Election are now available online but Commentary will let others explain them. Let me point out and remind folks that Rep. Carol Alvarado’s campaign had to report twice this past October because of a Libertarian opponent on the November 6 ballot. Got it?

There is an interesting story in Politico today on the lack of diversity on the staffs of those considering 2020 Dem presidential runs.

On a related note, what is going on locally with recent hires by November 6 winners probably merits a diversity discussion, but I don’t have time right now, so it will have to wait.

Are folks already lining up to run for City of H-Town races. Let me know, please.

No mail delivery tomorrow.  Banks are open.

 

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H-Town and 41

Commentary knows it is a logistics thing, but it would have been nice to have the tribute to 41 tonight four blocks north where his statue stands. Just saying.

41 and the former First Lady were regulars at The Yard. They would sit in the Diamond Level seats. They were also regulars on the KissKam. When they would get up to leave the game, the fans around that seating section would always get up and give them a standing ovation. It was always nice.

They had their favorite restaurants and grocery store. I met them through my pal Drayton in the Diamond level at the Astrodome. I once ran into the former First Lady in the 1990s at the now gone Cineplex Odeon on Augusta.

41 will be taken to DC today and he will return to H-Town Wednesday night and buried in College Station on Thursday.

H-Town was fortunate to have a former President and former First Lady to be residents and neighbors for the past 26 years. It was kind of special. Now that is gone.

41 rightfully gets credit for putting together the Desert Storm coalition and he did the right thing by not going into Bagdad. He doesn’t get credit but should for negotiating NAFTA. NAFTA was approved a year after he left office. It certainly had an impact on the Texas economy.

Looking at the remaining schedule, the Texans could certainly be 13-3 heading into the playoffs. 41 would certainly be excited about that.

 

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