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Archive for February, 2019

More School Days

Parkland was one year ago today. Remember.

 
It looks like CraftPAC and the Beer Alliance have struck a deal. The Wholesale Beer Distributors are not on board yet though. Still, it is progress. I wonder if a twelve-pack from the brewery will be cheaper than at Spec’s?

There is a discussion about extending the school year in our public schools. As someone told me yesterday, good thing school kids don’t vote. I replied that some high school seniors do, but they don’t give a rat’s arse because this is their last year. The only problem I have with the extended school year is extended school zone speed limits.

Does this mean that summer will only last a month?

For the #TXHD145RunoffSpecialElection there will once again be five Early Vote in Person locations. Only five days of Early Voting in Person though – that’s the law.

Are Harris County Dems supposed to have a discussion on whether or not to support more assistant DAs that District Attorney Kim Ogg wants or are we supposed to be silent? We elected her a few years ago. Or are we supposed to support the Dems on Commissioners Court who turned down her request? Or are we expected to sit on the sidelines? That’s not our nature folks.

I wonder if there is room to compromise.

I wonder if restaurants will be crowded this evening.

Have a nice Valentine’s Day!

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Billionaire Blues

Dallas Keuchel is still a free agent. How many times was he our Opening Day starting pitcher?

Well, the winner of the #TXHD145RunoffSpecialElection will be 149th in seniority in the Texas House.

Let’s see. Billionaires have been putting dough into the political system and trying to tilt the results in their favor. Some folks are getting fed up with this and are now proposing to tax billionaires more. They asked for it. Commentary is predicting that billionaires’ arses will get taxed more for sure. The political climate is headed that way. The billionaire blues so to speak.

Speaking of billionaires, it looks like collusion to me. Commentary is talking about Spring Training opening today and there are still great players unsigned. Here is what Justin Verlander tweeted yesterday:

100 or so free agents left unsigned. System is broken. They blame “rebuilding” but that’s BS. You’re telling me you couldn’t sign Bryce or Manny for 10 years and go from there? Seems like a good place to start a rebuild to me. 26-36 is a great performance window too.

When are the billionaire owners going to learn that they won’t win this war?

From MLB.com:

All 30 Major League teams will wear special “MLB 150” patches on their uniforms for the entire 2019 season in honor of the 150th anniversary of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings, the first openly all-salaried professional baseball team.

Every club will also sport MLB 150 patches on its caps on Opening Day, March 28 — the first time a league-wide anniversary will be commemorated on caps.

Dallas Keuchel of course was our Opening Day starting pitcher from 2015-2017.

That’s all I have.

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We Have A Date

Which team led MLB in dingers last season?

 
The #TXHD145RunoffSpecialElection has been set for Tuesday, March 5.  Early Voting in Person is Monday, February 25 through Friday, March 1. Got it?

Commentary is seriously considering boycotting CNN like forever. I don’t know why they are giving another billionaire free time this evening. This is news malpractice in my book. This guy can only be a spoiler – period. Shame on CNN. Breaking news my arse!

 
Where in H-Town are they having this town hall anyway?

 
Here is the Chron E-Board take: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Welcome-to-Houston-Howard-Schultz-billionaires-13608492.php.

 
The Yankees of course led MLB with 267 dingers last season.

 
Pitchers and catcher report tomorrow.

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Trail of Tears

The Big Puma is not happy he fell off of the Hall of Fame ballot. How many votes did he get?

 
I am not ready to say #BetoForTexasorUSA is a genius, but the move certainly is genius. He is taking on Donald Trump head on and the others are in Iowa. See this tweet from Saturday:

 
Beto O’Rourke‏Verified account @BetoORourke
In less than 48 hours, we’ll gather together to celebrate El Paso and tell the truth about the border. Make a plan to join us Monday evening. See you soon.

Genius move for sure. I am sure the other contenders wish they could be on the streets of El Paso taking on Trump.

 
Dem presidential candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar had a great line yesterday when asked what sets her apart from her opponents. “I am the only one who kicked off their campaign in a blizzard.”

 
Speaking of genius tweets, you have to love this – POW! – in response to a Trump dig at her:

 
Amy Klobuchar‏Verified account @amyklobuchar 1h1 hour ago
Amy Klobuchar Retweeted Donald J. Trump
Science is on my side, @realDonaldTrump. Looking forward to debating you about climate change (and many other issues). And I wonder how your hair would fare in a blizzard?

Touché

 
No wonder Keir tweeted this about her:

 
Keir Murray‏ @houtopia 2h2 hours ago
Keir Murray Retweeted USA TODAY
A top tier candidate in my early handicapping.

Here is from Kuffer yesterday:

 
Speaking of runoffs, I have not yet seen a date set for HD145. However, based on my reading of the election code, I believe the deadline for the result of the January 29 election to be canvassed is Tuesday the 12th (same day as the HD125 election), and it has to occur between 12 and 25 days after that, on a Tuesday or a Saturday. Based on that, my money is on the runoff occurring on Saturday, March 2, which would mean early voting would run from Wednesday the 20th through Tuesday the 26th. I Am Not A Lawyer, but I do know these things are prescribed by law, and the options are limited. Again, we’ll know soon enough.

 
We are all waiting for a Runoff Election Date. The Harris County Commissioners Court canvassed the votes last Thursday afternoon. The Governor will canvass the vote this afternoon at 3:05 pm at the Governor’s Mansion and I hope he sets the date shortly after. I don’t know why it took the County nine days to canvass the vote. I thought things were supposed to move faster with the new folks running things. Old habits, I guess.

 
GOP cable TV talking heads were having one of their best weeks with the f__ked-up Dem statewide officeholders in VA, then Donald Trump drops his Trail of Tears line on Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Saturday. The GOP cable TV talking heads are back to their same old ways asking what trail?

 
I got a letter from the Chron this past weekend. My subscription is going from $12.75 to $14.25 a week at the end of this month. I am Ok with that. At least they didn’t stick it to me like the Astros did, over 100% over the past two seasons. Get this, I can share my HoustonChronicle.com with four additional family members. I didn’t know that.  If I was to buy it at the stand, it would be $16 per week but no access to HoustonChronicle.com.

 
I tried to go to the new Heights HEB this past Saturday. Nope! There was a traffic jam in the parking garage. I immediately pulled a U-Turn and got my arse out of there. There wasn’t any street parking either. I will just wait until things slow down a bit there.

 
The Big Puma of course just got 5 Hall of Fame votes.

 
Spring Training starts this week.

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Whitley Stuff

MLB lost a great one yesterday. Frank Robinson is no longer with us. He was an MVP in the AL and NL. He won 2 World Series rings. Since Commentary has been alive, only 4 MLBers have won the Triple Crown. Mickey Mantle in 1956, Frank Robinson in 1966, Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and Miguel Cabrera in 2012. Great guy.

Commentary watched a lot of the Secretary of State David Whitley confirmation hearing yesterday and here is a bit from the Chron:

 
State Sen. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, said the mistakes Whitley’s office made are so big that they were either the result of failing to double-check data, or Whitley’s office sent out bad information intentionally.

“Which one of those occurred?” Alvarado asked.

Whitley insisted the data had been double checked.

 
And this:

 
“I’m not satisfied with the answers I got,” Alvarado said after the hearing.

 
Here is the Chron story: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Texas-Secretary-of-State-acknowledges-no-errors-13598367.php.

If you ask me, he would have been better off saying they just screwed up. I really didn’t feel like the GOPers on the Nominations Committee were all in in trying to save his arse. It seems like everyone knows this was a big screw-up – except Whitley.

 
This isn’t a good look from Ted Oberg from Channel 13. What do you think?

 
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) —
For just one shift, just a few hours at Station 7, in the midst of a two-month training program, Joel Duraso got to ride like a real Houston firefighter.

“I think we made like six or seven runs,” Duraso said.

But it turned out to be the only runs he would ever get in what he hoped would be a career here.

“I saw my future as graduating the academy, going to a station, and learning from some of the best firefighters in the country,” Duraso said.

Duraso, a professional firefighter for 10 years, quit his job, took a pay cut and enrolled at the Houston Fire Academy. But just when he thought he’d graduate, graduation was canceled. The 24 cadets were caught in the middle of a political fight over firefighter pay raises. After nearly three months of what appears to be at least some make-work projects, Duraso quit and went back to his old job.

What are the people of Houston getting for the money taxpayers spent to train Duraso?

“Nothing,” he said.
“We’re not in the practice of hiring people we don’t need, so we do need them,” Houston Fire Chief Samuel Pena said.
But they’re still here at the academy.

ABC13 Investigates obtained videos of the cadets chopping wood and pouring concrete. SkyEye showed them raking leaves outside a classroom building. And on a recent visit, the cadets were seen folding hose and pouring concrete slabs.

“They’re not doing busy work,” Pena said. “If it’s maintenance, it’s yard maintenance and station maintenance. But look, the most efficient use of these resources is going to be out deployed in the field. I would much rather have them deployed in the field. It’s a city administration decision. That’s the mayor.”

After voters approved Prop B in November 2018, matching pay for police and fire, Mayor Sylvester Turner decided not to swear them in.

“It doesn’t make any sense to keep hiring individuals in the fact of Proposition B,” Turner said on Sept. 26, 2018, as he announced a hiring freeze for all but priority hires.

But since voters approved Prop B, the city has sworn in 73 new police officers who finished training after the hiring freeze started.

And Houston records show the city has hired 182 other full-time employees since Election Day. In Public Works, 65 new employees have been hired. The airport system hired 22 new employees. The health department, 19.

All in all, 17 different city departments have hired employees, despite the hiring freeze, all while those trained firefighters work to keep busy not doing the job they’re trained to do.

 
Like I said, not a good look.

No MLB or stuff from The Yard today.

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#TakeItBack

#TakeItBack is this season’s slogan. Here is an easy one, what were the team slogans for 2016, 2017 and #2018?

The Chron E-Board today is urging the Texas State Senate Nominations Committee to reject David Whitley as our next Secretary of State for trying to get rid of Latino voters. Here is how today’s editorial starts:

Normally, we wouldn’t weigh in on a confirmation hearing for a gubernatorial pick to a low-profile office in Austin.

This year, we’ll not only weigh in on David Whitley’s appointment to the office of Texas secretary of state. We’ll recommend a loud and resounding: NO.

Whitley was named in December and his short tenure in the obscure and nominally nonpartisan office has been tarnished by a civil rights scandal that garnered national attention and condemnation. Texans deserve an official they can trust to oversee elections across the state. Gov. Greg Abbott, too, deserves an appointee whose every move won’t be justifiably second-guessed. Our state isn’t lacking for Republican politicos who could serve in this role. The governor should simply replace Whitley with a qualified candidate so we can all move on.

The crisis of confidence began when, after only five weeks on the job, Whitley’s office released an advisory to local election administrators claiming that 95,000 noncitizens were improperly registered as voters and should be removed from the rolls. This report seemed to confirm the suspicions of Republican politicians who have crusaded against the spectre of illegal voting for years, with little to show for it. President Trump pounced on cue, railing on Twitter about “95,000 non-citizens registered to vote.”

Here is the entire take: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Reject-David-Whitley-as-Texas-secretary-of-state-13595897.php.

The Nominations Committee will take up the Whitley nomination this morning and State Senator Carol Alvarado sits on the committee.

This is interesting. H-Town Council Member Dwight Boykins called out the H-Town Mayor in this Channel 13 story. What’s up with that? Here is from a Channel 13 story:

Several council members asked Turner for more inclusion in the budget process and more planning time to better understand where the city’s money will go.

“I’m hoping we have the opportunity to look at specifics on particular items as we move through the spring so we’re not just handed a budget on May the first and told ‘We want you to pass this on May 15,” council member Mike Laster said.

“Council member, it’s the same timeline as the last three years,” Turner said.

“There wasn’t much conversation,” Laster said. “There wasn’t.”

“We shouldn’t have to be begging for financial information,” council member Dwight Boykins, said. “Don’t treat us like children.”

Turner snapped back at some of the council members, who said he was disrespecting them. Once, Turner seemed upset because Boykins didn’t call him “Mayor” Turner.

“I respect Sylvester Turner,” Boykins said.

“I’m the mayor,” Turner rebutted. “My name is—“

“The mayor,” Boykins interjected.

“Thank you,” Turner said. “And you’re really pushing it. So be careful.”

“What can you do to me, Mayor?”

“This is not a dictatorship,” Boykins said.

Here is the entire Channel 13 story: https://abc13.com/politics/youre-pushing-it-so-be-careful-war-of-words-over-prop-b/5123715/.

If you ask me, this does not look good. Stay tuned for sure.

Check out the new grub at The Yard this season from Footnote:

HOUSTON — The Astros have a new slogan, “Take It Back,” a new lineup of more than two dozen promotional items that will be given away in 2019, and a new Hall of Fame coming.

And, of course, they’ll have many new food items to introduce to fans at home games this season. The staples — hot dogs, nachos, burgers, fries — will still be offered, but for those more adventurous consumers looking for variety in their eater-tainment, Astros concessions will offer a little something for everyone.

Houston media was given a sneak peek with a food-tasting session during the annual media luncheon at Minute Maid Park on Wednesday. The Diamond Club was transformed into a multi-station smorgasbord of nearly 20 food items that will be available at Minute Maid Park this year, including several variations of hot dogs and a new Astros brand beer, Crawford Bock (get it?), that made its debut at the recently-held FanFest.

New to the menu in 2019 will be Smoked Pork Burnt End Topped Tots — crispy tater tots with smoked pork burnt ends, queso blanco, barbecue sauce, green onions and pickle chips.

“It’s one of my favorite items,” Aramark district manager Mat Drain said. “It’s a shareable item that comes in a souvenir helmet and it really is a play on nachos, which is a popular item here in Texas. Instead of topping nacho chips, you’re topping tater tots.”

Plus, can you ever go wrong with burnt ends?

“Most of the time, it’s beef, and we decided to put a spin on it and use pork,” Drain said. “We’ll try to be a little unique with that experience.”

Here is the entire food read: https://www.mlb.com/news/astros-introduce-new-food-at-minute-maid-park/c-303616886.

Commentary will say it again. I will go with the Dollar Dogs, peanuts and a Saint Arnold Amber.

In 2016, it was “More Than Just A Game”, 2017, “Earn It”, and 2018, “Never Settle”, of course.

#TakeItBack!

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Siete, Again

Who are the only two MLB clubs to have won over 200 regular season games the last two seasons?

The best part about last night’s #SOTU was the women wearing white. They certainly wore it better. That was cool.

On the Liam Neeson current stuff, nearly 40 years ago, I was leaving a club and getting into my car in a shopping center parking lot when two African American fellas pulled a gun on me, got in my car, drove me to my crib, hog tied me, and robbed me clean. Lucky for me they let me live. (Maybe it helped that I was able to muster up the Act of Contrition.) After they left, I got myself loose and called the police. I got my car back a week later – it was just a shell. What I didn’t do was let my mind say I had it in for young African American fellas. What I did do and still do today is to pay attention to my surroundings in a big parking lot after the sun goes down.

I am thinking my sister’s family business is doing A-Ok. Here is from Forbes:

Investors often compare vetting a founder to dating, and completing a deal to getting married. But Stripes Group’s latest investment is more akin to marrying into a tight-knit family. The private equity firm recently invested $90 million in Siete Family Foods, the grain-free tortilla and chip maker based in Austin that is run by nine members of the Garza family.

In this case, Siete wasn’t looking for capital, but 31-year-old CEO Miguel Garza says the family was struck by Stripes Group’s understanding of their vision. “I always lead with this ‘family first, family second, business third’ principle because it’s very important in a family-owned business that operates like a startup,” he says. “Because we sell tortilla chips, it is easy to think of us as a snack company. I told them that we want to build a Mexican food brand.” One, he adds, that he wants to build into a billion-dollar business.

“We feel that there’s a lot of power in being able to share our culture and our heritage in a way that can allow people to reconnect because maybe they couldn’t eat tortillas anymore or they couldn’t eat tortilla chips or they couldn’t eat queso,” says Miguel. “If it’s not reconnecting, it may just be allowing them to experience the inclusive nature of our brand and the culture with very familiar products but using very innovative ingredients.”

Here is the entire read: https://www.forbes.com/sites/chloesorvino/2019/02/04/why-grain-free-tortilla-maker-siete-family-foods-just-raised-90-million/#7a610ab96367.

Nice.

I saw this tweet from Tags:

Brian McTaggart‏Verified account@brianmctaggart 2m2 minutes ago

I grew up in an NL city and watched NL ball for decades, with pitchers hitting. Now when I see a pitcher hit, I think it’s a waste of time. DH is needed in both leagues.

 

I am not going to waste energy on the DH thing.

The Astros with 205 wins and the Red Sox with 201 wins are the only clubs with 200 plus wins over the past two seasons of course.

Nothing new on the free agents.

 

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Speech Day

I guess we will have to hear speeches today from Gov. Greg Abbott and Donald Trump.

What is the betting line on whether or not Gov. Abbott mentions the recent attempt to purge Latino voters?

What is the over/under on how many times the camera shows @AOC?

Since joining the AL in 2013, we have had 6 opening days against 4 different teams – name the 4?

Let this sink in. Do you want a guy who lives in River Oaks and has $21 million in art and property stolen from him to be your H-Town Mayor?

This tweet:

Miya Shay‏Verified account @ABC13Miya 34m34 minutes ag

UPDATE: sources say Tony Buzbee told @HoustonPolice the value of art, jewelry, & watches stolen from his house total $21 million bucks. #abc13 story: https://abc13.com/5120376/

Recent quotes in today’s Chron from embattled HISD trustees:

Trustee Jolanda Jones: “I stopped coming to meetings because it’s like a hit job on Dr. Lathan. I would just not come to meetings because it’s stupid, it’s just a waste of my time. It’s obvious if you pay attention to what’s going on in HISD. … To me, it’s like junior high shit. Dude, we’re elected. We’re running schools and educating kids. If it weren’t so serious, it would be a joke.”

(Trustee Diana) Dávila, on whether she agreed with Lathan’s comments about not getting a fair chance in the interim role: “She was able to rebuild her team. People that had been in the district for decades, she had the opportunity to move them all. For me, that’s giving you the best opportunity, that’s bringing the best team in to give you the results moving forward. If we had limited her power like that at any point, I would understand her way of thinking. … This is a big district, and it’s hard to run a big district this size when you’ve never done it. I actually don’t put it all on our interim superintendent, because I feel like she was thrust into this role.”

You can get more quotes here: https://www.chron.com/news/education/article/HISD-trustees-elaborate-on-turmoil-during-after-13586322.php?utm_campaign=sftwitter.

Since joining the AL, we have had Opening Days against Cleveland, Mariners, Rangers twice, and Yankees twice of course.

Nothing to report from The Yard.

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The Game

The Astros have had 57 Opening Days. Which teams have we played the most on Opening Day?

I liked this tweet for sure from last night:

#occupymarwen liked

Chris Hayes‏Verified account@chrislhayes 1h1 hour ago

 

Trying to explain to my 7 year old the political and social context of the pre- game national anthem/color guard/field-sized flag/fighter jet flyover followed immediately by Civil Rights Icons Call The Coin Toss was more than this dad was able to pull off.

Now that’s funny.

It was a good game. You don’t need TDs every other possession for it to be a good game. The game had me interested. For its entirety. I like Tom Brady. GOAT.

Now who among you was not glued to the flat screen when CBS’ Tracy Wolfson was trying to get GOAT’s postgame interview in the media scrum. She got it.

I tweeted this at halftime:

Marc Campos‏@MarcCommentary 2h2 hours ago

 

Halftime of #SuperBowlAds for #SuperBowlLIII Lot of Latinos watching. Maybe a sombrero on a robot? #TacoBell doesn’t count.

Neither does Avacados From Mexico.

Xfinity did drop in Latinos.

I am surprised Commentary is the only one talking about this. Latinos need representation in the ads for sure.

I did like the opening with Peyton Manning and Being John Malkovich.

The NFL also had a couple of nice ads with their greats and for first responders.

Here are the ads I liked. M&Ms with Christina Applegate, Serena Williams and Bumble, Hyundai elevator, Pepsi, Mercedes, Taco Bell and the texts, Mint Mobile and chunky milk, Turbo Tax robot, Stella Artois with The Dude and Carrie, Bubly, err Buble, HEB (of course, how come we never hear of Latinos or Latinas stranded on deserted islands?), Microsoft and disabled kids, Burger King Whopper and #EatLikeAndy Warhol, Amazon with Harrison Ford, Forest Whitaker, Scott or was that Mark Kelly and others, and the Washington Post.

I don’t know about the Devour ad. It seems like they were making fun of addictions and eating disorders – just saying.

One day, someone has to ‘splain to me Bud Light and corn syrup.

Is the “Twilight Zone” making a comeback?

This tweet came out Friday afternoon:

Alice Stewart‏Verified account @alicetweet Feb 1

 

Anxious to see if the @TheDemocrats abort their silence over @RalphNortham after seeing his yearbook pix.

Dems certainly don’t need a GOP talking head to tell us about calling out racism. We were on top of it.

Commentary is against TEA coming to HISD and taking over. After the Chron put out the video of the October board meeting, it would not surprise me if TEA swooped in. Go to the Chron to see for yourself: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/education/article/A-step-below-hell-Video-gives-inside-look-13584152.php.

I don’t know what to say.

Commentary said this on Thursday:

I have to give props to the folks running the local elections. Yeah, I know it was only one race with 3,481 voters and 27 E-Day voting locations, but it was nice that the final report came in at 9:11 pm.

The Chron E-Board said this on Saturday:

[Thumbs up] Newly elected County Clerk Diane Trautman passed her first test with flying colors in the special election for House District 145. Not only were voting locations open for a full 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., but she got the final (unofficial) results in by 9:11 p.m. Then again, it couldn’t have been too hard to count all the ballots: Only 3,460 people voted. Democratic candidates Melissa Noriega, who was endorsed by the editorial board, and Christina Morales are going to a runoff.

The fella who runs the Leader had an interesting take on the green bin situation that you might want to read. Here is how his take ends:

So if you want a theory, here’s mine: First, all of our trash, whether in the green or brown bin, likely sits in a landfill right now (that’s true all over the country). Meanwhile, the city of Houston doesn’t want to talk about it because our mayor and many city council members are facing elections this fall, and they don’t want to suggest we have a problem. Next, there’s a part of the city’s administration that wants to punish voters for giving the firefighters a raise, and one way to stick it back to us is to say we can’t afford services we’ve long enjoyed. And here’s the kicker: At some point in the next year, you’re going to be asked to begin paying for recycling services (see Dallas for a reference).

Here’s my advice: Throw it all in the brown bin for now, because it’s probably all going to the same place anyway. After all, those brown bins are safe from hurricanes, and the blue trucks still run on time.

Here is his entire take: https://theleadernews.com/brown-bins-and-blue-trucks-are-hurricane-proof/.

We have played the The ATL, Dodgers and Giants 8 times each on Opening Day of course.

Nothing from The Yard today.

 

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Trash Talk

On a sad commentary, some close family members know one of the priests who were named yesterday by the diocese. Terrible.

Channel 13 has a story on the City of H-Town’s drinking water and the city is pushing back. The city won’t let their drinking water folks get interviewed. Huh? Here is the story: http://dig.abclocal.go.com/ktrk/immersive/houstonwater/index.html.

I have to hand it to the Chron E-Board for their very thorough take on the latest on #SJL. Here is how it starts:

Opinion // Editorials

Jackson Lee’s #MeToo moment isn’t what she expected [Editorial]

By The Editorial Board Jan. 31, 2019

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was wise to step down from two key leadership roles amid allegations that she fired a woman who planned to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the nonprofit Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. It will take time to sort out this complex case, which shows both why the #MeToo movement is needed to end workplace exploitation of women and why snap judgments must be avoided when such accusations are made.

I encourage you to read the entire take here: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Jackson-Lee-s-MeToo-moment-isn-t-what-she-13578499.php.

For the past couple of months, H-Town Council member Dwight Boykins has been proposing a garbage fee to help with the costs of Prop B. I don’t know of any other council members who has joined him. I do know of a few council members who have been trying to explain to their constituents the trash pickup mess of the past couple of months. Here is some trash talk from CM Boykins who put this out yesterday:

Op-Ed

By

Houston Council Member Dwight Boykins 

On November 6, 2018, Houstonians voted on Proposition B, with an overwhelming 60 to 40 percent majority voting in favor of pay parity for public safety employees. On that day, the voters of Houston made their voices heard.

Yet despite the irrefutable results tallied on election day, Houston’s deadline to begin the implementation of pay parity has come and gone.

As members of the Houston City Council, our charge is to seek meaningful and effective solutions to the problems that confront us as city leaders. With respect to Proposition B, that means finding ways to provide pay parity without wreaking havoc on the city’s budget or compromising public safety and reducing the workforce of municipal employees.

Last October, Houston’s City Controller placed the estimated cost to city government of Proposition B’s passage at approximately $85 million annually. Since then, Houston’s Mayor has publicly warned of massive layoffs to public safety and municipal workers as being the only way forward to meet the city’s obligation. I have categorically rejected this idea.

Last December, I proposed the enactment of a garbage fee bringing Houston in line with other large and medium-size cities (Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Pearland, Bellaire, Sugarland) in Texas. My research has shown that a monthly fee of between $25.00 to $40.00 could generate an estimated $107 to $172 million each year.

The revenue would be placed in a lockbox and allow Solid Waste Management to retrieve garbage twice a week and provide heavy trash pick-up service twice a month. Due to fixed income limitations and other hardships, seniors would either pay a discounted rate or qualify for an exemption, and disabled veterans would be exempted from paying all together.

Over the last several years, Solid Waste Management’s annual budget has averaged around $84 million. The garbage fee would allow the city to use this money instead to supplement the cost of Proposition B while eliminating the need for painful layoffs that would hurt families and leave our citizens less safe and less secure.

Leadership is not defined by taking actions that are politically favorable or likely to lead to one’s reelection. Leadership is defined by making the difficult decisions that reflect the best interests of the people you’ve been elected to represent. Under the city’s revenue cap which was adopted by the voters in 2004, I strongly believe the adoption of a garbage fee represents our most viable way forward to meet the mandate of ensuring pay parity between our police and fire fighters.

Through my service to District D on Houston City Council, I’ve been blessed to represent the very community where I was born and raised. I understand the hardship that any additional fee may cause to a household struggling to make ends meet. But when weighing a $40 fee versus the impact of laying off up to 400 police officers, 400 firefighters and hundreds of city workers, the choice for me was clear.

I’ve always considered myself to be a public servant, not a politician. And as such…I know in my heart…that the time has come for city leaders to step up and lead.

There is no groundswell for this today.

I guess I will watch the Super Bowl this Sunday.

No MLB question today.

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