Archive for March, 2019

Everybody should know the answer to this. What is our record on Opening Day since joining the AL in 2013?

State Rep. Christina Morales will have a community swearing-in ceremony today at the Angela Morales Lecture Hall (named after her grandmother) at HCC Southeast, 6815 Rustic, 77087 at 11:30 am. Justice of the Peace Richard Vara will conduct the oath of office. Commentary will attend.

I saw this tweet last night:

Jeff Syptak‏ @JeffSyptak 13m13 minutes ago
Mayor @SylvesterTurner issued the following on the Fire Union’s motion for summary judgement which they have filed: “The motion for summary judgment filed today..makes it clear the union has no intention of, and had no intention of, negotiating anything.”

This statement also came out:

HOUSTON – Mayor Sylvester Turner issued the following statement Thursday in response to the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association’s motion for summary judgment.

“The City is in the process of implementing Prop B with checks scheduled to be issued in May in order to balance the budget by the end of June. The implementation of Prop B will force layoffs and a reduction of services.

“To avoid any layoffs, the City proposed to the fire union to phase in the cost of Prop B over five years. After saying, as late as last night, they would consider phasing-in the cost of Prop B over four years, today the union filed its motion for summary judgment demanding full payment immediately.

“The motion for summary judgment filed today by the firefighters’ union makes it clear the union has no intention of, and had no intention of, negotiating anything. It is demanding payment regardless of the consequences on municipal employees, less senior firefighters and the City as a whole. That is unfortunate.

“Please bear in mind, Prop B came with no funding source and the City is honoring the will of the voters.”

Then there is this headline on the Chron’s website:

Prop. B layoffs would increase HFD response times, idle engines, fire chief says

Here is the story:

Commentary is no expert. I do think though that increasing response times will impact public safety, I think.

Enough! Just how in the heck does one negotiate the results of an election that was held on November 6? Move on.

And then there is the botched HPD probe of the botched HPD raid here:

Makes you feel good about stuff, doesn’t it?

The Astros are 7 zip on Opening Day since joining the AL in 2013 of course.

Three Opening Day dingers yesterday by the Astros was pretty good.

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Opening Day

Here is an easy one. In last year’s opener in Arlington, what did the first batter do?

Commentary will be wearing team gear today. It is, after all, Opening Day!

Yeah, we know, the big story yesterday from the 86th Legislative Session was the Texas House passing a budget. For H-Town residents, a very important issue was also being acted on in a meeting of the Senate Select Committee on Texas Ports that was held yesterday at the State Capitol. The Port of Houston is a key economic engine of this region and the state. Senator Carol Alvarado is leading a discussion on ship channel traffic flow, conflicts of interest and governance. It is a very interesting discussion that you can check out here: http://tlcsenate.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=45&clip_id=14066.

It is good to see Sen. Alvarado’s leadership on this key issue.

The mess continues. As expected, the proposed garbage fee went straight to the garbage can. The H-Town Mayor then sent over his latest proposal to Local 341 and here is from Channel 13’s Ted Oberg:

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Late Tuesday afternoon, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner sent Houston firefighters a letter detailing the city’s most recent five-year offer to implement Prop B, the voter approved initiative to increase firefighters’ pay to equal police officers.

In the letter, Turner writes, “I do not want to lay off anyone… I propose that Prop B be implemented over five years.”

The offer is slightly increased from an email sent in mid-February. It does not include financial details of police officer pay the union has repeatedly requested.

Looking over the mayor’s letter, Firefighters Union Local 341 President Marty Lancton told 13 Investigates, “It does not implement Prop B at all.”

What a mess.

Don’t you remember? In last year’s opener in Arlington, #SpringerDinger led off the game with a #SpringerDinger off of Cole Hamels of course.


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Opening Day is tomorrow night even though the Mariners and A’s have already played two games. Got it?

Name the four MLB clubs who have lost 100 or more games during the past five seasons?

MLB.com picks the Astros to win it all this season. Check it out here:

Here is from the prediction article:

World Series champion: Astros

Houston fell short of repeating as World Series champion in 2018, but our experts predict the Astros will return to the pinnacle of the baseball world this fall, beating the Dodgers in a rematch of the 2017 World Series, and in the process handing Los Angeles its third straight World Series loss. With young stars who have a championship pedigree all around the diamond, including Altuve, Correa, Bregman and George Springer, as well as the addition of Michael Brantley and a starting rotation featuring Verlander and Cole, the franchise looks to make another deep October run that will culminate in a second title in three years. Houston received 28 votes, 13 more than the Yankees, who were second in the balloting.

Finally. The Chron has an a very lengthy piece on Local 341 honcho Marty Lancton. Say what you want about him, but he has outmaneuvered the H-Town Mayor over the past year. Say what you want.

Here is the piece:

This is a must read from Jacob Carpenter of the Chron who covers HISD. H-Town, I hate to break it to you but, we have a racial calamity going on or brewing so to speak. We need to be talking through it or else it is going to get worse. Maybe we ought to ask for all of the HISD Board Trustees to resign effective when their successors get elected in special called elections so we can get a fresh set of faces on the board. It would also probably be a good idea if the Acting Superintendent would also resign or at least put herself out of contention for the permanent top job. Check this from Jacob Carpenter and the Chron:

Local education leaders on Tuesday continued to question the timing of a last-minute directive for Houston ISD to suspend its superintendent search, openly wondering why the state halted the effort one day before a finalist likely would have been named.

Texas Education Agency officials have not explained why they chose Monday to stop the search, creating a void of information that has been filled by speculation about the state’s motives.

HISD has been led by Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan since March 2018, when Richard Carranza abruptly resigned the permanent post to become chancellor of New York City public schools.

In her order directing HISD to suspend its search, state-appointed conservator Doris Delaney noted her demand, authorized under state law, coincided with the expansion of a state accreditation investigation into the district. The inquiry initially centered on allegations of Texas Open Meetings Act violations, but expanded to include potential procurement-related issues tied to unnamed individuals. Delaney did not say when state officials uncovered evidence that prompted the deeper investigation.

HISD Board President Diana Dávila said Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath told her Monday that “he felt it was too much” to hire a superintendent amid the state investigation, which could trigger severe sanctions against the district.

However, the timing of the announcement led to skepticism about the TEA’s intentions. HISD Trustee Sergio Lira and Houston Federation of Teachers President Zeph Capo, openly questioned whether Morath caught wind of candidates for the superintendent position and sought to prevent their hiring.

“It sure seems and feels like, for one reason or the other, that someone in the decision-making process at TEA had knowledge or information regarding who the board was going to choose, and preempted that decision at the last minute,” Capo said, adding that he did not have direct evidence to prove the assertion. “It’s anyone’s guess at this point. That’s what they should be sharing at this point. Why are we still in limbo?”

Lira, who criticized Delaney’s order as poorly timed and unnecessary, said the reason behind the timing of the directive is “the obvious question” that remains unanswered.
“It lends itself to the obvious interpretation of a last-minute ploy, perhaps to keep the interim superintendent,” Lira said.

TEA officials declined to comment Tuesday on the questions raised by Capo and Lira, as well as Dávila’s characterization of Morath’s comments, citing the ongoing investigation.
HISD trustees are in a peculiar position as they seek to replace Carranza amid the looming threat of a state-ordered replacement of HISD’s school board.

If TEA investigators find serious wrongdoing during their inquiry, or if any one of four chronically low-performing schools fails to meet state academic standards in August, it is widely expected that Morath will remove HISD’s locally elected school board and appoint a new governance team. If that occurs, Morath will choose the district’s superintendent, with no obligation to keep the incumbent.

As a result, Morath could wield significant power over HISD’s superintendent search. Candidates are unlikely to leave their current position and accept HISD’s top job unless they are confident Morath will retain them. If HISD trustees were planning to hire a superintendent whom Morath would not keep, the suspended search could prevent HISD from installing a leader who would be replaced months after assuming control of the district.

At a press conference Thursday, several prominent Houston clergy and NAACP Houston Branch Education Committee Chair Carolyn Evans-Shabazz hailed Delaney’s order, arguing the superintendent search process has not been fair. The group has advocated for retaining Lathan, citing the reduction in schools rated “improvement required” for low academic performance last year. A majority of the school board has supported a nationwide superintendent search.

“Even though it was an eleventh-hour move, I think it was very appropriate to make that move,” Evans-Shabazz said. “I’m not just totally in favor of governmental bodies stepping in, but that actually is their job, to make sure that the process and procedure is done appropriately and equitably.”

HISD trustees were planning a second, final round of interviews with superintendent candidates on Monday and Tuesday before Delaney’s order. They have not publicly named the candidates.

Dávila said trustees do not plan to contest Delaney’s order, given that state law allows a state-appointed conservator to “direct an action to be taken” by a school board.

Delaney has served as a conservator in HISD since September 2016. Her role initially involved oversight of the district’s longest-struggling campus, Kashmere High School, but later expanded to include monitoring of dozens of lower-scoring campuses and school board operations.

Trustees are scheduled to meet Thursday to consider hiring an outside lawyer with expertise in special accreditation investigations, with discussions set for an executive session not open to the public.

“The new discoveries in the investigation tend to always mention board members, and we only have one legal counsel that works directly with the board,” Dávila said. “We’d like to have someone who’s a little more experienced in being able to provide answers on this.”


All the HISD Trustees at this point could all offer mass resignations so to speak and do us all a favor and prevent H-Town from heading down a perilous racial divide situation. Please, just saying! We certainly need fresh faces.

What a dumb s__t. Check this from the Chron:

In the wake of the Deer Park chemical fire, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has employed her bilingual skills to deliver updates in English and Spanish, prompting criticism from a commissioner in a neighboring county.

Despite Hidalgo’s effort to communicate with Hispanic viewers about the Intercontinental Terminals Co. fire, a Chambers County commissioner on Tuesday publicly criticized her use of Spanish during a recent press conference.

“She is a joke,” Chambers County Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark Tice said in a comment under a live feed of a press conference Monday afternoon. “English this is not Mexico.”
Tice acknowledged making the comment Tuesday afternoon during a phone interview with the Chronicle.

“It’s real simple,” he said during the interview. “This is the United States. Speak English.”
Hours after the interview, Tice attributed his comment to frustration over what he believed was the lack of an English translation for Hidalgo’s remarks.

“Like many citizens concerned about the ITC fires, I was very emotional about the effect it was having on everyone,” Tice said in a lengthy mea culpa posted to Facebook.

“I apologize to Judge Hidalgo, the citizens of my County, and most importantly the entire Hispanic community for hastily acting out with transgression on social media,” he continued. “I recognize how my response could have been interpreted in a derogatory manner and for that I am sorry. I immediately regretted my choice of words. I’m not proud of my behavior, that is not the example I wish to lead by. I can only hope, in time, that my actions can be forgiven.”

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/This-is-not-Mexico-Chambers-Co-commissioner-13717618.php?src=hp_totn.

It is good that he apologized but he is still a dumb s__t.

The Chron E-Board is against the garbage fee that is on the City Council agenda today. Here is the E-Board take: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/A-garbage-fee-is-no-way-to-fund-firefighter-13718724.php.

We should not be in the mess. We should not be in this mess.

In 2016, the Twins lost 103 games and last season the White Sox lost 100 games, the Royals lost 104 games, and B’More lost 115 games of course.

Vegas predicts we will win the most games this season and like I posted today, MLB.com says we will win it all. It starts tomorrow.

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HISD Takedown

Our top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley was on the mound last night at The Yard. He was out first round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft. He is also from San Antonio. What high school did he attend?

They are here. TEA says HISD can’t hire or search for a superintendent. TEA shut down HISD’s search and that’s the end of that. My goodness. A Trustee is fighting back sort of. Check this from the Chron:

“It just undermines everything we’ve been working so hard to accomplish for the sake of our students and our district,” HISD Trustee Sergio Lira said. “I think that it’s getting to the point of ‘let’s not play games.’ (If you are going to) take us over, take us over now. Don’t give us these last-minute surprises.”

Here is the entire Chron article:

I don’t know what to say. We have a racially divided HISD Board of Education. How did it get to this?

State Senator Carol Alvarado did a great job of honoring and recognizing the Astros yesterday on their 2017 World Series Championship. She gave personal props to Jeff Luhnow, Reid Ryan, Will Harris, Tony Kemp and Jake Marisnick. (She posted a cool picture of her speaking with the five looking on.) She quoted Skipper A. J. Hinch on Hurricane Harvey. She mentioned #HoustonStrong. She also talked about how the team was loaded and ready to #TakeItBack this season. Sen. Alvarado certainly knows Astros baseball and what the team means to the community. Nice job. Plus, all the Senators got a ring. Yep, they are still handing them out.

Forrest Whitley attended Alamo Heights High School of course.

$12.50 for a Saint Arnold last night up from $11.25 last season. They come in a souvenir cup but they were still using #NeverSettle and 2017 World Series Championship cups.

I don’t understand why they had the roof closed last night. Oh, well.

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Astros Business

Let’s see now. Donald Trump fired the FBI Director. His Deputy AG then named a Special Counsel who indicted a bunch of folks then said there was no collusion and also said that Trump was not exonerated on obstruction charges. Now some folks want the media and Dems to apologize. F-You. 2020, baby!

I wonder how Jeff Sessions is feeling these day?

In yesterday’s hard copy of the Chron, I got the Baseball 19 Magazine and I ran across this: If the Astros win 100 games this season, they will be the sixth team to win 100 or more games in three consecutive seasons. Name the other five teams?

Speaking of, this will be going on today on the State Senate Floor:

Senator Alvarado to Honor Houston Astros

Austin, TX // On Monday, March 25th, Senator Carol Alvarado along with Members of the Texas Senate will be honoring the Houston Astros for their triumphant win of the 2017 World Series. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the worst storm our city has faced, the Astros exemplified #HoustonStrong resilience and determination during their postseason march toward Houston’s first ever World Series championship.

Notable attendees from the Astros organization include Jeff Luhnow, President of Baseball Operations and General Manager, Reid Ryan, President of Business Operations, outfielders Tony Kemp and Jake Marisnick, and relief pitcher Will Harris. As a native Houstonian, and a fan of the Houston Astros, Senator Alvarado is honored to recognize this historic team at our State’s Capitol.

Wish I could be there.

Commentary is not going to say much about the proposed garbage fee other than to say we should not even be in this situation if you know what I mean. What a huge mess. Ridiculous. Talk about dropping the ball.

Ed Emmett. Remember Ed Emmett? He took a shot at the way County Judge Lina Hidalgo handled the ITC fire. Now who in the heck is Ed Emmett?

Footnote will be handling MLB.com’s power rankings for now and she has the Astros at Number 1. Check this:

The Astros bowed out earlier than anticipated in last year’s postseason when mounting injuries to key players became too much to overcome. The two most high-profile players from that group — Jose Altuve, who was playing with a broken kneecap, and Carlos Correa, who fought through lower back issues much of the season — appear to be past their respective health issues. Meanwhile, the Astros added one of the game’s best contact hitters in Michael Brantley to a lineup that already employs Alex Bregman, who, like Brantley, rarely strikes out. The two are expected to be side by side in the batting order.

The Philadelphia Athletics 1929-31 (104, 102, 107), San Luis 1942-44 (106, 105, 105), B’More 1969-71 (109, 108, 101), The ATL 1997-99 (101, 106, 103) and Yankees 2002-04 (103, 101, 101) of course are the five MLB clubs with three consecutive seasons of 100 or more wins. FYI: The A’s and San Luis accomplished the feat when the seasons only had 154 games. Now you know.

Alex Bregman got a new contract and Justin Verlander’s was extended so you know the price of a Saint Arnold at The Yard is fixing to skyrocket. I will find out tonight by how much when I go to The Yard and watch the team host the Pirates.

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E-Board Takes

Name the player on the Astros roster who has the most career at-bats?

My friend Sergio tweeted me this on my take yesterday on the criticism of County Judge Lina Hidalgo:

Sergio Dávila‏ @2ndWardAggie 11h11 hours ago
Replying to @MarcCommentary

Two major floods in 2015 and 2016 before Hurricane Harvey in 2017. What did Emmett and Comm Court do after those events to address flood control in HC. They opted not to increase local funding for flood control projects. I guess he was too busy worrying about the Astrodome.

Can’t argue with that.

On Dem presidential candidates already thinking about picking a running mate nine months before the first caucus, it tells me that they don’t have what it takes right now. Let that sink in and think about it.

Evan Mintz tweeted yesterday that he was leaving the Chron E-Board today. Good luck on his next adventure. He does have humorous tweets at times. I will miss him.

A lot of folks were passing around yesterday’s E-Board take on Prop B, Houston Firefighters, and the H-Town Mayor.

Commentary will just say that this will be the first time in H-Town history that 375 H-Town Firefighters got fired. Think about that for a minute.

After reading the Chron E-Board take yesterday, I decided to pull out the one where they endorsed the H-Town Mayor in October of 2015 and here are excerpts:

On pensions, Turner goes beyond the other candidates by calling for comprehensive reform of the city’s finances. Every time (Mayor Annise) Parker hit firefighters on pensions, they seemed to push back just as hard. At this point, it is difficult to see how Steve Costello or Bill King would be more successful. Instead, Turner wants to bring everyone to the table so that folks don’t feel like they’re being turned into a target.

He attempted that strategy during the last legislative session by backing a deal that would lower the city’s payments in the short-term but raise the long-term liability. When he met with the editorial board, Turner said the failed bill was supposed to serve as a stop-gap to help bridge the city’s continuing budget crisis while getting both sides talking. We opposed the plan then and we’re still skeptical now. However, as someone with support from the city’s three key public unions, Turner is well prepared to bring consensus to a pension solution that closes annual funding gaps and pays down the city’s liabilities.

We can only guess what political machinations led the city’s three key public unions to endorse Turner before meeting with every other candidate.

And this:

Of all the other candidates, Bill King provides the sharpest critique and greatest insight into the way our city is run. He’s traveled across the city, and written dozens of Chronicle columns, arguing about how Houston’s problems stem from a failure of management. His advocacy for better organization within City Hall, and focus on measurable results, is reminiscent of former mayor Bill White’s first campaign. However, as mayor he would be the antithesis of Turner when it comes to uniting people around a cause. It isn’t enough to be right – you also have to get the votes. Nevertheless, any future mayor would be wise to give King a seat at the table.

As Houston continues to grow, we need a leader who can connect our diverse city and build bridges that link wise policy with smart implementation. This leader needs to be able to see the big picture and understand how each gear of our churning metropolis connects to the greater whole. From his perch in Austin, Turner has spent decades watching the political process turn at City Hall. We believe that this experience leaves him well prepared to keep it running smoothly.

Here is the entire take from 2015:

An interesting read for sure.

Jose Altuve of course leads all Astros with 4,485 career at-bats.

MLB returns to The Yard this Monday evening.

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After three seasons in the bigs, Alex Bregman is getting a $100 mil contract for five years. How many career dingers does he have?

Commentary is reminded of the flick “A Few Good Men” when Colonel Jessep says “you can’t handle the truth.”

Some local far righties can’t handle Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo being the face of an emergency. Just another young Latina face, I guess. Check out this Chron Op-Ed by Texas Monthly’s John Lomax here: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Lina-Hidalgo-and-the-politics-of-the-Deer-Park-13703192.php?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=sftwitter&utm_medium=referral.

Get used to it, folks.

The Prop B mess just keeps getting messier. Check out today’s Chron take from the E-Board here: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/.

Here is from the E-Board take:

The mayor’s office cites a 2017 study presented to City Council that found the city could get by with hundreds fewer firefighters, especially if HFD’s role in providing ambulances and emergency medical service could be lightened.

The findings, part of a 10-year city financial plan by consultants at PFM Group, found that among major U.S. cities, Houston has one of the lowest-staffed police departments, but its fire department ranks second only to New York in full-time employees per capita. The report recommended numerous efficiencies, considering: 64 percent of HFD responses were for emergency medical calls in 2015, structural fires accounted for only about 29 percent of fire incidents, and 1 in 8 calls for service was a false alarm.

Here are what folks are asking. If we can be A-Ok without 375 firefighters, why not do away with them a year or so ago and not go through this stuff today? Just asking.

Now the H-Town Mayor has put Council Member Dwight Boykins’ garbage fee proposal on the table for consideration. Check this from the Chron:

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Wednesday said he would put a proposed garbage fee on next week’s city council agenda, but will not vote for it.

Turner agreed to put the idea promoted by Councilman Dwight Boykins as a way to to offset the cost of firefighter raises mandated by Proposition B to a council vote, even as he called it “regressive” and said it would hurt low-income Houstonians.

“I will put it on the council agenda next week to let council members have their say, but I will not vote to impose this fee on the people of Houston,” he said on Twitter.

Under Houston’s strong-mayor format, Turner decides what goes on the council agenda.

Here is the entire Chron article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Houston-city-council-could-vote-on-garbage-fee-13704573.php.

Here is what CM Boykins put out yesterday:

“I would like to thank Mayor Turner for agreeing to place my pay parity solution on next week’s City Council agenda which will allow for an up or down vote on this very important matter. As the only member of City Council to put forth a proposal that creates a steady revenue stream while preventing massive and destructive layoffs, I welcome the opportunity for my colleagues to be heard.

“My proposal is an alternative that secures public safety while saving the jobs of up to 500 firefighters, 200 police officers and up to 300 city employees. It’s an opportunity for city leaders to lead, and I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting this measure.

“Together, we can move this city forward, keep our citizens safe, and maintain the quality of life that we have all come to expect and enjoy.”

Here is what Commentary is asking. If the Mayor is opposed, why put it on the agenda? Oh, well.

Alex Bregman has 58 career dingers of course.

I wonder how much a Saint Arnold will cost at The Yard this season. I will find out Monday evening.

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Angels center fielder Mike Trout is fixing to sign the biggest sports contract ever. How many post season games and post season dingers does he have under his belt?

I grew up four blocks from the second largest refinery complex in the USA and the seventh in the world – the Exxon Mobil facility in Baytown. My Dad still lives in the same house and I go there a few times a week. He also owns property catty-corner from the refinery. Does that make me an expert on refineries, nope, but it gives me the right to have a sort of experienced take on incidents like the ITC or Deer Park fire.

A couple or so years ago, the Chron did a lengthy investigative piece on what we don’t know about what chemicals are stored in facilities across the region. And when we have a ship channel lined up and down with chemical plants and the local, state and federal governments don’t really know what is being stored, bad s__t is going to happen like it did on Sunday.

So, when our emergency folks including County Judge Lina Hidalgo ask ITC what the hell is burning, do they take their word for it? When the fire is finally put out, they will be able to determined what burned. If ITC lied, they will pay for it, maybe even with jail time.

Some of the local far righties who love that the Donald Trump folks and the EPA are undoing a bunch of regulations have gone after Judge Hidalgo on her handling of the fire response. They have been waiting for this moment to go after the Judge. Of course, these far righties won’t say squat about the countless environmental violation citations and fines that have been handed out to chemical plants and refineries up and down the ship channels for decades, so they can just shut up.

Commentary said yesterday about our low standards and I was kind of crowing about all the crap in the sky that we were seeing. Our local leadership said yesterday that because the plume was so high, it really wasn’t impacting the air that we were breathing on the ground and they trotted out their health experts with measuring devices. Ok, for now I will take their word if it. It also got me to thinking. Doesn’t all that s__t have to come down some day or will it join all the other space trash that the International Space Station has to dodge.

The most interesting tweet I saw was from someone who said H-Town leaders, way, way back then, made a deal with the devil of sorts when we decided we were going to be the energy capitol of the universe. Yeah, we would get jobs and communities would be built. H-Town isn’t H-Town and Pasadena isn’t Pasadena and Baytown isn’t Baytown without energy and refinery complexes. We also get incidents like the ITC fire. We all know it won’t be the last. There will be another around the corner.

This one was different. Instead of a few Latino contract workers or necks that get blown to smithereens at a refinery explosion, because a huge mass of burnt chemicals hangs in our atmosphere posing a threat to all of us, folks now give a rat’s arse about what is percolating around the ship channel.

Just saying.

If you are paying attention, this should not come as a surprise. The following is a strong statement.

ILA District Opposes Mayor Turner

The International Longshoremen’s Association South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District is rescinding its prior support of Mayor Sylvester Turner. This action is taken as a result of Turner’s handling of Proposition B and the collective bargaining process. District President Alan A. Robb said, “Mayor Turner has turned his back on Houston Firefighters, the labor movement, and Houston voters in his apparent refusal to bargain in good faith with the firefighters for a mutual resolution.

Currently and significantly, firefighters continue to express their frustration with the Turner administration.”

The Turner administration has displayed hostility to the collective bargaining process. “Mayor Turner’s administration is apparently seeking an erosion of public employee rights in pending litigation which has caused the ILA concern and is a factor in our opposition to Mayor Turner. As working men and women in this community we have a stake in any effort to suppress workers’ voices. We hope the mayor realizes the impact of his decisions regarding the firefighters has a domino effect that hurts all wage earners in this community.” Robb said.

The ILA represents over 65,000 longshore workers along the eastern and gulf coasts, including the Port of Houston.

Commentary is not surprised at all.

Mike Trout has only three post season games under his belt and one post season dinger when the Angels got skunked by the Royals, three games to zip in the 2014 ALDS.

Alex Bregman who just signed to a smaller contract has 26 post season games and six post season dingers.  Got it?

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Low Standards

Justin Verlander is 204-123 in career wins and losses. How many times has he won 20 or more games in a season?

HISD sent this out yesterday:

Dear HISD Community:

Please be advised that we are receiving regular updates from authorities on the ongoing Deer Park industrial fire and its effect on air quality across the city. Fixed air quality monitors have not shown any areas of concern and have indicated a rating of “good,” meaning air quality is satisfactory and air pollution poses little or no risk.

Schools in the immediate area will operate under normal hours, but outdoor activities will be held indoors as a precaution.

As the safety and health of all students and employees is always our top priority, we will continue to monitor air quality reports and will inform you about any impact to district operations.

And this is in the Chron:

An intense fire churned through massive chemical storage tanks Monday at a facility east of Houston, continuously pumping plumes of black smoke that drifted across the region as firefighters fought to contain the blaze for a second straight day.

Although the fire is expected to burn another day or two at the International Terminals Company in Deer Park, local health and emergency officials said early air quality tests indicate the fire has not posed a serious health risk to residents. No injuries were reported.

We got low standards folks. I drove on Highway 225 last night and this morning and you are telling me everything is Ok? That’s BS.

Then this from Bill:

Bill King‏ @BillKingHouston 3h3 hours ago
Unbelievable they cannot put out this fire.

It ought to be against the law to make something that can’t be put out if it catches on fire.

Speaking of messes, here is the latest from the City of H-Town:

City implementing Prop B

HOUSTON – To avoid layoffs and a reduction of city services, the city asked to phase in over 5 years the 29% firefighter pay raise authorized by Prop B. The Professional Fire Fighters Association refused the request. Now the city is moving forward to implement the voter-approved referendum granting firefighters “pay parity” with police.

Their initial adjusted paychecks will go out in May.

On March 7, Mayor Sylvester Turner and key department directors met in small groups with a total of 13 of the 16 council members and walked them through the necessary timelines and changes to the payroll system to issue paychecks in accordance with Prop B. Attached is the chart that identifies the steps and timelines the various departments must take before checks can be issued.

Once the systems and processes are in place, firefighters will be issued lump sum checks for Jan.1 through the first part of May, totaling about $31 million. Because no funding source was included in Prop B, the money will come directly from the city’s fund balance, which is used to balance the city’s budget, maintain the city’s credit rating or for exigent circumstances such as natural disasters.

Implementing Prop B for the next fiscal year starting July 1 will add another $80 million to the expected budget gap now projected to be $197 million.

The city is obligated to adopt a balanced budget for the next fiscal year by the end of this June. As discussed with the council members, the city will draw from the fund balance, make further cuts in departments budgets and draw from any available sources of funds that have not been dedicated to other expenses. If a budget gap remains, and in the absence of new funding sources, the city will have no choice but to lay off personnel.

Based on initial projections, the city anticipates having to lay off 400 to 500 firefighters and municipal employees. Because the city must give employees 60 days’ notice, notification letters would go out the first part of April while the city continues to find ways to balance the budget and minimize layoffs.

“Nobody wants to see public employee layoffs, but just like hard-working Houston families, the city must live within its means and reduce expenses to pay its bills when income is limited,” Mayor Turner said. “There’s no magic wand we can use to make financial challenges disappear.”

A year before Prop B was initiated, the city retained the services of PFM Group, an independent consulting firm, to review the city’s finances and departments.

“Our preliminary analysis suggests that the Fire Department can take a number of steps to reduce personnel without having a negative impact on public safety,” PFM reported.

The report recommended reducing the firefighter force by up to 845 positions through attrition and pointed out that fighting fires – versus providing emergency medical assistance and other functions – was less than 30 percent of the Fire Department’s workload.

Houston had 18.9 firefighters per 10,000 city residents, according to PFM, the highest rate for big cities except for New York City. Meanwhile Houston ranks low in its number of police officers per population and studies have shown the need for more officers.

Nevertheless, voters approved Prop B, and firefighters will be paid in accordance to Prop B, starting the second week in May, but it will not come without consequences to the city as a whole.

Sigh! And now this from Channel 13:

By Ted Oberg
Monday, March 18th, 2019 11:17PM
HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — As the city braces for as many as 375 Houston firefighter layoffs, a list of possible station closures has been prepared.

According to the firefighter’s union president Marty Lancton, six stations face potential closure. Two others would lose the aerial ladder to another location.

While it would save some money, the driving force according to ABC13 sources, would be the loss of people to staff the stations. Three hundred seventy-five firefighters is just under 10 percent of Houston’s uniformed fire service.

The stations on the list for possible closure are:

• Station 41 – 805 Pearl
• Station 57 – 13602 Memorial
• Station 63 – 5626 Will Clayton Drive
• Station 66 – 5800 Teague
• Station 72 – 17401 Saturn Lane
• Station 104 – 910 Forest Cove Drive

Station 20 and Station 7 may also remove their ladder trucks, but remain open.

The closure of these fire stations means longer response times to local calls of emergencies.

Through the mayor’s office, Fire Chief Sam Pena said there is no final list of closures.
Layoffs would go into effect at the beginning of July.

Sources tell ABC13 ambulances are not likely to be taken out of service, just relocated from the potentially closed stations.

Any negotiated implementation of Prop B could alter the necessity to close locations.

What a major league mess.

Justin Verlander won 24 games in 2011, of course, the only season in which he has won 20 or more games.

Nothing else from The Yard today.

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Sounds nice and sweet, don’t you think?

Christina Morales gets sworn in this afternoon on the House Floor at the State Capitol. She will officially become State Representative, District 145. She certainly worked hard for it. She had a ton of family and friends who volunteered and gave money. I have said it before that she had a great campaign team led by Jaime and Linh. Great field team: Obet, Chris, Megan, Anna, Kaitlyn, Austin, Miguel, John, Josh and others.

Thanks to Cong. Sylvia Garcia, H-Town City Council Member Karla Cisneros, Pasadena Council Members Sammy Casados and Cody Ray Wheeler, South Houston City Council Member Irene Tamayo, Constable Silvia Trevino and HCC Trustees Eva Loredo and Robert Glaser. She had the support of key labor, business and political groups.

This being a special election with low turnout where voter contact was a must, I spent a lot of time on doors with her. She was one of the best I have seen – ever. During the 30 days before runoff election, she hit 2,500 doors. Pretty good, since we were only targeting the hardest core of the hardcore voters – 1, 2, 3, 4 at best 5 doors on a city block. Five hours or six hours a day at times.

Jaime has led the effort to get Christina transitioned into office – job well done. Her photo is already on the official Texas House website – it made me proud.

Well, shortly after 3 pm today, it will be a well-deserved State Representative Christina Morales. She will be sitting in Senator Carol Alvarado’s old House Floor desk. Nice job.

Commentary is going to start mixing in non-MLB questions every now and then like now. Pamela Brown covers the White House for CNN. What is her connection to Texas?

I got this email Friday from my buddy H-Town Council Member Jerry Davis:

Question: Do you want to pay a garbage fee?

Recently, a garbage fee has been proposed to pay for the raises of Houston firefighters. The fee would be a mandatory $19-$27 monthly payment if enacted. Please note: this fee will not go towards improving or changing your current garbage services in any way.

Don’t call it a proposed garbage fee if it is not going toward garbage service. Just go on and propose a property tax hike. You can do that without voter approval. If you want voter approval, put getting rid of the revenue cap on the ballot.

There was a Chron article and a Leader column this past weekend on the H-Town Mayor and the mayoral race, which included takes from local political types

From the Chron:
“It (Prop B) is politically problematic for the mayor. Given the current field of candidates, I don’t know that it presents a mortal threat to him,” said Keir Murray, a local Democratic consultant. “Nonetheless, it’s not helpful for him. Firefighters are popular, and whatever one thinks about the merits for and against Prop. B, the voters approved it, so there’s pressure to make that deal in some shape or form.”

And this:

“If this can be resolved, I think you will see that issue not be as prevalent as it is now, and we’ll get back to, you know, infrastructure, public safety, sort of the basics of city government,” Murray said.

And this:

Even without support from the firefighters, however, Turner’s re-election chances are not necessary in jeopardy, said Mustafa Tameez, a Houston Democratic strategist. In 2001, Tameez noted, the firefighters backed then-councilman Orlando Sanchez in his attempt to unseat Mayor Lee Brown, who was seeking a third term. Brown pulled out a narrow runoff win in the contentious and nationally watched election.

Years later, the electoral math has moved in Turner’s favor by shifting more Democratic, Tameez said, arguing that progressive voters are likely to go to Turner despite the race’s nonpartisan nature.

“I think the mayor this time, his challenge is to avoid a runoff,” Tameez said. “And with two people running against him, statistically it’s harder, but structurally, Tony Buzbee is not just going to attack the mayor. He’s likely to attack Bill King at the same time. And if they attack each other, the voters will kind of look at the three and go, you know, I may not agree with everything with Mayor Turner, but the alternative is not viable.”

And this:

Still, Turner is unnecessarily jeopardizing his re-election bid, said Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist. Aside from the loss of firefighter support, he said, Prop B will force the mayor to make difficult choices during budget season.

“He’ll be making substantial budget cuts in an election year, which, from a re-election perspective, is not ideal,” Jones said.

Here is the Chron article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Turner-playing-with-political-fire-as-Prop-B-13692924.php.

From The Leader:

Instead of giving you more reasons, I’ll share what one of our city’s most astute political observers, Dr. Robert Stein of Rice University, said about Turner’s dilemma:

“My sense is that Proposition B has the potential to undermine the mayor’s reelection on several fronts. First, he is upside down with his base. Among supporters of the Mayor nearly 70 percent voted in favor of Proposition B,” Stein told me in an email. “If we assume pay parity for firefighters is still a salient issue to his base, the mayor’s electoral fortunes might be in trouble. This possibility remains a problem for the mayor’s reelection if he and the firefighters cannot find a way to compromise on a 3- versus 5-year phase in of Prop B.

“Second, firefighters remain a major player in the November’s election for mayor and city council,” Stein continued. “They proved how effective they can be last November, and I suspect their field operations can make a significant difference in this November’s election.”

Next, Stein said that if Turner is forced to lay off workers and cut library and park budgets, he may not be able to avoid the “public’s wrath by claiming the ‘firefighters made me do it.’”

The last point Stein made is fascinating: “Firefighters remain respected, especially during the hurricane season that immediately precedes this November’s election. Another hurricane or severe weather episode would only enhance the public’s regard and support for firefighters and their endorsed candidates.”

Here is The Leader column: https://theleadernews.com/turners-political-future-depends-on-firefighters/.

National syndicated columnist Ruben Navarrette Jr. deosn’t think much of #BetoForAmerica. Check this:

Remember a couple of days ago when some folks were saying #BetoForAmerica’s first 24-hour money haul was a dismal failure because he didn’t announce it on Day 2. It wasn’t. He out did everyone else.

Ok, for those who are interested, we found out recently that actress Rosario Dawson is going out with presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. What is your favorite Dawson flick? Mine is “Unstoppable.”

Pamela Brown’s mom is Phyllis George who was born in Denton, Texas and became a Miss Texas and Miss America of course. George also made history by being one of the first women in professional football broadcasting when she was a co-host for CBS’s “The NFL Today” in the 1970s. George married John Y. Brown, Jr. who became governor of Kentucky.

MLB returns to The Yard one week from tonight and I am ready.

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