Archive for March 19th, 2019

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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