Archive for the ‘Houston Economy’ Category

Este es un column sobre un bike rack.

That’s how the Chron’s Lisa Falkenberg starts today’s front page column about a taxpayer funded bike rack on Navigation “in the shape of giant cursive letters spelling ‘"be mucho bueno."’

Aliana Acosta, daughter of my good friend Rafael Acosta (owner of Merida Restaurant on Navigation) complained about the “Spanglish” bike rack and the “poor use of the Spanish language.”

I get where she is coming from.

H-Town Council Member James Rodriguez has the best local quote of the week when asked about the rack:

"I think it’s very moronic. And that’s being nice.”

Diane Schenke, president of the Greater East End Management District, the entity that commissioned the rack, said this:

"It wasn’t intended to be a Spanish grammar test. It’s capturing the way people talk in the neighborhood."


Here’s from Falkenberg on Schenke’s line:

But that’s the thing. I’ve never heard anybody use that phrase, not even a fellow Gringo. That annoying Tex-Mex menu at Lupe Tortilla – "Es preety goood!" – has more grammatical precision than this artwork.

If you ask me, el Greater East End Management Distrito be mucho estupido knuckleheads.

Commentary thinks maybe it is time to rethink their leadership.

Who leads the MLB today with runs scored for the season?

The Chron E-Board wants to mediate a session between Early to Rise and Hunker Down. Here is how they end their take today:

Before lawyering up, folks should try sitting across the table and talking things out. Might we recommend the Houston Chronicle editorial board table as a good place to start?


I’m OK with that on the condition that I get to sit in and watch.

To the 40% that can watch ‘Stros games, did you know that CSN reporter Julia Morales is the daughter of 1996 Dem candidate for U.S. Senator Victor Morales? Well now you do!

Matt Carpenter of course of San Luis leads the bigs today with 100 runs scored for the season.

I’ll have a light lunch today to get ready for dollar dogs this evening at The Yard. They are also handing out 10,000 baseballs on the way out. The best part of the evening should be the ‘Stros honoring softball great and Olympian Cat Osterman.

I think I heard last night that we’re 16-28 in one run games which means we could easily be 28-16 in one run games. Oh, well!


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Commentary watched some of the dueling protests on the flat screen and online yesterday afternoon.  I have to hand it to those police officers who walked alongside the protesters.  They got in a good workout.

I didn’t see any Johnny Reb gear. 

Robert Miller has an early take on the H-Town Mayoral race.  Robert thinks The Mayor is on her way to a victory.  Robert kind of compares the race to a football game and has The Mayor leading 20-3 at halftime.  Robert thinks The Mayor will cover the spread.  What’s the betting line?

Robert also mentions Rice Owls football and is betting the Owls will cover the spread next month against the Aggies.  The Aggies are currently 29 point favorites.

Check out sport writer Miller’s take here

How many times has a Canadian MLB club played in the post season?

Commentary mentioned on Friday the 1993 H-Town zoning proposal that the voters voted down.  Here is from the 1993 LWV Voters Guide:

Wording on the ballot:



The purpose of zoning is to regulate the use of land to mitigate the impact of potentially incompatible uses.  The underlying principle is protection of residential neighborhoods.  The Houston zoning ordinance established nine base districts each specifying permitted uses and establishing performance standards for the development of land within the district.  These districts can be described very briefly as follows:  Four are designated for residential use and allow school, churches and similar public services; Three for mixed residential and commercial use; One is for existing publicly owned or controlled natural open space, including bayous, parks and cemeteries.

Zoning Supporters Said:

The zoning ordinance provides a guide for the orderly growth and development of Houston that will protect the interests of residents and businesses alike.

Zoning will strengthen existing deed restrictions and will provide protection for the neighborhoods that do not have deed restrictions from commercial encroachment and such non-compatible uses such as bars, cantinas, liquor stores, sexually oriented businesses and motels.  40% of Houston’s neighborhoods do not have deed restrictions.

Existing grocery stores, beauty salons, virtually all business offices and other small businesses are “grandfathered”, or protected, even in the most limited residential zones.

Older inner-city neighborhoods are the most vulnerable to commercial encroachment.  By providing stability and predictability in these areas, investment incentives are created and redevelopment is more likely to occur.

Special protective features of the zoning ordinance are that surrounding property owners must be notified of a proposed zoning change and public hearings must be held before the change is approved.

Houston is the only major U.S. city without zoning.  This has discouraged some large companies from locating in Houston as they consider Houston without as a “city out of control.”

No tax increase will be needed to cover the average $1.50 per person, per year to enforce zoning.

Zoning Opponents Said:

Zoning will create more of a city government bureaucracy and promote corruption.

The zoning ordinance puts too much control in the hands of bureaucrats and not enough in the hands of neighborhoods.

The government should not be allowed to tell a property owner how he can use his own property.  That is taking away a person’s property rights.

Zoning will drive businesses, especially small businesses, away from Houston.  Neighborhood and home businesses would be severely restricted.

Zoning will adversely affect availability of low-cost housing as zoning will increase development and building costs thereby limiting supply.

Implementation of this ordinance will cost the city much more than administrative costs.  There will be a significant loss in property taxes and in sales taxes if businesses leave Houston for a less restrictive business environment.

What could have been!

Ty Wiggintonner’s Brother sent me a correction of sorts about the Chron front page photo of Guv Dude signing the abortion bill.  Here it is:

I think the Chron cropped the photo because the one on his site had Senator Eddie Lucio and Rep. Scott Turner (African American) in it.  I think Stephanie Carter and James White were there as well but not in the photo.

Got it!

You have to hand it to Lefty for lapping the field yesterday. 

The Montreal Expos made the MLB playoffs in 1982 and the Toronto Blue Jays made the playoffs in 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992, and 1993 of course.

Out with the old and in with the new.  The front office is now admitting that their 2013 experiment didn’t work out and sent veterans Carlos Pena and Ronny Cedeno packing yesterday and are calling up Jonathan Villar to be our starting shortstop for the rest of the season.  Pena was batting .209 and Cedeno .220.  We had to do something as we’re on pace to lose 107 games – yikes!


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86,060 against and 79,063 for!

That’s what the Chron reported on Wednesday morning, November 3, 1993 on the vote on zoning for the City of H-Town.  I mention it because the Chron today has a story about neighborhoods being helpless as high rises spring up right next to them.  It is happening in the Woodland Heights, the Heights, the Museum District, and the River Oaks area.  It is because we don’t have zoning.

The night that zoning lost here is what came out of the winning camp:

“I think it’s a reaffirmation of can-do spirit of Houston.  We’ve been recognized as the entrepreneurial capital of the country, and that reputation is nothing but earned.”


“This means Houston has a soul and a spirit that they aren’t willing to be pushed aside.  It’s our special advantage over all cities.  We’re the only free city in the country.”

The opposition led by developers outspent the zoning proponents three to one and that is why twenty years later we’re “free.”

Name the first MLB team to giveaway a player specific bobble head – also name the player?

Commentary was born and raised in the Lone Star State.  I love the Lone Star State.  I’m not offended though when that fella on Comedy Central goes after us.  That’s Guv Dude’s fight.  In a way he started this s__t.

Dude forgets that our state motto is “friendship.” Why do we want to go and start a ruckus in California, Illinois, and New York?  Those states don’t waste their ad time picking on us.   What are the ad folks thinking?  Why send this message and why use Dude of all folks as the messenger? 

The front page of today’s Chron has a big photo of Dude signing the abortion bill.  Every single one of the folks in the photo is of the Anglo persuasion.  That doesn’t look like Texas to me.

After two rounds at Muirfield Tiger is at two under and in the hunt!

In 1999 the San Francisco Giants of course handed out 35,000 Willie Mays bobble heads and the rest is history said Brad Ausmus in a wetsuit and Numero 45 on a caballo.

I’m going to try to have a light lunch today because it’s dollar dog night at The Yard this evening and I’d like to scarf up at least three or four of those bad boys.

The Mariners are in for three as the so-called second half of the season starts this evening with the team focused more on evaluating players with an eye out for trades.


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Name the first ‘Stro pitcher to ever start for the NL All Star team?

The only thing I know about AG Greg Abbott is that he likes to go after President Obama and sue the federal government.   I don’t know anything about his position on education, tuition, taxes, water – nada.  So far he doesn’t sound like a leader.

The H-Town City Council is fixing to give Costco a $1 million tax rebate for a store that is going to be built outside of the city limits.  The Chron E-Board came out in opposition this morning.   Who is smarter:  the City or E-Board?   We will have to wait until next week since the item was tagged this morning.

Once we get past the current special session will Guv Dude still be relevant?

If you subscribe to Chron then you get to read Lisa Falkenberg’s very well written column this morning on the state regulating the Johnson.

It the season of the dreaded candidate questionnaire!  They are starting to roll in – oh no!

It turns out Dwight Howard showed up to the Breakfast Klub yesterday and paid everyone’s tab.  What a nice fella!

Commentary went by the City Secretary’s office to check the latest list of candidates and saw that former State Rep. Al Edwards is running in At-Large 3.  Hey, it is a free country.

J.R. Richard of course started for the NL All Stars in 1980 of course.

The GM says George Springer isn’t coming to the bigs anytime soon.  You will have to ask the GM for an explanation.  Oh well, one would think he might help out a team that is 32-58.


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If some local leaders have their way Harris County voters may have the opportunity to vote on an initiative this November to add a penny to their property taxes and put it into early childhood education programs.  This kind of sounds like what San Antonio voters approved last year.  The Chron has a front page story in the hard copy and only available to subscribers online.  Check out a piece:

Harris County voters could be asked to approve a tax increase later this year to improve and expand early childhood programs, if a coalition of business and civic leaders can get its initiative on the November ballot.

The recently formed Harris County School Readiness Corp., a group whose membership includes former Houston first lady Andrea White, is circulating a petition calling for the placement of an item on the next election ballot that would increase the county property tax rate by 1 cent, generating about $25 million a year to train teachers and buy school supplies for child-care centers serving children up to age 5.

"All the recent brain science development has indicated that early childhood education is absolutely pivotal," said Jonathan Day, a member of the corporation’s board and a former Houston city attorney. "The business community and academics, everybody’s of the single mind that, if there is a single point of investment for leverage to improve children’s education, it’s at early childhood."

The initiative stems from a recommendation made in an April report commissioned by the Greater Houston Partnership and the Collaborative for Children. It is similar to one launched by San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, which ended in voters last year approving a modest sales tax hike to build new pre-kindergarten centers.

Of course the group has to get around 78,000 petition signatures.  That’s a lot of signatures.

County Commissioner Steve Radack has come out in opposition to the effort.  Check this from the Chron:

"I think people already pay too much money in school taxes and the fact of the matter is this is just a back door to try to get the county to get more money shipped over into education," Radack said.

This initiative has a long way to go.  They have to get the signatures.  They have to get the signatures approved.  Then they have to educate the voters.

I tried to follow the San Antonio effort last year.  The SA effort was their mayor’s initiative and baby.  He campaigned extensively for it.  Our mayor is in a battle for reelection so the local effort would have to find a well respected and well known local leader or leaders to sell the measure.  Good luck and stay tuned!

The Brewers are in town for three.  How many MVP Awards do the Brewers hold?

I guess what goes around comes around.  I’m talking about a proposed Astrodome initiative.  Tomorrow the County Sports Corporation will unveil the latest Dome proposals and will lay out one of their own.  It will be interesting if an initiative makes it to the November ballot.

Some folks may want us to support bonds to save the Dome.

Some folks may want us to support a penny property tax increase to save our kids.

Some folks will oppose both.

Rollie Fingers won the AL MVP Award in 1981, Robin Yount won the AL MVP Award in 1982 and 1989, and Ryan Broid won the NL MVP Award in 2011 of course.

Jason Castro is making a strong case to make the AL All Star team.   Let’s see how we do against Brewers.


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Only 11,974 showed up at The Yard yesterday afternoon to check out the ‘Stros and Rockies.  That was the second lowest turnout at The Yard to watch the ‘Stros since they started playing Downtown.  On April 24, 11,686 showed up to catch the ‘Stros and Mariners.  The announced crowd is actually the number of tickets sold so a lot of the 11,974 really didn’t show up yesterday.  That’s too bad.

There are never any lines at the bathrooms.  There are hardly any lines at the concession stands.  The folks working at the concession stands are like carnival hawkers, calling on you to come try their hot dogs or chicken tenders.  It is kind of sad.

If you get there when the gates first open an hour and a half before the game there are never any lines.  On giveaway games, the T-shirts, gym bags, bobbles, umbrellas and other stuff usually last until around 15 minutes before the game starts.  I remember when it used to be all gone 20 minutes after the gates opened.

Commentary said before that a $20 million payroll gets you a $20 million ballclub.  The team does play hard and has not given up though.  I think that is because most of them are young and trying to prove that they belong in the bigs.

I understand folks not wanting to come out to The Yard.  Heck, they are only handing out two bobbles this season – Jose Altuve and Orbit.  That tells you something when a mascot gets a bobble while guys like Jason Castro and Bud Norris don’t.

B’More will come in for three next week and I’m thinking more folks will show up to watch this AL East club.

When the Rockies first started playing in Colorado in 1993 who was their first skipper?

Patti Kilday Hart has a good column today on the State Senate giving up the two-thirds rule during the special session.  Here are parts:

In 2003, Houston Sen. John Whitmire endured harsh criticism after he broke ranks with fellow Democrats and returned from a self-imposed exile in Albuquerque, where the lawmakers had fled to avoid voting on Republican-drawn redistricting maps.

At the time, Whitmire felt the condemnation was worth what he had secured in return: a promise from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst that he would abide by the Senate tradition of requiring a two-thirds vote to debate bills on all issues besides redistricting. The flight to Albuquerque had prompted some Republicans to want to change that rule, and Whitmire believed his return would save it.

"There has been that commitment made to me," he said in a 2003 interview explaining his defection from fellow Democrats.

What a difference a decade makes. In a letter to Gov. Rick Perry on Monday, Dewhurst urged that the special session agenda be expanded to other issues blocked by Senate Democrats in the regular session.

Acknowledging that he planned to abandon the rule, Dewhurst wrote: "I see no other alternative than to operate under a simple majority vote in the Special Session. The Legislature was unable to pass a number of important bills intended to protect and expand the freedom of Texans and cut the size and scope of government."

Whitmire said he confronted Dewhurst about the letter on the Senate floor Tuesday, but the lieutenant governor "kinda blew me off" by pointing out that the governor has called the special session only for the issue of redistricting. Dewhurst, who has called on Perry to expand the special session to take up bills to restrict abortion and expand gun rights, declined comment through a spokesman.


Sen. John Carona, R-Dallas, argued the Senate should be consistent: "If we bypass the two-thirds rule in a special session, the tough issues will be held up at the end of a regular session. It will be one more reason not to work together to find common ground."


Sen. Kevin Eltife, R-Tyler, agreed.

"I personally favor the two-thirds rule. It protects urban versus rural. It helps me protect water and transportation issues in my area," he said. "You can ram a lot of stuff through with a majority. A lot of bad stuff my constituents oppose would get passed. I’m for less legislation, not more."

Oh, well!

The Chron E-Board has a piece today on if you build it they might not come.  I’m talking about the much ballyhooed Buffalo Bayou sprucing up.  Apparently accessing the bayou is a challenge.  Here is how the piece ends:

After all, the park won’t be a very smart use of tax dollars if Houstonians have to run across the freeway to get there.

Check it out here.

Dierk is back.

Check it out here.

Don Baylor of course was the first Rcokies’ skipper back in 1993 of course.

A first!  Jason Castro was named AL Player of the Week after batting .579 with three dingers.  Congrats to Castro!

We’re at Coors for two starting this evening.


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Commentary doesn’t ride the Downtown Light Rail much.  I’ve ridden it probably less than five times since it opened back in 2004.  You have to purchase a ticket to ride even though they don’t have turnstiles or ticket takers.  It is called an honor system. 

Sometimes Metro will have some of their police waiting at stops and ask to see the tickets of departing passengers.  You get busted and handed a citation if they catch you riding without paying.

This December the Metro North Light Rail Line will open and next year the East End Light Rail Line and Southeast Light Rail Line will open.  I’m thinking since all the new lines will be running through the ‘hood Metro will get a bit more aggressive in checking to see who is paying to ride the light rail. 

I’m OK with that just as long as it doesn’t get to the harassment level or doesn’t get into a sort of racial profile thing.

Everybody knows that the Cy Young Award has been around since 1957.  How many MLB clubs have never produced a Cy Young Award winner?

Burkablog gave the Lite Guv a blistering spanking this past weekend.  Here it is:

Poor David Dewhurst. He occupies what was once widely considered to be the most powerful office in the state. Now he is reduced to begging Rick Perry to help him pass his pet legislation so that he can have something to take to the voters. Dewhurst has had plenty of time after his loss in the Senate race to develop a legislative program, and now he comes along at the last minute to ask for special [session] treatment for his legislation.

And whose fault is it that the Dew doesn’t have much to show for his efforts? Why, it’s those awful Democrats, of course, the ones who have 12 votes in their caucus while the Republicans have 19 votes in theirs. No wonder he can’t get anything done. The minority is just too strong. The man hasn’t got a scintilla of self-awareness, and the whole Capitol is scoffing at him. Now Dewhurst wants his issues, the ones he couldn’t get passed in the regular session, to be front and center in the special.

It would be different if even one of Dewhurst’s issues were good for the state, but even that hurdle is too high to climb. Water? Who needs it? Roads? We’ve got plenty of them. Education? Sure, let’s give public money to TLR for private schools. What we really need are drug tests for welfare recipients and people seeking unemployment benefits. Campus carry? Now you’re talking. Let’s not forget redistricting and Voter I.D. Surely there’s an abortion bill we’ve neglected to pass. And we can always recycle that state spending cap his buddy MQS likes to write about.

If Dewhurst had exhibited one iota of leadership this session, he wouldn’t have to beg for a special session. But he didn’t. And the truth is, he hasn’t done so for years.

What is really on your mind Burkablog?

This is from MLB.com today:

Astros designated hitter (catcher) Jason Castro continued his red-hot surge, going a career-high 4-for-4 with four singles to raise his average to .283 following a 10-for-12 tear. He is the first Astros player with at least three hits in three consecutive games since Ty Wigginton on Aug. 15-17, 2008.

Speaking of, I wonder what kind of session Ty Wiggintonner’s Brother had up in Austin?

Here is what The General had to say in the Chron last Thursday:

Since Houston won the vote Tuesday, I have been asked about the Astrodome and its fate in relation to the 2017 Super Bowl.

The Astrodome had nothing to do with the owners’ decision, but I’ll make this prediction: It will be demolished before Super Bowl LI. I think it’ll be cleared for 1,600 parking spaces or possibly something like a small replica that’s a museum for what used to be the Eighth Wonder of the World.

The Astrodome isn’t an issue for the Texans or the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo or the NFL, for that matter. Its fate will be decided by our politicians. It’ll be a difficult decision to tear it down, but it will be the right decision.

Here is what Chron columnist Ken Hoffman said yesterday about the Dome:

Here’s why nothing will ever be done about the Astrodome. Politicians know they will anger voters no matter what they decide to do with the Dome. It’s easier to do nothing and offend nobody and get re-elected. Do something! Anything! Either fix it up or tear it down. Let’s not have another Super Bowl with that moldy, rat-infested Astrodome ruining our image.

OK, so the A’s own our arses 9 games zip this season.  I wish I could say let’s look at the bright side.  Jason Castro is hitting .283 and if he stays around .283 that’s a good thing.  Jose Altuve is batting .309.  Matt Dominguez is starting to get a hot bat.  Let’s just hope it stays hot.

Five MLB clubs have never produced a Cy Young Award winner of course:  Marlins, Nationals, Rangers, Reds, and Rockies.  When the Nats were the Expos, they won one with Pedro Martinez back in 1997.

The Rockies are in town for a couple. 


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Every now and then Commentary becomes relevant like in yesterday’s Chron E-Board take.  The other day Commentary mentioned The Mayor and her lists.  Well guess what?  Check this from the E-Board yesterday talking about The Mayor’s State of the City speech:

Job growth is tops in the nation, crime rates are down, and we seem to make every top 10 list.

She listed new programs to help people land jobs, touted the success of past projects like Hire Houston First and thanked Houstonians for contributing every day to making our city a better place. But the mayor’s speech seemed to lack one key item: the big picture.

How are we using the boom to help us when times are tough? How is Houston working to bridge the growing gap between wealthy and poor that threatens to render us economically vulnerable and socially stagnant? How will Houston look in 50 years?

These are questions that can’t be answered by a top 10 list. But Parker’s speech was exactly that – a list.

The E-Board take is a bit interesting in that they are nudging The Mayor to articulate a vision for H-Town.  Here is more:

Parker is not lacking for accomplishments, and we’ll probably hear all about them as the election approaches. As the mayor coyly said to rebut challenger Ben Hall‘s growing campaign: "I don’t need a campaign, I have an economy."

But Houston needs a future.

Two things here:  How do they know if Ben Hall’s campaign is growing?  Was it because he was parade marshal at Saturday’s Cinco de Mayo parade?  The Mayor does need a campaign.  Everybody that is running needs a campaign.

Here is one of the more interesting lines of the take:

One day Houston will become a city where people live because they want to, not because they have to.

I’m kind of thinking that The Mayor and her leadership circle are wondering what prompted the E-Board’s take yesterday like where did that come from.   Oh, well!

I encourage you to check out the entire take here.

When we played in the World Serious in 2005 and got swept by the White Sox in four, who were our four starting pitchers?

I’m not going to say much about the FBI and HISD other than it made the front page of Saturday’s Chron.  Stay tuned!

I don’t think I have ever been to two straight games of very bad ‘Stros ballgames.  Saturday night we got blown out 17-2.  Yesterday we were no hit through 6 1/3 innings and got whipped 9-0.  Now the players are calling each other out as we are 8-24 and the only big league team with single digit wins.  Here is from the Chron:

Reliever Wesley Wright said the Astros’ constant failure had become a “manhood” issue.

From closer Jose Veras:

“It’s easy to come here, lose a game, take a shower, guys can go home and say, ‘OK, we’ll get it tomorrow.’ No. It’s not that way.  We get paid to win ballgames. We are here to win ballgames. You (played) on teams in the minors to be here. Now you’re here. You’ve got to find a way to be successful to stay here.”

“People say, ‘It’s 162 games; we’ll get it later.’ Later when? It’s (32) games. When you going to take it?  So that’s all, you know? We’ve got to turn it around. We’ve got to find a way.”

From pitcher Lucas Harrell:

“It gets old, and it’s wearing on us.  We’re better than what we’ve been playing. … We’re embarrassed as a whole. We’re a team. We’re a family.”

From Wesley Wright:

“We all felt the performance has just been god-awful the last couple days and we can’t continue to put that type of showing out there.  It’s a challenge. Just to see what type of men we are and what type of baseball players we are.”

First of all the players ought to be calling out the front office.  They put together this $20 million team.  A lot of us aren’t surprised.   We are just as bad at home as we are on the road.  I don’t see it getting any better soon.

Check out the entire Chron piece here.

In the 2005 World Serious we started The Rocket, Andy Pettitte, Roy O., and Brandon Backe of course.

There sure were a lot of Tigers fans at The Yard this past weekend. One even had on a Kirk Gibson jersey.  We have the day off then the Angels are in for three. 


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