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The Big Nine-O

It is good to see our H-Town At-Large City Council Member Mike Knox not put up with intolerance. Check this from a Mike Morris and Rebecca Elliott article in today’s Chron:

A local Republican precinct chair, who is also a Houston City Council staff member, is under fire this week for trying to block the appointment of a fellow precinct chair because he is Muslim.

Trebor Gordon, who makes $55,000 a year as community outreach director to first-term Councilman Mike Knox, said Syed Ali should not be named to fill a vacant precinct chair post in the Alief area because “Islam and Christianity do not mix.”

Gordon, who serves as a part-time pastor at a Near North Side church and as chaplain for the Harris County Republican Party, contended Ali did not bow his head Monday night during his prayer at the party’s quarterly meeting.

“If you believe that a person can practice Islam and agree to the foundational principles of the Republican Party, it’s not right, it’s not true, it can’t happen,” Gordon said.

And:

Knox said he was upset when he learned of Gordon’s comments, which he called “unfortunate” and “incendiary,” but said he does not plan to fire him.

“As a conservative person, I believe in the First Amendment and I think people can say whatever they want on their own time, have their own beliefs and so forth. We shouldn’t be throwing people away when they make mistakes in judgment the first time,” Knox said. “I’ve had a discussion with him about it. He understands that’s not the policy of this office and we’re not going to tolerate that kind of behavior up here.”

Gordon’s social media pages are dominated by political commentary, including repeated references to Islam.

He recently has shared links from sites such as “Bare Naked Islam,” whose tagline is “It isn’t Islamophobia when they really ARE trying to kill you,” and “Islam Exposed.”

Alongside one link about a man being charged with a hate crime for tearing off a Muslim woman’s headscarf on an airplane, Gordon wrote, “Here, we find Islam defining morality,” along with the hashtag “#IslamicSupremacist.”

Page removed

Knox said he doesn’t monitor Gordon’s social media posts. Late Thursday, following a reporter’s inquiry, Gordon’s Facebook page no longer appeared in search results and links to it from his Twitter account stopped working.

“As long as he’s been working here, I’ve not noticed any of that attitude here in the office during our business hours,” Knox said. “The people of Houston need to know I don’t think that way. All the citizens of Houston can expect fair representation from me.”

Muslims comprise an estimated 1.2 percent of Houston’s population, meaning Knox can count about 27,000 Muslims among his constituents, as he holds an at-large seat and serves citywide rather than in a specific district.

Here is entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Republican-tries-to-block-Muslim-from-office-7765553.php.

CM Knox gave his staffer a second chance. I guess I don’t have a problem with that.   He got the staffer to shut up for now. Let’s see if the staffer continues his intolerant ways.

I am sure some folks want the fella fired. I am sure some folks think the guy should be allowed to have free speech. I’ll go with the way CM Knox handled it and I am sure some will disagree with Commentary.

This is an easy one. Rookie Colin Moran was given the numero 8 to wear. Name the two Hall of Fame greats who also wore the numero 8 with the ‘Stros?

My Mom will be the Big Nine-O tomorrow. Wow!

She doesn’t get out much these days. She now votes by mail ballot. She voted in the runoff. She’s had it with Bernie.  We still have spirited debates on politics.

She is also a big ‘Stro fan and thinks we made a mistake in not keeping Chris Carter. I don’t argue with her on this. Heck he has 12 dingers and 29 RBIs this season with the Brewers.

We talk every day. I go over to visit her two or three times a week.

I will be looking forward to saying “Happy Birthday, Mom” tomorrow.

As most folks know, a part of the Heights is dry. Like you can’t pick up a Saint Arnold six-pack at the Kroger on 20th and Yale. You can get a beer, glass of wine, or a shot of tequila at those eateries with a private club license.

Well look what is on Swamplot.com here:

The semi-shrouded Houston Heights Beverage Coalition released a statement today filling in some details on the group’s plan to legalize take-home beer and wine sales in the Heights’ dry zone. 

The initiative was floated quietly on Cinco de Mayo by way of 109-word newspaper legal notice; the group’s longer press release clarifies that it will try to collect around 1,500 signatures in 60 days to call a special election for residents of the no-longer-a-city of Houston Heights. That election wouldn’t change the zone’s ban on liquor sales (or the need for a private-club-workaround for folks intent on selling it anyway), but would allow grocery stores to get in on the alcoholic action. 

Coalition chair Steve Reilley tells the Houston Press‘s Phaedra Cook that H-E-B supports the measure — adding that the chain is probably going to move into the area if the change passes. Reilley also says that other grocery chains are involved with the coalition, but doesn’t tell Cook which ones.

As to where would-be wet grocery stores might land in the dry zone, should the law be overturned: The Leader‘s Betsy Denson pointed out earlier this year that the party’s-over former site of the Fiesta Market on N. Shepherd at 24th St. falls well short of the 6 acres that H-E-B has previously said it requires when scouting potential new locations. But the double-decker H-E-B now officially planned for the site of the chain’s existing Bellaire store at 5130 Cedar St. (shown above) will squeeze onto a space just a smidgen larger than 3 acres. 

The coalition has hired Austin-based election PR company Texas Petition Strategies to help collect signatures from dry zone residents and, if that goes as planned, to enthuse voters. If enough signatures are collected and then verified by the city secretary, an election would be called for this November.  

Commentary lives in the wet part of the Heights so I won’t get to vote. Good luck!

I have to agree with Savannah Guthrie this morning. That was one of the most epic openings of a summer concert on the “Today” Plaza. I am talking about Puff Daddy and Family.

Joe Morgan wore the numero 8 back in 1980 and Yogi Berra of course wore it as a coach in the ‘80s.

I am certainly looking forward to heading out to The Yard tonight. It is always fun to see a bunch of Rangers fans. Good crowds are expected throughout the weekend. Hopefully, we can gain some ground.

Running Against Ted

The fella does not deserve a free ride. Commentary is talking about Sen. Ted Cruz running for re-election in 2018. He has absolutely done nothing for the Lone Star State since taking office in 2013. Nada, zilch!

The only thing he has done in the last three years and five months is run for president. I mean, that is what Sen. John Cornyn said. The only thing he is going to do between now and 2020 is run for president. That’s it!

Is this what Texans want? Is this what Texans deserve?

Check this from the Chron today:

There may be no Ted Cruz 2.0. Instead, all signs point to Cruz 2020.

The first clue came in a final pep talk to dispirited campaign staffers last week in Houston, where Cruz recalled Ronald Reagan’s first failed White House bid in 1976, a prelude to his victory in 1980.

“Reagan in 1976 came up short,” Cruz told them. “I suspect at that convention more than a few tears were shed. It’s going to be our task to go forward and continue fighting.”

The moment was captured in Cruz’s last campaign video, titled “To Be Continued,” a production Gawker called “the first campaign ad of 2020.”

And:

Outside political analysts say the Senate provides the perfect foil for a national political figure bent on highlighting Washington dysfunction.

“The Senate allows you to stay in the spotlight, even if your day-to-day life is very frustrating,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

At the same time, Jillson is bearish on Cruz’s prospects of enacting meaningful tax reforms, a project that has eluded far more experienced lawmakers with good relationships in Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Texas Republican Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Moving legislation in the famously chummy Senate often depends on playing nice with colleagues – not something for which Cruz is known. “Judging from his first day back, he’s not going to make many changes in his personal style or demeanor, which almost guarantees he’ll get next to almost nothing done,” Jillson said.

Here is the entire Chron article on Cruz behind the paywall of course: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/us/article/Back-in-the-Senate-Cruz-could-lay-the-foundation-7644257.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Commentary thinks Dems should start having a discussion on taking this guy on in 2018. Cruz really can’t say he has helped Texas move forward. Other than running for president, he hasn’t done much of anything else. Again, is this what Texans want and deserve? I really don’t think so.

This morning in MLB the ‘Stros are on top in two key team offensive categories – one good and one not so good. Care to guess?

The Sen. Bernie Sanders campaign is starting to annoy me.  You annoyed yet?

I don’t know about this fella. A lot of folks are not too impressed with how he plays with his teammates on the Rockets these days and now this – allegedly. Here is this in the Chron:

James Harden allegedly roughed up a photographer in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, according to a report by TMZ Sports

The TMZ Sports report says the Los Angeles Police Department is looking into allegations that Harden pushed a photographer’s camera and broke the photographer’s finger in the process. 

The report says that a photographer approached Harden, who grew up in Los Angeles, outside of a Hollywood lounge Tuesday night and tried to ask for his opinion on Donald Trump. That’s when Harden pushed the camera and the photographer’s finger got caught in the camera, resulting in an injury. 

The photographer filed a police report, but Harden hasn’t been charged with anything. 

The ‘Stros lead MLB in hitters striking out with 405 and with runners stealing bases with 38 of course.

Well, the ‘Stros won again last night and they seem to be playing better. We had a #ColbyJack last night to go with two Altuve RBIs. Nice! They wrap up their roadie this evening.

Our Dem Nominee

This is from the end of Lisa Falkenberg’s column or obit today on Guy Clark.

Clark’s death reminds me how we should cherish these artists who sing about stuff that works. Stuff that’s real, that holds you up when you’re about to fall. That’s Guy Clark.

To me, he ain’t going nowhere. He’s just leaving.

This last line is the best. Go read her column and go listen to “Magnolia Wind,” please!

I am waiting for Dems to tell Kim Ogg “way to go!”

Here is from the Houston Press today:

Eight years after 24 Houston police officers first sued HPD and the city for discrimination and retaliation, the case has finally come to a close—ending at the foot of the U.S. Supreme Court door with one of the original plaintiff’s sons.

At a press conference Tuesday, Sgt. Chris Zamora’s attorneys said that the verdict in Chris’s case sheds light on the “code of silence” that exists within the HPD. It’s a culture that punishes officers for speaking up about officers’ wrongdoing, said Chris’s attorney, Kim Ogg, who is also running for Harris County district attorney. And it’s exactly what happened to Chris Zamora eight years ago, she says.

Months after Chris’s father, Manuel Zamora, and 23 others filed their retaliation class-action suit in 2007, alleging that they were denied promotions based on their race, Manuel says that Chris immediately felt the backlash.  Manuel said Chris began facing daily harassment from his supervisors—one of whom was named in the lawsuit—and he was even removed from the department’s Crime Reduction Unit and placed on night-shift patrol. It prompted Chris (who could not comment because he is still working the night shift for HPD) to join his father’s lawsuit in September 2008—which soon amounted to a ten-day suspension, according to court documents.

And:

Ogg and her co-counsel, attorney Randall Kallinen, said that the city’s decision to appeal this case all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court proves just how far it will go to shield itself from liability, in turn perpetuating the “code of silence” that led to retaliation against Chris.

Here is Kim’s quote:

“A government willing to violate its officers’ own civil rights is likely to violate the rights of its own citizens, and we have to stand against that.”

That is a pretty strong statement for sure.

Here is the Houston Press article: http://www.houstonpress.com/news/attorneys-say-hpds-code-of-silence-led-to-retaliation-against-harassed-officer-8409881.

On the same story, here is from the Chron:

“There is no such thing (as a Code of Silence), and the fact Kim Ogg is claiming that just shows … her complete ignorance,” said Houston Police Officers’ Union President Ray Hunt.

Ok, but you know what? Kim Ogg got scoreboard.

She is also our nominee for DA.

Hall of Fame great Reggie Jackson is celebrating his 70th BD today. He only won one AL MVP Award and that was in 1973 with the A’s. He was runner-up in 1980 when he was with the Yankees. Who won the AL MVP Award that year?

There was a good turnout last night for the Hispanic PAC reception. Here is one of the facts that Commentary dropped last night”

Since 2003, there have been 11 different Dems elected to At-Large City Council positions: 6 African Americans, 3 Anglos, 1 from the LGBT community, and 1 from the Asian American community. Zilch from the Latino Dem community.

Now you know.

Let me say this. Everybody knows that Sen. Bernie Sanders is not going to get the nomination. Has anyone bothered to tell Sen. Sanders?

Check this from an AP story:

Jeb Bush shamed Donald Trump on Tuesday over his controversial taco-bowl tweet from early May. 

“What Trump did was so insensitive,” Bush told NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch news agency, in one of his first interviews since leaving the presidential race in February. 

“First, not all Hispanics are Mexican,” he added, according to a translation provided to The Huffington Post. “Secondly, not all Hispanics eat tacos. 

Thirdly, showing your sensitivity by eating an American dish is the most insensitive thing you can do. Fourthly, to say this, next to all things he already said, is a further insult.” 

“It’s like eating a watermelon and saying, ‘I love African-Americans,'” Bush added.

I don’t know about that. I am Latino and I wasn’t insulted or offended. I just thought it was stupid. It just made him look like a dumbarse. Tacos are not watermelons.

In 1980, George Brett won the AL MVP Award of course.

I will certainly take last night’s win. Heck, I will take any win.

HISPANIC PAC

43 years ago today hearings began in the U.S. Senate on the mother of all political scandals – Watergate. It was certainly must see TV.

Where do the ‘Stros rank this season in MLB on offensive production from their center fielders?

Tonight is a gathering of HISPANIC PAC.  The invitation says “Representing Hispanic Political Interests Since 1988.”

Commentary and Mustafa Tameez will participate in a “Panel Discussion” on “The State of Hispanic Politics in Houston.”

There will also be a “Website & Social Media Unveiling at the Reception.”

It is at 6 pm this evening at Post Oak Grill.

Obviously Commentary supports this effort and wish them nothing but the best. The last thing they want is my advice. However, in order for this to work, they are going to have to be fiercely independent, not have hidden agendas, and not be an extension of or co-opted by the elected officials.

HISPANIC PAC is certainly needed at this point. Good luck!

The ‘Stros ranked 28th in MLB (ahead of the Nats and Tigers) of course in the offensive production from their center fielder category.

Let’s see, we visit the AL Central first place White Sox this evening, host the AL West first place Rangers this weekend, and then host the AL East first place B’More next week. That is a lot of firsts.

New EV Location

Finally! It’s about time. There is a new Early Voting location in Commentary’s zip code. It is at the SPJST Lodge #88, 1435 Beall St., 77008. That is four or five blocks west of N. Durham at 15th. I did a quick check and it is 1.8 miles from me versus Moody Park at 1.9 miles. Regardless, a lot of voters in my ‘hood will use this location for sure. I hope this is a permanent deal.   FYI: They hold bingo there on Thursday evenings.

I read that New York Times article on Donald Trump this past Saturday. Here is the tweet on it:

NYT Politics ‏@nytpolitics 12m12 minutes ago

Donald Trump has repeatedly unnerved women in private over 40 years. Here are their stories. http://nyti.ms/27mWaDO

It is very troubling read if you ask me. Of course, Trump is denying. That is what he does, and does well.

Yesterday’s column by Lisa Falkenberg was about the renaming of UH’s Hofheinz Pavilion. Here is part of a line that struck me:

“(UH)officials wouldn’t talk to me for this column.”

Really? UH doesn’t want to talk to a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist? Oh, brother!

Here is her column: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/falkenberg/article/UH-shouldn-t-forget-Hofheinz-s-legacy-and-largesse-7469138.php?cmpid=btfpm.

Carlos Beltran hit his 400th career dinger yesterday. How many dingers did he have as a ‘Stro back in 2004?

I pulled this from Journal-isms.com. It is about the way Chron sports columnist Brian Smith accurately quoted ‘Stro center fielder Carlos Gomez a week and a half ago and the reaction. Gomez did not like the way he sounded I guess. Here is the quote:

“For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed.”

Here is the headline and the story:

Some Fellow Journalists Sided With Angered Player

Houston Chronicle Editor Nancy Barnes told Journal-isms on Friday, “We sincerely apologize for any offense that was taken” when a Chronicle sports columnist quoted a Latino ballplayer speaking in broken English, angering the ballplayer and prompting other journalists to come to the player’s defense.

Barnes cited what she called “less than adequate” Associated Press guidelines on quoting news sources for whom English is not their first language.

In a May 4 column headlined, “Carlos Gomez knows he’s a disappointment to Astros fans,” [available via search engine], Brian T. Smith wrote of Gomez, ” ‘For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed,’ said Gomez as he roamed center field against the team with which he spent 2008-09. . . .”

On alldigitocracy.com, Britni de la Cretaz, who is white, wrote May 6, “Quoting Gomez in this way is incredibly offensive. It makes him sound unintelligent when, in reality, he’s experiencing a language barrier. In fact, Gomez even took to Twitter to tell Smith exactly that, suggesting, ‘next time you want an interview have Google translate on hand.’

“But this is what happens when you have a white journalist who is not attuned to the cultural issues affecting the person he is reporting on. And when you have a largely all-white staff, like the Houston Chronicle does, there’s possibly no one to catch the mistake (or, like in the case of SB Nation’s incredibly misguided piece on convicted rapist cop Daniel Holtzclaw, white editors who refused to listen to the Black woman who told them not to run the story). . . .”

Barnes told Journal-isms by email, “With regards to quoting Carlos Gomez: We sincerely apologize for any offense that was taken. Our writers are encouraged to adhere to AP style rules, which are quoted below. I reviewed the rules myself after this arose and found the guidelines on quotes to be less than adequate for a community like ours, full of immigrants from all over the world, and for whom English is often a second language. I’ve asked some top editors to review this policy, research best practices, and recommend guidance for all of our writers in the future. We always want to be respectful of those we are interviewing.”

The AP guidelines say, in part, “The same care that is used to ensure that quotes are accurate should also be used to ensure that quotes are not taken out of context.

“We do not alter quotations, even to correct grammatical errors or word usage. If a quotation is flawed because of grammar or lack of clarity, the writer must be able to paraphrase in a way that is completely true to the original quote. If a quote’s meaning is too murky to be paraphrased accurately, it should not be used. . . .”

An Associated Press spokeswoman provided guidelines that also say, “Do not use substandard spellings such as gonna or wanna in attempts to convey regional dialects or informal pronunciations, except to help a desired touch or to convey an emphasis by the speaker.”

Other news organizations likewise prohibit altering quotations but specifically address the issue of quotations that seem to ridicule.

Philip B. Corbett, associate editor for standards at the New York Times, told Journal-isms Friday by email, “The short answer is, we don’t ‘clean up’ quotes, a potentially risky and subjective practice that could leave readers uncertain as to what exactly was said. When someone’s grammar is nonstandard — for whatever reason — we often paraphrase, or use partial quotations. That way we can avoid seeming to ridicule or treat someone unfairly, while still preserving the integrity of any direct quotations.”

The Washington Post style book says, “Quotations of people whose speech is marked by dialect, incorrect grammar or profanity often present difficult choices.

“Giving the exact words of people who are poorly educated or who are not native speakers of English may be needlessly embarrassing to them. . . . When quoting people for whom English is not their first language, special care should be taken. If such quotations make the speaker look stupid or foolish, we should consider paraphrasing them (outside of quotation marks of course). When appropriate, a story should note that a source was struggling with English. . . .”

Gomez, a native of the Dominican Republic, spoke in Spanish with ESPN Radio’s “Max y Marly” on Thursday, in an interview that became part of a podcast (audio).

Gomez told ESPN’s Max Bretos and Marly Rivera that he was demeaned by the quote used in the article.

That person knew exactly what he was writing, and he did it intentionally to ridicule me,” Gomez said. “… I do not wish for him to lose his job because he may be a father and have a family, but he should have given a better thought process before writing such comments. Because [he] not only [hurt] a Dominican, but every Latino who makes an effort [to learn] the language.”

Rivera told listeners that others in the Houston press corps volunteered to Gomez that they disapproved of the way Smith quoted him.

“Where is the editor . . .at the Houston Chronicle?” Rivera asked.

ESPN reported on its One Nacion blog, “The podcast producers tried to contact and get comment from the writer involved, Brian T. Smith, but he didn’t respond to requests to appear on the show.” Gomez said on the podcast that he would rather not use a translator.

“As a baseball player, I like to express myself the way I want to, not that I say something and an interpreter makes it prettier,” he said. “I would like it if a reporter sits and listens to me and then writes things — but in a professional way, not in a way to make fun of me like he did.”

The incident came a month after Jose de Jesus Ortiz, who is bilingual and covered major league baseball for most of the last two decades, left the Chronicle to become a sports columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In the 2015 edition of the annual newsroom diversity survey of the American Society of News Editors, the Chronicle reported 25.4 percent journalists of color [PDF], of whom 14 percent were Hispanic, 7.3 percent black and 4.1 percent Asian American.

A lack of bilingual reporters can be costly. In 2004, a language misunderstanding led to a libel suit against the Miami Herald that was settled out of court.

Jockey Jose Santos rode Funny Cide to victories in the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. He filed suit, accusing the Herald of printing an article that falsely accused Santos of carrying an unauthorized and illegal object in his hand during his Kentucky Derby ride.

The newspaper reported that Santos said he carried an object in his hand during the race and that he described it as a “cue” ring to alert an outrider to his presence. Derby racing stewards later concluded Santos was holding only his whip.

The jockey, who speaks English with a heavy accent, later said there was a misunderstanding: He was talking about his “Q-Ray” bracelet for arthritis.

“If we have a situation again where a Spanish-speaking jockey [talks to] a non-Spanish-speaking reporter, we’ll have a Spanish speaker conduct the interview,” the Herald’s then-executive editor, Tom Fiedler, said in hindsight, according to Miami New Times.

Commentary respects MLB’s Alyson Footer who is based in H-Town. She is a pro who knows the MLB biz. Here are a few of her responses:

Alyson Footer ‏@alysonfooter 24m24 minutes ago

Hiding behind murky AP style guidelines is a laughable and pathetic excuse. Give. Me. A. Break. 

Alyson Footer ‏@alysonfooter 23m23 minutes ago

News flash: English speaking reporters clean up grammar mistakes for players who speak English as 2nd language. Happens 100x a day thru MLB.

Alyson Footer ‏@alysonfooter 29m29 minutes ago

Pitcher: “I not throw my curveball for strikes.” Me: “Hm. What does he mean by that? Lemme check AP style guide.” NO THIS NEVER HAPPENS 

Alyson Footer ‏@alysonfooter 45s45 seconds ago

An appropriate way to apologize after trying to make a player look illiterate: “We are sorry. There are no excuses. Terrible judgement.”

When I read the Brian Smith article back on Cinco de Mayo, I didn’t think much of it in terms of it making Gomez look bad. In the past, I have kind of been taken aback when I hear a Latino player being interviewed on radio or on TV and thinking he sure doesn’t sound that way in the newspaper if you know what I mean.

Gomez is batting a paltry .182. As a season ticket holder, I ‘d rather him focus on increasing his offensive production rather than improving his English speaking skills. He is definitely not contributing.

Speaking of, the ‘Stros – Red Sox game on Saturday was on national TV sort of. It was on the Fox Sports One network. Commentary respects baseball writer Ken Rosenthal who works for Fox Sports. During the game Rosenthal talked about the slump Gomez is in and said part of Gomez’s problem was his unwillingness to make adjustments – ouch. He also said the ‘Stros’ trade for Gomez last year was starting to look like a bad deal for the ‘Stros – ouch again.

Carlos Beltran had 23 dingers the three months plus change he played with the ‘Stros back in 2004 of course. He also had four dingers against The ATL in the 2004 NLDS and another four against San Luis in the 2004 NLCS.

It was brutal to get the double treatment from Big Papi on Saturday. I have to say it was a bonehead move to pitch to him in the 11th inning with first base open. Come on! Michael Feliz versus Big Papi?

And then yesterday to see the ball drop between George Springer and Gomez allowing the Red Sox to tie the game and then to go on to win it.   Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy!

See these tweets:

Brian McTaggart ‏@brianmctaggart 8m8 minutes ago Westminster, CO

Carlos Gomez: “It’s my fault. We lost the game because of me today. There’s nothing I can say. And every day, we lost because of me.”

Jake Kaplan ‏@jakemkaplan 33m33 minutes ago

More from Gomez: “I don’t have any excuses. I call it, I’m supposed to catch it. I called it and I didn’t catch it.”

Brian McTaggart ‏@brianmctaggart 52m52 minutes ago

candid Gomez says “I’ve been playing brutal.”

Over a year ago, the house next door to me was demolished and a bigger one was built and is on the market. The parking lot on the other side of my house that belonged to the former Fiesta was dug up and a huge house is being built. A house across the street was just demolished a few days ago so another huge house can be built. It seems like it has been 18 months or so of living in a construction zone and it doesn’t appear to be letting up.

If you are a fan of the ‘Stros, go check out Brian Smith’s piece on Jose Altuve yesterday. Here is a bit:

It’s time to stop taking Jose Altuve for granted.

He’s clearly the best Astro standing. He’s one of the greatest overall hitters in the modern game. And if you ask yourself who is the most underrated athlete in Major League Baseball – or all professional sports, for that matter- No. 27 deserves the vote as much as anyone.

The Astros have let us down in 2016. Altuve? Are you kidding me? He’s playing the same game on another field.

Now go get yesterday’s sports section and check it out. It is definitely must read.

Just In

From the Trib:

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday issued a ruling upholding the state’s public school funding system as constitutional, while asserting it could be better. 

“Our Byzantine school funding ‘system’ is undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement. But it satisfies minimum constitutional requirements,” Justice Don Willett wrote in the court’s 100-page opinion, which asserted that the court’s “lenient standard of review in this policy-laden area counsels modesty.”

“The judicial role is not to second-guess whether our system is optimal, but whether it is constitutional,” the ruling said.

Here is the entire story: https://www.texastribune.org/2016/05/13/texas-supreme-court-issues-school-finance-ruling/.

I have said it before, school finance  has been the mother of all state public policy issues for close to fifty years now.

Meanwhile, as Commentary writes this, our Lieutenant Governor is fixing to hold a press conference on bathrooms. I am glad our top elected officials have their priorities in order.

This is a headline form a Houston Press story today on the HISD meeting yesterday:

New Names Finalized For 7 Schools in an Extraordinarily Calm HISD Meeting

Here is the start of the story:

Perhaps aided by the absence of trustee Jolanda Jones, who was attending her son’s college graduation out of state, the Houston ISD board of education moved things along Thursday night refraining from too much more rhetoric before voting to approve all the proposed name changes at seven district schools.

Why am I not surprised? That says it all, I guess.

Here is the Press story on the meeting: http://www.houstonpress.com/news/new-names-finalized-for-7-schools-in-an-extraordinarily-calm-hisd-meeting-8399683.

Ok, so there are nine HISD trustees and Jones was absent. So check these tweets from yesterday evening:

Houston News Retweeted

Tracy Clemons ‏@TracyABC13 43m43 minutes ago

#HISD voted 7-4 to change the name of Reagan to Heights High School

 

Houston News Retweeted

Tracy Clemons ‏@TracyABC13 54m54 minutes ago

#HISD board votes 6-4 to change Stonewall Jackson Middle School to Yolanda Black Navarro Middle School.

Hmm. 11 votes and 10 votes. How did that happen?

Dallas Keuchel was rocked last night at Fenway. He now has a 5.58 ERA. What was his ERA last season?

One of the Killer Bees left us a couple of days ago. Former Dem State Senator Chet Brooks passed. Here is the Chron obit: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=chester-brooks&pid=179970009&fhid=5106.

I am thinking the Obama administration’s decision to get involved in the transgender student issue is a preemptive strike. Playing offense is always better than playing defense. It is good move on their part.

This is from a NY Times story today:

Donald J. Trump said Friday that he doesn’t believe voters have a right to see his tax returns, and insisted it’s “none of your business” when pressed on what tax rate he himself pays — a question that tripped up Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race.

Now this will bite him in the arse. Just wait and see.

He can flip flop on the Muslim ban and building a wall, but not on releasing your tax returns.

Last season, Keuchel had a 2.48 ERA of course.

Check this out from the Chron beat writer covering the ‘Stros:

Jake Kaplan ‏@jakemkaplan 57m57 minutes ago

Jose Altuve has more extra-base hits (9) and RBI (6) in the first innings of games than Carlos Gomez has all season.

We are eight games out of first. Can you believe that?

Yesterday’s ‘Stros game was a day game so I knew parking would be a hassle so I took the light rail.

A few weeks ago the Mayor sort of addressed parking lot price gouging during key events held Downtown.   The Chron E-board has a take on the issue today and here is how it starts:

An exasperated mother driving her daughter to a Taylor Swift concert in downtown Houston added an interesting word to our city’s lexicography. After paying a whopping $60 to park her car, Jennifer Moncrief coined a term to describe the startling avarice of parking lot owners near Minute Maid Park: “landsharking.”

Just when you thought it was safe to go downtown, visitors venturing into the city’s central business district are getting gouged with outrageous prices for parking. All too often, prime parking spaces in private lots cost even more than some of the tickets to concerts and ballgames.

Well it turns out that maybe the Mayor actually can do something about it. Here is more from the E-Board’s take:

It’s especially troubling that one of the most expensive lots during these concerts sits on public property. That $80 lot at the Beyoncé concert? It belongs to taxpayers. It’s the Diamond Lot adjacent to Minute Maid Park.

And:

Although the Astros control the lot next to Minute Maid Park, the mayor and the sports authority should encourage the team to set an example by avoiding the temptation to boost prices for popular concerts. What’s good for downtown is good for the Astros and good for the team’s owner, Jim Crane, who should step up to the plate by holding the line on high parking prices.

Houston First is about to open a new garage adjacent to the convention center, adding 1,900 new spaces within walking distance of Minute Maid Park and the Toyota Center. A couple of years ago, this government-created entity quietly imposed a price hike in the garages around the Theater District, raising the old $7 evening rate to $10. We hope the mayor will remind Houston First the new garage’s primary mission is easing downtown’s parking problems, not generating a bonanza of revenue for Houston First.

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Parking-lot-bandits-7463146.php.

I am thinking the ‘Stros will continue to charge whatever they want for parking despite what the Mayor opines on the issue. After all, they are getting away with charging $10.50 for a Saint Arnold and $5 for a bottle of water.

Same thing for Houston First. Why should they? They look at those 1,900 parking spaces as a potential gold mine. They will give us some BS line that the parking money helps pay for the Thanksgiving Day parade or something like that. You know, a kind of convoluted public service thing.  Oh, well, get used to the landsharking.

This tweet came out yesterday after the game yesterday:

Julia Morales ‏@JuliaMorales 14h14 hours ago

5 hours and 9 minutes. Third longest game in Minute Maid Park history.

What is the longest game in Minute Maid Park history?

You know you are in a world of hurt when you have to pull the God card. I am talking about the Texas Attorney General. Here is from today’s Statesman:

The next step in the criminal case against Attorney General Ken Paxton begins Thursday morning with oral arguments before a state appeals court that will consider Paxton’s bid to have the felony charges dismissed.

In anticipation of the hearing before the Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals, Paxton released a video Wednesday evening in which he labeled the criminal charges against him politically motivated and false, blaming his legal trouble an unnamed “political adversary” and those “who are mad that I am a conservative Christian and made no bones about it.”

Here is the entire article:

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/with-hearing-looming-ken-paxton-proclaims-innocenc/nrLrq/.

Here is Paxton’s first line from his opening argument:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

I am thinking that Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS was the longest game ever at The Yard with the ‘Stros taking the The ATL in 18 innings in 5 hours and 50 minutes by a 7-6 score of course.

We are certainly having a winning May but now play four in Fenway beginning this evening. Yesterday, in the first two innings we loaded the bases but we could not score. Luis Valbuena is hitting a measly .202 and Carlos Gomez a pitiful .204. You can’t contend with this kind of production from your third baseman and center fielder.

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