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Johnny Reb

The Johnny Reb flag is taking a well deserve beating these days.

Yesterday I watched a very moving and powerful announcement.

I am talking about watching South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on the flat screen as she announced the Confederate flag will no longer fly on the grounds of the state capitol as she was surrounded by Republicans and Democrats. She looked strong and decisive as she delivered a powerful message.

She made a lot of the GOP prez candidates look goofy.

Then Walmart said Johnny Reb paraphernalia would no longer be on their shelves.

Now folks are setting their sights on anything related to Johnny Reb while singing “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

The Jeff Davis statue at UT? The Mississippi flag.

Here in H-Town we have schools named after Robert E. Lee, Jeff Davis, and Stonewall Jackson. Should they be goners? I would not have a problem if they got the boot.

What is next? Five flags over Texas?

There really wasn’t any news yesterday in the race for H-Town Mayor. The next forum is this Thursday.

How many Royals were in the AL All Star team starting lineup last year?

Pete Rose will never get in to the Hall of Fame. I wonder if the Reds will let him have role in this year’s All Star game festivities. Hope not. I am really tired of his act.

Royals catcher Salvador Perez was the only Royals starter in last year’s All Star Game of course and he was actually a replacement.

In the latest All Star game voting, the Royals are leading in seven positions.

We lost last night and now lead by three.

Ready for the Yankees?

Summer Politics

The summer kicked off yesterday with this front page story in the Chron on the race for H-Town mayor. Here it is: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Rebuild-Houston-could-prove-a-drain-on-mayor-s-6338698.php?t=e6fed25edeb2e7d3f0&cmpid=twitter-premium.

Hey, you get on the front page. What else can you ask for? I am thinking the Bill King campaign got a good bump. After all, so far “back to basics” is the only line that is getting some run.

It was certainly hot out there this past weekend talking to voters. I don’t really encounter very many that are happy with how things are going. Some feel slighted and ignored. A bunch want new blood. We will see.

Meanwhile, the Rep. Sylvester Turner campaign trotted out a list of 20 or so of his Latino colleagues who endorsed him. Hey maybe they have familia in H-Town.

The ‘Stros now have 103 dingers to lead all MLB clubs. Name the team with the least amount of dingers?

It turns out someone real close to Commentary has a significant and major interest in the newest and hottest club in H-Town. That’s cool. Of course, I am not much of a club person so I’ll just have to rely on others to tell me how it is going.

Who would have thought that seventy-one games into the season we would have the third best record in MLB? Of course, we still have not made it to ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. The next ten games will certainly be a test. We have three in Anaheim. Then the Yankees are in for four, followed by the Royals for three.

The ATL only have 41 team dingers of course.

It looks like Jose Altuve will be back in the starting lineup this evening and we are three and a half up.

Round Two

Remember former State Rep. and now Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and his vaginal probing sonogram bill back in 2011?

And State Rep. Carol Alvarado (Commentary’s client), in a classic and memorable response said this:

“This is not the jelly on the belly that most of you think. This is government intrusion at its best. We have reached an all high, a climax, in government intrusion.”

Here is the clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBrbGrvDPvE.

Looks like Sid and Carol have gone from the vaginal probe into the deep fryer. From the Trib:

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller on Thursday restored the option for public schools to serve certain fried foods and soda by lifting a decade-old statewide ban on deep fryers and soda machines.

The policy, which supporters say gives control over nutrition back to school districts, instead of the state, goes into effect July 1.

“We are working to put an end to a one-size-fits-all approach mandated from Austin,” Miller said in a press release. “We want families, teachers and school districts to know the Texas Department of Agriculture supports their decisions and efforts to teach Texas students about making healthy choices.”

School groups that sell fatty foods or sugary sodas on campus for fundraising purposes are now allowed to do so six times per year, up from once, and to sell during school hours.

Critics have argued that Miller’s push is a step backward for childhood nutrition. In 2013, 16 percent of high school students in Texas were obese, up from 14 percent in 2005. Only Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama reported higher rates. Nationwide, child obesity rates have jumped from 7 percent in 1980 to 18 percent in 2012. Among minorities, the rates for children and adolescents were significantly higher, with Hispanics at 22 percent and non-Hispanic black youth at 20 percent.

Ironically, the reversal was announced as part of a new plan by the Texas Department of Agriculture to reduce childhood obesity. The primary objective of the plan is to connect farmers with schools to provide more local food. It’s designed to promote community engagement and student involvement, as well as training to help schools serve meals that are “attractive and taste great.”

Rep. Alvarado’s Statement:

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller announced that the Texas Department of Agriculture is repealing certain prohibitions under the state’s decade old school nutrition policy that restricted the use of deep fryers and soda machines in Texas schools. State Representative Carol Alvarado issued the following statement:

“First, he granted amnesty to cupcakes and now it is deep fryers in the lunchroom. Will his next step be recommending that schools replace physical education classes with doughnut eating contests?

I think it is mind-boggling that our Agriculture Commissioner would think that placing deep fryers and soda machines back in our schools would help reduce childhood obesity.

Healthy eating should not stop once a child enters the school house doors. Most children consume about one half of their daily calories at school, so our schools play a vital role in helping cultivate a healthier lifestyle. Commissioner Miller’s plan is a mistake and a huge step backwards in ensuring that our children are eating healthy and living healthier lifestyles. This Commissioner should be finding more ways to provide healthier food options instead of finding more ways for the state to subsidize obesity.”

Only in Texas. This fella is a caricature for sure.

A-Roid is sitting on 2,999 career base hits. How many MLBers are in the 3,000 career base hit club?

Nobody can say Bill King doesn’t take a position. Here is from Rebecca Elliott of the Chron:

Houston mayoral candidate Bill King wants to put ReBuild Houston, the city’s controversial streetnand drainage program, back up for a vote.

Narrowly approved by voters in 2010, the pay-as-you-go maintenance and repair initiative has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks, with the mayor’s race underway and a series of storms testing the limits of Houston’s drainage infrastructure.

Criticism of the program has only intensified in the last week, after the state Supreme Court ruled that the language of the ReBuild charter amendment did not adequately describe the program’s character and purpose. In a unanimous decision, the court sent the case back to trial court, where legal experts expect the city to face an uphill battle.

Then, on Wednesday, a Houston resident filed a separate class-action lawsuit seeking to have the city to refund property owners some $500 million in drainage fees.

King, the most vocal opponent of ReBuild Houston in the race, has seized the moment to attack ReBuild.

“I only see one way out of this quagmire,” the former mayor of Kemah said in a statement Thursday. “We need to have another election on the ReBuild Houston program in November. But this time with clear and transparent ballot language.”

Should ReBuild make it back on the ballot this year, King said he would continue to oppose the program, proposing instead to finance city infrastructure projects with bonds.

King’s statement does not name any other mayoral candidates by name, but City Councilman Stephen Costello — an engineer and strong advocate of ReBuild — is the implied target.

In the crowded race to replace term-limited Mayor Annise Parker, King and Costello are seen as direct competitors for the votes of Houston’s fiscal conservatives.

I am not going to say anything about the Governor’s appointment to chair the State Board of Education.

28 former MLBers have reached the 3,000 career base hit milestone of course.

Our lead is now up to three and a half games. We are the first NL team to win 40 games this season. Not bad at all!

Those were the words from Rocco in the “Godfather, Part II” in talking about knocking off Hyman Roth who happened to be in custody of federal agents.

When it comes to increasing Latino voter turnout here in Texas, Commentary says “Difficult. Not impossible.”

The Chron E-Board takes on Latino voting in Texas today in response to this past Saturday’s election in San Antonio. Their headline in the hard copy is “What will it take? Low voter turnout is a problem in Texas, particularly with Hispanics.”

Here is a part of what they said:

That pattern of Hispanic non-participation is a statewide problem. In fact, Hispanic turnout in Texas tends to be lower than elsewhere in the country. It’s likely to continue in Houston too, unless some candidate or some issue galvanizes the electorate. It’s hard to see who or what that might be, even though they probably could elect a candidate of their choosing, in Houston and elsewhere, if they voted in percentages comparable to African-Americans and Anglos.

Here is the entire take: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/What-will-it-take-6333872.php.

All I can say is the Latino vote has been neglected for decades and all of a sudden folks are wondering why they are not showing up at the polls? In due time. In due time. Be patient.

The ‘Stros had four dingers last night at Coors Canaveral and now have 95 for the season. How many ‘Stros have dingers in double digits?

Here is from Kuffer on the Rebuild Houston responses:

On a related note, I went and checked the Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of each of the five candidates for Mayor who had not made a statement about the Supreme Court ruling as of my previous post. Here’s Sylvester Turner’s statement, posted on June 15 at 11:44 AM. The other four – Chris Bell, Adrian Garcia, Marty McVey, and most puzzling to me Steve Costello still had nothing to say on the subject as of last night. I will ask again: What are you waiting for?

Here is all of Kuffer: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=67865.

I think this is probably a good idea if you like transparency. If you are a political consultant, should you have a problem with what the Ethics Commission put out recently? Here it is:

The Texas Ethics Commission seeks comments on how a political expenditure made to a political consultant must be disclosed when the consultant makes payments to other parties.

For example:

A political committee pays a consultant to send direct mail. The consultant buys a mailing list, pays a graphic designer, pays a printer, and pays a mail house to send the piece of direct mail.

A candidate pays a consultant to organize get out the vote activities. The consultant pays poll workers and drivers. The consultant pays a printer to print sample ballots. The consultant pays for transportation and gas expenses.

The Commission will consider comments at its August 7, 2015, public meeting.

It is just a little more housekeeping.

If you want to check out the Yankees at The Yard next week, expect to pay a lot more. The ‘Stros and dynamic pricing are sticking it to fans. You can sit in the upper deck for $15 on up – depending on which day you go. The Thursday game is the least expensive. If you want to sit in the field box level, $110 is the best deal you can get. Close to $200 for a seat behind the plate.

I lot of folks are going to try to hawk them on Stub Hub. I would just wait until the last minute and snatch them there once demand goes down.

Valbuena (16), Carter (12), Gattis (12), and SpringerDinger (10) lead the team of course in dingers.

We still have a two and a half game lead and have now won four in a row.

Getting National Run

On the day city council will adopt the budget, the Chron E-Board put a smackdown this morning on the handling of Rebuild Houston. Deserved or not, the folks running Rebuild Houston have not done a good job of letting us know how things are going. Here is from the E-Board:

The question of whether Houstonians legally approved the drainage fee will now be sent back to the trial court. With this ruling, the Supreme Court has landed a powerful blow against a program that’s already suffered years of slings and arrows. Yet the legal error identified by the state justices merely echoes an already well-known problem with ReBuild Houston: a failure to communicate.

It isn’t just an issue of ballot language. From day one, ReBuild Houston supporters have lacked an articulable plan or list of projects that would be funded by the program. Estimated drainage fee cost to landowners fluctuated throughout the campaign.

And:

City Councilmembers redirected dollars into their own slush funds. Houston-ians grew impatient.

And:

ReBuild Houston still lacks a key advocate who can explain to people why it is a smart policy. Yet Mayor Annise Parker seems content being a follower rather than a leader – much as she did during the original campaign. Council member and mayoral candidate Stephen Costello, a key ReBuild Houston proponent, has remained essentially silent.

Politics isn’t about numbers or spreadsheets – it is about people. If Parker and Costello don’t start communicating to the people about ReBuild Houston, someone else will. And they may not like what those folks have to say.

Here is the entire piece: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Let-s-talk-6331167.php.

It is pretty obvious to most that Bill King has a take on this. He has put out a statement or two and articulated his position in public. Before anybody criticizes him, how about asking your candidate to put out their take first. You can’t have it both ways.

The ‘Stros continue to lead MLB in the team dinger category. How many do they have and name the team that is second?

All I can say is that the ‘Stros were one of the lead stories on “Today” this morning. The GM got some praise from Bob Costas. We are getting national run today. That’s good for the brand if you ask me.

The Hackbirds’ reputation took a huge hit. They deserve it only because what they did was incredibly stupid. What were they trying to find out? If we had figured out how to hit a Mariano Rivera cutter? Dumbarses! Hope they get the book thrown at them.

The ‘Stros have 91 team dingers of course to lead MLB and followed by the Dodgers with 83.

We had three dingers yesterday including two by Luis Valbuena. We are now on an eight game roadie and still have a two and a half game lead.

Oh yeah, our next homie starts next Thursday with the Yankees in town. Hope you have your tickets!

Royals Flush

Last night’s Meyerland Dems candidate forum was held. That’s about all I can say. Candidates got to speak and take a couple or so questions. That’s it. No headlines. More candidates and operatives than Meyerland Dems in attendance.

So in local politics, today is an OFFICIAL RAINOUT!

Only one pitcher in MLB has tossed 100 plus innings this season – name him?

This season, the MLB know-it-alls decided to go with online voting only for the 2015 MLB All Star Game starting lineups. They did away with the hanging chads and they are probably regretting their decision this morning. Seven members of the KC Royals are leading in the vote count. I am ready to call five of those states, err positions – catcher, third base, shortstop, and two in the outfield. A .210 hitting Omar Infante has a lead over Jose Altuve for second base and Eric Hosmer has a lead over Miguel Cabrera for first base who is hitting .344 and arguably the best hitter in MLB.

I am not going to get worked up over this because KC knows how to turn out its vote. I did like the old way of voting because I always scored a t-shirt for bringing 750 voters or so to the polls.

Infante over Altuve is getting a lot of national run so I suspect Altuve will get a bounce over the next two weeks of voting and can maybe make a comeback. Meanwhile, the know-it-alls at MLB are probably scratching their heads and trying to figure out how to devise a voting system that makes sense to folks outside of Missouri.

Dallas Keuchel of course with an 8-2 record and 2.04 ERA has tossed 101 1/3 innings to lead MLB.

Two SpringerDingers help get us a win last night. We still have a two and a half game lead over the Rangers and wrap up the homie this afternoon.

Did you know that we still have 13 games left to play against the Rangers?

Ballot Language

Everybody knows that Bill King is one of the country’s leading experts on hurricane preparedness and evacuations. He has been recognized for his work in the past. That’s not why they are calling the next tropical storm Bill though.

The Meyerland Dems will host a mayoral candidate forum this evening.

Here is the 2010 ballot language on Rebuild Houston:

City of Houston, PROPOSITION NO.1
CHARTER AMENDMENT PROPOSITION

Relating to the Creation of a Dedicated Funding Source to Enhance,
Improve and Renew Drainage Systems and Streets.
Shall the City Charter of the City of Houston be amended to provide
for the enhancement, improvement and ongoing renewal of Houston’s
drainage and streets by creating a Dedicated Pay-As-You-Go Fund for
Drainage and Streets?
FOR
AGAINST

From the Chron:

Houston’s divisive, multibillion-dollar effort to fund two decades of street and drainage improvements faces an uncertain future after the Texas Supreme Court ruled Friday that the ballot measure voters narrowly approved in 2010 obscured the nature and cost of the drainage fee at the heart of the ReBuild Houston program.

And:

(Mayor Annise) Parker downplayed Friday’s ruling.

“This is but one step in the ongoing legal process,” she said. “It does not change the city’s ability to continue with the program that has resulted in millions of dollars of drainage and street improvements throughout Houston since its implementation. Of course, we, respectfully, disagree with the court’s decision and are reviewing our options.”

And:

Houston appellate lawyer Richard Hogan, who is not involved in the litigation, said a separate legal action would have to be launched to make the drainage fee disappear from residents’ water bills. However, after reading the Supreme Court opinion and related filings, Hogan said he would put his money on an eventual victory for the plaintiffs.

“It’s hard for me to imagine that they’re not going to win the case when it goes back,” Hogan said. “I can’t imagine that, after the Supreme Court said all this, that a trial judge in Texas would thumb his or her nose at the Supreme Court and tell them, ‘No, it wasn’t misleading.’ ”

Here is the entire Chron piece: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Texas-Supreme-Court-sends-ReBuild-lawsuit-back-to-6324772.php.

Here is from Kuffer:

1. I freely admit this may just be sour grapes on my part, but I have a hard time seeing this ruling as anything but ridiculous. I don’t know how any actual voter who didn’t spend the last six months of 2010 in a coma could have failed to understand that voting for the Renew Houston proposition meant imposing a fee on themselves. I’m struggling to not see politics at the root of this decision.

2. So far the only Mayoral campaign reactions I have seen to this have been press releases from Bill King and Ben Hall, both of which hit my mailbox on Friday, and both of which were happy about the ruling. (Mayor Parker also put out a press release, which was quoted in full in the Chron story.) I’ve looked at the Facebook pages of the other five candidates, and so far nothing. Chris Bell, Sylvester Turner, Steve Costello, Adrian Garcia, and Marty McVey – what are you waiting for?

3. There’s still a lot of legal wrangling to come, but it’s fair to say that ReBuild Houston is on life support and may not survive. If it goes down, then what if anything replaces it? I feel like I spent a lot of time back in 2010 asking Renew Houston opponents what they would do to provide more funds for flooding and drainage improvements, and I never got anything resembling a coherent answer. So I’ll ask again, with an eye especially at the Mayoral candidates. If not ReBuild Houston, then what? How do you provide more funds to do more street repairs and flood abatement? Remember, we live in a revenue cap world, so simply proposing a property tax increase (not that anyone would, I suppose) is insufficient. If you don’t propose some kind of supplemental revenue stream, then as far as I’m concerned you’re not serious about wanting to do street improvements and flood mitigation. If you do have a proposal, then I want specifics, and I want to see evidence that you’re going to fight for it. Say what you want about Steve Costello, and I’m sure he’s going to take his fair share of abuse and criticism now, but he put his money where his mouth was in 2010, and he got something passed. If the Supreme Court has taken that away, what will you do instead?

The Mayor then tweeted this yesterday:

Annise Parker ‏@AnniseParker 24s24 seconds ago
Rebuild Houston added $600 mil of completed, in construction & planned street/drainage work. Ask mayoral candidates how they’d replace.-A

I guess she stopped reviewing her options.

Well this is a mess for sure.

Everybody knows that Commentary worked on the Renew Houston campaign back in 2010. It won and became Rebuild Houston after City Hall took ownership. During the 2010 campaign, it was kind of hard to get elected officials to support the campaign. They stayed away from the campaign. We did a lot better with organizations and groups.

It will be interesting to see what elected officials do with this now.

Name the MLB club with the highest run differential this morning?

When it comes to H-Town politics and campaigns I can speak with authority. When it comes to San Antonio politics and campaigns I don’t know squat.

I followed the recent SA mayoral campaign by reading articles on the Express News website or the Trib. I also had a few brief discussions about the race with a couple of H-Town folks who do business in SA. That’s it.

I have not had a chance to politic or campaign in SA since 2000, so I didn’t see any of the ads, read the mail, or talk to voters about the campaigns. So I could not even give you a half-arse take on what happened Saturday other than to report the final score.

The Trib has a thorough account of what happened and here is a part:

“At the end of the day, we needed 3,000 Democrats to get off their asses and go vote, and they didn’t,” said Colin Strother, a Democratic consultant who had worked for the fourth-place finisher in the first round of the race, former Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson. “And that’s the story of our life in Texas politics, is that Democrats could elect anyone they wanted to any position — statewide, local, you name it — if they would get off the couch and go vote, and they don’t do it.”

Here is the entire piece: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/06/14/taylors-triumph-new-day-or-another-fluke/.

The Jays of course are on top in the run differential category and have outscored their opponents by 71 runs.

Well, we still have a two and a half game lead. We scored 24 runs this past weekend and tossed two shutouts. The Rockies are now in for two and the crowds are getting bigger.

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