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We Got it Right

In November of 1996, when Harris County voters voted on approving a baseball and football stadium, what was the final percentage of yes over no?

Commentary has said it before. On local public policy issues, one of the big things H-Town got it right on was the decision to build The Yard in the eastern part of Downtown H-Town. Remember how that part of Downtown looked in 1999, the year before The Yard opened. Now look at that part of Downtown on July 10, 2018.

Night and day doesn’t even come close. What would have happened if we had decided to build The Yard over at the Astrodome complex like a few folks wanted?

The decision to build The Yard Downtown is arguably the biggest factor in Downtown’s transformation over the past twenty-five years.

You can thank folks like Drayton McLane, Jr., Pam Gardner, the late Mayor Bob Lanier, Mayor Lee Brown, The Dean, the late State Senator Mario Gallegos, State Rep. Carol Alvarado, Dave Walden, the original members of the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority and I’ll mention my best friend, Al Luna, who was one of the original Sports Authority Board Members, key Downtown Business leaders and the list goes on and on, and I’ll mention Mayor Bill White who brought us Discovery Green.

I am sure I left some folks off the list.

It was great to see the ‘Stros sign a lease at The Yard through 2050. That tells me The Yard is in good shape and a very good investment.

Here is from a tweet from State Rep. Carol Alvarado yesterday:

Woo Hoo! @astros will call Minute Maid Pk home till @ least 2050! Attended the lease signing 2day. I campaigned for the referendum in 1996 w/ @MarcCommentary, Sen. Mario Gallegos, @whitmire_john Al Luna, the Lanier’s & many others. Good 2c my fav gals @cindy8000 @DrLauraMurillo

Here is the Chron article on the lease extension: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/astros/article/Astros-extend-Minute-Maid-Park-lease-through-2050-13060770.php.

Commentary was told bout this a couple or so months ago. Here is from the Chron:

A state commission has opened an investigation into the Houston Fire Department’s safety standards after the firefighters’ union accused the department of failing to protect its members from carcinogens to which they are routinely exposed.

Texas Commission on Fire Protection investigators will examine whether HFD complies with state laws requiring departments to clean protective clothing, called bunker gear, and maintain a standard operating procedure to do so.

“Houston firefighters are responding to multiple working fires a day and there is no mechanism that has been initiated to ensure firefighters do not have to wear contaminated bunker gear,” Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association President Marty Lancton wrote in a letter to the fire commission.

Six current and former Houston firefighters — four of whom are battling cancer — said the department’s gear cleaning procedures are inadequate and force members to repeatedly wear equipment that is contaminated. They say the fire department leadership has been reluctant to adopt new practices despite research establishing links between firefighting and cancer, and that City Hall repeatedly has refused to invest in firefighter safety.

HFD Chief Sam Peña said the department has procedures to keep gear clean, but he acknowledged other deficiencies the department faces.

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/State-launches-probe-into-HFD-safety-procedures-13060778.php.

They need to fix this, like right now. Please.

Harris County voters approved the baseball and football stadiums in 1996 by a 51% to 49% margin of course.

It is Dollar Dog Night this evening at The Yard.

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Name the nine players with more than 500 career dingers in MLB who are not in the National Baseball Hall of Fame?

Commentary gets why and where GOPers are on guns, against LGBT rights, anti-Latino and folks of color, the Muslim travel ban, not wanting to adequately fund our public schools, against DREAMers, you get the picture. I don’t understand GOPers having a problem with cities banning plastic bags. The bags kill livestock and marine life and clog our waterways. Whose arse is the GOP trying to save by opposing the plastic bag ban?

On a related issue, Kroger just came out with bright yellow plastic bags. Not too smart of an idea if you ask Commentary. Now folks will be able to say “hey, check out all the Kroger bags clogging up the bayou!” Not too smart.

Mike Snyder has a piece in today’s Chron on the Mayor of Pasadena’s first year in office. Here is the headline from the online Chron story followed by the headline in the hard copy:

A year into his term, Mayor Jeff Wagner struggles to unify Pasadena after Isbell tenure

And:

A year in, Pasadena mayor gets mixed reviews

Here is the story: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/A-year-into-his-term-Mayor-Jeff-Wagner-struggles-13055337.php.

I don’t live in Pasadena, but I have been there a few times this past year.   I think it was huge that the Mayor decided not to appeal the voting rights case. James Rodriguez is his Chief of Staff and he has a Latino police chief. What do I know?

Jake Marisnick was sent down to Triple A this past Saturday, again. If you are hitting .190 on a World Series contending team, you are not going to stick around too long. Sorry, Jake.

Barry Bonds with 762 career dingers, A-Rod with 696, Albert Pujols with 626, Sammy Sosa with 609, Mark KcGwire with 583, Rafael Palmeiro with 569, Manny Ramirez with 555, David Ortiz with 541 and Gary Sheffield with 509 of course are not in the Hall of Fame.

Every now and then I will be asked who is my favorite ‘Stro? These days I replay “I will tell who is the most fun to watch – Alex Bregman.”

Congrats to Alex Bregman for making his first MLB All Star Team.

Let me also congratulate 2018 All Stars Jose Altuve, Gerrit Cole, #SpringerDinger and Justin Verlander.

Remember when I wrote this back on June 7?

Here is where we need to make our move. We have the 4th best record in MLB and 5 ½ games behind the Red Sox, the team with the best record. We have 36 games before we reach the All Star break. 16 are roadies. 20 are at The Yard. 29 are against MLB clubs with records below .500. The other 7 are with an MLB club playing just 1 game about .500. We have to make our move as we start a 4 game series in Arlington this evening.

Since then we are 23-6. We now have the 2nd best record in MLB and 1 ½ games behind the Red Sox, the team with the best record.

The A’s are in for three.

 

Trump’s GOP

According to this week’s edition of Parade, how many hot dogs will be scarfed down at MLB ballparks this season?

Let’s see. Yesterday, Donald Trump said “Putin’s fine.” He also took a shot at Prez Bush 41’s “Thousand points of light.” And apparently that’s OK with the rest of the GOP leadership. Bush 41 is a gentleman and statesman for sure.  Bush 41 is a H-Town treasure. Where is the pushback from H-Town’s GOP leadership?

Bush 41 has his library in the Lone Star State. Where is the pushback from the state’s GOP leadership?  Trump stomps on 41’s legacy and it is A-Okay with the rest of the gutless GOP leadership.   Because it is Trump’s GOP these days. Pathetic.

The EPA Administrator is a goner and according his resignation statement, it is our fault. Got it?

Commentary is certainly not an expert on flooding in the H-Town area. I will say this. Today, I don’t have confidence in anyone’s local expertise. I will say that these days it is safe to say that we can’t handle a lot of rain.

I will also say this. Do we have to have the City’s Fourth of July Festival next to the bayou? Isn’t there another location we can use? Just saying.

19 million hot dogs of course will be scarfed down at MLB ballparks this season.

Yuli came through last night in walk-off fashion. 58-31.

Show Must Go On!

‘Stros pitchers have given up 78 dingers this season, or third lowest in MLB. Name the team that has given up the most dingers this season?

To date, the protester of the year award in the USA has to go to the woman yesterday who scaled the base of the Statue of Liberty on the Fourth of July, no less. Way to go!

Nope! Commentary is talking about the hard copy headline in today’s Chron on Chron columnist Erica Grieder’s column. Here is the headline:

GOP, Democrats should have debate on border wall

According to the latest surveys, 90% of GOP voters have bought into Donald Trump’s GOP. Trump is for the wall. Sen. Ted Cruz is for the wall. GOP is for the wall. They are not going to stand up to Trump on the wall. End of story.

Grieder instead should be asking certain local GOP elected officials why have they been so silent on separating families.

Dems haven’t been silent. The only issue with Dems is some of the Dem leaders don’t get that a lot of what is happening is originating at the grass roots level.

Here is all if Erica Grieder’s column: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/columnists/grieder/article/Republicans-and-Democrats-should-have-serious-13047906.php.

Commentary prefers an election over a debate on this.

The show must go on! Commentary is talking about participating in the Lindale Park Parade yesterday in a steady downpour. The Lindale Park Parade even got some run on page A3 of today’s hard copy of the Chron. The Lindale Park Parade organizers never really gave serious consideration to cancelling the event.

Believe it or not, there were a lot of folks in rain gear or with umbrellas up and down Irvington Blvd.

State Rep. Carol Alvarado, State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, Council Member Karla Cisneros, HISD Trustee Elizabeth Santos and former Sheriff Adrian Garcia were there front and center. Good for them!

It was lively and soggy.

It dried up considerably yesterday afternoon at the City of Baytown Fourth of July Parade. Rep. Alvarado participated, and my Dad rode with her – cool. Rep. Alvarado’s car was a couple of units behind the NRA. Commentary got to meet the new Dem JP Elect Lucia Bates who was in the unit right behind Carol.  A lot of folks attended and watched.

Cincinnati of course has given up 123 dingers to lead MLB.

We won in 10 innings last night in Arlington. Our lead over the Mariners is 1 ½ and we start an 11 game homie this evening as we host the White Sox for 4.

 

 

Freedom for Some

It is Independence Day and our great nation has 2,000 plus Brown kids separated from their families today, so I will forego wishing you a Happy Fourth of July.

And this is what Sen. Ted Cruz said yesterday about the president-elect of Mexico:

“One of the areas that could be particularly problematic is he urged Mexicans before the election, ‘Pack up and go up north to America.’ … I’m running in the state of Texas. How would it work if I stood up and said, ‘Elect me and then get the hell out of Texas!’?” What a profound statement of giving up on your country, telling your citizens, ‘Flee our country because we’re not gonna solve the problem.'”

The president-elect of Mexico said no such thing.

Sen. Cruz went on to call for building the wall.

It is sad indeed that a U.S. Senator from Texas has to use anti-Mexico rhetoric to get reelected. That is a first, I am sure.  (John Tower never did.  Lloyd Bensten never did.  Phil Gramm, nope.  Kay Bailey Hutchison, nope.)

Sen. Cruz knows better. But he also knows he could very well lose. Heck, Beto had a packed house in Pasadena yesterday.

No MLB question today.

56-31.

Stay safe on this Fourth.

 

On Op-Eds

And on the morning of July 3, 2018, without looking, tell me which league in MLB has the most teams with 50 or more wins?

The past few months, the Chron Opinions page has given some ink to a few Op-Eds by a Roy R. Reynolds. Commentary doesn’t know who this fella is. He doesn’t think much of the Dem Party in the Lone Star State and he doesn’t think much of Cong. Beto O’Rourke chances in November and has even taken a few shots at Beto like this:

Even O’Rourke, the El Paso congressman and newly-anointed fair prince of the Democrats, has said his party leaders don’t understand Texas.

Fair prince?

And this from a more recent Op-Ed

Of course, no discussion of the Texas Democratic contingents this year is complete without mentioning U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke. He’s the one with the great hair, visits to every Texas county and, ultimately, the subject of multiple future “why didn’t he win?” analyses.

Great hair?

Why does he have to go that silly personal route? I wonder if he has ever been to a Beto event. Beto draws good crowds. Better than Sen. Ted Cruz’s events, I bet. Folks aren’t showing up to Beto’s event because he’s a “newly-anointed fair prince” or has “great hair.” It has to do with issues and where our country is headed.   And maybe there is a little charisma factor in there.

I really don’t think that Beto has raised millions of dollars more in contributions than Sen. Cruz because he is a “fair prince” or has “great hair.” That’s not why folks are giving their hard-earned money to Beto.   Show a little bit of respect to Beto, his campaign, and supporters.

This Reynolds fella also said this in a previous Op-Ed:

The pundits who claim Texas will save the day for Democrats in Washington, or even that it will turn a paler shade of red, just don’t understand Texas and the state’s constituents.

Which constituents is he talking about? The ones who were marching throughout the state this past Saturday? The ones who still are not insured?   The ones who are frustrated that state government won’t properly fund public education and bring down the cost of higher education? Or the ones who think bathroom bills are not public policy priorities?

I get putting out Op-Eds based on election results of the past. But put some meat on the bones of these Op-Eds with some facts and acknowledge that Texas is a little bit more complex.

Here is his latest Chron Op-Ed: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/In-Fort-Worth-Democrats-celebrated-ennui-13042102.php?src=hp_totn.

The Trib has a piece today on #AbolishICE. Here is a part:

Other prominent Texas Democrats are enthusiastically showing their support for abolishing the controversial agency. State Sen. Sylvia Garcia, the presumptive next congresswomen from the 29th District, led an “Abolish ICE!” chant over the weekend at a rally in Houston, flanked by two large red-and-black banners bearing the phrase. At least one other elected official at the rally, state Rep. Carol Alvarado, chanted along with Garcia.

Even before the confluence of events last week, some high-profile Texas Democrats were voicing deep apprehension about ICE as it currently exists. Among them was Julián Castro, the former U.S. housing secretary and San Antonio mayor.

“I think that ICE, the way that we know it now, should not go on — that in the least, it needs significant reform,” Castro told reporters last month at the Texas Democratic Party convention in Fort Worth, according to the Texas Observer.

Here is the entire Trib read: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/07/02/texas-democrats-abolish-ice/.

Remember when Donald Trump said this last week after the Capital Gazette journalists were murdered:

“Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job.”

And this:

“There are no words to express our sorrow.”

I didn’t believe it, but I didn’t want to comment out of respect.

Trump not giving the Ok to a request by the Mayor of Annapolis to fly the flag at half-staff says it all.

The corrupt EPA Administrator was confronted at an eatery yesterday. Good.

The AL of course has four teams with 50 or more wins this season: Red Sox at 57-29, Yankees at 54-28, ‘Stros at 55-31, and Mariners at 54-31. The ATL and Brewers are the best of the NL with 49 wins each.

Jose Altuve is the top vote getter to date in MLB All Star Game voting. This honor usually goes to the best and most popular player in MLB. How about that?

I learned about this last Friday afternoon. From the Chron:

Diane Mosier, a powerful advocate and champion for the Democratic Party in Houston, died Friday. She was 69.

Mosier, a Beaumont native, attended Lamar University. She owned several companies before joining state Rep. Jessica Farrar’s office as a community liaison and most recently serving as a community aide for Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis.

The Shady Acres resident championed women’s rights and progressive issues during her decades of advocacy, friends said.

“Diane Mosier was forged from the fiery Texas steel that sharpened the wit & strengthened the resolve of trailblazing women who like Diane fought for justice w/equal parts passion, humor & grace,” Ellis wrote on Twitter.

Here is the entire article on Diane: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Democratic-trailblazer-Diane-Mosier-69-dies-13042008.php.

Sad. She will certainly be missed.

Maine GOP U.S. Senator Susan Collins is making headlines today because she said yesterday on the talk shows that she won’t back a Supreme who is hostile to Roe. That means she is a no vote. Right?

It is OK if you kind of have a semi-productive morning today while you are keeping an eye on Mexico in the World Cup.

First of all, F the idiots. #AbolishICE means a name change for starters. It also means you have to totally revamp how deportations and detentions are handled.   That also probably means replacing, putting together and/or creating another entity to handle these functions, so be it.

It does not mean open borders, so F you. #AbolishICE

Commentary needs a protest T-Shirt. I saw at the march Saturday Families Together shirts, FIEL, TOP, Beto, Dems, Black Lives Matter, Unite Here, Indivisible H-Town, you get the picture. All I have is ‘Stros, Beatles, and plain ones. I wore my Nashville Predators T-Shirt.

When I pulled up to the march Saturday morning, the first thing I noticed was a lot of families walking toward the site. I also noticed that there sure were a whole lot of white folks. The event was certainly uplifting. Energy wasn’t lacking. Folks were genuinely pi__ed off.   Folks are frustrated but they know there is a solution ahead – Election Day.

The signage was creative. The speakers were good. A lot of the chants were also pretty good.

The energy is there folks. And the energy is lasting. Batteries are not required.

Folks know that I like to write about Siete Foods, the company my sister and her family owns. Here is a detailed story on Siete from Tribeza.com:

I’M STANDING IN THE TURQUOISE-TILED test kitchen at Siete Family Foods in Northwest Austin shoveling tortilla chips into my mouth. This behavior is unusual only because the chips in question are grain-, gluten-, dairy-, and soy-free, as well as vegan, paleo, and non-GMO-verified. I’m omnivorous despite being lactose intolerant, and decades of living in places like Berkeley and Boulder have made me wary of foods created for those unfortunate enough to suffer from dietary restrictions and aversions.

Yet these chips (in sea salt, lime, and nacho flavors,) are crispy, nutty, and light as air, but also sturdy enough to resist salsa sog. Made with cassava (a starchy tuber native to the tropical Americas) and coconut flours and fried in avocado oil, they’re surely the crack of snack foods.

No less impressive are Siete’s tortillas (also free of grain, gluten, dairy, and soy), new line of hot sauces (enriched with chia and flaxseeds) and queso dip made from cashews. There’s an art to culinary R & D, and the co-founder and president of Siete Family Foods, Veronica “Vero” Garza, is clearly gifted in multiple mediums.

Garza launched the company in 2014 with her mother, Aida, and younger brother, Miguel. Today all seven members of the Garza family, including patriarch Roberto (“Bobby”); siblings Linda, Rob, and Becky; and sister-in-law Alexandra oversee every aspect of Siete. In just under five years, the Garzas have gone from running a family gym in Laredo (G7 Athletics) to establishing a burgeoning food empire in Austin.

For 37-year-old Garza, who has suffered from a variety of autoimmune disorders for more than two decades, Siete was born out of necessity. At 17, she was diagnosed with ITP, or idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, a clotting disorder, which was treated with prednisone. Two years later, after experiencing fatigue, heart palpitations, and kidney issues, Garza was diagnosed with lupus nephritis, an often progressive disease that causes the body to attack its own tissues, resulting in joint pain and inflammation, skin rashes, and other debilitating symptoms. She also suffers from Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid.

While Garza’s doctors experimented with various medications, her brother Rob suggested making dietary changes. “He was into CrossFit and doing a lot of reading on the paleo diet,” she says. Medical research shows that a nutritional regimen free of grain (the gluten, or proteins, in wheat can trigger an inflammatory response in certain individuals) and rich in anti-inflammatory foods like nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens can help ease autoimmune symptoms.

In 2009, however, Garza wasn’t getting such advice from her doctors. She did her own research, and fortunately, her family rallied around her and as a group changed how they ate. It wasn’t a magic bullet (“It’s not like I changed my diet and was cured,” Garza says. “It’s about managing my symptoms”). But within a few months, Garza noticed her knee joints no longer “squeaked” during exercise and she had more energy.

Still, there were challenges. “My mom made grain-free dinners every night, which was hard for us,” she says. “Growing up in Laredo, we ate a lot of wheat flour–based food like tortillas at every meal. We tried various gluten-free flours and alternate foods, but wrapping carne asada in a lettuce leaf really wasn’t satisfying. I started playing around with almond flour and tapioca starch, trying to make a tortilla that tasted good but was also pliable enough to work.”

 Garza’s late grandmother Alicia Campos was known as much for her cooking as her vibrant spirit and love for her family. Aida took some of Garza’s tortillas to her mother, who loved them. Says Garza, “My mom videotaped her saying, ‘Vero, these tortillas are great. They’re better than mine.’ My grandmother was the most honest person, especially when it came to food. Just weeks before she died, she lovingly reminded my mom about how to keep her scrambled eggs from being runny.”

Bolstered by her abuela’s encouragement, Garza, who was teaching at a university in Laredo, began to seriously consider launching a grain-free food company. “I wanted to leave my job, but I didn’t have the guts. My mom was totally on board to do it with me, but it was Miguel, who has a law degree, who convinced us. He said, ‘If you don’t do it, you’ll regret it.’”

Garza began working with cassava flour after reading that it had a texture like that of wheat. She was less than impressed by the initial results. “The tortillas were bitter and fell apart,” she says. “I learned that that there are variables due to the type of cassava and processing methods.” Garza eventually found a cassava flour that tasted good and yielded the pliability and texture she required.

Today Siete sources its cassava from a mill in Brazil that’s supplied by regional family farms. Garza was able to visit last year and finds it gratifying to know that her company is helping to support the economy in an impoverished area.

Philanthropy, while not part of the original business plan, is now a hallmark of what Siete stands for. Says Garza, “We make heritage-inspired Mexican-American food, but we’re also a mission-based company, which is something that evolved along the way as we realized we could make an impact. We donate some product and a portion of all our proceeds to organizations like the Hispanic Impact Fund and Con Mi MADRE that benefit underserved communities.”

The entire family, including Aida and Bobby, had attended UT, and Miguel was already living in Austin when Siete was in the development phase. The city was deemed the perfect place in which to base the business (there’s a production facility in addition to the North Austin office) because, according to Garza, “the community is into fitness and a healthy lifestyle, and I love that you can walk into any restaurant and ask for a gluten-free option. Also, Whole Foods is from here.”

In return, Austin has embraced Siete, which is carried in many retail outlets besides Whole Foods, including Wheatsville Co-op (Siete’s first account), Natural Grocers, and Fresh Plus. The company’s growth has been organic. It employs 20 people, in addition to family. The product line now includes four types of tortillas, in addition to those built from almond flour: cassava and coconut, cassava and chia, chickpea, and cashew flour. The new hot sauces (chipotle, traditional, jalapeño, and habanero) were a natural extension of the chips. “We like to make foods we love to eat with every meal,” says Garza, who retains a soft spot for the almond-flour tortillas, preferably filled with grilled beef tongue. She recommends heating them for 15 seconds per side first on a smoking-hot cast-iron skillet.

You might assume that after working together all week the Garzas would take a break from one another in their downtime, but you’d be wrong. “On Sundays, my family likes to get together and do a carne asada, and we do exercise and yoga together with our team at the office gym three times a week.”

When I ask Garza what her biggest challenge is regarding work, she says it’s managing stress, and spending time with her family and exercising are antidotes, as is maintaining a sense of humor (one example being the company website’s hilarious website copy, of which she notes, “We don’t take ourselves too seriously”). Siete’s success may best be explained, however, by something Garza and her siblings learned at an early age. “My grandmother always used to say, ‘Family first. Family second. Business third.’”

Nice, don’t you think? In my kitchen right now I have the chips, tortillas and the hot sauce.

Commentary is not going to get worked up about King James going with the Lakers. We never had a shot at signing him.

I was watching the game yesterday when Josh Reddick had his T-Ball moment. You know, when they hit the ball to the kid in right field and he picks it up and forgets what he is supposed to do with the ball and the baserunners just keep running. Arrgh!

We have the day off. Good!