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Encanto 

The Chron E-Board is putting out their HISD trustee runoff endorsements this week.  Here is the one for Trustee District 1 from today: 

Trustee Elizabeth Santos, 39, is asking voters in the Dec. 11 runoff election to keep her on the board representing Houston ISD District I. They shouldn’t. 

Santos’ connection to the district is deep. She grew up attending its schools and taught English there. Her dedication to students shines through when she speaks. Those things speak in her favor, but they do not overcome her weaknesses as a board member. 

An early strike against Santos came in late 2018, when she joined four other trustees to oust Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan in a surprise vote that came after the five had met with a former superintendent whom they then named to replace Lathan. The Texas Education Agency cited that apparent violation of the state’s open meetings law as partial grounds for replacing the whole board. 

Santos defends her actions, and claimed in our meeting with her she hadn’t known in advance that Lathan would be fired. But the episode was deeply disruptive and showed poor judgment. 

That was an early mistake, but unfortunately Santos has not provided the steady influence and smooth leadership that the school board, with all its recent acrimony, so badly needs. In interviews with us and other outlets recently, she has also struggled to share a cogent vision for how she’ll use a second term to steer the district to further success. 

On the other hand, Janette Garza Lindner, 45, is a strong candidate. The mother of two HISD students, she grew up in Brownsville, bilingual in Spanish and English, as an adopted daughter of a widow who left school in the second grade and never learned to read. She graduated from the University of Texas and is an energy industry consultant and project manager. In 2019, she received training as a board fellow of Latinos for Education and serves on the leadership committee of Arts Connect Houston. 

Her story lends itself well to representing District I, which stretches from the Near Northside to the northwest across much of the Heights. 

“I know firsthand how much schools matter,” Garza Lindner told the editorial board. 

Neither candidate secured enough votes in the Nov. 2 election to win the seat outright, and now they face each other in a two-way runoff. We continue to recommend Garza Lindner as the best choice. 

Here is a part of a funny Royko take sent to me yesterday: 

I have agreed that the audit is a waste of money. We don’t have a problem counting ballots. 

The problem is the organized vote fraud. We have Democrats who routinely employ convicted forgers to work on submitting voter registrations. 

We have RINO’s working with the Dems in the Legislature to roll back the felony penalties to misdemeanors, knowing it gives the Soros-backed Democrat DA’s the ability to ignore the Republican vote fraud complaints. 

No one knows how many fraudulent registrations are entered each year, but the cheaters have plenty of “walk around” money to maintain massive boiler room operations where everyone is paid in cash. 

Not a shred of evidence. Here is the real deal on Royko and a bunch of other GOPers.  They want to do everything possible to keep us from voting. Period. 

They want to make baseless and senseless accusations just for the purpose of casting doubts on our democratic processes. 

They don’t believe in fair and square elections. That is who they are these days. 

Disney’s latest animation flick is called “Encanto.” One of the stars is Stephanie Beatriz who was mostly raised in Webster just down I-45 South from H-Town.  She credits the H-Down arts scene for a lot of her success.  Here is from the Chron: 

Beatriz’s performance as Rosa Diaz throughout eight seasons of the hugely popular sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” firmly established her as one of the funniest performers on television — but there’s much more to her acting skills than just comedy. Originally born in Neuquen, Argentina, to a Colombian father and Bolivian mother, Beatriz honed and perfected her acting skills in Webster, just outside of Houston, where she moved when she was just 2 years old. 

Houston’s arts community is the first thing Beatriz mentions when asked for her thoughts on the city. 

“One of the greatest gifts that my family gave me, my mother in particular, was she would seek out different exhibits and things related to the arts for my sister and I to engage in,” Beatriz recalls. “Places like the Museum of Fine Arts and the great theater in the city. When we were kids, that sparked my curiosity. It definitely sparked the idea of following and pursuing a career in the arts. I don’t know that I would have known that it was an avenue I could have gone down, otherwise.” 

When discussing her youth in Webster and Houston, Beatriz also highlights the support that she received not just from the artistic community, but from the entire city and the surrounding area. She calls Houston one of the friendliest places in the world.  

“Texans are known for their warmth. I grew up that way. I grew up saying hi to people that I didn’t know and trying to try to be warm, open and compassionate to everyone that I’ve come across. You only realize once you move away from places like Houston and Webster that not every place is as warm and welcoming.” 

Now a resident of Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband Brad Hoss and their 3-month-old daughter Rosaline, Beatriz’s career is going strong. Rather than sticking to television or film roles, Beatriz is currently preparing to make her first theatrical performance in about 10 years in “2:22 – A Ghost Story on London’s West End.” The show marks another full circle moment for Beatriz. 

“Some of the first theater I ever saw was in Houston. Whether it was at my high school or the touring shows that would come through. I also studied theater in college. I performed it at the very start of my career. So it’s crazy to think that in a few days I’ll be in rehearsals for a play that’s going to open on the West End. I’m so thrilled and excited.” 

Here is the entire read: Disney’s new ‘Encanto’ stars Stephanie Beatriz, a Texas and Latina icon (chron.com). 

Bill Virdon, a former Astros manager, is no longer with us. He was 90.  He led us to our first playoff appearance in 1980.  The first World Series I paid attention to was the 1960 Fall Classic between the Pirates and Yankees that the Pirates won with a walk-off dinger in Game 7.  Virdon played with the Pirates and that is when I first knew of him.  He was a good guy. 

It will be six of us tomorrow for Thanksgiving Day Dinner. My Dad, my sister Sylvia, my nephew David and his son Jackson, my nephew Enrique and me.  We are all fully vaccinated and not messing around. 

Disloyal Astros

Commentary has been an Astros season ticket holder since 1994.  I stayed with them during the three consecutive 100 loss seasons from 2011 – 2013.  I guess you could call me a loyal fan.  

Due to the pandemic, the last game I was at was Game 7 of the 2019 World Series against the Nationals.  

When the team cheating scandal came out in early 2020, the team sent all season ticket holders a $200 gift card to use at The Yard for grub, Saint Arnold or stuff from the Team Store.  They put the card on our Ballpark app. They called it a loyalty gift card. It was a kind of gesture to keep us happy after we became a national embarrassment. Then the pandemic hit, and nobody went to ballgames in 2020.  In 2021, they let us opt out of our seats up until July.  I chose not to attend games this year because of the pandemic.

This past Saturday, I went to The Yard for a seat relocation event. I was thinking about moving to the Club Level next season because the netting installed in the summer of 2019 impedes my vision at my current seats in Section 132.  After the event I went to the Team Store to buy some gear.  When I pulled up my Ballpark app to fetch my gift card, it was missing.   

Yesterday, I emailed my Astros account executive and told her my $200 gift card was missing. She said the loyalty gift card expired after the 2021 regular season. Huh? 

How do you put an expiration date on a gift certificate?  Loyalty is a two-way street in Commentary’s book.  It got me to thinking.  I haven’t been to an Astros game in over two years.  Do I really need this if that is the way they are going to treat their “loyal” fans? 

In 2020, when we couldn’t attend games, the team said the money we had plunked down for 2020 would be applied to 2021. A number of fans demanded their money back immediately and got it.  I told the team to go on ahead and apply to the 2021 season.  

I have already paid for about 60% of next season’s tickets.  I am seriously thinking of outright cancelling because of their little chicken sh_t ways they treat some of us. I am a loyal fan for sure.  The Astros are coming across right now as a disloyal organization. Stay tuned. 

Royko sent me this on my take on the Chron and the Big Lie: 

When is it dumb for the local newspaper to print, under free speech and freedom of the Press, an Op-Ed submitted by a Government Official who may have a view different from some of the knucklehead readers? 

Donald Trump lost and no longer lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Only knuckleheads think Trump won.  

Nothing new on Carlos Correa. 

58 Years 

58 years-ago today. The first major news event that impacted me.  I will never forget where I was and how I spent the weekend in front of our old black and white TV.  Sitting in our classroom at GCCISD’s De Zavala Elementary School on a Friday around noon. Sitting in front of the TV with my grandmother as she wept. Thinking that it was surreal that my Dad had seen him the night before at the Democratic Party dinner in honor Cong. Albert Thomas. 

The plane carrying the President landing in DC Friday evening.  Watching LBJ deliver remarks.  The world leaders gathering for the funeral.  The casket lying in state.   

The Lee Harvey Oswald killing by Jack Ruby on live TV.   

Jacqueline Kennedy holding it together. The John Jr. salute. Not going to school on Monday because it was a National Day of Mourning. 

That it happened in Texas.  That was a very mixed emotion. An assassination of an American president. 58 years-ago today. 

A bunch of Americans don’t believe the 2020 election results are legitimate. Thanks to Donald Trump and his loser followers who continue to push the big lie.  Trump ordered an audit of the Texas 2020 election results and Texas GOPers led by the racist arsehole Gov. Greg Abbott complied.  A few days ago, Abbott and fellow idiots Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan transferred $4 million from the prison system to conduct the election audit. Dumbsh_ts for sure. 

You know what is just as dumb.  Lisa Falkenberg, the VP and Editor of Opinions for the Chron, giving the Texas Secretary of State a lead Op-Ed in yesterday’s Outlook section justifying the audits. I was dumbfounded when I saw it and read it.  Dumb, dumb, dumb. 

Q, U, X and Z.  There are 333 members of the Baseball Hall of Fame and none of them have a last name that starts with a Q, U, X or Z. Now you know. 

Nothing new on Carlos Correa. 

Natalie 

State Rep. Garnet Coleman will not be running again.  He certainly has earned all the tributes and accolades he has received the past 24 hours from both sides of the aisle.  His knowledge and dissection of policy is at a place where very few have been.  He is certainly one of the better legislators of this era.  He put in the time and hard work to become one of the best. He will be missed on the Texas House floor for sure. 

I was honored that Garnet called on me to consult on his campaign when he first ran in a special election 30 years ago. I was there at the beginning of his extraordinary public service career.

One of Commentary’s all-time favorite TV journalists is saying farewell to “Today.” Natalie Morales is leaving and will now be a co-host of “The Talk.”  Everyone knows I have been a fan of Natalie’s from Day 1. She is smart, sharp, energetic, witty, and nice.  She is first class in my book. 

She is trilingual – English, Spanish and Portuguese. She is a Latina who proudly celebrates her heritage. She also celebrates her athleticism.  

Of course, my favorite story of hers is the one on Siete Family Foods a couple or so years ago. She has covered the sad stories like the Boston Marathon bombing and Sandy Hook.  The exciting stories like the trapped Chilean miners. She has covered the royals, the Olympics, presidential inaugurals and red-carpet events. 

Her Halloween costumes like Princess Leia, Eddie Munster and Shirley Feeney were the coolest. Her and her kid’s reshoot of Charlie Chaplin’s Little Tramp is a classic. 

Her and Jenna Bush getting on that thrill ride over a canyon was one of a kind live TV with Natalie belting out laughs while Jenna cried out for her mom. 

I will miss Natalie on “Today.” She helped make the mornings better in my book. 

Janette Garza Lindner put this out on FB this morning: 

I’ve received some questions from voters about where my campaign finances come from. Campaigns are financed in two ways: straight donations to the campaign and PAC contributions

I have no issue with a candidate receiving PAC contributions as most campaigns, including mine, receive them. It’s part of the political universe. However, I do take issue with the complete misrepresentation of how my opponent is framing her campaign funding. 

To set the record straight, my opponent has received more than $95k in services from one PAC based in Washington D.C. Unfortunately, she has not publicly acknowledged these funds during this campaign. My opponent is misleading voters in this race and is giving us another example of why we need to bring trust and integrity back to HISD by electing a new District 1 Trustee. 

Got it? 

Nothing to report on a Carlos Correa signing this morning. 

2023

Commentary was at my Dad’s yesterday. I missed The Dean’s annual fundraiser. It turns out it was The Dean’s kickoff for H-Town mayoral campaign in 2023.  

Here is what The Dean said according to a tweet from Jose de Jesus Ortiz:  

“We’re running for (Houston) Mayor, and we intend to win.” 

It is on.  I support The Dean in his race for Mayor. 

Here is the headline for a Trib story today: 

Texas Democrats rely on voters of color to be competitive. So why are their top statewide candidates mostly white? 

Here is the sub-headline:  

The GOP slate for statewide office includes two high-profile Latinos and two Black candidates who have previously held state or federal office. Republicans are making a play to be more competitive with voters of color as the state’s electorate grows more diverse. 

Here is from the article: 

For decades, Texas Democrats have banked on the growth of voters of color, particularly Black and Latino voters, as the key to their eventual success in a state long dominated by Republicans. 

But with less than a month left for candidates to file for statewide office in the 2022 elections, some in the party worry Democrats could see their appeal with those constituencies threatened by a Republican Party that is rapidly diversifying its own candidate pool. 

The GOP slate for statewide office includes two high-profile Latinos: Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, who are both running for attorney general. It also includes two Black candidates who have previously held state or federal office: former Florida congressman Allen West and state Rep. James White, who are running for governor and agriculture commissioner, respectively. 

By contrast, the Democrats’ most formidable candidates are white — Beto O’Rourke, who is running for governor, and Mike CollierMatthew Dowd and Michelle Beckley, who are running for lieutenant governor. 

Lee Merritt, a Black civil rights attorney from McKinney, and Rochelle Garza, a Latina former ACLU attorney from Brownsville, have jumped into the Democratic primary for attorney general; and Jinny Suh, an Asian American Austin lawyer, is running for land commissioner. But none of those Democrats have the political experience or fundraising prowess of their Republican counterparts. 

The issue has caused consternation among some Democrats, particularly as they see South Texas and border communities, with large majorities of Latino voters, become a battleground for Republicans. Democrats lost a special election in San Antonio to Republican Frank Lujan earlier this month. Two weeks later, Rio Grande City Rep. Ryan Guillen, who’d served in the Texas House as a Democrat since 2003, switched his party affiliation to Republican. Both Lujan and Guillen are Latino. 

“We need to look at that and need to do an introspection as to why there’s a lack of diversity at the top of the ticket,” said Odus Evbagharu, chair of the Harris County Democratic Party. “We need to do better. We’ve gotta cultivate our bench.” 

And this: 

Jeronimo Cortina, a political scientist at the University of Houston, said Republicans are making a play to be more competitive with voters of color as the state’s electorate grows more diverse. He pointed to Republicans opening up offices in heavily Latino areas like San Antonio. 

“The Republican Party in Texas sees the writing on the wall and that is that demographic change is here,” he said. “Latinos are going to be the biggest chunk of the electorate in the next couple of decades, so either [Republicans] get on board or they’re going to lose them.” 

I have addressed this before.  Folks of color can’t complain if they haven’t put forward viable Democratic statewide candidates.  They have plenty of qualified potential candidates. They just need to step up and file.  

The team signed Justin Verlander for $25 million next season. I hope we have money left for Carlos Correa. 

Worthless

From the Chron today: 

Harris County will not launch an independent investigation into the Astroworld festival disaster after commissioners declined to support a plan by County Judge Lina Hidalgo to do so. 

A mistake. I am not going to dwell on this. 

Here is from Stace: 

We knew it would get busy in the newly redrawn Harris County Precinct 4 and we have another candidate with Ben Chou announcing his candidacy for Commish. Chou is an attorney with government experience. If elected, he would be the first Asian-American and openly gay person on the Commissioner’s Court. 

Here is all of Stace on this: Ben Chou Files for Harris Commish Pct 4 | (doscentavos.net). 

Worthless arseholes like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are a joke.  The dipsh_t had his nose fully up Donald Trump’s arse and now that he wants to run for president and wants to sell books turns on Trump. All these guys are a joke in Commentary’s book. 

Nothing to report on a Carlos Correa contract with the Astros. 

A Race

This is a serious matchup. Commentary is talking about Beto versus the racist arsehole Gov. Greg Abbott. 

Let’s not forget. 

The failures of the grid that is Abbott’s responsibility. 

Abbott has his nose solidly up loser Donald Trump’s arse. 

The pandemic death toll continues to climb under Abbott’s mishandling of the COVID-19 response. 

The unpopular culture wars Abbott continues to ignite. 

Voter suppression under Abbott. 

State government’s feeble response to Hurricane Harvey under Abbott. 

Crazy gun laws passed in Texas under Abbott. 

Restrictive abortion laws signed by Abbott. 

And we’re just getting started. 

Commentary doesn’t know the Latino Texas state legislator who switched political parties yesterday. Usually, a switch occurs because he or she feels their political party has left them or something like that.  This wasn’t the case this time around.  

I don’t know the Democratic state legislator who is now running for Lieutenant Governor. Redistricting hurt her chances of getting reelected to the Texas House. 

Locally, former HISD trustee Diana Davila filed a campaign treasurer designation for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 6. She will be taking on the incumbent Judge Angela Rodriguez.  Luis Garza is also in that race. 

Last month, Vidal G. Martinez filed a campaign treasurer designation for Harris County Judge.  I guess on the GOP side.  Vidal is a former Port Commissioner. 

Let the filings continue. 

Astro starting pitcher Luis Garcia is the AL Rookie of the Year runner-up. 

From the Chron E-Board this morning: 

Nearly three years before the deadly Astroworld concert that has shaken Houston to its core, rapper Travis Scott stood smiling wide on the edge of the Toyota Center stage one night in February 2019, raising his left arm to the delirious sellout crowd, and raising in his left hand a key to the city, which he’d received moments before from Mayor Sylvester Turner. 

“We owe so much to this guy for keeping Houston on the map,” Turner told the crowd, before turning to Scott and embracing the homegrown star. “As the mayor of the city of Houston, I’m so proud of you, man. … This city loves you.” 

This in itself ought to call for an independent investigation.  Anything else is a disservice. Period. 

Form the Chron E-Board yesterday: 

Houston Police Chief Troy Finner said on Wednesday the criminal investigation could take “weeks, possibly months” to establish what happened. 

That’s not surprising, especially given the torrent of litigation that has already begun, but fundamental questions deserve answers sooner rather than later. 

Chief among them is whether Finner or others on site had authority to order the concert stopped either before the fire department declared it a “mass casualty event” or just after. On Wednesday, Finner stressed that “ultimate authority” to end the show resided with Live Nation, the festival organizer, and with Scott “through communication with public safety officials.” 

He also said, immediately after the tragedy, that ordering an abrupt end to the show could have been dangerous. “You have to worry about rioting, riots, when you have a group that is that young,” he said. 

But to be eight days out, and still have no clear view of who had authority to do what is inexcusable. It shouldn’t take an investigation to explain job duties as defined by law, set policies and established protocols. At times, it seems officials are intentionally vague about jurisdiction. 

Finner unequivocally stated on Wednesday that Astroworld was not a “city of Houston-sanctioned event.” But then how does he explain that the festival organizers received permits from the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, as well as the city’s health and fire departments? If the festival wasn’t sanctioned by the city, why did more than 500 Houston police officers provide security? 

And this: 

Officials at every level, including Chief Finner, should err on the side of transparency. There are many basic facts — even the timeline of what happened, moment by moment — that remain unclear. They should work hard to provide easily accessible information for everyone in Houston who is trying to juggle a broken heart and unanswered questions. 

Toward that end, Finner should reconsider his rejection last week of calls for an outside investigation. An independent investigation needn’t compete with or complicate his own department’s work, which includes investigating whether crimes were committed. Questions about preparation, the physical layout of the event space, overlapping jurisdictions and the seeming difficulty in communicating between private security and police and fire responders abound. It’s not clear whether the police department has the objectivity, or birds-eye view of the interlocking responsibilities, to get to the truth. 

I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to find any confidence in the police chief. An independent investigation is the only way to go. 

Beto is in. Good.  

I ran across this.  Did you know that the three oldest MLB ballparks are Fenway which opened in 1912, Wrigley in 1914 and Dodger Stadium in 1962? 

Did you also know that the Astros regularly wore the rainbow gear from 1975-1986? 

Carlos Correa was named the 2021 top defensive AL player a couple or so days ago. They gave him a platinum glove designation.  The team led by Correa also got the defensive platinum glove award. Pay Correa his money and keep him in the orange and blue. 

For County Commissioner

Now former County Court-at-Law Judge Lesley Briones will be running for the newly redrawn County Commissioner Court Precinct 4. She announced yesterday that she is running and has the support of County Commissioners Rodney Ellis and Adrian Garcia. 

Normally, an open powerful position like Harris County Commissioner would attract a host of candidates in a primary. I guess Judge Briones has to be considered a serious candidate. It is way too early to call her a frontrunner. We will see how this plays out. I wonder who else will get in the race? 

Yesterday, Commentary was out with my Dad doing the medical appointment thing. I was checking my email and got alerts from CenterPoint that my power went out then was later restored.  I figured I would come home and have to adjust my blinking clocks on my stove, alarm, coffee maker and microwave. When I got home, everything was working just fine.  Thanks for nothing, CenterPoint. 

One of my favorite MLBers, former Astro pitcher Charlie Morton, is celebrating his 38th birthday today. Happy Birthday, Charlie Morton. 

Polling 2023 

Let’s see. We still have runoffs in 4 HISD trustee races and an HCC trustee runoff on December 11. We have a Special Election in January to fill an H-Town City Council position. Next March, we have party primaries. Then comes the 2022 November mid-terms.  So, a poll is being conducted for the 2023 H-Town mayoral race. 

It looks like the poll is being conducted on behalf of former Houston Metro Board Chair Gilbert Garcia. How do I know this? Some of the questions test Gilbert’s positive.  Gilbert also thinks The Dean is the frontrunner.  How do I know this? Some of the questions test The Dean’s negatives. 

The five potential horse race match-up candidates in the poll are Garcia, The Dean, H-Town City Council Member Michael Kubosh, former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins and former H-Town City Council Member Dwight Boykins. 

No women are included. Nada. Zilch.

Today is Veterans Day and I am taking my 98-year-old World War 2 vet Dad to a medical appointment. 

This looks like pure macho BS law enforcement decision making on full display. Commentary is talking about the HPD Police Chief refusing to call for an independent investigation into the deadly concert. Sigh. 

The Chief initially said a security guard was injected with a drug. It didn’t happen. 

The Chief said a couple of days ago that it is impossible to stop a concert involving 50,000 or so rowdy folks. Why allow concerts of this size?

Here is on the Chief in today’s Chron: 

The concert occurred at NRG Park — a county facility — but was staffed by hundreds of Houston police officers. (Chief Troy) Finner said the “ultimate authority” to end the show resided with LiveNation and with (Travis) Scott. 

That makes no sense at all.  You mean to tell me when the public is at risk, law enforcement can’t step in and stop the show?  

The Chief is certainly not up to the task. That’s clear. 

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has called for an independent investigation. The Chief is standing in the way because of macho BS. 

The last couple of days I have seen film production trailers down the street in my neighborhood. Next Door is saying it is a Netflix production.

Astro outfielder Jake Myers is dinged up and will miss the start of next season.