Posts Tagged ‘Chris Bell’

His Budget

If you have attended any of the H-Town Mayoral forums, you have heard Adrian Garcia boast about running the Sheriff’s Office under budget and saving taxpayer funds. Chris Bell called him out yesterday on his budget. Here is from a Rebecca Elliott Chron piece this morning:

Bell also accused Garcia of improperly claiming that the sheriff’s office was at or under budget for four consecutive years during his tenure.

“His numbers are a complete fabrication,” Bell said, alleging that the county’s former top lawman was over budget for four of the six years he was in office.

The dispute boils down to whether one compares the sheriff’s office’s actual spending to the county’s initial adopted budget or its adjusted one, updated later in the year. Bell’s campaign is relying on the adopted budget, while Garcia uses the adjusted spending plan.

For example, in fiscal year 2014, the sheriff’s office spent nearly $400 million – some $9 million more than the adopted budget, but about $7 million less than the adjusted budget.

Garcia’s statement did not address Bell’s budget criticism.

Here is the entire Elliott article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/election/local/article/Mayoral-candidates-take-aim-at-Garcia-6509872.php.

If you look at the numbers, Bell is right on target. That’s why the Garcia camp did not refute the criticism. Oh, well.

Two ‘Stros players have played 138 games this season – the most for a ‘Stro. One is Jose Altuve. Name the other?

At yesterday’s mayoral forum at India House, candidates were asked what they want to see in a new HISD Superintendent. Marty McVey wants to see “the most qualified Hispanic in the country.” Ben Hall said the “next superintendent must not be corrupt.” Adrian Garcia wants a superintendent who “knows how to engage the community – Grier didn’t.”

There will be more forums today in the race for mayor and District H.

Evan Gattis of course has also played in 138 games this season.

I wish the team would let me know if they are still interested in playing well into October. We are a game and a half out with 16 to go.

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The Bell Ad

Chris Bell has a TV ad. Go to his website and check it out. The flat screen fonts include: NO SCANDALS, NO BAGGAGE, PRO-CHOICE, EQUAL RIGHTS. I guess he is going at Adrian Garcia, and going after the Dem female voter and the GLBT voter. I guess. It is a good ad.

What was the big news in MLB 50 years ago today? Hint: Dodger blue.

Commentary is not impressed with the folks that Hillary recruited to run her campaign. They have blown a huge lead. I thought she had the best Dem talent. Her inner circle has to take some of the blame. It may be time for heads to roll.

The first H-Town Mayoral TV debate is tomorrow evening. It is being sponsored by Channel 13 and Univision. It will air tomorrow night at 10:30 pm. I am thinking it will only be watched by older voters who happen to stay up late.

Taylor Swift will be at The Yard this evening and she will have a packed house. She usually has a celebrity guest join her on stage. J.J. Watt, maybe?

50 years ago today, Sandy Koufax threw a perfecto of course against the Cubbies at Dodger Stadium.

This tweet says it all:

Brian McTaggart ⚾️ retweeted
Richard Justice ‏@richardjustice 50m50 minutes ago
The @Rangers have picked up 7 games on the @Astros in 39 days. Two teams now tied in loss column. Rangers 23-11 since Aug 2, Astros 16-18.

We now have a one game lead.

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Let’s see. The City of H-Town rules on campaign fundraising say an individual can give up to $5,000 per election. A PAC can give up to $10,000.

Yesterday, Chris Bell lost his fight against State Rep. Sylvester Turner on campaign financing. Here is from Teddy Schleifer of the Chron:

The Houston Ethics Commission has rejected Chris Bell’s complaint that City Hall was letting Rep. Sylvester Turner start the mayoral race with a $900,000 head start in fundraising.

The ethics board ruled last week that it did not have jurisdiction over Bell’s case because he could not show improper ethical conduct by a city official, leaving the former congressman and city councilman with one less legal option to restrict Turner’s advantage. Bell filed his complaint last month after failing to win an injunction against the city in state district court in January.

Bell argues that Turner should not be allowed to transfer more than $10,000 from his legislative campaign account to his mayoral account, the most a third-party group can donate to a candidate. The city attorney’s office and Turner have said he should be allowed to transfer each individual donation that falls under the maximum cap set out by the city’s fundraising ordinances.

He opened his mayoral account late last month and starts with about $900,000, according to his campaign.

Here is what Commentary wants to know. If Jane Doe forked over $5,000 to Rep. Turner last October, can she give another $5,000 this July? Or is the $900,000 that Rep. Turner starts out with considered funds raised from a different or previous election.

I have the same question for a $10,000 contribution from a PAC.

If that is the case, it would appear that the Rep. Turner campaign gets two bites out of the apple while everyone else just gets one bite. I had a discussion about this recently with some folks in the know and I mentioned that it might violate the so-called “spirit of the law.” One of the responses I got was there is no longer a “spirit of the law” when it comes to fundraising at City Hall thanks to the folks that were in charge of looking out for the rules. That’s too bad since I thought for all these years that we had a pretty good system in place.

Oh, well, so now we operate under the spirit of the flaw. That is not what they had in mind when the original ordinance was first adopted.

Last night’s event was well attended.

How many combined seasons did Killer Bs Bagwell, Berkman, and Biggio spend in a ‘Stros uniform?

When is this going away? I am talking about this from the Chron:

The ongoing legal battle over Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson’s residency is poised to pit one source of taxpayer dollars against another, as the college may be on the hook for his legal fees and the county continues to pay to pursue a case it has lost twice.

HCC has an insurance policy that covers legal fees for trustees, but the deductible is $300,000 – much higher than the $36,980 Wilson’s case has cost him so far, meaning the college probably will have to pay the full bill.

Really? Folks certainly know how I feel about this dog chasing its own tail.

Teddy also put out this yesterday:

Deputy City Controller Chris Brown will run for his department’s top job, he said, becoming the fourth candidate to commit to the race for the city’s top financial officer.

This will certainly make things more interesting on the Dem side.

Killer Bs Bagwell (15 seasons), Berkman (12 seasons), and Biggio (20 seasons) spent a total of 47 seasons in a ‘Stros uniform of course.

The April 6 Opening Day game versus Cleveland will be carried by ESPN at 6pm as part of their Opening Day quadrupleheader coverage. That’s Prime Time!

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The first regular season game the ‘Stros, err Colt .45s ever played was on April 10, 1962 at Colt Stadium. Name the player who hit the first ever dinger against the Colt .45s that day?

And they are off! Chris Bell announced for H-Town Mayor yesterday and Teddy Schleifer sent out a few tweets from Sam Houston Park – the campaign kick-off site – including this one:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 50m50 minutes ago
Bell on his opponents talking about him losing races: “If necessary, I’ll talk about the races they’ve lost.” Get used to this, Houston.

The Rep. Sylvester Turner Campaign is the only campaign that I know of that has brought up Chris’ career campaign won-loss record. I guess Chris was aiming his remarks at Rep. Turner’s campaign and his three career losses. Hey in this business somebody is always going to have to come up short. It is not as though any of these two lost to lousy campaigners. This kind of discussion doesn’t fill a pothole if you ask me. Families aren’t going to be sitting around the table saying – “now let’s see, Bell lost to Lee Brown, Al Green, Rick Perry, and Joan Huffman and Turner lost to Bob Lanier, Bill White, and El Franco Lee, now who should we vote for?” NOT GONNA HAPPEN!

I have to hand it to new Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick for keeping his campaign promises.

Speaking of, who is behind the Chris Bell parody twitter account? See this:

Chris Bell @chrisbell4mayor
@chrisbell4mayor FOLLOWS YOU
There’s an election this year, which means I’m running for something. PARODY ACCOUNT

In the past three or four months or so, if anybody has bothered to ask me who I am supporting for H-Town Mayor, I have told them Bill King. Bill is a longtime friend. He is certainly talking about what concerns folks in H-Town. He is well versed on the issues. He has certainly shared his takes with all of H-Town over the past few years. I honestly believe he would make a great Mayor.

I have had the conversation about my supporting Bill with a number of players including James, Kathryn, Teddy, Carol, my parents, Roman, Claudia, Anna, Leah, and others. It is not a secret. I mention this because the following was tweeted Saturday morning – first from Teddy Schleifer:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 47m47 minutes ago
.@miyashay @BillKingForHou @GeorgeHWBush @jgm41 Plus @rrjara, Sue Walden. And @MarcCommentary supporting King too.

Then from Miya Shay:

Miya Shay 36m36 minutes ago
@teddyschleifer @jgm41 @rrjara @MarcCommentary @TheGoodBegala you’re a bad consultant if you’re not on someone’s payroll this cycle.

Then from Teddy again:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 42m42 minutes ago
@jgm41 @miyashay @BillKingForHou @GeorgeHWBush @rrjara @MarcCommentary @TheGoodBegala Is any Houston strategist not on this campaign?

Then from Kris Banks:

Kris Banks ‏@KrisBanks 33m33 minutes ago
@miyashay @teddyschleifer @jgm41 @rrjara @MarcCommentary @TheGoodBegala Can’t buy a base #justsayin

Let me say at this point I am supporting Bill but I am not consulting on the campaign as of this morning. Always a proponent of full disclosure, I will let folks know if I ever do consult on Bill’s campaign.

As for Kris’ “can’t buy a base” phrase, I am certainly not going to discuss here the Bill King strategy for winning.

Kris is also a great guy so I know he is not implying that Bill’s team is bought just like the consultants that have been hired by Rep. Sylvester Turner, Council Members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington, Chris Bell, Ben Hall, and the Sheriff are not bought.

On April 10, 1962, Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks of course hit a 7th inning solo dinger off of Bobby Shantz for the first ever dinger against the new H-Town MLB franchise. The game will certainly miss Mr. Cub!

I have to admit I got a chuckle or two while reading yesterday’s Chron E-Board take on the pensions and state legislators. The E-Board is urging legislators to give the City the authority to do its job when it comes to firefighter pensions. I chuckled when I read what The Dean had to say.

Here is a part of the E-Board take:

Whether they decide to act, state legislators can’t escape their role at the core of the pension fight.

In addition to employee contributions, the firefighter pension is funded by tax dollars collected by City Hall. However, City Hall can’t set the amount it is obligated to pay. State law creates a framework that dictates what Houston taxpayers owe. Local tax dollars should be controlled by the elected officials at City Hall, but that isn’t what Democratic state Sen. John Whitmire thinks.

“Do you really want [Council Member Michael] Kubosh to be in charge of a $3 billion fund?” Whitmire asked the Chronicle editorial board during the past election season. “Do you want [Council Member] Dwight Boykins to be in charge of a $3 billion fund?”

Yes. In fact, that’s exactly what Houstonians elected them to do. City officials control the city budget.

Pardon me, but I had to LOL! I wonder what CMs Kubosh and Boykins had to say about The Dean’s take?

Here is the entire E-Board take: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/It-s-city-business-6036503.php.

I also tweeted this yesterday after I saw a Channel 11 announcement asking for folks to send in a pic of their favorite pothole. Wasn’t that Bill King’s idea first?

Marc Campos @MarcCommentary • 5h 5 hours ago
#KHOU wants your pothole horror stories: http://www.khou.com/story/news/local/2015/01/24/pothole-patrol-share-your-horror-stories/22260077/ … #HouNews

Yesterday was Rob Manfred’s first day as Major League Baseball Commissioner. Congratulations and good luck!

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When was the first time the ‘Stros threw a shutout on Opening Day?

Commentary has said it before and I will say it again. I am not ready to give any of the candidates for H-Town Mayor the lead dog status, frontrunner position, or the candidate to beat designation. I won’t hand it to Rep. Sylvester Turner even though he has a million in the bank because he can’t raise anymore dough until mid-June and he will be spending some serious change in the meantime. I can’t give it to the Sheriff because he is not in the race yet and even if he got in tomorrow, he only has $57,000 in the bank.

Teddy Schleifer has a Chron front page lead story piece out today on the Sheriff thinking about getting in the race and if you haven’t seen it, I have it here for your perusal.

Some observers are saying that as soon as the Sheriff gets in, he jumps to the head of the line and is an instant upper tier contender. That’s where the expectation game comes into play. With upper tier status comes upper tier expectations.

If he gets in he will almost immediately have to demonstrate that his fundraising capability is top of the line. That means he will have to roll out H-Town money folks on his team with proven political fundraising and bundling experience that can get the campaign to that $2.5 million threshold.

He will have to release a list of endorsements and supporters that include elected officials, activists, and business and civic leaders. He will also pretty much have to have the enthusiastic support from the city’s Latino leadership and community.

He will also have to quickly develop an articulate message and vision for the city that addresses the issues and our concerns, stands out, and resonates with the voters.

In short, if he announces for Mayor, his campaign has to show the most movement. Some may ask if is fair to set the expectation game for his candidacy. Hey, the Chron gave him front page lead story status today. On page two of today’s City/State section you can find a much smaller story on Chris Bell’s announcement. That ought to tell you and me something.

Rep. Sylvester Turner has already set his marker down. We know what he has in the bank. We know he can’t raise any money right now. So we pretty much know the status of his campaign effort.

The other candidates like Council Members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington and Bill King are pretty much staying off of the radar and have really yet to show any of their cards.

For the Sheriff it is obviously a different game. One that comes with a different set of risks. If he decides to get out there and run he won’t have a choice and will have to play the expectation game. If he falls short of his goals and stumbles, you have to wonder what those that gave him upper tier status will have to say then. They set the bar – I didn’t.

Here is today’s Chron story:

Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia is sending every possible message that he intends to run for mayor this year, aggressively increasing his political operations and signaling to some of his closest advisers and fiercest backers that a campaign may be imminent.

Garcia, under the Texas constitution, would have to resign as a county official immediately upon declaring his candidacy. That presents Garcia, who watchers expect to rocket to the field’s top tier if he joins the burgeoning mayoral fray, with a fateful decision: Does he step down as the county’s premier Democratic officeholder to make a bid that will make him Houston’s first Latino mayor or politically unemployed?

“At the end of the day, it’s like standing at the craps table, placing the bet – and you could walk away with nothing,” said Garcia confidant Greg Compean.

It is a bet Garcia allies said this week he has grappled with and seems willing to make.

“I’d be really surprised if he didn’t,” Compean said.

Garcia, who said last week he still is listening to others and has not yet officially committed to the race, has met with many of the city’s political leaders in advance of an announcement and privately is telling some close allies that he will run. And other evidence is mounting.

The sheriff spent $350,000 in the last six months of 2014, according to his campaign finance report released last week. That sum, spent in a year when he was not on the ballot and 10 times what he spent during the last six months of 2010, nearly depleted the coffers of his political action committee, which, under city ordinance, may not be allowed to transfer more than $10,000 to a mayoral bid.

The report also revealed that Garcia had hired new fundraising and digital advertising shops along with spending $100,000 on tele-town halls, some of it after last November’s election, that gave him a chance to reach and gather data on up to 500,000 voters. Garcia’s political operation also hired an analyst to parse through that data.

This month, he commissioned a poll to gauge his viability, people with knowledge of the poll said.

Garcia also slowly has been building his profile locally and nationally: He was invited to the White House in November to discuss immigration policy. He has continued his high-octane social media presence and leveraged it to build an email list. And he spent a fair amount of money this cycle giving to the Democratic interest groups that can help decide future elections, noted Marc Campos, a Houston Democratic strategist not committed to Garcia.

“The only way to explain spending all that money is to let everybody know that he’s a good Democrat,” Campos said. Garcia likely did so to remind them that “‘of all the candidates that have a Democratic base, I was the one who was working the hardest this past November,'” Campos said.

Perhaps most tellingly, county sources say, is that Garcia’s top staff at the sheriff’s office are looking to jump as they eye other county positions that would give them a landing place beyond Garcia’s tenure and vest them in the county’s pension system. Garcia’s top lieutenant and close friend, Armando Tello, left last month for a lower-profile post in Precinct 6, and other executive officers currently are scoping out other opportunities.

“He’s running,” said Hispanic Chamber of Commerce head Laura Murillo, who once considered her own bid for mayor. “He’s getting ready to make his announcement very soon.”

Murillo is not in Garcia’s inner-circle, but several other Garcia allies confirmed a bid is all but inevitable.

Former Houston mayor Bill White, who long has mentored Garcia but said he has not committed to any candidate, said the sheriff told him he was “seriously considering” the race in a visit at the end of the year.

“I did sense a gleam in his eye that was like a racehorse that wanted to go on the track,” White said.

To a certain extent, that race already has begun. Ever since a federal judge declared Houston’s fundraising blackout period unconstitutional two weeks ago, all but one of the eight candidates running for mayor have scrambled to contact donors and set up the political infrastructure to accept those contributions.

Meanwhile, Rep. Sylvester Turner, who political observers consider the current front-runner, is sidelined from fundraising until June, when the legislature’s still-on-the-books blackout period expires.

Every day that Garcia sits the race out is another day less that he has to raise the $2 million most experts say that any candidate would need to run a serious campaign and catch Turner, who will try to transfer much of the $1 million he already has in his state representative campaign account.

Backers of Garcia have high hopes he could raise the money to compete and that he could win voters beyond Houston’s Latinos, who comprise more than 40 percent of the city but at the most only 15 percent of the electorate. The county’s highest vote-getter in 2012, Garcia is expected to make appeals to some Republican voters in the nonpartisan election.

Garcia also would open himself up to personal attacks over a yearlong political brawl. Some in political circles for months quietly have questioned whether Garcia, who has no college education, can handle the rigors of the city’s top job. And if Garcia resigns as sheriff, some Democratic judges and Latino leaders worry whether the party and the Hispanic community would be hurt without him leading the local ticket.

Harris County Commissioners Court is almost certain to replace Garcia as sheriff with a Republican, though one Democrat, Constable Alan Rosen, is said to be interested. Constable Ron Hickman and Rep. Allen Fletcher are considered the most viable replacements.

Even if his seat flipping would upset the Democratic hands who labored to elect and reelect him, his donors and backers in the Latino community seem to be carrying more weight.

“You got to put our best foot forward,” said Massey Villarreal, a Hispanic Republican who has been pushing Garcia to run. “I think I’ve got him on the five-yard line.”

Kuffer has more on this: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=65100.

Here is the Chron story on Chris Bell – equal time – sort of:

Former Democratic congressman Chris Bell will announce his mayoral bid Sunday afternoon in Sam Houston Park, becoming the first candidate in a crowded field to officially kick off a run to lead City Hall.

“Houston has challenges but it also has a great future,” Bell said in his invitation to supporters. “We’re going to talk about how we move to the next level, taking advantage of talent and technology so we can reach our full potential.”

A former city councilman, Bell has spoken openly about an impending bid for at least six months. Bell began his career as a radio reporter and then turned to law and politics. He lost races for mayor in 2001 and for governor in 2006.

As many as a dozen candidates could run for mayor this year, each of whom would likely need to raise $2 million to be competitive.

In recent weeks, Bell has hired finance and policy staff, and he has been working with Bill Hyers, who mostly recently advised Bill de Blasio’s come-from-behind campaign for mayor in New York, to plot his campaign moves.

Bell’s most aggressive step toward a mayoral run has been his lawsuit against the city charging that Rep. Sylvester Turner should not be allowed to transfer much of his $1 million in his officeholder account to Turner’s mayoral run. That suit, heard in state district court earlier this month, will likely move to federal court.

Bell will host his first fundraiser on Feb. 12.

Roy O and Brad Lidge shutout the Fish on Opening Day of 2006 of course for the first and only time the ‘Stros have ever shutout an Opening Day opponent.

The game times for the ‘Stros 2015 season were released yesterday. There will be five weekday day (1:10 pm starts) games at The Yard this season.

Giveaways include three bobbles, a gnome, and a Craig Biggio replica Hall of Fame plaque. They won’t be giving away umbrellas this season – darn!

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It looks like the City of H-Town is fixing to wave the white flag on some of the City’s campaign fundraising rules. The City Attorney is now saying that the so-called fundraising blackout period is unconstitutional after a federal judge said so this past Friday. I guess we have been conducting unconstitutional campaigns for over 20 years now. So I guess we are fixing to be a 24/7 fundraising City. I don’t know about that.

The City Attorney also says that Chris Bell’s courthouse move to prevent State Rep. Sylvester Turner from transferring dough from his state rep campaign account into a Mayoral campaign war chest is moot because Turner raised the funds during a blackout period that didn’t exist because it was unconstitutional – huh! I thought the Bell folks were challenging the maximum amount Turner could transfer – $10,000.

An issue Commentary has is how could have Rep. Turner raised campaign funds for a Mayoral race if he didn’t have a Treasurer on file over at the City Secretary’s Office?

The City Attorney will be out of office in less than a couple of weeks and on his way out he is fixing to alter the fundraising rules. I sure hope he has been talking about these proposed changes this with key members of City Council – at the least. I would sure hope that more folks get to have a say in this if you know what I mean. After all, it is how we conduct campaigns.

I think this issue is important so I am putting out all of Teddy Schleifer’s piece from today’s Chron here:

City officials will argue that the city’s election ordinance is unconstitutional as part of a strategy to strengthen their position in a lawsuit that could shape the early stages of this year’s mayor’s race.

After defending the city Monday in civil court, City Attorney David Feldman said he would write an opinion explaining to the City Council why its fundraising “blackout” rule is unconstitutional. A federal judge on Friday ruled that law likely violated the First Amendment.

A separate lawsuit by likely mayoral candidate Chris Bell, the subject of a hearing in state court Monday, accused the city of failing to strictly enforce its fundraising law. Feldman intends to take advantage of the ruling in the federal case to convince the judge in the Bell lawsuit that Bell no longer has a case.

The strategy, hatched in closed chambers by Feldman after more than an hour of heated debate in the 165th District Court, amounts to the city capitalizing on its own loss just days before.

“In the first instance, we have some obligation to defend the constitutionality of (city) ordinances,” Feldman said in an interview following Monday’s hearing. “But we have a ruling from a federal district court judge that the blackout period is unconstitutional. I believe he is correct.”

Houston’s blackout period, passed in 1992, prohibits city candidates from raising money for 10 months before the February of an election year. The blackout, meant to limit corruption, effectively froze campaigning until Feb. 1, when a frenzy of renewed fund-raising ensued.

But this fall, two lawsuits challenged Houston’s rules. Bell’s suit charged that the city is allowing mayoral candidate Rep. Sylvester Turner to transfer too much money from his legislative account. In the other lawsuit, a City Council candidate alleged the blackout infringed on his free speech rights.

Now the cases are converging.

On Friday. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake enjoined the city from enforcing the blackout. The city is not asking for a stay of the decision and on Monday confirmed it will not defend the law.

Also on Monday, Bell and Feldman’s team quarreled in front of Judge Elizabeth Ray, who is presiding in the Bell case. Bell is challenging Turner’s strategy of raising money for his unopposed state legislative campaign during the blackout period and then transferring that money to a future mayoral account.

Bell argued Turner should be allowed to transfer only $10,000 – the maximum permitted from any political action committee. The city and Turner say the candidate can transfer the first $5,000 of each individual donation, allowing him to build a huge war chest.

And that, Bell’s attorney said, is Feldman’s fault.

“Mr. Feldman has no authority to provide legal advice to Mr. Turner or anybody else,” said Bell attorney Geoff Berg, as Feldman shook his head. “But he did it anyway.”

Turner asked Feldman for approval of his plan in May and Feldman gave it. The City Attorney said his job involves giving his thoughts on legal issues brought to his attention.

City officials said Friday’s decision made Bell’s lawsuit moot. If no blackout period is in effect, then Turner’s fundraising during that period is proper, the city argued, and there is no need to transfer any money.

Bell said he would challenge Friday’s decision in a new lawsuit in federal court.

It is kind of messy so I guess we have to stay tuned.

Among active MLBers, who has the most career At-Bats?

Kuffer put out a take today on stuff I mentioned last week. Here it is: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=64754.

I am not going to say anything about the member of Congress from down the road who compared the President to Hitler on the Paris rally.

Just like I am not going to say anything about some GOPers criticizing the President for not going to France to pick up a couple of orders of freedom fries.

I will say that Nick Anderson has a good one today here: http://blog.chron.com/nickanderson/2015/01/leader-of-the-free-world/.

A-Roid of course leads all active – yes A-Roid is now active – MLBers with 9,818 career At-Bats.

We will see A-Roid at The Yard for four in late June.

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