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  • Fall Friday
    September 22, 2017

    Fall begins today. I wonder if they will open the roof at The Yard this evening.

    I can’t decide if it is funny or scary.  The name calling with the North Korea leader.

    The Houston GLBT Political Caucus will hold a forum this evening at Bering Memorial.

    Commentary gives a thumbs-up to most government agencies on their response to Harvey during and afterwards.   Convince me why I should include the Houston Housing Authority on this list. Here is from the Chron: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Elderly-Houston-residents-lambaste-city-for-12219457.php.

    Reminds me of Brownie doing a hekuva job.

    At least our leadership now knows that we are going to get hit hard again with a storm and they are finally getting serious about safety, mitigation, coastal barriers, regulations, reservoirs and development efforts to name a few. Everything needs to be on the table.

    I try to take my Dad oysters once a week. He loves them with some crackers, red sauce and a cold one. Here is from the Chron:

    Oyster lovers will shell out more for the marine delicacy this fall, as freshwater runoff from Hurricane Harvey’s historic floods killed virtually all of the bivalves in the prolific seabeds of Galveston Bay.

    The storm was the latest setback to a multimillion-dollar commercial fishing and seafood-processing industry that appeared poised to finally rebound from floods, including two devastating tropical weather systems, and an extended drought in less than a decade. Shrimpers, crabbers and other fishermen who work the bay also will feel an impact.

    But it’s most lethal in the case of the oysters, as Harvey-spawned rains and rainwater runoff drove down the bay’s salinity to fatal levels. Salinity levels of 12 to 30 parts per thousand are ideal for a healthy oyster harvest in Galveston Bay, which researchers say is the nation’s most bountiful. Yet preliminary tests performed by commercial fishers on Tuesday revealed salinity levels at 0 to 5 parts per thousand – and excessive water continues to drain into the bay.

    Industry leaders fear no more than 10 percent of oysters in the bay prior to the storm have survived. It’s possible, they said, that the entire crop is lost.

    “That much freshwater in the bay has taken its toll on us,” said Mark Lewis, sales representative for wholesaler, Jeri’s Seafood. “There’s nothing in Texas to buy.”

    Wholesale and retail prices already have risen by 15 to 20 percent, according to one estimate. Given the expected length of the recovery and the added expense of shipping in oysters from other parts of the country, further price spikes are expected.

    Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/retail/article/Harvey-decimated-Galveston-Bay-s-oyster-population-12218312.php?utm_campaign=btfpm.

    Double sigh!

    Speaking of my Dad, my niece Rachel is texting us that he is getting a lot of love at Hobby this morning as he prepares to board the Honor Flight – nice.

    We only have three more regular season homies including tomorrow’s nooner and Sunday evening’s ESPNer. We lost last night and lost ground to Cleveland. Ten games left to play.

     


  • Lacking Compassion
    September 21, 2017

    Commentary is thinking the leadership over at the Houston Housing Authority didn’t read the memo about showing compassion for folks after Harvey arrived. A few days ago, they informed a number of seniors that they had five days to pack their bags after the first floor was flooded at their high rise over near Memorial Drive. It caused a bit of a ruckus at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Now check out this from the Chron’s Rebecca Elliott:

    Residents of at least one Houston public housing complex have been asked to pay September rent for flooded units deemed uninhabitable, even as Mayor Sylvester Turner has publicly condemned private landlords for similar practices.

    Half a dozen tenants of Clayton Homes, which is owned by the Houston Housing Authority, said property management asked them about rent earlier this month, even though Hurricane Harvey had rendered their units unlivable. Most paid after being told they otherwise would lose their spot at the complex, one of the city’s few subsidized developments.

    Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Housing-authority-charges-tenants-rent-for-12214626.php.

    Tone deaf if you ask Commentary. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    When Ike hit back in 2008, the big issue afterwards was restoring power to neighborhoods. I remember some elected officials holding a press conference saying their neighborhoods were being overlooked. They kind of looked silly in light of the fact that just about everyone got clobbered because Ike didn’t discriminate.

    Here is from the Chron on yesterday’s City Council meeting:

    City Council members under pressure from constituents to remove the thousands of piles of Hurricane Harvey wreckage on Houston curbs spent Wednesday morning shouting over each other about the topic before delaying a proposal Mayor Sylvester Turner said is needed to meet the city’s goal of trucking 150,000 cubic yards of that debris to landfills each day.

    Houston had removed a total of 400,000 cubic yards of debris by Tuesday night, the mayor said, noting the ongoing struggle to draw enough trucks into service. The difficulty is partly because the region is competing with a similar cleanup in Florida and partly because the debris removal rate the city had received through competitive bidding before Harvey proved too low to attract subcontractors.

    And:

    “There’s a lot of debris everywhere. I know people want it up right now,” Turner said. Still, he said the process may be slower than desired because some truckers have sought even higher rates. “I’m not going to be aggressive in going beyond the FEMA-approved rate. I’m not going to assume an added amount more beyond that when we don’t know where those dollars are going to come from.”

    Against a backdrop of intense constituent interest, the discussion quickly went sideways.

    Turner already was miffed at questions from Councilmen Jerry Davis and Michael Kubosh about what value prime contractor DRC was providing for its fee when Councilman Larry Green chimed in, seeking information about minority contracting and when trucks were slated to visit neighborhoods in his southwest Houston district.

    When Turner declined to answer his queries, Green responded by tagging the item, forcing a one-week delay.

    The mayor accused Green of slowing the debris removal process and even suggested the other council members were acting irresponsibly by not voting to override Green’s tag – one of the few powers granted to council members in Houston’s strong-mayor system.

    “No one is in a position right now to provide that specificity. There’s debris all over the city in large amounts,” Turner said. “Everybody wants it out of their districts. I got that. But it’s citywide, not just district-specific.”

    Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Mayor-council-clash-over-Harvey-debris-removal-12216212.php.

    I really don’t think shouting solves things. There is lot of debris out there. I know it is difficult for an elected official to be patient when they see their neighborhoods engulfed in debris, but what else can they do. Just like in Ike, Harvey clobbered a whole lot of folks and didn’t discriminate.

    This guy insists on being right up there on the liars list. Here is from Politico:

    Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he did not “knowingly” lie to the American people, adding that President Donald Trump has never asked him to lie.

    In an interview broadcast Thursday on “Good Morning America,” his first one since appearing at the Emmy Awards on Sunday, Spicer said he doesn’t think he’s lied to the American people.

    We won last night, so did Cleveland, so did Boston.

     


  • Dad’s Honor Flight
    September 20, 2017

    Let me give a shout out to my niece Rachel for taking the lead in getting her Grandpa (My Dad) on the Honor Flight to D.C. this weekend. My Dad is understandably excited about the trip. Here is from the Honor Flight website:

    Our Mission: To transport America’s Veterans to Washington, DC to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends.

    Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.

    Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation—and as a culturally diverse, free society. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 WWII veterans die each day. Our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out.

    Here is the bio page for my Dad:

    Tony Campos

    Private First Class, Army of the United States. Campos served his country in World War II from 1943 – 1945.

    Campos was born in Baytown, Texas on August 21, 1923.

    He was drafted and June 23, 1943 was his date of entry into active service.   He trained at Camp Mackall, North Carolina and Fort Benning, Georgia.

    He was a Machine Gunner, Heavy. Was with the 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion in combat in Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany. He fired a 50c:1 machine gun to protect artillery positions. He made one combat jump. Campos was most proud of fighting in the Battle of the Bulge. 

    He was discharged on October 29, 1945. He returned home and married Alicia Torres in September of 1946. They were married for over 70 years with Alicia passing this past June. They had four children, nine grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.

    Campos was a graduate of Baylor University, had a career in public education, and devoted much of his time to the political participation process and civic endeavors including playing a key role in organizing the League of United Latin American Citizens’ (LULAC) Little School of the 400, a program created in Texas in 1957 that taught Spanish-speaking children 400 English words before they entered first grade.

    This stuff ain’t made up folks. The military details are from his Discharge and Separation Qualification Record documents that are framed and hanging on a wall here. The Little School of the 400 details you can easily find online.

    We are all so proud of Dad.

    Here is from the Chron today:

    AUSTIN – One of the top Republicans leaders in the Texas Legislature is slamming the city of Houston and other local governments for trying to raise taxes on homeowners in the name of hurricane recovery.

    And he’s certain the increase will provoke a response of some sort from the Legislature.

    “I don’t understand this mindset,” state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican from Houston, said. “It’s callous.”

    Here is the entire read: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/texas/article/Post-Harvey-tax-increases-huge-mistake-key-12213414.php?utm_campaign=btfpm.

    Nope!   Not spending the Rainy Day Fund is callous.

    Lisa Falkenberg lays out the facts here on the Texas State Capitol confederate plaque: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Confederates-Texans-own-words-reveal-plaque-s-12213011.php.

    Of course, the facts have never mattered to Johnny Reb.

    I was at a Dem meeting yesterday and saw the candidate for Harris County Judge. Here is from her website:

    Lina Hidalgo was raised in an immigrant family. She knows first-hand the sacrifices hard working Texans make every day to pave a better life for their families. Lina was born in Colombia, when the drug war still raged and everyone knew someone who had been kidnapped. Her parents had two goals: to make sure she had a good education and to get the family to a safer place. Lina grew up in Peru and Mexico, where her parents were offered job opportunities, before emigrating to America in 2005. Lina is a proud product of Texas public schools and, as her parents dreamed, was the first in her family to attend college in the U.S. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in political science the same year she became a U.S. citizen. Since arriving in Texas, Lina has been committed to giving back.

    Lina has dedicated hundreds of hours to our County’s most vulnerable communities—from her time at the Texas Civil Rights Project to serving as a Spanish-English medical interpreter at the Texas Medical Center and supporting immigrants in search of lost loved ones. Over the past few years and while pursuing a joint degree in law and public policy at NYU and Harvard, Lina conducted research on criminal justice policies and coordinated with advocacy groups and governments to push for criminal justice reform. Before that, Lina worked throughout Southeast Asia to promote transparency and accountability by supporting journalists, bloggers and artists. She helped create and fund a program to bring Stanford students to public policy positions and has served the immigrant and incarcerated communities at any opportunity and in various states.

    Lina Hidalgo, 2018 candidate for Harris County Judge.

    Here is her website: http://www.linahidalgo.com/.

    Interesting.

    The meeting was actually a Dem forum for HISD candidates. At Dem events these days the judicial candidates are there getting petitions signed. During the forum I was listening to the questions and answers and a judicial candidate shoved a petitions clipboard in front of my face – bad form.

    After the event I went to The Yard and ended up snagging a foul ball.

    We won last night but didn’t make up ground on Cleveland.

    I wonder if Hunker Down knows that 44 years ago today, the Astrodome hosted “The Battle of the Sexes.”

     

     


  • Playoff City
    September 19, 2017

    I only watched the end of the Emmys so I didn’t get to see that Spicer fella. The fella has zilch credibility. He got paid to lie for a liar. If Colbert, CBS, and the Emmys want to pay a liar’s liar to be on TV, well, that is their money. I am not going to get worked up over a liar’s liar. I got better things to do like worry about the MLB Playoffs and which 25 ‘Stros will be on the playoff roster.

    Same goes for the “Today” show on NBC. If they want to have a liar like Bill O’Reilly on like they did this morning, have at it.

    BTW: Here is a Chron story on the playoff roster here: http://www.chron.com/sports/astros/article/Predicting-the-Astros-25-man-playoff-roster-ALDS-12207323.php#photo-14128592.

    The Chron’s David Barron has a nice story on the Harris County Houston Sports Authority celebrating twenty years of existence here: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/sports/article/Sports-authority-s-mission-has-evolved-in-last-20-12207653.php.

    It was 21 years ago that Harris County voters approved the mechanism and funding for the baseball and football cribs. The legislature created the Sports Authority the next year. A few years later voters approve the basketball crib. Say what you want about the funding but the voters approved and I think Downtown H-Town has become a way much better place to visit.

    This was the headline of a Chron tweet and online story yesterday:

    Astros sell out of playoff tickets in two minutes

    That is kind of not true. The tickets were made available yesterday to the general public at 12 noon and were gone in two minutes. For the three previous hours, 9 am to 11:59 am, they were available to current season ticket holders. Some season ticket holders I know had access to playoff tickets last week. Got it?

    H-Town has over two weeks to get ready for Game One of the ALDS. Excitement is starting to build. Right now it looks like we will be hosting the Red Sox in the first game on Thursday, October 5. You have to figure since we are playing the Red Sox, we might get the evening time slot – maybe.

    Tags has a piece on the pitching rotation right now here: http://m.astros.mlb.com/news/article/254947112/astros-inbox-how-will-playoff-rotation-look/.

    The playoffs start in 16 days.


  • AL West Champs
    September 18, 2017

    Commentary has not said much about the ESPN woman who called Donald Trump a white supremacist. This is the same Trump who questioned the legitimacy of our first African American president so that is all I am going to say.

    If you read anything this past weekend, I hope it was the front page story in the Chron yesterday on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last minute decision to release water from the reservoirs. Heart breaking, sad, you name it. How can this happen? This is a must read here: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/local/article/Residents-blast-Army-Corps-of-Engineers-for-12204736.php.

    A great take from Bill King today:

    Time to Tap Rainy Day Fund for Houston Flood Projects

    The State of Texas prudently maintains a “Rainy Day” fund.  Currently the fund balance is just over $10 billion.  The technical name for the fund is the Economic Stabilization Fund.  Either of its monikers strongly suggest that it should be tapped at this time to jump start critical flood control projects in the Houston region.  

    Our region is subject to two types of flood risks.  

    The first is a storm surge from a hurricane.  A storm surge from a “Scenario 7” storm, a Category 4 or larger that makes landfall near Freeport, is an existential threat to our region.  Such a storm would flood all of Galveston County, about half of Brazoria County and about 20% of Harris County.  It would kill thousands, cause billions in property damages and inestimable ecological damage as the surge overruns sites with decades of industrial pollution.  It would also wreak havoc on the State and national economy as a large percentage of the refining and petrochemical capacity would be offline for months.  

    The second risk is from massive rain events which outstrip our drainage system’s ability to move the rainwater to the Bay.  Of course, the recent Harvey flooding was an extreme example of such an event.  These events are occurring more frequently because we are getting more rain than we have in the past and because we poured concrete and asphalt over soil that used to soak up some of that rainfall without making adequate provision for the resulting increased runoff.

    The good news is that there are solutions to both problems.  The bad news is that the solutions are expensive. . . . and I mean really expensive.  

    The solution to storm surge flooding is a coastal barrier, as originally conceived by Texas A&M Galveston’s Bill Merrill, and subsequently refined by input from a variety of stakeholders.  The cost is $10-15 billion.   

    The solution to Harvey-type flooding is more multifaceted and probably still requires some additional study.  But it clearly must include shoring up the Barker and Addicks reservoirs, adding massive amounts of additional detention, tightening up detention regulations and building codes, and potentially building a third reservoir.  The costs for these measures is less certain but could easily be another $5 billion.   

    I am not suggesting we should drain the Rainy Day fund to build these projects.  Most of the tab will have to be picked up by the Federal government.  But the Federal government gives preference to projects where local and State governments are willing to pick up a share of the costs.  If our State leadership goes to the Feds with a commitment to use some of the Rainy Day fund, say $2 billion, we will stand a much better chance of getting Federal funding.

    If we fail to address these risks there will be long-term, adverse economic consequences for our region, the State and indeed the entire nation.  The Houston region accounts for almost 30% of the State’s total GDP.  As goes Houston so goes the State.  

    After a week of nonstop national news coverage about how vulnerable Houston is to flooding, what corporation is going to relocate here?  Would you schedule a convention in Houston during hurricane season?  How many companies are going to build a new plant in a place where it could be inundated by a 25-foot storm surge?   

    Now is the time for bold leadership, not Republican primary posturing.  There is nothing conservative about failing to make investments that we know are needed to avoid future losses.  In fact, it is grossly irresponsible not to do so.

    A hundred years from now no one is going to remember anything about bathroom bills or even know what that the hell a sanctuary city was.  But, as we remember the construction of the Galveston Seawall over a century after it was built, our grandchildren will remember whether we, as a generation, stepped up and ended the threat of devastating flooding to our region and the State’s largest economic engine.

    Nice job

    I guess H-Town needed this. Commentary is talking about the ‘Stros being the AL West Champs and playoff bound.   After getting thumped pretty good by Harvey we have something we can root, root, root for.

    Commentary had other commitments yesterday, so I wasn’t able to attend the game. I did catch the last couple innings and the post-game celebration on the flat screen. Josh Reddick in a speedo – huh!

    This is our first outright division championship since 1999 when we went 97-65 in the NL Central.   In 2001, we finished 93-69 along with San Luis but we had a better head-to-head record so we won the division champion slot in the playoffs – got it?

    It is pretty cool that we get two weeks plus to prepare for the playoffs.   We are still battling Cleveland for the best record in the AL and we need to at least hold off Boston for the second best record so we can have home field advantage in the ALDS.  At Friday night’s game, I could see into the front office’s suite and they had Cleveland and Royals on their flat screen.

    It was interesting to catch the confidence level of the players, Skipper, and GM. They seriously believe we are World Serious bound. I like that. If Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander do what they are supposed to do, they can be.

    We have 6 homies remaining then finish the regular season with 7 roadies.

    AL West Champs sounds pretty good to me.