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  • Astros vs Red Socks
    May 17, 2019

    Unless the Governor vetoes a bill, the City of H-Town is fixing to have to sell off some water rights. Since the Astros didn’t play last night, I am going to do a water rights question instead of the MLB. Here goes. Name the movie that came out in the 1970s that got nominated for 11 Oscars including Best Pic, Actor, Actress and Director, but only won 1, that had a plot of sorts involving water rights?

    Channel 13’s Ted Oberg tweeted this along with a photo of the Firefighter cadets being sworn in yesterday:

    Houston Fire Department swears 66 cadets in this afternoon one day after Prop B declared unconstitutional. Congratulations to them. Stay safe! However, it was done in secret. No notice to reporters. Photo sent at 6:15. Cadets were focus of a lot of bad news. They deserved better.

    They never should have been pawns in the first place in the Prop B fight.

    What is up with the press not being notified? Were family invited?

    For some on the bright side, that’s 66 new members for Local 341. Just saying.

    On my take on the Chron E-Board’s hilarious editorial yesterday, it is a shame that an editorial board is quick to dismiss the will of the voters. Think about that. Fake election results? What a shame? Chron readers deserve better.

    “Chinatown” of course, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway had a water rights plot of sorts. BTW: Robert Towne won their only Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. “Godfather Part II” won Best Pic that year.

    While I am on the subject, Art Carney took home the Best Actor Oscar for “Harry and Tonto” over roles like Nicholson’s, Al Pacino in “Godfather Part II” and Dustin Hoffman in “Lenny”. I wasn’t sold on that. I was OK with Ellyn Burstyn winning Best Actress for “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” and Francis Ford Coppola for picking up the Best Director Oscar for “Godfather II.”

    We now have an eight game lead and are in Fenway for three against the Red Socks, err Sox.

  • Hilarious E-Board Take
    May 16, 2019

    Some things never change. The GOP in #TXLege continues to hate and suppress minority voter turnout.

    Name the MLB division leader with the biggest lead?

    Honestly. That was my first reaction. I burst out in laughter when I read the Chron’s E-Board take on the latest on Prop B.

    Here is this:

    Firefighters should accept the ruling and return to the bargaining table, this time with newfound leverage: Prop B was proof that the voters of Houston want their firefighters to be better paid.

    And this:

    But no one can deny that the people have spoken. And despite firefighters’ loss in court this week, the popular will of Houston voters provides powerful incentive for Turner, who is up for re-election, to negotiate generously with firefighters this time around.

    Wow! Let me say this again. The H-Town Mayor doesn’t become Mayor without the help of the Houston Firefighters. They obviously couldn’t work things out and that’s why the Firefighters went the Prop B route. 60% of the H-Town voters or 288,000 or so voted for Prop B despite the Mayor vigorously campaigning against. It didn’t look like he was that interested in implementing the will of the voters over the past six months. Yes, six months.

    The Chron E-Board is funny. The current situation is toxic. They have tried sitting down.

    It’s toxic. Get it?

    Here is the entire hilarious E-Board take:
    https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/Let-Prop-B-die-Here-s-how-Houston-firefighters-13848401.php?utm_campaign=CMS%20Sharing%20Tools%20(Premium)&utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=referral.

    From Steve Houston:

    What some failed to realize about the pay raises, the mayor decided to impose the same requirements on firefighters as police in terms of implementing Prop B (before it was declared unconstitutional in court). So positions that require a college degree with police, required one with HFD in order to get a rank-based raise. In a last minute move to save a great deal of money, it was also required that an engineer/operator have the same minimum 12 years and a fire equivalent of a master certificate to obtain that part of the raise, of course invoking more howling from the fire union and it’s supporters. As a result of imposing these type of requirements, the ultimate cost of the raise was reduced a great deal and the bulk of it went to the most senior firefighters-most of whom are wise enough to stay away from social media while drunk posting unlike their junior peers.

    Now that the district judge has ruled Prop B unconstitutional, both parties should go back to negotiating as the appellate process can last years, the mayor has already thrown HFD a bone with a 9.5% offer, almost certainly tied to agreeing to drop the appeal. The mayor needs to formalize the offer and the union negotiators need to make a counter offer in line with the economic realities the city faces. If this happens fast enough, the city budget can absorb a sizable portion of the raise in the upcoming fiscal year without layoffs or demotions. If the 2020 budget starting July 1 doesn’t provide for a raise, the options will quickly shrink until the following year. Isn’t getting 13 or 14% with no layoffs, no demotions, and promoting the fire cadets worth such a substantial sum?

    Those willing to bet on a new mayor next year are the same kind that have kept HFD from obtaining raises for years, doubling down on the courts seems foolish as well. But if either side shows the continued animosity toward a compromise, it will definitely hurt their cause. Bury the hatchets gentlemen or watch the legal bills soar with no end in sight.

    I was watching #TXLege yesterday and there was debate on a bill on restoring the Battleship Texas. They are proposing to take it to dry dock and reskin it. State Rep. Briscoe Cain had to tack on an amendment to make sure they return it to the San Jacinto Battleground which happens to sit in HD 144, State Rep. Mary Ann Perez’s district and Sen. Carol Alvarado’s SD 6. It says something that they had to have an amendment to make sure it isn’t put somewhere else when it is repaired.

    I wonder how many House members have even been to the San Jacinto Battleground. It ought to be mandatory, that if you are a member of #TXLege, you have to go visit the San Jacinto Battleground.

    The Astros of course have a 7 ½ game lead in the AL West over the second place Mariners, the biggest division lead in MLB this morning.

    Eight in a row. We have the day off. We are at Fenway this weekend.

  • No End in Sight
    May 15, 2019

    The Astros lead MLB with a .283 team batting average followed by San Luis. What is San Luis’ team batting average?

    Commentary doesn’t know if there is an end in sight. I am talking about the mess and madness at H-Town City Hall. Houston Firefighters say that a bunch of Firefighters didn’t get pay raises. The following lines from the Chron article today pretty much sums up where we are today and here it is:

    Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University, said the lack of raises for some “reinforce the image that Turner is looking for every way possible to stick it to the firefighters.” The latest news builds on other examples, Jones said, such as Turner’s refusal to hire fire cadets while hiring police cadets.

    Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Hundreds-of-Houston-firefighters-did-not-receive-13845041.php.

    I was watching the H-Town City Council Meeting Public Session on the flat screen yesterday. Some residents from Austin Street in Midtown showed up to complain about a proposed bike lane. Here is their deal. They live in townhomes that only have street parking. If you stick a bike lane on their street, you are eliminating half of their parking. Does the City take that into consideration when they are putting in bike lanes?

    My good friend Anna Eastman has an Op-Ed in today’s Chron and here is how it starts:

    Thursday night I routinely checked my email only to discover that the Houston ISD Board of Trustees had voted to end the Teach For America contract. Wait, what? Yes, HISD had effectively ended a relationship that started in 1991.

    Over those 28 years, 2,000 Teach For America corps members and alumni have worked in and around Houston ISD. According to the latest alumni data, 70 percent of Teach For America-Houston alums work in education or in jobs directly affecting low-income communities. Nearly 300 of these former corps members are currently building their careers in HISD. Those alumni include 11 principals, 10 assistant principals and, ironically, two trustees.

    I’ve posted my dismay over the vote on Facebook and received long trails of comments voicing everything from confusion to outrage about the HISD board’s vote. During the years that I served on HISD’s board, the district was viewed as a bold leader in evidence-based education reforms. But this vote is only the latest blow in what appears to be an effort to dismantle every education reform the district has ever put in place.

    Here is the entire Op-Ed: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/HISD-s-board-is-taking-apart-every-effort-at-13845474.php.

    I have to hand it to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren for saying why she wouldn’t participate in a campaign town hall with Fox News. She says Fox is a vehicle for racists and liars. She is right.

    If Sens. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, or Elizabeth Warren looked a lot younger than they did ten years ago like former VP Joe Biden, they would have gotten the business and run out of the business. Just saying. The treat women differently thing.

    I saw this tweet yesterday:

    Evan liked

    Max Berger
    @maxberger

    Joe Biden is a worse candidate than Hillary Clinton was in 2016. He has all of her weaknesses and none of her strengths. He has a worse record than she did. We shouldn’t make the same mistake in 2020 we made in 2016.

    Just saying.

    Tim Conway of “The Carol Burnet Show” fame is no longer with us. Conway first came to my attention as Ensign Parker of “McHale’s Navy” on ABC, in black and white.

    Commentary usually doesn’t comment on the lists the Chron puts online like the go to Mexican restaurants. Here is their latest:

    Cuchara, Superica, Last Concert Café, El Patio, El Real, El Tiempo, Goode Co. Taqueria, Goode Co. Kitchen & Cantina, Irma’s Original, Irma’s Southwest, Molina’s Cantina, Pappasito’s Cantina, Picos, and Sylvia’s Enchilada Kitchen.

    I have never been to the Goode Co. pair or Sylvia’s.

    I would add Dona Maria (breakfast and lunch hangout for Latino politicos), El Jardin (Latino politico event venue), Gringo’s, La Mexicana (best fideo), Merida, Spanish Flower (best menudo), and Teotihuacan.

    San Luis of course is batting .263, number two to our .283.

    We’ll take it. Commentary is talking about the ridiculous inside the park #SpringerDinger. Justin Verlander takes the mound tonight at Comerica.

  • The Raid
    May 14, 2019

    At 27-15, we have the best record in MLB. What was our record after 42 games last season?

    There is a Chron front page story today on the botched raid or the Harding Street Massacre here: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Evidence-left-behind-after-botched-Pecan-Park-13842488.php.

    It would be laughable, but it isn’t because two people died. You get the feeling that those in charge are trying to figure out how to ‘splain this one off and not take responsibility. I don’t see how you can put a good face on this one. They will try though, if we let them.

    Commentary is not going to say much about Dems and so-called frontrunners in the race for president. Let’s wait until the debates.

    Commentary’s pal Chris Bell is thinking about running for U.S. Senator. Kuffer and another story on Chris think that Chris’ support for Bill King in the 2015 H-Town mayoral runoff will hurt Chris among Democratic Party primary voters.

    Here is Kuffer’s take on Chris: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=90707&cpage=1.

    I don’t think so. We have the potential to have a robust presidential primary in 2020 so turnout could be healthy for other races.  Whoever can raise money in a U.S. Senate race and put together a statewide campaign will prevail. Maybe a few insiders will hold it against Chris for endorsing Bill. I am thinking Houston Firefighters won’t.

    Right now, the Dem Primary for Texas U.S. Senator is wide open. That is probably a good thing.

    Steve Houston sent me this on the Census 2020 Contract over at H-Town City Hall:

    The amount of funding and representation tied to an accurate count cannot be over emphasized but some want to politicize the process over perceived personal gains or the false belief that it will only help their opposing political party. The same jokers opposing the modest expense are the kind that fall all over themselves to hand over money to private interests in the form of corporate welfare that provides limited returns at best.

    Houston also sent this over on Prop B:

    “I find it interesting that they now appear to be trying to play the victim here,” Lancton said. “Never one time did we ask a council member to return fire PAC political money.”

    Engaging in political battles with the fire union may indeed cost a few votes from their knee jerk supporters, few firefighters themselves live inside the city limits, but the exchange demonstrates the fire union’s willingness to get what they want by any means necessary and their expectations tied to their support. Insiders call the union leader “Media Marty” after the way he spins everything in his favor no matter what the reality is, he clearly lied which only CM Robinson sharing the texts would show.

    The ongoing narrative in this blog is that Prop B can’t be altered, over ridden, or otherwise absent a public vote changed flies in the face of the fire union’s successful argument in court that their (also voter approved) collective bargaining agreement could indeed change the initiative. That is the very basis for the recent mediation and ongoing negotiations between the city and the union, if Prop B could not be changed outside another vote there’d be no need to bargain.

    The exchange also provides substantial proof that the fire union tried to engage in a “pay for play” situation expecting specific votes in return for their financial support, not the usual understanding that a donation would give greater access to a politician as they take campaign contributions from a variety of competing interests. Had the contribution been directly tied to the vote, the union leader could easily be indicted instead of just shown for what he is.

    Commentary said before that I was asked a year or so ago who my favorite Astro was, and I responded that my most entertaining Astro was Alex Bregman. You also have to love that he has taken the time to learn to speak Spanish- cool.

    Last season, after 42 games, we were 26-16 of course.

    They are playing like we expect them to play, considering what we pay for tickets and a Saint Arnold at The Yard this season.

  • MVP Season
    May 13, 2019

    When I was just a little girl
    I asked my mother, what will I be
    Will I be pretty, will I be rich
    Here’s what she said to me.
    Que Sera, Sera,
    Whatever will be, will be, will be,
    The future’s not ours, to see, yeah
    Que Sera, Que Sera, Que Sera
    When I grew up and fell in love
    I asked my lover what will Ibe
    Will I be lonesome day after day
    Here’s what he said to me
    Que Sera, Sera, yeah
    Whatever will be, will be, will be

    Doris Day is no longer with us.

    Name the MLB club with the best run differential and name the MLB club with the worse run differential?

    Figuring out the mess or madness at H-Town City Hall is hard and it is hard on everyone. The Firefighters got paychecks Friday and that’s all I can say about it. This is from this weekend’s Chron:

    The city of Houston on Friday issued lump-sum paychecks to more than 3,900 firefighters, a move Mayor Sylvester Turner said reflects the implementation, retroactive to Jan. 1, of Proposition B, the measure granting firefighters the same pay as police of corresponding rank and experience.

    Marty Lancton, president of the Houston fire union, said that contrary to the mayor’s “Orwellian claims,” the paychecks did not fully equalize base and incentive pay between fire and police, as laid out in Proposition B. Lancton said the city “badly botched” implementation of the measure.

    The back pay, worth $27.4 million, comes a week after Turner and the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association ended court-ordered mediation without an agreement to phase in the raises over several years.

    And this:

    Controller Chris Brown said earlier this week that he wants to independently verify that Prop B costs $79 million annually, but the mayor also has not provided Brown’s office with certain incentive pay data.

    Here is the entire Chron article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/City-issues-back-pay-to-firefighters-union-says-13836473.php.

    This is on the City of H-Town’s website on the City Controller:

    What is the function of the City Controller?

    The City Controller serves as the City’s Chief Financial Officer and is responsible for ensuring that the assets of the City are properly accounted for and expended in a manner consistent with applicable laws, policies, plans and procedures. 

    Maybe Commentary is just a simpleton, but they just doled out $27.4 mil, I kind of am hoping that the City Controller knows why and how the $27.4 mil was distributed.

    U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris put this out recently:

    When I met Doug, the man who would become my husband, I also met a man who was a divorced father of two children, Cole and Ella, named after John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald. As a child of divorce, I knew how hard it could be when your parents start to date other people. And I was determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul. Children need consistency; I didn’t want to insert myself into their lives as a temporary fixture because I didn’t want to disappoint them. There’s nothing worse than disappointing a child.

    So, we took it slow, and Doug and I put a lot of thought into when and how I would first meet the kids. And that meant waiting. As we waited, anticipation grew. When the day finally came, I had butterflies in my stomach. The plan was to go to a seafood hut off the Pacific Coast Highway called the Reel Inn, a favorite of the kids.

    On my way to meet Doug, I picked up a tin of cookies and tied a ribbon in a bow around them. I took a few deep breaths. I was excited, and I was nervous. I rehearsed what I would say. Would the kids think the cookies were really nice or really weird? Was the ribbon too much? (The ribbon was probably a little extra, but over the years Cole and Ella have spared me by not telling me that.)

    Cole and Ella could not have been more welcoming. They are brilliant, talented, funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults. I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in.

    To know Cole and Ella is to know that their mother Kerstin is an incredible mother. Kerstin and I hit it off ourselves and are dear friends. She and I became a duo of cheerleaders in the bleachers at Ella’s swim meets and basketball games, often to Ella’s embarrassment. We sometimes joke that our modern family is almost a little too functional.

    A few years later when Doug and I got married, Cole, Ella, and I agreed that we didn’t like the term “stepmom.” Instead they came up with the name “Momala.”

    Here is the entire piece: https://www.elle.com/culture/career-politics/a27422434/kamala-harris-stepmom-mothers-day/.

    Aww!

    The Astros have played one fourth of their season and #SpringerDinger is having an MVP season. His five for five performance yesterday which included two #SpringerDingers was jaw dropping in front of a SRO crowd at The Yard. His 15 #SpringerDingers are second most in MLB, his 37 RBIs are tied for second best, his 51 base hits are tied for fourth best in MLB and his .321 batting average is in the top 15. Of course, we still have a lot of baseball left.

    You had to have enjoyed yesterday’s action at The Yard, unless you were a Rangers fans. First, a shout out to the fan Saturday who on the back of his Astros jersey had RANGERSTITLES where the name goes and 0 where the number goes – classic. There were two #SpringerDingers and two by Alex Bregman and Corbin Martin made his MLB debut as our pitcher. Corbin is from the Cy-Fair area so he is one of ours. He went to Cy Ranch and A&M and was our second-round draft choice in 2017. He pitched 5 1/3 innings, gave up 3 hits, gave up 2 earned runs and struck out 9 hitters. Plus, it was Mother’s Day and his Mom and Grand Mother were there. We won 15-5, swept the Rangers and lead the Silver Boot 6 games to 4.

    We lead MLB with a plus 69 run differential and the Marlins are dead last with a minus 91 run differential of course.

    We have a 6 ½ game lead in our division. The good news I guess is all the other teams in our division are playing under .500 ball. The bad news is that of the six teams that we play in interleague games, four are playing above .500.

    We are at Comerica for three starting this evening and then at Fenway this weekend