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May 6th, 2007:

Roger Clemens signs with the Yankees

Holy mackeral!

At the end of the seventh-inning stretch, Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard told fans to turn their attention to the box, where Clemens was standing with a microphone. As the video scoreboard in right-center showed Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner made the announcement himself.

“Well, they came and got me out of Texas and I can tell you it’s a privilege to be back,” Clemens said. “I’ll be talking to y’all soon.”

Clemens, who will turn 45 in August, agreed to a $28 million, one-year contract that will start when he is added to the major league roster, most likely in three to four weeks.

He begins with a minor league contract, and the deal will allow him to earn about $18.5 million. Clemens will start his workouts in Lexington, Ky., where his son Koby is playing in the Houston Astros’ farm system.


He chose New York over two of his other former teams, the Astros and Boston Red Sox.

“Let’s face it — these guys know how to win,” Clemens said, adding that captain Derek Jeter pressed him to return as New York struggled early this season.

Cue the Great Houston Sports Talk/Sportswriter Meltdown of 2007 in 3…2…

Transportation roundup

Along with criminal justice issues, there’s still a lot of unsettled business regarding transportation bills, in particular the toll road moratorium, where HB1892 is headed for a veto and a likely override. Burka thinks that if this does happen, we’re in for another Endless Legislative Summer of special sessions until the stuff in HB1892 that Perry can’t abide – which is apparently giving metropolitan toll road authorities like HCTRA “primacy” over TxDOT – is undone. I don’t know if this is true, but given the opportunities for other forms of mischief during a special session – say, voter ID bills, where a two-thirds rule may not be in effect – I’d rather see the Lege back down and send Perry the stand-alone TTC moratorium bill instead. Talk about picking between bad choices. The Observer and Eye on Williamson have more on that.

Speaking of the veto/override showdown, the Quorum Report (via Sal) notes that a well-timed illness on Friday by Governor Perry’s clerk has extended the time frame for Perry to make his decision, which in turn makes it that much harder for an override to occur. Ben Wear has more:

The distance from the governor’s office to the Texas House chambers is about 100 feet. A key toll road bill has taken more than two days to make that trip — so far — and isn’t there yet. The delay on HB 1892, which got final passage Wednesday afternoon in the House, means that if Gov. Rick Perry officially receives it Monday, he’ll have until sometime May 18 to decide what to do.

That would still give the Legislature a full 10 days in the session to override what many assume will be a Perry veto of the legislation, which in a variety of ways wrenches away tools the Texas Department of Transportation has used to create toll roads.

Ten days, so no harm, no foul, right? Not necessarily. As one legislative staff member put it late this afternoon, 48 hours is a long time at the Legislature late in the session. And an ill-timed illness (or well timed, depending on one’s perspective) by Greg Davidson, Perry’s executive clerk, just bought the governor another two days.

Davidson, it turns out, is the only Perry staff member authorized to accept and time-stamp legislation passed and ready for gubernatorial action. According to the office of state Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown, sponsor of HB 1892, the Legislative Council tried to reach Davidson Friday at 2:48 p.m. with a phone call. When the message wasn’t returned, an e-mail was sent to Davidson at 3:30 p.m., followed by another phone call at 4:15 p.m., and then a personal visit at 4:40 p.m. That’s when the council staff found out Davidson had gone home sick earlier in the afternoon.

Was Davidson really ill? “Yes, absolutely,” said Perry spokeswoman Katherine Cesinger. She couldn’t say, or find out this evening, when Davidson went home, or if any other legislation was accepted today before he left.

Supposedly, Governor-for-a-Day Gallegos was going to try to rectify this and get the bill time-stamped yesterday. I’ve not seen any updates anywhere to indicate whether this was successful or not. As always, stay tuned.

Bill roundup

There’s three weeks left in this session, and a whole mess of bills still working their way through the system. Some will make it, but many others will die. Grits takes a stab at sorting out the good and bad criminal justice bills and their odds of passage at this time.Check it out.

Have I mentioned voting?

Have you voted yet? Early voting ends on Tuesday. Don’t miss out!

The fifty-dollar scratch-off game

There are things in this life whose appeal completely eludes me. Things like broccoli. Kenny Chesney. Fifty-dollar lottery tickets.

That’s the price of the state’s newest scratch-off game, dubbed $130 Million Spectacular, which goes on sale Monday and offers nearly $134 million in prizes, including three grand prizes of $5 million.

A $50 game is the highest price for a scratch-off in the nation, according to lottery data. Kansas introduced the first $50 ticket two years ago and Michigan also will launch one on Monday. Compare that to California, where the most expensive scratch-off ticket is $5. In New York, it’s $20.

Officials in Texas evidently believe their new game will do well; they’re printing 3.7 million of the $50 tickets and are planning to soon introduce a second $50 game.


The [Texas Lottery] offered its first $3 scratch-off in 1997. By 2000, it had a $10 game; a $20 game in 2002 and a $30 game in 2004. Last year, $1 scratch-off tickets accounted for just 11 percent of all scratch-off sales, while nearly a third came from tickets priced between $10 and $30.

The $50 game comes with a 63 percent chance of losing.

Those odds won’t deter Mike Swain, 44, a driver for a moving company who picked up $4 worth of scratch-offs in East Austin this week.

“I’ll try it. I definitely could try it once. Sometimes I have $50 extra,” he said.

I can think of about a million things I’d rather blow an extra $50 on. I try, I really do, to see other perspectives on things I don’t like or agree with. On this one, I’m coming up blank.

Gerald Busald, a math professor at San Antonio College who analyzes lottery practices, had this advice for those itching to wager 50 bucks on a single ticket: Don’t.

“You can have the same dream for $1 that you can for $20 or $30 or $50,” he said. “You’re not going to win.”

Yeah. If I were ever to get the urge to waste a little money on the Lottery, it’d be on Lotto Texas, when the jackpot were really big. And it’d only be a dollar, so I’d only feel a dollar’s worth of foolishness when I lost.

One last thing:

William Scott, 64, a custodian in Austin who works two jobs and said he often spends $120 a day on lottery games, is eager to try his luck on the $50 game. “I play all of them.”

I presume, or at least I hope like hell, that Mr. Scott doesn’t spend $120 every day on the lottery. Because if he did, I’d imagine the $43,800 he was dropping on his habit is more than he earns at his second job. I’d guess that even factoring in wins on the lottery and taxes on the additional salary, he’d be losing out. But maybe that’s just me.

Two for CD10

In my post about Dan Grant’s entry into CD10 as a Democratic candidate, I mentioned that there was at least one other person that I knew of who was considering getting into that race. As BOR reports, that person is Larry Joe Doherty. He was at the same event where I met Dan Grant, but I did not have a chance to speak to him. At this point, I’ll say I’d be happy with either gentleman, and that I’m very glad to see that other people view this district as being as winnable as I do. Now I really need to finish that analysis of CD10…