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October 28th, 2002:

Congrats to the Angels

Congrats to the Angels, a truly fine team, for winning the World Series. It was a great Series and it’s a shame that not too many people watched.

BTW, I lost count of how many times the announcers mentioned that Angels pitcher John Lackey was aiming to be the first rookie starter to win a Game 7 of the World Series since 1909. However, no one ever mentioned who that starter was. It was Babe Adams, who won three games in the 1909 Classic for the victorious Pittsburgh Pirates. Adams, who actually pitched in 5 games in 1906 and 1907, wound up with a 194-140 record in his 19-year career.

Hard to imagine it getting any worse

In response to an ad that attempts to link him to the 1985 murder of DEA agent Kiki Camarena, Tony Sanchez has called Governor Goodhair “the most disgusting human being I’ve ever known.”

In the ad, one of the DEA agents, Hector Berrellez, says, “We investigated that murder. The same drug dealers who killed Kiki laundered millions in drug money through Tony Sanchez’s bank.”

Berrellez was referring to the fact, which is a central theme in the governor’s race, that in the early 1980s money belonging to Mexican drug dealers was laundered through Sanchez’s Tesoro Savings & Loan in Laredo.

Sanchez has repeatedly denied knowing the money was tainted until told by federal authorities and nobody associated with the bank, which failed in 1988, has ever been charged.

The agents have said that they hold Sanchez and the leaders of other banks involved in money laundering indirectly responsible for Camarena’s death.

Man. Claiming that your opponent is complicit in a murder is pretty scummy. Clay Robison speculates about Goodhair’s motives:

If Perry has a comfortable lead over Sanchez, as recent independently conducted polls have indicated, why did he stoop to the new campaign low?

There was a suggestion that Perry is being vindictive, trying to get even with Sanchez for the Democrat’s barrage of ads hitting Perry — legitimately — over his campaign contributions from Enron and insurance companies and for trying to throw his weight around with a state trooper during a traffic stop.

If Perry is simply being vindictive, he also is stupidly running the risk that the new ad could backfire and turn some swing voters against him.

There also is the possibility that Perry knows his lead isn’t as solid as the public polls indicate and is trying to rally conservative voters and reinforce lingering questions about Sanchez’s background.

Neither reason — nor any other — is an acceptable excuse.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Goodhair is worried about turnout and is running this ad to depress it. Given that Camarena and at least one of the agents quoted in the ad are Hispanic, it sure feels to me like he’s worried about those voters. If so, I really hope it backfires on him.

Of course, if you’re just tired of all the bickering, there is now another choice.

For better or for worse, but not for much longer

Lynn Johnston will retire her comic strip For Better Or For Worse sometime in the next five years.

Johnston believes that her retirement will come at a good time as the lives of her characters are coming full circle. April, for instance will be going off to university by the time the strip ends. Elizabeth, the middle child, will be off to the work force. And Michael, the oldest child, is soon to be a parent with his wife Deanna.

“You know, she’s (April) growing up too fast. It’s really too bad. But Michael is going to have a baby sometime in October, and that’s going to rejuvenate my interest a little bit, and bring the strip back to family and little kids again, which is going to be a lot of fun,” Johnston said.

“Michael’s family will be the same age as he and Elizabeth were when they first started the strip. So it will be a full cycle of the family and I think it’s a good time to wrap it up,” she added.

Reading between the lines, I suspect there’ll be another baby in Michael and Deanna’s future. Link via Mark Evanier.

Screaming about ice cream franchises

Disgruntled Marble Slab Creamery franchisees are suing the company over claims of misleading business plans. I wouldn’t have bothered blogging this except for the following quote:

But [Hal] Cook and other former Marble Slab franchisees said the often-crowded stores come with some bitter financial realities.

The franchisees say they lost millions on their investments because they depended on inaccurate projections of potential revenues and expenses provided by the corporation, based on its labor and operating costs at the corporate store at 10001 Westheimer.

“Financially, it destroyed us. They need to supply true figures. They are the Enron of ice cream,” Cook said.

Enron has changed our lives in so many ways, hasn’t it?

Races enter homestretch

Tony Sanchez is working to get out the vote as the campaign enters the final week before Election Day. The conventional wisdom continues to be that it’s too little, too late:

The pollsters concluded that a victory by either Sanchez or Kirk would require a record-breaking turnout among minority voters, which was the Democratic Party’s goal in assembling a racially diverse statewide ticket.

Sanchez also would have to chip away some of Perry’s support.

Some Democrats have reported privately that black activists have assembled a strong get-out-the-vote effort for Kirk, and that Kirk likely will receive more than 90 percent of those votes.

But figures released by the secretary of state show that voter registration of Hispanic-surnamed Texans increased by only 170,127, far short of the 500,000 new-voter goal set by former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros’ Every Texan Foundation. Cisneros claimed that his voter-registration effort was nonpartisan, but he is a strong backer of Sanchez and Kirk.

There are 2.5 million registered voters with Hispanic surnames. But voter registration in the heavily Republican North Texas counties of Denton and Collin outpaced new registration in the heavily Hispanic South Texas counties of Bexar, Cameron, El Paso, Hidalgo and Webb by almost 16,000.

The problem that I have with this analysis, which I’ve said before, is that there’s a large trove of already-registered Hispanic voters who generally don’t vote that Sanchez can and undoubtedly will try to tap into. In 1994 and 1998, between 450,000 and 470,000 turned out in the gubernatorial elections. This year the projection is 750,000 Hispanic voters. That’s still less than a 40% turnout among such voters.

By the way, the Chron article mentions 2.5 million registered voters with Hispanic surnames. The Borderland News article linked immediately above cites 1.95 million as of 2000. I point this out to note that even counting Hispanic voters can be a dicey proposition. The bottom line is that we’re all guessing. My guess, based on recent electoral history, is that Hispanics will turn out for and vote for Tony Sanchez. Whether it will be enough remains to be seen, but I’m confident it will be more than what’s been projected so far in the press.

The “experts” may even realize that they could be wrong:

[Jerry] Polinard [chairman of the political science department at the University of Texas Pan American in Edinburg] said that until early voting started, there hadn’t been much noticeable enthusiasm for the governor’s race, but that is beginning to change.

“Much of Sanchez’s strategy was that much of the heavy lifting would be below the radar,” he said. “We may not have as good a handle on this as we think.”

I’ll report from Sanchez’s Houston headquarters on Monday.

Prairie dog saga continues in Lubbock

Animal rights activists are protesting the city of Lubbock’s attempts to forcibly remove prairie dogs from a large site where wastewater is treated.

The controversy began in June, when the then-Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission cited the city of Lubbock for polluting the site with treated sewage the city sprays on crops.

The TNRCC, now titled the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, reported high concentrations of nitrates in monitoring wells in the area, indicating the sewage has permeated the soil and threatens the Ogallala Aquifer below.

That report — in a town where “Prairie Dog Pete” was once touted as Lubbock’s ambassador to the world, where “Peppy the Prairie Dog” was previously used by the TNRCC itself to promote recycling — at once made the little animal a villain and a cause célèbre.

The agency’s finding was nothing new. The land application site has been in violation before. The city has used the site since the 1930s, spraying as much as 8 million gallons of effluent daily on 3,000 of the 6,000 acres.


In their June report, however, TNRCC investigators added a new wrinkle: They blamed prairie dogs. The report mentioned the increasing numbers of the little animals that have moved into and flourished in the abundant rye grass that is fertilized with the effluent. That report postulated that water could be traveling down prairie dog holes, beneath the grass roots and closer to the aquifer.

Prairie dogs are not a protected species and the city immediately began considering gassing or poisoning the little rodents. Any immediate plans for mass extermination ended, however, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pointed out that migratory burrowing owls, a nationally protected species, use the prairie dog holes in the summer and fall and might be killed as well.

That prompted the city to move its extermination plans to winter, when the owls have departed.

See previous installments here and here. I guess Lubbock wasn’t all that serious about relocating the prairie dogs. Jack also picked up on this.

Still having hosting problems

I have heard from my web host that one of their servers (namely, the one that I’m hosted on) has been having sporadic problems running CGI scripts. This has the effect of causing “Internal Server Error” messages to pop up when you click on a Comment link, and it has the same effect when I try to log in to Movable Type. Hopefully, they will get this cleared up soon.