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October 28th, 2003:

“24” season three

Man, I love 24. I think Season 3 is going to kick even more butt. Don’t read this Chronicle story about the season premier until and unless you’ve seen it.

I gotta get me the season 1 and 2 DVDs…

One week to go

Election day is a week from today, so the most expensive mayoral race in Houston’s history is, well, not exactly drawing to a close, but about to enter a new phase. Greg notes that Sylvester Turner has the most cash on hand right now, so he should be in good shape to get his supporters out on Tuesday. He also notes that George Strong has projected a Sanchez/White runoff, but Turner’s total is sufficiently close to White’s to keep him from resting easily. Strong has presumably made some different assumptions about turnout than this poll, which shows White leading Sanchez and Turner by 38-32-26. It’s a Survey USA poll, though, with a 4.7% margin of error, so take it with some salt.

Meanwhile, Kevin thinks Turner might be stronger in a runoff against Sanchez than White would, and Steve Bates has already cast his ballot for Turner. Early voting ends Friday, so there’s not much time to waste.

We got a mailer from the Sanchez campaign today that was a total “Bill White is a big Clinton-loving LIBERAL!!!” piece, including the de rigeur grainy photo of White with Her Hillaryness, presumably taken during a weekly meeting of the Communists for Totally Confiscatory Taxes Club. Some free advice, Orlando: If you’re still courting voters who aren’t already Republicans, this is probably not your most effective message.

I know who I’m voting for in the Mayoral and Controller races, but I still have to figure out who I’m voting for in some of the Council races. It’s hard to judge some of the candidates because they either have no websites (something I completely fail to understand in this day and age – more on that in a later post) or their websites are, for lack of a better word, crappy. Since I got such good information on Adrian Garcia and Diana Davila Martinez by writing about my indecision in District H earlier, I’ll try again. If any of the following candidates want to contact me and give a short pitch as to why I and anyone reading this should vote for you, pleaes drop me a note at kuff-at-offthekuff-dot-com: Andrew Burks, Brian Wozniak, Peter Brown, Jolanda Jones, Sue Lovell, Ronald Green, Dwight Boykins, and Beulah Shepard. Short notice, I know, but at least you know people have started to pay attention.

A couple of sites of interest

It’s a bit late in the game for this, but Rock the Vote is sponsoring a contest aimed at registering people to vote. They’ve got some good prizes, and it’s certainly a worthy cause, so check it out. The contest ends on October 31, so don’t dawdle.

Also new on the radar screen is American Choices by E The People, which aims to help people understand foreign policy debates. The design is cool, and they appear to have some useful stuff, so click over and take a look.

Space couple together at last

Those crazy kids Yuri Malenchenko and Yekaterina Dmitriyeva, who got married while he was aboard the International Space Station (see here, here, and here for the details) are finally together after a near-perfect touchdown in Kazakhstan, meaning they can finally have their honeymoon.

“It’s wonderful. Now I just have to wait for a few hours and I’ll see him — for real, not by phone,” [Dmitriyeva] reported [from Moscow].

“Yuri is always full of energy,” she said. “I cannot even say how excited I am.”

That kinda borders on Too Much Information, but what the heck, they’re newlyweds. Knock yourselves out, y’all.

Mexico City: The next franchise frontier

The Chron has a longish article about the prospects of an American sports franchise moving to or being founded in Mexico City. It has the standard reasons why a league (most likely the NBA or Major League Baseball) might do this, but I think it overlooks some obvious reasons why not.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle will be finding a suitable stadium. The mayor has talked of two options — building a new stadium in the district of Azcapotzalco (the northwest part of the city) or renovating and covering the existing Foro Sol, home of Mexico City’s Diablos Rojos of the Mexican Baseball League.

I can think of two other hurdles that would need to be surmounted before anything serious happens. One is distance, as Mexico City is about 700 miles from Houston. It’s a five-hour flight to Mexico City from New York, not much less than a flight to Los Angeles. Any franchise located there will easily have the most grueling travel schedule in its league. Probably not a deal-breaker, but it’s a burden on that club both in terms of player recruitment and player fatigue.

More important is the question of currency. Canadian teams are often at a disadvantage in signing and retaining players because they pay in Canadian dollars and are subject to Canadian taxes. I can’t imagine any player accepting his salary in pesos, and I can’t help but think that having to continually exchange between pesos and dollars will be a big headache, not to mention a unique operating expense. Again, this may or may not be a dealbreaker, but it certainly deserves a mention in a story about the feasibility of locating a franchise in Mexico.

I do think southward expansion is coming, perhaps as a single franchise up front, perhaps as a subsidiary league a la the World League of American Football. It’s been talked about for some time now, though, and I’m not convinced we’re any closer to overcoming the associated obstacles than we were back in 1994 when the Oilers and Cowboys played their exhibition game in Azteca Stadium. I figure I’ll read a lot more of these articles before I read one about an actual relocation or expansion.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. As Greg V. notes in the comments, Canadian sports franchises pay salaries in American dollars as a rule. Of course, while that does mean they shouldn’t have problems with player recruitment as I had thought, the fact that they generate revenues in Canadian dollars serves to support the point I was making: currency conversion issues, especially for a team that will be operating in Mexico, will be a significant obstacle to overcome before a franchise can be located there.

Strayhorn pounds Perry again

It’s Carole vs. Rick again, in what’s sure to be the longest-running soap opera between now and 2006.

On Monday, Strayhorn repeated her earlier attacks against Perry over budget cuts in health care and funding deficiencies in the public schools and added community colleges to her list.

“The community college finance system was built around the notion that the state should cover instructional costs and the local (college) district should be responsible for providing the buildings and other facilities,” she said.

“This administration, however, has not funded the formula at a level where the state’s paying the full cost of instruction. Instead, community colleges through local revenues have been paying a chunk of instructional costs, as well as paying for facilities.”

The comptroller said community colleges, which raise local revenue from property taxes, will see a further decline in state funding while their enrollments continue to increase.

The state funded 67 percent of the instructional formula in 2002-03, but that will drop to 52 percent during the 2004-05 biennium, Strayhorn added.

“That’s unacceptable,” she said.

You think Presidential campaigns are long? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

I still have, and will probably always have, my issues with our Comptroller and her self-aggrandizing ways. I may never fully forgive her for sandbagging on the 2003 revenue projections and for blaming the shortfall on the 2001 Lege. She still doesn’t have the right solutions – raising cigarette taxes and promoting video gambling are short term fixes that do nothing to address the erosion of the sales tax base and the continued upward pressure on local property taxes – but she’s consistently right on about the problems and Governor Perry’s utter inability to even recognize them. If she doesn’t make Greg‘s party-switching dreams come true, I will have to give serious thought to voting for her in the 2006 GOP primary. We already get the Republican campaign mail, so what the hell.