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October 23rd, 2005:

Game Two notes

Ah, screw it. When Scott Podsednik goes yard against you, there’s not much to say.

Well, okay, one thing: According to Joe Buck, Podsednik is the second player in history to have a postseason home run in a year where he had 500 regular season at-bats without one. Who was the first? Buck never told us. Thanks for keeping us informed, big guy.

All right, all right, someone is going to ask about that pitch that “hit” Jermaine Dye. The zoomed-in replay would, I think, meet the NFL instant replay standard of “incontrovertible visual evidence”, assuming that the review ump had access to that perspective. Without it, I wouldn’t care to place a bet on how the review would be adjudicated. It’s one of those things and that’s just how it is. Let’s hope that a little home cooking can get the Astros up off the mat.

Endorsement watch: Mayor

On the day before the start of early voting, the Chron gives a ringing endorsement to Mayor Bill White, which he fully deserves. I agree with Greg that it would have been nice to get this much ink in some of the other, more contested races, but not much I can do about that now. What do you think is the over/under on White’s vote percentage this year? All of his opponents would be hard-pressed to get as much as 1% if the election featured a real contender against White – indeed, none of the no-names who were on the ballot in 2003, a list that includes two people from this year, got as many as five hundred votes in that election. I’m thinking the line is at 75%, with no single opponent getting as much as 10%.

Today’s featured race is HD143, which gets some decent coverage and a good picture of all the contenders on page one of the Metro section. I don’t envy anyone the choice in this one.

Finally, BOR has the latest roundup of anti-Prop 2 editorials from around the state. Kudos in particular go to the Lufkin Daily News, which lives in the district of HJR sponsor Sen. Todd Staples, for getting it:

Proponents say the law banning same-sex marriage isn’t sufficient, because a judge could overturn it. First off, as another editorialist pointed out, no Texas judge is going to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage, because that likely will be the last term of office he or she serves. Second, a state amendment can still be overturned by a federal judge as being a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The ultimate arbiter is the U.S. Supreme Court, which is where this issue will likely be decided once and for all.

We urge voters to oppose Proposition 2.

They did finally find one newspaper that endorsed Prop 2, though by the brevity of the piece it’s clear they didn’t give much thought to it.

A matter of degree

City Council member Carol Alvarado is now an official college graduate some 13 years after finishing her coursework at the University of Houston.

The councilwoman said she believed she had a degree until her November election opponent released University of Houston documents showing she did not graduate.

Late Friday afternoon, however, in response to a Houston Chronicle request under the Texas Open Records Act, the university released “directory information” showing that Carol Ann Alvarado was awarded a bachelor of arts degree in political science.

It did not give a date for the degree, and a university spokesman and one of its lawyers said the school was prohibited from providing additional information under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.


In voter’s guide information submitted to the Chronicle when she first ran for City Council in 2001, 2003 and this year, Alvarado says she attended UH from 1987 to 1992 and received her degree. Her City Council Web site and campaign literature also list the degree.

Alvarado’s District I opponent, lawyer John Parras, said Friday he began looking into Alvarado’s educational credentials after an anonymous tipster left a message on his campaign office phone that she had not graduated.

“As a lawyer, I decided to investigate and share the information with my campaign supporters. I personally went to UH to get written verification,” said Parras. “I was shocked when I learned that it was true.”

The UH verification documents, dated Thursday, say that Alvarado attended the college of social sciences from 1987 through 1992. “The student intends to pursue a degree, however has not yet formally declared a major and degree objective,” the document states, adding it reflected Alvarado’s academic record as of Thursday.

Any individual, for example, a prospective employer, can obtain verification of a student’s previous enrollment by making a written request in person, unless the student has asked that the information be withheld.

After Parras obtained and publicized the verification documents, Alvarado said, she called the university and learned that she had completed her course work, but hadn’t fulfilled a “written proficiency exam.”

“I was never notified by university officials that I needed this,” she said.

The requirement has since been dropped, Alvarado said.

She moved to Washington, D.C., soon after completing her course work, and did not request a diploma, she said. “I’d like to clear this up,” she said. “This has no bearing on the job I’ve done over the years.”

Parras called for Alvarado to resign the seat she has held since 2002.

“She’s betrayed the public trust, and I believe she should do the only honorable thing, which is withdraw from the race and resign her seat,” he said.

There are a few details that are still unclear, but this doesn’t currently feel to me like a big deal. Completing the course work is what matters, and Greg‘s description of the “written proficiency exam” makes it sound like a minor thing. Based on this, it’s at least possible to me that she could have genuinely believed she’d officially graduated. Without some evidence that she knew (or should have known) she was stating a falsehood. Until and unless that happens, I’m inclined to give it a pass.

Stace, who is a supporter of Alvarado’s opponent John Parras, takes a broader view of the issue.

Senate votes to finally end Cisneros probe

The eleven-year odyssey of Independent Counsel David Barrett and his dogged pursuit of Henry Cisneros (see here for more) may finally be wrapping up.

The Senate decided today that it was time to close to a decade-old, $20 million investigation of former Housing Secretary Henry Cisneros — years after Cisneros received a presidential pardon.

The amendment to a spending bill, approved by voice vote, would require that the report of Independent Counsel David Barrett be made public within 60 days, and that the independent counsel close his office within 90 days after the report is published.

“The American taxpayers have spent a lot of money on this report and they deserve the right to see it,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, author of the measure.

The circumstances surrounding the Cisneros investigation are “all gone but the independent counsel is still working 11 years later,” said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who earlier this year was unsuccessful in trying to cut off spending for the probe.


The Cisneros provision would become law only if the House, which passed a different version of the spending bill, agrees.

So will Tom DeLay let the House pass this version of the spending bill and thus demonstrate that he’s above pursuing the kind of petty, vindictive, partisan with hunt of which he claims to be a victim, or will he come up with some excuse to let this modern day Javert stay attached to the gravy train? Stay tuned and find out. Link via Houtopia.

Endorsement watch: Prop 9

And back to propositions, as the Chron endorsed Prop 9 on Saturday. I’m leaning towards a No on this one, though I don’t feel as strongly about it as I do Prop 1.

Still to be reviewed: City Council Districts A, H, and I, props three through six plus 8, and the HISD/HCC trustee races. I’m guessing they’ll skip the uncontested Controller’s race as they did with At Large #4 and Districts D, E, and G. The Mayor’s race gets discussed in today’s paper – I’ll put that in a separate post.

For you Travis County folks, Karl-T has some info on the bonds that are on your ballot.