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October 6th, 2010:

Halladay makes history


Roy Halladay waited his entire life to pitch in the postseason.

Then he delivered the game of a lifetime.

Halladay threw a no-hitter Wednesday in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Reds at Citizens Bank Park, which the Phillies won, 4-0. The Reds had only baserunner: Jay Bruce, who walked on six pitches with two outs in the fifth.


Halladay becomes the fifth pitcher in baseball history to throw two no-hitters in one season, joining Johnny Vander Meer in 1938, Allie Reynolds in 1951, Virgil Trucks in 1952 and Nolan Ryan in 1973. Halladay is the first to have one in both the regular season and the postseason.

“I don’t think it gets any bigger than that, unless it was a World Series,” said Ryan, now the Rangers’ president. “I think it’s pretty amazing, He’s been on a roll. It’s phenomenal, but he’s really been on his game. That tells you right there they”re going to be tough to beat.”

That’s just awesome. The last time since Don Larsen’s 1956 perfect game that anyone came close to a no-hitter in the post-season was in the 1967 World Series when Jim Lonborg of the Red Sox had one through 7 2/3 innings. Congratulations to Roy Halladay for this historic achievement.

Lyceum poll: Perry 48, White 43

From the inbox:

Statewide poll numbers released today show that Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former Houston Mayor Bill White trails Republican Governor Rick Perry by five points. The fourth annual 2010 Texas Lyceum Poll, conducted September 22nd – September 30th, shows Rick Perry leading Bill White 48% – 43% among likely voters. The margin of error is +/-4.75 percentage points.

Among self-identified independent voters, White leads Perry 50% – 34%, with Libertarian Kathie Glass also earning 10% support. Moderate voters are also breaking to White, who leads Perry 67% – 22% amongst that group. Perry, however, commands a 76%-17% lead amongst conservatives and has locked down 81% of the Republican vote.

The survey sample, which consists of 416 likely voters, also indicates that most Texans have made up their minds in the race for Governor with only 3% undecided. Meanwhile, of the remaining candidates in the Governor’s race Libertarian candidate Glass has 5-points and Green Party candidate Deb Shafto has 1-point.

“Bill White is hanging tough against Rick Perry, but with just 12 days before Texans head to the polls for early voting and with just 3% of voters undecided in this race, White’s path to victory remains difficult to see,” said Daron Shaw, Ph.D. Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. Shaw, with Amy Jasperson, Ph.D, Associate Professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio, conducted the 2010 Texas Lyceum poll.

In two other closely watched down-ballot races the numbers are less competitive. The Republican incumbent candidates in both the Lieutenant Governor’s race and the Attorney General’s race lead the Democratic opponents by double digits. Texas Lieutenant Governor Republican David Dewhurst leads Democrat Linda Chavez-Thompson 47% – 30%. In the race for Attorney General, Republican Greg Abbott leads Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky 56% — 29%. However, a significant number of voters remain undecided in these races, at 12% in the Lieutenant Governor race and 11% in the Attorney General’s race.

“Although Republicans enjoy significant leads in the races for Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, a significant number of Texas voters have yet to turn their attention to these down ballot races,” noted Jasperson.


From September 22-30, 2010, The Texas Lyceum conducted a statewide telephone survey. The survey utilized a stratified probability sample design, with respondents being randomly selected at the level of the household. On average, respondents completed the interview in 17 minutes. Approximately 5,000 records were drawn to yield 725 completed interviews. The final data set is weighted by race/ethnicity, age and gender to achieve representativeness. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 3.75 percentage points.

The ballot numbers and analysis were produced with a screen for likely voters. Voters were deemed “likely” if they indicated that they were registered to vote, indicated that they were “somewhat” or “extremely” interested in politics, and indicated that they had voted in “almost every” or “every” election in the last 2-3 years. This screen produced 416 likely voters, 57% of the full sample and 73% of registered voters. The margin of error for the survey of likely voters is +/- 4.75 percentage points.

The full release is here, and the Lyceum’s executive summary is here. They also did a poll of voters’ attitudes about how to deal with the budget shortfall, which mostly shows that people are deeply confused and uninformed about the cause of the shortfall and the viable routes to fixing it. I don’t have any further data than this, so I can’t give a detailed critique of the poll. It’s consistent with most other results, and it suggests White has done a good job of convincing people who otherwise tend to vote Republican to support him. How well he does with base Democratic turnout may be the most important factor for him right now.

Interview with Hector Uribe

Hector Uribe

Next up is Hector Uribe, who is the Democratic candidate for Land Commissioner. Uribe is a former State Rep and State Senator from the Rio Grande Valley and a movie actor as well as my favorite candidate from this cycle. He’s running against two-term incumbent Jerry Patterson, who to his great credit has willingly engaged in open debate with Uribe, thus setting him apart from pretty much all of his Republican statewide colleagues. Though the tone of this campaign has been remarkably civil, there are many issues on which Uribe believes Patterson has done the wrong thing. You can hear all about it in the interview:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle on the 2010 Elections page.

Judicial Q&A: Cheryl Harris Diggs

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for Democratic judicial candidates on the November ballot. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. These Q&As are primarily intended for candidates who were not in contested primaries. You can see those earlier Q&As, as well as all the ones in this series and all my recorded interviews for this cycle, on my 2010 Elections page.)

1. Who are you, and what are you running for?

My name is Cheryl Harris Diggs and I am the Democratic nominee for Harris County Criminal Court at Law #12.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court is a county criminal court at law which hears Class A and B misdemeanors and appeals from the JP courts. For example, this court would hear theft cases, DWIs, assaults, possession of marijuana cases, resisting and evading arrest cases, criminal mischief and criminal trespass cases, burglary of a motor vehicle cases, illegal dumping cases, prostitution, animal cruelty and unlawful carrying of weapons cases.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I want to change the perception that justice is “one size fits all”. I want people who appear in this court to feel they got a fair shake and that they were given the opportunity to be heard.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been a criminal defense attorney for 12 years. I have handled criminal cases throughout Texas in state and federal court. Having handled cases in different courts throughout the state, I have seen practices that work and ones that do not. I am fluent in Spanish and about half my client base is Spanish speaking. I worked almost five years with the Harris County Pretrial Services Agency (Office of Court Services) as a bilingual pretrial officer. I am a December 1997 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center and a 1992 graduate of Georgetown University.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because misdemeanor offenses and misdemeanor offenders matter. Business owners do not want people trespassing on their property or stealing from them. Neighbors do not want to deal with people breaking into their vehicles and taking their personal items. Neighborhoods do not want to deal with people or businesses who illegally dump their waste. Most misdemeanor offenders are young. The lessons, if any, that they learn from being charged with a misdemeanor will determine if they will become a responsible adult or if they will “graduate” to felony court.

6. Why should people vote for you in November?

People should vote for me because I want to get back to the basics of common sense justice. I will implement afternoon dockets from time to time to accommodate peoples’ schedules. I will not rush offenders to complete their cases. I will ensure that mentally ill offenders receive special attention and work with their family members and/or caregivers to make sure they are not lost in the system. I will not allow undocumented offenders to be lost in the system or rushed through the system because they are undocumented. I will implement a trial docket for undocumented persons who have to take their cases to trial for immigration purposes. I will grant more pretrial release bonds to nonviolent offenders to alleviate some of the overcrowding in the Harris County jails.

Endorsement watch: Dallas Democratic legislative candidates

As we know, the Dallas Morning News dumped Double-Dip Joe Driver from its list of endorsed candidates. Here’s what they said about some other legislative races of interest to Democrats:

Editorial: We recommend Haldenwang in HD105

Republican Linda Harper-Brown has represented Texas House District 105 since 2003. We previously have recommended her as a knowledgeable conservative, but her effectiveness has diminished. In 2008, she won re-election by only a few votes, and things have only deteriorated since.

This Irving-based district needs new leadership, and we believe Democrat Loretta Haldenwang can provide it.

Editorial: We recommend Miklos in HD101

State Rep. Robert Miklos uses the focus of a former prosecutor – which is he – to outline strategies for addressing problems facing the state. Cindy Burkett, his challenger for the Mesquite-based House District 101 seat, is often vague and unrealistic in approaches she would pursue in the Legislature.

Take the budget. Miklos, 44, a Democrat seeking his second term, is clear about the need to cut budgets and tap the state’s rainy day fund to help close a budget gap estimated at $21 billion. He also would close loopholes that benefit oil and gas companies in the state’s new, underperforming business tax.

Burkett, 52, a Republican and small-business owner, supports more business breaks at a time the state is struggling to support basic services. Her ideas didn’t indicate that she grasped the magnitude of the problem. Only when pressed did she indicate a tepid willingness to dip into the emergency fund.

Editorial: We recommend Vaught in HD107

State Rep. Allen Vaught is among a group of centrist Democrats who are piecing together a balanced strategy – with specifics – for bridging a huge gap in the state budget.

Vaught’s opponent, Republican Kenneth Sheets, preaches fiscal conservatism but lack details on how he would apply that philosophy in Austin.

Our recommendation in East Dallas-based House District 107 goes to Vaught, based on his experience from two terms in office, his budget ideas and his positions on the critical urban issues of air quality and traffic congestion.

Editorial: We recommend England in HD106

Sound bites won’t solve problems that await state lawmakers next year.

Rep. Kirk England isn’t basing his re-election campaign on easy answers. That’s the department of challenger Rodney Anderson in the Grand Prairie/Irving-based House District 106.

Editorial: We recommend Kent in HD102

As a freshman lawmaker, Democrat Carol Kent has shown herself to be far more grounded in Texas House District 102 than her opponent and more capable of dealing with the state’s pressing education, transportation, air quality and budget challenges.

Voters would be wise to reward the poised and thoughtful Kent with a second term.

Kind of a theme there, wouldn’t you say? Even in the editorials where they have endorsed Republican incumbents like Will Hartnett and Dan Branch, the DMN was generally complimentary towards the Democrat; about Branch’s opponent Pete Schulte, they said he was “bright and well-spoken” and “might someday grow into a top legislator”. All in all, a pretty solid performance by Dallas County Democrats.

Feds reject CAF’s review request

I smell a lawsuit coming.

Federal officials on Friday rejected a Metro contractor’s bid to preserve its $330 million deal to supply rail cars, setting the stage for possible litigation over the soon-to-be-canceled contract.

Dorval R. Carter Jr., the chief counsel of the Federal Transit Administration, said the contractor, CAF USA, failed to provide any new facts or points of law in its Sept. 17 request.

The company, a subsidiary of a Spanish firm, had asked the FTA to reconsider its determination that the Metropolitan Transit Authority had conducted the rail car procurement improperly. Metro must cancel the contract with CAF USA and solicit new proposals to be eligible for federal funding to build two light rail lines, the FTA said.

Nell McGarity, a spokeswoman for CAF USA, said the company would have no immediate comment.

Actually, I’m sure that there’s a number Metro could whisper into CAF’s ear to make this all go away. Not too big a number, I hope – surely CAF sees that it’s unlikely to gain much by rolling the dice in the courts. But a little something for their trouble, to send them off happy. Then maybe Metro can try to collect some of that from Frank Wilson.

Ten years of Central City Co-Op

Happy tenth birthday to Central City Co-op, the best source in town for organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary year, the Central City Co-Op is also almost unrecognizable — but also much stronger and wiser. What had started on the porch of Pat Greer’s oldest daughter, Jennifer Georgantas, is now a efficient operation of about 50 volunteers feeding 240 families, as well as six partner co-ops ranging from Clear Lake and Sugar Land to northwest Houston and Humble.

A community of like-minded people, CCC is a place where Houstonians can find organic local food, colorful personalities and veggie goodness. The friendships, rather “sisterhood” of the ladies behind Central City Co-Op, perhaps somewhat akin to the women in Steel Magnolias, begins with small-talk chatter, as they quietly set up for yet another Wednesday, as they have for the last nine years.

As I have mentioned before, my wife Tiffany Tyler is the chair of the Central City board, so I have a personal stake in this. But we’ve been customers for a lot longer than that, so I’d be wishing them a happy birthday, anyway. If you’re not familiar with Central City Co-op, you should check them out.