Raquel Welch

Sorry for being late again. I can only say that it is about family.


We lost an icon yesterday.  Sex symbol. Raquel Welch. 

During my high school years, I had her “One Million Years B.C.” black and white poster hanging on my bedroom wall.

She was one of the stars of “Fantastic Voyage,” a cutting-edge science fiction flick that came out in the 1960s.  The movie won a couple of technical Oscars. She also starred in “Bandolero!” with James Stewart, Dean Martin, and George Kennedy. It is a very entertaining western where she held her own against these Hollywood acting heavyweights.

She was also a proud Latina.


The Chron E-Board has a very good take on The Dean’s bill on the City of H-Town, Houston firefighters, and binding arbitration.  See this:

In the nearly six years since the contract between firefighters and the city of Houston expired, the Astros have won two championships. The Texans have fired four different head coaches. Five hurricanes and tropical storms have battered our region. A global pandemic swept across the globe and a new president was elected. 

Amid all of this dizzying upheaval, one of the few constants has been the obstinacy in negotiations between Mayor Sylvester Turner and leaders of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association. Six years of bargaining talks have led nowhere, though there’s been plenty of wheel spinning with a controversial city charter amendment passed by voters, two costly lawsuits on its constitutionality to be decided by the Texas Supreme Court, and nothing close to an agreement that would both satisfy firefighters’ demands for a 29 percent raise and prevent Turner from enacting austere budget cuts and layoffs to pay for the raises. 

With Houston facing a potentially devastating ruling that could result in millions in raises and back pay for firefighters, one would think that Turner would at least be amenable to an off-ramp he has long avoided: binding arbitration. 

Don’t hold your breath. 

“You enter into a binding arbitration, and you take the power away from you as elected officials to determine which employee groups get what,” Turner said during a City Council meeting Tuesday in response to a question about binding arbitration. “And you put it into the hands of those who do not know the full implication and budgetary matters in this city. But that certainly can be your choice for the next mayor.” 

Turner wasn’t speaking directly to any of his would-be successors, but he surely had at least one in mind. State Sen. John Whitmire, a Democrat, longtime firefighter ally, and prominent candidate for mayor, recently made it clear that if he’s elected to lead the city, he’d prefer to not further inflame the contract standoff with firefighters.

On Feb. 7, Whitmire filed a bill which would require the city to enter into a mandatory arbitration process with the firefighters union if contract negotiations remain stagnant. The arbitration process would consist of a panel of three arbitrators – one selected by the city, one selected by the firefighters and one mutually agreed upon neutral party – which would result in a one-year contract.

Cities such as Austin and San Antonio already allow binding arbitration in such circumstances. In 2020, San Antonio ended a six-year stalemate with its firefighter union with a new contract agreement through this process. 

Whitmire acknowledged to the editorial board that he could have a vested interest in ensuring a contract agreement is reached if his mayoral campaign is successful. But the primary interest, he said, is to put an end to a fight he called “embarrassing” for the city, one he believes is partly responsible for the city having low staffing, longer response times, and fewer ambulances available.

“I really think it’s a win-win,” Whitmire said. “Get us out of court, save money and make people come together that should already be talking.”

Alas, the only substantive talking either side is doing these days is through lawyers. The legal dispute now before the state Supreme Court is rooted in a contract stalemate dating back to 2017, when the previous pact between the city and firefighters expired. A charter amendment approved by voters in 2018 – known as Proposition B – required that the city pay its firefighters “substantially similar” to the city’s police officers of similar ranks, though the city has not implemented the measure, instead challenging its legality. A lower court decision upheld the charter amendment, and the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in November. The city council, meanwhile, has given firefighters 6 percent raises in each of the past two budgets.

Turner has long contended that the city can’t afford the raises and back pay the firefighters are demanding and has threatened to lay off hundreds of firefighters if pay parity was implemented. His concerns are reasonable. Houston’s budget has been balanced largely due to the influx of federal COVID-19 money, which allowed the city to stave off potentially thousands of layoffs. But those additional monies led to increases in city spending, meaning once the well of federal aid dries up, Houston will still be faced with massive job cuts. 

It’s also true that firefighters were given plenty of opportunities to compromise. For various reasons, they voted down a 4 percent under former Mayor Annise Parker and refused an offer of a 9.5 percent raise over three years from Turner. This board has pushed back against firefighters’ desire for pay parity with police, in part because firefighter pension benefits are more generous than police pensions, and because, unlike police union members who have negotiated their raises, firefighters circumvented collective bargaining and went straight to the voters to approve Proposition B. While firefighters have pointed out that most major cities have some form of pay parity, Houston’s revenue cap uniquely limits its ability to spend freely. 

Yet Turner’s reasoning that binding arbitrators “takes the power away” from the city to collectively bargain with the union doesn’t add up. Letting the impasse fester means handing that power to the Supreme Court to make a decision for both sides, and wasting significant taxpayer dollars on attorney fees. As City Controller Chris Brown warned in March, “a judge is going to tell the city how much we owe in back pay and interest and penalties and that number is going to be substantial.”

Requiring the city to settle a one-year contract through arbitration is likely Turner’s best chance of avoiding this fiscally catastrophic scenario. Arbitrators in this process have to, in good faith, base any agreement on the city’s ability to pay what the firefighters are demanding. If Turner’s fears of financial ruin are legitimate, the arbitration panel’s recommendations will likely reflect that.

We urge the Legislature to pass Whitmire’s bill. The city and firefighters have had six years to settle this protracted fight. It’s time to let a mediator step in and find an adequate compromise. 

FYI: Commentary is working for the Whitmire for Mayor Campaign.


The following is not unexpected. You go work for a known crook. Crooked stuff happens. Then you tell folks the crook is a crook. Now the GOP Texas House Speaker is pretty much acknowledging that the GOP AG is a crook.  See this from the Chron:

House Speaker Dade Phelan said he does not support the use of taxpayer dollars to fund Attorney General Ken Paxton’s $3.3 million settlement with four former aides who accused him of taking bribes.

Phelan, a Beaumont Republican, does not anticipate that the money will be included in the House budget, he said in a Wednesday interview with CBS DFW

“Mr. Paxton is going to have to come to the Texas House, he’s going to have to appear before the appropriations committee and make a case to that committee as to why that is a proper use of taxpayer dollars,” Phelan said. “And then he’s going to have to sell it to 76 members of the Texas House. That is his job, not mine.”

It is your Texas GOP and dealing with a crook of their own.


HISD will start giving students and teachers the day off on November election days. That is probably a good thing. Students 16-years and older can maybe get jobs at election polling sites with Harrisvotes.  Plus, kids won’t have to be on campus when MAGA wingnuts show up to vote or stand just beyond the electioneering markers with their crazyarse hats and flags.

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