Texpatriate’s Questions for Kim Ogg

Editorial note: This is the nineteenth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

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Texpatriate: What is your name?
KO: Kim Ogg.

T: How long have you held this post? What number term are you seeking?
KO: I am currently the managing partner at the Ogg Law Firm, PLLC. The 2014 race for Harris County District Attorney is for an unexpired term of two (2) years.

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL (including all Judicial) offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
KO: I have not been previously elected to any post.

T: What is your political party?
KO: I am a Democrat.

T: What do you think the role of District Attorney should be?
KO: The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 2.01, states that the primary duty of a district attorney is not to convict, but to see that justice is done. The DA is the highest law enforcement official in Harris County and represents the people in all criminal investigations and prosecutions of individuals and corporations for violations of Texas law in Harris County.

T: What is a specific case in which you disagree with the actions undertaken by the incumbent?
KO: I specifically disagree with my opponent’s actions in the following specific cases:

  • Entering into a secret plea bargain arrangement with Judge DenisePratt that allowed Pratt to resign from her bench in lieu of facing further criminal investigation by a Harris County Grand Jury and facing criminal charges.
  • Failing to investigate (former) HPD Homicide Sgt. Ryan Chandler for Tampering with a Government Document, following the request for criminal charges by Chief Charles McClellan.
  • Orchestrating Chandler’s criminal investigation to be reviewed by a Montgomery County Asst. DA, preventing a Harris County Grand Jury from investigating Chandler.
  • Failing to investigate the conflict of interest between ADA Inger Hampton and Chandler for working on criminal cases together while romantically involved and for failing to take any administrative action for Hampton’s unauthorized access into criminal case files on behalf of Ryan, after he was under criminal investigation.
  • After learning from a prosecutor that Sgt. Ruben Sean Carrizal backdated a search warrant while employed at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, allowing him to resign instead of firing him.
  • Failing to notify the Harris County Sheriff’s Office about Carrizal’s actions during a routine background check; remaining silent when the Harris County Sheriff’s Office hired Carrizal three days after he resigned. He backdated a search warrant and never missed a day of pay.

T: Do you believe that the incumbent has specifically failed at his or her job? If so, why?
KO: I believe that my opponent specifically failed in her duty as District Attorney to investigate and prosecute two police officers who lied on government documents and a Republican Judge who harmed thousands of Houston families by dismissing their cases without notice.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
KO: I pledge to be a District Attorney who seeks justice without influence of friends, political allies or professional colleagues because I believe in equal justice for all. I have a strategic plan for reducing crime that involves the full spectrum of diversity in Harris County and will flip current public safety priorities.

T: What place do you think that Pre-Trial diversion programs (also known as “DA’s probation”) should have in the criminal justice process?
KO: Pre-Trial diversion has an appropriate place in the criminal justice system as a useful tool for holding a person accountable for their law violation while allowing them to avoid a permanent criminal record for the offense. It deserves regular use, which I have pledged to begin using in all misdemeanor possession of marijuana cases.

T: In what ways —if any— do you think that the DA’s office should amend the way it deals with marijuana cases?
KO: I have proposed creation and use of the GRACE program.

The GRACE program is the future of misdemeanor marijuana prosecution in Harris County. No jail. No bail. No permanent criminal record… if you earn it. GRACE stands for Government Resource Allocation/ Criminal Exemption and utilizes existing law to summon offenders directly to court rather than arresting and jailing them. Once offered GRACE, offenders are referred — through the extant mechanism of pre-trial diversion — to the Clean & Green Program. In return for case dismissal, GRACE-eligible offenders will clean up litter and recycle debris reclaimed from Buffalo Bayou; that means, rather than languishing in jail, offenders will spend two days working to better our community.

Government’s first duty is public safety. Currently, every misdemeanor marijuana arrest takes a patrol officer off of our streets for three hours or more. Kim believes police resources are better spent investigating the crimes that harm our community most, not transporting and booking non-violent drug offenders.

Houston has the fifth-highest arrest rate for misdemeanor marijuana in the country and, since 2007, has prosecuted 100,000 Houstonians, saddling them with permanent criminal records and compromising their futures by limiting their job and housing opportunities. Additionally, local records show that those arrested are disproportionate representations of our community; to an alarming degree, those arrested are black, Hispanic, male, under 25 years old and low-income. The “nail em’ and jail em’” policy employed by the current Harris County DA means marijuana offenders are incarcerated and housed right alongside hardened, violent criminals. As recently as November 2013, the American Medical Association amended their official policy regarding marijuana possession, calling for “public health based strategies, rather than incarceration.”

As DA, I want to bring Harris County’s criminal justice policies into line with other states and with common sense. Marijuana is illegal in Texas, but permitted for medicinal use in 24 states and for recreational use in another two. Marijuana law is rapidly evolving at the national level, and the future of marijuana prosecution is evolving too.

It is time we start utilizing our public safety resources in a manner that makes Harris County safer, and stop racking up slews of arrests for crimes that don’t directly involve — or even impact — public safety. By re-rerouting offenders through GRACE, Harris County taxpayers will save more than $10 million per year, and offenders will have the opportunity to clean their community and their record.

T: What role do you believe that capital punishment should have in the future of the country?
KO: Capital punishment is available by law to the District Attorney for use in seeking the ultimate sanction against a murderer. The future of the death penalty is as fluid as the public sentiment among Texas voters. If elected, and with the increased prosecution for and use of ‘Life without Parole’ sentences, I will seek the death penalty in fewer cases than my opponent.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one things you have done to address each of them?
KO: Three issues of paramount importance to me are:

  1. Grand jury reform – As DA, I have pledged to be a leader in the Legislature for reform which bars the‘ key man’ practice of grand jury selection and requires random selection of grand jurors.
  2. Revolutionize management of the DA’s Office as a public law firm, not a paramilitary pseudo-police organization – I have researched the current paperless systems being used by various counties, and found that Tarrant and LA both employ paperless systems that are effective and efficient. I have pledged to change the current culture as set by my opponent and to professionalize prosecution management of more than 600 employees.
  3. Pursuit of violent and white collar criminals as a priority, instead of jailing thousands of non-violent drug offenders, a significant percentage of whom are mentally ill, at taxpayer expense. I have worked my entire professional career to improve public safety, including work as a public servant and as a pro bono volunteer. I have written, taught and worked with the Texas Legislature to improve criminal laws and procedures.

 

A few more Mayoral names

Theodore Schleifer, the new political reporter at the Houston Chronicle (welcome, fellow millennial, to the addicting world of Houston politics), wrote a front-page article yesterday about the huge fundraising advantage in the upcoming Mayoral election held by former State Representative Sylvester Turner (D-Harris County). It is a good piece of journalism, and I highly recommend reading it all the way through. However, what I found most interesting about the article was the new names put in print on who would be running for Mayor. I had heard most of the names, but never with anyone willing to go on-the-record.

Bill King, the former Mayor of Kemah, was listed as “waiting to assess the field.” This is notable, as King is a biweekly columnist for the Chronicle, and thus works a few doors down from Schleifer. Accordingly, there must be some truth to that allegation. The concept of being the Mayor of different cities has always struck me as rather improper, though. The connection to the city can’t help but look superficial.

Another name mentioned was City Councilmember C.O. Bradford (D-At Large 4). As astute followers of this publication will likely know, I am a big fan of Bradford, and would be very happy to see him run for Mayor. He has a unique ability to cut through the bull in politics, and is without a doubt one of the smartest people sitting at the horseshoe. If there is anyone excited about him running, it would be me. But, as I have understood it, Bradford decided against a Mayoral bid about a year ago. Maybe he changed his mind?

Finally, the name Marty McVey was included. The Chronicle article describes him as a “private equity executive.” He also serves on the Board for International Food & Agricultural Development (BIFAD) for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Politically connected both locally and in Washington, McVey is the wealthy businessman this race has been waiting for. A Democrat, cursory research will show that he donated about $100,000 to progressive political causes in recent cycles.

Susan Delgado, a political gadfly, also announced via her Facebook that she would run for Mayor. She ran in the Democratic primary against State Representative Carol Alvarado (D-Harris County) earlier this year, as well as in the special election for the State Senate District 6 last year. A one-time mistress of the late State Senator Mario Gallegos (D-Harris County), she first entered the limelight about ten years ago.

The Chronicle article also very heavily assumed that Sheriff Adrian Garcia would run for Mayor. Obviously, the Sheriff, as a county officer, must resign his office in order to run for Mayor. I am still skeptical he will end up running, but you all know I’ve definitely been wrong before. To see my previous overview of the field, please click this link.

What do you make of this all?

Food trucks now allowed downtown

The Houston Chronicle reports that Mayor Annise Parker has, by executive fiat, lifted the ban on propane-fueled food trucks operating downtown (and in the Texas Medical Center). Citing a recent opinion by the Fire Marshall, who noted that there are not any real dangers for them operating, Parker unilaterally made the decision. In years past, Parker has pushed for a few changes in food truck policy, but the City Council has always been extraordinarily tepid.

Like I explained last month, this decision comes on the heels of a proposed expansive revamp of food truck ordinances. After receiving some pushback from the Council, Parker delayed it. The Chronicle article notes it should be brought back up with a vengeance at some point in October. Observers of Houston politics will note that this has become the signature political move of the Mayor, re-introducing slightly different proposals over and over again until a beaten down Council assents to her will. I suppose this is a benefit of a Strong-Mayor system of government, and I think most politicians would do the same.

The Council-proposal would namely allow food trucks to congregate close together and eliminate a ban on individual tables and chairs. There are also some concerns about the super stringent safety regulations that the trucks must follow. Councilmembers Brenda Stardig (R-District A) and Robert Gallegos (D-District I), respectively, were noted by the Chronicle as somewhat vociferous critics. Gallegos in particular made some really apt comments.

“I’m not opposed to food trucks,” Gallegos told the Chronicle. “But I’m not talking about food trucks outside of bars on Washington Avenue. I’m talking about little hole-in-the-wall cantinas and whether the trucks there are going to be regulated. That’s a problem to me.”

Parker announced the unilateral change Friday afternoon, and I didn’t have time to do any research on this before end of business. I’m planning on calling a few Council offices tomorrow and will update if I receive some meaningful comments.

Just as I argued last month, my thoughts on food trucks are somewhat complicated. For far too long, the most heated critics of food trucks, such as former Councilmember Andrew Burks (D-At Large 2), employed exceedingly bizarre and lousy talking points. Fears about exploding propane tanks or terrorists using the trucks are largely unfounded. Yes, food trucks have blown up before. But so have restaurants. Especially considering that the trucks were already allowed in the high-density uptown and Greenway Plaza districts, I just don’t see any legitimate reason to oppose the trucks entrance into downtown. That being said, it was wholly inappropriate for Parker to go about it like this. I’ll let the attorneys argue about the legality (my guess is that Parker had a right to do this), but doing something by executive order when your legislature is unwilling always smells wrong to me. I don’t like it when the President does it, and I don’t like it when the Mayor does it.

Similarly, I don’t have an issue with the food trucks congregating. Food truck parks are neat creations that serve Austin well, and would be a welcome addition to more areas in Houston. But the ban on individual tables and chairs for the trucks make sense. If you park a truck and set up your tables and chairs, you turn into a pop-up restaurant. Simply put, given the strict regulations that restaurants must obey, it is unacceptable to allow the less-regulated trucks to provide the same service.

Food trucks claim they provide a different service from restaurants, and therefore should be regulated differently. That’s fine, but in order for this reality to work, the trucks actually have to act differently from restaurants. This means moving around and not providing on-site eating options unless it is part of a larger collective.

That being said, most people do not really care too much about equity in restaurant ordinances. Gallegos’ comments provide the most compelling case for preserving the super strict safety requirements the trucks must follow. For many inside-the-loop liberals, their only interaction with mobile eateries is in the form of glitzy mini-buses zooming around Montrose. But the laws also cover less glamorous vehicles, namely in some of the poorer districts. When the Council finally discusses this, I really hope those concerns are addressed well.

As for me, I’m walking to a food truck park in Austin for lunch.

Off the Kuff has more.

Texpatriate endorses for Court of Criminal Appeals

Last month, this board turned a few heads when we advocated for the abolition of the death penalty. We feel, somewhat strongly, that it is an outdated and barbaric procedure, applied arbitrarily and capriciously. That it is a blight to our state and the constitutional liberties it ostensibly protects. Most of all, we feel that it is just an excessively cruel practice to inflict in this day and age.

With all that said, we are faced with a strange choice when deciding who to endorse in the three races for the Court of Criminal Appeals. As the court of last resort in Texas for all criminal cases, the court has broad range over a variety of causes, but seldom do any receive more attention than capital punishment. Whereas other disputes must go through the intermediate appellate body, the Court of Appeals, the Court of Criminal Appeals (yes, this is confusing, the names are all very similar) is required by law to hear appeals on cases involving the death penalty. Most of the time, the court unfortunately serves as a rubber stamp for zealous prosecutors. In the past, they have even gone so far as to allow an execution to go forward despite reasonable evidence that the condemnation should be stayed.

Thus, we were happy to see three Justices of this court stand aside ahead of this election. All three seats up this year feature open races. In addition to the three Republicans, the Democrats pitifully managed to field one candidate. All four support the indefensible procedure of capital punishment. In addition to these candidates are three Libertarians and two Greens. But we are not convinced any of these fringe candidates hold the legal acumen necessary to sit as a Judge on this high court.

Left with these realities, we judged (pun intended) the candidates based on their experience and qualifications. Accordingly, notwithstanding our deep disagreement on invaluable policy, we endorse the three Republicans.

Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3
One may wonder what the current indictment of Governor Rick Perry has to do with this race, but the two are actually quite interconnected. Bert Richardson, the Republican candidate for Place 3 on the Court of Criminal Appeals, is the senior Judge currently overseeing Perry’s two pending felony indictments. Oddly enough, Richardson’s involvement in that case has garnered him significantly more media attention than his current Statewide race.

As the Texas Tribune noted, observers on both sides of the political spectrum have described Richardson as a “thoughtful” and “fair” jurist. Prosecutors and defense attorneys alike have nothing but adulation for his style of Judging. Simply put, when he is on the bench, politics and ideology are checked at the door. A Criminal District Judge who represented Bexar County for ten years, Richardson knows all too well the deleterious affects of partisanship running roughshod over the judiciary. He was the victim of a partisan sweep himself when a less-qualified Democrat defeated him in 2008.

Richardson’s Democratic opponent, John Granberg, is also a capable attorney. And while his lack of experience in judicial office doesn’t necessary concern us, we simply think Richardson is better suited for the job. Given that the we disagree with both of them over our main policy priority, we will gladly defer to the candidate with the sterling qualifications and credentials. Still, when it comes to the death penalty, we have some hope that Richardson can serve as a voice of reason. He appears rather reasonable regarding upcoming issues, such as DNA testing and judicial interpretation of the Michael Morton Act.

All in all, we have every reason to believe that Richardson will serve as a honorable Judge on the Court of Criminal Appeals. Accordingly, this board endorses him for Place 3 of the Court.

Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4
Earlier this month, the Court of Criminal struck down the State’s law against improper photography. In an unnecessarily expansive holding, the court ruled 8-1 to protect most forms of lecherous photography in public places as protected symbolic speech under the 1st Amendment. We disagree with the ruling not only because the intent could have been accomplished significantly narrower, but because it does not take under consideration the protection of some of society’s most vulnerable. Surely, there could be a better solution?

Oddly enough, the brouhaha that inevitably erupted regarding this ruling reminded us of the credentials of Kevin Yeary, the Republican candidate for the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4. In a long and illustrative career as a appellate prosecutor, Yeary was the driving force behind defending the Texas Telephone Harassment statute from a similar first amendment challenge. Although the Court of Appeals originally struck down the law, it was later reversed by the Court of Criminal Appeals. Although candidates like Yeary are often prevented by ethics rules from publicly rebuking decisions such as the Improper Photography one, we confidently feel that his unique perspective would have allowed him to see the case differently.

Yeary is a good lawyer, with an honorable resume as a prosecutor. We have some concerns that, like many others, his prosecutor’s cap would follow him too closely onto the bench. And we are obviously disappointed to see yet another vehement advocate for the death penalty. All this being said, Yeary has no Democratic opponent. His only opposition is in the form of unqualified, unknown third parties. Given these choices, we think that Yeary is a very easy choice.

Accordingly, this board endorses Kevin Yeary for the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 4.

Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9
David Newell, a longtime appellate prosecutor with the Harris County District Attorney’s office, is uniquely qualified against his opponents to look out against mismanagement and miscarriages of justice. Indeed, we think his impressive career would allow him to be a good judge on the high court. A down-to-earth, affable personality, we think Newell’s greatest asset may be the way he approaches serious endeavors such as his run for office. We have every reason to believe he’ll take the same attitude to the court if elected.

Obviously, we do have some misgivings about his candidacy. An emphatic defender of capital punishment, we sharply disagree. His website also contains an inappropriately lengthy section on his religious faith, juxtaposed immediately next to one on his “judicial philosophy.” In our society, where –as Thomas Jefferson once proscribed– there should be a wall erected between the church and the state, the occurrence is slightly troubling.

But Newell’s judicial philosophy and his history warrant support, especially in light of him lacking any serious competitors. Facing only token opposition, his endorsement is an easy one. But we have hope that Newell will make a good judge.

Accordingly, this board endorses David Newell for the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 9.

The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz & Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey of Boston, Luis Fayad of College Station and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans. Editorials represent a majority of the voting board.

Texpatriate’s Questions for Bert Richardson

Editorial note: This is the eighteenth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates for Statewide and Harris County offices. We have sent questionnaires to every candidate on the ballot, given we could find a working email address. We have printed their answers verbatim as we receive them. If you are or work for such a candidate, and we did not send a questionnaire, please contact us <info@texpate.com>.

https://mail.zoho.com/mail/FileDownload/1-DSC_6360.JPG?accountId=2153885000000008001&msgId=2153885000001352003&filePath=2153885000001352003_attach_1&isOutbox=false&mode=mail

Judge Bert Richardson, Republican candidate for the Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 3

Texpatriate: What is your name?
BR: Bert Richardson

T: What office are you seeking?
BR: Place 3, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

T: Please list all the elected or appointed POLITICAL (including all Judicial) offices you have previously held, and for what years you held them.
BR: Judge of the 379th District Court, Bexar County, Texas.  1999-2008

T: What is your political party?
BR: Republican

T: What is a specific case in which you disagree with the incumbent’s ruling? What is a specific case in which you agree?
BR: N/A

T: What is a contentious issue that you believe the Court of Criminal Appeals will face in the near future? Why is it important?
BR: Although it would be inappropriate to classify any specific issue as contentious, I do believe there are important issues that the TCCA will have to consider in the coming years including ongoing issues raised in relation to DNA testing, scientific evidence in arson cases, interpreting the Michael Morton act and many others.

T: Why you, as opposed to your opponents?
BR: I am the only candidate for this position that is Board Certified in Criminal Law (less than 2% of lawyers are certified in this area).  The Court of Criminal Appeals has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all death penalty cases.  I have significant experience in death penalty litigation as a prosecutor and judge both at the trial level and post conviction level. I also have significant appellate experience at the State and federal level. As an elected judge in Bexar County I was consistently ranked at the top of local Bar Polls for knowledge of the law, work ethic and judicial demeanor.  As a Senior Judge I receive a steady stream of judicial assignments for routine matters (both civil and criminal) and high profile cases across the State and have worked in over 40 counties in the last 5 years.   As a judge I have never had a trial verdict reversed by an appellate court.  I have taught law related classes at local colleges & St. Mary’s Law School for over 15 years.    

T: What role do you think a Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals should have individually?  What role do you think the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals should have as a whole?
BR: A: To have an open line of communication with the other judges on the Court regarding pending cases.  B: The Court should issue clear and concise opinions, so those practicing in the criminal justice arena understand how to deal with some of the more complicated and controversial issues in the trial courts.

T: What are your thoughts on the partisan election of Judges?
BR: After receiving almost every major endorsement (from newspapers, law enforcement groups and lawyers) and being ranked at the top of most bar polls, I was a “victim” of a partisan sweep as an elected judge, so I am of the opinion that there has to be a better way to select our judges.  However, the party in power is rarely motivated to change the system.  Since 2008 in Bexar County there have been “judicial sweeps” in each election.  In San Antonio the elections for judicial positions have been referred to by members of the media as a “Judicial Lottery.”  Even for this race at the State level, most average voters have no idea what the TCCA does, or the qualifications needed to do the job. I would be in favor of a different system in order to attract the most qualified candidates for the bench.

T: What are the three most important issues to you, and what is at least one thing you have done to address each of them?
BR: (A)(1). Significant changes in scientific evidence in many areas that have exonerated several wrongfully convicted defendants. The TCCA promulgates rules of evidence for criminal trials and those rules should address these changes and the admissibility of such evidence;   (A)(2). Online filing of briefs and records to that court.  Most appellate courts across the State have implemented this and I would work to do that at the TCCA;  (A)(3). Legislative changes in discovery rules, in light of the Michael Morton Act and exoneration.  One way to do that would be to educate judges on these changes and the obligation the State has to turn over specific information to the defense.  The TCCA administers funds that educate judges. (B)  I have presided over and submitted to the TCCA extensive Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law in many of the areas in (A)(1), such as arson, DNA and mental retardation.

Impropriety in another Perry fund

Photo: Gage Skidmore

The Dallas Morning News reports that, following an independent audit of the Texas Enterprise Fund, it has been revealed that $222 Million was given from the Governor-managed fund to entities that had not even submitted an application. The State Auditor, John Keel, released a tough report to legislators today that alleges the TEF has an inconsistent criteria they use to dole out the coveted money.

Most of these handouts occurred in the inaugural years of the fund, which was created in 2003 (for those of y’all playing at home, Perry has been the Governor since 2000). Perry’s office has defended the apparently capricious picks as kinks in the system that were quickly worked out as the fund got its start. Other revelations, however, were also released. Many of the reports on how money was spent and used provided incomplete summaries and details.  Other money fell through the cracks when the State evidently did not recoup all the money owed to it when contracts were terminated. Some reports just outright lied. Within the News story is a bombshell that one such report alleged that 66,000 jobs had been created by one beneficiary rather than 48,000. That’s a fairly significant number to fudge.

The audit reveals a culture of impropriety. One in which the desired conclusions influence data, not the other way around. The whole smell of it all is probably the most damaging portion of this report, rather than any of the individual details.

Obviously, the total lies in some of the reports present a problem. But staff can always be blamed for that, in ways that can not necessarily be pinned back on the Governor. In my opinion, the greatest issues that occur deal with the entities that received the money without applying for it. Now, when one looks at the specific entities that got the murky money, they are reputable firms such as the University of Texas at Dallas and MD Anderson. None of them appear to have any financial link to Perry or any of his lemmings. That being said, things could change in an instant.

The most important thing here is the appearance of impropriety. I suppose this could be a campaign tool for State Senator Wendy Davis (D-Tarrant County), the Democratic candidate for Governor. She did, in fact, first author the bill in the State Legislature that led to this office. And while Abbott supports many changes from the system described here, it could be a valuable campaign tool to continue the talking point that Republicans are too interested in picking winners and losers. Especially in light of the ongoing controversy involving CPRIT, this could very well end up being another piece of the puzzle, that inextricably ties Perry and other Republicans to possible impropriety/corruption.

Quack Quack!

The Houston Chronicle has the full story on this.

A few days ago, a high-profile fundraiser was hosted by State Representative Sylvester Turner (D-Harris County), to celebrate a quarter-century of honorably serving in the State Legislature. Turner, of course, will be running for Mayor of Houston in 2015, all other things being equal. The Chronicle story insinuated that Turner officially announced his candidacy, though I have heard conflicting reports.

Anyways, this has created quite the buzz at City Hall. Turner, as I have opined in the past, is the undisputed frontrunner in the 2015 Mayoral election. The election will be sure to feature many names, as incumbent Mayor Annise Parker is term-limited. Thus, Parker’s appearance at Turner’s fundraiser raised some questions. Will Parker be supporting Turner? It would obviously be a difficult decision, since some of the other possible candidates include City Councilmember Stephen Costello (R-At Large 1), the Chair of the Budget Committee, and City Councilmember Ed Gonzalez (D-District H), the Mayor Pro Tem, both of which are very close to her.

So when all the reporters at the event couldn’t stop talking about Turner and the “next Mayor of Houston,” whomever that may be, Parker was flustered. Described as annoyed, she confidently stated at “I am still the Mayor of Houston!”

Yes, she is, but not for long. Like it or not, Parker is a lame duck. Quack, quack, quack!

First of all, what else does she have to do? She worked honorably to pass consensus-based overhauls of laws on wage theft and payday lending in the past year. Earlier, she has put her impression on density, transportation and historical preservation, to name a few more. More recently, also ran roughshod over the process to divisively pass a non-discrimination ordinance (which I supported) and an overhaul of vehicle-for-hire regulations (which I didn’t support), respectively. But now, there isn’t much left to do, beside solve some of our big budget problems. Ostensibly, Parker has one more opportunity to convince the Legislature to amend pertinent laws on negotiations with the Firefighter Union, but I am definitely not holding my breath.

Beyond that, Parker’s antics over the long summer didn’t make her any friends. She has probably used up a fair share of her political capital and, with her days in office quickly running out, it is unlikely to be replenished any time soon.

Nobody likes sour grapes, particularly in the form of refusing to recognize one’s own political mortality. Bill White, the Mayor of Houston from 2004 to 2010, was unusually graceful in his exit, but this may have had something to do with the fact that he was in the midst of a race for the Governor’s mansion at the tail end of his term. I know that Parker is interested in running for Comptroller in 2018, but that is a little ways after she must vacate the third floor of City Hall.