Everybody’s a critic

A few days ago, I wrote about the upcoming brownouts at the Fire Department. At that time, the Council Budget Committee voted on a non-binding resolution to idle certain trucks and force the HFD to solve a ballooning deficit solely from their own coffers. This deficit was largely created by a flood of overtime pay in just a couple of big holiday weekends. Critics charge a favorable union contract for the deficit.

Now, Mayor Parker has announced that she will go forward with implementing the Committee’s resolution. The brownouts will begin soon and follow through to the end of the fiscal year (the end of June). As Off the Kuff notes, one of the bigger critics of this strategy is Councilmember C.O. Bradford, who has long been both sympathetic to the firefighters and unfriendly towards the Mayor’s platform and agenda. However, the Parker/Bradford dichotomy is a drastic oversimplification of the real politics of the issue. Also disagreeing with Mayor Parker on the issue has been Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez, a typical ally of the administration.

Click here to read more on this issue, including some surprising comments from a State Senator!

Texpatriate endorses in 113th District Court primary

Do you know what the 113th District Court does? What about just a Civil District Court in general? Therein lies the problem that hoodwinked voters in 2012, and we sincerely hope does not negatively corrupt them once again in this year’s primary.

In the year 2008, voters elected a Democrat named Steven Kirkland to a Civil District Bench in Harris County. Kirkland is openly gay, but that definitely was not the reason he got elected. Contrary to some of the stories you may have heard, it wasn’t the reason he was defeated for re-election in 2012 either. Instead, the story bears a much sneakier and nefarious orientation. Shortly before the 2012 primary, Judge Kirkland presided over a suit against a prominent attorney accused of overcharging his clients. When all was said and done, the attorney –George Fleming– had been cost $13 Million by the lawsuit.

Fleming ultimately appealed the decision, but that was not enough. He was out for blood. Buying a general election is hard, particularly when so many voters select a straight ticket option in the Presidential year. But buying a primary election, where turnout hovers only in the single digits, is significantly easier. Fleming recruited an attorney by the name of Elaine Palmer, almost exclusively bankrolled her campaign, and let the cards fall where they may.

Click here to read the full endorsement!

Texpatriate endorses in State House primaries

There are quite a few open or otherwise contested seats in the lower house of the State Legislature, particularly among Republican seats at the outskirts of town. This board has discussed fielding endorsements in these races, be it HD23, HD129 or HD132, but ultimately decided against it, given their removal from the City of Houston. Sagacious followers of this publication will know our incessant insistence on being a follower of Houston affairs, first and foremost.  Therefore, instead, we have made our picks in three races, the Democratic primary in HD131, the Democratic primary in HD145 and the Republican primary in HD134. We endorse the incumbent in all three.

HD 131 
The 11th commandment does not have much reverence in this district. Located at the southwestern outskirts of the beltway, the seat was long held by Ron Wilson, featured a considerably intense Democratic primary in 2004 when the 27-year incumbent lost his seat to a woman named Alma Allen. Among the complaints Allen employed in this primary was that Rep. Wilson was too cozy with the Republican majority.

Accordingly, eight years later, when an attorney named Azuwuike “Ike” Okorafor challenged Rep. Allen in the primary with similar complaints, we took him seriously as we hope the constituents of the district did as well. Despite his criticisms of Rep. Allen’s lack of leadership on educational issues, however, we have seen few other specific critiques of the incumbent. Further, unlike Mr Okorafor, we believe that Rep. Allen has a good track record in politics and for the constituents of her district. Accordingly, we endorse Alma Allen in the Democratic primary for HD131.

Click here to read our other two endorsements!

Uber enters the market too

The Houston Chronicle reports that Uber, the ridesharing and decentralized taxi service/app, has immediately commenced service within Houston. The news comes shortly after one of their key competitors, Lyft, announced they too would begin service in Houston. Lyft, which prides itself on not technically charging fees but rather making its income through ostensible donations, was initially deterred from beginning service in Houston until after disputes over the City’s complicated and immense taxi regulating ordinances were cleared up. However, these concerned were placated for the time being after Lyft announced they would not accept fees/donations at first. Accordingly, it would operate for free. Following this lead, Uber announced its immediate entrance into the market late on Thursday, though also pledged to be free for the time being.

Negotiations are currently underway in City Council committees to reform certain transportation regulations, but at current, if either of these services begin accepting money (either in the form of fees or donations), it would be breaking the law. Mayor Parker has historically been quite skeptical of these platforms, and I sincerely believe she would clamp down somewhat strictly on overt violations of the law by these companies.

Click here to read the full article!

I voted today

I drove into Houston this morning for a productive weekend to take care of some personal and professional business. Needless to say, one of the first things I did was to go to the West Gray Multiservice Center and fulfill my civic duty to vote. Regardless of what I may have said about the value of voting in the Republican Primary, I voted in the Democratic contest. I voted for the following candidates in contested races, which I have enumerated bellow the jump. Additionally, I cannot help but to note the good feeling I got out of voting for a fellow Horwitz for the second time in my life. My father, James Horwitz, is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination in County Probate Judge #4. These are only the races I personally voted in, and they may feature races Texpatriate has yet to field an official endorsement in.

Click here to read my slate!

DA looking into Judge Pratt again

The Houston Chronicle reports that the District Attorney’s office is once again investigating Denise Pratt, the embattled Family District Judge, for a complaint recently lodged against her for summarily and unilaterally dismissing hundreds of cases. As many will recall, this is not the first time that the DA’s office has looked into possible wrongdoing from Judge Pratt. Last year, a grand jury was even impaneled against her following accusations of backdating orders. A grand jury later no-billed her for those alleged offenses.

In this new round of complaints, however, Judge Pratt has been accused of backdating some orders in open court. Additionally, the aforementioned issues over unilateral dismissal of ongoing cases have continued to dogged Judge Pratt. The significance of these legal and ethical issues is that Judge Pratt will continue to be hounded by negative publicity as the final days pass before the Republican primary. As many may recall, Judge Pratt drew four challengers in her Republican primary, including the very capable Anthony Magdaleno (who, of course, Texpatriate endorsed).

Click here to read more!