An expanded curfew is unwise

Like so many ordinances, the county’s curfew regulations have reached their three year expiration date.  The county must now revisit the specifics of the ordinance, and reinstate it.  The Houston Chronicle reports Sheriff Adrian Garcia has proposed a daytime curfew in addition to the nighttime one already in place.  While this would not affect incorporated City of Houston areas, which already have a daytime curfew, this would add more curfew hours to those under the age of 17 in unincorporated Harris County.

Sheriff Garcia believes that such a curfew would give his officers the ability to decrease daytime burglaries since juveniles are sometimes involved in daytime crime.  It would be a means for police officers to “intervene when they think the law applies,” thereby stopping crimes before they happen.

There is strong opposition to the new curfew hours by home-schooled students and their families, who fear they will be unduly affected by the new law, but there are exemptions for home-school students, as well as any student with reasonable cause for being out.  No, there are greater reasons why the curfew should not be expanded aside from the potential for a few home-school students getting tickets.

There is no reason why the crimes committed by juveniles during the day should not be addressed by the laws currently in place.  Furthermore, there is a significant difference between a nighttime curfew and a daytime curfew.  While there are few justifiable reasons a juvenile would be out at 3am, there are countless reasons a teenager would be out at noon during a normal weekday.  Those young adults who are legitimately out of school during normal school hours should not be hindered by a police officer questioning where they are going and what they are doing just because they look to be a certain age.

Sheriff Garcia is essentially asking for a blank check for his officers to stop juveniles and give them citations as they please during school hours, just for being under the age of 17.  While it’s easy for an adult to say yes to such a sweeping gesture, it is important to note that it hinders on the rights of responsible teenagers and could potentially encourage age profiling.  Besides, there do not appear to be significant statistics backing the claim that such a curfew would even significantly decrease daytime crime in unincorporated Harris County.  Nonetheless, early reports indicate that it is likely the ordinance will be reinstated unchanged as many members of the Review Board have indicated a preference to keep the policy as is.

Back in 2009, when I worked at City Hall, I debated this very issue among my contemporaries (including Andrew, Noah & Olivia). At that point we were only discussing the City of Houston curfew, not unincorporated Harris County, but the point remains the same. We ultimately came to the conclusion that the curfews, especially those during the day, did more harm than good.

Boykins does Social Networking right

Dwight Boykins, a candidate for District D, has really hit the ground running on Social Media. Today was one of those pleasant experiences where, simply by happenstance, I come across something I can write about, and I don’t have to go digging for it. I logged on my Facebook today to find this advertisement from his campaign:

I have four things to say about this. First, Lee Brown is his treasurer! Second, I really like that he having what looks to be a legitimately free, family-focused event for his kickoff, located in a Shopping Centre. This is very different from most local politicos these days, who have $250-a-plate kickoffs at restaurants. He is really trying to be a community candidate, and that is quite respectable. Third, he has a website, which is a development for me. His website can be reached –> here –> and will also be put onto my election tab soon enough. He also has a Twitter –> here –> which has 100 followers (more than Ben Hall). He has a Facebook page –> here –> with not quite so many likes.

For a City Council candidate to have such an awesome Social Media infrastructure this early is noteworthy, especially from a District candidate. He has also snatched up quite a few key endorsements from major politicos in the African-American community and beyond. Besides Mayor Brown, Boykins can claim the support of State Representative Borris Miles, former HISD Trustee Arthur Gaines, former City Councilmember Jew Don Boney, former District Judge Levi Benton (a Republican), HCC Trustee Michael Williams and HISD Trustee Paula Harris. Additionally, Sheriff Adrian Garcia and former Congressman Chris Bell support Boykins. Cassius belli, so do I.

On a completely unrelated note, I will be writing the Wikipedia articles entitled “Houston mayoral election, 2013” and “Houston elections, 2013” this next week. I may start redirecting people there to keep track of Websites, Social Media, Endorsements, etc. Also, I will be back in Houston next week!

Voting now open for the Texpatriate Person of the Year

I have, in some way or another, been awarding “Person of the Year” for Houston politics for a few years. From the vaults, let me bring up some of the editorials from the past:

2009–Annise D. Parker
This is a real no-brainer. Even though my original allegiances were, in fact, for Gene Locke, I have no ideological quarrels with the Controller, and am certain she will do a fantastic job in office.

Additionally, even though this was not a major theme of the campaign, no one can doubt the historical significance of Controller Parker’s election to be the Chief Executive of a city of Houston’s size. For the first time in many years, we have been getting national coverage for a good reason
.” –Published 12/29/09

2010–The Houston Public Employee
The decision would have been clear if Mayor White would have won the election, or at least not suffered the shellacking he did. At any rate, even though I have always opposed abstract designations for “person of the year”, I find it necessary today.

So, in giving this award to the civil servant, we stand in solidarity with their struggles. We stand with HOPE, the local AFSCME and SEIU, we stand against furloughs for the working class while our city and county wastes their money, our money, on outlandish parks.
” –Published 12/26/10

2011–Andrew C. Burks, Jr.
The 2011 gave mixed messages to the perennial candidates among us. Griff Griffin, after his umpteenth campaign, finally called it quits, while Andrew Burks, after his, finally claimed victory. Though I supported Representative Thibaut, and am cautious about just how liberal Mr Burks is, it is a milestone for our city that a candidate, once dismissed as not serious, has finally won.

In closing, I wish Mr Burks luck in this pursuit of his, and for a city with a newly re-elected Mayor.
” –Published 12/31/11

So, therefore, I introduce the candidates for Texpatriate Person of the Year, 2012:

Ted Cruz
While probably despised by the vast majority of my readers, no one can doubt just how amazing Mr Cruz’s primary victory over Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst was. In addition, he will now be the first Latino Senator from Texas, and is set to become a national figure.

Julian Castro
Much like Mr Cruz, Mayor Castro thrust this state into the national spotlight, though with good effect. As the first Latino keynote speaker at the DNC, he showed the nation a new face for Texas.

Sylvia Garcia
After being one of the many casualties of the Republican landslide of 2010, Commissioner Garcia has come back from the political dead to run for the late-Senator Gallegos’ seat. If she wins, this will be much more pressing, if she loses, it will be moot, and if the election does not occur until next year, I would probably also advise against the selection.

Mario Gallegos
Senator Gallegos unified the entire Houston-area Democratic establishment at the time of his death, something not easily done. While in office, he was a tremendously powerful figure, looming larger than life.

Annise Parker
Parker once again was a major figure in the news this years, providing over a non-contentious start to her second term. Considering the issues abound throughout her first term, that is quite an accomplishment.

Lane Lewis
After surviving a nasty, bitter fight to be the Chairman of the HCDP, Chairman Lewis has been unbelievably successful at his job, keeping Judicial losses this year to a minimum, while loosing neither Countywide office up for election.

Adrian Garcia
Speaking of countywide offices, the Sheriff did an impeccable job of fending off his re-election battle. Rumors of higher office are already abound.

Mike Sullivan
Being one of the few big Republican successes in Harris County this year, Councilmember Sullivan was the first CM to make the successful switch to higher office in nearly four years, on the heels of aborted or failed quests by Lawrence, Johnson, Adams, and Khan. Sullivan, as the new TAC, also did quite an admiral thing in his early retirement announcement, which set up a cheap, concurrent special election.

The “Dead” Voter/Voter Fraud
In honor of all those invisible people who commit voter fraud, and, according to the King Street Patriots, showed up to steal the election for the Democrats.

Also, add your own poll option. To stay in the style of Houston politics, we may or may not have a runoff poll.

https://texpate.wordpress.com/2012/12/02/poll-link/

Musings on the election

First up, Congrats to President Obama! Four more years! The President won Harris County by a few hundreds votes. Democrats expand their majority in the Senate to 55 and lessen the Republican majority in the House. All fantastic news.

Statewides
Republicans keep the Railroad Commission and the Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals–no surprise there. However, Keith Hampton got clobbered, which is upsetting.

Courts of Appeals
1st and 14th stay all Republican, which is not surprising.

State Senate
Wendy Davis got re-elected. The composition stays at 19-12. Mario Gallegos re-elected posthumously, which means we will see a special election.

State House
Democrats pick up six or seven seats. Composition is at 95-55. Ann Johnson was defeated, again disappointing.

County Judges
11th–Mike Miller (D) re-elected.
61st–Al Bennett (D) re-elected.
80th–Larry Weiman (D) re-elected.
125th–Kyle Carter (D) re-elected.
127th–R.K. Sandhill (D) re-elected.
129th–Michael Gomez (D) re-elected.
133rd–Jaclanel McFarland (D) re-elected.
151st–Mike Engelhart (D) re-elected.
152nd–Robert Schaffer (D) re-elected.
164th–Alexandra Smoots-Hogan (D) re-elected.
165th–Josephina Rendon (D) defeated by Elizabeth Ray (R).
174th–Ruben Guerrero (D) re-elected.
176th–Shawna Reagin (D) defeated by Stacey Bond (R).
177th–Ryan Patrick (R) re-elected.
178th–David Mendoza (D) re-elected.
179th–Randy Roll (D) defeated by Kristin Guiney (R).
215th–Elaine Palmer (D) elected. Damn.
333rd–Tad Halbach (R) re-elected.
334th–Ken Wise (R) re-elected.
337th–Herb Richie (D) defeated by Renee Magee (R). Again, damn.
338th–Hazel Jones (D) defeated by Brock Thomas (R).
339th–Maria Jackson (D) re-elected.
351st–Mark Ellis (R) re-elected.
County Court 1–Debra Mayfield (R) re-elected.
County Court 2–Theresa Chang (R) re-elected.

Of the nineteen Democratic Judges: 14 win re-election and 5 lose.
Of the six Republican Judges: 6 win re-election.
Final Tally: 14 Demorats, 11 Republicans.

County Officials
DA–Mike Anderson (R) wins. No surprise.
Sheriff–Adrian Garcia (D) re-elected. Again, no surprise.
County Attorney–Vince Ryan (D) re-elected. Great News!
Tax Collector–Mike Sullivan (R) wins. However, it is close and Bennett hasn’t conceded yet.

Referendums
METRO Prop passed, City props passed, and all the Bond measures passed.

City Council
Martin wins without a runoff.

Discussion comes later.

Harris County Poll

The Chronicle is reporting on what may very well be the only Harris County poll of the election cycle. Let us look:
President
Barack Obama (D)–46%
Mitt Romney (R)–41%
Gary Johnson (L)–2%
Jill Stein (G)–1%
Undecided–10%

Senator
Paul Sadler (D)–44%
Ted Cruz (R)–42%
Undecided–14%

Sheriff
Adrian Garcia (D)–51%
Louis Guthrie (R)–32%
Remington Alessi (G)–2%
Undecided–15%

District Attorney
Mike Anderson (R)–41%
Lloyd Oliver (D)–36%
Abstain–2%
Undecided–21%

This is a pretty useless poll because it does not accurate state how much influence those who vote for the President will have upon downballot races. Obviously, the top two spots will  be won by the Democrat, but it gets a little tricky down the ballot. The Sheriff and District Attorney elections are the two elections that are infamous this cycle for split-ticket voting, so they tell us absolutely nothing about how the other countywide elections, or judicial elections, will go.

A poll on the County Attorney race, which does not look feasible at this time, would give us exponentially more data to work with.

What I think will happen

Keeping in touch with my self-imposed moratorium upon Presidential election coverage, I will not even mention that race (You can see what I had said previous in my post “Cynic“). However, I think this will be a good way for progressives to brace ourselves for what may come next.

Every statewide seat (except Keller’s): SAFE Republican
I think this is a no-brainier here, considering that the Democrats did not even bother to field candidates in some of these races. I really do like Michele Petty and Paul Salder, but this is not going to be a repeat of 2008, and even in 2008 we got our butts kicked.

Court of Criminal Appeals, Position 1: TOSSUP
Keith Hampton, especially in the (unlikely) event of a major Obama victory, could build enough of a coalition between Democrats, Independents, and pragmatic Republicans to victory. Keller is relying on people to simply vote straight Republican, which they probably will.

14th Court of Appeals, 1st Court of Appeals: SAFE Republican
Same logic as the statewide seats.

134th State Representative: LEAN Republican
2012 will not be as good of a year as 2006, which is the last time an incumbent in this district was unseated. Also, Davis is a much more civil campaigner than Martha Wong.

215th District Court: LIKELY Republican
Ken Shortreed is depending upon enough angry Democrats (like me) to vote for him. It will probably push him over the top.

Remaining local judicial races: LEAN Republican
Harris County will probably go red, especially in downballot races.

Sheriff: LEAN Democratic
I think Garcia can put together enough of a coalition with moderate Republicans to avoid defeat. The endorsement of the “C club” didn’t hurt either.

District Attorney: SAFE Republican
Self-explanatory.

Tax Collector: LIKELY Republican
Even in 2008, tax czar and DA went Republican. Additionally, CM Sullivan is a popular incumbent who has attracted quite a few Democrats (even endorsed by the JHV).

County Attorney: TOSSUP
Vince Ryan has some cross-party support, but again the Republican tilt on the election does not help.

City Council, E: LIKELY Martin
Martin has the establishment support from Sullivan, who is still quite popular.

 

Again, Democrats need to donate to Garcia, Ryan, and Hampton–NOT Obama. Obama has enough money, he is out-raising the Koch brothers!

10 most important elections (besides the Presidency)

The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. He sets the foreign policy, has tremendous influence over Congress, and can nominate Justices to the Supreme Court. Obviously, the race between President Obama and Governor Romney is much more important than anything else. However, the media already devotes all of its energy to cover this election, so I would like to focus on the 10 most important other elections.

10. Houston City Council, District E
Dave Martin is the widely assumed favorite, but Elizabeth Perez could very well pull an upset. What we have here is not an election between Democrat and Republican, it is an election between an old-guard Republican and the recalcitrant Tea Party. Martin will surely follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, and perhaps also be like Councilmember Pennington. However, Perez would most like imitate the habits of Councilmember Brown. It will be interesting to watch, but I’m not throwing any of my money at it.

9. Washington gay marriage referendum
There are actually four referendums, but Washington’s has the best chance of approval. Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota also have referendums, but I am less optimistic. Especially Minnesota, I think the traditional midwestern social conservative state has been given up on. Maine is a tossup, and Maryland similar. Maryland has a large African-American population which has ranged from tepid to hostile on the issue. However, Washington has a fairly good chance leading into the home stretch. Most importantly, this could finally break the curse of states approving gay marriage bans.

8. United States House of Representatives, Texas’ 14th district
Control of the House is not especially up for grabs this year, but this election will essentially make-or-break Nick Lampson’s career. A second loss in a row would be disastrous and most likely put an end to the former Congressman’s political aspirations, which could be quite valuable for Texas Democrats.

7. Texas House, 134th district
Sarah Davis seems to represent an average Tea Partier, completely inexcusable for my home district. Texas Democrats NEED a solid number over 50 in the delegations, and Ann Johnson will be the way towards that goal.

6. United States Senate, Indiana
The control of the Senate is up for grabs, and every election counts. This seat, held by longtime Senator Dick Lugar, is now open after Lugar was defeated in the GOP primary by an extremist. The Republican, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is now trailing in polls against the Democrat, Congressman Joe Donnelly. Donnelly is a strong candidate who I may even donate some money towards.

5. United States Senate, Massachusetts
I believe this election (Scott Brown vs Elizabeth Warren) is important in more ways than one. Massachusetts, arguably one of the most liberal states in the union, is faced between a very liberal Democrat and a very moderate Republican.

4. United States House of Representatives, Texas’ 23rd district
Again, the House is not up for grabs, but this election is important for another reason. Congressman Canseco and Representative Gallego are competing in the heavily Latino district. A loss by Gallego would be truly embarrassing for a Texas Democratic Party attempting to court Latinos.

3. Harris County Sheriff
Sheriff Adrian Garcia is perhaps Harris County’s best chance of retaining a countywide Democrat. His opponent is a crook, and Garcia has done a fantastic job while in office. This election will answer that question he had on November 3rd, 2010 in Houston. Can it get any worse?

2. United States Senate, North Dakota
The funny thing about the Senate is that no matter how small the state, the Senators hold equal power, so this election is just as important as the one in California or Texas. Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat, is running against Congressman Rick Berg, the Republican. The seat has long been held by Democrat Kent Conrad. Heitkamp CAN WIN, and she will if she can raise enough money to compete against the outside money being funneled in by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. I will surely be donating some money to Ms. Heitkamp and I suggest y’all do the same.

1. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Presiding Justice
Keith Hampton’s campaign against Sharon Keller is almost as important as the Presidential election. Keith Hampton’s campaign against Sharon Keller is almost as important the Presidential election–it is important enough to say twice. Sharon Keller is a travesty to justice and our state. Mr Hampton has been endorsed by quite conservative papers and individuals for a very simple reason: he will restore honour to our highest court.

Also, RIP Arlen Specter. You were a good man in a profession full of wrong-doers.

Endorsements: Civil Court at Law & Countywides

Civil Court at Law 1
I break with the Chronicle to endorse the Democrat, Erica Graham. The paper did call her a “well qualified candidate”, and I general break with the Republican line on Civil affairs.

Civil Court at Law 2
I  break with the Chronicle to endorse the Democrat, Damon Crenshaw, for the same reasons as above.

County Attorney
The Chronicle has not endorsed in this race yet. I choose the incumbent, Democrat Vince Ryan. Vince Ryan, since his service many years ago at City Hall, has consistently been an advocate of the people. The County Attorney of Harris County does a very limited job, as opposed to say Travis County, but I believe that Vince Ryan has served in this limited role quite well.

Sheriff
The Chronicle has not endorsed in this race yet. I choose the incumbent, Democrat Adrian Garcia. Another City Hall veteran, I believe the Sheriff has done a tremendous job since taking office nearly four years ago. No reason to cast out this officeholder.

District Attorney
I make no endorsement. I would have voted for Lykos over Lloyd Wayne Olliver (not even a real Democrat), but Mike Anderson is just too radical for me. The Chronicle endorsed Anderson.

Tax Collector
The Chronicle has made no endorsement yet. I choose the Republican, Councilmember Mike Sullivan. I had the honor to work with Councilmember Sullivan for three years on Bagby Street, and he devotes an integrity and sense of justice to the job that is simply unparalleled. He will routinely give up his weekends to go on patrol with HPD or have dinner with our firefighters. While I don’t agree with his politics, I consider him to be one of the most honorable politicians in this city, and look forward to voting for him.