No smoking in Public Housing

The Houston Chronicle reports that the Houston Housing Authority has officially banned smoking at public housing locations throughout the City, as a part of ongoing efforts to promote health among residents. Not only is smoking banned throughout the residences, but it is no longer permitted within 25 feet of the entrance. Secondhand smoke is a big problem in the area, noted Vice-Chair Assata Richards (who also ran for the City Council last year. “Seniors in high rises would really complain about secondhand smoke and how it was creating health problems for them. We really want to be a part of creating safe communities for our residents, particularly our seniors and our children,” Richards said.

KTRK (Channel 13) had more on this story. Specifically, they note that a violation of this new rule could eventually lead to eviction of residents. Additionally, it notes that the Housing Authority bases its new policy not only on the ostensible health of its residents, but because of cost issues. When a smoker leaves the residence, the authority typically refinishes the premises, leading to a higher overall bill. Still, the channel noted that many residents were upset by the new policy.

Click here to read more!

2013 results and analysis

We’re working on trying to abridge the hours and hours of livestreamed Texpatriate election return coverage into about 20 minutes of the top hits. Yesterday, our all-time view record was demolished as thousands of people appeared to come to our website to read up on candidates before they voted. Additionally, Richard Nguyen, the victor in District F, had little impact on the internet besides his interview with Texpatriate.

First and foremost, Mayor Annise Parker was decisively re-elected to a third and final term as Mayor of Houston. She cruised to over 57% of the vote, far outpacing the amount of the vote she received in 2011. Meanwhile, Controller Ronald Green also was re-elected, albeit by a much smaller margin. The only surprises amongst City Council races were in At-large 3 and District F, respectively. Otherwise, most incumbents cruised to re-election.

All nine Statewide propositions passed, as did Harris County Proposition 1 (the joint processing center/jail). The Astrodome referendum, however, did not pass, as the iconic 8th Wonder of the World now looks condemned to demolition.

Click here to see full results and read more!

Election Watch Parties

Texpatriate will be offering comprehensive election night coverage tomorrow evening. Noah M. Horwitz will begin the evening at 5:30 (Houston time), live from Boston, offering color commentary and predictions for the final 90 minutes of Election Day. At the conclusion of voting, he will be joined by George Bailey to begin a full program, where the two will switch off between reading results and analyzing numbers. Texpatriate will be calling races and projecting victories in certain races before all votes will be counted.

Bailey & Horwitz will be joined in intermittent commentary throughout the proceedings by Andrew Scott Romo in New Orleans and Olivia Arena in Austin. Additionally, Texpatriate‘s Staff Writer Sophia Arena will be livestreaming from Annise Parker’s watch party in Downtown Houston.

We will provide a link to this livestream coverage on our website. Starting tomorrow afternoon, the first link on should be an embedded video. Pre-coverage starts at 5:30, full program begins at 7:00 and the full program will end no later than 11:00. If there are any races still undecided at that time, Horwitz will stay on air as long as they are counting votes.

Click here to read about Candidates’ watch parties!

From the mail…

For those readers of this blog who are not also Facebook friends with me, one may not know that I am in Houston this weekend. Among other reasons, I wanted to do a little bit of campaigning for my father (James Horwitz) as well as attend the Johnson-Richards-Rayburn dinner.

I have seen a variety of familiar faces at the early voting locations, including (but not limited to) Roland Chavez, Eric Dick, Michael Kubosh and Assata Richards. Also, as I was walking out of the polling place yesterday (after voting), I literally walked into Ted Cruz. But that is another story for another day.

When I got home today, I found some campaign literature by the front door (most of which, my dogs did not eat/destroy). Among these were fairly unexciting mailers from the “Save the Dome” people and the Ronald Green campaign. The “Texas Conservative Review” came in the mail as well. Again, somewhat unexciting. The only surprise was the endorsement of Ben Hall for Mayor, and that is simply because of the sheer ubiquity of Eric Dick advertisements throughout the booklet.

Click here to read about the vicious mailer attacking a Councilmember!

Texpatriate endorses in District D

There are no municipal elections this year with more candidates than District D. After serving the district well for six years, Councilmember Wanda Adams will be forced out by term limits. Though this board made our best efforts to reach out to the dozen candidates, we were only able to receive responses to our interview questions from a handful of candidates. Instead of depending too heavily on this board’s interview materials alone, we strongly recommend checking out New Media Texas, where Durrell Douglas conducted video interviews with most of the candidates. Additionally, we recommend consulting this blog, specifically about the District D election, which is being run by TSU Students.

This election features a plethora of well-qualified, well-intentioned candidates that this board believes would be remarkable additions to the City Council. However, we disagreed sharply about who was the best candidates, who earned our support the most. While none of the members of this board reside in District D, Texpatriate‘s office is located within the district. Accordingly, we feel a special connection to the district.

Texpatriate will not endorse a candidate in District D, as each member of this board instead selected the candidate he or she supported, which turned out to be all unique selections.

Read these selections below…

Chronicle endorsements in ‘D,’ Controller

The Houston Chronicle fielded its first two municipal endorsements over the weekend, which included Anthony Robinson for District D and Bill Frazer for Controller.

I have previous interviewed each of these candidates, and was somewhat impressed by their answers. That being said, the Chronicle endorsement of them really surprised me.

Starting with the post of City Controller, it is worth noting that the Chronicle endorsed Green in 2009. Though he ran unopposed in 2011, the paper also was quite content to see Green be re-elected. The similarity of the 2009 editorial compared to yesterday’s is somewhat amusing, as it includes nearly identical language on the role and responsibility of the Controller, with both noting Kathy Whitmire as the gold standard later Controllers should be measured against.

Differing itself from four years earlier, however, the Chronicle scrutinizes the office and all the responsibilities thereof. They allege that incumbent Ronald Green has not been a very effective “watchdog.” Further, the Chronicle lambasts his seemingly endless scandals over the last year. Therefore, by the process of elimination in the very uncrowded race, the Chronicle supports the challenger, Bill Frazer. Specifically, the enjoy his credentials as both a CPA and promise to be more of a watchdog.

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Texpatriate’s Questions for Assata Richards

Editorial note: This is the twenty-eighth in our series of electronic interviews with City Council, City Controller and Mayoral candidates. We have sent 10 questions based on seven different templates: (1) incumbent City Council, (2) challenger City Council, (3) open seat City Council, (4) challenger Controller, (5) incumbent Controller, (6) challenger Mayoral and (7) incumbent Mayoral. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.


Assata Richards, Candidate for the Houston City Council District D

Texpatriate: What is your name?
AR: Assata Richards

T: What is your current occupation?
AR: Program Manager, Community Liaison and Researcher

T: Have you run for or held public office before?
AR: No

T: What is your political affiliation? We understand that City Council elections are nonpartisan, but this is a point many voters find important. If you are not comfortable currently identifying with a political party, what was the last Political Party’s primary election you voted in (a matter of public record)?
AR: Democrat

T: Open seats typically attract countless candidates. Why are you specifically running for this seat?
AR: District D is where I was born, and it will always be my home. I am in the community daily with my work with Project Row and as the Vice Chair of the Houston Housing Authority Board of Commissioners. I have become a bridge builder and advocate for communities with local government and the private sector. I have the relationships and experiences that allow me to represent the array of community voices and help the city meet community needs and challenges.

T: Are you in contact with the incumbent Councilmember for this position? Would the two of you have a good relationship for a possible transition?
AR: The current Councilmember, Wanda Adams, is term limited so this is an open seat. But yes, I am in contact with her through my work with the Houston Housing Authority am confident that we will have a positive, effective working relationship when I am elected.

T: What do you hope to get out of serving on the City Council?
AR: At the end of the day, my goal is to make a positive sustainable impact in the community, with the community, and for the community. Each day, I work to build more effective communities through the involvement of a diverse set of individuals. I am not running for Houston City Council as a career move or for the prestige- I am running to fulfill a longstanding promise I made to myself, to give back to the communities of District D that gave me so much. My heart is in the district and the community, and I am still here and I am still listening. I have seen this community through all its phases, just as it has seen me in mine. Just as sure as these communities made me who I am today and ensured that I was the best I could be, I want to do the same for those communities and the individuals and families who define them.

T: What is an ordinance you would introduce in your next term?
AR: As State Senators Rodney Ellis, Sylvia Garcia and John Whitmire have requested of local officials, I would introduce a strong ordinance to place restrictions on the more than 550 payday and auto title storefronts operating in the City of Houston that cost low-income residents and our local economy approximately $240 million dollars in simple interest and excess fees.

T: Obviously, an officeholder strives to maintain a diverse core constituency and political base, but all candidates have interest groups they have been traditionally strong with and traditionally weak with, respectively. For you, what would be one example of each type of group?
AR: As a non-traditional candidate, I believe I have been able to have strength across interest groups. I have always worked with community-based interest groups and that is definitely where I am the strongest. But, through my work as Vice Chair of the Board of Commissioners for the Houston Housing Authority, I have been given an opportunity to develop and foster strong relationships and networks among industry based groups, such as developers and architects.

T: What has been the most important thing you have learned in your campaign?
AR: Throughout the campaign, I have learned how inaccurate and limited the assessment of District D has been, both from parties outside the district and at times by members of the district. I have always known and appreciated the assets of the district, as well as the rich history and culture that make our communities unique. We are resilient despite our challenges, and it is important that our city acknowledges the people and communities of District D for their incredible strengths rather than perceived weaknesses.