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 texpate.com 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.

Continue reading

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.

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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.

Harris County Young Democrats endorse

Yesterday, the Harris County Young Democrats met for their endorsement meeting. I must say that it was the closest I have ever followed a breaking political event exclusively on Twitter.

The organization’s executive board recommended a slate of candidates, which a lot of opts to not endorse, many of which were overruled by the general body of the organization. The body began by endorsing Annise Parker for Mayor, followed by supporting the unopposed Democrats on the council: Ellen Cohen, Ed Gonzalez, Mike Laster and Larry Green. They went on to support some more Democrats in races where they were the only Democrat, specifically Ronald Green and C.O. Bradford.

The organization decided not to offer up endorsements in all seats where only Republicans were running, At-large 1, District A, District E, District F & District G. They then, after contentious fights, decided not to field endorsements in half the races involving multiple Democrats, namely in At-large 2, At-large 3 & District D. Although, in District, Dwight Boykins received plurality support, though still shy of the threshold to receive the endorsement. Similarly, David Robinson and Rogene Calvert received the pluralities, respectively, in AL2 and AL3.

The HCYD did, however, make some endorsements in races with competitive Democratic presences, specifically endorsing James S. Horwitz in At-large 5, as well as Jerry Davis in District B and Ben Mendez in District I.

The endorsements are somewhat noteworthy, as the group has taken a far-less cozy relationship with the Conservative members of the City Council, unlike, for example, the LGBT Caucus (I do know the caucus is officially non-partisan, but I also know its members are overwhelmingly Democratic) or the Houston Stonewall Young Democrats.

Further, the lack of an endorsement in AL2, AL3 or District D is somewhat surprising, given they could make up their mind on AL5, District B & District I. Plenty of liberal groups have supported Assata Richards in the past, so it is somewhat surprising to not even see her in the plurality there. Similarly, the straight-up endorsement of Ben Mendez turned a lot of heads, including Stace Medellin of Dos Centavos.

Overall, I thought the endorsement process was very open to the group, though many Democrats are probably disappointed by the lack of recommendations in the hard, crowded races. The Texpatriate Editorial Board has yet to begin discussing endorsements, but given our rules requiring 3/4 of the members to agree, I would not be surprised if we decline to formally endorse in some of the races.

I don’t know about my colleagues, but speaking for just myself, I know that, if any such situations arise, I will write an individual endorsement in that race.

State of the Municipal Races

Daily Commentary has a somewhat exhaustive list of municipal candidates, but I felt like I needed to do the due diligence myself. Accordingly, this morning, after I left the Federal Courthouse for the day, I walked across the street to City Hall and visited Anna Russell’s office to see the Campaign Treasurer files for myself. Luckily I got out of both buildings before things went to hell. But you can watch the 6 o’clock news about all that. Anyways, I want to list the candidates and discuss each of the candidates’ financial records.

Mayor
First up, the two new candidates for Mayor. Keryl Douglas, the homophobic, bigoted unsuccessful candidate in last year’s campaign for Harris County Democratic Party Chair, has thrown her hat into the ring.  Douglas’ website is still a shell, containing nothing about the infamous Douglas Plan or her supporters. Like Eric Dick’s entrance into this race, I do not think this is really going to affect Parker’s chances. Douglas is just going to turn votes away from Ben Hall, because none of the Parker’s voters would go for the homophobe. Pardon my tone, but I will be pulling no punches against candidates for Mayor on this issue.

The other new candidate for Mayor is Victoria Lane. I found a telephone number on her from the treasurer form, but no website and no hits from I Googled her name.

The self-proclaimed Green Party candidate, Don Cook. Cook raised a little more than $10k, of which a negligible amount is still on hand. The self-proclaimed Socialist Worker, Michael Fitzsimmons, did not submit a form. I guess private campaign donations are sort of anathema to the glorious proletariat revolution, or what not. The self-proclaimed Republican, Eric Dick, did not file a form delineating his donations. He did, however, have about $11k in expenses. Victoria Lane raised about $4k.

Annise Parker’s campaign, meanwhile, raised a total of $2.2M, and only spent a fraction of that amount. But the real story is Ben Hall’s farce of a campaign. Hall raised a measly $300k or so, going significantly in the red, including a $1.5M loan. This is a far cry from his claims to be raising so much money. Oh well.

Controller
No new candidates for this race. Still a classic one-on-one fight between Green and Frazer. In this race, Green has raised about $70k, with most of it still on hand. Frazer, a Republican CPA, raised about $50k and spent close to 80% of the total.

AL1
Costello is still unopposed, as of now. The Councilmember raised a whopping $156k. Perhaps he has higher ambitions. Speaking of Costello, what the heck is his political affiliation nowadays? Once upon a time, I remember thinking he was a Republican, but between his common alignment with the Mayor and liberal takes on social issues (pro-choice and pro-gay marriage), I do not think the GOP would ever support his candidacy in this State.

AL2
Councilmember Burks has three opponents: David Robinson, Trebor Gordon and Carolyn Evans-Shabazz. Burks, for his part, raised $41K and only spent a fraction of it. Robinson raised over $80k, but, as Dos Centavos points out, he probably has to retire some old campaign debt. Accordingly, he only has about $50k fit for spending. Still more than the incumbent.

Trebor Gordon is not a name I had heard in connection with this race before. He has a website as http://www.treborgordon.com/ and is an avowed Republican. It will be interesting to see what he does. The other name is Carolyn Evans-Shabbaz. A cursory Facebook search reveals a deep dissatisfaction with the Trayvon Martin case and close frienship with Assata-Nicole Richards, both tell-tale signs of a Democrat. Gordon raised about $1500, while Evans-Shabbaz did not submit a return.

AL3
Here comes the mess.

First up is Michael Kubosh, who raised over $100k ($108k, to be exact). Right next to this total is Rogene Calvert, who raised $84k and retained most the cash.

Roland Chavez raised about $27k, and only spent a couple thousand. Chris Carmona is completely destitute. Roy Morales raised $37k and spent $35k of that. This is surprising, and not just because Dos Centavos originally called him broke as well. Morales did not run for anything in 2011 or 2012. That’s like a new record for him or something.

Jenifer Pool, who seemed to have filed late, raised $34k and spent most of the total. Al Edwards, who still in unofficially officially in the AL3, did not file a return.

AL4
Bradford, presumably running for re-election, raised $54k with most of it still in the bank.

AL5
Jack Christie raised a whopping $95k, with over 2/3 still on hand. Even worse, he has not a single opponent. Personally, I think Robinson should run against Christie. Sure, Burks is a little odd and sometimes frustrates progressives, but Christie is legitimately a Conservative Republican who goes on anti-vaccine rants.

Once upon a time, I had heard of quite a few possible candidates for this race, from former State Reps, former City Councilmembers, activists to lawyers. I think I even read my father’s name mentioned for this one. Alas, no one will step up. I’d put my own name on the ballot if push comes to shove, but I feel there will be at least token opposition.

District A
This race really boils down to a third-person race between the incumbent, Helena Brown, the former one-term Councilmember, Brenda Stardig, and Amy Peck.  Ron Hale, Mike Knox and Catarina Cron are the other candidates I have hard from in this race. This is still no Democrat in the race.

Brown raised about $67k, spending a little under half of the total. Stardig, meanwhile, did not report raising any money. Peck  raised a pitiful $4k. In this regard, it looks like the incumbent may not have that hard of a time after all.

Ron Hale picked up $2.5k, while Knox took in a whopping $41k. Cron did not submit a report.

District B
The incumbent, Jerry Davis, will be facing some opposition next year within his own party. For his part, he raised about $53k and spent a negligible amount.

He has two declared opponents: Joe Joseph & Katherine Blueford-Daniels. I can’t really find anything on the former candidate, but Blueford-Daniels does come up with a few searches. She is being supported predominantly by Carol Mims Galloway, the former Councilmember and School Board member in that district and NAACP leader. This, of course, begs the question of how much other support Blueford-Daniels has.

Joseph did not file a return, but Blueford-Daniels did. However, she only raised $5k.

District C
Ellen Cohen could very possibly draw some opponents, including Brian Cweren, her biggest 2011 opponent. However, the only other candidate who has filed a campaign treasurer or campaign report is Pete Sosa. For the life of me, I cannot find a Facebook page or other meaningful internet footprint.

Cohen raised $128k, with most of it still on hand. Sosa did not file any sort of report.

District D
The District D race might actually have more people in it than the AL3 one. Dwight Boykins, who is backed by much of the old guard political establishment including Mayor Brown, raised $150k with over $100k left unspent.

There are a few other well-known candidates, Assata-Nicole Richards and Georgia Provost. The former raised $37k with half on hand, while the latter raised $21k with little on hand.

Onto the new candidates, the first is Kirk White. White has a Facebook page for his campaign, but it doesn’t go into very much detail about anything. I have no idea if he’s a Democrat in the Democratic district, or not. He filed a report of less than $1k in contributions.

Then there is a Keith Caldwell. Caldwell is an activist in the Democratic Party, serving positions at both the Precinct and Senate District Level. He has a website and big social media presence already. His campaign, however, raised a measly $2.75k with full expenses.

Travis McGee, the past Sunnyside Civic Group President, has also been conducting a campaign. He’s raised nearly $5k and spent about all of it.

Not filing reports but registered as candidates anyways are Anthony Robinson, Larry McKinzie and Lana Edwards. Robinson just has a shell of a website. Though his Facebook page is more active and suggests he was involved in the big Trayvon Martin protests yesterday. I guess it is safe to assume he is a Democrat.

McKinzie, who now has a website, previously ran against Adams in 2009. Another Democrat.

Edwards has a little shell thing here, but I can’t figure out much else.

District E
At this point I think Councilmember Martin is just running unopposed. He has raised $53k with $23k on hand.

District F
Likewise, Councilmember Hoang has yet to draw any opposition. He raised just $13k with just $11k on hand.

District G
Councilmember Pennington is not unopposed, however. Pennington raised a very impressive $189k for his campaign, so it will probably not be a credible threat.

I had been wondering if Clyde Bryan would make another run for his seat, again with the bandit signs and such. He is not, Bryan will be working on Dick’s campaign. But a candidate named Brian Taef is running. I could not find any trace of him on Google, but Taef did file a campaign report. He raised $150, for the record.

District H
At this point, it looks like Ed Gonzalez will be unopposed for yet another term. He raised close to $80k with most of it still on hand.

District I
We start things off with the pseudo-favorite, Graci Garces, Councilmember Rodriguez’s Chief of Staff. Garces raised about $19k with most of it still on hand. Her main competitor, Ben Mendez, raised a huge $94k.

Robert Gallegos, yet another Democrat in the race, got about $17k. The lone Republican, Leticia Ablaza, got $27k with about $16k on hand still.

As Dos Centavos points out, until March Garces, and Gallegos were competing with the SD06 race for donors. Accordingly, their numbers may have been retarded in comparison with the Republican candidate. Although that does not explain Mendez.

District J
Councilmember Laster, with $66k in donations and $81 on hand, is unopposed.

District K
Councilmember Green, with $93k raised and most still on hand, is likewise unopposed.

That’s all, folks. Off the KuffDos Centavos and Greg’s Opinion all have a lot more. They’ve been doing this stuff since before my Bar Mitzvah, so I highly suggesting consulting their work too.

Kubosh et al is in

My plane lands in Houston tomorrow morning, I’ll be there for six days, and then Austin for two more.

Anyways, Michael Kubosh was on the steps of City Hall, announcing his intentions for Councilmember Noriega’s term-limited seat. I haven’t seen Michael since I interned at the Criminal Courthouse, but he is quite an interesting guy, so I expect this race to be a lot of fun.

According to the Chronicle article, Kubosh was flanked by prominent Republicans, including Chris Daniels and Allen Fletcher, as well as many leaders in the African-American community, James Nash and Quannell X. In short, if he ran for Mayor, he could very well expose all of Parker’s weaknesses at once–but more on that later. The article named a lot of names, including Chris Carmona, an attorney who ran against Noriega in 2011. Carmona will seek the seat again, and already has a website here. The GOP has claimed the guy, for the record.

The article also mentioned a few names for District A, District D and District I that I have not seen before. 5 to be exact. First, there is a woman named Assata-Nicole Richards, who is the Vice-Chairwoman of the Houston Housing Authority Board. Then, there is Georgia Provost and Keith Caldwell. I have never heard of these people, but I do not think that they have run for office before. I’ll go out on a limb and say that Richards is a Democrat (how many Housing board people are tea baggers?). A curosry search of Provost will show that she does some fundraising with TSU, specifically with El Franco Lee. Further, she likes a lot of Democratic officeholders on her facebook page, so I’ll label her a as well. Finally, Caldwell has this weird dead link with the HCDP, so it is probably safe to assume he is a Democrat as well.

In District I, Ben Mendez is mentioned. Mendez has a website. A quick search on the TX Trib will show that Mr Mendez has run for office twice before, both times in HD145. He ran in the 1998 Democratic Primary, when Diane Davila retired, ultimately losing to Rick Noriega. Further, he ran in the 1992 Democratic Primary for the seat, when Davila was first nominated.

Ronald Hale will be running for District A. Still ambiguous on this guy’s leanings, but he sounds like a Republican. Big Jolly has confirmed, too, that Mike Knox is a Republican.

I will update the election tab page, but this election season sounds like fun.

UPDATE: It’s MICHAEL. MICHAEL Kubosh, as Kuff so publicly point out. I read the Chronicle article, and then wrote this, pretty quickly on my phone right before I got on an airplane, so I am sure there are a few grammatical errors herein.