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?

NDO Public Session held

I climbed the steps of City Hall today for the first time in a couple months. I did not have a surplus of time, so I only got to peak my head into the very beginning of the public session. For those unfamiliar, the City Council is required by law to listen to members of the public on agenda and non-agenda items weekly. Anyone in the city may call the City Secretary and receive at least 60 seconds of speaking time before the Council. This week, the discussion centered unanimously around the non-discrimination ordinance being considered by the Council, which I have written about extensively in the past. In short, the ordinance codifies existing Federal regulations against discrimination into local law, as well as expand them to protect both sexual orientation and gender identity.

There were over 80 speakers on this ordinance, with over 4/5ths of them being supportive thereof. Elected officials, such as State Senator John Whitmire, Sheriff Adrian Garcia, State Representative Garnet Coleman and State Representative Carol Alvarado lent their support in person. Other elected officials, such as State Senator Rodney Ellis, State Senator Sylvia Garcia and State Representative Sylvester Turner, have also been quite supportive, but did not make an appearance in person. Another who did, however, was former Congressman Chris Bell, a likely Mayoral candidate in 2015 (along with Turner and, possibly, Garcia). A number of other stalwarts in the community spoke up today, though perhaps my favorite speaker was Sissy Farenthold. Simply put, she was Ann Richards before there was Ann Richards, serving at one time as the only female member of the Legislature and coming heartbreakingly close to winning the Democratic nomination for Governor in the 1970s.

Click here to read about more supporters, opponents, and the Councilmembers’ reactions!

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!

Texpatriate’s Questions for Carol Alvarado

Editorial note: This is the fourth in our series of electronic interviews with candidates in contested primaries at both the Statewide level and throughout Harris County. We have sent eight open-ended questions to each of the candidates. The following are verbatim copies of the questions sent out and the answers received.

Alvarado-Carol_jpg_800x1000_q100

Carol Alvarado, State Representative District 145

Texpatriate: What is your name?
CA: Carol Alvarado

Click here to read the full interview!

Mudslinging in District I

First, the Houston Chronicle compiled an outline of the runoff election in District, between Graciana Garces and Robert Gallegos. As I noted about three weeks ago, the election looks to be a perfect carbon-copy of the special election for District 6 of the Texas Senate earlier this year. In that election, Sylvia Garcia (the former boss of Gallegos) defeated Carol Alvarado (the former boss of Garces) in the runoff that was ultimately held.

The Chronicle article, however, does not really note the policy differences that the two candidates have. Texpatriate endorsed Sylvia Garcia in March, just as how we endorsed Robert Gallegos in November, largely for the disquieting contributors of their respective opponents’ campaigns. Both Alvarado and (more timely) Garces have been funded in no small part by the payday lending lobby. Additionally, Councilmember James Rodriguez (to which Garces is actually the Chief of Staff) has been fighting against a recent proposal to regulate these payday lenders, and Garces has remained strangely silent and opaque on the issue. Her campaign continues to insist that she has not taken a definitive position, though I remain rather skeptical. Gallegos, on the other hand, is an ardent supporter.

Click here to read more about the mudslinging in District I!

Thou shall not be a Usurer, Part III

Nearly two weeks ago, Mayor Parker announced an ambitious plan to regulate Payday lenders. The proposed ordinance, which was largely crafted by City Attorney David Feldman, was modeled after other municipal ordinances currently in place throughout the State, including in Austin, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio. The ordinance requires, among other provisions, the loan sharks usurers lenders register with the city and provide easy to understand, concise contracts. Additionally, certain interest rates are capped and predatory tricks are forbidden. The ordinance immediately received somewhat harsh pushback from the business community.

Since the State of Texas does not have uniform regulations on these stores, a legitimate concern exists that the passage of the regulation will simply drive the institutions en masse to just outside the City limits. Accordingly, the usurious and predatory tactics will persist, but the City of Houston would lose the tax base. Such a solution would not work for anyone, and is similar to the rationale I have used in the past to discourage municipalities or even smaller States from unilaterally raising the minimum wage too far off the national base value.

Anyways, as promised, Mayor Parker officially presented this ordinance to the City Council this morning, with a tentative vote planned for next Tuesday. Today, a fair share of City Councilmember expressed strong reservations with the measure while many more were quite supportive.

Click here to read more about who opposes this ordinance!

District I troubles

Among the many City Council races that have descended into runoff elections, District I has arguably received the least press of any contest, certainly the least of the open races. The Houston Chronicle recently ran two pieces, one on who former candidates in District D were endorsing in the runoff, and the other on ongoing legal dispute in At-large 3. Coverage of District I seems few and far between.

That is not to say nothing has been happening in this race; in fact, far from it. Recently, former candidate Ben Mendez endorsed Robert Gallegos in the runoff. Additionally, the Harris County Young Democrats, originally Mendez supporters, endorsed Gallegos. While it is certainly helpful to have the assistance of any former candidates, Mendez has a long history of doing especially strange things, including allegedly making low personal attacks against another candidate and defending child-rapists. Gallegos should tread lightly in receiving his support.

Additionally, the remaining candidate in the runoff election, Graciana Garces, has penned published a confrontational letter against Gallegos. In [T]he letter (which is reprinted in its entirety at the link),  she accuses Gallegos of intentionally misrepresenting himself as a family member and favorite son of Mario Gallegos, the former State Senator for the region.

Click here to continue reading!

King James VII

This is two days old (I was in meetings all day yesterday), but nonetheless very important news. The House has rejected the Senate’s bill to impose term limits on statewide officeholders. While most news sources had a line or two about this in their wire service, nobody wrote a major article on it–with the significant exception of the Tyler Morning Telegraph.

The bill had been proposed and pushed through the Senate by Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler), where it passed on a 27-4 vote. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) had similarly been campaigning for the bill, SJR 13, in the House. Not only did the bill fail to garner the 2/3 majority required for passage of a Constitutional Amendment, it couldn’t even muster up majority support. The roll call was 61 in favor, 80 in opposition.

While I want to just blame the tea party and the far-right for this, about half the Democratic caucus also voted in opposition to this legislation. Alma Allen, Carol Alvarado and Jessica Farrar, just to name a few Houstonians. The bill would have imposed term limits for EACH executive office (Gov, L. Gov, AG, etc), of two four-year terms. The limits would not be effective to current officeholders, meaning Perry would still be able to serve, hypothetically, through 2023. It’s official, Perry is now “King James VII.”

Lege update 5/10

I just got back from the Capital city, I won’t go into the details, but I accomplished a lot of great business. Anyways, I didn’t get the opportunity to discuss all the bills that the House has been passing recently, so let me go down the list.

First up, HB864, which cuts CHL training time, has been sent to the Governor.

The Chron reports that “Guns on Cars” has passed the House, 124-13, and has been sent to the Governor. Among those voting nay were Jessica Farrar and Carol Alvarado.

Using your cellphone as evidence for insurance was also sent to the Governor.

The expanded school breakfast program sent to Perry too.

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The Chronicle reports that the “Space X Bill,” Rene Oliveira’s HB 2623, has unanimously passed the Senate. The bill would allow open beaches to be shut down during SpaceX launches in very limited circumstances. Whitmire previously had some reservations over the measure, but those must have been alleviated. It’s a good bill, and it heads to Perry now.

Speaking of Whitmire, the Statesman reports that he is dropping most of his opposition to the “Guns on Campus” bill. He feels that the new system, which allows opt-outs, is not especially controversial. “I think it will pass,” Whitmire said of the legislation.

 

Teachers with guns

Senator Patrick, ladies and gentlemen! The Chronicle is reporting that the Senate has passed the infamous “give teachers guns” bill, again, with more Democrats than you would think.

SB17, which passed the Education Committee unanimously, was approved by the entire Senate in overwhelming manner (28-3). The 3 Democrats who opposed were Garcia, Watson and Jose Rodriguez. I am really happy that Garcia got in office, I feel like Alvarado would have been a pushover on things like this, for what it’s worth.

Anyways, the bill would have some school districts to send up to two teachers per school to receive special handgun training. According to the Chron article, the biggest opposition came from law enforcement officials, who believed that it could cause problems if police ever thought a teacher was the gunman.

The bill, however, would not apply to School Districts that have their own police force. I found this Trib article that says something like 160 districts have their own police force. Last time I crunched the numbers, something like 1000 school districts exist, but the vast majority don’t operate more than a few schools. So this will pretty much only apply to rural districts.