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!

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Final Chronicle endorsements

The Houston Chronicle has made its picks in the final four City Council races, as well as for the Constitutional Amendments. All the amendments were endorsed, and the Chronicle backed two incumbents (C.O. Bradford & Jack Christie), as well as made two selections in open seats (Graciana Garces & Rogene Calvert).

First, in this editorial, the Chronicle’s board summarizes the nine constitutional amendment, offering up absolutely no commentary on the matter besides “the Chronicle endorses all nine [amendments].” If you want a little more discussion on the matter, though agree with the editorial line of the Chronicle in this specific instance, I recommend consulting Texpatriate’s endorsements on the amendments (1-5;7-9 and 6). Burnt Orange Report also announced its endorsements in Constitutional amendments yesterday, though it is relevant to mention that they disagreed with both Texpatriate and the Chronicle in opposing Proposition 3 and Proposition 7.

First up, the Chronicle endorsed C.O. Bradford for a third and final term at At-large position #4. The editorial board goes out of its way to compliment Bradford’s recent commitment to changing the City Charter on certain items such as giving At-large Councilmember specific portfolios. He was also lauded for drainage issues, as well as providing an acceptable response on the Chronicle’s pathological obsession with pensions (specifically, “meet and confer”).

Click here to read more about the other endorsements!

Texpatriate endorses in Proposition 6

This board recently made endorsements in all the statewide constitutional amendments, colloquially known as propositions, except for this one. Proposition 6, a measure meant to help alleviate the State’s longtime and worsening drought, has received bipartisan support throughout the legislature and the State’s political structure.

The proposition withdraws about $2 Billion from the rainy day fund and specifically earmarks the money for water projects. These projects would be used for a diverse array of projects, including rural development, conservation and sustainability. Given the hyperconservatives who support this legislation, including many members of the Senate, this board remains satisfied that the earmarked money will be used responsibly for worthwhile services and projects.

This simply leaves the question to this board of if the State can afford to withdraw $2 Billion from the rainy day fund for this project. This board’s responsive axiom is that the State simply cannot afford not to. One member of this board lives in Austin, a place where droughts are far more severe than in Houston. Within the hill country, the severe drought suffered by Texans in 2011 never really ended.

As more and more of this State’s lakes and rivers are drying up, the State is forced to take meaningful, comprehensive action. The Water joint resolution proposed and passed by the State Legislature was one of the most thoughtful, pragmatic, bipartisan pieces of legislation there was in this previous session.

While this board laments the ignorance of many in this State who deny the convincing science pointing to man-made climate change, we are happy that, at least, solutions may be made to some of its symptoms.

Accordingly, this board endorses a yes vote on Proposition 6.

Texpatriate endorses Props 1-5; 7-9

This post is this board’s first endorsement of the political season, albeit a somewhat mundane one. Please note that the omission of Proposition 6 is not, in any way, a clue as to this board’s position on the issue. Simply put, the Proposition is significantly more contentious than any other piece of legislation put before the voters this year, so this board decided to give it is own endorsement editorial at some point in the future.

The remaining eight State Propositions all seek to change the State’s Constitution relating to rather uncontroversial topics. That being said, many of these measures will do good things for Texas in the years to come. Once again, in brief, this board will delineate the topics, as well as why they will be beneficial.

PROP 1 (HJR 62)–YES

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed in action.”

This amendment would expand property tax breaks for widows and widowers of deceased servicemen/servicewomen. The measure passed with unanimous support in the legislature, and would be good for the State.

PROP 2 (HJR 79)–YES

“The constitutional amendment eliminating an obsolete requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational.”

This amendment is a somewhat self-explanatory housekeeping measure. It passed with unanimous support in the legislature.

PROP 3 (HJR 133)–YES

“The constitutional amendment to authorize a political subdivision of this state to extend the number of days that aircraft parts that are exempt from ad valorem taxation due to their location in this state for a temporary period may be located in this state for purposes of qualifying for the tax exemption.”

This amendment extends a program that provides for tax exemption to aircraft parts held in the State temporarily. Since the amendment notes “political subdivisions,” the State, County or Municipality may enact these rules theoretically. All in all, the legislature passed this unanimously, and this board see no issues therewith.

PROP 4 (HJR 24)–YES

“The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of part of the market value of the residence homestead of a partially disabled veteran or the surviving spouse of a partially disabled veteran if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization.”

This amendment is actually really, really good. There have been issues recently over certain charities building or donating homes to people in need, like disabled veterans. The amendments seeks to lower or eliminate the property taxes of these disabled veterans, or there spouses, if the home was donated by a charity. It also establishes “partial disability” as a basis for the eligibility. This passed the legislature unanimously.

PROP 5 (SJR 18)–YES

“The constitutional amendment to authorize the making of a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property and to amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan.”

This amendment allows elderly people (defined as 62 or older) to use a reverse mortgage to purchase property. It is somewhat self-explanatory and passed unanimously in the legislature. This board sees no issues.

PROP 7 (HJR 87)–YES

“The constitutional amendment authorizing a home-rule municipality to provide in its charter the procedure to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less.”

This amendment is fairly straight-forwarded, although the wording fails to note that it only applies to three or four year terms. Accordingly, the City of Houston would not be affected. This board believes that amendments like this are ultimately good for the people, restoring local control to local government, instead of being plagued by inane, archaic regulations out of Austin.

PROP 8 (HJR 147)–YES

“The constitutional amendment repealing Section 7, Article IX, Texas Constitution, which relates to the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County.”

Much like Proposition 2, this measure is a somewhat self explanatory housekeeping addendum.

PROP 9 (SJR 42)–YES

“The constitutional amendment relating to expanding the types of sanctions that may be assessed against a judge or justice following a formal proceeding instituted by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct.”

This amendment allow the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to asses additional punishments against misbehaving Judges. These include additional (continuing) legal education, public admonition, reprimand and warning. The measure is good for deterring the amoral activities of Judges.

This board believes that all of these amendments will do good, ethical things for our State. When the framers created Texas’ constitution in 1875, they decided to codify a plethora of rules and regulations into the Constitution, in order to make them immune from the whims and caprices of a Legislature that met in smoke-filled rooms. Accordingly, in order to change any of these sacred rules and protections, the voters of the State needed to be consulted. And they have been, 656 times to be exact.

It is our duty, as voters in the State of Texas, to endorse or repudiate the biennial alterations to the Constitution. So far, Props 1-5 and Props 7-9 earn a vehement endorsement from this board.

The Texpatriate Editorial Board is comprised of Noah M. Horwitz of Boston, Olivia Arena of Austin, George Bailey of Boston and Andrew Scott Romo of New Orleans.

Constitutional Amendment

The Texas Tribune reported a long time ago on the Constitutional Amendments that will be going before voters this November, concurrent with Houston’s municipal elections. There will be nine propositions, all based on joint resolutions passed by 2/3 of each house of the State Legislature. Quickly, I’m going to run through all of these amendments.

First up is HJR62, now known as Proposition 1. This prop would authorize the Legislature to create property tax exemptions for military spouses, specifically military widow(er)s.

Next, HJR79, now known as Proposition 2. This prop would clean up part of the constitution by deleting references to the State Medical Education Board and the State Medical Education Fund, both of which have been defunct for many years.

HJR133 will now be known as Proposition 3. This prop would give some tax relief to those storing airplane parts and aerospace manufacturers. Unlike the previous two props, this ballot measure’s devil is in the details. It will not be an easy yes for me, or, I suspect, anyone else in this State.

Following this will be HJR24, now known as Proposition 4. This prop will authorize the Legislature to create property tax exemptions to the homes of disabled veterans or their widow(er)s, if the home was supplied by charity.

Next, SJR18, now known as Proposition 5. The prop, according to the Tribune, “would allow homeowners age 62 or older to use reverse mortgages to purchase residences. The current law only expressly allows traditional mortgages, which lets such homeowners borrow against the equity of their homes. The amendment would allow the prospective borrower to use a Federal Housing Administration-insured home equity conversion mortgage to help buy a new home.” I’m not so sure about how a reverse mortgage would be used to purchase a home, though. I will have to do more research on this one.

Then, of course, there is SJR1, also known as the “Water funding prop,” and Proposition 6. The prop would withdraw about $2Billion from the Rainy Day Fund to help underwrite massive projects ensuring the integrity of this State’s water system for years to come.

HJR87 will appear on the ballot as Proposition 7. The prop will allow municipalities to opt-out of mandatory special elections involving vacancies in City Councils under some conditions. First, the vacancy must be with less than one year remaining the term. Second, the vacancy must involve a City Council with more than a two-year term. Accordingly, Houston will not be affected.

HJR147, now known as Proposition 8, will be another cleanup provision. This prop will remove language about an obsolete hospital district in Hidalgo County.

Finally, SJR42, now known as Proposition 9. This prop expands the options of punishment at the disposal of the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for punishing misbehaving jurists. This will definitely help in Galveston, for sure.

The editorial board will be offering endorsements on all of these props, along with the Astrodome referendum.

Off the Kuff & Dos Centavos have more.