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!

A few initial thoughts

Just to sum up the results for those of y’all who have not been paying much attention to things, I will recap some of the big things that have happened. First, the expected winners were, by and large, the winners on Tuesday night in Statewide elections. Greg Abbott and Wendy Davis won their respective bids for Governor, John Cornyn easily beat back challengers for another nomination to the Senate, George P. Bush got the GOP nod for Land Commissioner and Stephen Brown got the Democrat nod for Railroad Commissioner. All three incumbent Supreme Court Justices who saw right-wing primary opponent were able to easily prevail.

In a few other races, the expected result happened, but in a very different manner. This was largely due to the fact that the Texas Tribune poll released about a week ago was total garbage. It was not worth the fictional paper it wasn’t printed on, to quote a friend. In these races, David Alameel and Kesha Rogers indeed will proceed into a runoff for the US Senate Democrat primary, as will David Dewhurst and Dan Patrick for the Lieutenant Governor Republican primary. However, the Tribune poll seriously miscalculated who would come in first and by how much. Instead of Rogers holding a commanding plurality lead, she hovered near 20% while Alameel was just a few perilous points so close to winning outright. Instead of the preconceived notion that Dewhurst would receive 40-something percent compared to Patrick’s 20-something, the roles were reversed.

Click here to read more!

Everybody’s a critic

A few days ago, I wrote about the upcoming brownouts at the Fire Department. At that time, the Council Budget Committee voted on a non-binding resolution to idle certain trucks and force the HFD to solve a ballooning deficit solely from their own coffers. This deficit was largely created by a flood of overtime pay in just a couple of big holiday weekends. Critics charge a favorable union contract for the deficit.

Now, Mayor Parker has announced that she will go forward with implementing the Committee’s resolution. The brownouts will begin soon and follow through to the end of the fiscal year (the end of June). As Off the Kuff notes, one of the bigger critics of this strategy is Councilmember C.O. Bradford, who has long been both sympathetic to the firefighters and unfriendly towards the Mayor’s platform and agenda. However, the Parker/Bradford dichotomy is a drastic oversimplification of the real politics of the issue. Also disagreeing with Mayor Parker on the issue has been Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez, a typical ally of the administration.

Click here to read more on this issue, including some surprising comments from a State Senator!

Texpatriate endorses in SD15 primary

Elections are all about incumbents when there is one, especially a primary election. When the incumbent, in this case Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), has served for over 30 years in the Senate (a combined 40 years in the State Legislature), the focus is magnified even further. For this board, it is the first election in our lifetimes that Sen. Whitmire has received a Democratic primary opponent in the greatly gerrymandered district. Unlike most other organizations, we think that is a good thing. As we noted so famously (or infamously, we suppose, depending upon your inclinations) last June, we had some serious misgivings about Sen. Whitmire’s recent tenure in office. In a suggestion that was admittedly more incendiary and evocative than literal, we said that “perhaps 32 years is enough.”

Accordingly, it caught our attention when Damian LaCroix, a local attorney, announced he would challenge Sen. Whitmire in the primary. Despite laying low for the first few months of campaigning, Mr LaCroix started his campaign off with a bang, hitting back hard at what he called a lack of accountability and a poor track record in the district. Many of his complaints, such as  Sen. Whitmire being directly responsible for exponentially growing the State’s prison population, appeared fallacious. Other comments looked to provide fodder for an high-stakes, high-reward primary election.

Click here to read the full endorsement!

Texpatriate’s Questions for John Whitmire

Editorial note: This is the twenty-eighth 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.

John Whitmire, State Senator District 15

Texpatriate: What is your name?
JW: John Whitmire

Click here to read the full interview!

Civil Affairs: Two/thirds rule

CIVIL AFFAIRS

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Via the Daily Texan:

There are four Republican candidates for lieutenant governor this year: incumbent David Dewhurst, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and state Sen. Dan Patrick. With all four vying to win the Republican primary — a contest determined by the just over 10 percent of voters, many of them passionate conservatives — the candidates have unsurprisingly been taking political positions further and further to the right.

Most of the lieutenant governor’s powers involve the position’s role as the president of the Texas Senate. The lieutenant governor presides over the chamber, names the chairmen of the ever-powerful committees and helps to craft the rules at the beginning of each session. Accordingly, many of the far-right ideas propagated by these candidates will involve changing the way the Senate works and runs. And in Texas, where the state Senate features a Democratic Party that is in the minority and desperate to use every dilatory maneuver at its disposal, this could mean big changes to the rules in the legislative process that currently benefit the minority.

Click here to read more!

An update in SD15

There are very few competitive primaries this year within the Harris County Democratic Party, but one of them is the race for the 15th State Senate district. The incumbent, John Whitmire, has served the area for over 40 years. After just 22 years nonstop without a primary challenger, he finally drew one in Damian LaCroix, a local attorney. The LaCroix/Whitmire race looks to be about as exciting as these things go for Democratic contests this next year. Accordingly, I have now met with both LaCroix and Whitmire separately to discuss this upcoming campaign. What I found led me to believe this will be the race to watch if one enjoys watching sparks fly.

Click here to read about my talks with both LaCroix and Whitmire!