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Texas Governor’s Race Is Toss-Up

The well-known Cook Political Report says that the race for Texas Governor this year is a toss-up.

Former Houston Mayor Bill White is looking to defeat longtime Republican incumbent Governor Rick Perry.

This is race that Democrats can win.

Just as very Republican Oklahoma today has a Democratic Governor and very Democratic Rhode Island currently has a Republican Governor, voters  in Governor’s races are sometimes more willing to go outside of party lines than they are in House and Senate elections.

Bill White can win this race.

Here is the web home of the White campaign.

March 5, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

The Texas Liberal 2010 Texas Democratic Primary Endorsement Slate

Here is the Texas Liberal slate of endorsements for the 2010 Texas Democratic Primary.

You’ll note that I have not endorsed a candidate for most races in Harris County and that I’ve left out a few statewide offices.

I had planned to at least figure out all the statewide candidates, but I was in Ohio all last week and just could not find the time upon my return.

There are so many people running for all these judgeships in Harris County. Who the hell are all these people?

I promise I will study the candidates before I vote Tuesday. I’m a good citizen As for the candidates I have selected, you can bet your bottom dollar that I know just what I am talking about.

Each endorsement is linked to the post I write for the candidate in question.

Here we go—

Governor—Bill White

Lieutenant Governor—Linda Chavez-Thompson

Commissioner of Agriculture—Hank Gilbert

Texas State House District 146—Borris Miles

Judge 313th Juvenile Court—Marc Isenberg

Harris County Criminal Court At Law #9—Sylvia Pubchara-Munoz

For some of the other races on our primary ballot, please consult my friend Perry Dorrell at Brains & Eggs. Perry is a good liberal.

Another trusted source for endorsements is the Houston political blog Dos Centavos.

You could also use this resource at the Houston blog Off The Kuff.

The Houston League of Women Voters has a voter’s guide for the primary.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m Voting For Bill White For Governor Of Texas—Blogger Round-Up

At the bottom of this post is the most recent weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

With the round-up this week, is a picture I ripped off from the Bill White for Governor Facebook page.

The Governor Perry supporters with that sign might be better off in one of our public schools in Texas.

I’m voting for Bill White in the Democratic primary for Governor of Texas and I will vote for him in the general election.

Mr. White, a former Mayor of Houston, is the Democrat most able to win the Governor’s office in 2010.

I believe Mayor White has a clear sense of the problems of poverty, poor educational achievement, and no health insurance that afflict many Texans.

This is state with millions of people, and the problems we have are so bad and impact so many people that we just have to get Rick Perry out of the Governor’s chair before he does any more harm.

We can’t go on talking about secession and refusing federal money when people who need help in Texas go unheard.

We need to help make sure that hard working people in our state can get health benefits and that they have a chance to get a decent education.

Mayor White is shown in this Houston Chronicle poll to be only six points behind Governor Perry with 13% undecided. This is a race that can be won.

Here is the web home for White Campaign.

The round-up—

The Texas Cloverleaf highlights the sentencing of GOP Denton County Constable Ken Jannereth. Probation, anger management, laying off the bottle, and maybe more to come for the disgraced lawman.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is watching two Texas Counties fight it out with their district attorneys over legal duties.

Bay Area Houston says Teabaggers claim illiterate Blacks elected Obama. Continue reading

February 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Two Thoughts On Texas Democratic Candidates For Governor Primary Debate

As part of my ongoing efforts to kill my blog traffic, here is a quick post on the Democratic debate for Governor of Texas that took place this evening. This is the kind of post you write about a fleeting event, and it stops drawing traffic not long after it is posted.

Still—We must take part in the political process!

The candidates in the debate tonight were Farouk Shami and Bill White.

I’ll offer two thoughts—

1.  The person you see in the picture above is quite rude and condescending. Her name is Shelley Kofler and she was one of the panelists this evening for the debate.

She was abrasive and condescending to candidate Farouk Shami many times during the debate. Ms. Kofler appears to have an extensive resume in television reporting and I’m sure she is quite well-informed about Texas politics. Yet at the same time, she is abrasive for no clear reason.

2. The debate tonight was the second time I’ve heard Mr. Shami speak and I find him more coherent than I think he comes off to many voters. There is an underlying theme of decency and fair-play in his campaign message. Maybe it is all an act, but I’d be open to the guy if he’d not go on about stuff like jobs for all and free electricity.  That kind of talk is simply not credible.

My friends at Burnt Orange Report live-blogged the debate this evening.  Fellow Houston blogger Martha Griffin did the same at Musings.

February 9, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Farouk Shami—Jerusalem Is Not In Texas

Farouk Shami is a wealthy businessperson who is spending a lot of money to run as a Democratic primary candidate for Governor of Texas.

The primary will be this upcoming March 2nd.

Here is the web home of the Shami campaign.

Above is a picture of Mr. Shami and myself. This picture was taken a few hours ago.

I heard Mr. Shami speak at Martin Luther King Day festivities here in Houston.

He struck an economically populist tone in his remarks.

He was clear that he viewed himself as a racially inclusive candidate.

These are things that I want to hear.

Unfortunately, Mr. Shami was not disciplined in his remarks and I feel this absence of discipline will make it difficult for him to win the primary or move the agenda in Texas to the left.

For example, Mr. Shami said this afternoon that people will not have to pay electricity bills in two years because of his policies on solar power.

This does not seem likely.

Mr. Shami made reference to a gimmick he has going that if 100,000 Texas jobs are not created in his first two years as Governor, he’ll resign and give the State of Texas 10 million dollars.

What is that all about? How is that serious stuff?

Please look at the picture at the top of this post.

Mr. Shami is wearing a scarf.

That is fine. You don’t have to be Audrey Hepburn to pull off a scarf.

The problem is what the scarf says. On one side it says “Palestine” and on the other side it says “Jerusalem is ours.”

I read that scarf and I thought to myself—“Isn’t this race difficult enough for you already?”

You’re a guy named Farouk Shami running for Governor of Texas against a strong primary opponent.

So in addition to all that, you offer your views on an emotional issue that has nothing to do with Texas?

I wish Mr. Shami would run a focused campaign that would productively discuss issues that maybe an establishment candidate like former Houston Mayor Bill White will not likely discuss.

Mr. White is the leading contender in the primary.

There is a room for economic populism and for a strong challenge to Mr. White in the March primary.

Regretfully, Mr. Shami does not yet seem the right person to fill these roles.

Bill White appears to be the best option for positive change in Texas in 2010 and beyond.

(Blogger’s Note—This is the first in my “*Texas Primary Post Of The Day” series. ( *Posts will not appear each day.) If you have an idea for a post or a candidate you would like me to support, please leave a comment or send me an e-mail. Thanks for reading Texas Liberal.)

Below—Not part of Texas. Though at one point there was a Jerusalem, Texas.

January 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Bloggers Take Phone Call With Houston Mayor Bill White

A group of Texas Progressive Alliance bloggers recently interviewed Houston Mayor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate for Texas Bill White.  The interview was conducted on a conference call. I was on the call.

Like all the bloggers on the call , I was wearing a huge diving suit–

God knows what people are doing while on the phone.

The Texas Progressive Alliance is a confederation of Texas political bloggers from the Democratic and left side of the aisle. Quite often, members of this group find themselves in agreement. (We’ll focus on agreement here.) 

Mayor White, while no doubt serving what he saw as his own purposes, was good to make the time to take the call.

The call was organized by well-regarded Houston blogger Charles Kuffner. Charles takes it well that sooner or later I’ll be passing his daily blog traffic and I respect him for that. Thanks to Charles for setting up the call. 

The call was recorded so, I guess, that we can’t claim the Mayor said something he did not, and, so the Mayor can’t claim we all speak Klingon to each other when gathered in a group.

Below is the transcript of the call in Cuneiform

     

( Thanks to Perry at Brains & Eggs for chiseling out this transcript.) 

I asked the Mayor a question about the impact of cuts at the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital in Galveston.  Mayor White has expressed concern about the lack of beds in our area for the uninsured after these cuts, and has said that our local teaching hospitals need to find enough insured patients to help pay the bills given the demands placed on the system by the uninsured. 

This situation might prompt the Mayor to advocate for Universal Coverage. Below is part of what the Mayor says on his campaign web home about health insurance–

Increase the number of insured Americans — We should expand enrollment in existing programs and develop new plans like three-share programs that allow employers, employees, and public funding to each contribute to the cost of affordable premiums for basic care

I don’t know that increasing the number of Americans with coverage is the same as universal coverage. Given how many Texans lack health insurance, I would call upon the Mayor to give further consideration to his views. 

Regarding UTMB related concerns, Mayor White said he had just testified to the state legislature on the matter. He said, in essence, that no progress had been made on resolving the problems. I do believe the Mayor is sincere when he says he would like to find some solution. I hope he will continue to address this issue. 

(I don’t have the exact quote from the Mayor because I’m not a reporter. I do seek though to be an honest broker and this is pretty much what he said.)

I was glad to have this chance to speak to the Mayor. Normally we only get a chance to talk when I go to his house and yell questions at him from beneath his second-floor window.  He does open the window and respond, but I can’t hear him when his neighbor’s dog barks. 

I look forward to more of these calls with candidates for office in Texas. Next time I promise I’ll turn down the TV in the background. It’s just that the call took place at the same time as a Good Times marathon on Nick At Night.    

March 9, 2009 Posted by | Blogging, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

White, Emmett & Duke Address UTMB Cuts & Houston Area Care Crisis

I was glad to see an opinion column in yesterday’s Houston Chronicle by Houston Mayor Bill White and Harris County Judge Executive Ed Emmett about cuts in services for the uninsured caused, in part, by Hurricane Ike damage at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.    

In their column, Mayor White and Judge Emmett , joined by the well-known Dr. Red Duke, focus less on job reductions at UTMB and the damage these layoffs will do to Galveston’s economy, though the  job losses are mentioned, and more on the need for health services to be restored for the the entire metro region.

From the opinion piece–

“Before Hurricane Ike, the upper Texas Gulf Coast was already at the center of a storm — the crisis of unreimbursed medical care provided to working people and children not covered by health insurance….After Ike decimated UTMB in Galveston, the storm surge receded but other medical institutions in the region have been flooded by the patient case load displaced from this historic, invaluable Texas asset….Both the state of Texas and counties in the upper Gulf Coast need to quickly develop a plan to restore these services with three related elements. First, funds from FEMA and insurance policies need to be available immediately to restore the medical, research and physical facilities to the capacity required before Hurricane Ike. We should let both private insurers and FEMA know that we expect prompt payment on valid claims. The UT System must make hard choices concerning the location of some clinical facilities and recognize historic ties to the island, while being convenient to customers, including more insured patients…. Second, there must be a plan for sustained funding of some portion of uncompensated care for the region served by UTMB. The Harris County Hospital District was formed over four decades ago in response to the crisis of unreimbursed care within Harris County. There should be a formula for fair funding of contributions by the counties served by UTMB in proportion to the uninsured patients served from those counties….In the longer term, leadership should consider the need for one or more hospital districts. In addition, Texas should continue its historical support for this great medical school from general funds….Third, some portion of the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for Texas should be earmarked for a program to compensate those providers who now receive the uninsured patients diverted from UTMB.”

The cuts at UTMB by the University of Texas Board of Regents are a case of kicking the little guy when he is down. The job losses in Galveston in the aftermath of Ike, and the cuts to already stretched services for the uninsured, strike at a poor area of our state, and at individual patients who for the most part lack the ability to fight back without help.

I hope the public opinions now expressed by Mayor White, Judge Emmett and Dr. Duke are just the beginning of a strong effort by elected officials and medical professionals to help restore what has been lost, and help improve what was, even before the hurricane, a difficult situation.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I May Have Rushed To Judgement In Next Year’s Race For Mayor Of Houston

Johnnie Cochran Dies at 67

As I recall, the term “rush to judgement” came into wide popular usage when Johnnie Cochran used the line while defending O.J. Simpson. Mr. Cochran spoke the phrase in his opening statement.

I’m going to borrow that line from Mr. Cochran (R.I.P.)

I may have rushed to judgement in my view of who should be the next Mayor of Houston, Texas. The election will be held in November of 2009.

There are, at this point, two leading Democratic contenders. City Controller Annise Parker and City Councilmember Peter Brown.

I’ve always had a visceral negative reaction to Ms. Parker. I’m now questioning if this reaction has been fair. 

Ms. Parker very often uses terms that allude to, or directly refer to, ideas like pragmatism and only seeking to get done things that, in her view, are politically obtainable. 

Ms. Parker’s language frustrates me. I feel that politics is at core about imagination. A political figure begins with an idea, sometimes even an idea that does not seem likely to suceed at first, and then works to see her idea become a reality.

Ms. Parker has reminded me at times of current Houston Mayor Bill White. In my observation, Mayor White is often simply dismissive of ideas that do not conform with his immediate agenda. He’s obnoxious and unimaginative in that way. 

What has given me a second thought about Ms. Parker was that as I was doing some research for another post, I came across an anti-poverty event she attended with former Presidential candidate John Edwards. Ms. Parker has had a standing concern about easier access to banking for low-income citizens of Houston.

Up to now I have been supporting Councilmember Brown. I felt that, when you got down to it, Councilmember Brown was to the left of Ms. Parker.

But just as I learned something about Ms. Parker that shifted my view, I also learned something about Mr. Brown that gave me pause.

In August, Mr. Brown attended a Republican fundraiser that had as featured speaker Karl Rove. I don’t believe Mr. Brown is a Republican. But I did feel that the whole thing was screwy. Just why would an elected Democrat, ( You can take a hike with that non-partisan municipal election junk) go to an event featuring Karl Rove?

Is this the kind of goofball campaign we are going to see from Mr. Brown?

So I’m going to wait and see on the question of who should be the next Mayor of Houston. I’m going to give Ms. Parker a new look and turn a harder eye to Mr. Brown. I may still end up supporting Mr. Brown, but I don’t want to make a “rush to judgement.”

October 1, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Report From Houston Mayor Bill White’s Inaugural Speech

 

This past Wednesday morning I attended the Inauguration ceremony for Houston Mayor Bill White, City Controller Annise Parker and the 14 member Houston City Council.

The outdoor setting on a sunny day in Downtown’s under-construction Discovery Park was excellent.

The invocation was given by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. He said the things you would expect him to say for such an occasion. 

Cardinal DiNardo had the option to speak with some emphasis on the unmet needs of the poor in Houston, but he did not choose that path.

One thing I like about the oath of office often administered to public officials is the part where they say—“To the best of my abilities.” This line acknowledges the differences in people’s abilities and asks elected officials to do the best they can.

That’s really all any of us are able to do.

Mayor White made an inaugural speech of about 15 minutes. Here’s the text.

The speech was a boosterish. That’s fine enough for a celebratory day. Yet the speech ignored some obvious facts about Houston.

Mayor White spoke about immigrant success stories in Houston. This is a strong point of Houston. It’s wonderful that a city that not long ago was segregated, is now a world-center of immigrant accomplishment.

Mayor White said European cities had been in contact with his office asking for advice on integrating Muslim populations into the city fabric.  

Yet Mayor White was also, as seems his inclination when challenged, dismissive of people with a vision of Houston that conflicts with his own. He spoke about people “who are not happy unless they are angry about something.” 

Houston has longstanding problems of poverty and pollution and Houston residents have every reason to believe city leaders are not committed to addressing these problems seriously.

This is especially true in the case of our urban poverty.    

Mayor White makes himself out a pragmatic city leader. Okay. But self-defined pragmatists often feel they are operating from so-called “reason”, and that by definition people who disagree are “unreasonable.”

Most often it is people in power who define what is “reasonable.” Often that definition coincides with the ambitions and desires of people doing the defining.  

I noticed a list of corporate and private sponsors on the inauguration program. Why does a public civic ceremony require private and corporate sponsorship? Most especially the inaugural ceremony of our elected officials.

Why does this city civic event need to be sponsored by, among others, the Houston Contractors Association, the Marathon Oil PAC and Front Row Ticket Company?  

Given the terrible turnout in our city elections, around 10% for the General Election and less than  5% for the runoffs, it’s hard not to wonder who has the real influence with city officials.    

As a final note, Mayor White did get credit with me for making reference to the following Martin Luther King passage–

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus; and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters in life. At points, he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew, and through this, throw him off base.

Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side. They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But with him, administering first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother. 

 

January 4, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Martin & Malcolm, Politics, Texas | , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Voted Yes On Houston School Levy So Kids Can Take More Civics Classes And Question Legtimacy Of Political Structure Unable To Address Global Economy And Climate Change

I voted this morning in our Houston city elections. I voted just a few minutes ago. I did not get the sense of high turnout.

High turnout would require voters that care, a Republican Party that thought Houston was worth fighting for, and a Democratic Party that had the competence and imagination to make at least some effort to generate turnout of Democratic voters.

We don’t have any of those things in Houston.

For Mayor of Houston I voted for Amanda Ulman. I posted about this last week. Bill White did not need my vote and voters deserve options.

Can you imagine that not one Republican in Houston cared enough about his or her city to run and offer competing ideas in contrast to Mayor White to our citizens? 

I voted forJolanda Jones for Houston At-Large Position 5. Hopefully she’ll make it to a run-off and the sneaky Zaf Tahir will not. Please click here to read about Mr. Tahir and the things he has been up to as a candidate.

I voted for Melissa Noriega and Peter Brown in other at-large Council races. I’m looking forward to Mr. Brown’s possible candidacy against Annise Parker for Houston Mayor in 2009. I think Mr. Brown will offer a hopeful vision for Houston in sharp contrast to the deadening business-as-usual pragmatism that characterizes Ms. Parker’s type of politics.     

In addition to the city candidates, there were a number of important school levies, county bond issues and Texas statewide matters on the ballot.

I voted yes on the Houston school levy because we need to prepare these kids to have the civic awareness to realize that both major parties are selling them down the river on the global economy and climate change.

I think that with a few more social studies, civics and history classes, kids might begin to ask questions about the basic legitimacy of a system that either cannot or will not address the most important issues of the future.     

November 6, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics, Ways We Hate Children | , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

A Socialist & Outlaw Josey Wales—A Few Words Of Consideration For Houston’s Mayoral Contenders

Houston Mayor Bill White will certainly win re-election next week. His two opponents are a man who changed his name legally to Outlaw Josey Wales IV and Socialist Amanda Ulman. 

It’s easy to discount these people, and voters will dispatch them without much thought, yet both merit a few words of consideration

First, please read below about Ms. Ulman and Mr. Wales excerpted from a Houston Chronicle story by Matt Stiles profiling the race for Mayor.

“…… For now, though, White faces meat-packing plant worker Amanda Ulman and contract engineer and professional wrestling promoter Outlaw Josey Wales IV in the Nov. 6 election.

Ulman is running on behalf of the Socialist Workers Party. Her platform includes calls for amnesty for all illegal immigrants, the immediate end to the Iraq war and a massive public works project to give jobs to the unemployed at union wages.

“Workers are a majority of Houston, and we need our own voice. We need someone to stand up and raise demands that are in our own interest,” said Ulman, an Indiana native who was a write-in candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006. “We join in the struggles of working people.”

White’s other opponent, who legally changed his name to Outlaw Josey Wales in 1998 to create a persona for his wrestling events, ran unsuccessfully against former Mayor Lee Brown a year later. He said he wants to pay Houston police officers more and ensure the long-term viability of their pension system.

He wants to make it illegal to drive while holding a cell phone and to require at least four motorists in a car to allow access to high-occupancy vehicle lanes. He also wants to extend rail lines along major freeways from downtown to the city limits.

“You’ve got to get people out of their cars,” he said. “There’s no reason someone in Kingwood, Humble, Katy, (U.S.) 290 north, Clear Lake, anywhere out past the Beltway on Interstate 10 either way, should be driving into work.”

In the case of Ms. Ulman, the Socialist Party did once have a presence in Texas. In the first 20 years of the last century, there were often Socialists running for Congress from Texas. The Socialist candidate for President won 8.3% of the vote in Texas in 1912 and 5.1% in 1916. ( In 1912, Socialist Eugene V. Debs at 8.3% ran only 1.1% behind Republican President William Howard Taft in Texas.)

I’ve long held that voters in big cities are used by the Democratic Party. We give Democrats our votes and it is often difficult to see how our cities are getting any better and how the lives of poor and working class people in cities are getting any better.   

If big city voters had Green Party or Socialist Party options they felt were electorally viable, such alternatives might well be be considered.

For now, Ms. Ulman and her ideas can be dismissed by simply referring to her as a Socialist. It’s not always been that way in Texas and nothing says it will always be that way in the future. 

As for Mr. Wales, self-creation and starting fresh are acts fully consistent with Houston and with politics.

He changed his name because he wanted to make some money. Good for him. I hope he made some money. If I thought I could make a lot of money by changing my name to Wyatt Earp, I would likely do so. I imagine many people would do the same.   

Mr. Wales has had fewer names than former Texas Comptroller and candidate for Governor One Tough Grandma Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn. Every time you turned around she had a new name.

Bloggers give themselves new names and made-up names all the time. Bloggers are a big thing in politics now. That’s at least what I read.

I don’t care what people choose to call themselves.    

Is Mr. Wales anymore or less stable than our civic Founding Father Sam Houston? Mr. Houston used to walk around Houston dressed as a cross between a frontiersman and an Indian. Sam Houston was, in his way, a serious and talented man.

Mr. Wales says he advocates carpooling and people getting off the phone while driving. He wants to increase police pay. That seems like a platform many people might support.

Is Mr. Wales any more or less serious than the process of how we elect our city officials in Houston with silly six year term limits and terrible turnout? I think Mr. Wales might in fact be somewhat dignified for such a screwed-up process.    

In 2010, if Mayor White runs for statewide office, I’ll strongly consider giving him my vote. I want a Democrat as Governor. 

In 2007, my only regret is that I must choose between Ms. Ulman and Mr. Wales. I like them both.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment