Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Amy Price For Houston Council At-Large #4—Ms. Price Is The Best Candidate For Any Race On The 2011 Houston Ballot

Green candidate Amy Price is simply the best candidate in any City Council race on the 2011 Houston ballot.

General Election Day is Tuesday, November 8.

(Above–Ms. Price) 

Here is Ms. Price’s website.

Ms. Price is running in At-Large 4 against incumbent C.O.Bradford.

While Mr. Bradford asserts he is a Democrat, he is endorsed by the Texas Conservative Review. Mr. Bradford has in the past been a poor Chief of Houston Police as he mishandled administration the city crime lab, and is today a Houston Councilmember who offers little for anybody who values someone being upfront about what they stand for on Council.

Ms. Price has sought to offer solutions as part of her campaign. She is someone who listens and who thinks things out. She is someone who has worked to appeal to wide range of voters while at the same time not hiding her beliefs.

As you consider your vote for Houston At -Large #4, please give some thought to Ms. Price’s candidacy.

Here are my endorsements for the 2011 Houston ballot.

Here is a recent campaign blog entry from Ms. Price—

Problem: unclear training manuals for election judges

Solution: know your rights as a voter

It seems that Houston’s election judges are using a manual that describes next year’s election laws. Those’d be the same laws, requiring picture ID to vote, that are being challenged in court even as I write.

This new election law, geared towards fixing the basically non-existent problem of voter fraud, will make it harder for the poor, the young, the elderly to vote. No surprise, then, that it is backed by Republicans and denounced by progressives.

Apparently, two confused election judges contacted the office of State Senator Rodney Ellis, who in turn contacted the office of county clerk Stan Stanart regarding the training manual’s lack of clarity regarding the sufficiency of a voter registration card.

“By failing to include this information in your manual,” he wrote to Stanart, “an election judge utilizing the manual as the official reference document could erroneously turn away otherwise eligible voters that may have arrived with nothing more than their voter registration card.” Continue reading

November 6, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Who Can Liberals & Progressives Support In 2011 City Of Houston Elections?—Who Is Running For Houston City Council?

It is time for our Houston municipal elections.

(Above–Houston City Hall.)

Early voting runs October 24-November 4. General Election Day is November 8.

Here is a link to help you find out where to vote.

Who can a liberal or progressive support in these elections?

As is so often the case in Houston, the pickings are slim.

Houston city elections are low-turnout affairs in which an electorate not representative of Houston’s demographics chooses from candidates who discuss a very narrow range of issues. Just how much is it that can we hear about red light cameras?

The credibility of the candidates on the ballot is often judged by how much money they have raised.

Here is my look at the Houston city ballot and, also, some additional links to help you figure out how you’d like to vote.

Houstonians merit liberal and progressive options at the ballot box.

Houston was a 61% Obama city in 2008. If we can’t muster up some decent candidates, then maybe we should use our political energies to support Occupy Houston.

While we should vote in every election, the energy and hope we are seeing from the Occupy Wall Street movement is more positive  and hopeful than anything occurring in our municipal elections.

Here are my endorsements—

Mayor-–I’m leaving my ballot blank for Mayor. I simply don’t believe Mayor Annise Parker has any consistent commitment to progressive values. Good people will disagree, but the Mayor has had two years to offer leadership on pressing issues of poverty and on the lack of broad political participation in Houston. She seems to have little interest in these subjects.

Mayor Parker is likely to win reelection in 2011. The absence of competent and credible opponents, and her campaign war chest of more than $2 million helps make this so. Yet despite her good electoral outlook for 2011, the Mayor is concerned with winning a strong majority of voters in 2011 so as to strengthen her hand with City Council, and to help her fend off challengers in 2013.

I’ve no desire in helping the Mayor accomplish these goals. No matter what percentage of votes cast in 2011 Annise Parker ends up  winning, it will be done with an overall turnout of somewhere between 10% and 15%. There is no way the Mayor will have a credible mandate from an involved public. Why should Mayor Parker be given the illusion of a mandate when she has never engaged in serious grassroots efforts to expand voter turnout in Houston, and when she does not pursue policies that are inclusive of Houstonians of every economic status?

(Update 10/31–Mayor Parker has received a grade of A- for fiscal conservatism from the Texas Conservative Review. I say again that Mayor Parker does not warrant the support of liberals and progressives.)

(Below–Recent picture of ongoing drought in Houston as seen in Memorial Park. The grassroots have dried up. Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino)

Council At-Large #1–Incumbent Stephen Costello plays all sides of the political aisle while Green Don Cook does not work hard in his campaigns. Mr. Costello’s Renew Houston plan addresses the serious issue of flooding in Houston, but is also regressive in how it is funded and makes little effort to include green solutions in the plan. I’m leaving my ballot blank in this race.

Council At Large #2–I’m supporting Jennifer Rene Pool in this 10 candidate race.  She will occasionally say liberal and progressive things. Maybe she means some of them.

Council At-Large #3–Incumbent Melissa Noriega is a thoughtful person and has my support.

Council At-Large #4–Green Amy Price is an energetic and upbeat. She works hard to learn the issues and will be a councilmember who seeks solutions and who listens. Incumbent Democrat C.O. Bradford has on his balance sheet his terrible administration of the crime lab when he was Houston’s police chief, and his calls for austerity-type budgeting for Houston.

Council At-Large #5–Only you know if you want to support Jolanda Jones for one last term. She is always involved in some type of fuss. Sometimes it seems to be her fault, while other times it is not her fault. In any case, you wish that Ms.Jones was a more disciplined and effective advocate for the poor and disenfranchised in Houston. Her story on Council seems in good part to be of an opportunity missed. After some thought, I’ve decided I’m going to vote for Ms. Jones.  Ms. Jones made a recent visit to Occupy Houston and I appreciate that fact. I’m not aware of any other incumbent city official who has done the same.

Council District C-–I live in this district. Karen Derr is a more progressive option than Ellen Cohen. I’m going to be voting Ms. Derr. Ms. Cohen is a fund-raising machine who in the recent past has accepted campaign funds from gay marriage opponent Bob Perry. I’d rather have a fresh voice in City Hall rather  than a candidate who seems to have the advantage in part due to her friendship with Mayor Parker, and in part due to her ability to raise a lot of money from big donors. Ms. Cohen gives the impression of being an incumbent even before she is elected.

Council District H–I don’t live in this district. However, incumbent Ed Gonzalez merits mention as a decent person and as someone open to hearing voices on all sides of a debate.

There are also 10 amendments to the Texas Constitution on the ballot. Here is my in-depth analysis of these propositions.

There are 2 resources that stand out when considering our city elections. These resources cover all the Houston district council seats up for election in 2011.

Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has a page at his blog Off The Kuff with his interviews of many of the candidates. This page also has links to the websites of the candidates and listings of selections by the various interest groups that endorse in city elections.

The League of Women Voters of the Houston Area offers a voter’s guide that profiles and asks questions of all the Houston candidates.

Fellow blogger Perry Dorrell at Brains And Eggs has made a series of excellent posts endorsing candidates in Houston for 2011.

Greg Wythe at Greg’s Opinion has also made some well thought-out endorsements.

Houston city elections often seem to be a taxpayer-financed subsidy for a political class of consultants, city contract seekers, and all-purpose opportunists who all have little do with everyday life in Houston.

That said, you should still go and vote. I don’t have the heart to tell you otherwise.

The work of freedom and democracy is up to each of us.

Vote in Houston in 2011 and then commit yourselves to making our local democracy better.

(Below–Houston skyline in 1971. Photo by YixilTesiphon. Here is a link to a history of Houston.) 

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Amy Price For Houston City Council At-Large #4—Ms. Price Listens To People

Amy Price is a running as a Green Party candidate for Houston City Council at-large position 4.

(Above–Ms. Price.)

The incumbent in this race is C.O. Bradford.

Mr. Bradford—a Democrat—has offered Democrats an austerity based fiscal message and a council tenure where he has worked with Republicans to undermine Mayor Annise Parker.

Mr. Bradford’s record of service to the people of Houston includes his time as police chief and his poor stewardship of the City of Houston Crime Lab. Mr. Bradford was police chief from 1997 to 2004.

The impact of the crime lab scandal goes on to this day. 

Mr. Bradford is not loyal to the best ideals of his party. Nor is he public official who has done his job well.

Lacking these qualities, what does Mr. Bradford offer the people of Houston?

Ms. Price is working hard on the campaign trail each day not just to defeat Chief Bradford, but to offer the people of Houston a hopeful progressive choice.

It is not enough to simply be someone other than the person you are running against. You have to offer something of value to the voters you are running to represent.

Ms. Price is asking questions and seeking solutions. She is talking to everyday people in Houston, and not to big corporate donors or advocacy groups who often have narrow agendas.

As Houston voters consider the 2011 City Council field, they will find Ms. Price both true to the values she asserts on the stump, and a person who inspires confidence in voters of all ideological leanings that she will be able to do the job.

Here is an interview with Ms. Price that was conducted by Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner.

Here is the link to Amy’s website.

Here is her campaign blog. 

Here is a link to donate to Ms. Price.

Ms. Price is running a daily series of questions and answers on her campaign blog.

Below is a complete entry from one of her recent posts.

As early voting and Election Day approach for our Houston city elections, the work of deciding who will best serve our city is up to each of us.

It is the responsibility of voters to look beyond name recognition and fundraising advantages to see who will do the best job.

I encourage Houston voters to study the options available on the 2011 municipal ballot and to vote as they see fit.

Here is Ms. Price’s blog entry—

Challenge: a big, complex city

Solution: listen to its inhabitants

While block walking this weekend, I had folks share some fantastic ideas with me. Here they are.

For discouraging the sort of cyclic electricity usage that could lead to brownouts (especially in the future, when we’ll have more people crowded into the same space): have more expensive peak rates and lower off-peak rates. Just like your cell phone plan.

For encouraging water conservation when rationing is going on: up the rates during rationing. The surest way of ensuring that folks do what they should do is to make it something they want to do. Continue reading

September 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Provides Public With New City Budget Themed Video Game

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has created a new video game where you can make your own City of Houston 2012 budget.

(Above–Old-time video game called Pong.)

In the Mayor’s budget game, you can adjust the various funding amounts for each city function in the budget. You can also raise property taxes and decide to refuse or accept bullish projections for other sources of revenue.

In the end, you have to balance the budget.

The City of Houston is facing a $130 million budget deficit. The city budget must be balanced by law. The budget must be passed by June 30.

Here is a schedule of the four remaining budget hearings. 

Here is the link to the budget Mayor Parker has proposed.

The Mayor’s proposed budget involves layoffs for 750 city employees, the cutting of library hours, and the closing of some city pools and community centers.

Here is a list of the pools and community centers to be cut.

It is not hard to figure that in this economy, many of these fired city employees will go years without finding a secure job with benefits.

Here is what it says on the web page for Mayor Parker’s reelection

“In Annise’s first year as mayor, her economic development initiatives helped spur private investment that will create thousands of new jobs in Houston.”

If we had money to parcel out to private concerns for jobs that might well have been created anyway, than why don’t we have money to retain the jobs of loyal city employees?

My general impression about the proposed budget is that many of the sharpest cuts are going to parks, libraries, health, and other services that are of the greatest value to Houstonians least able to take the hit.

It is frustrating that the city dog pound–The BARC shelter–is not taking any cut all. There is nothing at all these folks can do to save money?  Not even a 5% cut? It seems that the 100% funding for the dog pound is the result of the Mayor’s relentless pursuit of the dog owner vote in Houston, and not a number based on the full needs of our city.

Police and fire forces are getting no layoffs at all. And they are taking a lower percentage of cuts than many other city departments. Public safety gets 67% of our city budget.

Don’t you imagine police and fire could find a few more million to cut out of a combined budget of more than $1.1 billion?

The good thing with the budget game is that Mayor Parker is showing folks that choices have to be made.

The Mayor should have had an entry in the budget game that shows how much extra revenue we would have if we had voted to keep the red light cameras.

I bet there are people upset about pool closings who last November voted to kill the red light cameras.

Mayor Parker gives people an option to raise property taxes in the budget game. The Mayor is not raising property taxes in her budget.

Houston was a 61% Obama city in the 2008 general election. We have a Democratic mayor and a Democratic majority city council. If all we do over the years is cut—and cut the most from people least able to sustain the cuts—than just what is it we believe as Democrats, progressives, and liberals? Economic and social justice are connected.

Of course, it is not all about Mayor Parker.

For example, it would helpful if  Houston Councilman C.O.Bradford stood more strongly for the values of the Democratic party. Mr. Bradford was happy to take Democratic votes when he was the losing 2008 Democratic nominee for Harris County District Attorney in 2008.  Now Mr. Bradford appears with far-right Republican Paul Bettencourt criticizing Mayor Parker.

Mayor Parker should continue with these video games.

For one thing, they would give kids locked out of closed pools and community centers something to do over the summer.

Also, they could be used to illustrate how your home will flood if we don’t do something about chronic flooding in Houston. While folks are right to be frustrated that estimates were wrong for how much they will have to pay for the new storm water tax, the problem is real.

How about a game that shows which Houston homes will flood based on how much rain falls in our city? The flooding could then be alleviated based on the amount of funding taxpayers are willing to provide for flood relief.

As the Mayor’s budget game shows—stuff costs money. You’ve got to decide what you value and how much you are willing to pay.

(Below—Annise Parker. Photo by David Ortez)

June 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Harris Party Green Party Fundraiser On March 31—If Our Elected Leaders Can Party Shop, Why Can’t You?

There will be a Harris Party Green Party fundraiser held at Bohemeo’s–located at 708 Telephone Road in Houston–at 8 PM on Thursday, March 31.

If Democratic Mayor Annise Parker can attend the big Harris County Republican fundraiser and Democratic Councilmember C.O Bradford can hang out with Republicans, than I don’t see why anybody else can’t shop around a little bit among this various political parties.

There is always room for new voices and new ideas. I can’t imagine that many progressives and liberals in Houston can be overly contented with the municipal and county leadership of either major party in Houston and Harris County.

March 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

I Apologize For Ever Having Voted For Houston Councilmember C.O. Bradford—Bradford Merits No Support From Voters Of Either Major Party

I apologize for ever having voted for Houston City Councilmember C.O Bradford.

(Above–Councilmember Bradford.)

I made this error when I voted for Mr. Bradford in 2008 to be Harris County District Attorney.

Mr. Bradford, a former Houston Police Chief, was the Democratic nominee for District Attorney.

I voted based on party when I should have simply not voted in the D.A. race. Neither candidate was worthy of support in that race.

While he did sound like a Democrat in 2008, Chief Bradford admitted at the time that he did not do all he could have done as Chief to deal with the deeply-flawed Houston crime lab.

As a current member of Houston City Council, Mr. Bradford often makes little effort to sound like a Democrat anymore.  This despite the fact he was happy to take Democratic votes in 2008.

From Councilmember Bradford’s web page

‘The City of Houston tends to over regulate. Understandably, the City must regulate from time to time for health and safety reasons. Even these interventions should be a limited, measured approach with broad substantive input from the citizens and businesses being impacted. Today, businesses and citizens are strapped with too many taxes, fees, and permitting requirements. Why is this so? Well, the answer can be found in one word – “spending. …”

I’m certain many would agree with this statement. Fine. But Democrats believe government has a role in making our communities better, and in making the lives of our citizens better. I’m sure folks who agree with Mr. Bradford’s minimal government views can find a real Republican to support.

You can be a Democrat and favor fiscal restraint. Nobody is in favor of waste. We do not have unlimited cash to run government. Yet what Mr. Bradford is doing here is identifying himself with the extreme and harmful budget cutting advocated by many in the current political climate, and offering nothing constructive for Democrats looking for fiscal moderation, but not looking to be Republicans. If given the choice between a Republican and a Republican—People will pick a Republican.

Mr. Bradford, as a Democrat, has the obligation to offer more than just a reflexive opposition to spending.

Now Mr. Bradford is teaming up with Republicans and others to attack the storm water drainage fee that Houston voters passed at the ballot box last November.

Some are upset that churches will have to pay a fair share of the fees required to address chronic flooding in Houston.

Councilman Bradford will be appearing with conservative Houston Councilmember Mike Sullivan and conservative Paul Bettencourt as panelists at a Houston Area Pastor Council meeting about the storm water fee.

This meeting will be held at Houston’s First Baptist Church. According to the Houston Chronicle, First Baptist is currently spending $12.6 million to renovate a Worship Center and $3 million to upgrade other facilities.

Mr. Bettencourt is best known for being reelected as Harris County Tax-Assessor Collector in 2008, and then quitting the post just a few weeks after the election.

That is some company Democrat C.O. Bradford keeps.

It is not  clear why Mr. Bradford opposes the storm water fee given that he said the following on his campaign page—

“…. Let’s get back to a commitment to basic sanitation (garbage & water), infrastructure issues, police and fire. Core services are the City of Houston’s business!”

What is more basic to a hurricane -prone semi-tropical place like Houston than addressing flooding with new storm water infrastructure?

There has been speculation that Councilmember Bradford may run for Mayor.

Mr. Bradford is not saying one way or another.

Which political party does Mr. Bradford truly support? Which city services does he see as essential? What are his political motives?

The only thing you can be certain of is that Councilman Bradford does not merit the support of any principled voter.

March 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I’ve Little Option But To Vote For Bradford For Harris County District Attorney

The position of Harris County,Texas District Attorney is an important office. The D.A. decides on matters of life and death.

Harris County loves the death penalty. Counted up until February of 2008, 61 of the 693 executions in the United States since the Supreme Court re-established the death penalty have come from Harris County. That is 8.8% of all U.S. executions coming from one county.

Here is the link to The Innocence Project—Read about the number of innocent people who have been put to death in the United States.

Also, Harris County has been sending some people to jail based on negligent and incompetent work done by the City of Houston’s crime lab.

Earlier in 2008, Republican District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal was forced to resign because of a variety of misdeeds. These misdeeds included an office computer that had stored on it insulting comments and jokes about women and blacks.

None of this is a surprise. There is nothing so lousy or wicked that it would surprise me coming from the Republican-run Harris County District Attorney’s office. The core of Republican support in Harris County consists to a good degree of brutal-minded people with bad hearts. They don’t care if innocent people go to jail or are put to death. I think many of these folks get a rush out of that kind of thing.  

No reasonable person has any faith in the idea of equal justice in Harris County

Republicans have held the D.A.’s office many years now. In 2008, Democrats have a good chance to win a number of countywide positions. 

The Republican candidate is a former judge with a poor and erratic record on the bench.

The Democratic candidate is former Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford. 

I can’t claim to be enthused about Chief Bradford. Mr. Bradford inherited the crime lab mess, but he admits he did not take all steps possible to resolve the problem. I don’t understand such a path.

How could you be in a position to be able to do something about the lousy crime lab, and not do all in your power to resolve the matter? People’s freedom, and lives, were on the line.

I’ll vote for Mr. Bradford. I feel this office is so important that I can’t stay on the sidelines. It will be good to have an elected D.A. who you feel might at least be a full human being, and not the monsters who have held the job in recent years.

But as I often say, and will say many times during next year’s Houston city council elections, city residents who vote for Democrats time and time again have plenty of reason to be wary of the options we are given at the local level by the Democratic Party.

August 7, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Noriega & More—Texas Political Notes And Thoughts

Some political notes and thoughts from Texas and Harris County—

(Above is the harbor at Palacios in Matagorda County. George Bush won 65% of the nearly 12,500 votes cast in Matagorda in 2004. But I’m certain that four years of calm seaside reflection has given the good folks of Matagorda a new view of things for 2008.) 

Noriega Senate Race

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rick Noriega of Houston is polled by Rasmussen as running only 4 points behind far-right incumbent John Cornyn. In this polling snapshot, the race is seen as 47% for Mr. Cornyn and 43% for Mr. Noriega.  

Mr. Noriega is a Texas State representative.

I recall early numbers from 2002 that had former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk running ahead of then Texas Attorney General Cornyn. At the time, Mr. Kirk’s favorable name recognition in the Dallas metroplex was a source of his strength.  

Mr. Cornyn won that race 55% -43% in a Republican year. 

This time around, it may be that some Texans are reconsidering allegiance to Republican party ( As well they should.) and that demographic changes in this majority-minority state are finally catching up to the ballot box.

Mr. Noriega’s 51% showing in the Texas Democratic primary was not impressive. Yet, Mr. Noriega will no doubt establish himself among Texas Democrats as November approaches. If the broader climate in Texas is moving towards Democrats, than Mr. Noriega may have a shot.  

Here is Mr. Noriega’s campaign web home.   

Harris County Races

Recent reports on racial disparities in application of the death penalty in Harris County, and reports from Dallas county about long-term inmates being set free after being proved innocent show the importance of a new justice team in Harris County.   

The new Democratic District Attorney in Dallas County has made such a positive difference in that part of Texas.   

Electing C.O. Bradford as District Attorney and Adrian Garcia as County Sheriff would be a good start towards the more fair practice of justice in Harris County.   

The Harris County Democratic coordinated campaign will be led by Bill Kelly.

I’ve seen Democratic coordinated campaigns in other parts of the country that involved walking around money for local pastors and others, and mailings into minority communities featuring white politicians linked up with black politicians.

These mailings were meant to aid white politicians by associating them with black candidates in areas where many black voters live. Yet it never seemed to work the other way of mailings into mostly white areas as a way to boost black candidates.    

One of the many reasons I’m glad to hear about the appointment of Mr. Kelly is that I know it portends real change in Harris County.    

Change for the Harris County Democratic Party as it moves to full inclusion of the voters who are the backbone of its local support, and, after success at the ballot box, changes in public policy such as the immediate need for a better justice system.  

In addition to the $500 breakfast listed on the web page of the Harris County Democratic Party, I look forward to a more broad based campaign kick-off event to generate excitement about the November ticket. 

This post is also at my Houston Chronicle blog where I’m one of eight featured political bloggers.

(The Houston Ship Channel is a big deal in Harris County. Harris County voted 54% -46 % for George Bush in 2004. There were just over 1.05 million votes cast. 2008 may be a more successful year for Harris County Democrats. ) 

   

May 6, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment