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January 22nd, 2013:

January finance reports for Houston offices

Previously, I gave the July campaign finance numbers for Houston elected officials who are eligible for the ballot this fall. Here now are the cash on hand figures from the January reports, with all incumbents and a few assorted extras thrown in:

Dist Name Cash on hand ================================= Myr Parker 1,043,827 Ctrl R Green 35,753 AL 1 Costello 51,135 AL 2 Burks 2,378 AL3 Noriega 4,317 AL 4 Bradford AL 5 Christie A Brown 2,010 B Davis 57,983 C Cohen 29,881 D Adams E Martin 1,486 F Hoang 4,749 G Pennington 112,275 H Gonzalez 18,769 I Rodriguez 13,642 J Laster 27,254 K L Green 6,504 A Knox 0 A Stardig 23,605 D Jolanda Jones 3,203 D Boykins 0

CMs Adams, Bradford, and Christie did not have reports available as of Monday afternoon. There’s no fundraising allowed for city officials during this time, so everyone will have a smaller cash on hand total since all they could do was spend. Mayor Parker easily spent the most, a bit over $200K, with much of it going to her campaign operations but also sizable contributions to the Metro referendum campaign ($25K), the Harris County Democratic Party ($10K), and to help retire the debt of former Judge Steve Kirkland ($4,900). Ben Hall had not filed a report as of this deadline; I don’t think he had filed his designation of treasurer until after the 15th, so he wasn’t required to do so.

As I suspected before, the cash on hand figure Ronald Green reported in July was erroneous. This one makes much more sense.

Helena Brown spent down nearly all of her stash, with $5,753 going to Premier IMS for direct mail, $4,165 to Terry Yates and $850 to Kevin Colbert for legal services, $4,000 to Institute of Hispanic Culture for “community outreach” (event), $2,990 to the city as reimbursement for the magnets, and $1,050 to Media Masters for “media consulting”. So much for parity with Brenda Stardig. Like the magnets, she had tried to bill the attorney fees to the city but was denied the reimbursement by City Attorney David Feldman. William “Mike” Knox, who spent $500 on consultant Jessica Colon, is a declared candidate against her.

Dwight Boykins in District D spent $749 on flyers and magnets. I list Jolanda Jones as District D, but her finance report left the “office sought” field blank, so take that with a large grain of salt. No other non-officeholders who might be running for something filed a report.

Most other incumbents spent only modest amounts, since there wasn’t necessarily anything to spend it on. Besides Mayor Parker and CM Brown, Ed Gonzalez was an exception, dropping $40K from July. He made a lot of donations and contributions, including $5K to CrimeStoppers for a benefit dinner, $3,500 to the HCDP, $1,500 to Resurrection Catholic School, and $1,020 to Planned Parenthood.

There are no reports posted as yet for HISD and HCC candidates. I will check back later for them.

Not much else to see at this time. Fundraising season begins in a couple of weeks, and the trickle of candidate news should pick up then as well. As always, if you have any intel please leave a comment and clue us all in.

Last day of early voting in SD06 today

Today is the last day for early voting in the SD06 special election. Voting has not been terribly brisk so far. Through Monday there have been 7,178 total votes cast. You can see the daily figures here. Monday was a little slow because of MLK Day and no mail ballots arriving – we’ll see if an extra big pile of absentee ballots arrive today. But even if that happens, it seems to me that there will around 8,000 early votes cast, maybe 8,500, so unless there’s a big chunk of the vote to come on Election Day this Saturday, we will very likely fall on the low end of the turnout projections. There really isn’t a comparable race to turn to for comparison, but just for grins here’s how the early vote/Election Day breakdown went for the past six special elections and runoffs in Harris County.

Houston City Council, At Large #3, May 2007 – 44.7% of 37,592 votes were cast early

Houston City Council, At Large #3 runoff, June 2007 – 51.8% of 24,865 votes were cast early

SD17 runoff, Harris County only, December 2008 – 39.7% of 23,626 votes were cast early

Houston City Council, District H, May 2009 – 45.5% of 4,186 votes were cast early

Houston City Council, District H runoff, June 2009 – 47.7% of 4,707 votes were cast early

HISD Trustee, District 8, November 2010 – 50.5% of 24,631 votes were cast early

There was a runoff for that last race, but its results were not given on the Harris County Clerk page, so I can’t say how much of that vote was cast early. The 2010 and 2007 general elections were coincident with other scheduled elections – there was a city proposition on the ballot in May of 2007, and no I didn’t remember that, either – the others were not. With tongue firmly in cheek, I’d suggest that between 40 and 50 percent of the vote in this race will be cast early, so on the extremely optimistic assumption that there will be about 9,000 votes total cast early, we’re looking at an over/under of about 20,000 – say between 18,000 and 22,500, to be obnoxious about it. If we’re closer to 8,000 votes cast by tomorrow, lower those endpoints to 15,000 and 20,000.

It was my intent to include a look at 8 day campaign finance reports for this race, but as far as I can tell there are no such things posted on the Texas Ethics Commission page, just the January 15 reports. I don’t know why this is the case – maybe they’re someplace other than the usual location, for some reason – but I didn’t see 30 day reports, either, so maybe that should have told me something. With the January 15 deadline falling between the two dates I guess that makes some sense. For what it’s worth, Big Jolly suggested that Carol Alvarado was doing a lot better in fundraising than Sylvia Garcia was because a large portion of Garcia’s total on the January 15 report was that $106K in kind contribution from the Texas Organizing Project PAC (TOPPAC). I get what he’s saying, but it seems to me that a sizable investment in field work is quite valuable in a race like this, no matter how it’s accounted for. Speaking of which, Big Jolly also has this to say:

What I don’t understand is why RW Bray’s report doesn’t list In-Kind donations from Raging Elephants. I get at least one email a day supporting his candidacy from the Apostle’s group, stating that it is a political ad paid for by Raging Elephants. The last few days, the Apostle has been begging people to get to HCRP headquarters for phone banking. Now, we already know that Raging Elephants doesn’t bother with filing campaign finance reports but if a miracle were to happen and Bray somehow sneaks into a runoff, he’s going to have some ‘splaining to do. I mean, someone is paying for all that phone banking they have going on out of the Harris County Republican Party headquarters. Right?

Indeed. Perhaps someone ought to file a complaint about that. In any event, everyone involved in this race will have to make at least one more finance report, in July if they don’t make the runoff, so perhaps we’ll learn more about this at that time. If you are in SD06 and you haven’t voted yet, please do so. Early voting locations are here, and polling locations for Election Day on Saturday the 26th can be found here. Please do your part to prove my projections too pessimistic.

Second attempt at Sunday liquor sales

If at first you don’t succeed.

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson

Democratic Rep. Senfronia Thompson filed a bill last week that proposed liquor stores be allowed to operate seven days a week.

Under the current law, liquor stores may operate from Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The stores must close on Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. If Christmas or New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday, the stores must close the following Monday, according to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Thompson’s proposal would allow the stores to be open from noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays, but the stores would continue to remain closed on the holidays.

[…]

Texas could potentially gain $7.5 million in new revenue every other year if the Sunday ban were lifted, according to a 2011 Texas Legislative Budget Board analysis.

During the 2011 legislative session, a similar measure failed to gain traction. Companion bills filed by state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, and Rep. Jose Aliseda, R-Beeville, were left pending in committee.

Rep. Thompson’s bill is HB421, for those keeping score at home. See here, here, and here for the background. I supported this then and I support it now, mostly because I don’t see any good reason why Sunday should be different than the other days. I’m not the only one who sees it that way, either. We’ll see if this bill has a better fate this time around.

You simply must see us this year

The New York Times commands you.

Houston is probably best known as the Texan center for energy and industry, but it’s making a bid to be the state’s cultural and culinary capital as well. The Houston Museum District is a formidable coterie of institutions that includes the Rothko Chapel, the Museum of African American Culture, which made its debut last February; and the Asia Society Texas Center, which opened in a stunning Yoshio Taniguchi-designed building in April. And last summer, the Houston Museum of Natural Science opened a 30,000-square-foot hall of paleontology in a new $85 million wing. Meanwhile, the city’s dining scene is also heating up, with three of the city’s newest restaurants — Oxheart, Underbelly and Uchi — placing on national best-new-restaurant lists.

Our fair city is number 7 on their list of 46 places to visit in 2013, one of only four places in the continental United States. So what are you waiting for? Hair Balls has more.