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Posts from ‘January, 2014’

Friday random fourteen: Let’s talk about sex, baby

Paste had a list awhile back of the “Fifty Sexiest Songs Of All Time”. Here’s how they described it: “Our picks span a variety of eras, genres and styles—and while some are more overtly sexual than others, they all make us weak in the knees. To keep this from being a list of Prince and […]

January campaign finance reports for Harris County legislative candidates

This could take awhile, and that’s with me limiting myself to contested races. First, the Senate. SD04 Brandon Creighton Steven Toth SD07 Paul Bettencourt James Wilson Jim Davis SD15 John Whitmire Damian LaCroix Ron Hale SD17 Joan Huffman Derek Anthony Rita Lucido Here’s a summary chart. For the record, Davis, Whitmire, LaCroix, and Lucido are […]

Audit letters

There’s a thing called audit letters that I hadn’t known existed. We’ve got them for Houston, but we had not been making them public even though other cities do as a matter of course. Houston officials have blocked the release of letters detailing weaknesses in the city’s financial accounting even though other large Texas cities […]

Alameel wants a refund

Good luck with that. Just like his first run for office in 2012, David Alameel’s second bid for public office is drawing questions about his past campaign donations. Alameel, the owner of a multimillion-dollar chain of dental clinics that caters to Hispanics, is one of five Democrats vying for the U.S. Senate seat currently held […]

New Braunfels can ban gets canned

Pack your coolers, y’all. The beer can flow again on the Comal River. Opponents of New Braunfels’ prohibition of large coolers and disposable containers — loosely described as a “can ban” on rivers that can host tens of thousands of tourists on any busy summer weekend — say a judge has confirmed their lawsuit claims […]

Judicial Q&A: George Barnstone

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the […]

Culberson says he’s killed the University Line

And maybe he has, though it wasn’t going anywhere at this time anyway. Residents and business owners along Richmond Avenue are breathing a sigh of relief — at least for now — as U.S. Rep. John Culberson has had his way, quashing federal funding for light-rail along Richmond, west of Shepherd, and on Post Oak […]

How the voter ID law was and was not enforced in Harris County

Greg does some investigative reporting on how the new voter ID law was actually applied in Harris County in the 2013 election. So what percentage of voters ended up signing an affidavit? … and what does it suggest about how the law was administered? To get that answer, I obtained records from the Harris County […]

Texas blog roundup for the week of January 27

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready to delete the phrase “polar vortex” from its vocabulary as it brings you this week’s roundup.

You know you’re not supposed to do fundraising activities while in your official capacity, right?

Oops. [On Wednesday], the Texas Democratic Party called on Rockwall County Clerk, Republican Shelli Miller, to close down the illegal campaign fundraising operation she is running within her official office to benefit a February 1st event featuring keynote speaker, Attorney General Greg Abbott. Conducting campaign activities out of an official office is a direct violation of state […]

Interview with Gayle Mitchell

As previously noted, the Harris County Clerk’s office has had its share of problems in recent years, from incorrectly reporting the winner of a Democratic primary in 2012 to complaints about slow reporting of results overall on Election Day. This year’s election is an opportunity to talk about how these functions of that office can […]

Celia Israel wins HD50 special election runoff

Congrats, Rep.-elect Celia Israel. In the special runoff election for District 50 in the Texas House, Democrat Celia Israel took the lead after early voting. Israel, a Realtor, earned 58.8 percent of the early vote, and Republican Mike VanDeWalle, a chiropractor, took 41.1 percent. The total number of ballots cast during the early voting period, […]

Where BGTX stands today

It’s not quite where they thought they’d be when things first started up, but that’s in large part because so much has happened since then. Jeremy Bird, Barack Obama’s former national field organizer, told The Texas Tribune that nearly a year into the creation of Battleground Texas, it has attracted more than 10,000 volunteers, exceeded […]

The preservation ordinance is a work in progress

That’s the tl;dr version of this. In October 2010, an emotional Sue Lovell, then a city council­woman, lauded the passage of a strengthened historic preservation ordinance for Houston after a long, complex and divisive battle she and Mayor Annise Parker had led. In recent months, however, Lovell has appeared before the commissions tasked with implementing […]

Judicial Q&A: Barbara Stalder

(Note: As I have done in past elections, I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. This is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the […]

The counties we aren’t going to win are just as important as the counties we will win

Collin County is a Republican stronghold. It’s also the kind of place that Democrats need to make gains in order to be competitive. That’s a tough thing to do when there’s little hope for winning the county or taking a legislative seat based in the county. But the needle needs to be moved, and the […]

Perry and pot

Haul out your blind squirrels and acorns cliches. Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Thursday that he favors decriminalizing marijuana use and lessening punishment for minor offenders as the nation moves toward a more moderate approach to pot use and two states have legalized the drug. Perry’s comments surprised some, since the governor has repeatedly criticized […]

“Go, Texans” OK’ed

Well, that‘s a relief. County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez’s quest to ban “Go Texans” and other messages from Metro’s digital bus marquees has ended unsuccessfully with a pass from the Federal Transportation Administration and a scathing letter from the Metro board chairman. Last fall, Sanchez asked the federal agency and the Harris County Attorney’s office to […]

Interview with Ann Harris Bennett

In addition to District Attorney, there is another contested countywide primary on the ballot for Democrats. That primary is for Harris County Clerk, for the nomination to run against first term incumbent Stan Stanart, who has had his share of visible failures with election returns. First up is Ann Harris Bennett, who lost to Stanart […]

January campaign finance reports for Harris County candidates

In our previous episode, we looked at the campaign finance reports for Democratic statewide candidates. Today, let’s have a look at the reports for candidates for countywide office in Harris County. I’m not going to get down to the Constable or JP level – I’m not aware of any interesting primaries, those districts tend not […]

Clearing the rape kit backlog is producing results

Very promising results. Private forensic laboratories hired to clear the Houston Police Department’s untested DNA evidence – including a decades-old rape kit backlog – have identified potential offenders in a third of the cases where sufficient DNA samples were found, according to a HPD report. [...] Since the HPD lab resumed operations about six years […]

Abercia gets probation

Good riddance. Former Harris County Precinct 1 Constable Jack Abercia was sentenced Wednesday to three years probation for conducting illegal criminal background checks to raise money, in part, for an elevator in his home. Abercia pleaded guilty in August to 11 counts of misusing his authorized computer access. Federal prosecutors said Abercia and a top […]

Weekend link dump for January 26

You can now use Bitcoins to buy basketball tickets. In Sacramento, anyway. Pot legalization is the gay marriage of 2016. It’s hard out here on an atheist. “Having somebody to watch your kid(s) during the day opens a lot of additional options– for a second source of income, further education, or just general parental sanity. […]

Charles Sebesta needs to be held accountable

Amen to this. Former Texas death row inmate Anthony Graves, who spent 18 years behind bars before he was exonerated in the bloody 1992 slaying of a Somerville grandmother, her daughter and four grandchildren, is seeking justice against the man who put him there. In 2006, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Graves’ […]

Cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face isn’t a matter of principle

It’s just stupid and self-destructive. Lots of conservative lawmakers hate Obamacare. Rep. Louie Gohmert is putting his money where his mouth is. The Tyler Republican gave up his health insurance for 2014, asserting that the president’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, has made coverage too expensive. “Other people are going to see […]

Finally doing that front door facelift

Better late than never. Renovations started this week on the historic Sunset Coffee Building at Allen’s Landing on the north end of downtown. The more than 100-year-old structure, now behind a fence as construction begins, is getting a $5.3 million facelift from Houston First Corp. and Buffalo Bayou Partnership. They hope the new design will […]

US-Mexico high speed rail?

What goes north can also go south. A high-speed rail line connecting San Antonio and Monterrey, Mexico, could be less than a decade away from welcoming its first passengers, according to federal and Texas officials who met with Mexican officials in Washington, D.C., on Thursday to discuss the project. U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-San Antonio, […]

Saturday video break: Cups

Cup-stacking is a thing with the kids these days, and this song from “Pitch Perfect” is the soundtrack for it (music starts about 1:28). David Letterman was quite impressed by Anna Kendrick’s cup percussion ability: As someone who finds it hard enough to do one musical thing at a time, color me impressed as well.

Petition problems

Every election cycle there are fights over who really did or didn’t qualify for the ballot. This one is shaping up to be a doozy. Three lawsuits over alleged ballot irregularities involving Harris County judicial candidates will be heard by a Beaumont judge, officials said Thursday. State District Judge Bob Wortham was appointed to preside […]

Metro names Lambert its next CEO

For the second time in a row, the Metro board will make its interim CEO its permanent CEO. The Metropolitan Transit Authority board on Thursday voted unanimously to open negotiations with Tom Lambert for the permanent president and CEO position. Lambert, who has led the agency on an interim basis since December 2012, served as […]

Next stop, Virginia

More lawsuits coming on same sex marriage. Almost overnight, Virginia has emerged as a critical state in the nationwide fight to grant gay men and women the right to wed. This purple state was once perceived as unfriendly and even bordering on hostile to gay rights. That’s changed after a seismic political shift in the […]

Friday random ten: Cold enough for you?

I’m pretty sure we’ll all be happy to never hear the words “polar vortex” again. 1. Baby, It’s Cold Outside – The Priestess And The Fool 2. Cold – Annie Lennox 3. Cold Chicago – Humming House 4. Cold Irons Bound – Bob Dylan 5. Cold Shot – Stevie Ray Vaughan 6. Cold Wait – […]

Interview with Rep. Carol Alvarado

In addition to the contested Democratic primary in HD131, there is also one in HD145, where Rep. Carol Alvarado is in her third term. Rep. Alvarado was of course a three-term City Council member in District I prior to her election to the Legislature, experience that served her on the Urban Affairs, Public Health, and […]

Federal judge denies Abbott motion to consolidate same sex marriage lawsuits

From Lone Star Q: A key hearing in a federal lawsuit challenging Texas’ same-sex marriage bans will go forward next month in San Antonio. U.S. District Judge Orlando L. Garcia, of the Western District of Texas, on Wednesday rejected Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s latest effort to transfer the lawsuit from San Antonio to Austin. […]