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June 2nd, 2014:

Dan Patrick loves the Latinos

Can you feel the love?

“All that stuff I said before? Let’s pretend it never happened.”

State Sen. Dan Patrick’s victory over incumbent David Dewhurst in the Republican runoff for lieutenant governor on Tuesday night came as no surprise.

And while the conciliatory tone that marked his victory speech — in which he pledged to make inroads with Hispanics — sounded nothing like the fiery immigration rhetoric voters are accustomed to, political observers say it’s an approach Patrick will have to take in a general election battle against Leticia Van de Putte, a Latina state senator from San Antonio.

“Before you can get someone’s vote, you have to respect them enough to go talk with them and explain who you are,” Patrick said Tuesday after election returns showed he had overwhelmingly defeated Dewhurst. “It won’t be overnight, but it’s going to start tomorrow morning.”

Patrick’s race against Van de Putte, who has criticized the Houston senator for calling the influx of undocumented immigrants from Mexico an “illegal invasion,” could serve as a test case for both parties to gauge their outreach and appeal to an increasingly crucial voting bloc.

[…]

While some Hispanic Republicans have said they will cross over to vote for Van de Putte instead of Patrick in the general election, Hector De Leon, chairman of the Associated Republicans of Texas, predicted Patrick will recover from criticism about his remarks because the state is so reliably Republican.

But De Leon, who has referred to Patrick’s “illegal invasion” remark as “thinly veiled racism,” added that Patrick’s success among Hispanic voters will depend on his ability to turn his “good words” on Tuesday “into good deeds” in the next six months.

He also said Patrick’s outreach efforts could be “too little, too late” if Van de Putte is able to raise enough money to build a narrative about him across the state. Since jumping into the race in November, she has not raised the kind of campaign cash her opponent has — though she didn’t have an expensive primary battle like Patrick did. In January, the last time both candidates filed a campaign finance report, Patrick had raised three times as much money as Van de Putte.

Yeah, even Aaron Pena can’t smear enough lipstick on this cabrón to make it presentable. The bit about Sen. Van de Putte needing to raise enough money to get the message out about Patrick is the key. Assuming she can, it’s a simple matter to highlight a few of Patrick’s juicier quotes, then pair them with what he’s now saying, and ask which one is the lie. Patrick has more than revealed his true character. He may as well stick with it.

Probably the last thing I’ll write about Jim Hogan

At least, I hope it’s the last thing, because there ain’t much to say.

Jim Hogan

Texas Democrats are not holding their breaths for a win for the office held by Republicans since Perry ousted Jim Hightower in 1992.

Democratic consultant Jason Stanford went so far Wednesday as to say [Jim] Hogan’s candidacy [for Ag Commissioner] is “as good as a forfeit.”

“Sid Miller could probably move to Oklahoma and win this race,” Stanford said. “No one would notice.”

The best thing the Democrats can hope for in the race is for Hogan to continue his strategy without publicly embarrassing the party, said Mark Jones, a political scientist at Rice University.

Jones said Hogan’s nomination reflects poorly on party leadership.

“It’s really a sad state of affairs for the Texas Democratic Party when someone is able to be a statewide candidate without actively campaigning at all,” he said.

Yes, it’s embarrassing, but let’s keep some perspective here. Republicans didn’t exactly nominate their best candidates for Ag Commissioner or Attorney General or Railroad Commissioner, either. Let’s also not forget that all the way back in 2010, some dude named David Porter, who campaigned about as much as Jim Hogan did, knocked off two-term incumbent Railroad Commissioner Victor Carillo despite Carillo having huge advantages in campaign finances and name recognition. Hogan’s win is a forehead-slapper, but it’s hardly unprecedented.

The good news is that there’s a fairly simple fix for this. The problem in a nutshell is that when voters are faced with unfamiliar choices, you get random results. We’ve seen this in elections at every level. Your best bet to avoid a random result is for the viable candidates to have the resources to properly introduce themselves to the voters, and by “resources” I of course mean money. Roll the clock back six months or so, have a few big Democratic donors seed the Hugh Fitzsimons campaign with $500K or so for some targeted mail, and I’m willing to bet he makes it to the runoff. For all the crap I’ve given that Trib poll, the one useful thing about it was that it highlighted at the time how unknown all of the Democratic candidates for Senate were. I’m sure that changed dramatically over the next few weeks as David Alameel was plastering his image over the entire Internet. You wouldn’t have needed Fitzsimons to win outright, you just need to ensure he makes it to the runoff. He needed 70,000 votes to pass Kinky, 75,000 to pass Hogan. Surely that was within reach for that kind of money. I’ve said before that if we want to be able to recruit quality candidates for these downballot races in 2018 and however many elections after that until the bench is deep enough to take care of this by itself, we need to be able to reassure them that they’ll have the resources they’ll need to fend off whatever quacks and wannabes file for the same race. Someone in a better position than me to make this happen needs to start thinking about this ASAP.

City strikes two deals with CenterPoint

One on street lights, and one on bike trails. Both are great news.

All 165,000 of Houston’s streetlights will be converted to more efficient LEDs over the next five years, halving electricity use and cutting air pollution in what Mayor Annise Parker said will be one of the nation’s largest such initiatives.

Also on Friday, the city said it had struck a deal to open up land under power lines for the construction of hike and bike trails, the result of years of negotiations in Austin to enact necessary legislation and months of local discussions. Both the trails and streetlights announcements involved agreements with CenterPoint Energy.

The switch from yellowish high-pressure sodium, mercury vapor and metal halide streetlights to bluish light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, may require no added city investment. Officials with the city and CenterPoint, which owns the streetlights, project that a long-term drop in maintenance costs will offset the up-front cost of installation.

LED lights draw less power and last longer than traditional bulbs.

Parker said the move would help the city reach its goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions produced by municipal operations by 10 percent by 2016. Once finished, the mayor said, the switch will save the city a projected $28 million in electricity costs over 10 years.

“In addition to being good for the planet, if we can cut energy consumption it’s also really good for the city’s bottom line,” Parker said.

[…]

Regarding the trails agreement, CenterPoint says there are 923 miles of right of way in Harris County, including 410 in the city of Houston. Those involved in the effort have estimated about 140 miles of right of way sit under large transmission lines, which make the most sense for trails.

In making the announcement, CenterPoint also presented a $1.5 million check for trail construction.

Houston voters in 2012 approved $100 million in bonds to be combined with private and grant funds for the $205 million Bayou Greenway Initiative to expand the city’s trail system along bayous.

The bayous largely run west to east, Parker said, requiring more north-south connections – and, conveniently, many transmissions corridors run north-south.

“We also have a lot of miles of bayou trails to install,” the mayor said, “but this allows us to make a more complete system.”

See here, here, here, and here for the background on the bike trails stuff, and here for the Mayor’s press release. It’s a beautiful thing being able to save millions of dollars without having to cut anything, isn’t it? The right-of-way trails have the potential to be transformative for the city’s – and the county’s – bike infrastructure. Like I said, great news all around.

Reminder: Drowning doesn’t look like drowning

I’ve posted this twice before, and with summertime officially upon us, it seemed like the right time to post it again.

The new captain jumped from the deck, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the couple swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine; what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not 10 feet away, their 9-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know—from 50 feet away—what the father couldn’t recognize from just 10? Drowning is not the violent, splashing call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew know what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound. As a former Coast Guard rescue swimmer, I wasn’t surprised at all by this story. Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life.

Go read the whole thing, which was reprinted at Slate as well. There’s video here and a Today Show clip worth watching here. I read this story every time I see it, and as a parent of two water-loving children it scares the crap out of me every time. Stay safe, y’all.