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October 20th, 2017:

Friday random ten: Black and blue, part 1

Once again, a topic too big to cover in one go.

1. Black And White – The DB’s
2. Black Annis – Solas
3. Black Blade – Blue Oyster Cult
4. Black Boys On Mopeds – Sinead O’Connor
5. Black Coffee In Bed – Squeeze
6. Black Crows – honeyhoney
7. Black Eye Blues – Asylum Street Spankers
8. Black Eyed Suzi – The Honeycutters
9. Black Friday – Steely Dan
10. Black Ghost/Black Girl – Starling Electric

Sinead O’Connor sure was an early voice on an issue that remains stubbornly and depressingly relevant. “Black Friday” is basically peak Steely Dan – great music, and vivid lyrics that set a mood but don’t really make any sense. If there’s a song that better expresses day-after regrets than “Black Coffee In Bed”, please let me know what it is.

Another contemplation of turnout

Let’s see where this one takes us. Last time, I made some guesses about turnout in the HISD races based on overall turnout in the city of Houston. Now I’m going to turn that around and take a shot at pegging city turnout based on HISD.

It was suggested to me that we do have a model for a low-turnout HISD election scenario, and that was the May special election to revisit the recapture question. A total of 28,978 people showed up for that exercise. How can we extrapolate from that to the full city? Most years there isn’t a direct connection, since most years there isn’t an election for all of HISD. But such a connection does exist in two recent years, years in which HISD had a bond issue on the ballot. Let’s take a look at 2007 and 2012, the latter of which works because there were also city bond issues up for a vote. Here are the numbers:

2007: Houston = 123,410 HISD = 85,288 Share = 69.1%

2012: Houston = 576,549 HISD = 388,982 Share = 67.5%

“Share” is just the ratio of HISD turnout to Houston turnout. It’s quite pleasingly compact. If we take the midpoint of the two – 68.3% – and apply it to the May 2017 special, and we get a projected total for the city of 42,428. Which, also pleasingly, is well in line with the numbers I was noodling with last time.

What does that tell us? In some sense, not that much, as we don’t have a district-wide election in November, we have six district races. But it does give another figure for our estimate of hardcore voters, and a tad more faith in my own guess of around 50K total for the city. We can get from there to numbers for the individual races if we want. It’s still all hocus-pocus, but at least it’s based on something.

On a tangential note, we do remember that there’s also another Heights alcohol vote on the ballot, right? I’ve heard basically nothing about this since the petitions were validated. The signs like the one embedded above started showing up within the past week or so, but that’s the only activity I’ve seen or heard about, and this light Press story is the only news I’ve found. The area that will be voting has some overlap with HISD I, so it’s not touching many voters who wouldn’t already have a reason to be engaged, and as such probably wouldn’t be much of a factor even if it were a hotter ticket. Anyway, I just wanted to work something about this item in, and this seemed like as good a place as any.

Paxton wants voter ID lawsuit to be over

I can think of one way he can make that happen. That’s not what he’s asking for, alas.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

The fight over the state’s embattled voter ID laws should be over, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued in a new court document filed late Tuesday.

Paxton, as expected, filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals calling for the judges to end a challenge to the state’s new voter ID law for good. In his 101-page document, the Republican argued that because the state has already added new exceptions to the law to allow people who have a reasonable-impediment to getting an ID to still vote, the case should be officially concluded.

“This case should be over,” Paxton’s brief states.


[Judge Nelva] Gonzales Ramos ruled that forcing people to sign an affidavit under penalties of perjury could have a chilling effect on a voter. The supposed fix to the voter ID law, she ruled, merely traded one obstacle for another.

While the court battle continues, the courts have already ruled that in November the state’s voter ID requirements can be in effect, but still allow people to vote who can show the reasonable impediment – essentially the same as the revamped voter ID law, which does not go into effect until 2018.

See here, here, and here for the background. Paxton’s press release, with a link to the brief, is here. This is basically the crux of the case here: sure (the state argues), the original law may have had a few teensy problems, but we totally cleaned that up this session, so there’s no need for further action. There’s especially no need to ponder if the Lege had any discriminatory intent when it passed that first bill. All I can say at this point is it won’t be quick before we get a final answer.

No big drop in enrollment in area school districts

Mostly good news.

During the height of Hurricane Harvey, school district officials worried enrollments would plummet as thousands of families fled Houston for Dallas, Austin and other drier regions. While many families lost their homes, it seems most relocated within the region and often within the boundaries of their existing school district.

Houston ISD, the state’s largest school district, saw only 1,186 fewer students enrolled on Oct. 2 than on the same date in 2016 – a less than 1 percentage point dip. The district does not yet have estimates on the number of students affected by Hurricane Harvey, as the Texas Education Agency is not collecting much of that information until the end of the month.

In Clear Creek ISD, enrollment is up about 240 students compared to last year, even after 261 students in school the first week did not return after the storm. Katy ISD, which saw widespread flooding and tornadoes, saw enrollment rise by nearly 2,500 students at the official 10-day count mark, but more than 2,800 students are now considered homeless because of the storm.

Guy Sconzo, executive director of the Fast Growth School Coalition and former superintendent of Humble ISD, said it’s surprising so many students were displaced but still managed to stay in Houston-area schools.

“It’s absolutely incredible, because areas of Katy were hit hard,” Sconzo said. “Obviously people wanted to stay, and I think that speaks volumes to the communities and school districts.”

It’s in stark contrast to the deluge of students who left New Orleans after Katrina and never returned. That’s not to say that all Houston-area or Harvey-affected students stayed in southeast Texas. Dallas ISD enrolled 276 students from Harvey-affected areas stretching from Rockport to Beaumont; Fort Worth ISD took in 112; and Del Valle ISD outside of Austin has 67. Seven storm-affected students went as far as El Paso ISD.

The TEA is tracking where all the displaced students are, though what all this will mean in the end is unclear. I hope that the relative lack of dispersal means that student performance won’t be greatly affected, not so much because I care about standardized tests but because the students are sufficiently cared for and healthy that they can do their best. And if not, I sure hope there’s a plan to deal with that, as compassionately as possible.

Endorsement watch: HCC

The Chron wraps up their endorsements for November.

Carolyn Evans-Shabazz

HCCS, Trustee, District IV: Carolyn Evans-Shabazz

The ideal candidate for this seat would be someone with a bold vision for HCC who is capable of collaborating with existing board members. It would be a candidate free from controversy. That candidate is not in this race. So instead we encourage voters to find the best candidate via the process of elimination.

That should lead voters, however reluctantly, to incumbent Carolyn Evans-Shabazz.

Appointed to the Board of Trustees in May 2015 to represent District IV, which includes Sunnyside and the Third Ward, Evans-Shabazz has carved out a leadership role on the board, chairing the success committee, which works on issues such as homelessness and food insecurity on campus. Off the board, she serves on the NAACP-Houston branch executive committee.


Robert Glaser

HCCS, Trustee, District V: Robert Glaser

Incumbent Robert Glaser deserves a second term representing this diverse district that extends from West University to Bellaire to Memorial to Beltway 8.

Glaser, 56, points to HCC’s progress during the past four years. The community college has hired a new chancellor, reduced its overall bond debt and kept taxes level. In addition, tuition rates have been frozen for the last three years while faculty and staff have received raises. Still, the businessman sees room for much improvement.


HCCS, Trustee, District IX: David Jaroszewski

A lawyer and interim dean of academic studies at Lee College in Baytown, David Jaroszewski stands out as one of the few candidates for HCC with a clear vision about the role that community colleges should play, and how properly run boards help them achieve those goals.

The former PTO president has extensive experience in community college systems and understands the difference between governing and managing. He also expressed a dedicated focus on boosting HCC’s retention rate.

But Jaroszewski, 64, earned our endorsement when he said: “The board should not be inserting themselves into the procurement process.”

That’s what voters should want to hear.

Pretta VanDible Stallworth previously served on the HCC board from 1989-1993 and has been a adjunct professor at Bellhaven College and guest professor at DeVry University. Well-positioned to reflect the values of the community, the chaplain for Senate 13 District PAC would have likely earned our endorsement except for her position on a key point: Stallworth believes that the board should be better trained and then given more responsibility with respect to reviewing contracts for compliance with HCC policies.

My interview with Carolyn Evans-Shabazz is here, and my interview with Robert Glaser is here. I’ve taken my guesses at turnout for HISD, but with six-year cycles and frequently unopposed incumbents, there’s not much data there to try the same thing for HCC. I suspect these numbers will be pretty low, with more undervotes than in HISD. I hope people are paying attention, that’s all I can say.