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January 5th, 2018:

Friday random ten: Can’t even, part 2

Because “can’t” is a key part of anyone’s vocabulary.

1. Can’t Stop Dancin’ – Becky G
2. Can’t Stop Killing You – Kirsty MacColl
3. Can’t Stop My Heart From Loving You – Aaron Neville
4. Can’t Stop Rockin’ – ZZ Top
5. Can’t Stop Singing – Ross Lynch & Maia Mitchell
6. Can’t Stop The Music – Village People
7. Can’t Take Love For Granted – Mary Chapin Carpenter
8. Can’t We Try – Teddy Pendergrass
9. Can’t You See (You Doin’ Me Wrong) – Tower of Power
10. Can’t You Tell – Asylum Street Spankers

To address the comments from last week, Depeche Mode’s song is “Just Can’t Get Enough”, which I do have but which doesn’t qualify for this list, I’ve never been a big fan of Bad Company, and I plead nolo contendere on Barry White. Please take the fact that I have a Teddy Pendergrass song on this list instead as a mitigating factor when determining my sentence.

Judicial Q&A: Kathy Vossler

(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 candidates. You can see other Q&As and further information about judicial candidates on my 2018 Judicial page.

Kathy Vossler

1. Who are you and what are you running for?

My name is Kathy Vossler. I am running for the 309th Family District Court. I am a lifelong Houstonian, a 20-year family lawyer, an active member of the community, Super Neighborhood President, Leadership Houston Class XXXIV member and Project Manager, and proud mother of three grown children.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

This court hears family law cases, which include divorce, custody, child support, adoptions, CPS cases, grandparent rights, interstate and international jurisdiction issues. Family Court is the court where most people are likely to be at one point or another, and it is a court where people can be profoundly impacted, both financially and emotionally. Family court judges decide who will raise children, and under what terms, what kind of visitation will take place, and if any restrictions are needed in order to keep children safe. They decide how assets will be divided, how debts will be paid, whether someone can remain in their home, what will happen to their retirement and savings. Family courts determine if a parent can move away with the child, if a parent’s rights will be terminated, if an adoption is in the child’s best interest, if someone should go to jail for non-payment of child support. Family courts see to it that the constitutional rights of litigants are protected, and that the children it oversees are given their best chance at a safe, stable, happy, healthy childhood.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Because of the seriousness of the issues that the family court handles, it is imperative that we have a Judge in the 309th Family District Court who is qualified and experienced in the various types of cases and issues that the court will hear. It is also important that the people who come into the court are treated with respect and dignity, that they are given the opportunity to be heard in a way that is sensitive to the cost and value of the attorney’s time, and that is respectful of the situation in which the litigants find themselves. Nobody likes going to court. The experience is often rife with anxiety and fear of the unknown. The results of a single court hearing can be life-altering and can impact several generations of the same family, all at the same time and for years. It is the court’s duty to be courteous and professional, to treat people with respect, whether they are lawyers, litigants, witnesses or onlookers, and to ensure that the parties are able to conclude their business in a manner that is fair, efficient, dignified and respectful and that allows people to move on with their lives, knowing that they were treated fairly and impartially. I have spent the past 20 years working in family law, and have earned a reputation for being fair, honest, competent, professional, respectful and efficient, and I will bring those qualities with me to the bench of the 309th Family District Court.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been practicing family law for over twenty years. I have represented husbands, wives, moms, dads, children, grandparents, aunts and non-relatives. I have handled divorces, child custody cases, enforcement cases, adoption, termination, interstate jurisdictional issues, grandparent rights cases, name changes and CPS cases. I have been actively involved in family law as evolving social and technological issues have altered the way cases are handled – from the use of DNA, to the use of Facebook postings as evidence, from same-sex marriage, to surrogacy. The times we live in are exciting and our world is rapidly changing. Those changes are always at the forefront of family law cases, and it is important to have a Judge in the 309th Family District Court that understands the law, has experience in handling these types of cases and guiding people through the process, which is often one of the most difficult and taxing times of their lives, and can do all this while allowing the parties and attorneys to maintain their dignity and to have respect for the system. I believe that I will be that judge.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because Harris County has over 4 ½ million people and only ten family courts. Nine of those are up for election in 2018. Most people will never find themselves in a criminal court or a civil court. They are more likely to come into family court, because most of us have families, friends, or issues that need to be dealt with in family court. The impact of a family court case can last a generation or longer. A wise custody decision can mean the difference between a safe, happy childhood and successful adulthood, or one filled with danger, limited opportunities and crippling criminal or health woes. A fair, well-considered and respectfully delivered opinion that is consistent with the law can mean the difference between protracted litigation and continued fighting, and the parties moving on with their lives. It is important that we have a judge in the 309th Family District Court who knows the law, understands the issues, relates to the people, and will rule efficiently, fairly and in accordance with the law. That brings closure and certitude, and allows people to move on with their lives and be the best person they can be.

6. Why should people vote for you in the primary?

I need your vote in the March Primary election so that I can be your Democratic nominee on the ballot in November. The Primary will be held on March 6th, and early voting will commence before that. I am by far the most qualified candidate in the race. I have a proven track record and a wealth of experience in handling all of the kinds of cases that this court will hear. I will come to the bench with a knowledge of the law and experience with the types of cases and issues that will come before me. My opponent is a self-described ‘oil and gas’ lawyer with minimal courtroom experience. This court and the voters of Harris County deserve a Judge in the 309th Family District Court who knows the law, understands the issues, is prepared to run the court professionally and efficiently, will rule fairly, according to the law and will treat the people who come into the court with dignity and respect. I am that person, and I hope to have your support.

Cruz poll claims big lead over O’Rourke

Make of this what you will.

Not Ted Cruz

Texas U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Democrats’ top hope of toppling Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, starts the year at a significant polling disadvantage, according to a new survey released Tuesday by the Cruz campaign.

O’Rourke, a three-term congressman from El Paso, trails Cruz among likely Texas voters by an 18-point margin, or 52-percent to 34-percent, according to the poll conducted by WPA Intelligence, a firm headed by Cruz advisor Chris Wilson. Some 13 percent were undecided.

The poll also shows a significant name-recognition deficit for O’Rourke, who was elected to Congress in 2012, the same year Cruz was elected to the Senate. Only 32 percent of poll respondents contacted in December had heard of him, compared to 99 percent for Cruz, who ran for president in 2016.

Cruz clocked in with a favorability rating of 50 percent, while 42 percent of likely voters have an unfavorable opinion of the senator. For O’Rourke, 14 percent of those who had heard of him have a favorable view, while 7 percent said they have an unfavorable view.

The poll is from a month ago, not that I think that makes any difference. Wilson Perkins is as noted a GOP-aligned firm, and they did a fairly accurate Presidential poll in 2012, so they’re not a fly-by-night outfit. That said, there are a couple of things to keep in mind here. One is that Ted Cruz has a much better favorability rating in this sample than he did in the October UT/Trib poll and much better re-elect numbers than in the April Texas Lyceum poll. That doesn’t mean this poll is wrong and those polls are right – the Lyceum poll was of adults, not registered voters, so it’s not even a true comparison – just that this poll is different than others we have seen. At this point, there are likely to be some big variations in polling results across samples just because assumptions about the makeup of the electorate are likely to diverge as well. Which again doesn’t mean this poll is wrong or that it’s based on optimistic assumptions for Ted Cruz – I don’t know what assumptions the pollster made about the electorate, I don’t have that data. It just means this is one poll result, and there will surely be others.

We could be getting to the end of 290 construction

By the end of the year. We think.

Most major construction along the main lanes of U.S. 290 will end in 2018. Every new wide lane open. Every bridge built. Eleven lanes, including a reversible HOV lane, from Loop 610 to Texas 6, and nine lanes from Texas 6 to Waller County. All open by the end of 2018.

“There are going to see stuff open up if we can do it safely,” said Frank Leong, area engineer for TxDOT’s West Harris County office. “The bridges are controlling the schedule right now.”

The last segments to start construction, west of the Grand Parkway, will be the first to open under TxDOT’s current plans. Leong said that stretch, the easiest to build because it required the fewest bridges and fewest utility relocations, likely will open in March or April.

About six months later, if schedules proceed as anticipated, the freeway should be fully open from Loop 610 to the Sam Houston Tollway – including the lengthy work to rebuild all the connections to and from Loop 610, Interstate 10 and frontage road entrances and exits.

Officials said work will speed ahead and the project will be in finishing touches phase by the time Houstonians ring in 2019.

[…]

Crews also are close to opening a major component of the Loop 610 interchange, which will reconnect the HOV lane. The work also coincides with openings planned in January for some of the frontage road access.

“This job is going to open up a lot of things next month,” said Hamoon Bahrami, project engineer for the U.S. 290 project.

The openings also allow work to concentrate in the center of the interchange, where one of the last steps will be returning the connection from northbound Loop 610 to westbound U.S. 290 to the interior of the interchange. Of the major connections between U.S. 290, Loop 610 and I-10, it is the last piece.

The final few months, however, will not be pain-free. In some spots, crews still are hanging beams for some overpasses, which will lead to highway closings and detours. Lanes will remain narrowed in spots for months to come.

It’s ending just in time for the 59/610 interchange work to begin. You didn’t think it was going to be all smooth sailing, did you? Be that as it may, enjoy whatever traffic relief you get when the new and improved 290 opens. Just remember it took less than ten years for I-10 to get all congested again. Happy trails!