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Posts Tagged ‘Harris County’

Early voting Day Five: Can we make any guesses yet?

Mike Snyder wonders about the turnout so far in the May elections. When Pasadena last chose a mayor, in 2013, about 7 percent of its registered voters determined who would lead the industrial port city of 150,000. Mayor Johnny Isbell, who won re-election by an overwhelming margin, attributed the paltry turnout to public satisfaction with “the […]

Paxton still pushing for a new judge

Still, he persisted, I guess. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawyers are not giving up in their bid to get a new judge in his securities fraud case. Earlier this month, Judge George Gallagher ordered Paxton’s trial be moved to Harris County from Collin County, where Paxton lives, after prosecutors argued Paxton and his allies […]

Early voting so far

The Chron looks at the first day of early voting and some area races. Early voting began Monday for local elections next month that will determine who leads increasingly diverse Pasadena, the fate of a major school bond referendum in League City and whether Houston’s largest school district pays tens of millions to the state […]

ADA voting rights lawsuit update

Interesting. A federal judge in Houston put Harris County on notice Friday that the scope of accessibility violations at local polling places could be so vast that a special master may be needed to sort them out. U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett said he is considering an independent review of the county’s 765 polling […]

Early voting for May elections begins tomorrow

Tomorrow is the first day of the nine-day early voting period for the May 6 election. I’ve generally not paid a great deal of attention to these May elections, but it’s safe to say that This Time It’s Different, and not just because I myself have an election to vote in. The people who live […]

No new judge for Paxton

Denied! State District Judge George Gallagher will remain on the securities fraud case against Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to a spokeswoman for the judge. It was originally believed Gallagher would have to rule on a request Paxton’s lawyers made this month for a new judge. But the spokeswoman, Melody McDonald Lanier, said Monday that […]

Paxton wants a new judge

He may not get his wish. The judge presiding over Attorney General Ken Paxton’s criminal trial plans to remain on the case, regardless of Paxton’s request for a new judge, his spokesman said. “He anticipates remaining the judge,” District Judge George Gallagher’s spokeswoman Melody McDonald Lanier told the Houston Chronicle Thursday. Paxton’s criminal defense team […]

Bill to fix voting interpreters considered

This needs to happen, and it really shouldn’t be a big deal. Almost three years after Mallika Das, a naturalized citizen who spoke Bengali, was unable to vote properly because she was not proficient in English, Texas lawmakers are considering a change to an obscure provision of Texas election law regarding language interpreters. Members of […]

Improving Metro service for disabled riders

It’s a work in progress. Many elderly and disabled people in the region rely on the bus, and a 6-foot stretch of missing sidewalk can cut off their access completely. Advocates expect better from the city with the world’s largest medical center, home to the former president, George H.W. Bush, who signed the Americans With […]

Paxton’s trial date set for September 12

Mark your calendars. Attorney General Ken Paxton’s newly relocated criminal trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 12. The judge in the case set the trial date Wednesday, a day after moving the proceedings to Harris County. The trial had originally been scheduled to start May 1 in Collin County. The judge, George Gallagher, said in […]

Settle the damn bail lawsuit already

Enough. Harris County commissioners Tuesday voted to add high-profile, conservative litigator Charles Cooper to a growing team of attorneys defending the county and several public officials against a civil rights lawsuit alleging the county’s bail system unconstitutionally jails the poor. Cooper, a former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist and friend of U.S. […]

Paxton trial moved to Harris County

The circus is coming to town, with none of those morally questionable animal acts to get all angsty about. Attorney General Ken Paxton will face a jury in Harris County on felony criminal charges he committed securities fraud and failed to register with the state as an investment advisor, a district judge ruled Tuesday. District […]

Voter ID education was a massive failure

This is outrageous. The University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs recently completed a report, “The Texas Voter ID Law and the 2016 Election,” based on surveys of registered voters who sat out the 2016 elections in the state’s two highest profile battleground jurisdictions: Harris County and Congressional District 23 (CD-23), which stretches from […]

Bail bondsmen complain about bail reform bill

I understand their concerns, but that doesn’t mean I agree with them. Legislation touted as a fix-all to reform Texas’ controversial jail-release system was blasted Tuesday by bail bondsmen and attorneys who said it would destroy the bail-bond industry and leave taxpayers footing a multimillion-dollar tab. “The whole industry will be out of business” if […]

Commissioners get testy over bail practices lawsuit

Let’s hash it all out. Tensions flared at Harris County Commissioners Court Tuesday after new Commissioner Rodney Ellis filed legal papers supporting civil rights groups in their high-profile federal lawsuit against the county and its bail system. In a rare public argument before dozens of onlookers at the meeting Tuesday, Ellis’ colleagues — all Republicans […]

Busy day in the Senate

They got stuff done, I’ll give them that. Whether it was stuff worth doing or not, I’ll leave to you. 1. Senate bill would let Houston voters weigh in on fix to pension crisis. The Senate on Wednesday voted 21-10 to give preliminary approval of a bill that would require voters to sign off before […]

Harris County’s growth slows

We’re still growing, we just didn’t grow as fast last year as we had in previous years. After eight straight years of boom – adding more new residents than any county in the nation – Harris County in 2016 felt some of the oil bust’s sting. The county gained a total of about 56,600 people […]

January 2017 campaign finance reports: Harris County officeholders

We may or may not have City of Houston elections this year, but we will definitely have Harris County elections next year. Here’s a brief tour of the finance reports for Harris County officeholders. First up, Commissioners Court: Rodney Ellis Jack Morman Steve Radack Jack Cagle (PAC) El Franco Lee Gene Locke Name Raised Spent […]

Bail practices lawsuit wraps up

It’s up to the judge now. The call by two civil rights groups for an immediate fix to Harris County’s bail system is now in the hands of a federal judge after high-stakes arguments over whether poor people should remain in jail on misdemeanor offenses because they can’t afford to post bail. Key criminal justice […]

Let’s use mutant mosquitoes to fight Zika

What could possibly go wrong? The Bayou City’s teeming mosquito population spawns in dark, wet nooks and carries a slew of deadly tropical diseases that could ravage the region. So Houston is pondering a sneak attack, something akin to a Trojan Horse. Harris County officials are negotiating with a British biotech company, Oxitec, to create […]

Whitmire Astrodome bill passes out of committee

Whatever. A Senate committee voted Monday in favor of a bill that would require Harris County residents to approve a county project to renovate the Astrodome by raising its floors and installing parking underneath. The bill could effectively could torpedo the county’s $105 million project to raise the ground level two floors to fit in […]

Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences officially opens

Excellent news. The greater Houston region now has a sophisticated asset to investigate and solve crimes with the official opening of the new Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences (HCIFS). Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and other dignitaries, including Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new facility on Thursday […]

County will use public defenders at bail hearings

Good. Harris County commissioners on Tuesday approved a pilot program to make public defenders available at bail hearings, a step aimed at retooling a criminal justice system that has increasingly drawn criticism for jailing thousands of poor, low-risk offenders. Within months, county officials anticipate that two public defenders will be present at bail hearings for […]

Bail reform bills

Glad to see this. An unusual bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and judges has teamed up to back broad reforms in Texas that could eliminate cash bail for nonviolent offenders who are not deemed dangerous or a flight risk. Bills introduced simultaneously in the House and the Senate this week by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston and […]

Two unsatisfying articles about the 2016 Democratic sweep in Harris County

The Democratic sweep in Harris County has drawn some national attention, as writers from the left and right try to analyze what happened here last year and why Hillary Clinton carried the county by such a large margin. Unfortunately, as is often the case with stories about Texas by people not from Texas, the results […]

Sheriff Gonzalez testifies in bail practices trial

He says on the stand what he has been saying elsewhere. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez took the witness stand for an hour Wednesday afternoon in a closely watched federal civil rights case that is challenging whether it is constitutional to impose monetary bail on people arrested for minor offenses if they cannot afford to […]

It’s HCDE hunting season again

Every two years, like clockwork. A Houston-area legislator has filed two bills targeting the Harris County Department of Education, renewing his assault on the agency that provides special education therapy services to hundreds of students. State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, a Republican whose district covers much of northwest Harris County, said he was upset that the […]

Back to Buzbee

Looks like we’re not done with this yet. Prominent Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee on Monday accused Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg of “playing politics,” saying prosecutors are trying to revive a DWI case against him that has already been expunged. Buzbee said Ogg’s office has filed a sealed motion seeking to reopen the criminal […]

Bail practices lawsuit gets going

The first day in court for this lawsuit was Monday. Neal S. Manne, a managing partner at Susman Godfrey, told Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in his opening statement Monday that ODonnell and hundreds of other poor people charged with minor crimes do not get a fair chance to win pretrial release here […]

We have an opponent for Commissioner Morman

From the inbox: DEMOCRAT MIGUEL LEIJA JR. ANNOUNES CANDIDACY For Harris County Commissioner Pct. 2 Houston, TX, March 6, 2017– Harris County is the most populous county in Texas and the third-most populous county in the United States with the fourth largest city in the United States.   It is known for its sports, ports and […]

County approves defense attorneys for bail hearings

Long overdue. Harris County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to develop a pilot program that would make public defenders present at bail hearings, a move aimed at reducing what officials say is the unnecessary jailing of thousands of defendants because they can’t afford bail or are unfamiliar with the legal process. The pilot could lead to […]

Lillie Schechter elected HCDP Chair

Six candidates were nominated for HCDP Chair at Sunday’s County Executive Committee meeting: Dominique Davis, Johnathan Miller, Chris Spellmon, Keryl Douglass, Eartha Jean Johnson, and Lillie Schechter. Each candidate was given two minutes for a speech in a pre-determined order, and the most interesting thing to come out of those speeches was candidates Spellmon and […]

The long-term future of public transit

By “long-term” I mean by 2050 or so. For an agency that’s spent decades guiding freeway expansion, it was a stark admission for members of the Houston-Galveston Area Council’s transportation policy council. “Future growth and the resulting travel is expected to surpass our ability to meet regional mobility needs by relying solely on increased roadway […]

Ogg sides with bail reformers

As well she should. District Attorney Kim Ogg on Friday filed a brief supporting bail reform in the lawsuit brought against Harris County’s misdemeanor judges to change the bail system. The civil rights lawsuit, filed in federal court, is expected to begin a three-day hearing on Monday about whether the judge should issue an injunction. […]