Category Archives: Harris County

The Voting Problems

It’s safe to say that local Republicans didn’t mind the voting problems at locations which opened late or were short-staffed at the beginning of Election Day. When supplies were running low at some locations, though, all of a sudden they wanted to be a protected class. So goes the hypocrisy of the Republican Party. It’s all about them–especially when they lose.

Don’t worry, Rethugs, I was almost a victim of those damn printers, too. (Did you hear that HC Elections was counting emergency ballots yesterday?)

I voted on the first day, being the responsible kind of voter who fears dying between Day 1 of early voting and Election Day and not having my vote counted. Though the polling location (Tracy Gee Center) was busy and the configuration of the room between check-in and voting was backwards, I got through that process. Unfortunately, when it came to pushing in the 2nd ballot sheet into the printer, it jammed. Badly! The first couple of lines printed before it skewed badly and injured the paper.

I immediately called up a poll worker who literally had to pull the sheet out, had me put my name on yellow sticky on the ballot while he found a supervisor. I stayed at my polling station, hoping that my vote wasn’t lost. Thankfully, a supervisor brought a new sheet, the poll worker ran it through, and the 2nd page was printed. Finally, both sheets went through the scanner and I was done, placing the I VOTED sticker on my mask. Yes, I still mask.

Anyway, voters need to check their paper print-outs to ensure everything printed out. We have these “paper trails” that were demanded by people for a reason. I thought the paper trail was going to be cash register receipt of my choices for ME, but so much for that.

Thanks to the good folks who committed to working for Harris County Elections for ensuring my vote counted.

Now, the staffing shortages and paper shortages do need to be addressed. The paper trail part is state-mandated now, so, maybe more staff to run a q-tip with alcohol on the rubber thingies that pull the ballot paper in are needed. I don’t know. You got paid people for that. But more paper kept in accessible secure locations or something!

But is this a blatant, purposeful violation of ones voting rights? It’s an inconvenience for sure, but we have 782 voting locations on Election Day that a voter can vote at. At least in my neighborhood, from Tracy Gee I could go down the street to one of the Chinese Cultural centers off Corporate to vote. A little further and I have the Alief ISD polling station. The options were plentiful. We just haven’t gotten people out of the mentality that they don’t have to vote JUST in their neighborhood.

The options were also plentiful for people who somehow didn’t pay attention to all the TV attack ads and mail reminding them that there was an election–early voting and Election Day–yet decided to give up when the one location they went to didn’t open up on time. Or didn’t realize it until they got a text that election day was extended by an hour (to vote on a provisional ballot that may or may not be counted).

Now, some might say, “How Republican of you, Stace, to have these thoughts.” But there were two million people in downtown sweating it out (and stinking it up) for the Astros a day before, I figure driving a few miles to a polling location wouldn’t be that big a deal. Maybe I’m just experiencing less faith in humanity. I wonder why.

Is there voter suppression? Of poor and ethnic folks? Hell yeah. Which is why we have early voting for two weeks, a late night of early voting, a weekend of early voting, and 782 locations to vote at on Election Day.

Do folks still have issues getting to vote? Of course! Especially by mail. The Republicans have improved their voter suppression tactics to include racist mailings to go along with their racist policies that make people give up on democracy. Gerrymandering is voter suppression, too. But given the fact that 9 million people in Texas (a million or so here in Houston) didn’t show up to vote, it’s safe to say that a lot of folks just weren’t giving a shit and for a whole lot of reasons. And that’s a whole other discussion to have, but other than forced voting, I’m not sure what a good solution is.

I’m proud to be the son of Tacho and Flora who instilled in me a love of voting and participating in the political process. And believe me, I went through a phase this summer of wondering if I should even bother, but that subsided when I saw all of the lies and misinformation by Fascist Mack and MagaMealer and “Judicial Fairness PAC.” But I guess 9 million others in Texas don’t want to be like me.

Needless to say, Republicans, your rights were not violated. Inconvenienced? Sure. And the rights of Democrats at those voting locations, too, but you didn’t seem to care about them. But there is a lot of that going on, mostly because of Republican policies.

Election 2022 Results

Congrats to County Judge Lina Hidalgo. She fought off an all-out attack from Fascist Mack, his millionaire buddies and his puppet of a candidate, consistently adding to her lead as the votes were counted throughout the night. Other Dems, including District Clerk Marilyn Burgess and County Clerk Teneshia Hudspeth return to their jobs, and Dr. Carla Wyatt will take over as County Treasurer in January. Amy Hinojosa and Andrea Duhon return to the Harris County Dept of Education board, too.

We will have a new Pct. 4 County Commissioner as Lesley Briones pushed on through to defeat the no-show incumbent. With Judge Hidalgo and Commish Adrian Garcia earning re-election, Harris County Commissioner’s Court will now have four (4) Democrats–a supermajority that can ensure strong budgets and policies are passed whether GOPer Tom Ramsey shows up or not. Some say this isn’t a mandate, but after all the hate-mongering and money wasted by the other side, I think Harris County did achieve a strong mandate for progressive values and policies.

With all of the attack ads full of misinformation and fear-mongering against “Democrat Judges,” Dems lost a few judicial races, including 180th District Judge Dasean Jones. Of course, the local Dem DA assisted in the bail-related fear-mongering, so, I hope Judge Jones stays close and challenges the DA in 2024. There were several sitting judges who were “in the news” regarding bonds and releases, but it seems Republicans honed in on African-American judicial candidates because they are the ones that lost. The non-Black judges seemed to cruise into re-election. Just an observation.

That said, I’m surprised nothing was said about all the corporate money that was used to create the Republican “crime” message that attacked all of the judges. The money came from Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a very dead Sheldon Adelson’s Vegas gambling corporation, and other non-crime, non-law enforcement-related corporations. They were trying to buy civil court judges, people! They didn’t care about crime.

Well, Democrats haven’t elected anyone statewide for over 25 years, and that reality continues. South Texas continues to add to Republicans’ bottom line, and anything over 35-40 % of the vote in those counties will keep the GOP strong statewide–even as suburban areas “liberalize.” Whether it’s “moderate” Democrats who fail to do anything about educating the South Texas public about progressive issues, Christian fundamentalism that creeps into politics, or South Texas voters falling for right-wing hate-mongering as if they aren’t included in the attacks, it’s a problem. A message problem for Democrats.

Thankfully, at the local level Democrats are still in charge in most of South Texas–even Starr County. It is gerrymandering that ensured right-wing victories in CD-15 and CD-23. There’s a lot to unpack and discuss about South Texas, but as long as Nancy Pelosi feels the need to help sell-outs like Henry Cuellar during Democratic Primaries, the party pendejadas will continue.

Bexar County had a good night, as did Travis County and Dallas County. For some reason, Republicans targeted Harris County, finding and exploiting weaknesses in our bottom line. Fortunately, they ran mediocre (yet well-funded) candidates with awful puppeteers (Fascist Mack, Steve Hotze, etc.) and exploited crime victims in creating a fear-based message. Democratic activists were still successful in the ground game, despite the daily vitriol on TV. Kudos to them. [Travis County Note: Good luck to Celia Israel as she moves on to a Mayoral run-off, and to Jose Velasquez in Austin City Council District 3 run-off.]

While Dem faithful seem to have adopted Greg Abbott’s “it could’ve been worse” line after the results were finally posted, given results in other urban areas of the state which were strong for Democrats, perhaps something needs to be discussed. The activism is working, but the media response to right-wing lies leaves much to be desired. Also, it might help reminding voters how great our elected officials are–at least those that are great. But, hey, we won!

Anyway, Dems have some work to do for 2024, including having a cleaner, more meaningful slate that runs together and supports itself from top to bottom. Of course, this is also something to think about for the 2023 local elections as we remember who, from those in the running for Mayor and Council, stood up for our Democratic slate and who did not.

And somebody educate the local newsreaders about the political and election process before they go on TV. The overdramatization of the last eight ballot boxes was quite annoying.

Kuff has more. And I thought I was the only one making hand gestures at homes with Mealer signs.

Today is Election Day 2022!

Well, it all comes down to today. If you haven’t voted early, then please get it done today!

  • Find your sample ballot by clicking here.
  • Find a polling location anywhere in Harris County by clicking here.
  • VOTE FOR ALL OF THE DEMOCRATS

Here are some truths.

Vote to Re-Elect Judge Lina Hidalgo. She has served us well through disasters, a pandemic, and especially through the day-to-day affairs of the County. She shows up for work, which cannot be said about Republican commissioners, like Jack Cagle and Tom Ramsey. If you want our county services left intact, if you want the Sheriff funded, and if you want to ensure our medical services still exist next year, then we must keep the Democratic majority. And that means re-electing Judge Hidalgo and electing Lesley Briones for Pct 4 Commissioner.

The local furniture guy does not support the best interests of the people of Harris County. He puts on a good show, but he falls short of caring for anything that doesn’t get him a tax dodge or hedge his business risks, like betting on the Astros to pay for all of “free” furniture. He’s a tax-dodging, MAGA-supporting, election-denying gambling addict, and Alex Mealer doesn’t fall far from those descriptors. Don’t tolerate whiny Republicans who will gamble away your rights and your own livelihood to enrich themselves.

And what about “Democrat Judges”? They have served us well, ensuring fairness and justice in the criminal and civil courts. The money for all of those anti-Democrat Judge ads is coming from a a few donors who do not care about your safety. Corporate groups like Texans for Lawsuit Reform (they have nothing to do with crime), Las Vegas Sands Company (which probably gets a lot of money from at least one local gambling addict, Trinity Equity Partners, Don McGill Toyota, and some other millionaires who don’t care about your safety, but care about buying civil court judges for their own benefit and that of their rich buddies. Vote for the Democrats if you want your best interests guarded.

We need Beto O’Rourke, Rochelle Garza and the Democrats at the top of the ballot to end the political career of Greg Abbott, Ken Paxton and the rest of the Republicans who threaten our livelihoods everyday. So, vote accordingly.

2022 Early Voting Begins Monday 10/24

Today is the first day of Early Voting for the 2022 General Election. Here’s the important info:

FIND YOUR SAMPLE BALLOT HERE

FIND YOUR EARLY VOTING LOCATION HERE Or Print a PDF EV Location Sheet

VOTE EARLY! VOTE FOR ALL OF THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES! And vote for all of the Harris County Bond Propositions!

This is a very important election from the top to the bottom of the ballot. Vote in every race.

Personally, though, I’ll be skipping over Democrats who failed to endorse our County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Kudos to Mayoral candidate Chris Hollins for pointing out that one particular Democratic officeholder who has failed to endorse a couple of Latina candidates.

Is It Over?

I can’t say I got the warm and fuzzies when President Biden declared the pandemic “over” on 60 Minutes last night. He also mentioned that COVID-19 is still an issue that is being dealt with, so, at least he reminded folks. But the strongest statement was that the pandemic was “over.” I think that statement was irresponsible.

NPR reports that worldwide, there are still reports of over 400,000 cases daily. There have been significant increases between August 16 and September 17th in various countries, including the United States, though, I think the lower numbers in the US have more to do with lack of reporting of home tests than anything. News flash: People are still dying. So, COVID-19 is still here.

In Houston, we seem to have finally gone below 20 percent test positivity and continue to trend downward. And we even have a new 3-tiered COVID threat scale of Low-Medium-High. We are currently at Medium, which tell us: “If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions.”

So, listen to your doctors…if you have access to one. Or have insurance. And if you really care about your high risk relatives and friends, mask up!

My worry continues to be about the immunocompromised and the frail whose relatives seem to continue going unmasked, as President Biden celebrated on 60 Minutes, stating, “Everyone looks in good shape.” or something like that.

Even more disturbing is an inflamed debate about what constitutes a “COVID death.” Dr. Monica Ghandi at UC-San Francisco seems to say it is just like the flu, now. Dr. Fauci disagrees.

“I’m sorry — I just disagree,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s medical adviser, and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “The severity of one compared to the other is really quite stark. And the potential to kill of one versus the other is really quite stark.”

Fauci states that at the current pace, COVID-19 could still kill 125,000 more people in the next year.

“COVID is a much more serious public health issue than is influenza,” Fauci says, noting this is especially true for older people, the group at the highest risk dying from the disease.

The debate then turns to if people are dying of COVID-19 or of a pre-existing disease. I’d think that with medical advances, people are living longer even with pre-existing disease, but COVID-19 exacerbates it because of its inflammatory nature. So, it’s still COVID-19 that is the killer. Unfortunately, it becomes a public relations debate about lowering numbers versus truth in numbers.

Anyway, we’re still in this. I’m still masking in public spaces, like stores and doctor’s offices. I made a return to patio dining and even went into a restaurant, masking up while walking through it and unmasking while eating and drinking. Ultimately, I just don’t want it.

So, stay vigilant.

El Prez Is Back; COVID-19 Still Here

CNBC

The good news is that President Joe Biden has tested negative for COVID-19 and he is back in the Oval. Thankfully, he has in-house medical and the ability to clear a hospital, if needed, for himself. Good thing he was able to get what he needed at the White House.

At today’s COVID-19-Neg presser, the President was promoting vaccines and boosters, at-home tests, paxlovid (if infected), and even wearing masks indoors. He really promoted the fact that these treatments and vaccines are free and available. Masks, I’d still suggest N-95, KN-95 and KF-94 one can find on Amazon and at grocery stores.

Biden also mentioned that things have advanced in the fight against COVID-19, reminding us that his orange predecessor had to be helicoptered to the hospital to get treated, while President Biden was treated effectively in-house with no need for a media circus involving waving from an SUV or endangering Secret Service.

That said, Houston Health reported a miniscule decrease in the positivity rate (down to 32.1%), as well as a drop in the wastewater viral load (down to 774%). While the wastewater number gives some hope because at-home testing doesn’t go reported as PCR tests do and this much of a decrease is noteworthy, a closer look at specific areas of town where they are taking these measurements show some increases, with some areas at over 1000% of the baseline.

Needless to say, COVID-19 is still with us and we still need to avoid it by masking up, avoiding large crowds, and even avoiding indoor activities with crowds. Oh yeah, and try not to get MonkeyPox, either! The side effects can be scary!

UPDATE: El Prez has tested positive for COVID-19 again. Apparently, he has a rare rebound case which are known to appear after treatment with Paxlovid. Hopefully, we’ll get some anecdotal knowledge of the effects of such a positive test.

Not Giving Up On Avoiding COVID-19

Houston Health’s latest report has us at 30.4% positivity on COVID-19 tests. I’m pretty sure we’ll reach one-third of tests soon, at least officially. Because of home tests and lack of individual reporting (c’mon, people, there are various apps on which to report it!), the number is likely higher.

My fear about the Texas Dem convention may have come true as I’ve seen a few friends and FB acquaintances return with positive tests. Another relatively smart FB acquaintance basically stated that we’re all gonna get it, since that person got it while on other unmasked exploits. ((Eye Roll)) I’m not giving up, but, then again, I don’t feel the need to be everywhere maskless during a pandemic. If I do get it, it’ll most likely be because of a failed mask in a room with some infected, unmasked mouthbreather.

The combination of COVID-19 vaccine avoidance due to widespread conspiracy idiocy and those who insist on going unmasked for fun and in the workplace are the reasons we’ve back-slided. The lack of any messaging regarding the latest surge from CDC, FDA, POTUS, and anything other governmental minions shows a lack of concern and also contribute to the current situation. There’s a good article about the current mess in Rolling Stone.

There’s a lot the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can do to slow the BA.5 subvariant and prevent deaths.

But both the FDA and CDC have dragged their heels. The FDA still hasn’t taken arguably the most important steps — approving both second boosters for Americans under age 50 and new booster formulations for subvariants such as BA.5. The CDC meanwhile isn’t clearly communicating to the public just how serious BA.5 is.

Whether it’s outdated COVID-19 maps, definitions of “community transmission” of late, or just a lack of concern based on low hospitalization rates (which say more about severity than spread), it is really looking like failure on the part of government officials. I wouldn’t expect any new mask mandates a few months before the election, but lack of a mandate (or lack of a strong recommendation) has contributed to people being lax and willfully ignorant about reality.

Anyway, I’m officially done with excursions to restaurants and other small events, though, they were few and far between. If I visit a friend by chance, I’ll definitely be masked because I don’t know where anyone not in my immediate circle has been. It’s not just the getting it that worries me, it’s the ongoing effects post-infection. I wish people would take it seriously.

Thoughts on Viernes – 07152022 (Sabado Edition)

The Video

The release of the Uvalde video and the aftermath of the release is pretty ugly. While the people want the ineptitude of cops and political leaders at all levels proven quickly, too much went wrong in the process of releasing it. The video was leaked without much explanation of the content. Other than telling us that the screams of the kids were removed, nothing else was really explained and everything was left to be discussed by the viewers without much actual context. The families were not given an opportunity to watch the video first.

While the ineptitude of all levels of Texas government and law enforcement is obvious, the husband of one of the teachers who was shot was vilified for looking at his phone, when he was awaiting a call from his wife. All because much was left unexplained and people want accountability. Too much went wrong and this is disappointing because it detracts from getting to the bottom of this tragedy. Perhaps this was the intent of its release by Texas authorities to the press.

There will be a lot of blame going around, but we cannot trust DPS, Greg Abbott, or Uvalde’s local authorities to be honest with the people. I still think DOJ should be leading the investigation, since the border cops involved themselves in this whole thing.

Let’s Hope It’s Not A Superspreader

What part of COVID IS STILL HERE do you not understand? That is my message to Texas Democratic Convention attendees. They’re going around mostly unmasked at some pretty packed meetings. The selfies of all the fun reminds me of the golden calf scene in the 10 Commandments; they’re having so much fun at the confab and at the afterparties. Gives me the cringes.

Reminder: Dallas County recently upped it’s COVID warnings to “high.”

It’s obvious that both parties are just going with what the people want. With polls showing closer races all around, it’s not time to be controversial, I guess. Hell, Abbott’s failures during the pandemic haven’t even been mentioned! And neither has Abbott’s border boondoggle.

Congresswoman Garcia Leads Effort To Honor the Late Benny Martinez

The late Benny Martinez, a Houston community leader who led the way to achieve a meeting between LULAC and President John F. Kennedy in 1963, among so many other civil rights achievements, will have a Houston post office named in his honor. Martinez served his community as a nurse and as a Sheriff’s deputy for over thirty years, while also being at the forefront of community issues through various organizations. He was also a Veteran. HR 7832 was spearheaded by Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia. The post office is located on 4020 Broadway St.

COVID-19: CDC Says Mask Up Indoors, Again!

Well, if you haven’t paid attention to my COVID-19 posts of the last couple of months, or the steady climb of test positivity during the same period, it looks like the Feds are recognizing COVID-19 as a problem, again. Surprise? Hardly.

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows about one-third of the U.S. population is now living in a county with a “high COVID-19 community level,” which means the agency recommends universal indoor masking.

Johns Hopkins University reports new COVID-19 cases rising slowly, which 108,000 new cases reported every day over the past two weeks. That is up 6% from the two weeks prior.

A recent pre-print study based on health records from the Veteran’s Administration shows that catching COVID-19 over and over again appears to increase the chances a person will experience new and sometimes lasting health problems after their infection.

People who had two or more documented infections had more than twice the risk of dying and three times the risk of being hospitalized within six months of their last infection.

Houston Health reports positivity is at 29.2% (probably undercounted) and that hospitalizations are indeed increasing. Moreover, Houston Health is now telling folks to mask-up indoors no matter their vaccination status based on CDC recommendations. The Texas Tribune and local news outlets also report that hospitalizations have doubled in the last week. All of this because of the newest variant that seems to be among the majority of infections.

But the omicron variant, which doctors say appears to be as contagious as the measles, could wind up sending more people to the hospital than during previous surges — even if it is a milder version of the virus — simply due to the sheer volume of people it’s infecting, Dr. Jason Bowling, epidemiologist at University Health in San Antonio.

Omicron has become the dominant variant in the state less than a month after it was first detected. The delta variant took several months to become dominant in Texas. That means the state’s medical community could be in for a bumpy ride this month as the virus infects people at an unprecedented rate.

Frankly it pisses me off that pundits continue to say that current numbers are “lower than last year’s peak,” as there are still people getting sick and spreading it a lot easier than with past variants. People are still acting as if this is over and it is pretty obvious it is not. Waiting for the numbers to get bad, instead of staying vigilant and proactive, is the problem. This new data that shows people infected multiple times have a higher chance of dying or hospitalization is pretty scary, too.

Now (or during the last few months) is not the time to continue to be lax in preventing disease. If masking had still been pushed while the numbers were lowering, perhaps we wouldn’t be in this current uptick in infections. But, hell, when people at the highest levels of government went unmasked at mass events, including some of our favorite Democrats, they ceased to be an example of prevention to the people. If anything, they were the excuse people needed to flick off their masks. And any new push by them to have the people mask up, I predict, will faceplant because of this.

What pisses me off even more is that the immunocompromised are still under constant threat. People still need to work and are in unmasked workplaces that insist on putting employees in danger. Mass events are being held with little to no recommendations for masking. Look, no one is telling you to close down, but mask the hell up! I really don’t need to see y’alls faces.

I preferred the politics of COVID-19 when Greg Abbott’s ineptitude wasn’t getting the help of everyone else in politics.

Thoughts on Viernes – 07082022

Migrant Deaths Beyond The Trailer in SA

I came upon a report on FB regarding the bodies of migrants being found in Eagle Pass/Maverick County during this last fiscal year. In fact, the number of deaths this year alone number around seventy. Deaths are caused by dehydration because of the South Texas heat as they trek through farm and ranch land, or from drowning in the Rio Grande. Back in May, a dozen migrants were found in this same sector. Migrant deaths in this sector account for almost a third of all deaths.

So, as Greg Abbott sics his National Guard on helpless migrants escaping violence and poverty in their home countries, migrants will seek more dangerous routes to get here. They certainly aren’t stopping or returning on their own. Along with Abbott’s bigoted policies, The Biden Administration and Congress’s lack of action on immigration reform are the cause of these deaths. US – Latin America policy which supports right-wing governments like the one in El Salvador is at fault for migrants attempting to come to the US in the first place.

We are told to “vote in the next election.” But we voted in 2020. We got a Democratic majority and a Democratic President who promised action. Give us something for which to vote in 2022!

COVID-19 Denial

It seems so many are still in denial that the spread of COVID-19 continues to rise. Houston Health reported we are at 28% positivity. Hospitalizations continue to rise. I see more people I know getting infected, and some, re-infected. I’ll venture to say that these numbers rise because people are out in crowds unmasked. While the vaccination rate in Houston remains steady at around 68%, the re-opening of Texas has sent people into a state of irresponsibility. If you’re skinny and well-insured (and well-informed), the vaccinations and boosters will be a help. But as long as local government isn’t sounding alarms to help inform people of the current reality, then the infection rate will rise. At this point, I’m disappointed in local officials, and not just because some of them got (re-)infected.

The rest of you all, MASK UP. It may be the one thing that keeps you from getting infected, as the vaccination only helps with the symptoms at this point.

But, here’s the thing: So many Republicans and wealthy people whined that working from home would affect productivity. But everyone was working and the work got done. Now, workplaces are seeing increases in COVID-19 positivity, and people are staying home sick and not working. THIS is what affects productivity; not working from home! Anyway, mask up!

Greg Abbott and The People’s Money

Abbott sure knows how to throw other people’s money around, whether it is tax dollars or the money of his donors. In the case of our money, he has thrown $4 billion at the Texas border in what has been one big photo opportunity for himself. He recently announced he was sending another $30 million for his bigoted Operation Lone Pendejo, in which he purports to fight migrants. The money usually goes to overtime for local cops and toys with big tires. And since it comes from federal and state money in the form of law enforcement grants, there usually is no accountability. One would figure that legislators and the feds would ask for a full accounting of it. Hopefully, the Justice Department investigation will tell us what we already know–it’s all a boondoggle and a waste of money. But I’m not even hopeful of that.