Category Archives: Local Politica

The Stace Slate – 2022 Dem Run-Off

It’s that time again. Early voting for the 2022 Democratic Run-off begins on Monday, May 16 and continues through May 20. Run-off Election Day is on Tuesday, May 24. You can find your nearest polling location by clicking here. Need a sample ballot? Find yours by clicking here.

And for whom am I voting?

Here’s the Stace Slate:

Lt. Governor – Mike Collier

Attorney General – Rochelle Garza

Comptroller – Angel Luis Vega

Land Commissioner – Sandragrace Martinez

Judge, 185th District – Jason Luong (Incumbent)

Judge, 208th District – No Recommendation

Judge, 312th Family District – Clinton “Chip” Wells (Incumbent)

Judge, County Civil Court #4 – Treasea Treviño

County Commissioner, Precinct 4 – Lesley Briones

Races not on my ballot, but maybe on yours.

Justice of the Peace, Pct 1, Place 2 – Sonia Lopez

Congress, District 38 – Diana Martinez Alexander

State Rep, District 147 – Danielle Keys Bess

Others further away.

Congress, District 28 – Jessica Cisneros

Bexar County Judge – Ina Minjarez

Tollways to Trailways Approved by County

La Leona

ABC-13 and others reported on this new plan from the Harris County Toll Road Authority to spend $53 million on connecting 236 miles of hike and bike trails along the Sam Houston Tollway.

According to Commissioner and avid cyclist Rodney Ellis, expending money from toll road surplus monies for this work is in compliance with the statute that created the Toll Road Authority as it improves accessibility, safety and transportation. Connecting the trails would provide, in the long run, an opportunity for an 80 mile loop around the region.

It is definitely something that is needed as Houston competes with the Central Texas region which is creating a San Antonio to Austin trail which runs for 100 miles and would connect the Great Springs of the region, including Barton, San Marcos, Comal, and San Antonio springs. Like HCTRA’s, this is a long-term project. No doubt, such projects create opportunities for economic development and tourism, not to mention healthier communities.

As far as paying for it, the 2 right-wing, naysaying commissioners who voted against it feel that the toll road authority wasn’t created for this purpose. But alternate transportation on 2 or 3 wheels is still transportation and we need to get beyond Cagle and Ramsey’s concrete and air pollution thinking.

Personally, I like the idea as we need more connected trails out here on the West side of town and the trails/lanes need to reach inward toward the Galleria area (my neighborbood). That means we need a new County Commissioner who actually listens to the people to work with a supportive city government. Precinct 4 is not well-represented at the moment, as Cagle’s no vote on so many Dem-supported programs tells us. La Leona, my Trident Trikes recumbent trike, is ready for some new trails and connectors.

We are learning just how important elections are, and a Democratic majority on the Harris County Commissioner’s Court must remain for these innovative programs to continue.

DCs Weekly COVID-19 Report

Because everyone else seems to be ignoring the COVID-creep that continues.

Houston Health reported yesterday that the 14-day positivity rate is now at 6.1% and the wastewater load is now at 91%. People are still dying. Houston Health still calls it “low,” but at what point does it become “moderate”? I wish they’d tell us so we know how foolish we can act before calming down when it’s too late. (Yes, that was snark.)

Speaking of, some locally popular folks are testing positive lately–even a popular doctor who helps develop vaccines and a County Commish. I wake up this morning and find out even Kelly (from Kelly and Ryan) has it! I wish them well. And I also wish they’d stop jumping into unmasked COVID-y crowds.

Me, I wake up with bad allergies and wonder if some unmasked fool at Walgreens coughed on me or if the unmasked woman in the electric cart at Kroger who had a coughing fit in the baking aisle infected me. Because I mask all the time, especially in crowded places with people I don’t know. But you just never know when it’s going to hit you. And while “vax’d and boosted” may save you from the worst, we still don’t know what can happen to a person post-COVID infection. It’s the long COVID and effects of this inflammatory disease that can be scary. And no one seems to take this aspect of it seriously.

Needless to say, Joe Biden needs to send more free tests and Congress needs to fund more COVID-19-related healthcare services for the uninsured. Better yet, universal healthcare all of the time!

Anyway, mask-up. Stay clean. If you call yourself a “leader,” be a freakin’ example and wear a mask if you feel the need to post selfies from crowded events.

And that’s todays COVID-19 report of disappointment.

Abbott Goes After Immigrant Children

Greg Abbott truly is evil.

He announced that, since a right-wing extremist SCOTUS is willing to end abortion rights, well, Texas may as well challenge other rulings, like 1982’s Plyler v Doe, which ruled unconstitutional Texas’ practice of withholding money from schools serving immigrant children.

Abbott cites the cost of educating students in his most recent anti-immigrant attack. Others go straight for racist bullshit.

“We’re talking about public tax dollars, public property tax dollars going to fund these schools to teach children who are 5, 6, 7, 10 years old, who don’t even have remedial English skills,” Joe Pagliarulo (right-wing radio host) said. “This is a real burden on communities. What can you do about that?”

Actually, it’s all about Republican hatred toward brown folks. These bigots want you to forget that people pay property taxes through rent payments, they pay local sales taxes to keep businesses open. But that doesn’t matter if these kids are in their schools offending their white supremacist sensibilities.

“Texas already long ago sued the federal government about having to incur the costs of the education program, in a case called Plyler versus Doe. And the Supreme Court ruled against us on the issue about denying, or let’s say Texas having to bear that burden. I think we will resurrect that case and challenge this issue again, because the expenses are extraordinary and the times are different than when Plyler versus Doe was issued many decades ago.”

Times are different? I think Abbott means that Trump allowed challenges based on hate, rather than on law and precedent.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out another reason to throw Abbott out of office in November.

Abbott’s Free Ride on a Welcome Wagon

Greg Abbott’s free ride program for migrants to points Northeast is getting accolades from the migrants and their supporters, according to Texas Monthly.

His side-show to stick it to Biden for trying to cancel Title 42, a health-related anti-immigrant policy, which buses migrants released by DHS to America’s front porch, is actually a welcome wagon.

Asylum-seekers’ trial locations are usually based on the region where they settle as they await the hearings—which could make the prospect of an expenses-paid bus trip out of Texas to D.C. appealing. Asylum judges in districts around the nation’s capital tend to grant refuge more readily than do judges in most of Texas’s thirteen immigration courts. In the Houston court, for instance, some judges denied 100 percent of asylum claims in 2021; a judge in El Paso denied 99 percent. By contrast, in a Baltimore court, where D.C. asylum seekers often appear, one judge denied just 10 percent of claims last year. 

and

The capital is also a more welcoming locale for migrants in other ways. D.C.’s mayor has affirmed the city’s status as a “sanctuary,” and a bevy of nongovernmental organizations and private citizens in the capital stand ready and eager to aid the migrants. Furthermore, immigration experts say most asylum-seekers arriving in the U.S. already have family living here, and many, especially Guatemalans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans, might try to reach D.C., where there’s a large Central American population. Even those trying to reunite with family in New York or elsewhere on the East Coast might happily accept Abbott’s offer to bus them most of the way, a trip that otherwise would cost them around $350. 

Bottom line: When the Feds release migrants, they never pay for much of anything, including travel to their destinations. So, Abbott’s “volunteer” busing program is spreading the migrants around on Texas taxpayers’ dime. And groups like Catholic Charities are enjoying spending some of their own help resources at those end points of Abbott’s bus trips.

I’ve been wanting to take a trip to DC to visit the sites. I wonder if I’d get a free trip if I turn myself in. Abbott is one of those kinder, gentler coyotes, apparently.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Texas want Abbott to declare an “invasion” and begin the deportation of migrants to home countries. Because, apparently, Texas has money for this, but no money for schools, health care, and infrastructure.

The Center for Renewing America, a conservative think tank led by Ken Cuccinelli, a former Homeland Security official under Trump, has been leading the charge to get Abbott to declare an invasion, criticizing his border-security efforts as inadequate so far. And Brandon Judd, the head of the National Border Patrol Council — one of Abbott’s most visible endorsers for reelection — recently said Abbott should “absolutely” declare an invasion.

An angry bunch of white supremacists, huh? Unfortunately, there are enough Trump judges to back them up with no basis of law.

In other news, Texas Republican AG Paxton was trying to stop Title 42 from ending, but it looks like other states found a Trump fed judge in Louisiana, of all places, to stop its end, as Kuff tells us about it.

The lack of leaders pushing back against the right-wingers is a bit sad. Thankfully, the Mayors of Brownsville, TX and Tucson, AZ backed the Biden administration ending Title 42. Mayor Trey Mendez and Mayor Regina Romero stated:

“We support the Biden Administration’s decision to repeal Title 42 and uphold our legal and moral obligation of providing the fundamental right to seek asylum. It is the smart thing to do and it is the right thing to do. A fair and humane immigration system should be a priority for all of our leaders, not just those such as us who see the effects of a broken system every day,”

Because it’s about the broken system. And that never makes it into the news, like Republican racism.

I Know We Are Happy, But…

Kuff tells us about the indictment of the local right-wing purveyor of hormone and “Low-T” shots whose involvement in the vehicular assault and illegal detention in the name of voter fraud by a former cop he hired now has him indicted for the same crime.

From the Chron:

Through a group called Liberty Center for God and Country, Hotze funded a private investigation into a conspiracy theory that Democrats had collected hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots, prosecutors have alleged. The group paid (Mark) Aguirre, a disgraced former Houston police captain, $266,400 to investigate the claims.

and

The vast majority of the money from Hotze’s group, $211,400, arrived to Aguirre one day after the alleged assault, previous grand jury subpoenas showed.

Needless to say, a lot of folks are happy to see one of the wealthiest and whiniest republinuts in town in trouble for something after bankrolling all sorts anti-Dem, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-COVID Vax, and anti-anything progressive campaigns and conspiracy theories.

The problem is when you have a local DA who’s in the news for using her office for political purposes whether against the County Judge or a local District Judge, well, cases in which gun violence and politics mix are sure to get tainted, or questioned before the public square.

Still, I’m sure all sorts of folks, including republicans who want some sort of “normal” right-winger behavior, will be watching this story intently.

Is COVID-19 Creeping Back Up?

Based on folks running around at various unmasked, high-attendance indoor events, I’m pretty sure no one has noticed the COVID-19 positivity rate creeping up these last couple of weeks. Houston Health Department reported this morning “slight” increases from last week’s rate, but they still call it “low” at 3.5%.

The City of Philadelphia noticed their cases creeping up and has decided to reinstate its mask mandate in a week while hospitalizations remain low in order to keep them that way. As their Mayor Tenney stated, “Our city remains open; we can still go about our daily lives and visit the people and places we love while masking in indoor public spaces.”

And that’s the general attitude that we have needed here in Texas, but leaders–elected and community–have failed us by going around unmasked to mass events as if this thing is over. They have failed to be an example of what leadership is while proclaiming themselves leaders. I always chuckle when I see their social media posts.

The Gridiron Club dinner in DC where 72 attendees, including members of Congress left infected, is an example of what can occur in an instant when one jumps right into an unmasked event. One member of Congress stated he avoided COVID-19 these last two years only to get it by going unmasked while boosted. In other words, if you’re around an infected person, you can get it.

Thank your shots and boosters all you want, the goal should still remain to NOT get sick, rather than getting it and spreading it to vulnerable loved ones, while still surviving yourself.

To further make this point about caring about the vulnerable–the elderly, the immunocompromised, those with comorbidities–here’s a good op-ed from the NYTimes, which points to the lack of caring for vulnerable populations at all levels of government and now in both parties in this race to re-open.

After a couple of weeks of watching the positivity rate go below 2%, I dove into society a little, attending a lunch with friends in a nice uncrowded restaurant, I ate lunch at Dot’s with family on the way to Hobby (a little scarier because it was packed), and I ate lunch at a restaurant in Sharpstown (Taqueria Mexico Lindo) to enjoy some menudo and tripas tacos. I walked into all places masked, masked up when the staff came to the table, but unmasked while eating. It’s still a scary experience for me because I tend to trust no one. Still, I enjoyed myself. But I think I’m done once again while this creep-up occurs. At the very least, I’ll stay masked wherever I go.

I was hoping to time my 2nd booster for the next color-code change, but I may need to do it sooner.

If you’re indoors, mask-up. Get double boosted. Keep clean. No one is telling you to shut things down, but just be cognizant of how you can affect your loved ones. It’s about personal responsibility.

Kuff has more.

Judge Hidalgo Puts Us Back At Yellow

Congrats to all those who are not at-risk or immunocompromised and have been given the green light to move about unmasked at mass events. County Judge Lina Hidalgo has lowered the color code to yellow. People have been living on green, attending unmasked events, and not really paying attention to anything regarding COVID, though. But, congrats anyway.

Me? I look forward to my almost weekly visits with a family member who is immunocompromised, so, I do everything possible to not get infected. That means no mass, unmasked events with people I don’t know or trust to be safe. That means masking up with KN-95 and KF-94s at work, at the store, amongst people, etc. That means if you must see me, I’ll probably be double-masked!

Thankfully, I really like my family members. We make great food together. We even have our own house band and make great music. Studio quality if the booze is flowing. It’s what’s important to me.

Anyway, back to my normal. As, the Judge said, “stay vigilant.”

COVID Happenings

CDC will extend mask mandate on public transport (planes and trains and buses) through April 18. Republinuts are suing, obviously, since they don’t care about anyone. Unfortunately, they cite “science” in their defense. The same science that leaves at-risk and immunocompromised people vulnerable with weakened color codes, I guess.

Anyway, good luck to all.

Are You Ready for the Democratic Run-Offs?

Well, the vote counts are in, despite the whining of the Trumpy, Abbott-appointed Secretary of State and republinuts who probably started all the whining, and we can see who will be facing off in the run-off in a couple of months. This is what we see, so far, locally.

US Rep, District 38 – Diana Martinez Alexander, Duncan Klussman

Lt. Governor – Mike Collier, Michelle Beckley

Attorney General – Rochelle Mercedes Garza, Joe Jaworski

State Comptroller – Angel Luis Vera, Janet Dudding

Land Commissioner – Sandragrace Martinez, Jay Kleberg

SBOE – 4 – Staci Childs, Coretta Mallett-Fontenot

State Rep, 147 – Danielle Keys Bess, Jolanda Jones

Judge, 185th District – Jason Luong, Andrea Beall

Judge, 208th District – Beverly Armstrong, Kimberly McTorry

Family Judge, 312th District – Clinton “Chip” Wells, Teresa Waldrop

Judge, County Civil Court #4 – Treasea Trevino, MK Singh

County Commissioner, Pct. 4 – Lesley Briones, Ben Chou

Justice of the Peace, Pct 1-2 – Sonia Lopez, Steve Duble

Those in italics are not on my ballot, but maybe they are on yours. Either way, all of us will have a busy run-off ballot. Those in bold are folks I’m voting for and/or rooting for. Those races I haven’t picked, well, I haven’t learned anything about them, yet.

Outside of Harris County, eyes will be looking toward South Texas where there will be some interesting run-offs, including CD28 where Jessica Cisneros gets one more chance to unseat the old, searched-thru furniture that is Henry Cuellar. Kuff has a good round-up on all of the run-offs in Texas.

Kuff also expands on the coverage of the printer/paper ballot issues at Harris County. I agree that more voter education and election worker training is needed to ensure people don’t scuff their paper ballots while voting. Hell, even I held my paper ballot sheets gently and from a corner while voting on the machine because I worried about it folding or whatever. Ultimately, less that one percent of ballots were damaged, but counting them just added to the delays in results because Longoria and her staff are trying to ensure actual vote security.

What we really need less of is voter suppression from the Lege with laws like SB1, whose mail ballot issues caused even more delays for election staff. And maybe local news media that treats this story in an educative manner (Miya Shay), rather than in a sensational manner (the other reporters).

Dem Primary Part 1 is Done, On To Part 2

Looks like County Judge Lina Hidalgo’s strategy of ignoring her opponent (and the naysayers who put up the opponent) worked quite well. After the mail and early votes were tabulated, Hidalgo had amassed a healthy lead with almost 70% of the vote which continued all night. I didn’t have a doubt she could win, but my worry was about her taking hits from awful Republican ads and how that could affect the Dem vote. It didn’t. Those that put up an opponent against Hidalgo better watch out in a couple of years when their seats come up. And those who fought to keep her in office did a great job in the field, where it really counts.

My Commish Precinct 4 seems to be headed to a run-off between Leslie Briones and Ben Chou. In an open seat race with seven in the running, that’s to be expected. Briones edged out Chou 35-23 in early numbers in our recently redrawn district and that margin remains. What used to be a precinct that took up most of the west side is now a lot more sprawling. I think we’ll find that Briones did well enough on the west side to be the top vote-getter, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be quite the competition to earn the votes of those who voted for the five other candidates. I’m sticking with Briones.

One race that caught my interest was a 10-county race for the 14th Court of Appeals between Cheri Thomas who ran in 2020 and Kyle Carter, a current district judge with a good stack of campaign cash. Thomas, who is the DC-supported candidate, had an 18,000 vote lead after the mail and early votes were announced and her lead continued to get healthier as the first election day votes were announced. Thomas held good leads in Fort Bend and Harris Counties, which still had many votes to be counted. By this morning, Thomas’ lead of around 20,000 votes was holding as more votes in Harris County were counted.

More than a few court benches will be changing occupants one way or another as a good bunch of Dem incumbents are being taken out by challengers. Hopefully, those new Dem candidates will work hard for the party’s bottom line in November and not just ride whatever wave is caused by the strong candidates at the top of the ticket, like Judge Hidalgo and Beto O’Rourke.

One thing is for sure, there will be plenty of run-offs to keep us busy for the next couple of months, including Lt. Governor and Attorney General, which I expect to be spirited. I expect the local run-offs for Commissioner and some court seats to provide much of the energy.

Where there will not be run-off is the race for Precinct 2 Commish in which Adrian Garcia reclaimed the Dem nod for re-election in explosive fashion. As I stated yesterday, it would seem that his opponent’s angry white guy strategy probably won over some of the target audience, but Garcia actually ran a good campaign that reached all voters by selling his actual accomplishments. He probably carried other candidates to victory in the process. Congrats to the Commish.

State Senator and Houston Mayoral candidate John Whitmire will continue to be both, though Molly Cook did put herself on the map for anything, but specifically for what will be a crowded SD15 if Whitmire moves to a downtown office in 2023.

One outcome I did not like at all was that of the County Treasurer’s race in which incumbent Dylan Osborne was defeated. As I said after some good judges were taken out in the 2020 primary, when someone wants to play the odds, or play the latest in scare tactics, and the voters feel like it, they were surely oust you without much effort. That seemed to happen a lot in this primary.

In other areas of the state, it was Greg Casar rolling over several opponents in a Congressional District 35 that runs from San Antonio to Austin. In CD28, Jessica Cisneros was giving FBI-searched incumbent Henry Cuellar an excellent run. As the votes from Bexar, Zapata, and Starr Counties were finally counted, Cuellar came out in the lead. By this morning, Cuellar was just under the 50% mark, so we may have a run-off in this one pending any additional ballots coming in, and thanks to a third candidate who got a little less than 5%.

We’ll have more on local run-offs as the numbers continue coming in in Harris County. There is one race for County Civil Court #4 which still has 2nd place to be decided for the run-off. Rooting for Treasea Trevino in that one.

That’s all I got. Happy Wednesday! Also, thanks to the folks at Harris Elections for their work. Problems will happen as things get perfected, but a dumb tweet from a Trumpy Secretary of State will always cause even more problems.

Kuff has more.

UPDATE:

Another race likely headed for a run-off is the race for the Dem nomination for Congress District 38, where Dem activist Diana Martinez Alexander has the lead against her opponent. Fingers crossed.