November 03, 2004
Harris County roundup

Sadly, I was wrong to predict that this would be the year that the Harris County Democratic Party won a countywide race. Kathy Stone came closest, losing 52-48; the other judicial candidates all scored in the 46-47% range. Reggie McKamie lost his bid to oust DA Chuck Rosenthal by a 55-45 margin, essentially the same tally Rosenthal won by in 2000. Guy Robert Clark lost to Sheriff Tommy Thomas by a tiny bit more, while Paul Bettencourt was reelected Tax Assessor over John Webb by a 58-42 margin.

The main thing I notice as I look at the countywide results is how much better Republicans did overall in early voting than they did on Tuesday. I don't know if there are any conclusions to be drawn from this; it just struck me as interesting.

Ohio isn't the only place than can expect a legal challenge to poll results. Backers of City Proposition 2 have threatened to sue if its provisions are not enacted.

"If the mayor says, 'We'll see you in court,' we'll see you in court," said Bruce Hotze, spokesman for the group Let the People Vote, which collected more than 20,000 signatures to get the initiative on the ballot.

[Mayor Bill] White said city law clearly says only Prop 1 should become law and that a lawsuit "would be a waste of taxpayers' money."

With all precincts reporting, Prop 1 had 63 percent of the votes. Prop 2 passed with 56 percent of the votes.

White said it was significant that Prop 1 drew 271,061 votes in favor, compared with 234,598 for Prop 2.

White says the city's charter states the one with the most votes will be implemented because they are in conflict. In fact, city officials crafted the language of Prop 1 to ensure it conflicted with Prop 2.

Prop 1 limits annual increases in the city's property tax revenue and water and sewer rates to the combined total of Houston's population growth and inflation, with property tax revenue increases limited to no more than 4.5 percent.

Prop 1 would also increase homestead exemptions for senior citizens and disabled people to a projected total of more than $70,000 by 2008. A city ordinance, already approved, is scheduled to increase those exemptions to about $64,000 by 2007.

Prop 2 would cap annual increases in almost all city revenue not just property taxes and water rates to the combined rates of population growth and inflation.

The language of Prop 1 says: "The City Council shall have full authority to assess and collect any and all revenues of the city without limitation, except as to ad valorem taxes and water and sewer rates. ... If another proposition for a Charter amendment relating to limitations on increases in City revenues is approved at the same election at which this proposition is also approved, and if this proposition receives the higher number of favorable votes, then this proposition shall prevail and the other shall not become effective."

Stay tuned.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 03, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

I predict that a reasonable court will rule that the props have to conflict in some substantive way, for only one of them to be implemented. The empty conflict of prop 1 will not pass muster.

Posted by: abelard on November 3, 2004 11:19 AM