June 16, 2008
Republican Rap Sheet

Via Texas Politics, the Harris County Coordinated Campaign Lone Star Project has launched a new website called Texas Republican Rap Sheet, which lists the transgressions of various local Republican officeholders, plus the recently resigned former DA Chuck Rosenthal. It's pretty amusing, and an encouraging sign that the Harris County Democratic Party will be fighting to win on more fronts than we're used to seeing them engage on. I don't think I've seen anything like the coordinated campaign that's underway this year, at least on our side of the aisle. This is only the beginning, that much I know.

I'd just note that this effort is lacking a page for Harris County Attorney Mike Stafford, who's been in the news more than usual lately, and not in the good way. I figure that will get corrected eventually. Better would be sooner, given this week's Houston Press cover story about Democratic candidate Vince Ryan and his ongoing litigation against his former employer, Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP, the "behemoth delinquent-tax collector that services the City of Houston, the Houston Independent School District, Harris County and hundreds of other public entities throughout the country". Neither party came off looking particularly good in this piece; neither did Stafford, but he was only mentioned in passing. This doesn't have anything to do with the rest of this post, but I thought this was odd:

But Dale Linebarger and former firm attorney Bill King say that private firms are able to collect more, and more efficiently. They say this benefits those who pay their taxes on time -- which is about 95 percent of the people. The vast majority of delinquent property owners, according to Linebarger and King, are slumlords and absentee owners. The law firm itself isn't shoving grandma out into the street, forcing her to survive by her walker and wits.

Structurally, say Linebarger and King, the cost of government collection comes out of an entity's general fund -- which ultimately means that it's taxpayer-funded. But private collection, they say, is solely deadbeat-subsidized. The delinquent taxpayer has to pay attorneys' fees along with the past due amount.

"The cost is being allocated to the person that caused the problem," King says, "instead of being spread out among all the taxpayers. Which seems to me to be a fundamentally equitable situation."

That's the same Bill King who is apparently running for Mayor in 2009. I found it curious that the story didn't mention that fact, as the Houston Politics blog did when they noted the suit's filing. I don't really have a point to make here, I just thought that was strange.

Anyway. As I said before, the County Attorney race is a little higher profile than it normally is this year. Even I didn't expect it to get this much attention. Once again, this is not a normal election year.

UPDATE: I had the wrong party responsible for the Republican Rap Sheet site. It's fixed now.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 16, 2008 to Election 2008