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August 9th, 2006:

What’s next in CD22?

I think I’ve pretty much beaten the subject of write-in candidacy to death in these two posts over at Kuff’s World. And not a moment too soon, too, since this has now hit the news.

Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace will be a write-in candidate for the the seat House Majority Leader Tom DeLay abandoned, according to a member of Wallace’s campaign team.

Wallace made the decision after DeLay announced Tuesday that he would withdraw his name from the November ballot, leaving the Republican slot blank and opening up the race to a GOP write-in candidate.

Game on, y’all. Your move, Shelley.

UPDATE: KTRH is reporting that Shelley is in, too.

Houston City Council Member Shelley Sekula-Gibbs and Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace are both expected to file with the Texas Secretary of State’s office for a write-in candidacy, which means their names would appear at polling locations for congressional district 22, but not on the electronic ballot screen. Voters supporting those two candidates on November 7 will have to highlight “write-in” on the E-Slate ballot, then spell out the letters of their selected candidate’s name.

“Write-in campaigns are tough, there’s no question about it,” said Sekula-Gibbs, “But I have the committment and passion to make it work.”

Party unity. You gotta love it.

Anti-immigration petition drive may get stalled

Aw, what a pity.

Time is running out on a citizens group’s attempt to change the Houston Police Department’s policy on illegal immigrants, and it’s unlikely it can get a referendum before voters this fall, City Attorney Arturo Michel said Tuesday.

The group Protect Our Citizens wants voters to change the city charter and allow police officers to inquire about the citizenship status of people they encounter, reversing what backers call a “sanctuary” policy toward illegal immigrants.

To do that, the group needs 20,000 signatures from Houston voters, validated by City Secretary Anna Russell, and approval of the referendum by City Council. That all has to happen before Aug. 28.

The problem, Michel said, is with the calendar, not opposition by Mayor Bill White and Police Chief Harold Hurtt, both of whom strongly object to the “sanctuary” label.

“It just doesn’t seem that it could be on the ballot for November,” he said.

After today, there are only two council meetings remaining before the cutoff date. The measure almost certainly would be delayed a week by a parliamentary procedure known as a “tag.” The eventual vote, then, wouldn’t come until after Aug. 28, he said.

To get the measure to the council in time, the signatures would need Russell’s validation by Friday. She said that isn’t possible, particularly since the group has not yet turned in its petition.

Protect Our Citizens organizers blasted the city’s position Tuesday, pledging to fight to get the measure before voters this fall.

Founder Mary Williams said Michel “set an arbitrary date from a vaguely worded law to their benefit and not ours. … However, he has the gun to our heads and we’ll do the best that we can.”

Oh, boo hoo hoo. Here’s a question for you, Mary: If this has been such a damned burning issue since 1992, why did you only start collecting signatures for the petition drive in June? Note that the Chron article says that this crowd “[planned] to get 20,000 signatures from registered voters by Sept. 1”. Had they started in May instead of in June, they’d have had at least as much time to meet an August 11 deadline. Tough luck for them.

Ney drops out

Another thing I’ve not yet noted as I try to catch up with last week and stay on top of this one is the departure of another high-profile scandal-plagued Republican Congressman, Bob Ney, who announced on Monday that he would not run for re-election. The Stakeholder has the details, so I’ll refer you to him. Note that much like Tom DeLay, Ney started out very defiant about his desire to run and win despite all of the allegations and charges surrounding him – Ney’s top aide has copped a plea to federal conspiracy charges, while Ney himself was fingered, albeit not by name, in the Jack Abramoff plea agreement as a bribe-taker. Josh Marshall predicted a long time ago that Ney would not run in November because of all of this. It took awhile, but Ney eventually came to the same realization.

And via Atrios, Ney’s problems are still ongoing, as this Roll Call story notes.

With the deadline for removing Ney’s name from the Ohio ballot less than two weeks away, the review of his statements to the Indian Affairs Committee could form the basis for a charge of lying to Congress against the Ohio Republican, according to a handful of sources familiar with the transfer of documents to federal prosecutors.

In releasing its report on the Abramoff investigation June 22, the Indian Affairs Committee cited several instances in which Ney’s statements to panel investigators conflicted with the testimony and e-mails of several other figures involved in the case.

The question now is who gets to replace Ney on the ballot – by Ohio law, there’s still time for this. Apparently, his preferred choice (who has some ethical issues of her own, as this Stakeholder link shows), may run into Ohio’s “Sore Loser law” because she lost a primary bid for Lieutenant Governor. Oops!

The fun never ends, does it? I hope you folks in Ohio enjoy this as much as we here have enjoyed the DeLay Follies.

Strayhorn’s creative use of employees

Still a little worn out from all the excitement yesterday, so I’ll just point to this story, which says that Comptroller/Gubernatorial Candidate Carole Keeton Strayhorn has “used her taxpayer-financed research staff to prepare briefing papers for her public appearances whether they were state or campaign related.” Which is, strictly speaking, a no-no. Clay Robison asks what happened to Strayhorn’s “Yellow Pages test”, while Vince notes that this is basically what Kay Bailey Hutchison was accused of in 1993. Plus ca change, as they say.

The Texas Employees Retirement System and James Leininger

I didn’t get around to this earlier, but I’ll now point you to this BOR post about a lawsuit lost by Republican uberdonor James Leininger’s company KCI and its effect on KCI’s stock, of which the Texas Employees Retirement System is a major holder. As you may recall, one of the trustees of the Texas ERS is former TRMPAC treasurer Bill Ceverha, who has been dependent on big Republican donors for his cash flow lately. Noting that Ceverha also has close ties to Leininger, State Rep. Lon Burnam has asked Attorney General Greg Abbott to investigate what he calls the “peculiar circumstances” of all this. You can read about that here. I don’t know that anything will come of this, but someone needs to keep track of it all.

Get ready for red light camera fines

Starting September 1, anyone who runs a red light at one of the camera-enabled intersections will face a fine. There will be no grace period.

The Houston Police Department and Phoenix-based American Traffic Solutions are launching a public awareness campaign this month to let drivers know the much-discussed program is finally here.
Click to learn more…

“Our message is basically be aware,” said Sgt. Michael Muench of the police department’s traffic division.

“We’re hoping that everybody should be watching the red lights anyhow, but this is going to be an added tool for us to try to change drivers’ behavior and operate their vehicles more safety,” said Muench, supervisor of the program.

When enforcement begins, fines will be issued without a grace period. There was some confusion about whether violators would receive warning letters as part of this month’s awareness campaign, but that is not taking place, Muench said.

Warning letters were issued last year to violators during a trial phase of the cameras, before a contractor was chosen.

ATS is airing commercials about the cameras on several local radio stations and developing an educational brochure that will be printed in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

A full list of the intersections is here (link via Houstonist). Ten more such intersections will follow soon, though, so don’t get too cocky.