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November 2nd, 2009:

White condemns anti-Green robocalls

I’ve heard from numerous people, including several in the comments here, who have received a nasty anti-Ronald Green robocall in the past week or so; at this point, I believe there are at least two variants on the call. It has no identifying information associated with it, which makes it illegal, but also basically untraceable as well. Anyway, one of the recipients of this call was Mayor Bill White, who wrote on his Facebook page to condemn it. From an email sent out by the Ronald Green campaign:

Yesterday Houston Mayor Bill White condemned anonymous phone calls attacking Ronald Green, candidate for Houston City Controller. Green, a three-term At-Large City Council Member, is running for an open seat to succeed the current Controller, who is term-limited.

Mayor White said the following via Facebook: “At home I just got a recorded call urging Democrats to vote against Ron Green for City Controller because he would hurt D’s. Who paid for this? …it does seem to me that if another candidate or party paid for it, they should say so upfront.”

Over the past several days, some Houstonians have reported receiving multiple anonymous automated phone calls attacking Ronald Green, and urging a vote against him. The announcer in the calls does not identify himself, there is no callback number given, nor is there a disclaimer identifying who paid for the call, which is required by law.

“I join Mayor White in condemning these anonymous false attacks,” Green said. “These calls are illegal and have no place in our political discourse. It is disappointing that my Republican opponents have stooped to such tactics. I am going to keep talking about the issues that matter to Houstonians – weathering this economic downturn and securing the City’s long-term financial health.”

While City races are officially non-partisan, Ronald Green is the lone Democrat running against two Republican opponents.

Since the calls purport to come from “Democratic leaders” and address the recipients as “fellow Democrats”, the HCDP has responded as well:

It has been reported to the Harris County Democratic Party that someone is making anonymous telephone phone calls claiming that certain unnamed “Democratic leaders” have some reservations about Ronald Green as a candidate for City of Houston Comptroller. These illegal calls are not coming from the Harris County Democratic Party and do not reflect the position of the Harris County Democratic Party, or its chair.

On the contrary, while the Harris County Democratic Party is officially “neutral” in the non-partisan City of Houston elections (unless and until a run-off election emerges), we can inform the public that Ronald Green is the only candidate in the Comptroller’s race who has a Democratic voting history (Ron has a strong one) and Ronald Green has long been a Sustaining Member of the Harris County Democratic Party and consistent supporter of Democratic causes. The chair of the Harris County Democratic Party regards him as highly qualified to be Houston’s City Comptroller.

The Harris County Democratic Party and its leaders would not stoop to making anonymous telephone smears against any candidate – let alone one as competent, capable, and loyal to the Democratic Party as Ronald Green.

I hope these messages get out to those who may have been taken in by these calls. Green has certainly provided some fodder for his opponents, and I have no problem with them jumping on it. This is different. I have no idea who’s doing these robocalls, but I consider it to be sleazy and cowardly, no matter who it is. Have the guts to sign your name to your work – which, I remind you, is the law for stuff like this – or go crawl back under your rock.

UPDATE: Just got a robocall from Gerry Birnberg reiterating this message.

Spending on voter outreach: District Council races

I’ve taken a look at spending on voter outreach in the Controller’s race and in the At Large Council races, and was working on a similar post for the district Council races for the 30 days out reports, but never quite finished it. Now that the 8 day report is out, I went ahead and filled in the remaining blanks, and added the expenditures that were listed in that report, and I present them to you here. Let’s start with the open seat races. First up is District A.

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================= Lane Lewis 2.78 Ad (Facebook) Lane Lewis 3,518.13 Yard signs Lane Lewis 3,518.13 Yard signs Lane Lewis 1,593.17 Printing Lane Lewis 250.00 Signs Lane Lewis 427.95 Printing Lane Lewis 10,800.00 Direct mail Lane Lewis 184.75 Robocalls Lane Lewis 11,400.00 Direct mail Brenda Stardig 2,353.13 Campaign brochures Brenda Stardig 1,457.77 Yard signs Brenda Stardig 214.65 Campaign letter Brenda Stardig 40.00 Ad (Facebook) Brenda Stardig 20.00 Ad (Facebook) Brenda Stardig 1,407.65 Signs Brenda Stardig 1,407.66 Signs Brenda Stardig 11,547.00 Mailer Brenda Stardig 618.90 Ad (The Leader newspaper) Brenda Stardig 1,650.81 Signs Amy Peck 1,475.28 Yard signs Amy Peck 376.56 Flyers Amy Peck 500.28 Wire stakes for yard signs Amy Peck 318.15 Ad (Memorial Examiner) Jeff Downing 325.75 Direct mailing Jeff Downing 288.64 Direct mailing Jeff Downing 2,149.20 4x8 signs Jeff Downing 683.30 T-shirts Jeff Downing 618.90 Ad (The Leader newspaper) Bob Schoelkopf 637.50 Yard signs D Rodriguez 386.00 Campaign brochures D Rodriguez 387.00 Campaign brochures D Rodriguez 299.00 Campaign brochures D Rodriguez 920.00 Yard signs D Rodriguez 588.00 Ad (Houston Chronicle/La Voz) D Rodriguez 717.00 Yard signs

Lewis and Stardig have easily raised the most money, and as such are the only two to send mail. They’re also the only two to have done any advertising on Facebook; I’m a little surprised by that since it’s clearly so cheap to do. You’ll see a lot more ads in the neighborhood and community newspapers as we go forward. That strikes me as a pretty good use of limited dollars. Note Darrell Rodriguez’s placement of an ad in the Chronicle’s Spanish language edition; I presume this is an online ad, but I can’t say for sure. Regardless, that too strikes me as a pretty good strategy, one that perhaps more candidates ought to consider. I did not see any reports for Alex Wathen, who has had issues with the City Secretary being able to read his files. I’m sure he submitted them, they’re just not there to be seen.

District F:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================= Mike Laster 4,465.31 Yard signs Mike Laster 1,816.76 Printing Mike Laster 2,335.13 Printing Mike Laster 4,398.26 Direct mail Mike Laster 8,072.70 Direct mail Al Hoang 2,007.00 Campaign signs Al Hoang 900.00 Campaign signs Al Hoang 1,000.00 Ad (Dep Magazine) Al Hoang 500.00 Ad (Xay Dung Magazine) Al Hoang 500.00 Ad (Vietnam Moi newspaper) Al Hoang 1,000.00 Ad (Thai Bao Magazine) Al Hoang 500.00 Ad (Dat Me Magazine) Al Hoang 3,000.00 Ad (Con Ong Magazine) Al Hoang 500.00 Ad (Thong Nat Magazine) Al Hoang 500.00 Ad (The Gioi Magazine) Al Hoang 500.00 Ad (Viet Bao Magazine) Al Hoang 5,000.00 Ad (Little Saigon Radio, Hon Viet TV) Al Hoang 5,000.00 Ad (Saigon Houston 900 AM) Al Hoang 500.00 Ad (VAN TV) Al Hoang 500.00 Ad (Tieng Nuoc Toi ob Hoang Bach & Song Kim) Al Hoang 700.00 Ad (SBTN Binh Quoc Nguyen and Yen Hung Vu) Al Hoang 500.00 Ad (VAB ob Ted Nguyen) Al Hoang 500.00 Ad (Radio Hoa Mai) Al Hoang 1,122.50 Polo shirts Al Hoang 2,533.05 Push cards Al Hoang 500.00 Lapel stickers Al Hoang 7,500.00 Sign Al Hoang 5,000.00 Ad (An Danh) Peter Acquaro 166.00 Push cards Peter Acquaro 240.00 Signs Peter Acquaro 435.00 T-shirts Peter Acquaro 64.95 Magnetic car sign Peter Acquaro 847.00 Signs Khalid Khan 1,677.88 Signs Khalid Khan 25,000.00 Mailer (Neuman & Company) Khalid Khan 25,000.00 Mailer (Neuman & Company) Khalid Khan 1,486.27 Signs Khalid Khan 5,000.00 Ad (TX Conservative Review) Khalid Khan 5,000.00 Ad (HCRP) Khalid Khan 20,114.76 TV ad (Neuman & Company) Khalid Khan 21,914.32 Mailer (Neuman & Company) Robert Kane 910.47 Signs Robert Kane 90.00 Web ad (DosCentavos.net) Robert Kane 252.00 Ad (Houston Chronicle) Robert Kane 350.40 Robocalls Robert Kane 162.37 Signs Joe Chow 196.41 Stickers Joe Chow 907.75 Flyers Joe Chow 458.33 Bumper stickers Joe Chow 703.62 Flyers Joe Chow 2,660.00 Yard Signs Joe Chow 1,500.00 Down payment for mailer Joe Chow 1,500.00 Down payment for mailer Joe Chow 1,342.22 Mailer Joe Chow 1,623.75 Signs Joe Chow 1,500.00 Down payment for mailer Joe Chow 449.97 Mailer Joe Chow 1,866.84 Mailer Joe Chow 595.37 Printing

Lots of mail, and quite an impressive amount of spending in this race. Khalid Khan rendered his original affirmation about not raising more than $20K for the race even more farcical by reporting nearly $67K raised in the period. But at least he’s filing electronically now, so that restriction no longer applies. He also filed a correction to his previous, erroneous report that says “Mailer expense was not included in the previous report because it was not billed to us on time. These expenses are included in this correction report.” Might be interesting for someone to ask Spencer Neuman if he agrees with Khan’s assertion about the tardiness of his invoice. Anyway, Khan has now accounted for those original mailers, and presumably more besides. He’s also apparently run a TV ad – has anyone seen it? One last thing before I move on: Of the $67K Khan raised, nearly $30K of it came from people who listed home cities other than Houston. Now, everybody raises out of town money, but you’d think a guy with residency issues might want to play that down a bit.

Al Hoang listed an impressive $71K raised in this report, which was finally available on the city’s system as of October 30. It’s a bit less impressive when you get into the details, however. First, it’s cumulative. Though there are no dates given for any of the donations, a quick check against his 30 days out report verified that the first 17 pages’ worth of contributions are duplicates. He did still raise a bunch, mostly in small amounts and almost exclusively from folks with Houston addresses and Vietnamese surnames. It’ll be worthwhile to check the precinct canvass to see how well he actually does in the areas that are more heavily Vietnamese. Anyway, all but the last ad above was listed both as an in-kind donation and as an expenditure, so that inflates his total a bit more. He also listed as both a donation and an expense a $9,910 in-kind gift from Ocean Palace, with the explanation “5k in food contributed by owner, remainder collected in cash at the event, which paid for the rest of the food/event”. My guess is that the individual contributions were also listed, so again this puffs up his grand total, though again that grand total is still worth noting even with the double-dipping.

Moving on, Kane has the only web ad I saw, which is cool and also pretty cost-effective; it’s still running on Dos Centavos if you haven’t clicked over to see it yet. I wonder what kind of an ad you can get in the Chron for $252; as with Darrell Rodriguez in A, I’m sure it’s an online ad.

Distict G:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================= Mills Worsham 3,599.31 Campaign T-shirts Mills Worsham 814.80 Campaign T-shirts Mills Worsham 1,505.77 Printing service Mills Worsham 5,000.00 Ad (HCRP) Mills Worsham 5,000.00 Ad (TX Conservative Review) Mills Worsham 420.00 Advertising (United Home Delivery) Mills Worsham 1,800.00 Advertising (C & M Marketing) Mills Worsham 2,200.00 Advertising (C & M Marketing) Mills Worsham 50.00 Advertising (C & M Marketing) Mills Worsham 1,200.00 Advertising (United Home Delivery) Mills Worsham 600.00 Advertising (United Home Delivery) Mills Worsham 301.60 Car magnets and 4 x 8's Mills Worsham 1,299.00 Mail piece Mills Worsham 242.51 Bumper stickers Richard Sedita 1,356.85 Yard signs, push cards, T-shirts Richard Sedita 622.79 Yard signs Richard Sedita 885.42 Mailer, postage, and GOTV literature Richard Sedita 600.00 Robocalls Dexter Handy 1,286.55 Push cards Dexter Handy 625.00 Campaign signs Dexter Handy 515.00 Robocalls Dexter Handy 52.00 Car magnets Dexter Handy 86.00 4 x 4 signs George Foulard 5,412.23 Printing George Foulard 16,920.90 Campaign Mailer George Foulard 330.00 Printing George Foulard 16,920.88 Campaign Mailer George Foulard 15,108.56 Campaign Mailer George Foulard 893.06 T-shirts George Foulard 404.86 Signs George Foulard 2,064.79 Signs O Pennington 3,301.63 Yard signs O Pennington 18,053.80 Direct mail expenses O Pennington 521.22 Campaign T-shirts O Pennington 388.51 Campaign lapel stickers O Pennington 17,923.90 Direct mail expenses O Pennington 5,000.00 Ad (TX Conservative Review) O Pennington 5,000.00 Ad (HCRP) O Pennington 4,271.25 Media buy (KSEV) O Pennington 22,573.62 Printing

Again, lots of money and lots of mail. I’m not sure what kind of advertising Worsham’s report refers to, but that’s what his report said. He does have a YouTube video, so perhaps it’s related to that. I’m also not sure what Pennington’s big “printing” charge refers to, but it’s possible this is just a way of classifying what’s actually a mailer. I feel like it’s a bit wasteful to spend money on radio ads for a district Council race, since you can’t segment the ads geographically like you can with cable TV, but it’s a relatively small amount spent, and besides, I’m sure a sizable portion of the KSEV audience lives in District G. So what the heck. I wonder how much bang Foulard will get for all his bucks spent on mail. Has anyone out there received on of his mailers?

And finally, the races involving incumbent Council members:

Candidate Amount Purpose ============================================================= Jarvis Johnson 75.00 Ad (Top Ladies of Distinction) Jarvis Johnson 125.00 Ad (South Wesley AMEC) Jarvis Johnson 1,374.78 Yard signs Jarvis Johnson 1,000.00 Ad (Aubrey Taylor) Jarvis Johnson 2,100.00 Ad (KCOH) Jarvis Johnson 162.50 T-shirts Anne Clutterbuck 450.00 Advertising (Jewish Herald Voice) Anne Clutterbuck 1,000.00 Mailer (HGLBT Political Caucus) Anne Clutterbuck 5,000.00 Ad (TX Conservative Review) Randy Locke 725.28 Signs Randy Locke 375.00 Ad (The Defender) Randy Locke 375.00 Ad (D-Mars) Randy Locke 275.00 Email to Houston Style Magazine list Randy Locke 750.00 Email to NewsWireHouston.com list Wanda Adams 175.00 Advertising (HBAD) Wanda Adams 2,001.33 Signs Wanda Adams 125.00 Advertising (South Wesley AMEC) Wanda Adams 638.00 Push cards Wanda Adams 700.00 Ad (D-Mars) Wanda Adams 150.00 Ad (St Mary's of the Purification Church) Wanda Adams 125.00 Ad (Riverside UMC) Wanda Adams 674.00 T-shirts Wanda Adams 168.00 Bumper stickers Wanda Adams 580.00 Ad (KROI) Wanda Adams 1,055.00 Ad (KMJQ) Wanda Adams 700.00 Ad (KCOH) Wanda Adams 500.00 Push cards Wanda Adams 1,400.00 Push cards Wanda Adams 400.00 Ad (KWWJ) Wanda Adams 1,466.79 Signs Mike Sullivan 595.38 T-shirts Mike Sullivan 399.00 Advertising (Kingwood Tribune) Mike Sullivan 3,571.17 4 x 8 signs Mike Sullivan 250.87 Phone bank Mike Sullivan 2,943.82 Phone bank Mike Sullivan 3,643.86 Phone bank Mike Sullivan 205.96 Phone bank Mike Sullivan 793.47 Direct mail Mike Sullivan 501.89 Direct mail Mike Sullivan 797.69 Direct mail Mike Sullivan 1,859.88 Direct mail Mike Sullivan 2,148.60 Direct mail Mike Sullivan 172.50 Ad (The Forest Image) Mike Sullivan 1,500.00 Ad (The Tribune) Mike Sullivan 900.00 Ad (The Tribune) Phillip Garrison 100.00 Advertising (Bay Area Rep. Women) Phillip Garrison 5,922.76 Brochures and doorhangers Phillip Garrison 1,445.14 Yard signs Phillip Garrison 499.00 Ad (The Tribune) Phillip Garrison 320.61 Ad (Guardian Interests/newspaper) Phillip Garrison 600.00 Ad (The Tribune) Phillip Garrison 752.00 Ad (The Observer) Phillip Garrison 8,889.15 Direct mailer

I did not find any reports for Roger Bowden in B, or Otis Jordan or Larry McKinzie in D. Randy Locke in District C clearly had no idea how to fill out his form – the “Purpose” field was left blank almost everywhere, he didn’t give a total amount spent on either form, and there were what appeared to be duplicate expenses, followed by a credit, in each form. His signs, which I’ve seen along Greenbriar, promise to “end Ashby Highrise forever”. I say good luck with that.

Garrison’s reports are a bit of a challenge to read as well, since he’s done them all cumulatively. Some of the items listed above go back as far as February. The last two ads and the mailer were done in October. Sullivan had separate expenses that I didn’t enumerate for printing and postage, which I would guess correspond to each of the entries he listed for direct mail. Some candidates roll all those expenses into one line item, others break them out individually as was apparently done here. Adams is also blanketing the radio waves, and as with Pennington in G, I’d guess that a large number of those stations’ listeners are in her district.

So there you have it. Hope you found all this useful.

Endorsement watch: Jewish Herald Voice and African-American News

Here are some last-minute endorsements, for those of you who plan to do your civic duty on Tuesday. First, from the Jewish Herald Voice:

City of Houston, General Election

Mayor Annise D. Parker
Council Member, District A Amy Peck
Council Member, District C Anne Clutterbuck
Council Member, District D Wanda Adams
Council Member, At-Large Position 1 Herman Litt
Council Member, At-Large Position 2 Sue Lovell
Council Member, At-Large Position 4 C.O. “Brad” Bradford
Council Member, At-Large Position 5 Jolanda “Jo” Jones
City Controller Ronald Green

They also give a thumbs up to all of the constitutional amendments, and offer endorsements in a bunch of other area races. Of some interest was their endorsement of the HCC annexation in Spring Branch.

HCC’s tax rate is the lowest among community colleges in this area, and the board of trustees has lowered the rate three times in the past three years. The most recent rate reduction came just recently. In addition, the trustees increased the senior citizen tax exemption from $90,000 to $100,000. At the same time, they have held the line on tuition, which is no easy feat in this tough economy.

HCC has been a good community partner in Spring Branch. Since 1986, HCC has invested $50 million in the Spring Branch campus at I-10 and the Sam Houston Beltway, creating a new set of academic, workforce and continuing education facilities.

As it happens, I received a Facebook message on Sunday from someone who apparently opposes the HCC annexation in Spring Branch. She sent me a press release from an anti-annexation group that touted a rescission of HAR‘s initial endorsement of the HCC plan. I’ve placed that beneath the fold for your perusal.

Elsewhere, African-American News and Issues issued five endorsements in city elections:

Controller Annise Parker for Mayor
Councilmember Jolanda “Jo” Jones for Re-Election to At Large Position 5
Rev. Andrew C. Burks, Jr. for At Large Position 2
Clarence “Brad” Bradford for At Large 4
Otis Jordan for District D

They give their reasons for each at the link. Given the recent squabbles between Peter Brown and Gene Locke over their levels of support in the African-American community, I thought this was most interesting.

Finally, Burka tells us how he voted on the constitutional amendments, and the Chron rounds up all its endorsements into one editorial. I give them credit again for getting to all of these in a timely fashion.

(more…)

More, so to speak, on the Council races

Here’s what there is to say about this Chron story that “covers”, loosely speaking, the five open Council races. It has 62 sentences in it. It names 31 candidates. You do the math.

I mean, seriously. If you’re going to cover the races, then cover the races. I don’t expect an obsessive number of interviews. But is it too much to ask for each race to get its own story? The HISD Trustee races got their own stories, which was great. Why not the Council races? I don’t get it.

Candidates’ personal financial statements

In addition to the campaign finance reports, candidates are required to file personal financial statements that disclose their income, investments, and other holdings so that any potential conflicts of interest can be identified. Texas Watchdog has been rounding them up for the city races. You can see all of their posts on the subject here.

If Lubbock can do it, so can Luling

The little town of Luling is looking to follow in Lubbock’s footsteps and allow alcohol sales.

For some towns, being dry is part of the local character: The absence of alcohol reflects the particular values of the community. For others, dry laws are relics of Prohibition, waiting to be overturned.

Stuart Carter thinks Luling falls into the latter category. Carter and his wife, Rosine, are co-chairs of Luling Citizens for Economic Growth, an organization responsible for a referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot to allow the sale of liquor throughout town.

They and others who signed the petition to get the matter on the ballot say allowing mixed-drink sales will help spur development.

Carter points out that Luling isn’t actually dry right now. The sale of beer is allowed, and liquor sales are permitted in the portion of town that lies in Guadalupe County.

“We already have drinking,” he said. “We already have a liquor store.”

And judging from the rest of the story, it sounds like the rest of the city will be able to have those things as well. Good luck, y’all.