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January, 2010:

Voter registration deadline is Monday

I’m sure everyone reading this is already registered to vote. But if for some reason you’re not, or you’re not sure, your last chance to be registered in time for the primaries is tomorrow, Monday, February 1. Here’s a press release from the Tax Assessor’s office:

Harris County Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez reminds Harris County citizens to register to vote now. The deadline to register to vote in the 2010 primary elections is February 1, 2010.

“The primaries will be held March 2 and are a vital part of how citizens choose their representatives and judges. Often, the only real contests in some districts – your political neighborhood — are in a party’s primary,” Vasquez explained.

“Nearly 1.9 million Harris County citizens are on the voter roll. Through various community outreach efforts, the Tax Office has made it very easy to register. Just do it now, please,” Vasquez urged.

He pointed out that voter registration renewal certificates have been mailed. If you are registered and have not received your new certificate, which is blue, please contact our office at 713 368-VOTE.

Visit the Tax Office Web site at to ensure that you are properly registered. If you need to update your address or make a name change, you can obtain a voter registration application on our Web site, at any Tax Office branch location, local post offices, libraries and City of Houston community and health centers.

To be eligible to vote in the March 2 primary elections, your completed voter registration application must be delivered to any Tax Office branch location before 4:45 p.m. on Feb. 1, or mailed with a U.S. Postal Service postmark date of no later than Feb. 1, 2010. State law requires citizens to be registered to vote 30 days prior to the election date in order to be eligible.

Applicants may register to vote if they:

* Are a resident of Harris County, and
* Are at least 17 years, 10 months of age (to vote, you must be 18), and
* Are a U.S. citizen, and
* Have not been finally convicted of a felony, (unless they have completed all punishment including any term of incarceration, parole, supervision, period of probation, or have been pardoned); and
* Have not been determined by a final judgment of a court exercising probate jurisdiction to be totally mentally incapacitated or partially mentally incapacitated without the right to vote.

For more information, please contact the Harris County Tax Office Voter Registration Department at 713-368-VOTE (8683).

I got my updated voter registration card a week or so ago. Have you received yours?

Endorsement watch: HGLBT Political Caucus and judicial races

I don’t have a press release yet, but via email from Kris Banks, the President of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, here are the endorsements the Caucus has made in Harris County Democratic Party judicial primaries:

113th Civil District Court
Christina Bryan

157th Civil District Court
Chuck Silverman

180th Criminal District Court
Lori Gooch

189th Civil District Court
Andy Pereira

190th Civil District Court
Jim Wrotenbery

234th Civil District Court
Tanner Garth

245th Family District Court
Janiece Horn

247th Family District Court
Clinton “Chip” Wells

248th Criminal District Court
Trent Gaither

270th Civil District Court
Charles Spain

281st Civil District Court
Donna Roth

295th Civil District Court
Paul Simon

308th Family District Court
Bruce Kessler

310th Family District Court
Judy Dougherty

311th Family District Court
Steve Herskowitz

313th Juvenile District Court
Natalie Oakes

314th Juvenile District Court
David Longoria

315th Juvenile District Court
Bill Thursland

County Court at Law No. 1
Steve Reilley

County Court at Law No. 2
Damian E. LaCroix

County Court at Law No. 3
Damon Crenshaw

County Criminal Court No. 1
Beverly D. Melontree

County Criminal Court No. 2
Mary Connealy Acosta

County Criminal Court No. 13
Dennis Slate

County Criminal Court No. 3
Judith Snively

County Criminal Court No. 9
Silvia Pubchara-Munoz

County Criminal Court No. 12
Robert “Bob” Cardenas

County Probate Court No. 2
Joellen Snow

County Probate Court No. 3
Mary Galligan

Note that these are for contested primaries only. The Caucus will make their endorsements for non-judicial races on Wednesday. I’ve updated the 2010 Election page to reflect these recommendations, and will again when the non-judicial endorsements come out. Martha has more.

Weekend link dump for January 31

If I cared about the Pro Bowl, I’d probably think that it was wrong for it to happen before the Super Bowl.

Who’s screwing whom?

I can’t say my Facebook experience has been the same as this, but I certainly have learned a few things about old friends and classmates.

No love from Rick Perry for Republican bloggers from Texas.

I sometimes wonder what politics would be like if the professional political pundits weren’t such idiots. I often wonder the same thing about sports, too.

I suppose a bright side to that Supreme Court ruling about corporate campaign spending is that a flood of foreign corporate and government spending on our elections might put a bit of a dent in the trade deficit.

Oh, and if corporations are basically the same as people, does that mean they’re eligible for the death penalty?

RIP, Julia the Chicken.

An equal population map of the US.

I too am oddly fascinated by the weird teeth dude.

The old music business model is very deservedly dead. Long live the new music business model.

How quickly the worm can turn.

Tim Tebow’s mama got to make a choice. (If you believe her, anyway. In truth, it seems she had no choice.) If she had her way, other women would not be able to make their own choice. Oh, and can we please have some consistency about these kinds of ads during the Super Bowl?

He should have stuck with being a pimp. More here. Oh, and did we mention his connection to Rick Perry and his blog buddies? Just don’t count on them standing by you, dude.

Okay, that’s one good thing about Andre Dawson being elected to the Hall of Fame.

Oh, Governor Perry, your gun is so long and hard!

And if that’s not a good lead in for this

Enjoy your retirement, fellas.


Who owns “Who dat”? Who cares?

Now this is what I call a government job.

No mention of Willingham

The Texas Forensic Science Commission had its first meeting since Williamson County DA John Bradley was named Chair by Governor Perry. Bradley did the job Perry picked him for by preventing any official discussion of the Cameron Todd Willingham case until after the March primary.

The delay and Friday’s agenda, which failed to move forward any of the pending investigations, led to some terse exchanges between commissioners and Bradley. Some questioned his authority to speak for the commission, noting an editorial he wrote immediately after his appointment without consulting long-term commissioners.

“I apologize if any toes feel like they were stepped on,” Bradley said.

When Commissioner Garry Adams mentioned that there were “weighty” items awaiting commission action, Bradley answered flatly that “our actions today are limited to what’s on the agenda.”

After the meeting, Adams, a veterinary pathologist at Texas A&M University, said he expected the commission’s cases to be back on track at the next meeting, scheduled for April 23 in Fort Worth.

Bradley assured commissioners that the Willingham case investigations would be considered at the next meeting.

“Yes, they will be on the agenda. Yes, they will be discussed,” he said.

I trust you’ll forgive me if I don’t put a lot of faith in Bradley’s reassurances. For more on what did take place, read Grits’ liveblogging of the meeting. If that’s too much, try this summary of the meeting and of Bradley’s performance.

That was really quite a display. I’ll give him this. John Bradley came into Harlingen with an agenda; he was on his A-game when other commissioners were back on their heels and didn’t know what to expect; and as a result he got what he wanted out of the meeting: Delay discussing anything substantive about flawed forensic science and a new “process” in which he can bury the Willingham case in committee until after the November election.

It was a pretty brazen performance, but judging by minimalist MSM media coverage, the Williamson County DA clearly made a good bet that – by moving the meeting to the Rio Grande Valley on a Friday and waiting to produce the rules until the last minute – he would get away with such bold hectoring of the commission. It’s not a great start to Bradley’s relationship with his fellow commissioners, but he’s obviously not there to make friends. He’s there to delay the commission’s work and to impede the Willingham investigation by hook or by crook. And he’s succeeding.

Yoo hoo! Senator Whitmire! I believe this is your cue to have another hearing about the Commission and what Bradley is doing to it.

The GOP gubernatorial debate, simplified

About what one would expect, I daresay.

The Republican candidates for governor clashed in what is likely their final debate Friday, attacking one another’s records but offering little vision as to what they would do as governor over the next four years.

In their defense, no one who tuned in to watch expected them to talk about meaningless stuff like policy. Those who watched saw what they were expecting to see.

Austin’s rail service to get started in March

Austin’s long-awaited rail service, which was approved by the voters in 2004, is finally ready to roll.

After what seems like endless series of problems and delays, Cap Metro has announced that light rail service will begin in March. Service was originally scheduled to commence on March 30, 2009.

MetroRail will run from downtown to Leaner with stops for Lakeline, Howard, Kramer, Crestview, Highland, MLK, Jr., and Plaza Saltillo. The full 32 mile trip is estimated to take 57 minutes with a maximum speed projected to be as fast as 60 mph. Capital MetroRail will offer service every 35 minutes during morning and afternoon rush hours with fares ranging from $2 to $3 depending on distance. There will also be discounts for monthly passes and certain categories of riders. Senior citizens and children under 6 ride for free.

The pictures are very attractive – it certainly looks like it will be a pleasant ride. For the case against, as always we turn to Mike Dahmus. To my Austin readers, any of you plan on using this? Leave a comment and let me know.

The abandoned shrine

What a waste.

A multi-million dollar mess has neighbors in an upscale Houston neighborhood looking for answers. They’re tired of seeing a big, empty building with boarded-up windows, broken doors and dead landscaping.

“An eyesore, quite ugly,” said Jan O’Brien, who passes the building on her morning walks near Braes Bayou.
The old Arabia Shriners Temple on North Braeswood has sat abandoned since 2007.

The building now belongs to Tishman Speyer, a worldwide real estate developer. But the company has yet to do any developing on the property appraised by the county at $10 million.

I work near there, and drive by it often. It’s just sad to see it like that.

I blogged about this as the sale was happening. The price tag at the time was said to be $21 million, which seems even more ridiculous now than it was then. Someone’s gonna get a bargain at the foreclosure auction one of these days, that’s for sure.

Saturday video break: “Lost”, as explained by people who could have been my neighbors

Every once in awhile, I am reminded why the Internet exists. It’s for stuff like this:

You can’t stop awesomeness like that. You can only hope to contain it. Via the nearly as awesome Therese Odell.

Bellaire versus Westpark Stadium

Still more on the proposed Westpark location for Dynamo Stadium: The Mayor of Bellaire doesn’t like the idea.

[Bellaire Mayor Cindy] Siegel has scheduled an executive session of the Bellaire City Council Monday following the 7 p.m. State of the City address and indicated she’s optimistic other councilmembers will join her in opposing the 20,000-seat stadium that would reportedly double as a concert venue and feature a 3,000-vehicle parking structure.

“I would hope council would see the negative impact and would listen to residents, who I’m already hearing from by e-mail,” Siegel told the Examiner.

In that interview, she called the plans by the Midway Companies “a betrayal of the vision” that had been worked out among Bellaire, Metro, Thompson + Hanson Nursery and Midway. Those parties had funded an architect’s conceptual plan for a transit-oriented development at the location, in the southwest corner of the 610/59 intersection, bordered on the north by Westpark Drive.

But [County Commissioner Steve] Radack says Bellaire doesn’t have to sign off on the deal, and that he sees support for the private funding.

“Bellaire does not have jurisdiction over any of this…If this deal gets worked out then there will be a whole lot of citizens a lot happier by seeing private money being spent than public money being spent,” he told the Examiner’s Steve Mark.

Sounds an awful lot like Radack is telling Siegel to sit down and shut up. It’s true that this location is not inside Bellaire, but it’s right next to the boundary line, and for sure a stadium there would have an effect, mostly negative, on Bellaire. Mayor Siegel’s letter to Midway CEO Brad Freels lays it out:

Quite frankly, Brad, I have to tell you that I was blindsided by your company’s proposal to use your land at S. Rice and Westpark for a Dynamo stadium. This proposal is completely contrary to what was envisioned for the transit oriented development that included your property and the Bellaire Research and Development District (RDD) when Bellaire, Metro, Thompson and Hanson, and Midway shared the cost of an architect to develop a conceptual plan for a transit oriented development at this location. As I have stated at every joint meeting that your company has attended with Metro and City of Bellaire officials – our primary concern has always been to protect the integrity of the Bellaire residential neighborhood directly south of this site, in addition to protecting the interests of the Bellaire property owners in the RDD.

In reviewing your plans further over the weekend and driving by the site Monday during the day and rush hour traffic in the evening. I cannot see any benefit to locating a soccer stadium (that would also be used as an outdoor entertainment facility) at your site. I believe strongly that the proposed stadium site on your property has serious limitations and will have an extremely negative impact to the residential Bellaire and Houston neighborhoods that adjoin your property and the RDD. As we discussed, the S. Rice and Westpark intersection already experiences significant delays due to traffic backups. (This traffic problem has been discussed several times in prior meetings regarding the placement of a Metro Rail transit station here.) Additionally, traffic backs from Fournace on the 610 Feeder road up to Westpark daily during evening rush hour. A stadium at this site would just increase exponentially what is already a significant traffic problem!

Additionally, there is an existing traffic problem at the 610 and 59 interchange that has been a tremendous drain on emergency personnel responding to accidents that would be compounded further if the stadium was built on your site. Bellaire and Houston emergency personnel (but primarily Bellaire) already respond s several times a day to accidents at this location. To add stadium traffic to what is already a horrible problem would be a financial and manpower resource burden that Bellaire cannot accommodate.

My in-laws live near there, so I can attest to the traffic issues in that area from personal experience. I do think that the University line will help to abate that somewhat, but it won’t be enough. Besides, last I checked that area wasn’t very walkable, so either parking is going to have to be right there, or a whole lot of money is going to have to be spent on infrastructure improvements. In response, Freels and Radack appear to be telling Mayor Siegel that she shouldn’t worry her little head about it.

The Midway site is in Radack’s Precinct 3.

“I think that that (Midway) area needs a shot in the arm and I believe when the Dynamo are playing, it’s not peak times for traffic,” Radack said.

Freels made much the same point.

“I think when she understands the plan in toto she’ll embrace it,” Freels said. “I wish she would have full information before she makes full judgment.”

Well, maybe if fuller information were available, we could all make fuller judgments, but how much more do you need to know to say this is going to affect traffic in that area? As for Radack’s pronouncement, looking through Dynamo schedules for past years (the 2010 schedule hasn’t been published yet), they have played most of their games on weekends. I don’t know if that’s been to accommodate UH, or if that’s just the norm. If that’s how it would be going forward, then it would lessen the impact somewhat, but the inclusion of retail properties on the site would have the opposite effect. Again, until someone does a study and produces a report, we’re all just guessing. I do remain convinced that none of this can happen without some public money being spent to improve the infrastructure around Midway, and as I said before, it’s not at all clear to me that this site would require less public spending than the east downtown one. It’s just too early to say. More on this from the Examiner here, with video from KTRK.

UPDATE: Bellaire City Council Member Corbett Parker has more.

EPA public hearing on hazardous ozone standards in Houston

The following was sent to me from the Sierra Club:

Right now the EPA is accepting public comments on proposed new ozone standards that will make the air we breathe cleaner and our communities healthier, but they are facing fierce opposition from the coal industry and its allies. We need you to join us the public hearing in Houston to show that Texas is ready to be a leader, instead of a laggard.

Can you join us for an important EPA public hearing on hazardous ozone standards in Houston on February 2nd?

The Coal and Oil industry is going to come out with a vengeance.  TCEQ and Governor Perry have already threatened to sue the EPA over this proposed ruling on ozone standards.

Texans deserve standards that follow the law and abide by the Clean Air Act.  There are TWELVE NEW coal plants proposed in Texas, and we already have 17 coal plants up and running (some of the dirtiest in the country).  We deserve better.

The final decision by the EPA will have an impact on our air quality for decades, but they need to hear from you.

If you can help organize turnout for the event—making phone calls, going to meetings, and spreading the word please email [email protected] or call Eva at 512.299.1550.

Who: The EPA and You, your friends, family and neighbors.

What: EPA public hearing on proposed revision of the ozone standard which would improve the air quality in Texas—see below to register to give your comment. For more information on the EPA’s ruling go here:

Where: Hilton Houston Hobby Airport

Moody Ballroom

8181 Airport Boulevard

Houston, TX 77061

When: Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 – 9:30am – 7:30pm or later

Press Conference at 11am

Rally in the evening at 7pm

I look forward to hearing from you!

Very best,


How to preregister to speak at the Houston Ozone Hearing
To preregister to speak at the public hearings, please contact Ms. Tricia Crabtree at:
[email protected]; telephone: (919) 541-5688.

If you wish to speak at the hearing but don’t pre-register, you much arrive before 7:30 pm that evening at the Hearing location.  Otherwise, you can submit a comment to the EPA Docket here.

The public hearings will begin at 9:30 a.m. and continue until 7:30 p.m. or later, if necessary, depending on the number of speakers wishing to participate.  The EPA will accommodate all speakers that arrive and register before 7:30 p.m.

For Rideshare info to the hearing, click here.

A list of people who are already scheduled to speak, including Houston Mayor Annise Parker and State Sens. Wendy Davis and Rodney Ellis, is here, and more information about the hearing is here. Please come out in support of clean air if you can make it.

The recession and the Texas Enterprise Fund

A report worth reading from Texans for Public Justice:

The global recession that hit Texas in 2008 is playing havoc with Governor Perry’s signature business-incentive program: the Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF). A review of 45 TEF projects that received $363 million in public funds reveals that an increasing number of TEF recipients defaulted on their job commitments in 2008—with even more defaults expected to be reported in the 2009 compliance reports that TEF is now beginning to receive.

Run out of the Governor’s Office,1 TEF has been a centerpiece of Perry’s administration, with the governor often convening media events to unveil TEF awards. The political role of the program has become more problematic in the last year. As a brutal economic downturn coincides with Perry’s reelection campaign, the governor has not publicly addressed his job program’s mounting woes. Instead, his office has quietly redefined success. When the 2008 recession struck, the Governor’s Office increasingly amended TEF deals to ease the contractual requirements of what a recipient must do to hold onto its public funds. In its first four years of operation, TEF formally amended just one development deal.2 Since the recession struck in 2008, Governor Perry has signed amendments diluting six additional development contracts.3 While the governor, House speaker and lieutenant governor all approve TEF grants, the Governor’s Office said it acts alone when amending the deals.

The whole report is worth your time to read, as is this DMN story about the report and reactions to it.

A look at legislative primaries

The Trib has a nice roundup of legislative primaries of interest. I know it’s partly because of the Governor’s race, with contested primaries in both parties, but the State House side of things feels awfully sedate compared to previous years. I can only presume that this is because Tom Craddick isn’t out there sloshing around huge buckets of money in an attempt to hold onto the Speakership. Which doesn’t mean he’s not still out there, waiting for his chance if the winds shift a bit, but he is in the background this time around. One thing I’d add to the Trib’s coverage is that there are a couple more contested Republican primaries here in Harris County, in HDs 134, 148, and 149, all for the right to take on a Democratic incumbent, plus one in HD129 where State Rep. John Davis faces a teabagger. None of these people has raised any money, so that would be why the Trib skipped those races, but there you have it anyway.

Friday random ten: Miss, Mister, Missus

It’s Honorifics Week in the Friday Random Ten:

1. Miss Fritchie – Eddie From Ohio
2. Miss Kate Rusby – Battlefield Band
3. Miss P – The Rogues
4. Mr. Big Stuff – Jean Knight
5. Mr. Heatmiser – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
6. Mr. Hurricane – Beast
7. Mr. Moonlight – The Beatles
8. Mrs. Martha Knowles / The Pitnacree Ferryman / The New Bob – Silly Wizard
9. Mrs. McGrath – Bruce Springsteen
10. Mrs. Robinson – Simon and Garfunkel

Who’s on your list this week?

Entire song list report: Started with “Baby’s Got The Car Keys”, by Trout Fishing In America. Yes, I know that was also the last song from the previous week. I have two versions of this, one from “Reel Life”, and one from “Family Music Party”, which is a live CD. Quite a few of my songs are multiples, sometimes because the same artist released them more than once – I have four versions of “Asylum Street Blues” by the Asylum Street Spankers, three of which are on live CDs – and sometimes because of covers – this week, for instance, I heard “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” four times, by four different performers, one of which was the Spankers. Finished up with “Big Rock Candy Mountain”, by Harry McClintock from the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack, song #339 in my collection, or another 116 songs this week.

A tip of the hat

I’m much more connected to the political world in this town than I am to the arts, though I do try to keep up with what’s going on. I was therefore delighted to pick up this week’s Houston Press and see that their Master Mind Awards, which are $2,000 gifts to people or organizations on the cutting edge Houston’s arts scene, included a couple of folks with whom I’m acquainted. One is Reginald Adams, the founder and executive director of the Museum of Cultural Arts Houston, whom I met and interviewed when he ran for an HISD Trustee position in 2007. He didn’t make it to the runoff, but I certainly came away with a favorable impression of him. The other is Joe Carl White, the executive director of award winner Opera Vista. I’ve not met Joe in person, but he’s a frequent commenter here, and I have blogged about Opera Vista and the strong reaction that its “Edalat Square” generated when it premiered. On top of all that, according to this comment he left today, he’s a new daddy. That’s what I call having a pretty good week. My congrats to Reginald Adams and MOCAH and to Joe Carl White and the crew at Opera Vista for their well-deserved recognition.

Judicial Q&A: Priscilla Walters

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. There are a lot of judicial races on the ballot in Harris County this election, and so this is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. I will also be conducting some in-person interviews of candidates who will be involved in contested primaries for non-judicial offices. Please see my 2010 Election page for a full list of Q&As and interviews.)

1. Who are you, and what are you running for?

My name is Priscilla Walters and I am running for Judge, Probate Court 3.

I am a native Texan; I grew up in Houston and graduated from Spring Woods High School. I studied nursing and biology in college, and graduated with honors from Texas Women’s University in 1977. I practiced nursing for ten years before entering the University of Houston Law School. I graduated in 1990 and I have had a diverse civil law practice since that time.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Probate Court 3 is a Statutory Probate Court. Most Texas courts are created by the constitution, but the constitution authorizes the legislature to create other courts as necessary. Statutory Probate courts have been created by the legislature in the state’s larger counties.

These Courts have very broad jurisdiction. Generally, the Court probates wills, established guardianships for incapacitated persons and minors, supervises the administration of estates of deceased and incapacitated persons and minors, and hears matters involving trusts.

Probate Judges also hear lawsuits pertaining to or “incident to an estate” of a decedent or ward and actions by or against a personal representative of an estate. Therefore, trials are conducted for medical malpractice, wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits, to name a few. Cases involving contracts, property ownership or damage, breach of fiduciary duty, and family law are now commonly litigated in Probate Court.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

Probate Court 3 hears most cases in the county involving civil mental health commitments. An example of this type of hearing would be when there is a request for commitment of a person who may be a danger to themselves or others. The court also conducts medication hearings to determine the necessity of medical treatment and hearings to determine whether there should be an order to resuscitate a terminally ill person. Probate Courts make life and death decisions regarding the wellbeing of the citizens of Harris County, and the Judge should care about these issues.

The incumbent Judge Rory Olsen has done a terrible job. Witnesses have complained that he is disinterested, impatient and uncaring toward the mentally ill and toward potential wards of the court. Olsen declined a request by members of the Houston Psychiatric Society to meet and discuss their concerns! In the most recent Houston Bar Association poll, Olsen received the lowest rating among Probate Judges. The Republican dominance in the Harris County Judiciary between 1992-2008 has produced Judges who haven’t had to be accountable to the citizens of the County. They have shown a poor work ethic, bias and cronyism. That needs to change.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I chose Probate Court 3 because I have healthcare experience. No other candidate has any education, training or experience in the mental health or healthcare fields. In deciding on emergency health care matters, the Judge needs to understand the complexities of mental and physical diseases.

As a civil trial lawyer for the past 19 years, I have had cases in Federal courts, State district Courts and in Probate courts. I have represented individuals, businesses, school districts, families, physicians, estates, and disabled children and adults. These cases have involved contract disputes, products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, healthcare fraud, wrongful termination, and many other issues. My cases frequently involve estates and persons under guardianship. My range of experience is as broad as the courts jurisdiction; I have experience in more fields of law than any other candidate in this race.

During the past 29 years of my professional life, I have developed empathy for people in crisis. I have good leadership and problem solving skills. I believe that people who find themselves in the courts should be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. I want to provide the citizens of this county with excellent service without wasting their assets and without causing unnecessary stress, delay and expense. No one will work harder than me.

5. Why is this race important?

We need qualified, compassionate judges in the Probate Courts. With the exception of Probate Court 1, all sitting Probate Judges are Republicans. These judges have long enjoyed absolute job security, regardless of performance. In addition to the problems that I’ve already mentioned, there have been published accounts of judges who allowed sizable estates to be wasted by court appointed attorneys, guardians and executors. We need to restore balance to Probate Courts, and I know that I can do a better job in Probate Court 3.

6. Why should people vote for you in the primary?

I am the most qualified candidate for Probate Court 3. Unlike my primary opponent, my experience is not limited to wills and trusts. I have significant experience in almost every subject that is adjudicated in Probate Court 3. I am the only candidate with Healthcare education, training and experience. I have 19 years of civil courtroom experience in courts of various jurisdictions. I am a lifetime Democrat, and a sustaining member of the Party. I am excited about the prospect of serving the citizens of Harris County, and I hope to have your vote in the March 2, 2010 Democratic Primary.

More on the Dynamo’s Westpark option

Here’s an updated version of the earlier story about the Houston Dynamo and the possibility of their stadium being built on Westpark.

“The deal downtown started stalling a little bit. We started wondering if that stadium could make sense at this property,” said Brad Freels, chairman and CEO of Midway.

Freels envisions a 21,000-seat soccer and concert arena as part of a multi-use project on 30 acres the company owns at the intersection of Westpark Toll Road and South Rice. The property is just west of the 610 Loop, about a mile south of the Galleria.

Mayor Annise Parker said she has been briefed on the plan.

“It is a completely privately financed alternative, which I’m glad to see on the table,” she said. “This is an excellent option that takes the city taxpayers largely or completely out of the loop on this.”

Parker noted that the city would consider contributing infrastructure work or tax abatements to the Midway development, just as it would any other large project.

The main difference seems to me to be that the land for the downtown site was bought by the city, while this site is owned by Midway. I feel confident that it’s still the case that the city would need to contribute in some form, as noted by Mayor Parker. It’s just a question of how much, and as I said before I think traffic will be a bigger issue at this location, so the infrastructure work may well be more expensive as well. I hope we get a handle on that before any commitments are made.

In case you needed further proof that the SBOE is a clown show

These guys just defy parody.

In its haste to sort out the state’s social studies curriculum standards this month, the State Board of Education tossed children’s author [Bill] Martin, who died in 2004, from a proposal for the third-grade section. Board member Pat Hardy, R-Weatherford, who made the motion, cited books he had written for adults that contain “very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system.”

Trouble is, the Bill Martin Jr. who wrote the Brown Bear series never wrote anything political, unless you count a book that taught kids how to say the Pledge of Allegiance, his friends said. The book on Marxism was written by Bill Martin, a philosophy professor at DePaul University in Chicago.

Bill Martin Jr.’s name would have been included on a list with author Laura Ingalls Wilder and artist Carmen Lomas Garza as examples of individuals who would be studied for their cultural contributions.

Hardy said she was trusting the research of another board member, Terri Leo, R-Spring, when she made her motion and comments about Martin’s writing. Leo had sent her an e-mail alerting her to Bill Martin Jr.’s listing on the Borders .com Web site as the author of Ethical Marxism. Leo’s note also said she hadn’t read the book.

“She said that that was what he wrote, and I said: ‘ … It’s a good enough reason for me to get rid of someone,’ ” said Hardy, who has complained vehemently about the volume of names being added to the curriculum standards.

Let this be a lesson: Never trust anything the wingnut faction on the SBOE says. It’s a one-way ticket to palookaville.

Expanding Metro

Soon-to-be-former Metro Chair David Wolff riffs off of a Chron editorial that lamented the lack of connectivity between Metro and some new bus routes in Harris County and makes the case for expanding Metro’s service area.

The first steps toward this expansion of service have already begun. Forward-thinking leaders such as Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia have worked with us to provide Park & Ride service to areas outside Metro’s present boundaries through an innovative approach involving interlocal agreements. Commuters outside the Metro service area in Baytown and Pasadena now travel daily into Houston using the same fare cards, rate schedules and service features as commuters from Cypress and Missouri City. Metro will soon be offering a Park & Ride option to the south on Texas 288 through an interlocal agreement with the transit provider for Brazoria County. Ongoing discussions with officials from Fort Bend County for Park & Ride service are also under way. The emphasis has been on showing these communities what we can do for them before asking them to join our full-service area and tax base.

Metro has little influence over how area jurisdictions receive or spend transit dollars. Nevertheless, the logic for a seamless regional approach — avoiding Balkanized service such as that found in the San Francisco Bay Area inefficiently “served” by no fewer than 13 disparate transit agencies — is inherently compelling. Sufficient common ground must be found among our area’s governmental entities as Metro constructs its five new light-rail lines. We must begin contemplating how to utilize the walking distance “delivery system” that the light rail system will create by 2013 as the framework to which commuter rail from outlying areas can be connected.

Certainly, the goal should be for all forms of mass transit in the region to connect to each other, and for things like fares and schedules to be unified and coordinated. Wolff cites DART as an example of another transit authority working on this. As it happens, the DMN has a story about how that is going.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit is considering ways to bring new cities aboard without requiring them to pay a full cent of sales tax, which has been a core membership requirement since the agency’s founding more than a quarter-century ago.

That full-penny requirement, which in recent years has meant more than $200 million a year in sales tax contributions from Dallas alone, has been the biggest obstacle to the agency’s growth. One fast-growing suburb after another has chosen to stay out of DART rather than surrender all of its discretionary sales tax revenue to pay for bus and rail service.

DART president Gary Thomas said preliminary discussions have begun among his board members and leaders in cities that border the agency’s 13 member cities.

“When we started DART in 1983, it didn’t make sense for some of these outlying cities to be part of a regional system,” Thomas said. “The revenues in those cities were not sufficient, and neither was the likely ridership. But here as we find ourselves with a lot of first-ring suburbs as part of the agency … and we have gone way beyond that.”

The situation is largely the same here. The challenge will be figuring out how to make it work across all the different boundaries and governmental entities. The natural impulse is to defend one’s own turf, but the more that happens, the less cooperation there will be. This isn’t going to be easy, that’s for sure.

More or stronger?

If we’re talking about hurricanes, neither sounds like an attractive choice.

A new study with the most extensive computer modeling of storm activity to date suggests the overall number of Atlantic storms will fall 30 percent by century’s end, but the number of the strongest category 4 and 5 hurricanes will increase by 81 percent.

The study comes after half a decade of intense research, in the wake of the record-setting 2005 hurricane season that included Katrina and Rita, by scientists to understand how a warmer climate might affect hurricane activity.

This isn’t the final word, of course, but it does seem to be an emerging consensus. I suppose if I had to pick, I’d prefer more less-intensive storms, as I think overall that would cause less damage, but I don’t feel too strongly about it.

Endorsement watch: AWA and AFL-CIO

More endorsements of the mostly-judicial variety for you to ponder, from the Association of Women Attorneys and the Harris County AFL-CIO. The 2010 Elections page has been updated to reflect these recommendations. Note that there were a few dual endorsements handed out, as well as a few races that were skipped, and note also that the AWA touted picks in the GOP primaries as well.

Again, just to reiterate, my policy on these is that more information is better than less, so if I come across a press release or similar document from a reputable source that lists out their endorsements, I’ll publish them as long as time and space allow. You can make of them what you will – it’s entirely rational to decide that a given endorsement may make you less likely to vote for a particular candidate, for example. What I know is that there’s a lot of candidates in these races, and the more I can learn about them, the more confident I’ll feel about my choices when I’m in the voting booth.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates to debate

As you know, I’m not much of the debate-watching type. But this is one I may tune in to.

Houston Mayor Bill White and millionaire businessman Farouk Shami have accepted an invitation from KERA and its media partners to debate on Monday February 8 at 7:00 p.m. The hour long debate will take place before a studio audience with questions coming from journalists, voters and social media. It will be broadcast statewide on television, radio and online.

For what it’s worth, the way my interview schedule is currently going, I’ll be running my conversation with Shami that same morning. Thanks to the Trib for the heads up.

Judicial Q&A: Andy Pereira

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. There are a lot of judicial races on the ballot in Harris County this election, and so this is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. I will also be conducting some in-person interviews of candidates who will be involved in contested primaries for non-judicial offices. Please see my 2010 Election page for a full list of Q&As and interviews.)

1. Who are you, and what are you running for?

My name is Andy Pereira. I am a Houstonian, trial lawyer, committed public citizen, and longtime Democratic activist. I am running for Judge of the 189th District Court (Civil).

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

These courts have plenary, or full, jurisdiction, handling both state and federal matters. Generally, District Courts can hear all matters with certain minimum amounts in controversy unless the jurisdiction for that matter has been placed with another court. Specifically, examples of the types of cases this court might hear include commercial cases, contract disputes, premises liability or “slip and fall” cases, consumer and some class-action litigation, employment disputes, medical malpractice cases, and motor vehicle accidents. This court does not hear family, criminal, probate, or juvenile justice matters or specialized federal cases like bankruptcy.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I chose to run for the office of judge because I believe in the power of the judiciary and the jury system–the ability of twelve ordinary citizens to resolve conflicts and find the truth in a civil and orderly way. I chose to run for District Court as opposed to Justice or County Court because the nature of the cases and the procedures are slightly more complex and most like the cases with which I have the most experience. In speaking with other lawyers, the current judge of the 189th has a mixed record of responsiveness and respect for those that appear in the court.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I worked as an attorney for twelve years in a nationally known litigation firm handling complex multi-million dollar trial work for clients around the world. I have represented tens of thousands of plaintiffs against large corporate interests. I opened my own practice in 2007, primarily handling multi-district product liability litigation. I have represented individuals, businesses, and governments, have argued cases at the trial and appellate levels in state and federal courts, and have argued cases before the Texas Supreme Court. I was recognized in law school for outstanding legal research and writing, and I clerked for Texas Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Doggett.

I am fluent in Spanish, which is an important communication skill in Harris County. Having a parent from Latin America also makes me bi-cultural which allows me to understand and identify with our multi-cultural population.

5. Why is this race important?

In my opinion, the judiciary is the most important branch of our government because it is the backstop for our rights as citizens and places the power of the government in a jury of our peers. The 2010 elections will determine the direction our courts will take, which will in turn determine how our laws are interpreted and applied for decades.

Currently, about half of the Harris County District Court seats and all but one of the appellate court seats in our area are occupied by Republicans. Before 2008 all were occupied by Republicans. The result has been a highly politicized judiciary that in many cases favors special interests over the public interest, the erosion of individual rights, and a wholesale attack on the principle of trial by jury. I have spent my entire professional career providing a voice to individuals against large corporate interests, but I am concerned that those voices are becoming increasingly more difficult to hear. We need to change the direction that our entire legal system is headed before many of the rights we once took for granted are no longer available to us as citizens.

6. Why should people vote for you in the Primary?

People should vote for me because I truly care about people and about justice. I have ample litigation experience in the most complex kinds of cases, which has prepared me for the most complicated cases that may come before me in this court.

As a judge, I will always elevate principles above divisive politics and partisanship, because real justice knows no political party. Personally, I am committed to serving every citizen of Harris County who appears in my court with the respect that s/he deserves from a public servant. I always try to be thoughtful, intellectual, passionate about the law, respectful and courteous.

Most importantly, I am genuinely dedicated to finding the best result in each case by carefully synthesizing all of the information provided to me by the counselors and litigants that appear in my courtroom. In short, I will be the kind of judge who will not just listen, but who will actually hear, not just with my ears, but with an open mind and an open heart.

The forensics backlog

I was going to blog about this Chron story regarding a backlog in fingerprint analyses for the HPD Crime Lab, but Grits said most of what I was going to say, so just go read him. The key, I think, is this:

[W]hether the lab is independent or part of the police department, the problem of chronic backlogs stems from a shortage of resources – it’s going to cost Houston a lot more money to fix this problem, either way, than they’re spending on forensics now. The only other option is to choose not to devote forensic resources to certain categories of offenses, and if backlogs become too onerous, to expand those categories.

I feel like what’s been left unsaid in the discussion about creating regional and/or independent crime labs is the cost, and who pays for it. Don’t get me wrong, I continue to think these are good ideas, but only if we do them right. A half-assed, underfunded independent crime will be no improvement over what we have now. DA Lykos suggests in the article that the Harris County Medical Examiner’s office is a possible solution. Maybe she’s right; it can’t hurt to study the idea, in any event. We need to look at these current problems as opportunities to find a better way to do what we’re doing now, and to get commitments to pay for them, so we won’t be faced with fixing the same problems again in another few years.

Let’s not talk about sex

Sometimes all you can do is marvel.

A Hitchcock school board member’s discussion about sex with a class of middle-school girls led the district to issue an apology and on Monday to offer counseling for girls in the class, a district spokesman said.

The apology and counseling offer came after parents complained during a school board meeting last week about a Jan. 15 discussion school board member Shirley Price had with an assembly of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade girls at Crosby Middle School.

At least two parents complained that Price discussed sex, said Randy Dowdy, director of school sports services. “They said it was graphic,” Dowdy recalled. News reports said the discussion included descriptions of how to perform oral and anal sex. Price, speaking through her pastor, declined to comment, but Pastor S.D. Siverand of the Galilee Missionary Baptist Church denied that she told students how to perform sex acts.

More here. I get that some people would not appreciate Price doing what she is alleged to have said – if you read the whole story, it sounds like what she was mostly doing was answering questions and telling girls not to feel pressured to have sex, which last I checked was a pretty good message for them to hear – but counseling? Seriously? Whatever Price may or may not have said, it seems to me that the freakout about it is much more likely to be actually damaging to the kids.

Two strikes and Wilson is out

And that’s all she wrote for Dave Wilson. On the one hand, I’m delighted that this hateful jerk won’t be polluting the Democratic ticket. On the other hand, it’s a discgrace that Jerry Eversole gets a free ride to re-election. Somebody who isn’t Dave Wilson better challenge him in 2014, that’s all I can say.

Unemployment up in Texas

Not the kind of story Rick Perry wants to see with an election coming up.

The state’s economic recovery hit a snag in December, as employers cut 23,900 jobs after expanding payrolls in October and November.

The Texas unemployment rate climbed to 8.3 percent in December from 8 percent the month before, the Texas Workforce Commission said Friday.


Despite last month’s stumble, analysts said they still expect Texas employers to create jobs this year as the state recovers from the recession. Mine Yücel, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said Texas is likely to add 100,000 to 150,000 jobs this year.

But the comeback is apt to be modest and uneven.

“This is not going to be a quick bounce-back,” Yücel said, discussing the employment figures released Friday. “It’s going to be a slow slog.”

Payroll employment fell by 276,000 jobs last year, according to preliminary data released Friday. That figure will be updated in March based on unemployment insurance records provided by employers, a process called benchmarking.

According to the Dallas Fed, which has performed its own benchmarking on Texas jobs data through mid-2009, the state lost nearly 335,000 jobs last year.

Things are bad all over, and Texas is still better off than most states. But for all the boasting Perry has done about job creation in Texas – some of which is just flat-out lying, by the way – he’s talking about 2008, not 2009. And while he may talk about jobs being created in 2010, as you can see it won’t make up the difference even before we adjust for increases in the state’s population. Look for some new talking points soon.

On the bright side, things are getting better in Houston.

Houston area employers added 2,700 jobs in December, the fourth consecutive month of over-the-month job gains, the Texas Workforce Commission reported today.

In another sign the Houston economy may be stabilizing, fewer Houston area residents filed initial claims for unemployment in December.

Last month, 22,283 local residents filed for benefits, the lowest number for any month in 2009, said Joel Wagher, labor market analyst for Workforce Solutions, which manages employment services and training for the area.


While December’s data hints at better times, the year-end picture isn’t as bright.

Houston area employers cut 92,500 jobs between December 2008 and December 2009, a 3.5 percent decline.

“That tells the story of the year,” said Barton Smith, director of the University of Houston’s Institute for Regional Forecasting. He referred to 2009 as a bleak year.

Of course, the better Houston does, the better the state overall will do. That’s probably not something Rick Perry wants people to think about too much, either.

Endorsement watch: ParentPAC for Thomas Ratliff

I’m very glad to see that the Texas ParentPAC is getting involved in the SBOE primaries. Here’s their press release for the District 9 GOP race:

The bipartisan Texas Parent PAC today announced its endorsement of Thomas Ratliff for election to District 9 State Board of Education, which includes all or part of 29 counties in East and North Texas.

“Parents and children deserve be represented by a respected leader like Thomas Ratliff,” said Texas Parent PAC board of directors member Pam Meyercord of Dallas. “His focus will always be on educational excellence in our public schools rather than on politics.”

Texas Parent PAC was created by parents in 2005 with the goal of electing more state leaders who will consistently stand up for public education. A broad base of individuals and business leaders supports the PAC’s bipartisan grassroots campaign efforts.

The 15-member elected State Board of Education is not well-known by voters. The board is responsible for establishing policy, adopting curriculum standards and textbooks, and providing leadership for the state’s public school system. In Texas, 4.7 million students attend public schools on more than 8,300 campuses.

“This election has statewide implications, because the State Board of Education sets policy affecting every child and every public school classroom in Texas,” Meyercord said. “Thomas Ratliff will respectfully listen to parents and educators and bring much needed business expertise and fiscal responsibility to this important board.”

He earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Texas Tech University and a master of public affairs degree from The University of Texas at Austin. Meyercord said Ratliff has the analytical skills, integrity, and judgment necessary to make better board decisions on managing billions of dollars in the Permanent School Fund.

Ratliff and his wife Stacy are rearing their two children surrounded by extended family in their hometown of Mount Pleasant, where both graduated from Mount Pleasant High School. Both Thomas and Stacy have served on leadership teams for their children’s public schools and in countless school volunteer roles.

Last year, Thomas was lay leader at Tennison United Methodist Church and is a frequent Sunday School teacher.

Texas Parent PAC is endorsing a small and select number of Republican and Democratic candidates statewide. The PAC describes its endorsed candidates as “men and women of integrity, open and responsive to parents, actively involved in their communities, and committed to investing in public education to achieve economic prosperity in Texas.”

Public school supporters are encouraged to visit to find a map of District 9 and persuade their friends and relatives throughout the large district to vote for Ratliff during the early voting period February 16 – 26 and on election day, March 2. Texas Parent PAC is also urging parents to volunteer in the Ratliff campaign and/or donate money and in-kind services.

This is great news, and I hope they have the kind of success in knocking off a virulent enemy of public education as they did in 2006 when they hit the scene with a splash by booting Kent Grusendorf. The release doesn’t mention Ratliff’s opponent, but I will: Don McLeroy, who may be the single most malevolent force against students and the curriculum today operating right now, given that the Lege is not in session. I hope the ParentPAC has enough muscles to flex in this Republican race to make a difference, and I hope they’ll be looking at some of the other primaries to see where they might be effective as well.

The Dynamo contemplate their options

Is the future of Dynamo Stadium on Westpark? Could be.

Dynamo President Oliver Luck is in talks with a developer about building a soccer stadium on private land about a mile south of the Galleria.

The Dynamo have not abandoned plans to build on a 12 acres of city-owned land downtown, Luck said.

But the Midway Companies approached Luck recently with a concept that would put the stadium in the midst of a 30-acre mixed-used development just west of Loop 610.

“They have not yet presented a full-blown plan to us,” Luck said. “It’s an interesting location and certainly worth looking at.”

Swamplot had the first inklings of this, while Miya, Prime Property, and Hair Balls have more. The good news is that this location appears to be near a University Line station. The bad news is that vehicular access is pretty limited, and I would expect traffic getting in and out to suck. I’d call this better than nothing, but not better than the downtown location. If as Hair Balls indicates, however, that Commissioners Court considers this to be the city’s baby and not any of their business, then it may get serious consideration. I just wonder, if it comes to that, how much money the city and/or county will have to spend at that location to make it viable, not just for a soccer stadium but for that 30-acre mixed use development. The roads are narrow, there are no sidewalks, and I’d bet drainage will be an issue. Midway CEO Brad Freels may say he likes doing things through the private sector, but I don’t see him putting up the cash to fix those things. I think it’s fair to wonder not just if this is a better deal for the Dynamo, but if this is any better a deal for Houston and Harris County than downtown would be.

Interview with Ahmad Hassan

Ahmad Hassan

Ahmad Hassan

Also running for the Democratic nomination for Harris County Judge is businessman Ahmad Hassan. Hassan is a real estate and mortgage broker and the owner & President of Alexandria Real Estate and Mortgage. He has been a US citizen since 1984 after emigrating from Egypt. He ran for the County Judge nomination in 2008, losing to David Mincberg, and ran for Congress in 2006 as a Republican against Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Here is the interview:

Download the MP3 file

A full list of the interviews I have done is on the 2010 Election page. As always, your feedback is appreciated.

Judicial Q&A: Robert Cardenas

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. There are a lot of judicial races on the ballot in Harris County this election, and so this is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. I will also be conducting some in-person interviews of candidates who will be involved in contested primaries for non-judicial offices. Please see my 2010 Election page for a full list of Q&As and interviews.)

1. Who are you, and what are you running for?

My name is Robert ” Bob” Cardenas. I am running for County Criminal Court at Law # 12 of Harris County, Texas.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

Misdemeanor cases involving punishment of up to one year in the county jail and a $ 4,000.00 fine. Cases such as DWIs, Assaults and Burglaries of a motor vehicle.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I can make a difference. I believe in intervention. I do not want offenders to graduate to felony court. I also want to make victims of crime have a voice in the process and have their concerns addressed.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

I have been a lawyer for nineteen years. I am an able trial attorney. I am a mediator and arbitrator. I have worked as a prosecutor and for a public defender’s office. I have practiced in over twenty-five counties throughout the state. I know what it takes to run a good court and be a good judge.

5. Why is this race important?

A criminal record destroys opportunities for individuals later in life. Crimes perpetrated against individuals changes their outlook on life. The criminal courts are about Justice, not only for those accused but for those who brought the charges. I want this to be the only time individuals ever have contact with the criminal justice system.

6. Why should people vote for you in the primary?

I have the experience and vision to implement programs which will change the way law is administered in Harris County. I will not be a Judge who leaves everyday at 12 noon, that is unacceptable. I will not be a part-time Judge and accept full-time pay. The idea is to work towards solutions. The goal is to include the voices of citizens throughout the county and work towards a better idea of justice.

SWAT team

I’m not sure about this.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office is starting an elite “high-risk” squad with the aim of developing it into a full-fledged SWAT team.

Maj. Bob Doguim began soliciting applications for the eight-member team two weeks ago, just about the time his boss, Sheriff Adrian Garcia, was preparing a budget plan that would slash department spending by $47 million in the year that begins March 1.

The high-risk unit’s first hires will come from the existing ranks as the deputies’ union is sending out a newsletter criticizing the sheriff for what it calls “reduced boots on the ground.”

Doguim said that because the start-up costs for equipment, training and vehicles are covered by a $1 million federal grant and the unit’s members will be drawn from existing deputies, it will not necessitate additional spending, at first. But he acknowledged that replacement equipment, future training and, perhaps, even backfilled positions vacated by the deputies who join the team could cost general fund money in the future.

The Sheriff’s Office typically summons the Houston Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT, unit for high-risk situations. The FBI and the Texas Department of Public Safety also have SWAT units that can deploy in Harris County.

I don’t think there’s any doubt that such a unit will cost general fund money in the future. I can’t imagine a realistic scenario where it wouldn’t. Putting aside questions about the national trend of militarizing the police, given that Harris County has gone this long without its own SWAT team one wonders why we need one now. Sure, it’s possible there could be “multiple incidents around the city”, as Maj. Dogium suggests, but that seems like a fairly low-probability event, for which we’ll need to pay for and maintain a full-time unit and its equipment. I’m not sold on the value proposition here. I’m willing to hear more, but my starting position is that we’re fine as things are now.

Perry to thumb his nose at the newspapers

Raise your hand if this surprises you.

In a major rebuke to the state’s media establishment, Gov. Rick Perry will not meet with newspaper editorial boards to try to win their endorsement before his March 2 primary.

“In the final weeks of the campaign, a better use of the governor’s time is to continue traveling the state talking to Texans about the issues that are important to them,” said Perry spokesman Mark Miner.

I have to say, as the father of two young children, I have a much clearer understanding of Perry’s behavior than I once did. The more you get to observe how a two-year-old operates, the more sense it all makes. Oh, and please note that he’s not too busy to talk to a bunch of non-Texan bloggers. Guess he knows who his real audience is.

Recommendations for the Forensic Sciences Commission

Keith Hampton, who is a Democratic candidate for the Court of Criminal Appeals, has some recommendations for what to do with the Texas Forensic Science Commission. I don’t expect Rick Perry or John Bradley to pay any attention to what he has to say, but you ought to take a moment and check it out.

Endorsement watch: H-BAD and Tejano Dems

We’re getting close to the start of early voting for the primaries, and that means endorsements are coming out from various groups. Today I got press releases from the Houston-Black American Democrats (H-BAD) and the Harris County Tejano Democrats with their recommended slates. I’ve uploaded their releases here (H-BAD) and here (HCTD). Of note, both groups endorsed Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, and both groups endorsed former State Rep. Borris Miles in his rubber match against Rep. Al Edwards. I have updated the 2010 Election page to show which candidates received what endorsements. I expect to do the same for when the Houston GLBT Political Caucus makes its choices, and may or may not add any others – sending me a press release so I can see who all got endorsed is a good start.

Speaking of Rep. Jackson Lee, she also received endorsements from several Latino elected officials and the Latino Labor Leadership Council. It’s not terribly surprising to see folks like this back an incumbent, barring issues of scandal or heresy, but it’s still a good indicator that she’s in a strong position for her contested primary.