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August 27th, 2012:

Interview with Max Martin

Max Martin

The one new Congressional district to reach into Harris County is CD36, which stretches from Clear Lake and eastern Harris County up to Polk, Tyler, Jasper, and Newton Counties. Max Martin is the Democratic candidate running in this new district against retread wacko Steve Stockman. Martin is a retired pilot who started out as a baggage handler with Continental in the 60s. He later founded and remains the CEO of an educational software company. Here’s the interview:

Max Martin MP3

I now have the Yahoo! audio player enabled as a plugin for my blog (thanks, Greg Wythe!) and it works a little differently. Basically, as long as this is the top audio file on my index page, you ought to see a “Play” control button next to the link above. If not, or later this week when I have another interview published, simply clicking the link ought to play the audio via the player. You can also right-click to save the file to your PC.

You can still find a list of all interviews I did for this primary cycle, plus other related information, on my 2012 Harris County Primary Elections page and my 2012 Texas Primary Elections page, which I now need to update to include fall candidate information. You can also follow this blog by liking its Facebook page.

Response from County Clerk to Wallach testimony about recounts

The following was sent to me in email by Hector DeLeon, the Director of Communications and Voter Outreach for Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart:

I read Dan Wallach’s report of the recount in your blog titled Diaz Still Leads After Recount. In his report he states:

There was no attempt to audit the original electronic systems, perhaps looking for unusual behavior in the original tallying systems’ logs, or perhaps comparing the in-person poll books or absentee envelopes against the number of cast votes.

What Wallach does not mention is that a reconcilation process is conducted between Election Day and the day the results are canvassed to ensure that the number of access codes printed from the JBCs at each poll match the number of signatures on a pollbook.

He also states: “So far as I could tell, the boxes that hold the JBCs have no security seals, which could have at least provided some evidence of chain-of-custody maintenance.”

Here he also fails to explain that there is a chain of custody in place from the moment that the equipment leaves the County Clerk’s possession. Additionally, he fails to say that security seals are placed on the JBC boxes when they are picked up by the presiding election judges. For Election Day equipment set up purposes, the security seals on the JBC boxes are broken in the presence of the Republican and Democratic presiding and alternate election judges at the poll. There is a form which has to be completed and signed by the presiding and alernate election judges attesting that this occurred.
 
On Election Day, after all votes are cast, in the process of closing the poll, a security seal is placed on JBC boxes before leaving the poll. Again, there is a form that needs to be completed and signed by both the presiding and atlternate election judges attesting that this ocurred.

Additionally, the slot where the mobile ballot box (MBB) is located on the JBC has a security seal. the JBCs’ MBB security seals are only broken to extract the MBB after the presiding election judges return the JBCs at the end of Election Day. At the time of delivery, each JBC is inspected to make sure the security seals are in place. Once the equipment is returned the MBB must be removed from the JBC to enable the reading of the votes. All these procedures are documented on forms which most be completed by the PJ and AJ in the conduct of adminsitering the election at each poll.

All security seals have an ID number. Those numbers are reviewed to ensure the number match on all approriate chain of custody forms.

In short, there are procedures in place to ensure the integrity of the equipment and the veracity of the number of ballots cast at each poll.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found this to be quite educational. My thanks to Hector DeLeon for the feedback.

Three for E

There will probably be more when all is said and done, but at this time there are three candidates running for District E this November.

The candidates are:

Lonnie Allsbrooks – Former owner of Beer Island bar in the Heights. Ran for At-Large Position 1 council seat in 2009. Moved to Kingwood earlier this year. Wants to promote restaurant/hospitality industry issues.

Dave Martin — Humble Independent School District trustee, Harris County-Houston Sports Authority board member. Clear favorite of Sullivan, who served with him on the Humble board. Managing partner at Marsh McLennan, a professional services and insurance brokerage firm.

Elizabeth Perez – self-employed accountant who lives near Hobby Airport, plaintiff in unsuccessful suit to overturn the city’s drainage fee. Ran for At-Large Position 2 council seat last year.

Sullivan submitted his resignation last month. I presume the filing deadline for this will be in September sometime. Candidates from Kingwood have won the last two times the seat was open. We’ll see if that streak continues.

UPDATE: As noted by outgoing CM Sullivan in the comments, the filing deadline for District E has passed, and these three candidates are it. I guess I thought it would be later than this because that’s usually how it is for city elections; the filing deadline in 2011 was September 7. Be that as it may, this is your lineup. My thanks to CM Sullivan for the correction.

More on carless commuting in Houston

Greg adds on to my recent post about getting to work in Houston if you didn’t have a car.

In the comments of this Kuff post, Robert Nagle actually beats me to the punch in answering the central question. Yes, you can live quite comfortably in Houston without a car. As long as you base where you live as a function of that and are comfortable with all the other accoutrements of your daily routine being dictated by a mostly generous METRO bus schedule.

As suggested by Robert, I choose to live in an area where there are four different routes that intersect my neighborhood. Rush hour options for getting to work downtown have never been an issue for me. I generally have had the luxury of picking the one route that is a) closest to the start of the route to ensure good seating; and b) among the faster options for getting downtown. Since I’ve been stationed elsewhere for the recent political unpleasantness known as Election 2012, I’m limited to one and a half routes, with the “half” being the 402 Bellaire Quickline that drops off at Campaign HQ, but not at home. It’s a half option for me if I choose to stop for breakfast in the AM or make a grocery run in the PM. I just basically transfer from another bus to the 402 in the morning or hop on the 402 to the store and take another bus from there to home (or just walk from the store).

Caveats are everywhere with this, of course. I basically walk half a mile to and from the bus stop. Right about this time of year, that’s more than a little discomforting. And there are rain days that either make the situation modestly discomforting, brutal beyond despair, or worth calling in to inform the boss that my street is flooded. My local retail options are a mile away and I’m about as likely to walk that as I am to take another bus for it. Dining options are either a fairly expensive Pappa’s BBQ within way-too-easy walking distance or cheaper fare in extended walking distance. Weekend runs to church have been either very or fairly bus-friendly regardless of which church I’ve attended in recent years. And making a big monthly run at the grocery store often has me breaking down to pay a few bucks in cab fare for some lucky cabby camped out in the Fiesta parking lot.

Both Greg and Robert are completely car-free, so their concerns are broader than mine. Personally, if I were planning to ditch my autos, I’d look for someplace either in Midtown or the Museum District/Third Ward area, both of which contain plenty of housing options and other amenities near the Main Street line. Tiffany and I have actually talked about doing something like that after the kids are grown and gone. I hope there will be more such options by then, but there are some good ones now.

There’s one more factor to consider that can increase one’s range of options and that’s a bicycle, with which you can live farther away from your transit stop. The number of people biking to the bus stop has been steadily increasing; I know I’ve been regularly seeing bikes on the buses’ racks lately. I talked about biking as part of a transit commute in my initial post, that starting in 2014 I could ride from the Quitman station on the North Line to my office if I could get there easily enough after dropping off the kids at school. If I can ride my bike there after parking my car near school, it would be a snap. Unfortunately, the guidelines for bringing a bike on a Metro train make that completely impractical now. Given how crowded the trains are (*) during rush hour, the only way this is going to change is if Metro starts running more trains during the busy times. I have no idea what if any plans Metro may have about this, so let me address these words to anyone with Metro now reading this: Please make it a goal to allow bikes on trains during all hours. I’d really appreciate it, and I promise I’d take advantage of it. Thanks.

(*) Yes, I said “crowded”. Frankly, I’ve never been on an empty train, but during peak hours it’s not just standing room only, it’s packed cheek to jowl. I feel like the people who denigrate and dismiss rail in Houston must never actually use the service, because I don’t know how you can see it as anything other than useful and heavily used if you had ever ridden on it. Par for the course with some of these guys, I guess.