Endorsement watch: Why Orlando?

The Chron has published its full list of endorsements for the 2014 election, but at the time they ran that they had not published all of the accompanying editorials. They began their catch-up on that on Wednesday with another expression of their love for incumbent Harris County Treasurer Orlando Sanchez.

Orlando Sanchez

[Democratic challenger David] Rosen, 29, says he would work to completely revamp the office’s online portal, so that county residents would have a better sense of how their tax dollars are spent.

“I want to make open government a reality in Harris County,” he said. “This office has a real problem with transparency.”


Sanchez, a once and perhaps future mayoral candidate who’s been treasurer since 2007, told the Chronicle editorial board that he agrees with his opponent about the need for more transparency and has urged commissioners to replace the county’s “antediluvian [computer] system.”

Touting his experience in government, Sanchez said the county treasurer should serve as an “independent set of eyes” on the county checkbook. He said that his oversight of credit interest uncovered bond discrepancies that could have cost the county millions.

Rosen is an articulate and thoughtful candidate, but Sanchez has the experience. We endorse the incumbent.

The Chron has endorsed Orlando Sanchez at every opportunity – in this year’s GOP primary, where they listed him as being five years older than they did in this piece, in 2010, and in 2006. After all this time, and all these paeans to “transparency”, I still have no idea what the dude has done in his eight years in office. That bit about his “oversight of credit interest” is the first mention I’ve seen of that. At this point I see no value in wailing and gnashing teeth about it. Whether it’s his enchantingly blue eyes or knowledge about the placement of buried bodies, Orlando Sanchez has a hold over the Chron editorial board. We’re going to have to find a way to live with that.

The Chron also got around to doing endorsements in the county criminal courts. As has been their way so far, they stuck with incumbents in most cases, but in each of their two-part set of endorsements, they picked one Democratic challenger. Here’s part one:

County Criminal Court at Law No. 6: Linda Geffin

Democratic challenger Linda Geffin, 61, knows firsthand the risks that come from fighting in our courts for justice: In 2011, she was beaten and left unconscious in an attack that Geffin believes was retaliation for her work in the County Attorney’s office against sex trafficking. With a 10-year tenure in the Harris County District Attorney’s office, this graduate of the South Texas College of Law has been active in her community and is a two-time recipient of Children At Risk’s “Hero of the Month” award.

Incumbent Judge Larry Standley, a Republican, took the bench in 1999 after serving as chief felony prosecutor at the Harris County District Attorney’s office. Meeting with the Houston Chronicle editorial board, Standley, 56, said he draws on his own troubled youth and undistinguished high school career as inspiration to help those who may have shared a similarly tough experience.

Both candidates have a good-hearted passion for the job, but Geffin seems better-suited for the duties of judgeship.

And part two:

County Criminal Court of Law No. 14: David L. Singer

Defense attorneys usually air their objections during trial, or perhaps through appeals. But earlier this year, a dozen of Houston’s top criminal defense attorneys took their protest to the hallway outside the courtroom of Judge Mike Fields. Handing out cards that explained defendants’ constitutional rights, these members of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association took aim at Fields, 49, for coercing defendants to waive their constitutional right to an attorney. The deck is already stacked against people who are in our criminal justice system, and Fields’ attempt to speed up the gears of justice pushed his court off the tracks.

Fields, a Republican, first came to this seat in 1998 and graduated from St. Mary’s School of Law.

Voters should cast their ballots for Democratic challenger David L. Singer. A graduate of the South Texas College of Law, Singer, 55, has served as a briefing attorney in the First Court of Appeals, followed by six years as a Harris County prosecutor. He now works as a defense attorney. In a notable accomplishment, Singer received more votes than Fields in the annual Houston Bar Association Judicial Preference Poll. That poll is a clumsy tool at best, reflecting only a tiny slice of lawyers, but rarely does a challenger beat an incumbent. We’ve endorsed Fields before, but the poll results are a sign that he has become a judicial outlier. Voters should give Singer a repeat victory on Election Day.

Also of interest is that for County Criminal Court of Law No. 10, the Chron decided they didn’t like either the Democrat George Barnstone or the Republican Dan Jeffry, so they gave the nod to Libertarian candidate Brad Walters. Putting aside the novelty of having a Libertarian candidate this far down the ballot, if there had been one race this year where I’d have thought a third party candidate might have gotten endorsed, it would have been the Ag Commissioner race. The Chron is just full of surprises, apparently.

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2 Responses to Endorsement watch: Why Orlando?

  1. Charly Hoarse says:

    Why Orlando indeed. He first won the seat against an opponent who pledged to abolish the office. You’d think that the voters would love that. Makes me wonder, does Ft. Bend County still have a Hide Inspector?

  2. N.M. Horwitz says:

    The Chron’s endorsements have gone from bad to completely worthless. Has anyone there ever been to the Criminal Justice center? Do they know what it even looks like? I’m completely serious. I might be wrong, but I think there are ZERO practicing attorneys on their board. It certainly shows with their judicial endorsements. I’m not an attorney nor is anyone on the Texpate Ed Board, but we had the good sense to visit the courthouse and talk with knowledgeable attorneys. I only wish the paper of record for our town would put in the same dedication and respect for the process as a bunch of college students who are seldom even in Houston.

    They tend to talk in broad platitudes about board certification and “passion for the law,” whatever the heck that means. These sound pretty, but they are rather lousy ways of determining who is the best for a bench. Certainly, it doesn’t beat actually figuring out what a Judge does every day in the courtroom.

    Now, they did get it right by not supporting Standley and Fields, but they were FAR too easy on them. Neither are good Judges. They run their courtrooms like little fiefdoms, are bullies to both defendants & attorneys and prosecute from the bench all too often. Standley even has a penchant for reading from the bible in open court. He also got in hot water a few years ago for sending emails that included jokes with the n-word to fellow Judges.

    Unfortunately, they endorsed Bill Harmon, another Judge who is in the same category as Standley & Fields. But even the Chron mentioned his totally inappropriate meddling in Pat Lykos’ DIVERT program. Does the Chronicle Ed Board not understand how the legal system work? Do they think that Judges should be able to prosecute instead of a District Attorney if he just chooses to? The ineptitude expressed here is shocking.

    There are a few CCCL Judges (Republicans) who are good and should be retained. I’ll personally be voting for Pam Derbyshire, Jay Karahan and Don Smyth in the contested races. But you really can’t go wrong just voting the Democratic slate, all their candidates — with very few exceptions — are well qualified and tempered for the courtroom.

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