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Another profile of Judge Hidalgo

It’s good, and she deserves the attention she’s getting, but there’s something about this that bugs me a little, and I’m trying to put my finger on it.

Judge Lina Hidalgo

On March 1, before Harris County reported its first confirmed case of the coronavirus but as the disease was already infiltrating America’s biggest cities, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo made a call to ground zero.

It was Dow Constantine, her counterpart in Washington state’s King County, who picked up. At the time, he was responding to what was believed to be the first coronavirus death in the United States.

Hidalgo believed Texas had the benefit of precious time, and she wanted Constantine’s advice to make sure she didn’t squander it. What did he wish he had known two weeks ago? How could Washington have been more prepared?

“I sat down with my team and said, ‘Guys, this is coming.’ It’s a bit like a hurricane in that we see it coming, but with this one we had more time,” Hidalgo said in an interview with The Texas Tribune. “There was no excuse to be caught flat-footed.” (Constantine told the Tribune that Hidalgo was the only county official who took the initiative to reach out for advice in the early days of the crisis.)

Harris County, the state’s largest, leads Texas in coronavirus cases and deaths, but the area has largely avoided the fates of the hardest-hit regions like Washington state, New York and Louisiana, where a surge of patients overwhelmed hospital systems. While the daily number of new cases reported in Texas continues to climb, the Houston area’s numbers have plateaued at a number far below their peak last month. The result is that Hidalgo, a first-term political figure, has been thrust into the spotlight.

Hidalgo, who took office in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, came into the job knowing she would have to prepare for disasters. “This is a huge county, and when you have landmass the size of Rhode Island and around 5 million people, things are bound to happen,” she said.

What she was not prepared for was the acrid backlash that would follow.

It goes from there, and it’s a good recap of what has happened so far and who (Republicans) has been vocally (and often insultingly) critical of Hidalgo, along with some biography that we should be reasonably familiar with by now. Like I said, there’s something about this that nags at me, and I have a hard time pinning it down. Part of me wishes that the main loudmouth critics in this story, like State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, would be made to answer just exactly what they would have done in her position. That can be satisfying to consider, but in reality they’d just come up with their own alternate history where everything they did turned out even better, and that accomplishes nothing. We can run a gazillion simulations of the pandemic based on whatever conditions we want to apply, but we only get to live it once, and we can never say for sure what might have been.

Perhaps another way to do this kind of story is to ignore the political critics and focus instead on the people who are front and center at dealing with the pandemic and its effects, and get their view on how various decisions and policies have helped or hindered them. The problem there is that people often don’t know or can’t isolate a particular action taken by one branch of government, and so what you get is a mix of their own interpretations and competing factors. How exactly do you distinguish between the feds, the state, and the locals have done if you’re a critical care doctor or nurse, or a grocery story employee? So I don’t know what that accomplishes, either.

So I don’t know that there’s a better way to tell this story than what we have here, which perhaps frustrates a close observer like myself but is more useful to someone who doesn’t spend as much time on this kind of minutia. I at least can always talk to my fellow nerds and get the unreported gossip, which is as much what I want as anything else. What do you want from stories like this?

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22 Comments

  1. “What do you want from stories like this?”

    The name of her Primary Opponent.

    I still say Mayor Parker. She is toast.

  2. Jules says:

    I would vote for Paul over Parker.

  3. Manny says:

    Compared to Trump she is a very true stable genius.

    If that incompetent idiot, Trump, had started the distance requirements and other safe guards just a week earlier over 50,000 lives would have been saved.

    Then you have the same fools that were aghast with the closing of the rodeo, that single act may have saved hundreds if not thousands of lives, even Republican lives.

    The only thing that makes logical sense is that all her haters, are just racists or bigots that can’t stand a none white being successful.

  4. Bayard Rustin says:

    Everything that she represents–youth, diversity, use of the Spanish language–seems to drive “conservatives” (which more and more means racists) crazy. I’ve met her in person and she’s warm, engaging and smart. It’s white backlash that’s driving her detractors.

  5. Paul Kubosh says:

    The problem with you progressive/socialist is that if a white man opposes a minority he is a racist.

    I say everyone who say that stands to profit off of racism and wants to perpetuate it.

    The existence of racism gives them meaning. They don’t want it to end.

  6. Manny says:

    The problem with Trump lovers is that they think that being political correct only applies to the other side.

    Paul Trump has shown time and time again to be an incompetent corrupt politician, why is that you don’t pick on him, because he has an R in front of his name? Because he is white, maybe old and white, or maybe old male and white?

    Really if we say that a person is a racist or bigot and that person happens to be white, we therefore are profiting from racism and want to perpetuate it.

    Paul why don’t you tell us how you feel about the nearly 100,000 dead at least half which could have been averted if the Russian Cheeto had acted in a timely manner.

    Paul why don’t you tell us about an unemployment rate that may be approaching 30%, all under the watchful eye of that painted fool that sits in the White House.

    Paul why weren’t you griping about the trillion dollar deficit under the watchful eyes of the buffoon that sits in the White House or Moscow Mitch?

    Paul you used to complain about the deficit when Obama was president, what has changed? The color of the man in the White House?

  7. voter_worker says:

    I have watched the videos of segments of several Commissioners Court meetings. That alone is sufficient for me to both have confidence in her and to like her as well. She has presence, asks good questions, keeps order, etc. As for the pandemic, I don’t think we could have had a better outcome so I’m not really interested in anyone else’s opinions on how they might have performed better than Judge Hidalgo has. The rumor mill propagating the “Parker for County Judge” meme is ripe for some inquiries by some intrepid reporter. Ms. Parker’s whereabouts are not a mystery so I’m looking forward to someone asking her directly about this.

  8. Bayard Rustin says:

    It’s interesting about the Republican party. If minorities are welcome, where are the numbers? People avoid groups where they don’t feel welcome.

  9. C.L. says:

    I’d vote for Lina over Ed Emmett’s long dead political apparatus any day of the week, not because she’s a D and he’s a R, or because she’s a woman and he’s a man…but because she represents the future of this City and he represents its past.

  10. Manny,

    I am not talking about Trump. You are right I am wrong.

    The last thing in the world that I am is a Republican or Democrat. I am neither a Socialist, Communist, or a “Progressive”. I also don’t hate you because you think I am the devil.

  11. brad says:

    Wow, just think…Houston was so incredibly lucky to have both Emmett and Hidalgo as its county judge candidates in the last election.

    No matter who won that close election we would have been in really good hands either way with a solution minded person.

  12. brad,

    actually I agree with you. I just don’t like the progressive nature of the county. I don’t think anyone would have done any better or any worse. Nothing can stop the fact that she is going to get primaried.

  13. Joel says:

    “The problem with you progressive/socialist is that if a white man opposes a minority he is a racist.”

    the problem with republican racists like paul is that he (thinks he) is a human while others are just colors.

  14. David Fagan says:

    Manny,

    If you woke up in a world that had no racism or discrimination, would you notice? What would it look like?

  15. Manny says:

    Fagan: If a frog had wings it would not bump its ass every time it jumped. But since you want me to play the “If” game.

    The world would have people that all looked the same, acted the same, practiced the same religion, or not practice any religion.

    Translation, racism and hate of difference has probably always existed, we will probably never get rid of it. David do you think we should try?

    Because I think that some people are racists because they tend to always seem to find fault with people that do not look like them is an opinion that I have formed based on observation, could I be wrong, sure.

    Because racism exists does not mean that we have to accept it or not speak out.

    Paul, why would you say that I think that you are the devil? I pointed out that you were against deficits when a Black man was president, now we have a white man and not a word about the deficits. Why is that, Paul, if not racism what is it?

    Do you think County Judge Hidalgo has done anything right, Paul?

    So Paul are you a Fascist?

    Paul, since you are not a progressive, I can safely assume that you are pro slavery, we don’t want progress do we.

    Paul, since you are not a progressive, I can safely assume that you don’t think that anyone that is not a white property owner can vote?

    Paul, since you are not a progressive, I can safely assume that the only good Indian is a dead Indian?

    What exactly do you believe in Paul? Do you know that lawyers depend on government to work?

    So what exactly do you believe in as you seem to have put most of us into nice little boxes that you created in your mind.

  16. voter_worker says:

    Paul, I wouldn’t be surprised if Judge Hidalgo decides to be content with one term. She could well turn out to be the “not a career politician” that seems to be the holy grail of US politics.

  17. Jules says:

    David Fagan, I would say that if you saw a picture of the president of the US at a large conference table and the gender and race of the people at the table reflected that of the country, that’s something that a world with no racism or discrimination would look like.

    I have noticed that people, even people who are clearly racist, do not like being called racist. I bet even that racist VW ad gets all offended when it’s called racist.

  18. mollusk says:

    @Paul K – I sincerely doubt that your Democratic primary preferences carry any greater weight than do my Republican primary preferences.

  19. David Fagan says:

    “The world would have people that all looked the same, acted the same, practiced the same religion,”

    Didn’t European colonists already try that?

    In a world with no racism or discrimination, we will still all be human. Every ancient religion points to the fact that people respecting people for being people is one of the biggest challenges of even being a person. How would you try to “get rid of racism”? I think it would be by “judge not and ye shall not be judged, for what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in your brother’s eye, and perceive not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how will you say to your brother ‘let me remove the mote from thine eye’ when, behold, there IS a beam in thine own eye? First remove the beam from thine own eye so you can percieve to remove the mote from thine brother’s eye.”

  20. Paul Kubosh says:

    Manny I don’t recall ever commenting here on Obama. Can you please refresh my memory.

    Also you are right and I am wrong.

  21. Manny says:

    No David they did not try that, what history books have you been reading. They brought in slaves with them, sure didn’t look like them.

    There is a country that comes close to that, looking the same, and they don’t have much racism, cause they all look about the same. Wonder if you can figure out which country that is?

    Obviously you failed to comprehend the part, “…racism and hate of difference has probably always existed, we will probably never get rid of it”.

    Paul you changed the topic on me, why not respond to the following?

    Do you think County Judge Hidalgo has done anything right, Paul?

    So Paul are you a Fascist?

    Paul, since you are not a progressive, I can safely assume that you are pro slavery, we don’t want progress do we.

    Paul, since you are not a progressive, I can safely assume that you don’t think that anyone that is not a white property owner can vote?

    Paul, since you are not a progressive, I can safely assume that the only good Indian is a dead Indian?

    What exactly do you believe in Paul? Do you know that lawyers depend on government to work?

  22. David Fagan says:

    “judge not and ye shall not be judged” states to me that the actions one chooses today, when we choose to “judge not” affects the results that will occur in the future, “ye shall not be judged.” If a person does not want to be judged, then that person could examine the times judgment was passed by themselves. It also brings the question that if it is people who bring judgement into the world it is also people who can bring acceptance, forgiveness, and kindness. What is more important?

    Realizing people have the ability, and are blessed with the opportunity to bring some good into this world is what influences me to be a firefighter. I would hope people would not feel helpless in this world, but realize that the best way to change the world is to change ourselves.