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Dave Wilson

Wilson completes his latest troll job

He totally half-assed it, too.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Houston Community College trustee and longtime anti-gay activist Dave Wilson has submitted a city charter amendment petition seeking a November vote to bar men “who perceive or express themselves as women” from entering women’s restrooms, but it appears he misread state law and submitted about 300 fewer signatures than he needs to qualify for the ballot.

Wilson delivered 19,707 signatures to City Hall on Tuesday morning, but state law requires those seeking a city charter change to submit 20,000 signatures or signatures from 5 percent of qualified voters, whichever is smaller. Mayoral spokeswoman Janice Evans said the city wasn’t sure yet about the law surrounding Wilson’s petition but would offer an opinion this afternoon.

Wilson, standing beside his white pickup containing six boxes full of signatures, said he needs only 17,269 signatures — 10 percent of the votes cast in the last mayoral election, and the threshold for repealing an ordinance, not a charter change.

Wilson’s proposed charter revision is a pointed challenge to the city’s legally embattled equal rights ordinance, passed last May, that opponents perceive as allowing men dressed in drag to enter a women’s restroom.

“My whole point is, do you want your mother to be in a woman’s restroom and a man walk in on that?” Wilson said. “I don’t think so. That’s totally out of the question.”

My mother can take care of herself just fine, but that’s neither here nor there. Putting aside the fact that Wilson and his dirty-minded buddy Steven Hotze continue to lie through their teeth about this, let’s assume for a moment that Wilson’s interpretation of the law is correct. (A later version of the Chron story suggests that even Wilson now has his doubts about that.) If that were the case, what are the odds that more than 90% of the signatures he claims to have collected are valid? The rule of thumb for petition gathering like this is that you need at least double the required amount to feel confident about qualifying for the ballot. Why would anyone think that Wilson would be meticulous enough to allow himself such a narrow margin of error? I think we all know the answer to that. This is just another pathetic attempt for attention by someone who’s made a living getting attention for himself for a long time.

Dave Wilson goes trolling again

It’s what he does.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

The battle over Mayor Parker’s efforts to protect gay and transgender Houstonians is roaring back to life. A petition is making the rounds saying, sign if you agree gender is assigned at birth. The man behind it says he has enough signatures to take it to a city-wide vote.

“Whatever you’re born with you have to live with, that’s what this is basically saying,” said Dave Wilson, a HCC Trustee.

He wants to take it to the voters. Wilson’s been busy mailing out petitions, but not all the feedback is positive.

“Jesus wouldn’t sign this and neither will I,” said Wilson, reading some of the hate mail he received.

However, this HCC Trustee claims he’s boxed up enough signatures to force a city-wide vote on gender identity. Basically saying in Houston, sex is determined at birth. For example, that means no men in women’s bathrooms, even if that person identifies as a women.

[…]

Wilson’s new petition would put the controversy on the ballot, during an election season when the mayor’s spot is also up for grabs.

“What I’m talking about doing is a charter amendment change, which permanently codifies into the city charter the fact that men cannot use the women’s bathroom,” said Wilson.

He plans to take these petitions to city hall next week. Then, officials would have to verify the signatures, before it goes on the ballot this November.

Look, Dave Wilson is a grifter and attention hound. This is his schtick, and he’s been doing it for a long time. We heard about this project back in January, because getting attention for every little thing he does is Wilson’s core competency. I seriously doubt he’s expended the time and effort and money to get enough signatures for this petition, and I bet any effort he did put into this is as half-assed and sloppy as the HERO repeal petition effort has been shown to be. (*)

And you know what? It doesn’t matter to him, because he wins no matter what. If by some miracle he did collect enough signatures to force a vote, he gets months of free publicity, which is crack for his ego. And if he fails as expected, he gets to whine and cry and play the victim at the hands of that mean old Parker administration and its inexplicable vendetta against him. Heads he wins, tails we lose. That’s how Dave Wilson likes it. Campos has more.

(*) – Here’s the city’s response to the latest claims by the plaintiffs about which signatures should be counted. See what I mean?

Wilson’s legal fees

Oh, come on.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

The ongoing legal battle over Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson’s residency is poised to pit one source of taxpayer dollars against another, as the college may be on the hook for his legal fees and the county continues to pay to pursue a case it has lost twice.

HCC has an insurance policy that covers legal fees for trustees, but the deductible is $300,000 – much higher than the $36,980 Wilson’s case has cost him so far, meaning the college probably will have to pay the full bill. The college, which would not comment for this story, has requested an attorney general’s opinion to determine whether it is permitted to use public funds to reimburse personal attorney fees incurred by trustees.

[…]

Although he thinks the county should stop trying to oust him, Wilson says it’s appropriate for HCC to cover his legal fees.

“If you don’t indemnify your trustees, you’re never going to get anybody to run for anything,” Wilson said.

I hate to say it, but he’s right. Dave Wilson remains a lousy human being, but he’s also the winner of the court case against him, and as such he’s entitled to have his costs covered. The bill in question is, relatively speaking, small potatoes. Just pay it and be done with it.

Officials in the county attorney’s office say they continue to pursue the case because it raises important legal issues. The county has pointed to the fact that Wilson has claimed his wife’s home outside the district on tax forms.

“We believe that a person should not be able to claim the benefit of a residential homestead at one location while registering to vote at a different location,” First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard said Tuesday. “More fundamentally, an elected representative should not be allowed to serve and set the tax rate for a district in which he does not personally reside.”

It was right for the County Attorney to take this action against Wilson. If nothing else, it has shown what a sham residency requirements are, a weak spot in the law Wilson fully exploited. Whether it makes sense to pursue this further is less clear to me. It’s hard for me to see an appeals court seeing things differently. I agree with the principle involved, but at some point it really should be a matter for the Legislature to deal with if they so choose, and not the courts.

The Dave Wilson bill

A little too little and a little too late, if you ask me.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson has made his way to Austin — in spirit, at least.

A bill filed by state Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston would make it a felony to misrepresent one’s residence when running for office — something Wilson has been accused of doing. He has been cleared by both a jury and a judge.

[…]

Dutton’s bill would make lying about residency to run for office a third degree felony — on the level of assault, theft or evading arrest — which is punishable by two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Wilson, who maintains that he lives in District II, takes credit for inspiring the bill, calling it “the Dave Wilson bill.”

“I’m honored that I’m so important that I have the state Legislature spending their time writing a bill about it,” Wilson said.

Should the bill get a hearing, Wilson says he’ll show up to speak in favor of it: “I think people should live in the district they run for.”

The man knows how to troll, I’ll give him that much. Dutton’s bill is HB816. I appreciate the effort, but this doesn’t address the real issue, which is that there’s no enforceable standard for residency, which the Wilson case proved. Under what circumstances would anyone even break this law? Let’s address that question, then we can worry about punishment.

January campaign finance reports – HCC Trustees

There are nine trustees on the HCC board. With them serving six-year terms, in a normal year three trustees are up for re-election; 2013 was an abnormal year, with two extra races to fill out unexpired terms. We are back to normal this time, so we have three races. As with HISD, at this time all incumbents that are up are currently expected to run for re-election, and no opponents have emerged at this early date. Here are the incumbents in question.

Adriana Tamez, District III

Dr. Tamez won one of those two special elections from 2013, to fill out the term of Mary Ann Perez, who stepped down after winning in HD144 in 2012. The candidate she defeated in the runoff was one of two supported by Dave Wilson, so that was extra sweet. (Speaking of Wilson, he nominated himself for Board President at the start of this year, but had to withdraw after no one seconded him. Then, to add insult to injury, Zeph Capo, who defeated Wilson’s buddy Yolanda Navarro Flores in 2013, was elected Board President. Sucks to be you, Dave.) Tamez was elected Board Secretary for this year.

Sandie Mullins, District VI

Sandie Mullins, formerly Meyers, is serving her first term on the Board. She was elected in 2009 without facing an opponent to fill the seat formerly held by now-State Rep. Jim Murphy. (Mills Worsham was named to replace Murphy in 2007 after his initial election in HD133, then Worsham ran for Council in 2009 instead of a full term on HCC.) Like Murphy and her ex-husband, HISD Trustee Greg Meyers, Mullins is a Republican, one of two on the board along with you-know-who. She is herself an alumna of HCC, and serves or has served on a number of other boards.

Eva Loredo, District VIII

Under normal circumstances, Eva Loredo would not be on the HCC Board. She didn’t file for the race in 2009, against incumbent Abel Davila. No one did, and on filing deadline day Davila was expected to run unopposed for re-election. Except that he decided at the last minute not to run, and instead his brother-in-law Art Aguilar filed. That led to a medium-sized crap storm, which led to Aguilar’s withdrawal. Loredo had by then submitted paperwork to be a write-in candidate, with some assistance from the late Sen. Mario Gallegos, and with no other candidate on the ballot, she won. She would be on the ballot this time.

As for finance reports, you may recall that as recently as 2011 it was damn near impossible to lay one’s hands on HCC Trustee finance reports. I claim a small measure of the credit for changing that situation. Be that as it may, the fact that these reports are now available online at this link doesn’t mean that they’re available in a timely fashion. Despite the fact that the city, the county, the school board, and the state all had theirs up within a day or so of the January 15 deadline, HCC still had nothing more recent than last July’s as of yesterday. So those are the totals I will include, pending them getting off their butts and updating this information.

Name Raised Spent Loans On Hand ==================================================== Tamez 7,150 15,392 7,000 610 Mullins 0 1,878 0 18,400 Loredo 0 492 0 2,004 Oliver 8,225 6,060 0 2,165

So there you have it. I’ve included the totals for Chris Oliver as well, since he is now running for Council. I’ll update all this in July, and ought to have my Election 2015 page up by then as well.

By the way, Dave Wilson also hates transgender people

I mean, no surprise, right? What’s more, he puts his money where his mouth is.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Now, anti-LGBT activist Dave Wilson is circulating another petition that would place a charter amendment on the ballot to repeal trans protections in both HERO and Mayor Annise Parker’s 2012 executive order covering city employees.

Wilson, of Houstonians For Family Values, led efforts to pass a charter amendment prohibiting domestic partner benefits in 2001. He also made headlines in 2013 when he deceived voters into thinking he was black to get elected to the Houston Community College board.

Houston resident Sheri Taylor Bockelman, the mother of trans activist Nikki Araguz, said she received the petition in the mail along with a letter from Wilson on Saturday. (View images of the mailing below.)

“Enclosed please find our petition to prohibit men from using the women’s restroom and women from using the men’s restroom,” Wilson’s letter states. “Yes, you read the first sentence correctly.”

The letter goes on to state that both HERO and the executive order prohibiting discrimination against trans city employees “allow men to use the women’s restroom if they perceive or express themselves as women.”

See here for some background. Unless I’m confused, the executive order in question was in 2010, not 2012. There’s an image of Wilson’s latest mailer at the link above. Note that it is dated January 9, which means that it’s a separate expense from the one recorded in the January 15 finance report of his PAC. We won’t know till July how much he dropped on this one. If his address database includes people like Nikki Araguz’s mom, it’s highly likely that most of what he’s spending will be wasted. Which is fine by me – I hope he keeps it up till he bankrupts himself. TransGriot has more.

Not really related to this but worth including: We don’t really know much about the state of the transgender community in America, but what we do know tells us that these people face a lot of obstacles. I for one favor doing what we can to remove those obstacles. I definitely do not favor adding more of them. Finally, if you haven’t already done so, go read Nancy Sims’ account of how she came to understand and love her transgender child.

January campaign finance reports – PACs

PetitionsInvalid

Mayoral reports
Controller reports
Council reports

There are a lot of PACs that play in Houston’s elections. It’s hard to keep up with all of them, and I say this as someone who reads far more campaign finance reports than is healthy. Very few of them file finance reports with the city of Houston – I presume this is because most of them are state organizations that operate in elections elsewhere as well, so they file their reports with the state. This year there were three special purpose PAC (SPAC) reports that caught my eye and that I thought were worth examining, so here they are.

Citizens to Keep Houston Strong
Equal Rights Houston Committee
Houstonians for Family Values

Name Raised Spent Loans On Hand ==================================================== CtKHS 0 539 0 65,405 Eq Rts Hou 67,143 39,712 0 27,430 HFV 3,401 47,689 44,238 0

Citizens to Keep Houston Strong lists one William H. “Bill” White as their filer and treasurer. I have no idea what this PAC is for. It’s been around since White was Mayor – Penny Butler was the filer through 2010 – and has basically done nothing since he left office. If you go to the city’s campaign finance webpage and choose “Specific-Purpose Political Committee”, you will see that PACs come and go over the years. Some are for (or against) particular candidates, others are for specific referenda, like Renew Houston and red light cameras. I’m not sure what if any rules exist for disposing of PAC funds – candidates have a certain amount of time to dispose of campaign funds once they are no longer in office or seeking office – so who knows, this one could be around for awhile.

The purpose of the other two is more obvious. “Houstonians for Family Values” is Dave Wilson’s ugly baby – that $44K in loans is all from him. The reason the amount is so specific is because the total amount spent represents the cost of printing and postage for a mail piece. The fact that this PAC has no cash on hand should not lead anyone to conclude that it will be inactive this year. It surely won’t be the only such PAC this year whether or not we have to vote on HERO repeal, but at least we can say that Dave Wilson was there first. As for Equal Rights Houston, most of their money was spent on consultants. I’m going to guess that they’ll have other things to spend their money on this year.

Another HCC lawsuit

Hard to keep track of them all.

The former top attorney and acting chancellor of Houston Community College filed a lawsuit Monday alleging she was fired because she told the FBI of her suspicions that board members sought to use bond funds to award kickbacks.

Renee Byas, ousted in August, said in the lawsuit that some of HCC’s elected board members wanted to change procurement rules “so they could hand out bond-related contracts to friends or family.”

The whistle-blower lawsuit is the latest in a series of accusations of improper business dealings involving one of the nation’s largest community colleges. And it alludes to renewed interest in the institution by federal investigators.

Neeta Sane, chairwoman of the HCC board, denied that Byas was fired in retaliation for talking to the FBI and said she did not know of any instances in which board members tried to steer contracts to preferred vendors.

HCC won voter approval in November 2012 of a $425 million bond issue, the largest in the college’s history, creating numerous construction projects to put out for bids.

“I’m just so disappointed in all these allegations,” Sane said.

The lawsuit alleged that Sane and trustee Chris Oliver met with Byas for four hours in January “trying to convince her to abandon the strict procurement rules because people in their districts ‘wanted contracts.’ ”

“At one point during the meeting,” the lawsuit continued, “Ms. Sane showed Ms. Byas a list of firms who were supposed to ‘get’ contracts.”

Sane said she recalled looking with Byas at a list of project managers included in a public meeting agenda, but Sane said she never asked the acting chancellor to select certain firms.

“I would never be involved in a meeting like that,” added Oliver, the board’s vice chairman.

[…]

Byas, represented by high-profile Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, also alleged in the lawsuit that Sane and trustees Dave Wilson and Robert Glaser “cornered” her at a conference in Santa Fe, N.M., and questioned why she couldn’t revise the procurement process so that local firms could be given contracts for bond projects.

See here for some background. I’m amused by the presence of Dave Wilson’s name in this lawsuit – he has faithfully sent me a press release every time there has been news about his battle with County Attorney Vince Ryan, but radio silence this time – and not amused at all by the presence of the other names. HCC does a lot of good, but their governance has never not been a mess. There may be nothing to this lawsuit, but it’s not like anyone can say that with confidence. Campos and Hair Balls have more.

County appeals Wilson decision

Here we go again.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Harris County officials are asking an appeals court to reconsider the question of where Dave Wilson lived when he ran for his seat on the Houston Community College board,

The Harris County Attorney’s office is appealing a reluctant ruling by state district Judge Mike Engelhart, who in August upheld a jury verdict that Wilson did in fact live in an apartment in a warehouse on W. 34th Street that he claimed as his residence when running for the HCC seat in November.

The county attorney contends that Wilson actually lives with his wife in a home outside the city limits, and outside the boundaries of HCC District II. County attorney officials argue Wilson claims residency wherever he wants to run for office.

[…]

While some have questioned the county’s persistence in the case, officials in the county attorney’s office have said that the jury’s ruling sent an inappropriate message to those looking to run for office — in effect, that “anything goes” when it comes to residency.

“A lot of people are looking at the result of this and concluding that … the concept of residency, as far as qualifying for election goes, is meaningless,” Assistant County Attorney Douglas Ray said at the time. “If Mr. Wilson can claim he lives in a warehouse at the same time he has a homestead exemption at another location, then anybody can claim to live anywhere.”

See here, here, and here for the background. Color me skeptical of this. I rather agree with the County Attorney that the ruling in this case has functionally rendered the concept of residency meaningless. At some point, however, that needs to be an issue for the Legislature to deal with, if they choose to do so. Wilson found a loophole and burrowed into it, and the law as it stands doesn’t address that. I don’t see how an appeals court will see it differently. Campos has more.

Judge affirms Wilson residency verdict

No surprise.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

The Harris County Attorney’s office, which has been challenging [Dave] Wilson’s residency for months, asked state District Judge Mike Engelhart to throw out last month’s jury ruling, arguing that Wilson was breaking the law by claiming two residences.

Engelhart said Monday that he “unfortunately” had to deny the motion, but he admonished Wilson in his ruling.

“In presiding over this trial and listening to you testify, observing evidence and photographs, I found you not to be credible at all,” Engelhart said. “I will always believe you were an opportunist looking to take advantage of a situation and somehow create a legacy for yourself.”

Engelhart said he was “especially dismayed” by evidence in last month’s trial showing Wilson registered to vote in South Houston with the intention of running for an open state senate seat, but never actually moved there, or made “any effort to even look for an apartment or other residence.” Wilson then switched his registration back to the warehouse in which he has an apartment in HCC District II.

“That speaks loudly about your integrity,” Engelhart said.

See here and here for the background. Judge Engelhart is exactly right: Dave Wilson is a sleazebag and a grifter who found a seam in the law and is taking full advantage of it. Perhaps an appeals court will see it differently, but I would not count on it. Unless the Lege takes action, we’re stuck with him till 2019. It sucks, but it is what it is.

County Attorney asks judge to overturn Wilson verdict

I’m not sure what the point of this is.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Although a jury decided Dave Wilson lived where he claimed when he ran for the Houston Community College seat he holds, the drama surrounding the perennial candidate continues.

Harris County attorneys filed a motion Wednesday asking Judge Mike Engelhart, who oversaw Wilson’s three-day residency trial earlier this month, to overturn the jury’s unanimous finding and rule in the county’s favor. The county argues Wilson does not live in a warehouse on W. 34th Street that he claimed as his residence when running for the HCC seat in November.

[…]

“We are asking the judge to rule that as a matter of law Mr. Wilson should not be entitled to enjoy the benefits of having two different domiciles such that he derives benefits from both,” Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard said in an email. “We believe that claiming one domicile for one purpose (tax exemption) precludes, as a matter of law, simultaneously claiming a second domicile for a different purpose (qualification for public office). We are asking the judge to rule on this issue.”

Wilson won his case two weeks ago. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m not sure on what grounds the County Attorney is asking Judge Engelhart to throw out the jury verdict. Isn’t this what appeals courts are for? This story at least answers that question.

The county is using a legal tactic wherein a party can argue that the facts in a case are indisputable and a judge can determine a jury’s verdict was wrong. It’s called non obstante veredicto, Latin for notwithstanding the verdict, and is essentially the after-trial version of a summary judgment. While it’s not unusual, it’s not typically successful, legal experts said.

“You take your shot at it and see if it works – and usually it doesn’t. Ninety-nine times out of 100 it doesn’t,” said David Crump, a professor at the University of Houston Law Center who teaches civil procedure courses, among others.

[…]

Jury verdicts tend to be regarded as final, said Frank Carroll, who runs TexAppBlog.com, an appellate law blog for non-appellate lawyers, and coaches moot court and mock trial at the University of Houston Law Center.

“There’s almost a dogma that when a jury makes a verdict, we don’t like to upset those verdicts,” Carroll said. “As far as the odds go, it’s kind of a long shot. It’s not the longest shot, but certainly the odds are against you.”

However Judge Mike Engelhart rules after an Aug. 18 hearing, the dispute is likely far from over.

“No matter which way he rules, it’s going to go to the appellate court for a better answer,” Ray said.

Well, now I understand what the County Attorney has in mind. They say that if Wilson didn’t violate residency requirements, then those requirements have no meaning. I agree, but as much as I don’t like the jury’s verdict, I don’t see how you can say that it’s objectively wrong. The issue all along has been the vagueness of the legal requirements for residency, which is why I’ve suggested an easily verifiable standard that the Legislature could implement. But that has no bearing on this case. Here, the county claimed Wilson didn’t really live at that warehouse, Wilson claimed he did, and the jury believed him, or at least they didn’t believe the county enough. Not the result I wanted, but I can respect it. What am I missing here?

Another perspective on residency requirements

The Texas Election Law blog looks at my coverage of the Dave Wilson residency saga and offers his thoughts on the matter.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

The saga of gaming residence for the sake of running for office – what a tangle of legal precedent it provides. Mr. Kuffner has used the occasion of the Wilson lawsuit to suggest some sort of legal reform to our statutory definition of residence, mindful of the weeds and quicksand. Mr. Kuffner’s suggestion is to treat an out-of-territory homestead exemption as a bar to holding office within a territory (assuming the jurisdiction in question has a residence requirement for holding office).

I. IS DOMICILE THAT IMPORTANT?

I guess another way to ask the question is to ask why a person’s domicile is important to office holding, voting, paying taxes, or what-have-you. The short answer is that domicile isn’t important, except when we want it to be important.

[…]

I bring all this up as a reminder that there’s no inherent necessity to link residence with office. If we do make a requirement that someone has to consider a district their “home” in order to represent that district, such a policy choice is just that – a choice. Supporters of such requirements would likely argue that members of … say for example … the Houston Community College District Board of Trustees … should be residents of the community college district so that they will be personally invested in the problems and conditions of the district, forced by geographic proximity to share the experience of living in the Houston Community College District. We certainly don’t want those outsiders and strangers who live across the street from the Community College District to come in and impose their seditious ideologies and strange ways, do we?

II. RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS MIGHT BE A LITTLE ARBITRARY, BUT SO WHAT? GIVEN THAT SUCH REQUIREMENTS DO EXIST FOR MOST LOCAL ELECTIVE OFFICES, HOW DO WE DEFINE THOSE REQUIREMENTS FAIRLY?

Well, what is “fair?” I mean, any definition of domicile will involve some subjective standard for determining the sincerity of a person’s … hearth-cleaving. (Hearth-cleaving is my made-up term for domiciliary intent; it means, “emotional and physical ties to the one place in all the world that is home.”)

Legislatures, disgruntled losing candidates, judges, juries, voters, and angry political rivals have searched high and low for some universally applicable sure-fire objective test or standard for hearth-cleaving that would guarantee the exclusion of the carpetbagging outsider from office. But for every bright line test, there will come some sympathetic officeholder whose exclusion is unfair. Because there is really just one test underlying all these tests of domicile and residence. Is the candidate or officeholder one of us, or is the candidate or officeholder not one of us?

III. SO, TO SUM UP, RESIDENCE REQUIREMENTS ARE ARBITRARY, SUBJECTIVE, AND A SOURCE OF ENDLESS FACTUAL DISPUTE, AND THEY ALWAYS WILL BE, AND THAT’S JUST INHERENT IN THE IDEA OF HOME, COMMUNITY, AND BELONGING OR NOT BELONGING TO A PLACE?

Yup.

Fair enough. As I’ve said, at least we now have a standard for our residency requirements, and clearly that standard is pretty loose. It’s loose enough that one could certainly make a reasonable case that they have no meaning and we ought to get rid of them. I’ve already expressed my preference for having some kind of meaningful requirement, and as the TELB notes you know what I would like to see done about it. Your mileage may vary on that, and while I can see the appeal of leaving this as a campaign issue rather than a legal issue, that’s not my first choice. This is why we have elections, I suppose.

I’ll stipulate that I was driven in part by animus for Dave Wilson, a man who has richly earned the animus of many, many people. It’s also about my dislike of people who are not residents of Houston but are nonetheless hellbent on meddling in its political affairs. I get the argument that some people have made that they work here, they own businesses here, and so forth. I get it, I’m just not persuaded by it. Some arguments can be settled by existing laws, empirical data, analogous examples, or cold hard logic. This isn’t one of those arguments. This is how I see it, and I make no apologies for that. If you don’t see it the same way, that’s fine. I’m not claiming that I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m just stating my preference, with which you’re welcome to disagree. I’m okay with that, and I hope you are, too.

Wilson wins residency fight

That was quick.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Houston Community College trustee Dave Wilson lives in the residence he claimed and can keep his seat on the college system’s board, a jury decided Thursday.

“Thank you,” Wilson shouted when the verdict was announced about 4:30 p.m.

Harris County officials filed a lawsuit seeking to remove Wilson from office on grounds that he did not actually live in an apartment at 5600 W. 34th St. in the HCC district he represents. Because of this, county officials said, he was unqualified to hold his seat.

Jurors disagreed.

[…]

A slew of exhibits by the defense showed that if Wilson doesn’t live in the warehouse, he’s gone to great lengths to make it look like he does.

Wilson’s blood pressure medicine is mailed to 5600 W. 34th St. His bank statements and bills go to the warehouse. His numerous magazine subscriptions – from Forbes to National Geographic and Hemmings Motor News – go there, too. He’s also registered to vote there and lists the address on his driver’s license.

The sticking point is that Wilson’s wife lives on Lake Lane. It’s also where Wilson’s children were raised, where Wilson says he spends his weekends and where the family gathers to celebrate holidays. Wilson also listed the home as his address on tax returns. Wilson says that’s because he wants the check sent to the house, so he can sign it over to his wife.

I’ve said all along that if nothing else I hope we get some kind of standard out of this, because the residency laws as they stand now are ripe for gamesmanship. I don’t know if this definitively settles the matter, but it certainly sets an outer bound, which we could call the Wilson Line. Anything less egregious than what he did is apparently okay.

Yesterday’s story, which focused on the county’s case, showed how Wilson tests boundaries better than any toddler or teenager you’ve ever known.

Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson, whose name has become a staple on local election ballots, has made a habit of claiming one residence after another to qualify for his numerous runs for office, a Harris County attorney argued in court Wednesday.

Wilson has also claimed tax exemptions at a home on Lake Lane, which is in the Lone Star College System district. Lake Lane is where his wife lives and where he raised his children, spends his weekends and has his family gatherings, Douglas Ray, an assistant county attorney, told a jury in his opening argument in a case to determine where exactly Wilson lives.

Wilson lives exactly where he says he lives: in a “fully furnished” apartment in a warehouse on W. 34th Street, in District II of the HCC system, defense attorney Keith Gross told the jury. Just because his wife lives on Lake Lane does not mean it has to be his residence, Gross argued.

[…]

Wilson has stated on voter registration cards, drivers licenses, tax and other forms that he has lived at four addresses since 2005, and those addresses all line up with some motive – whether that is to run for office, or take out a tax exemption – Ray told the jury.

“When it’s convenient for him to claim for some economic reason he lives on Lake Lane, he’s lives at Lake Lane,” Ray said. “When he wants to run for office, well he lives wherever he needs to live.”

Wilson lived, and still does live, exactly where he claimed when he filed to run, his attorney said,adding his client spends “more than 70 percent” of his time on 34th Street. He has a driver’s license there, is registered to vote there and has all of his bank statements sent there. He’s lived there since early 2012.

But since moving there, he’s also registered to vote at another address, on Claremont Street, where he never lived, so he could run for an open state Senate seat, Wilson testified during questioning. Wilson said he “intended” to live there, but he did not end up running.

His defense attorney says “nowhere is it ever written” that you can’t live somewhere, if your motive is to run for political office. Wilson, an anti-gay activist, only wants to “improve the community” and has offended people in his quest to do so, Gross said. The case against him is politically motivated and that’s proven by the fact that more than 4,500 Harris County voters are registered at commercial buildings, as Wilson is, and the county isn’t going after any of them, Gross said.

Residence, Wilson and his attorney argued, is based on three factors: volition, intention and action. People can choose to live wherever they want. That they intend to live there, and that they actually hang their hat there make the place a residence.

Basically, Wilson says he lives wherever he says he lives at the time, and that’s sufficient for the law. Nothing else matters – the homestead exemption on the house where his wife lives, the ever-changing nature of the address on his voter registration, the fact that some of his “residences” are not permitted as residential, etc. The law is vague and he’s hardly the first person to take advantage of that. He’s just the most blatant and least apologetic about it.

And now a jury has accepted it. So be it, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s right. More to the point, I don’t think this is how it should be. As you know, I have an idea what I’d like to see the Legislature do about it. I plan to start my lobbying effort shortly.

Dave Wilson residency lawsuit is underway

Almost missed this.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

A trial is set to begin Tuesday morning to determine whether Houston Community College trustee Dave Wilson actually lived in the district in which he ran last November.

Wilson, who ousted former HCC Chairman Bruce Austin in the Nov. 5 election by 26 votes, is being sued by the Harris County attorney. The lawsuit says Wilson did not live in the college system’s District II – the bulk of which sits in northeast Harris County – when he ran for office. Wilson has contended that he lives in “a 1,140-square-foot apartment upstairs” at his office, located at 5600 W. 34th St., which is in the district.

The building there is an 11,340-square-foot commercial metal warehouse, according to county records. A city inspection in January determined Wilson doesn’t have permission to use the warehouse as a residence.

Wilson, a 67-year-old businessman, gained national attention when he beat a 24-year incumbent for the predominantly black district after leading voters to believe he was black. Wilson – who is white – mailed campaign fliers without his photo that said he was endorsed by Ron Wilson – his white cousin, who happens to share the name of a black former state representative.

Jury selection begins this morning, and the trial is expected to last about a day and a half.

See here and here for the background. The trial was originally scheduled to begin April 15, but you know how these things go. The trial may have already concluded by the time you read this, or maybe it will stretch till tomorrow. In any event, I presume we’ll get a ruling soon. I hope there’s some more news coverage to go with it when that happens – this blurb on the free chron.com and this News 92 FM piece were all I saw for it. A search in houstonchronicle.com came up empty, and if there was something in the dead tree edition I missed it. I’d have missed this as well if Houston Legal hadn’t included it in its daily link roundup yesterday.

I have no idea what will happen in this trial. As we’ve discussed before, there’s little precedent to go by, and a lot of vagueness when it comes to what constitutes “residency”. If nothing else, I hope this will help with that. If Wilson loses, I expect him to appeal, going all the way to SCOTUS and maybe the World Court in the Hague if need be, because that’s how he rolls. If Wilson wins, I don’t know if Vince Ryan will pursue it any further. I’m not sure it would be worth the effort unless there’s good reason to think the trial judge screwed up.

I’ve been giving some thought to how this could be better addressed via legislation, and what I’ve come up with is this: A bill that says you are not eligible to serve as a trustee or the equivalent on a school board, community college board, MUD or RUD board, and anything else I might be overlooking, if you or your legally married spouse claims a homestead exemption outside the boundaries of the political entity in question. Note that this wouldn’t prevent someone like Dave Wilson from running for something like the HCC Board of Trustees, but it would require him to sell the house on which he has the exemption, divorce his wife, or give up the exemption. (I put the “spouse” requirement in there because you know the first line of escape by this kind of scoundrel would be to put the home in question in the spouse’s name. It also provides a loophole for same sex couples, at least until same sex marriage is officially legal in Texas. Yeah, I’m evil like that.) If you want to run for something here while owning a home there, you can still rent an apartment or claim a spot on someone’s couch and re-register as a voter here to qualify. You just have to forfeit the tax advantage on that house over there. I think that’s a suitable answer.

Now this is the part where I remind everyone that I am not a lawyer, and so there may be some legal or practical reason why this idea is nuts and completely unworkable. If so, please let me know in the comments. If you want to point out that this would affect some politicians that I happen to like as well as Dave Wilson, my answer is that I’m fine with that. They can make whatever choice to get right that they want, and we’ll have one less fig leaf in politics. If there isn’t a good reason why this idea is stupid, then I plan to start lobbying a few of my favorite State Reps about it. I didn’t include cities in my fantasy bill because I think they should come up with their own requirements for office, but if this can work at the Lege then I’d certainly support amending Houston’s charter to this effect as well. What do you think? Like I said, if this is crazy, go ahead and tell me why.

UPDATE: Today’s Chron reports on the first day of the trial. I’ll have a full post about this tomorrow.

Dave Wilson reminds us again why elections matter

Because now when he does crap like this, it’s as an elected official and not just a yahoo crank of long standing.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson, an anti-gay activist who won a contested race for a seat on the Houston Community College board last November, wants HCC to cancel its plans to sponsor a float in this month’s gay pride parade.

“Regardless of what has happened in the past, it is my position that HCC should not lend its name or taxpayers’ money to this parade,” Wilson said in an email to HCC Chairwoman Neeta Sane and the rest of the board. “My religious beliefs consider homosexual behavior to be a sin.”

[…]

The annual Houston Pride Parade, which last year drew 400,000 people, is scheduled for June 28. Wilson said he wants the board to vote on whether HCC’s participation is appropriate.

“If the KKK had a parade, I would hope the college wouldn’t lend its name to that,” Wilson said in an interview. “I don’t want to take any part in it, but I’m just one of nine. I want the opportunity to vote on it. I’m not going to unilaterally force my will onto somebody.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, no vote was scheduled for Thursday’s meeting. The chancellor has the necessary authority and has decided HCC will participate, spokeswoman Fritz Guthrie said.

The system has sponsored a float in the parade for years. It participates in a variety of community events, from Juneteenth celebrations to the annual Cesar Chavez parade, Sane said.

“It’s reaching out to all cross sections of our community,” Sane said. “I’m pretty comfortable about HCC being out there.”

As are all decent human beings. I trust the rest of the board will follow the lead of Chancellor Cesar Maldonado and Chairwoman Sane, but again, the reason we’re even talking about this is because Wilson managed to deceive enough voters to sneak in under the radar. Under any other circumstances, no one would be paying attention to the ravings of a nutcase. I sure hope Vince Ryan can prove his case when it goes to court next month. A copy of Maldonado’s email to Wilson, which was embedded as an image in Wilson’s email for some reason, and Wilson’s reply to Sane, on which he bcc’ed me, is beneath the fold.

(more…)

Wilson’s petitions

Here, courteously sent to me by reader and regular commenter Mainstream, is a copy of Dave Wilson’s petition for a charter amendment to “prohibit men (who perceive or express themselves as women) from using the women’s restroom. The petition itself is in addition to a scare-mongering letter from Wilson, sent from his current “residence” on 34th Street, and an offensive and misleading drawing. The latter was included in an earlier petition effort from last October for the same thing. Either I completely forgot about that one or I never heard of it in the first place. Hopefully that’s a harbinger for this one. In any event, the petition itself reads as follows:

Except as required by State or Federal law, the City of Houston shall only define “Gender Identity” as an individual’s innate identification, as either male or female, which is assigned at birth. Perceived gender Identification is not allowed in defining “Gender identity”. Furthermore, the City of Houston shall require entities doing business with the city to adopt the same definition of “Gender identity”.

If any portion of this proposed Charter amendment is declared unlawful, then such portion shall be removed and the remainder of the Charter amendment will remain in effect. Any ordinance or executive order in conflict with this section of the Charter is hereby repealed and declared invalid.

You know I’m not an attorney, but I have a hard time seeing how this drivel could survive a legal challenge, if it were somehow to be adopted. It’s so vaguely worded yet specifically targeted I don’t know how it could possibly be enforced. Any attorneys out there that want to weigh in on this, by all means please do. Note that this is also not a petition to repeal the ordinance, for which there is a 30 day window, or to recall Mayor Parker or any member of Council. I’m not sure what to make of that. If you receive this or any other petition for one or more of these purposes, from Dave Wilson or any other group, please let me know, either via comment or an email to kuff – at – offthekuff – dot – com. If you get a different petition than this one, I will be eternally grateful if you can scan it and send it in email to me. Thanks very much.

Post HERO, watch for the petition drives

Here’s the full Chron story about the passage of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. I’m going to skip ahead in the story and focus on what the haters are saying and planning to do.

Opponent Dave Welch, of the Houston Area Pastors Council, said his group will begin gathering signatures against the ordinance to trigger a referendum seeking its repeal this November. The group would need to gather roughly 17,000 signatures – or 10 percent of turnout in last fall’s mayoral race – in the next 30 days.

“Once we correct this grievous act through the ballot this fall,” Welch said in a statement, “we will then remind those members that patronizing a tiny interest group and outgoing mayor instead of serving the people leads to a short political career.”

[…]

Houston voters twice have rejected protections or benefits for gays, in 1985 and in 2001.

The most recent vote was spearheaded by Houston Community College trustee and longtime anti-gay advocate Dave Wilson, who said he plans to gather signatures to seek a recall election against “three or four” council members who voted yes.

Only the number of signatures equivalent to one-quarter of the votes cast for mayor in a given council district are required, which Wilson said makes some districts with poor turnout particularly ripe targets.

The signatures must be gathered within a 30-day period and a recall petition must list grounds related to “incompetence, misconduct, malfeasance or unfitness for office.” The target of such a petition could then object, triggering a vote of the City Council on whether the grounds are sufficient. City Attorney David Feldman said the city’s 100-year-old recall process has never been used, and added a single ordinance vote would not be valid grounds.

“Some people say it’s intimidation, et cetera, but I look at it as accountability,” Wilson said, adding he views Feldman as a biased source. “People are elected to represent their district. They’re not up there to propagate their own personal views.”

Wilson said he also is gathering the signatures needed to seek a charter amendment banning a biological man from using a women’s restroom. The ordinance passed Wednesday offers such a protection for transgender residents citywide, as does an executive order Parker signed in 2010 applying to city facilities.

The earliest a charter vote could appear would be May 2015, but Feldman said such an effort may be too relevant to the ordinance passed Wednesday, meaning the signatures gathered would need to fall within the 30-day window.

A petition to repeal the ordinance would require fewer than half the signatures needed to mount a recall effort against Mayor Parker. That’s a more attainable target, but we’ll see how it goes. As I said before, I don’t fear any of this. It’ll be a fight, but we have the numbers, we have the will, and we have the pleasure of being in the right.

It seems clear that anything other than a straight repeal effort within the 30 day time frame will generate a court fight. I rally don’t know how much weight to put on the wording of the petition versus the lack of any mention of grounds for recall elsewhere in the charter. I’d hate to have it come down to a judge’s ruling on that.

By the way, you know who’s an unsung hero in all this? Ben Hall, that’s who. Thanks to Ben Hall, Mayor Parker took the 2013 election a bit more seriously than the 2011 election, and drove up turnout to near-2009 levels as a result. If turnout in 2013 had been the same as in 2011, the haters would only need about 27,000 signatures to get the recall process started instead of the 42,500 they need now, and they’d need fewer than 11,000 sigs to force the repeal referendum instead of 17,000. So thanks, Ben Hall! You did something good with your campaign! Hair Balls, Juanita, BOR, Texas Leftist, Free Press Houston, and TransGriot have more.

Today really is the day for the NDO vote

And as we finally head for a vote, the hysteria and fearmongering have reached a fever pitch.

RedEquality

In just five words, Mayor Annise Parker handed her increasingly vocal opponents exactly what they wanted in the battle against her proposed equal rights ordinance: “The debate is about me.”

That comment, part of a longer utterance at Houston City Council’s last meeting, at which the body delayed a decision on the ordinance to this Wednesday, was just what political and religious conservatives have accused Parker – the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city – of doing for weeks: Pushing the ordinance to further her “gay agenda,” or to reward gay advocates for their political support.

In laying out the proposed ordinance last month, Parker acknowledged the debate would focus on gay and transgender issues because those groups are not protected under existing laws, but she stressed the proposal was comprehensive. It would ban discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also, as federal laws do, sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, as well as family, marital or military status.

Parker’s recent comments undercut that comprehensive message, however, as she sought to remind council members the issue is “intensely personal.”

“It’s not academic. It is my life that is being discussed,” said Parker, who faced death threats and had her tires slashed as a gay activist in the 1980s. “And while we can say around this council chamber that it applies to the range of protected groups – and it does and it is right and appropriate that the city of Houston finally acknowledges a local ordinance that respects African-Americans and Hispanics and those of different religions – the debate is about me. The debate is about two gay men at this table.”

Parker added to her comments after the meeting, saying she understands how “incredibly painful” it is for gay residents to hear opponents say, “I don’t hate gay people, I don’t hate transgender people, I just ought to have the right not to let them come into my business.”

[…]

Councilman Michael Kubosh – elected with a coalition of conservative and black voters last fall – drew scattered yells of support from the otherwise civil audience in rebutting Parker’s comments minutes later.

“I know you say it’s about you, but, mayor, this is really about all of us,” Kubosh said. “It’s not really about you; it’s about everybody here.”

Every successful politician in America has had personal reasons for running for office, and personal motivation for the causes they sought to advance through legislation. Most of them are very clear about this, as it’s a big part of the answer to the question of why they are running for that office. The personal connection they have to the cause they’re advancing – the hurt they’ve felt, or the help they’ve received – is a key component of who they are as a candidate and later (they hope) as an officeholder. It’s how they hope to win the support of the people they think should be voting for them. I’ve been there. I know how you feel. I can help. Would Michael Kubosh have established residency in the city of Houston to run for City Council if he had not been personally affected by red light cameras? I rather doubt it. Of course he will say that it wasn’t just about him but about all of the people that were affected by red light cameras and who felt they lacked a voice in the process. He wouldn’t have gotten himself into a position to be elected if it weren’t for that, and if he couldn’t make a connection to the people who felt the same way he did. How is that any different from Mayor Parker?

And I have to laugh at the “accusations” that Mayor Parker is pursuing the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance as some kind of sinister payback for her “core” (read: gay gay gay gay gay) supporters. Because of course only the gayest of her gay supporters support the HERO as something that is just and fair and right, obviously. And because of course no politician in America has ever been so crass as to pursue policies that their most ardent supporters wanted. I laugh because I can envision how the Dave Wilsons and Steve Riggles and apparently Michael Kuboshes imagine this must have played out in the backroom scented-candle-filled Secret Gay Power Broker Centers around Houston: “Our plan is foolproof! We will win multiple elections, then attempt to pass an ordinance via the public legislative process involving many opportunities for feedback and a majority vote of the democratically-elected City Council! That’ll show the bastards! Bwa ha ha ha ha!” I can sure see why that would be front page news.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s grant Dave Wilson and Steve Riggle and Ed Young and Michael Kubosh and Max Miller their fondest wish and stipulate that Mayor Parker is ramming this ordinance down their throats to appease her most ardent supporters The Gays, because as noted no politician in the history of America has ever done something like this before. Let’s remind ourselves what it is that she – and, you know, a majority of the members of City Council – are pushing: An ordinance that forbids the official discrimination against people because of who they are. Under this ordinance, you can’t be fired, or denied service at a bar or restaurant or retail establishment, or evicted, or any other thing that Wilson et al take for granted for themselves because you’re gay, or black, or Jewish, or a woman, or disabled, or whatever. It’s an ordinance that guarantees equal treatment for all people, with a mechanism to enforce it. I’m always…”amused” isn’t quite the right word, but it will have to do…when I hear a Dave Wilson or one of his intolerant brethren screech about LGBT folks demanding “special rights”, as if the right to hold a job or buy a house or not be arbitrarily tossed out of a restaurant is “special” in any meaningful sense. If you look up the word “projection” in the dictionary, you’ll see a picture of one of these clowns begging to be allowed to keep his special right to discriminate against people he doesn’t like while complaining that their demand to be treated as equals constitutes the real special treatment. It would be kind of funny if it weren’t so very, very pathetic.

And finally, to bring it back to those five little words Mayor Parker said, I have to agree with Campos: With all due respect to the Mayor, this debate really is about all of us. I want to live in a city that values all of its residents. I want to live in a city that embraces its diversity and makes no group of people feel second class. I’m one of an increasing majority of people that sees the so-called “morality” of people like Dave Wilson for the toxic injustice that it is. I see where the country is going, and I want to get there now. There’s more people like me in this town than there are people like Dave Wilson. If we’re forced to prove it again at the ballot box this November, we’ll be ready.

[Council Member Ellen] Cohen said she expects, however, to see the mayor’s comments become fodder for a push to overturn the ordinance by referendum, an effort for which opponents say they already are gathering signatures. Houston voters twice have rejected protections or benefits for gays, in 1985 and in 2001.

“People who are opposed to the ordinance will use any and all methods they possibly can to destroy the credibility of anyone who’s trying to vote for it,” Cohen said, pointing to threats of recall elections targeting council members who vote in favor. “It saddens me. Intimidation is a terrible way to conduct a democracy.”

That’s presumably in addition to the recall effort, which who knows what will happen. In this case, we know from the red light camera experience that there’s a 30 day window after the ordinance passes to gather the signatures for a vote to repeal. We’ll cross that bridge when and if we get to it, too. The SEIU and Mustafa Tameez have more.

Recall effort against Mayor Parker?

The haters huff and puff with their last breath.

Mayor Annise Parker

Mayor Annise Parker

Opponents of Mayor Annise Parker’s proposed Houston equal rights ordinance have vowed to take the issue to voters in a referendum, but now they’re seriously discussing a sort of nuclear option at the polling place: a recall election to remove her and some council members from office.

Although recalling the mayor wouldn’t be easy and the opposition would have to work quickly, the threat alone could cause problems for some city council members.

“This is absurd, it’s unheard of,” said Dave Wilson, a longtime anti-gay activist and critic of Parker who’s fighting the proposed ordinance. “It’s nothing but pure payback for the mayor. She’s paying back her core constituents that supported her.”

Houston’s city charter prescribes the criteria for which an elected official can be recalled – incompetence, misconduct, malfeasance or unfitness for office – but opponents argue the proposed ordinance contradicts state law.

“We consider them to be incompetent,” Wilson said.

The charter decrees that citizens have 30 days to gather enough signatures on petitions to mandate a recall election. The number of signatures required varies for each office, because it amounts to 25% of the number of voters who cast ballots for the elected official involved.

And that’s where it gets interesting. Since fewer people vote in district city council races, it’s much easier to gather enough signatures to trigger a recall election.

Look at the numbers. About 170,000 Houstonians voted for mayor in the last election, so opponents would have to gather about 42,500 signatures to recall Parker. Given only 30 days, that would be difficult.

But substantially fewer people vote in races for district council seats, which are more like neighborhood campaigns. If 10,000 ballots are cast in a council race, only 2,500 signatures are required to trigger a recall election.

I’ll get to some details on this in a minute, but let me say this first: Bring it. Seriously. Let’s settle once and for all who the real majority is. I don’t think Dave Wilson is going to like the answer.

Now then. You can find Houston’s charter and city ordinances here. The provisions for recalling officers is Article VII-a. A few points of interest:

  • “The holder of any public office in the City of Houston, whether elected thereto by the people or appointed by the City Council, may be removed from office by recall.” That’s right there in Section 1. The only place where “incompetence, misconduct, malfeasance or unfitness for office” are mentioned is in the wording of the recall petition. Based on that, I don’t think there are any special criteria for initiating a recall – either you get enough signatures in the prescribed time or you don’t.
  • From Section 3a: “The petition may consist of one or more papers circulated separately, and the signatures thereto may be upon the paper or papers containing the formal petition, or upon other papers attached thereto; each signer of a petition shall sign his name in ink or indelible pencil. The verification may be made by one or more petitioners, and the several parts of the petition may be verified separately and by different persons, but no signature to such petition shall remain effective or be counted which was placed thereon more than thirty days prior to the filing of such petition or petitions with the City Secretary.” Emphasis mine. My read on this is that the clock starts when the first signature is collected. The petition itself is submitted when/if enough signatures have been gathered. I didn’t see anything in there to suggest there was a constraint on when the signature-gathering effort could begin, nor any cutoff point for when no further signatures could be collected. I sense the possibility of some shenanigans here, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves here.
  • If this goes forward and if the haters manage to get enough signatures, the actual recall election would be this November – section 7, “the election shall be held on the next available uniform date prescribed by state law”. This would not be a low-turnout off-schedule affair. I’ll leave it to you to decide which side that favors.

So these are the conditions as I understand them. The one thing I know for sure is that if this happens – if the haters manage to collect enough signatures to force this issue onto the November ballot – it’s going to go national. I guarantee this recall election will be as big as anything else in November, and it will draw all kinds of attention and money. You have to wonder what kind of effect this will have on the other races. Like I said, you can make your case for who benefits from this, but generally speaking, the favorite doesn’t want anything unexpected. Look at it this way – to whatever extent Dave Wilson thinks his coalition includes black voters, do you think Greg Abbott wants there to be a campaign to boost black turnout in Harris County? Do you think all the Republican District Court and County Court judges on the ballot want that?

By the way, as long as we’re discussing the possibility of recalling public officials, does anyone know what provisions (if any) exist to recall HCC Trustees? I’ve seen some chatter on Facebook about mounting a counter-recall effort against Council members that vote against the ordinance. I don’t know how effective that might be, given that most of the No votes are likely to come from members in heavily Republican districts. Anyone else will be up for re-election in 2015 anyway, so one way or another they’ll be made to account for their actions. Personally, I think it would be nice to give Dave Wilson a taste of his own medicine. He can’t win if he can’t hide his identity as he did in 2013. If no such provision exists for recalling HCC Trustees exists, then perhaps one of our local legislators can file a bill to that effect. It probably won’t get anywhere, but it would make a point.

Like I said, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance actually has to pass. The vote happens tomorrow, after a public comment session, and you should be there to register your support for the HERO. After that, we’ll take it as it comes. The haters’ webpage is here, and I’m sure it will be more than just a landing page soon. I don’t fear these jackasses, but we can’t afford to not take them seriously. Be ready for the next fight, it’s as important as this one is. TransGriot has more.

Falkenberg on Wilson and the NDO

Lisa Falkenberg weighs in on the “Reverend RJ Ballard” email.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

The e-mail is the handiwork of Houstonians for Family Values, the group affiliated with none other than Dave Wilson. You may remember him as the old white anti-gay activist who got elected to the Houston Community College board last year in a predominantly black district by leading voters to believe he was black.

He’s still up to his old tricks. He told me this week he’s gotten 10,000 signatures for his anti-ordinance petition, and he’s getting ready to drop a new batch of mail.

“What’s the old adage?” he said, almost gleefully. “Strike while the hammer is hot?”

Yes, this is the guy speaking for “the families.” An affable but bigoted trouble-maker who deals in racial caricatures, and his little friend – Portrait of Man Pointing.

As it happens, the Chron ran a correction on Saturday, which noted that while Wilson did indeed send an email campaigning against the NDO, he denied having sent this particular email that I’ve now reviewed twice. Falkenberg called me on Friday to give me a heads up about that since I had forwarded the email to her and pointed out some of its obvious falsehoods. I looked over the email again after I got her message, and when I called her back I told her that it was possible he was telling the truth. The reason for that, which I hadn’t given any thought to till her call, was that the email in question was sent via Mail Chimp, which as we know from before isn’t secure. Well, crap.

I hadn’t given the matter any thought before this because unlike our previous experience with mysterious Mail Chimp emails, this could hardly be an attempt to slander Dave Wilson. As noted in the correction, Wilson agreed with what was said in the “Reverend RJ Ballard” email and made similar points in the email he did admit to sending. Why would anyone pretend to be Dave Wilson for these purposes? If this was a forgery – and while I have no inclination to give Dave Wilson the benefit of the doubt, I also can’t think of a reason why he’d bother to lie about this – it had to be deliberate – why else include Wilson’s mailing address in the email? I’ve thought about it all weekend, and I can come up with three semi-plausible scenarios:

– The email was sent by someone who has a public reputation for being pro-equality but who secretly wants the NDO to be defeated, and so sent this out under the cover of a well-known bigot figuring his or her tracks would be covered. It sounds even less believable having typed that sentence than it did in my head, but it was the first thing I came up with, so there you have it.

– It was sent by some other Anglo conservative in an attempt to mobilize a group with which he or she has no credibility or influence, done more as a flattering imitation of Dave Wilson than as a forgery. I can almost believe that, but I still get hung up on why the author would bother to include Wilson’s address. You’re already sending it out under a phony name, why confuse things by pointing a finger at someone? Maybe the answer to that is that the sender knew that some smartypants on the Internet would make the Wilson connection and that would serve to amplify the effect of the email. I guess that’s possible, but I’m reluctant to give this hypothetical second emailer that much credit for intelligence.

– Finally, perhaps it was sent by a supporter of the NDO who feared that energy among its proponents was flagging, and s/he thought this might be a shot in the arm for their advocacy efforts. Seems pretty convoluted and with a potentially high downside, but I suppose someone could see it that way. For what it’s worth, even after the second delay, I haven’t seen any signs of proponents losing fervor for the fight, but perhaps someone else saw that differently.

As before, we’ll likely never know the answer to this. If you think you know something about it, by all means leave a comment or drop me an email. And for the record, while Wilson’s denial is plausible, I’m not ready to let him off the hook. Even if he didn’t send this, one way or another he inspired who sent it.

Back to Falkenberg’s column, and her conversation with one of the email’s targets, CM Jerry Davis. Davis says what needs to be said about this:

“The god I serve, to me, loves everyone,” Davis said. “And it’s hard for me to believe that he’s telling me to discriminate against people.”

Yet, his constituents are saying something different: When he polled them, 47 percent came out against the ordinance and about 30 percent for it.

Then there’s other feedback: “Some of the phone calls I’ve received in the last few weeks, it sounds like the same group of people who said ‘we believe in equal rights, but not for blacks; they weren’t meant to be equal to us.’ ”

And isn’t that the classic argument? We believe in rights. Just not for those people.

“I want to make sure I’m not one of those persons who are doing that,” Davis told me.

Good for you, Jerry Davis. People certainly do make some ridiculous arguments when they try to argue against the basic humanity of others. The website Good As You caught a great example of that during the Council meeting, in which CM Ellen Cohen got Pastor Becky Riggle to admit that opponents of the NDO like herself was equally arguing for the right to discriminate against people whose religion they disagreed with. You’d think with all the huffing and puffing lately about folks like Condoleeza Rice beind denied the right to collect a fat speaker’s fee at a commencement ceremony that it might occur to the Becy Riggles of the world that a right to discriminate includes the right to discriminate against them, but somehow that connection never gets made. Just another downside to lacking empathy, I suppose.

NDO delayed two weeks

I thought it would be over by now, but it’s not.

RedEquality

A proposal to extend equal rights protections to gay and transgender Houston residents, which had been swiftly advancing to a City Council vote, stalled Wednesday as council members voted for a two-week delay to allow more public input on the increasingly divisive measure.

Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city, said she had the votes to pass the ordinance Wednesday but hopes to pick up even more before the council’s May 28 meeting. The 12-5 vote in favor of delay reflected not an erosion of support, she said, but the council’s desire to address constituents’ questions.

“There were several council members who fully intend to vote for the item who asked for an opportunity, in the interest of complete transparency and openness on this issue, to have another round of conversations with their various constituent groups,” Parker said. “This has never been about getting something rushed through. It is about getting something right.”

Most opposition has come from clergy, from conservative megachurch leaders to black ministers. Opponents said they, too, plan to continue rallying votes; council offices have been deluged with calls and emails now numbering in the thousands.

The proposal, already delayed one week amid tearful cries of support and angry protestations, has been the subject of intense debate for nearly a month.

Houston political consultant Keir Murray said the delay is driven in part by some council members’ desire to address concerns from community leaders, particularly elderly black pastors, who may be uncomfortable with gay and transgender issues.

“They’ve got the votes,” Murray said. “The mayor and others are just trying to cut colleagues some slack, give them a little time and go back to constituencies and say, ‘We gave you more time to make your voices heard.’ ”

The key piece of evidence here is that an amendment proposed by CM Robert Gallegos that reduced the minimum size for companies to be subject to this ordinance from 50 to 15 was adopted by an 11-6 vote. I can’t think of any good reason to vote for that amendment, then vote against the final ordinance, so I think it is safe to say that it is headed for passage.

But first, more talk.

Steve Riggle, senior pastor of Grace Community Church, said neither his megachurch brethren nor influential ministers of color were engaged in the drafting of the law, saying, “We’re willing to sit down at the table and talk.”

Asked whether there were any protections for gay and transgender residents he could support, Riggle said only, “Let’s sit at the table and see.” But he added, “Gender identity is a term that is a problem.”

Councilwoman Ellen Cohen noted that scores of faith, nonprofit and community leaders have announced their backing for the proposal.

“The idea that somehow this was a secret process, particularly after how many countless hours of public hearings we’ve had over the last few weeks, is interesting,” Parker said.

Councilman Dwight Boykins pushed for the delay, saying he hopes to convene a meeting for pastors and business owners in his south Houston district: “Within the next two weeks, I think we will come to some conclusion where this city will heal this divisiveness in this city today.

“The people in this city, the ones that have questions about this ordinance, have questions that can be dealt with.”

Councilman Jerry Davis held a similar meeting in his north Houston district, and said many pastors left with a better understanding of the measure even if they remained opposed.

If CM Boykins, who voted for the Gallegos amendment, feels he needs more time to explain things to his constituents, then fine. That’s easy for me to say, since I get to do life on the lowest difficulty setting, but my scan of social media after the motion to postpone indicates that the folks who have real skin in the game are handling this latest delay with grace. My hat is off to them for that.

So this will now be decided on Wednesday, May 28. There will be no Council meeting on the 27th, so the 28th will be both a public-comment session and a Council-vote-on-agenda-items session. That means you have one more chance to tell Council in person what you think, and of course you can continue to send them emails, telegrams, mash notes, what have you. The vote may be highly likely to go in favor, but if you’ve got a story to tell it’s important to tell it. Contact the City Secretary and get on the list of speakers for the 28th.

One more thing. In my previous entry, I analyzed Dave Wilson’s latest piece of hate mail and pointed out two ways in which he was being blatantly dishonest. Turns out I wasn’t thorough enough. See the picture at the bottom with the caption about girls claiming to be “harassed” in the school bathroom by a transgender classmate? Though there is no link provided, that was an actual story that ran on some legitimate news sites. However, it was based on a complete lie put forward by a group of haters, and was subsequently pulled down after it was exposed as the fabrication it was. A reporter named Cristan Williams did the legwork, and you can read her story here, with a followup here. The original “story” was first printed last October, and a cursory Google search would at least indicate that maybe it’s not a hundred percent kosher. Given Wilson’s longstanding record of abject dishonesty, it’s far more likely that he knew all this but pushed the lie anyway than that he was confused or minsinformed. The lesson, in case I haven’t been sufficiently blunt, is that you should never, ever believe a word Dave Wilson says. Thanks to Transgriot and Media Matters for the links.

Today is the day for the non-discrimination ordinance

Yesterday’s open Council session and today’s vote will provide one last chance for fearmongering before the NDO finally passes.

RedEquality

Among clergy trading pulpit for soap box is the Rev. Ed Young, senior pastor at Houston’s Second Baptist Church, who denounced the proposal for seeking to “elevate sexual preference to a constitutionally protected class.”

[…]

In Internet postings, Young urged opponents inside and outside the city to “dare to be a Daniel” in facing down the ordinance.

“Mayor Parker will continue to push the City Council to approve a ‘non-discrimination ordinance’ … more aptly described as a wide-reaching pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender ordinance,” Young wrote. “It is a direct threat to the rights of all who live and work in our city.”

Young, whose congregation approaches 64,000 members, argued that the ordinance potentially would open women’s restrooms to male sexual predators dressed in women’s clothing and force businesses to serve clients whose sexual practices they oppose on religious grounds.

“Tolerance,” he wrote, “should not be defined as casting aside and acting against one’s own beliefs to accommodate someone else’s. Simply put, the homosexual community wants us to tolerate their behavior and beliefs, but does not want to give the rest of us that same courtesy. … Their rights should end where our morality and rights begin.”

Pastor Steve Riggle, of Grace Community Church, with about 18,000 members, expressed similar concerns, saying the proposed ordinance “is not just a political issue to us. As a congregation, we are outraged.”

I’m old enough to remember people like Ed Young and Steve Riggle making the same claims about the Equal Rights Amendment back in the 70s. There’s a word for this: it’s called “lying”. I don’t know why professional religious people like Ed Young and Steve Riggle think lying – “bearing false witness against thy neighbor”, if you want to go old school – to advance a political position might be acceptable. Perhaps as professional religious people they have access to a deluxe edition of the Bible that the rest of us don’t that spells out when one can lie with impunity. I would suggest to them that they would be far better off after the NDO passes to rejoice with those who rejoice and leave their anger and fear and lying behind. But I’m not a professional religious person, so what do I know?

Speaking of lying, you will I’m sure be shocked to learn that Dave Wilson is campaigning against the NDO, and in true Dave Wilson fashion he’s doing so by pretending to be African-American. Here’s the email he’s sending out. It claims to be from a “Reverend RJ Ballard” – you can see the header, with my email address edited out, here – but I know it’s from him because the email contains a disclaimer at the end, not visible on that webpage, that says:

Our mailing address is:
Houstonians For Family Values
5600 W 34th St.
Houston, TX 77092

That as we know is one of the warehouses that Dave Wilson claims to be his home. Be that as it may, Google searches for Reverend RJ Ballard and RJ Ballard Houston come up empty, unless you think this guy (the first result for the latter search) is the “reverend” in question. The photo of the “Reverend” in Wilson’s mailer is a stock photo, which you can find via Google image search for “black reverend”; it’s being used here. The photo of the family is surely also a stock photo, though I didn’t see it on a quick scan through Shutterstock. It too is easily found via Google image search, this time for “black family portrait”, which led me here. You’re such a cliche, Dave.

Anyway. The bathroom provision in the ordinance that Young and Riggle and their ilk have been lying about, will be dropped from the final version.

A paragraph specifying that no business open to the public could deny a transgender person entry to the restroom consistent with his or her gender identity had outraged conservatives. Church and Republican political leaders have used the clause to claim the ordinance “provides an opportunity for sexual predators to have access to our families.”

Members of the gay, lesbian and transgender community were equally outraged, however, by a clause that would give businesses an out if the defendant had a “good faith belief” that the person’s claim of being transgender was disingenuous.

The proposed amendment would remove that paragraph of the expansive ordinance. Transgender people barred access to a restroom still would be able to file a discrimination complaint to the city’s Office of Inspector General under the process outlined for all protected characteristics, such as race and veteran status.

“The base ordinance is still the same,” Parker said. “It says you can’t discriminate.”

A pretty simple thing, don’t you think? I’m going to give the last word to Dallas Jones, a political consultant who sent out the following to his email list yesterday:

It’s unfortunate that this conversation has been masked behind issues like religion and the question of gender identity being a choice or biological. The issue is a simple one for me. In order for Houston to be the great city on the hill that it can be, we must make a moral declaration that no one can being treated unfairly in our utopia. It doesn’t matter if someone is born a certain way or what their lifestyle choices lead them to, no one should be made to feel less than human.

HERO, as it’s being called, will also protect African American Houstonians who for too long have been discriminated against in certain parts of town. As an African American male I have witnessed others not only barred entry into an establishment, but also physically assaulted at the door for refusing to leave after being denied entry. There was no recourse for these young men to seek justice. With Houston being a part of the South, it has a history of segregation that sought to keep our great city from coexisting harmoniously. The remnants of segregation are still alive today and it is evident through the makeup of our neighborhoods. These great divides exist not only in geography but within the minds of those that reside in these historic neighborhoods, as well. HERO will seek to protect citizens from being treated differently regardless of what part of town they choose to live, work, or play.

I can understand some of the concern from the community. As a Christian, I try to practice the principles taught through Holy Scripture daily. Therefore, I can’t ignore the principles of love, tolerance, and equality of my fellow man. I have always stated my belief that the Bible is not a textbook for government; it is a religious document that guides our spiritual beliefs. In a country that is founded on the concept of religious freedom we have to embrace the idea that people have a right to believe what they choose and be who they are. When we begin to challenge the notion of protecting our fellow man from being treated wrongly then it is the opinion of this writer that we have lost our way.

Amen to that. Now let’s pass this thing already. Texas Leftist has more.

UPDATE: And “Amen” to today’s Chron editorial.

Wilson whines to Commissioners Court

Dave Wilson would like to not be sued any more, so he went to Commissioners Court to air his grievances over the lawsuit that stemmed from his controversial election last year.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

After Wilson won the election, and County Attorney Vince Ryan sued Wilson, trying to keep him from office. To prove it before trial, Ryan combed over Wilson’s family Facebook pages and added his wife and kids to a witness list.

After he found that out Wilson told us, “They’re abusing their power. Vince Ryan is totally out of control.”

On Tuesday, Wilson was at commissioners’ court to ask it all to stop.

“I apologize for taking your time and I especially apologize for the county attorney wasting valuable taxpayer resources on his frivolous lawsuit against me,” he told Commissioners.

He claimed the county attorney has spent $100,000 on the case. The county attorney says the real amount (not counting staff time) is just under $8,000.

Among the costs, the county spent $3,000 on private investigators to trail Wilson. At least one of those PIs rented a room at the Super 8 across from Wilson’s claimed residence capturing video of Wilson coming in and out of that warehouse apartment.

When he saw the video Wilson told us, “He caught me red handed living at my residence.”

The county attorney’s office says this is important work to protect voters who deserve a representative who lives where he says he does.

“Mr. Wilson likes the publicity. He likes to make these appearances and he likes to make allegations that are difficult to respond to,” Robert Soard, Ryan’s chief of staff, told Eyewitness News.

That trial was originally set to start this week, but this story says it’s been moved back to July. Not sure what’s up with that. The fact that Wilson has been filmed at the warehouse he’s claiming as a home address is irrelevant; the question is whether he was living there in some meaningful sense before the election. The difficulty for Vince Ryan is how do you prove he wasn’t? If their case is based on the assertion that it isn’t habitable, Wilson can say “is too, I’m living there now!” I don’t want to think about how insufferable Wilson will be if he wins and can credibly claim to have been victimized by that mean old Vince Ryan. And I’ll say again, if Wilson does win we may as well just abandon the idea of residency requirements, because if his setup is kosher I can’t imagine what wouldn’t be. May as well just leave it to the voters if there isn’t an enforceable standard and an enforcement mechanism.

Trial date set for Wilson residency lawsuit

Mark your calendars.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

County officials have dropped their request to temporarily keep Houston Community College trustee Dave Wilson from his office in favor of an expedited trial date that will allow jurors to decide if he lives in District 2.

Last month, the county sued to prevent Wilson from serving on the HCC board amid questions about his residency.

On Tuesday, First Assistant Harris County Attorney Robert Soard confirmed that the county will stop pursuing immediate legal action against Wilson in exchange for a civil trial beginning on April 15.

“We decided that it would be helpful to the people of District 2 and the people of the state of Texas to get this trial over with as quickly as we can,” Soard said late Tuesday. “We reached an agreement with Mr. Wilson through his lawyer that we would drop our request for a temporary injunction. In return, they would agree to an expedited trial.”

Wilson is ready for a jury to consider the case.

“I look forward to the speedy trial and getting my name cleared,” he said late Tuesday. “They’ve got a losing case and they know it. … I hope they come to their senses. This is nothing but partisan politics.”

The temporary restraining order preventing Wilson from taking his seat had already been lifted, so it’s not a huge concession to quit fighting that battle. I have no doubt that both sides would like to get the core issues resolved, so an expedited court date makes sense. I can’t wait to see what happens.

TRO against Wilson lifted

He gets to take his seat. After that, I don’t know what happens.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

A judge Wednesday declined to prohibit small businessman and anti-gay activist Dave Wilson from taking his seat at the first meeting of the board of the Houston Community College Thursday.

State District Judge Brent Gamble turned back efforts by the Harris County Attorney’s Office to get a new temporary restraining order to keep Wilson from taking the dais as questions about his residency are litigated.

Another civil court judge had previously granted a restraining order prohibiting Wilson from taking the oath of office and declined to issue another one, saying the issues raised around Wilson will be heard in the court where the case landed when it was filed in December.

Wilson’s position is that he was not properly served with the restraining order before taking the oath at the beginning of the year after being elected in November.

This is the early story – it wasn’t on the houstonchronicle.com site by the time I went to bed – so I don’t know what Judge Gamble’s reasoning was. From this, it seems he can be seated but not take the oath of office, and I have no idea what that means. Nor do I know what happens if Judge Engelhart eventually rules that Wilson was ineligible for the ballot. So for at least one meeting, Wilson gets to be a trustee, and sometime after next week we find out if there’s an asterisk next to his name or not.

UPDATE: The paywall story is the same is the chron.com version, so that’s all we’ve got for now.

Wilson gets to take his seat

The legal battles continue, but HCC will swear in Dave Wilson today regardless.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Houston Community College has cleared Dave Wilson to take his seat at this week’s board meeting despite legal uncertainty raised by Harris County officials about the trustee-elect’s residency and prior to a possible court ruling on Wednesday that could prevent him from serving.

“Right now, Mr. Wilson has been elected and has taken an oath of office, and there is no prohibition from any court that would prevent him from taking his seat, so – from the perspective of Houston Community College – there is no legal basis at this time to deny him the opportunity to sit as a trustee,” HCC special counsel Gene Locke said on Tuesday.

[…]

Locke clarified that HCC did not participate in the controversy about where Wilson lives.

“HCC has not involved itself and is not involved in the legal issue regarding his residency,” he said. “It is a matter between the County Attorney’s office, appropriately, and Dave Wilson. We will abide by the outcome of any judicial proceeding regarding his residency.”

Most immediately, county officials are focused on a pending request that could prevent the trustee-elect from serving.

“We anticipate that the court will making a ruling on that on Wednesday,” said Robert Soard, the county attorney’s first assistant. “We’re asking the judge to order him not to participate until a judge has had an opportunity to hear evidence from both sides.”

He added that HCC’s decision has no impact on the case filed by Ryan.

“The restraining order only applies to Mr. Wilson. It does not apply to the Houston Community College or the board of trustees,” Soard said. “The restraining order was to prohibit him from taking office. We believe he violated that restraining order because he has stated he has taken the oath of office.”

Operating as a trustee on Thursday would be a further violation, according to Soard, who has stated previously that the HCC board would be irreparably harmed if Wilson takes office and casts votes while the courts decide if he is eligible to serve.

So just to clarify here, there’s the original restraining order, which barred Wilson from taking the oath of office, an order that he ignored, and there’s the lawsuit over his residency, for which there was a hearing on Monday, with another hearing to consider additional filings next week. With me so far? The lawsuit is in the court of Judge Mike Engelhart, but the hearing on the TRO, which was granted by Judge Elaine Palmer, will be heard by Judge Brent Gamble. If HCC is going to seat Wilson tomorrow, then I’m not sure what purpose the TRO, if it gets extended, would serve. I’m also not sure what will happen if Judge Engelhart eventually rules that Wilson is in violation of residency requirements. Have I mentioned that it would be nice to have an agreed-upon standard for this sort of thing that could be enforced in a timely fashion? Because that sure would have been nice to have here. We’ll see what the courts give us today. Stace has more.

Wilson’s status is still up in the air

The suspense is killing me.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

The restraining order prohibiting newly elected Houston Community College trustee Dave Wilson from taking the oath of office until questions about his residency can be resolved will remain in effect for another two weeks, a judge ruled Monday, and the legality of a private swearing-in reported by the District 2 representative is still unclear.

Meanwhile, the HCC board is scheduled to convene and elect officers on Thursday.

Whether Wilson will be allowed on or restricted from the dais is undetermined. Whether trustees can proceed with the meeting or vote on items before the District 2 trustee-elect’s legal matters are resolved also is unknown.

[…]

After the filing, the trustee-elect submitted notarized documents to the Texas Secretary of State’s office and HCC showing that he already had been sworn in.

Reiterating what he said at a hearing last Friday, State District Court Judge Mike Engelhart said Monday that he wants to hear more information on several issues before ruling on whether Wilson can take office.

Keith Gross, Wilson’s attorney, said his client plans to appeal Monday’s ruling.

“It’s like granting an injunction against knocking a building down after the building has been knocked down,” he said in court.

Robert Soard, the county attorney’s first assistant, said the HCC board would be irreparably harmed if Wilson takes office and casts votes while the courts decide if he is eligible to serve.

It would be nice if Judge Engelhart could issue a ruling before Thursday’s meeting, but I can’t blame him for wanting to get all the information he can before making up his mind. At this point, I don’t think anything would surprise me.

There’s a lot of talk in the comments to the previous post about this officeholder or that not meeting residency requirements, with some rumbling about other complains being filed. Knock yourselves out, I say. What I want out of the Wilson case, more than anything else, is for there to be a standard that we can all more or less agree on as to what “residency” actually means. If Wilson is found to meet that standard, then I don’t see how anyone could fail to meet it. If he is found to be in violation, then at least we have a line that has been drawn, and we can see if anyone else falls outside it. First things first, though, and that’s to decide about Wilson.

You can’t stop Dave Wilson

You can only hope to restrain him.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

The battle over whether Dave Wilson is actually a Houston Community College trustee could come to a head on Thursday when the 67-year-old tries to take the seat behind the District II placard on the board’s dais.

“I’m going to represent the citizens of my district,” Wilson said Friday after a hearing on his residency. “I’m going to sit up front, vote and do the whole thing. I might even lobby to become chair.”

Wilson, a small-business owner and anti-gay activist, spoke after an hourlong hearing about the procedural machinations of a lawsuit the Harris County Attorney’s Office filed last month.

County Attorney Vince Ryan is alleging that Wilson was not legally elected to the board in November because he is not a resident of the district in which he ran.

A temporary restraining order issued in December prohibited Wilson from taking the oath of office, but Wilson filed notarized paperwork last week with the Texas Secretary of State’s Office showing he was sworn in on Jan. 1.

State District Judge Mike Englehart on Friday asked lawyers for Wilson and the county to file additional arguments about whether Wilson can take office while the lawsuit is being litigated, among other issues.

[…]

First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard said the restraining order prohibits Wilson from taking the oath of office, so he is not a legal office holder.

“In my view, it would be like any citizen walking up there and sitting down,” Soard said. “It would be up to the HCC board to decide what they would do in that situation.”

Whatever else Dave Wilson may think of himself, he’s not the decider here. If Judge Engelhart puts a restraining order in place, he doesn’t get to take his seat, and that’s all there is to it. As I said before, HCC would be wise to have lawyers and security present in the event Wilson is legally barred from taking office at that time. They should explain the status of the court case to him, and for whoever else is present, and be prepared to usher him out the door if he refuses to back down. Until and unless he’s legally cleared to be sworn in by someone other than himself, he’s just another member of the public, and he should be treated as such. Obviously, if Judge Engelhart rules in Wilson’s favor then he gets to be sworn in as normal, but if not he needs to abide by that. The law applies to Dave Wilson, too.

Since it comes up in the comments every time I write about Dave Wilson, let’s be clear that I don’t fear him taking office for a minute. If he actually has evidence of current trustees or contractors or whoever else acting unethically, or if he has some hot ideas for how to improve ethics on the HCC board, great. Bring it on. But until he actually produces such evidence, or an ethics proposal, I see no reason to take him at his word. For a guy who claims to be a paragon of transparency and ethical behavior, he’s shown a remarkable willingness to push the boundaries of the law, to act deceptively for his own gain, and to be closed-mouth about his own personal information. His support of the deeply unethical Yolanda Navarro Flores at the very least calls into question his judgment about what ethical behavior is. I searched election results going back through 2001 and this is the first time he’s even run for an HCC position in that time, so it’s not like he’s some longtime crusader for this job who finally prevailed. He could prove me wrong – anything can happen – and if he does, great. More ethics is a good thing. I just see no reason to have any expectation of this outcome. I see him as a provocateur, and he managed to catch lightning in a bottle. What he does with it if he gets the chance remains to be seen, but my expectations are decidedly low.

Falkenberg on Dave Wilson’s residency

Lisa Falkenberg has another chat with Dave Wilson to try and solve the mystery of where he really lives.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

No bathtub. No refrigerator. No TV.

If 67-year-old small businessman Dave Wilson really lives in a warehouse apartment on West 34th Street, and not with his wife, as he claims, it’s a pretty Spartan existence. And not a particularly clean, well-fed or entertaining one.

An inspection this week by City of Houston code enforcement didn’t help the Houston Community College trustee-elect in his quest to prove he meets district residency requirements for the job. The city ended up slapping a bright orange sticker to the glass door of the warehouse, indicating he doesn’t have permission to use it as a residence.

“Change of occupancy to reflecting living quarters on 2nd floor. Plans required,” it reads, warning that failure to comply may result in citations with minimum fines of $500-$2,000 per incident.

Photos from the city inspection, provided to me by Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan’s office, depict sparsely furnished rooms with mostly bare walls, tabletops and counters.

“If you look at these photographs, it does not look like he’s been living there for two years,” said Ryan, who sued Wilson to try and prove the trustee-elect didn’t live in the district he ran to represent.

Ryan, whose office had requested its own tour of the residence but never got one, said he wasn’t surprised by the city’s findings.

“We believe it’s very clear cut,” Ryan said. “Every piece of evidence we see indicates he does not have his address at West 34th Street.”

Too bad Wilson didn’t take my advice and have Falkenberg drop by for a visit, a courtesy he did apparently extend to the local Fox affiliate. Instead, she only got to see the County Attorney’s evidence, which needless to say isn’t favorable to Dave. Wilson is free to show or not show whatever he wants to anyone – other than the judge, of course – but it seems to me he could have advanced his PR if he’d given Falkenberg a tour. Assuming the place does resemble an actual residence, that is. If it is what he says it is, then he prevails in court, his critics look like fools, and the issue is settled forevermore. For a guy who claims, not without some justification, that everyone is out to get him, you’d think he might want to shove the evidence of his righteousness in their faces, but instead he’s playing it close to the vest. Which might lead to a Perry Mason moment in the courthouse, but which also raises a question that Falkenberg brings up:

He’s probably right that some people are scared to death to get him on that board. Wilson has vowed to bring transparency to the often opaque operations of the HCC board and to request independent audits of finances. Heads could roll.

It would be a welcome change. But candidates promising open, honest leadership should walk the walk. Playing fast and loose with election laws and ignoring a temporary restraining order aren’t good ways to start out. Districts exist for a reason: to give citizens a better chance at electing someone who represents them and their interests.

This latest episode, added to the list of Wilson’s other antics, makes me wonder if he’d be a breath of fresh air on that board, or a disaster.

Yes, for a guy who claims to be all about openness and ethics and all that, he sure is less than forthcoming about his own business. As for the matter of districts, I’ve said my piece on that. What I’m going to say now is that the reason we are where we are is because the residency requirements we have on the books are basically a polite fiction for which no effective enforcement mechanism exists. We should either fix that or acknowledge that we just don’t really care. We’re in this debate now because we don’t have an agreed-upon standard of what it means to be a “resident” of a political subdivision, and because even if we did there was no way to objectively validate Dave Wilson’s residency before the election; remember, HCC’s Board and general counsel said it wasn’t their job to vet his application. Not having a standard and a means of validating someone’s candidacy serves no one, and that includes Wilson. Either we do something about this, or we ditch the whole idea and let people file for whatever they want, and leave it to the voters to sort out who represents them and who doesn’t.

I thought the case of Sen. Brian Birdwell in 2010 was as clear a violation of residency requirements you’re likely to see, with Birdwell casting a vote in Virginia at a time when he would have needed to be a resident of Texas to be eligible to run for the Senate. The challenge to his candidacy failed, not on the merits but on technicalities of jurisdiction and documentation provenance. I thought at the time that was telling us that the requirements we had were basically meaningless and that we should act accordingly. This is another test of that hypothesis. If Wilson prevails, then let’s agree that anyone with the wherewithal to declare himself or herself a resident of a given location – a relative, a second home, an office, a warehouse, what have you – is one for the purposes of the law and get on with our lives. Even if Wilson is found to be ineligible, we really owe it to ourselves and every future candidate to clarify the requirements up and down the ballot, one way or another. That’s something the Legislature could address in 2015. If it means a bunch of current incumbents have to scramble to buy a new house between now and their next filing deadline, that’s fine by me. If it means that residency is little more than a state of mind in the eyes of the law, then so be that. Let’s just pick one and stick with it. That has to be better than what we have now, which are winks and nods and the occasional lawsuit.

Wilson swears himself in

Of course he does.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Days after a Harris County judge signed a temporary restraining order barring Houston Community College trustee-elect Dave Wilson from taking the oath of office, the perennial candidate submitted notarized documents to the state showing he has been sworn in.

Wilson, 67, a small-business owner and anti-gay activist whose eligibility to serve on the HCC board is being challenged in court, filed oath-of-office papers with the secretary of state’s office on Thursday, the office confirmed.

Spokeswoman Alicia Pierce said it is not legally required for local elected officials to file oath-of-office papers with the state, as it is for statewide elected officials.

HCC lawyer Gene Locke said the college – not the state – is the proper filing authority and also received the documents via fax on Thursday. Locke said Wilson completed the appropriate paperwork newly elected officials must file to be legally sworn in, but whether it must be honored will be decided in court.

“The legal issue is whether or not the temporary restraining order prohibited him from taking the oath of office and, therefore, if the oath of office, the swearing in, is valid,” Locke said. “We’re kind of a bystander waiting to see how this thing plays out.”

[…]

Wilson’s lawyer, Keith Gross, said he did not tell his client to submit the oath-of-office papers because it would be unethical for an attorney to advise his client to violate a court order. Gross also said he did not know Wilson was planning to do so.

“This is something I decided all on my own,” Wilson said. Asked why he did not wait for an official swearing-in ceremony, Wilson said, “I wanted to take that position just as soon as I could.”

Wilson said he figured out what documents needed to be filed at the swearing-in ceremony of two other board trustees just after the Dec. 14 runoff election.

“I was amazed at how simple it was, quite frankly,” he said. “It doesn’t take a legal mind.”

You kind of have to admire the utter disregard for protocol. Dave Wilson just doesn’t care, and he doesn’t care if you care. Who even knew you could self-administer an oath of office? The question is whether anyone besides Wilson and his buddies will take his do-it-yourself oath job seriously. If the TRO is still in effect at the time of the next board meeting on January 16, what do the other Board members do when Wilson shows up and demands to take his seat at the table? I don’t know, but it might make for the most interesting board meeting in the history of forever. My advice to Gene Locke is to be thoroughly read up on all the relevant statutes and case law and be prepared to quote them from memory, because I bet Wilson will have a few cites to throw at you. And a little extra security, just in case, wouldn’t hurt, either. Campos has more.

Judge grants TRO halting Dave Wilson’s inauguration to HCC

From the inbox:

A state district judge has ordered David Wilson to refrain from taking an oath of office to serve as trustee of Houston Community College System District II until a court can determine the issue of his residency.

Judge Elaine Palmer granted the application filed by Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan asking that David Buren Wilson be prohibited from being sworn in until a court can hear evidence about where Wilson actually resides.

Harris County Attorney Ryan filed suit last week in the 151st District Court questioning whether Wilson was a resident of Houston Community College District II at the time he was elected.

The judge set a hearing for January 10th at 3 pm.

See here for the background, and here for a copy of the restraining order. Here’s the Chron story:

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan said it is unclear if Wilson resides at 5600 West 34th Street., which is the address he used in order to be eligible to run for the college district’s Place II position.

Wilson’s attorney, Keith Gross, questioned what is motivating the probe, including whether other board members fear Wilson will uncover corruption in their ranks.

He said his client, a 67-year-old small businessman, lives in an apartment inside the building, gets his mail there and has the address on his driver’s license.

“We are going to fight this all the way,” Gross said. “As long as I have known David Wilson, he does not roll over, ever.”

I believe that. I believe Dave Wilson will appeal this to the end of the earth and back again. I hope you know what you’re in for, Vince Ryan. Because Dave Wilson can’t be bargained with. He can’t be reasoned with. He doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop, ever.

Wilson did not return requests for comment, including an opportunity to let a Houston Chronicle reporter inside the metallic two-story building to see his quarters.

County appraisal district records describe it as a commercial building with 11,340 square feet of space. It appears to hold at least one classroom and a warehouse area.

[…]

Ryan, the county attorney, said the building does not appear to have an occupancy permit required for it to be a residence, and might not have undergone proper inspections.

Let’s talk about the residency requirements to run for office for a minute. I personally draw a distinction between residency in a district and residency in a taxing entity such as a county, city, school district, or community college district. District lines are drawn on sand. For districts determined by our Legislature, we’re lucky to have two consecutive elections where they’re all the same. As we learned in 2003, they can be changed at any time if the Governor wants them to be changed. People are regularly drawn into and out of various districts for political purposes. I’m in a different State Rep district and a different State Senate district than I was in 2011, and it’s not because I’ve moved. It happens all the time, and while I think it’s a perfectly valid campaign issue, I am comfortable with there being a very loose definition of who “lives” in what district for eligibility purposes.

It’s very different for taxes, ordinances, regulations, and other things may apply based on whether or not you live within that entity. If you’re running for a Harris County office, you better damn well live in Harris County. Same for Houston and other cities, HISD and other school districts, HCC and other community college districts. We just had a Mayor’s race where that was a salient issue, as it should have been. I don’t need anyone to be a native of these places, or even to be a longtime resident. I just need you to have the same skin in the game I do, and for this I don’t tolerate shenanigans.

That’s why this matters for Dave Wilson. The key point of contention is that Wilson actually lives outside of HCC’s territory, in a house on 7370 Lake Lane that is listed on the property tax rolls in the name of his wife, Connie. That house, which is in the taxing region for Lone Star Community College, has a homestead exemption on it, as you would expect for a primary residence. If that is where Wilson really lives, then he has no skin in the game by my lights and thus has no business running for HCC Trustee at all.

It would have been best to deal with this before the election, but the fact that Bruce Austin was too incompetent a candidate to raise the issue in time shouldn’t mean that Wilson gets a free pass. Permits and inspections are one piece of evidence, but we all know that there are plenty of homes in Houston for which that paperwork isn’t in order. So show me that 5600 W 34th St is really someplace someone would live. Show me that it’s got a bed, a shower, a fridge, a microwave oven, and a hookup for cable, satellite, or the Internet. Actually, show me that it has at least three beds, because if you do a voter registration search by address for “5600 w 34th”, you get three registrations, one each for David Buren Wilson, Cameron Hunter Wilson, and Taylor Renee Wilson. Are there really three people living there? If so, I will withdraw all my objections and will urge County Attorney Ryan to drop the lawsuit. Maybe Wilson will let Lisa Falkenberg drop by and see what she thinks. For what it’s worth, I found no registrations at 7370 Lake Lane.

One more thing. As I noted before, up until at least 2011, Dave Wilson had been using a different warehouse as his “home” for voter registration purposes. That warehouse was at 1512 W 34th, which is down the street a little less than three miles away. Why would he “move” from one warehouse to another? There’s one obvious answer to that question. To check that answer, I went searching for voter registrations at nearby addresses. I found one that’s just around the block from Wilson’s old digs. Here’s a Google map of the area, and a screenshot of the two together; A is the neighbor and B is 1512 W 34th. Lo and behold, Wilson’s near neighbor is in HCC District 1, not HCC District 2. That’s why he changed his registration from one warehouse to the other. He had to so he could target the HCC District 2 seat. If that were the only issue, as stated above I wouldn’t care. But if Dave Wilson really lives in the house on Lake Lane, he’s not eligible to run for any HCC Trustee seat, and it very much does matter to me. We know this isn’t the first time Wilson’s residency has been questioned. Let’s get this sorted out once and for all.

Wilson sued over residency for HCC

Dave Wilson and lawsuits go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Dave Wilson

Dave Wilson

The Harris County attorney sued Houston Community College trustee-elect Dave Wilson on Thursday, alleging the small business owner and anti-gay activist was not a resident of District II when he was elected to the post last month.

“We think there is a reasonable doubt as to whether he lives within the district, and it needs to be clarified,” said First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard.

The three-page civil suit petition, filed in the 151st District Court, does not say where Wilson lives, but Soard said the grounds for the lawsuit are “similar” to ones raised by the defense in a still-pending lawsuit that Wilson, a perennial candidate, brought against the Harris County Democratic Party chairman in 2010, when he was kept off the ballot after filing to run for Precinct 4 Harris County commissioner.

That year, then-Chairman Gerry Birnberg argued that Wilson was ineligible to run because he had listed an address on his application that was not his residential address, as required by election code. Wilson’s wife, Connie, still lists a property at 7370 Lake Lane, which is in the Lone Star Community College System district, as her residential homestead, according to the Harris County Appraisal District website.

Wilson, who ousted HCC Chairman Bruce Austin in the Nov. 5 election by 26 votes, contends that he lives in “a 1,140-square-foot apartment upstairs” at his office, located at 5600 W. 34th St. in the college system’s District II.

The building there is an 11,340-square-foot commercial metal warehouse, according to county records.

Asked Thursday if he was living separately from his wife, Wilson said, “That’s a personal matter, and it’s none of yours or the Chronicle’s business.”

“I think that county records still show that we’re married. That’s all I’ll say,” Wilson said.

So to review, Wilson was removed from the ballot in 2010 by then-HCDP Chair Gerry Birnberg on the grounds that he did not live in County Commissioner Precinct 4. Wilson then filed a lawsuit against the HCDP to be reinstated on the ballot, but he lost. He subsequently also filed a federal lawsuit against a larger list of plaintiffs alleging that his civil rights were violated by being denied a spot on the ballot. The suit was dismissed by a federal district court, but the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted his petition for a rehearing in 2012. I don’t know where that now stands.

In any event, in looking at these old posts, three things stand out to me. One is that the address Wilson was using to get on the ballot in 2010 was 1512 W. 34th Street, not 5600 W. 34th Street as he apparently used for his HCC filing. He was still using the 1512 address in his 2011 filing for Mayor. Does he have more than one warehouse that he claims to be his residency when he needs it, or did he move between then and now? A little fooling around on Google Maps tells me the two addresses are 2.8 miles apart. Not very far, but it’s not impossible that one might cross a political boundary or two in the journey. That would be another reason why it would ne nice to know when he started using the 5600 address. Second, while Wilson is playing coy with his marital status now, in 2010 he stated he that he was in fact separated from his wife. Finally, the one constant in all this is the 7370 Lake Lane address where Connie Wilson lives. Make of this what you will.

So what this means is that we ought to get a fuller airing of the facts this time. In 2010 he was booted at Gerry Birnberg’s discretion, and the courts declined to give Wilson relief. Here it’s Harris County that’s taking action after the fact, and I very much look forward to seeing the case play out. The HCC Board itself says it wasn’t their job to vet the candidate filing. That’s a question Rep. Harold Dutton brought up to them, and I have a sneaking suspicion Rep. Dutton will attempt to deal with that in the next legislative session. Wilson ran again for County Commissioner in Precinct 4 in 2012. That time, his application was accepted, and he wound up losing in the primary to Sean Hemmerle. I don’t know which address he used for that application, but clearly someone should find that out. If he was still using 1512 W. 34th Street, then he needs to be pinned down on when he moved.

Anyway. The saga continues, as they often do. No indication in the story when there will be a hearing on this, but one presumes it will be after the holidays. One also presumes the question of whether or not the County Attorney has standing to file such a suit will arise. Like I said, I very much look forward to seeing how this plays out.

Runoff results: Rough day for incumbents

I have no complaint about the results.

Brenda Stardig

Brenda Stardig

With all precincts reporting, controversial first-term council incumbents Helena Brown, in northwest Houston’s District A, and Andrew C. Burks Jr., in At-Large Position 2, fell to their challengers, as did HCC trustees Yolanda Navarro Flores and Herlinda Garcia.

Brown lost her rematch with Brenda Stardig, the incumbent she defeated to gain the seat two years ago.

“We’re very proud of the work we’ve done on our campaign and we wanted to get back out there and support our community,” Stardig said. “We’ve had the support of police and fire and so many in our community.”

[…]

Burks fell to challenger David W. Robinson, a civic leader and former city planning commissioner. Robinson raised far more campaign cash than did Burks, who had run unsuccessfully numerous times before winning his seat two years ago. Both men were among the 10 candidates who sought the post when it was an open seat two years ago.

[…]

In the At-Large 3 runoff, bail bondsman and civic activist Michael Kubosh, best known for leading the charge against Houston’s red-light cameras, topped former Harris County Department of Education trustee and former mayoral candidate Roy Morales.

“I appreciate all the people who have supported me and all of my staff that’s worked so hard through the last few months,” Kubosh said. “I’m looking very forward to working on City Council and getting things done.”

[…]

In south Houston’s District D, lobbyist Dwight Boykins bested businesswoman Georgia D. Provost. Boykins had thumped the 11 other candidates in fundraising heading into November. Term-limited District D Councilwoman Wanda Adams was elected to the Houston ISD board.

In a very low-turnout race in the East End’s District I, Harris County jailer and civic activist Robert Gallegos beat Graci Garcés, who is chief of staff for the term-limited James Rodriguez.

So I was three for four in my prognostications. I can’t say I’m unhappy to have been wrong about District A. I am curious about one thing, however, and that’s whether or not Brenda Stardig is eligible under the term limits amendment to run for election again in 2015. If you consider her situation to be analogous to that of former CM Jolanda Jones, and you go by the interpretation given by City Attorney David Feldman, the answer would seem to be No. I made an inquiry about this with the City Attorney’s office several weeks ago, but they have never gotten back to me. Guess I need to try again. Anyway, congratulations to CMs-elect Stardig, Boykins, Gallegos, Robinson, and Kubosh.

The results I’m really happy about are these:

In the Houston Community College contests, District 1 incumbent Flores lost to challenger Zeph Capo, a vice president of the Houston Federation of Teachers. In District 3, Adriana Tamez, an education consultant, beat incumbent Garcia, who was appointed to the post after the resignation of the prior trustee. In the runoff for the open District 5 seat, businessman Robert Glaser topped commercial real estate agent Phil Kunetka.

Capo over Flores is a huge step up, and Tamez is an upgrade as well. Both Flores and Herlinda Garcia were palling around with Dave Wilson, so having them both lose makes the HCC Board of Trustees a better place. Major congrats to Zeph Capo, Adriana Tamez, and Robert Glaser.

Here are the unofficial Harris County results. There were an additional 308 votes cast in Fort Bend, so the final turnout is right at 37,000. Here’s an update to that table I published Friday:

Year Absent Early E-Day Total Absent% Early% E-Day% ============================================================ 2005 5,350 8,722 24,215 38,287 13.97% 22.78% 62.25% 2007s 5,464 7,420 11,981 24,865 21.97% 29.84% 48.18% 2007 4,456 6,921 13,313 24,690 18.05% 28.03% 53.92% 2011 8,700 15,698 31,688 56,086 15.51% 27.99% 56.50% 2013 9,883 10,143 13,517 36,123 27.36% 28.08% 37.42%

See, that’s the kind of pattern I was expecting for the November election. I guess the turnout was too high for it. Gotta tip your hat to whichever candidate’s mail program generated all those votes. It’s good to be surprised sometimes.

At Large #2 runoff overview

One of these runoffs is not like the others.

CM Andrew Burks

CM Andrew Burks

On paper, the Houston City Council incumbent most at risk heading into Saturday’s runoff elections is first-termer Andrew Burks, in At-Large Position 2.

Challenger David Robinson had spent more than $201,000 as of last week, to Burks’ roughly $76,000. Robinson, who also earned more votes than Burks on Nov. 5, was the only challenger to out raise a council incumbent. Robinson also had about $73,500 on hand entering the campaign’s final week, more than three times what Burks had.

Burks, a preacher and small businessman, was a long shot in a 10-candidate field two years ago, having unsuccessfully sought public office numerous times. Political analysts, however, said he nonetheless will enjoy the advantage of incumbency against Robinson, an architect, Super Neighborhood Alliance past president and former member of the city Planning Commission. Robinson was among those who sought the At-Large 2 seat two years ago.

David Robinson

David Robinson

Rice University political scientist Mark Jones said Burks may also be helped by a runoff in heavily black District D, which will drive turnout in areas likely to support him, whereas there are no district runoffs in Robinson’s best areas to drive turnout for him. Overall turnout is expected to be dismal.

“At-large races are tough because it’s citywide and it’s very difficult to reach voters,” Jones said.

Robinson’s cash edge will help him only if he spends it efficiently, said University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus.

“In a low-turnout election, more money is likely to trump ideology or the incumbency affect,” Rottinghaus said. “If they can adequately use those resources to get turnout in their direction, then it could be a very close race.”

As was the case with the November election and as is now the case with the runoff, Robinson has easily led in fundraising, with his finance reports looking like an incumbent’s. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything – Burks won on a shoestring two years ago, with Kristi Thibaut raking in the establishment cash in the runoff as Robinson has been doing all year. It’s a matter of who turns out.

One more thing:

Burks claimed Robinson has tried to fool black voters into thinking he is related to one of several past black council members named Robinson.

“By not showing up or putting his picture out in that community, he’s trying to get votes I normally would have because I am seen in the community,” Burks said.

Robinson rejected the charge, saying he has worked to raise his profile citywide, not obscure it.

Yeah, Dave Wilson will continue to be a pollutant in our elections for years to come. Some people may be confused by David Robinson‘s name, but unlike Wilson, Robinson is not running a stealth campaign. That means he’s doing things like showing up to candidate forums and having an actual photo of himself on his Facebook page. I don’t think I’d ever seen a picture of Dave Wilson before this November. If CM Burks is concerned that people may not have an accurate impression of David Robinson, there is nothing stopping him from working to correct that impression.