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Texans Together

Texans Together asks for Justice Department investigation of AG and Harris County

From the inbox:

Hello Friends:

We recently made a formal, written request to the U.S. Justice Department to immediately investigate Texas and Harris County officials for voter suppression in Harris County (see letter here). We are asking for a federal investigation of not only the Texas Attorney General’s Office, but also Harris County election officials for their long history of impeding minority voter registration and voting.

We believe the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector should be investigated thoroughly for their many years of wrongful registration denials and delays as well as their incompetent processing of registration applicants. We also are seeking an investigation that the Justice Department look at the apparent politicization of the Harris County Clerk’s election administration.

As for the Texas Attorney General’s Office (AG), our letter points out that the AG falsely accused Houston Votes of “voter fraud” and effectively shut down our voter registration drive in 2010. The AG’s theory was that our voter registration drive was engaged in felony identity fraud, for simply keeping records of the people we registered to ensure that County authorities properly registered them and so that we could remind them to vote. No wonder after raiding us with six officers with guns and flak jackets, and investigating for 11 months, the AG dropped their oppressive investigation without ever notifying us. Under its absurd theory, every voter registration and turnout drive in the country would be a criminal enterprise.

Again, you can view our letter here, or visit texanstogether.org for more information.

— Fred Lewis

See here for the background. Texas’ Congressional Democrats have also called for a federal probe of this. I don’t know what the odds are of this, especially given that there isn’t a US Attorney General right now, but I would certainly like to see a closer examination of this. One need only look at the dirt that was uncovered during the redistricting and voter ID litigation to understand that there are undoubtedly a few surprises yet to be discovered. We will definitely keep an eye on this.

Meanwhile, also from the Inbox, the Wendy Davis campaign is taking some steps to ensure that everyone who wants to vote can do so.

In the first of its kind effort in Texas, today the Wendy Davis Campaign is launching a new website, MyTexasVotes.com, as a digital hub for the campaign’s get out the vote efforts which will provide answers to questions voters may have about casting their ballots. On the site, Texans will be able to find out how to register to vote, commit to vote, find details about what to bring to the polls, find information on voting by mail and soon to be added, information to help voters find their polling place.

This unique digital push will be another tool in the unprecedented Davis grassroots campaign complimenting an extraordinary field effort to turn out voters, reaching them both online and in their neighborhoods.

“I am committed to ensuring all Texas voters are able to make their voice heard in this election,” Wendy Davis said. “MyTexasVotes.com marks the first one-stop site in the state to coordinate our unprecedented digital campaign with our strong ground game creating a get out the vote effort unlike Texas has ever seen.”

In addition to the website, for the first time ever, Texans will have access to a statewide voter protection hotline by calling 1-844-TXVOTES to have their voting questions answered by legal experts. The launch of MyTexasVotes.com comes about a week before voter registration ends on October 6.

Two weeks after Monday’s voter registration deadline is when early voting begins. That’s when the rubber really hits the road. You’ve heard me blather on incessantly about the Democratic turnout efforts that can and will have an effect on this year’s election. Well, one way to blunt that effect is to put up obstacles to voting. Everyone needs to keep an eye out for efforts to prevent people from voting. Here’s another way to help with that, from yet another email:

Protect the Vote 2014

This election is the first major statewide election with the controversial voter photo ID in place at the polls. Did you know that not all election workers are required to go through training?

This election is also the first major statewide election after the Shelby Supreme Court decision which removed a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark piece of Civil Rights legislation that men and women fought hard to achieve.

What can you do?

Become a Part of our Paid Poll Monitor Team in Harris County.

  • Assist and engage voters with commonly encountered problems at the polls
  • Report, document and prevent voter disenfranchisement
  • Make sure every eligible voter is able to vote free from harassment, intimidation or misinformation.

Stipends are available, up to $120 per day for shifts during Early Vote and Election Day.

The poll monitor program is non-partisan and fundamentally about protecting the right to vote for all people. All poll monitors must go through an election protection training. To sign up for a training, click here: ElectionProtection

See training schedule below. If you would like to request a private training for your organization or group or have any other questions, please contact [email protected]

The schedule, which is all for events in Harris County, is beneath the fold. For many reasons this year is more important than ever, but one of those reasons is because it looks like those voter registration efforts are paying off. According to a press release I received from the Harris County Tax Assessor, Harris County currently has 2,052,550 registered voters, of which 113,467 were registered this year. That’s as of September 30, which is to say six days before the voter reg deadline. As a point of comparison, the reg voter total cited in the November 2010 election was 1,917,534. That’s a pretty significant difference, and you can thank the efforts of BGTX and the HCDP for boosting that total. I look forward to seeing what the statewide numbers will look like. If they have a similar boost, I consider that a positive sign for November. We need everyone to do their part, not just to vote but to make sure everyone else can.

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Congressional Dems request federal investigation of Abbott’s persecution of Houston Votes

Good.

Still not Greg Abbott

Democratic congressmen from Texas have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate a raid by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office that targeted a nonprofit voter registration group.

The Dallas Morning News reported Aug. 31 on the attorney general’s criminal investigation of Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. The probe was closed one year later, with no charges filed.

Following the armed raid in 2010, the funding for Houston Votes dried up. Its efforts to register more low-income voters in the state’s most populous county, Harris, ended. The group’s records and office equipment were destroyed under a court order obtained by Abbott’s office last year.

In a Sept. 10 letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the 12 Democratic House members from Texas asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into the matter.

“This raid raises serious concerns about the biased use of state resources to prevent Texans from legally registering to vote,” the letter said.

Texas has 36 House districts, with Republicans holding 24 seats.

A Justice Department spokeswoman said the investigation request is being reviewed.

Reached for comment, Jerry Strickland, an Abbott spokesman, said in an email: “If the Texas Democratic Congressional delegation is interested in more than political grandstanding and is genuinely concerned with following and enforcing the law, they should demand the Department of Justice investigate Houston Votes’ illegal activity.

“Houston Votes’ own executive director admitted to attorney general investigators that they fraudulently signed voter registrations and illegally collected information to sell to ACORN-linked Project Vote – that’s precisely the kind of illegal activity the Justice Department needs to investigate,” Strickland added.

No one was charged in the Houston Votes investigation.

[…]

Lewis questioned why Abbott through his spokesman on Thursday was accusing Houston Votes of “illegal activity” even though no charges were filed.

“They came in with guns and took our equipment and destroyed it, and they never interviewed me. And now there were a lot of things wrong? It sounds like a gross rationalization,” Lewis said. “They tried to criminalize a voter registration drive where everyone knows people make mistakes and there are errors, because they wanted to stop it. They succeeded.”

Indeed they did. See here for the background. Conducting an armed raid for information that would have been handed over with a subpoena, and justifying it today with boogeyman fearmongering tells us what we need to know. Abbott may have had grounds to open an investigation, but he way overdid it and is trying to distract from the fact that there was nothing there. Let’s turn the spotlight on this and see what else is lurking in the shadows.

Abbott’s voter registration persecution

Now this is what a partisan witch hunt looks like.

Still not Greg Abbott

On an overcast Monday afternoon, officers in bulletproof vests swept into a house on Houston’s north side. The armed deputies and agents served a search warrant. They carted away computers, hard drives and documents.

The raid targeted a voter registration group called Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. It was initiated by investigators for Attorney General Greg Abbott. His aides say he is duty-bound to preserve the integrity of the ballot box.

His critics, however, say that what Abbott has really sought to preserve is the power of the Republican Party in Texas. They accuse him of political partisanship, targeting key Democratic voting blocs, especially minorities and the poor, in ways that make it harder for them to vote, or for their votes to count.

A close examination of the Houston Votes case reveals the consequences when an elected official pursues hotly contested allegations of election fraud.

The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.

And the dramatic, heavily armed raid never was necessary, according to Fred Lewis, president of Texans Together, the nonprofit parent group of Houston Votes. “They could have used a subpoena,” he said. “They could have called us and asked for the records. They didn’t need guns.”

The previously unreported 2010 raid coincided with agitation by a local tea party group and Lewis’ testimony in the trial of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. Lewis had filed a complaint against DeLay that, in large part, led to his indictment on corruption charges.

Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, declined interview requests. A spokesman, Jerry Strickland, said the attorney general does not recall being briefed by staff members on the Houston Votes investigation.

“In this investigation — and all other investigations conducted by the Office of the Attorney General — evidence uncovered dictates direction,” Strickland said in an email. “To insinuate there were other factors at work in this case is ludicrous and unfounded.”

Read the whole thing and see for yourself how “unfounded” it is. It’s a toxic mix of True The Vote paranoia, bad practices and bad faith from the Harris County Tax Assessor’s office, and Abbott’s zeal to prove that somewhere, somehow there exists justification for voter ID laws. And then there’s the best part:

Abbott’s office said the Harris County district attorney in October 2011 “declined to accept for prosecution the case as prepared by investigators of the Texas Attorney General office,” according to a court document filed last year.

The document said the case related to a violation of an identity theft law in the Penal Code, which is a felony. It did not list names or details.

Strickland, the Abbott spokesman, said the attorney general’s office does not have jurisdiction to prosecute that section of the Penal Code. As a result, the information was given to the Harris County district attorney’s office, he said in an email.

The News on June 10 filed a public records request with the attorney general for the case file. Abbott’s office, which is in charge of enforcing the state’s open records law, asked itself for a ruling on whether those records must be released. In an Aug. 28 letter, the attorney general’s office ruled that it may withhold the records under state law.

The records are exempt from required release because they pertain to a criminal investigation that did not result in a conviction or deferred adjudication, wrote Lindsay Hale, an assistant attorney general in the Open Records Division.

It’s unclear how often Abbott’s office investigates allegations similar to the ones leveled at Houston Votes.

In response to requests from The News, the attorney general’s office provided a list of 637 potential violations of the Elections Code referred to Abbott since he took office in late 2002.

Strickland said he could not say how many were investigated or how many involved alleged voter registration fraud. “The office does not ‘compile or keep statistics,’” he said.

The Harris County district attorney’s office declined to comment on the Houston Votes case. Terese Buess, assistant district attorney over the public integrity division, told The News that her office doesn’t discuss cases that don’t result in criminal prosecution. But “generally, criminal charges are only authorized when there is evidence that establishes probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.”

Emphasis mine. So Greg Abbott asked Greg Abbott if Greg Abbott needs to release information about Greg Abbott’s half-baked partisan-driven investigation, and Greg Abbott said that Greg Abbott didn’t have to if Greg Abbott didn’t want to. Makes sense to me. Be sure to read the whole thing, there’s a lot to digest. PDiddie, Nonsequiteuse, and Texpatriate have more.

UPDATE: Definitely read this update from Nonsequiteuse as well.

Early To Rise referendum probably would have passed

For what it’s worth.

It’s one of those questions we always ask ourselves in love, life and politics: What if?

In this case, what if the Early to Rise campaign had gotten its one penny tax increase for early education on the ballot?

“The good news for them is it was support for this. The bad news, of course, is they’re not on the ballot.”

That’s Bob Stein at Rice University. He conducted the poll. He found about 49 percent of likely voters said they would support it.

“When you tell people would you like to spend money on early childhood, particularly for training the parents and childcare providers skill sets that would help children get ready for first grade, you can probably get close to 50 percent. This would have been a real battle.”

Stein says 35 percent of voters said they opposed it. About 15 percent weren’t sure.

Jonathan Day with the Early to Rise campaign says those numbers are very encouraging.

“There’s no such thing as an inevitable election result. But surely the numbers confirm that the support is available and with strong public support and a strong campaign, we could have won this election.”

But there will be no election.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett refused to put the measure on the ballot.

“When this all came to me, you know, it kind of ties my stomach in a knot because I’m trying to sort all this out and you have people, you know, chewing on you from all sides. But at the end it became just a question of what does the law say.”

Emmett says the campaign was trying to use an outdated law to get it on the ballot.

BOR prints a guest post from Fred Lewis of Texans Together that blames Emmett for the Early To Rise initiative not being on the ballot. I think that’s a bit misguided – ultimately, it was the 14th Court of Appeals that settled the matter. I think it’s highly likely that we’d be in the same position had Emmett accepted the petitions and Early To Rise had been the defendant in the lawsuit that would have certainly followed. Judge Emmett did give a blueprint for what to do next time, and it seems for sure that there will be a next time.

[United Way Bright Beginnings] program manager Mitzi Bartlett says ten years of data show children who come here do better in school later on.

“We’re learning about consequences. We are learning so that when we go into the workplace, we can work well with others, we can problem solve and we know to try again. We’re all right if we make a mistake.”

She says it’s all right to try again.

And that is what early education advocates say they will do.

I see no reason why this wouldn’t pass next year, if the poll from this year is accurate. If you look at the poll data – click “Early Education” to see the details for this question – and you’ll see that Anglos disapproved by a modest amount, Hispanic approved by a larger amount, and African Americans approved by an overwhelming amount. I believe that would make for a successful effort in 2014, and with some potential tailwinds from Wendy Davis at the top of the Democratic ticket, prospects could be even brighter. I hope they work out some of the bugs that should have been worked out this year, get the wording right on the referendum, and take another crack at it next year.

Petitioning for Early To Rise

This arrived in my inbox a couple of days ago:

With only two weeks to go, we really need your help! We are working to get an initiative on the ballot in November 2013 to fund the Early to Rise Program.

The Early to Rise is a program designed to help young children up to age 5 get ready for Kindergarten through increasing the quality of early childhood education in Harris County. Here’s how you can help:

1. Get the petition, sign it, complete it and MAIL it back or CALL US (713-614-8812) and we’ll pick it up!

–OR–

2. Get the petition, sign it, complete it and pass it around among your friends and coworkers who are registered voters in Harris County. Then  MAIL it back or CALL US (713-614-8812) and we’ll pick it up!

3  Vote for the program on November 5th, 2013.

Early to Rise Flyer (more Information on the program)

Early to Rise Petition (the Petition itself)

Petition Instructions (more instructions on the petition)

Please call Eva Calvillo at Texans Together at 713-782-8833 or email Eva Calvillo If you have any questions about these materials or need help in getting started.

You can mail signed petitions to:

Texans Together Educational Fund
P.O. Box 1296
Houston, Texas    77251

It’s time to stand up for toddlers in Harris County and we can on the November ballot!

See here and here for the background, and here for more on the petition effort. Lisa Falkenberg notes the rather convoluted politics of all this.

Ed Emmett should have been one of the first people to find out about a petition drive seeking to put a penny tax on the November ballot to improve early childhood education and teacher training in Harris County.

After all, as county judge, he’s the guy the petition directs to place the tax increase generating $25 million a year on the ballot.

But Emmett got the news from another source: “Gwen, my wife, comes in and says ‘I just got an e-mail asking me to sign a petition to the county judge.’ And I’m going ‘what?’ Obviously, I didn’t know anything about it.”

While the lack of heads-up signaled disorganization to Emmett, it was the petition’s reliance on an antiquated state law, the unchecked administrative role of a private nonprofit, and the requirement that the tax be collected by the politically controversial Harris County Department of Education that led Emmett to brand the initiative a “fiasco.”

“This has been handled politically about as poorly as any issue I’ve ever seen in my life,” he told me a few weeks ago in a phone interview.

I followed up this week to see if this thinking had “evolved” since he’s been able to talk with interested parties.

Yes, he told me. He’d gone from being “bemused and bewildered” to a point where he now says unflinchingly: “What they’re trying to do is just nutty. I can’t put it any other way. And I totally support doing everything we can for early childhood education. It’s put me in a real awkward situation.”

Falkenberg noted that there was going to be an open house by Early To Rise, the group behind this effort, on Friday. The Chron covered that as well, including an appearance by Judge Emmett, attending on his own.

The newly formed nonprofit Harris County School Readiness Corp., with the help of a variety of organizations and paid canvassers, has gathered about 40,000 of the 78,000 petition signatures it says it needs to require Emmett to put a 1-cent property tax hike on the upcoming election ballot. The increase would generate $25 million a year for a program called “Early to Rise,” designed to improve child-care centers in the county serving children up to age 5 by training teachers and buying school supplies.

“There’s been an outpouring of support,” said Jonathan Day, a member of the corporation’s board and a former Houston city attorney, expressing optimism the group will meet its mid-August deadline.

[…]

The statutes say Emmett would have to call an election to increase the property tax rate of the Harris County Department of Education if he receives a petition with a sufficient number of signatures.

Emmett said he has asked the county attorney’s office for an opinion on the petitioning laws and plans to ask the state attorney general for the same. First Assistant County Attorney Robert Soard said his office has concluded that the laws are “still applicable” but that the final opinion may not reflect that “in light of a whole lot of statutes that apply to this situation.”

Day conceded the laws no longer are codified but says they still apply.

“We hope that he’ll reconsider,” said Day, who criticized Emmett for not offering an alternative to the proposal on Friday when his group, whose membership includes former Houston first lady Andrea White, held its first formal information session at the United Way of Greater Houston, which co-hosted the event with the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University and the Center for Houston’s Future.

“I think we have to come up with a better answer,” said Emmett, who went to the session to share his position with the dozens of attendees.

I really don’t know what to make of all this. I support doing everything we can for early childhood education, too, but I understand Judge Emmett’s concerns. The likelihood of a lawsuit, whatever County Attorney Vince Ryan and AG Greg Abbott say about the law in question, is basically 100%. There are still questions about governance of this program, if it comes to be; HCDE Board of Trustees Chair Angie Chesnut has said she can’t support it if HCDE doesn’t get to name at least one member of the corporation. Judge Emmett has pointed out that the one penny tax increase in the plan would make what HCDE levies exceed its statutory maximum, which will likely be another lawsuit magnet. There’s just so many questions to be answered. The goal of universal early learning programs is laudable and worthwhile. The path to get there has been strange, to say the least.

All questions about this aside, the fact remains that as with the New Dome Experience plan, petitions would have to be collected and certified in time for the item to be placed on the November ballot. They have a bit more time since Commissioners Court won’t be involved, but the signatures still need to be verified, and that takes time. The information is there if you want to participate, or go to the Early To Rise Facebook page for more. If this gets to the ballot, will you vote for it? Leave a comment and let me know.

Houston Votes responds

Earlier today Houston Votes responded to the accusations lobbed at them by outgoing Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez. First, here’s their press release:

On Tuesday, August 24, Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez made reckless and false allegations against Houston Votes in an apparently coordinated, partisan effort to suppress voter registration and to intimidate citizens into not voting. Sadly, this type of shameful tactic has worked all too well in the past. Houston Votes is committed to non-partisan voter registration and helping register the over 600,000 citizens eligible to vote who are not even registered in Harris County.

Fred Lewis, head of Houston Votes, said, “Those who propagate lies and distortions like those of Mr. Vasquez and his partisan allies are eroding our democracy, and we ask the Voting Rights Section of the Justice Department to immediately investigate and monitor his office and his radical allies.”

Mr. Vasquez’s histrionic complaints are false and defamatory. Houston Votes seeks to register as many Houstonians as are eligible, which Mr. Vasquez unfortunately sees as a “burden” and a threat. Rather than celebrate new registrants, Mr. Vasquez apparently intends to reduce his workload by intimidating people from registering. He and his staff are paid with taxpayer dollars to process voter registration cards. They should do their jobs without complaining or engaging in partisan, political activity.

The recklessness and falseness of Mr. Vasquez’s allegations, combined with his unprofessional and partisan actions, raise serious questions about his political motivations. Houston Votes is asking the Justice Department to investigate voting rights violations by Mr. Vasquez and his office through a political campaign to intimidate voter registration. The Registrar’s Office has a long history of voter suppression. We have reason to believe that his office is continuing its systematic practice of illegally not approving registration applications from eligible citizens despite public outcry and costly litigation.

Mr. Vasquez’s press conference, as part of his official non-partisan duties, was a political circus, with dozens of partisan operatives present. Mr. Vasquez appears to have abused the power of his office by collaborating with the King Street Patriots, a partisan organization that took credit for uncovering the “fraud” alleged against Houston Votes This political organization’s website states “that current political initiatives must be focused on mobilizing the conservative electorate”. It appears that Leo Vasquez openly coordinated with King Street Patriots to further personal political goals and retard the efforts of Houston Votes in registering people. He also appears to have shared legally confidential voter registration data with partisan political third parties, which is unlawful. Both activities warrant a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Here’s their detailed rebuttal to the allegations. The main points they make are that they had been working with Vasquez’s office to ensure they were complying with the law (here’s the letter they wrote to Vasquez and County Attorney Vince Ryan to set up one such meeting back in July); they had taken action every time an irregularity had been pointed out, including firing workers who were not doing things right; they had tried to contact Vasquez prior to his spectacle when they had heard rumors that he was unhappy with them, but he never called them back; and that Vasquez did not provide any corroborating evidence for the claimed numbers of questionable forms. I don’t recall seeing any reports of such corroboration in previous stories about Vasquez’s dog and pony show. Perhaps someone should have pressed him on that. We’ll see what Vasquez and his comrades have to say next. Neil, who was at this conference and another one held by the teabaggers, has more.

Vasquez throws a bomb at Houston Votes

I guess outgoing Harris County Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez wasn’t quite ready to return to obscurity.

Harris County Tax Assessor Collector Leo Vasquez accused a nonprofit group of submitting thousands of bogus voter registration applications in recent months in what he said appears to be a campaign to taint the voter rolls.

Vasquez said his office has received thousands of duplicate applications, including cases in which the office has received six applications for the same person. Other irregularities he cited in the more than 25,000 applications submitted by Houston Votes include cases of underage applicants and people who identified themselves as noncitizens.

“The integrity of the voter roll of Harris County, Texas, appears to be under an organized and systematic attack by the group operating under the name Houston Votes,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez lobbed these charges at a press conference that was more political rally than anything else, as he packed the place with the sort of people who are convinced that the streets are teeming with illegal voters. You can just imagine them high-fiving and chest-bumping in the background.

The accusations boil down to some number of duplicated registrations, and some number of registrations with invalid data. Seems to me that’s mostly to be expected in a large voter registration drive.

[Texans Together President Fred] Lewis explained that duplicates often happen when people are not sure whether they are registered or cannot remember if they have registered since they last moved.

Lewis said he had continued to try to cooperate with Vasquez, but that the tax collector, who serves as the county’s voter registrar, had not returned his calls in the past week. He said they had been scheduled to meet this morning to discuss Houston Votes applications.

“He is a disgrace,” Lewis said of Vasquez. “We need to have the Justice Department come in and see what Mickey Mouse stuff he and his office are doing to suppress people.”

It’s entirely possible that Texans Together has been sloppier than they should be. Maybe they’re not up to this task; maybe no one is. But to claim nefarious intent is quite a stretch, and I’ll be very surprised if the District Attorney, to whom Vasquez says he’s going to refer this, makes anything of it. I’m never quite sure how these schemes that Vasquez and his buddies dream about are supposed to work. Are all these people who’ve never voted before expected to show up at multiple polling places and hope nobody notices? Assuming that the bogus and duplicated registrations made it past both Vasquez and the Secretary of State, of course. Sure, that sounds bulletproof to me. I’ll bet Pat Lykos can’t wait to bring that before a jury.

I’ve also never quite understood why some people want to make it so hard for others to vote. I grew up believing that the right to vote was precious and what made democracy the best system of government there is. Apparently, that’s now a matter of partisanship. The story notes that much of the Texans Together board is made up of Democrats. Maybe that’s because the type of person who thinks it’s good for more people to vote tends to be Democratic. It’s been made quite clear in recent years that the type of person who wants to see fewer people vote tends to be Republican, that’s for sure.

Anyway, Houston Votes will have a press conference of their own today at 10:30 to formally respond to Vasquez’s allegations. I’ll update this afterward to include what they had to say. In the meantime, go see what Stace, Neil, John, Perry, and Houston Politics have to say.

Houston Votes kickoff party

Houston Votes, which is well on its way towards its goal of registering 100,000 new voters in Harris County for this election, is having a party and you’re invited.

Houston Votes Kickoff Party

RSVP here. Drink specials, no cover, and cool people. Come out and have a good time.

Election tidbits for 9/30

While it’s an interesting story, I don’t quite see what the fuss is about Rick Perry using monetary rewards for volunteers who get people to sign up with his campaign. As the story notes, rewards of some kind, usually campaign swag, are common enough. In this case, he’s got a jillion dollars on hand, and TV advertising seems like an extravagance given the tiny voter population he’s aiming for. Yeah, the jokes write themselves, but if it works, what does he care?

Republican State Rep. John Davis has a primary opponent.

Not elections-related, but the ribbon-cutting ceremony that had been planned for this Saturday for the MKT Rails to Trials project has been postponed till December.

Take a look at the Issues pages for Annise Parker, Peter Brown, and Gene Locke. Now take a look at the issues pages for City Controller candidates Pam Holm, Ronald Green, and MJ Khan. I don’t know about you, but that gives me a whole other level of insight as to why the latter race is so much lower profile. Fear not, you’ll get to hear all of them speak in much greater detail next week when my interviews with them run.

It’s not a TV ad, but the Gene Locke campaign is putting out door hangers.

Just a reminder, this coming Monday, October 5, is the registration deadline for this election. If you have not registered to vote by then, you will not be able to. Texans Together will be holding a 48 hour registration marathon at Katz’s Deli at 616 Westheimer from noon Friday through noon Sunday, and will be at all of the 9 Multi Service Centers in the Houston area. For more information, contact Dee at 281-702-7864 or email [email protected]

Election tidbits for 9/22

More stuff that’s worth a mention.

– The deadline to register to vote in the 2009 election is Monday, October 5. Towards that end, Texans Together will be holding a voter registration drive this Saturday, September 26, at various locations around the city. If you want to participate, please contact Dee at 281-702-7864 or e mail [email protected]

– HISD District I candidate Alma Lara has a new website.

– City Controller candidate Pam Holm has been making robocalls. Personally, I’d advise sending mail now (if you can afford it, which she ought to be able to do), and saving the robocalls for the GOTV effort later. But then no one asked me.

– Along those lines, Peter Brown is making robocalls as well. I know this because there was a voice mail of such a call on my work number this morning. I don’t know how that number got onto anyone’s list. Maybe they were just dialing every number in town.

– Not at all campaign related, but my neighbor Mark Strawn, who was badly injured in a car accident two years ago, has been making huge strides in his physical therapy. His wife Sabrina recently sent out an email asking for support for SIRE, Houston’s therapeutic equestrian center, which has so helped Mark in his recovery. I’ve reproduced the email beneath the fold, and you can click here when you’re done reading it to give them a hand.

Purple Texas writes about Hank Gilbert and his nascent campaign for Governor. Maybe it’s just the city boy in me, but I can’t say I’ve ever felt a longing for a liberal-disguised-as-a-redneck to save us all. Which isn’t to say that Hank couldn’t win next year with that formula. It’s just that I’d support him in spite of his rural roots, not because of them.

– District G candidate Richard Sedita sent out a press release in support of the current efforts to build a stadium east of downtown for the Houston Dynamo.

– The Texas Tribune invites you to take a look inside their office:

– I cannot begin to express how little sympathy I have for poor widdle Rick Perry and that dirty trick that that mean old Senator Hutchison pulled on him. Karma is a remarkable thing, isn’t it?

UPDATE: Phillip says what needs to be said regarding Rick Perry and this incident.

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Mayoral forum focusing on non-profits

There are plenty of Mayoral forums going on. Here’s one that will cover some ground I haven’t seen trod before.

Houston Area Table Mayoral Forum

What role will non-profits and community based organizations play in the new mayor’s administration?

Apearing in person:

Annise Parker

Gene Locke

Roy Morales

A representative from the Peter Brown campaign will also be present.

August 18th, Noon- 1:30 PM

Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church

1900 Bering Dr., Houston, TX, 77057

For more information call: 713-782-8833


I’ve attended a number of HAT events, and they’re always well done, so make plans to go if you can. And if you have time this weekend, please consider giving Texans Together, which is the organization behind Houston Area Table, some assistance with their voter registration drive.

Two Ways That You Can Make a Difference!

This weekend, we need help registering voters at the following locations:

Saturday, August 15

  • Wal-Mart 2700 South Kirkwood 10am-12pm, 12pm-2pm, 2pm-4 pm
  • International Flea Market 8315 Long point 10am-12pm, 12pm-2pm, 2pm-4 pm
  • Kroger 8610 Gulfton 10am-12pm, 12pm-2pm, 2pm-4 pm
  • We will also be registering at the soccer field across from Kroger on Gulfton between 8-10am, 10-12pm

Sunday, August 16

  • Wal-Mart 2700 South Kirkwood 10am-12pm, 12pm-2pm, 2pm-4 pm
  • International Flea Market 8315 Long point 10am-12pm, 12pm-2pm, 2pm-4 pm
  • Wal-Mart 290 and Tidwell 11-1pm, 1-2pm


Learn About Another Way to Get Involved!

Place boxes with registration cards at community hot-spots. Placing and routinely stocking boxes will ensure that voter registration cards are accessible to the public and serve as an ongoing reminder to vote. Contact our office for boxes, cards and location ideas.

Houston votes is a non-profit, non-partisan 501 c3; our organization does not endorse any candidate or political party. Volunteers must remain non-partisan while registering voters. You must be deputized to register new voters and update addresses, you do not have to be deputized to place boxes in your community. Call Dee at (713)-782-8833 or e mail [email protected]


Thanks very much.