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December 16th, 2009:

Judicial Q&A: David Longoria

(Note: I am running a series of Q&As for judicial candidates in contested Democratic primaries. There are a lot of judicial races on the ballot in Harris County this election, and so this is intended to help introduce the candidates and their experiences to those who plan to vote in March. I am running these responses in the order that I receive them from the candidates. I will also be conducting some in-person interviews of candidates who will be involved in contested primaries for non-judicial offices. Please see the Election 2010 page listed at the top of the blog for a full list of Q&As and interviews.)

1. Who are you, and what are you running for?

My name is David Longoria and I am running in the Democratic Primary for Judge of the 314th Juvenile District Court.

2. What kind of cases does this court hear?

The short answer is that Juvenile Courts hear the following types of cases:

1. Cases that involve adolescents from ages 10 to 17 that commit criminal acts. If the Judge or a Jury adjudicates a Juvenile to be delinquent, the Judge decides the appropriate punishment, ranging all the way from an informal probation to actual incarceration in a local detention facility or the Texas Youth Commission for serious crimes and in the most grevious cases, conduct hearings to certify these youths to stand trial in the adult courts.

2. Cases involving abused and neglected children that are initiated by Harris County Children’s Protective Services. The Judge decides if these children should be removed from their home if they are in situation which constitutes a continuing danger to their welfare. Subsequent hearing are held to determine how the children are thriving in their Foster Home placement, and weather the parents are following steps to be rehabilitated, which could include parenting classes, drug counseling, or whatever is needed to resolve the situation that caused harm to their children. In the worst scenario, where the parents are not following steps for rehabilitation, the Judge can decide to terminate the parental rights of the abusers thus freeing the children for adoption. The primary concern of the Judge is the BEST INTEREST OF THE CHILDREN.

3. If prospective adoptive parents, working with Children’s Protective Services, file a Petition for Adoption, after proper studies and home investigations are conducted, the Judge then determines if such adoption would be in the best interest of the children.
There are many other types of hearing involving Harris County children, but those ennumerated above are the most important.

3. Why are you running for this particular bench?

I am running for this particular bench because Juvenile Law is what I loved doing for years and Juvenile Courft is where my heart is. I began practicing in the Juvenile Courts in 1973 as both an appointed and retained attorney representing the accused Juveniles, the abused children, and the parents in these cases.

I was appointed as a full-time Associate Judge in these Courts in 1991 and remained as a Judge in those courts until 2003 including 8 years in the 314th District Court. I have over 11 years as a Judge in these courts and would like to finish my career as a District Judge in the 314th.

4. What are your qualifications for this job?

My qualifications include, 18+ years of private practice in the Juvenile Courts, and 16+ years serving as a full-time Judge which include 5 years in my current position as Presiding Associate Judge in a Harris County IV-D Child Support Court and most importantly 11+ years as a full-time Associate Judge in Juvenile Courts. During my tenure in the Juvenile Courts I was rated by the Houston Bar Judicial Evaluations Poll four times, and I am proud to have received the highest “Outstanding” rating three times and the second highest “Outstanding” rating once for all the Juvenile Judges in Harris County. My two ratings in the same poll for my current Judicial position have resulted in one highest “Outstanding” rating and one second highest “Outstanding” rating for all the IV-D Court Judges in Harris County. I am proud of my record as a Judge and feel that I perform a quality service for the citizens of Harris County.

5. Why is this race important?

This race is important because Harris County deserves a Juvenile Judge with knowledge of the law, the most experience as an attorney and judge, empathy with litigants, and a love of the involvement with these types of cases.

6. Why should people vote for you in the primary?

The people of Harris County should vote for me because I am ethical, honest, experienced, and have the highest credentials for anyone running for ANY Juvenile Court in Harris County. I am a proven Jurist with an outstanding record in the field.

Your support would be greatly appreciated.

Runoff precinct analysis, Mayor’s race

All right, I now have a copy of a draft canvass report from Saturday’s election, courtesy of the Harris County Clerk’s office. As before, I will be going through it to see what I can learn from it. First up is a report on the Mayor’s race broken down by City Council districts. For comparison, here was the same analysis from the general election, from which the first table below comes:

Dist Parker Locke Brown Morales AP Pct GL Pct Tot votes ================================================================== A 7,450 2,601 4,937 6,312 35.0 12.2 21,300 B 1,537 8,774 2,931 681 11.0 63.0 13,923 C 10,439 4,522 5,224 4,156 42.9 18.6 24,341 D 6,185 11,928 4,642 1,007 26.0 50.1 23,762 E 5,741 3,147 5,734 8,084 25.2 13.9 22,706 F 2,714 2,079 3,026 1,935 27.8 21.3 9,754 G 11,183 4,985 7,643 9,881 33.2 14.8 33,962 H 6,011 3,119 3,082 2,143 41.9 21.7 14,355 I 2,650 2,815 2,215 1,582 28.6 30.4 9,262 Dist Parker Locke AP Pct GL Pct AP inc GL inc Tot votes %Nov ======================================================================= A 11,199 6,439 63.5 36.5 3,749 3,838 17,638 82.8 B 2,219 11,395 16.3 83.4 628 2,621 13,614 97.8 C 15,248 7,152 68.1 31.9 4,809 2,630 22,400 92.0 D 8,181 15,223 35.0 65.0 1,996 3,295 23,404 98.5 E 9,893 7,733 56.1 43.9 4,152 4,586 17,626 77.6 F 4,612 4,383 51.3 48.7 1,898 2,304 8,995 92.2 G 17,902 9,429 65.5 34.5 6,719 4,444 27,331 81.1 H 8,575 4,854 63.9 36.1 2,564 1,735 13,429 93.5 I 3,879 4,135 48.4 51.6 1,229 1,320 8,014 86.5

As a reminder, all data is Harris County only, and does not include provisional ballots or any corrections that may be made, but it’s plenty close enough for these purposes. As before, Locke finished first in three Council districts – B, D, and I – while Parker won the rest. On the flip side, Locke improved his performance by more than Parker in each district except C, E, and H. Her gains in those three districts were large enough so that she increased her total in Harris County by about a thousand more votes than Locke did. Even counting the Fort Bend numbers, Parker picked up more support than Locke did, adding 27,786 to her November total compared to a 27,430 boost for Locke.

Basically, the runoff followed the tried and true path of each candidate turning out his or her voters. There were some new participants – about 15% of the early voting pool – but I don’t think they had a great effect. Compare these maps from Round One, which show how Parker and Locke did individually, to this map from the runoff, which shows Parker’s performance. In that sense, the final numbers should be no surprise.

In looking at the turnout levels from November to December, it strikes me that the pre-Saturday conventional wisdom that Locke needed a higher level of turnout to win was wrong. I guess there might have been another 10,000 net votes for him to get in B and D given whatever extra resources his campaign thought it might have needed, but I think he wrung pretty close to maximum value out of them. You’d need for such an increase in turnout to be concentrated in the places where Locke did well for there to be a chance of a different result. As you can see, Parker surely would have benefited from more people showing up in A, C, and G. It’s not at all clear to me that a 180,000 vote runoff wouldn’t have given Parker a 55%+ win.

So that’s the Mayor’s race. I’ll have more to come soon.

Farouk files

Farouk Shami has officially filed for Governor.

“I don’t see the difference in public service and running a big company,” Shami said shortly after filing paperwork at state Democratic headquarters.

“You work with people,” he said. “You build team spirit. You cut down on middle management.”

Shami – now airing TV ads that tout his rags-to-riches story as a Palestinian immigrant who got rich making popular hair-care products – said it would be easy to switch from entrepreneur to state government’s head.

“I am a leader. I am not a dictator,” he said.

Asked if it’s a liability to not have served in elective office, Shami shot back, “I’m a smart man, OK?”

More here and here, with Shami’s press release here from Monday, when he’d originally said he was going to file.

Obviously, I have a preferred candidate in this race, but as long as Shami is in the race, and as long as he has a chance to win, which anyone with $10 million to throw around will have, I’m interested in hearing what he has to say. It’s just that so far it’s been a lot of non-specific mush that doesn’t really give me a whole lot of confidence that he has a clear vision and a plan to carry it out. But we’ll see how it goes.

On a side note, former Shami staffer Jason Stanford writes in the Trib about what it’s like to become an ex-staffer. Check it out.

A preview of the Uptown line

Swamplot has a preview of the Uptown line as currently envisioned by Metro. The main focus of the Examiner story that Swamplot cites is the potential effect on vehicular traffic.

Following the construction of the Uptown light rail line, Post Oak Boulevard could feature 23 stop lights along the way north from Richmond Avenue to Interstate 610 — about half of them new.

Twenty-one stops were plotted in a Basis of Design report, dated Oct. 7, 2008. It was prepared by Houston Rapid Transit, a group of companies put together and led by Parson Transportation Group, which contracted with Metro to build the next phase of four more light rail lines in Houston, including the Uptown line.

However, in response to questions, a Metropolitan Transit Authority spokeswoman said Tuesday that since the report was written, the number of potential signals has increased to 23, with an additional traffic light and an additional pedestrian light under consideration.

While the proposals contained in such reports are subject to change, the original document indicates the scope of the project combined with the density and development in the area would make substantial alterations to the plan difficult at best.

[…]

A Metro-generated traffic analysis of April 2009 stated the only median openings along Post Oak will be at intersections that have signals — streets and driveways between intersections will be for “right-in, right-out” traffic only. That would include right turns only for vehicles exiting merchants’ parking lots.

An Examiner request for a copy of that report was denied. Metro claimed the communications were privileged for the purpose of deliberation.

That exemption to the Texas Open Records Act was upheld by the Texas Attorney General’s office.

In response to a question about the “right-in, right-out only” traffic decision, Metro wrote, the plan called for “the best possible placement of traffic signals and driveway locations to maintain access” along Post Oak to maintain safety.

The response did not address the “right-in, right-out” question, but said the plan had been discussed with Uptown Management District officials and area merchants.

I suppose if the lights are timed well it won’t be much worse than it already is, which is to say it’ll still be pretty bad. I imagine there will be much here for Mayor Parker to put her stamp on. The story suggests there isn’t much room to change the design, but you know how that goes. The main question will be timing. Metro is funding the Uptown line on its own, so once the pieces are in place things ought to move relatively quickly, certainly in comparison to some other lines. But as the Uptown line is dependent on the University line, nothing will happen until the latter is finalized.

Pancho Claus toy drive

Via Stace, a message from Pancho Claus:

To all my friends who have sent me well wishes and messages on my health, thank you very much.

It did the heart good to know I have so many friends and supporters and I am feeling 100%!

Many asked how they could help with the Pancho Claus Toy Drive. There are three major ways you can help us on this project.

1. Taxis Fiesta has generously offered to have their taxis pick up donated toys. This can be arranged by calling Taxis Fiesta 713-225-2666.
2. You may drop off toys or donations at Casa Ramirez at 241 W19th Street 77008, in the Heights.
3. Allow us to place a decorated “Pancho Claus” Toy Drive Collection Box at your place of business or at your family or business Christmas party.

FOR MORE INFORMATION OR IDEAS YOU MAY HAVE TO HELP YOU CAN CONTACT ME AT [email protected] or at 713-385-4267

Learn more about Pancho Claus here and here. And please help if you can.