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June 15th, 2010:

Help Hogg Middle School find its next principal

Hogg Middle School serves my neighborhood. They are in the process of searching for a new principal. The following is a note from HISD to interested parties about a meeting tomorrow related to this:

Dear Hogg Middle School Community,

As of June 14, 2010, Chris Wood has been serving as the Principal of Hogg Middle School while we search for a new principal.

We are inviting you to meet with us on Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 6:00 PM in the cafeteria to gather your thoughts and listen to your ideas in putting together a principal profile for our school. With both staff and community input, we will find the best candidate to lead Hogg Middle School to continued excellence. We will also be forming an advisory committee consisting of faculty/staff, parents from the SDMC or PTO, and community and/or business representatives. Several candidates that have been selected from the Principal Pipeline Pool who match the needs of our school will then be interviewed, and the committee will provide feedback on the candidates to the assigned School Improvement Officer and me. A recommendation will then be presented to the Superintendent of Schools, who will make the final decision.

If you would like to provide input on the needs of the school and the profile of the next principal but cannot attend the meeting, please email Julia Dimmitt at [email protected] Thank you in advance for your input and participation.


S. Dallas Dance, Ph.D.

Middle School, Chief School Officer

Please attend if you can. Thanks to HISD Trustee Anna Eastman for the heads up.

Rick Perry and the Latino vote, part 1

Say what you want about Rick Perry, he’s got a much firmer grasp of the changing demographics of Texas and their political implications than many of his partymates do. As such, he plans to compete vigorously for the Latino vote in Texas.

Perry campaign manager Rob Johnson said the campaign will try and improve upon the one-third of the Latino vote that the governor has won in past elections.

“We can do better,” he said.

And for the future of the party, it must do better, Johnson said, citing that Hispanics will make up 50 percent of the state’s population in 10 years. A party that only wins one-third of that vote will have an uphill election battle, he said.

I’ll leave it to others to judge the efficacy and likelihood of success for Perry’s strategy. What I want to do is check Rob Johnson’s math. I don’t have access to any exit polling data from 2002, so I’m going to do my best to take a rough guess at Perry’s support level among Latinos from 2002 by looking at State Rep district data. What I’ve done is pulled out all of the Governor’s race returns from the SRDs in which the percentage of Spanish surname voter registrations (SSRVs) is at least 50. Here’s what that data looks like:

HD Representative Perry Sanchez Perry% Sanchez% SSVR ========================================================== 031 Guillen 1,965 18,154 9.8 90.2 91.0 033 Luna 12,466 16,167 43.5 56.5 53.1 034 Capello 13,861 14,512 48.9 51.1 52.4 035 Canales 15,794 17,186 47.9 52.1 52.2 036 Flores 4,857 13,168 25.3 74.7 79.7 037 Oliveira 4,833 10,360 31.8 68.2 81.7 038 Solis 7,465 11,614 38.8 61.2 74.5 039 Wise 5,288 12,417 29.9 70.1 78.1 040 Pena 2,829 11,678 19.5 80.5 86.8 041 Gutierrez 9,137 10,516 46.5 53.5 62.6 042 Raymond 3,399 27,357 11.1 89.9 85.5 043 Herrero 9,615 14,975 39.1 60.9 68.2 074 Gallego 13,998 16,342 46.1 53.9 55.7 075 Quintanilla 5,541 11,940 31.7 68.3 77.7 076 Chavez 3,659 16,769 17.9 82.1 64.6 077 Moreno 4,640 13,191 26.0 74.0 69.9 078 Haggerty 14,662 12,041 54.9 45.1 51.6 079 Pickett 6,815 10,759 38.8 61.2 80.0 080 Garza 11,179 15,628 41.7 58.3 68.9 104 Alonzo 3,650 10,342 26.1 73.9 51.3 116 Mrtinez-Fischr 8,858 12,798 40.9 59.1 57.5 117 Mercer 9,748 10,621 47.9 52.1 56.7 118 Uresti 9,907 11,917 45.4 54.6 56.7 119 Puente 8,781 13,061 40.2 59.8 57.2 123 Villarreal 9,927 13,325 42.7 57.3 58.2 124 Menendez 9,052 12,551 41.9 58.1 57.0 125 Castro 11,861 13,973 45.9 54.1 58.0 143 Moreno 3,890 9,294 29.5 70.5 58.3 145 Noriega 4,500 9,921 31.2 68.8 60.4 Total 232,177 392,577 37.2 62.8

There are many caveats to keep in mind. Not everybody who has a Spanish surname is actually Latino, and not everyone who is Latino has a Spanish surname. The percentage of Spanish surname voter registration may or may not have any relation to the percentage of people with Spanish surnames who voted. And even if you assume that the share of Latino voters is more or less constant from county to county and district to district, there will still be fluctuations. Basically, we’re using a yardstick to measure molecules.

Having said all that, I don’t see anything in these numbers to contradict what Johnson said. I do want to note, however, that the more heavily Latino a district was, the worse Perry tended to perform. To put it another way, I added up the vote totals in all the districts where the SSRVs were in the 50’s, in the 60’s, in the 70’s, and 80 or above. Here’s what that looks like:

SSVR Pct Perry Sanchez Perry% Sanchez% ==================================================== 50-60 146,455 184,130 44.3 55.7 60-70 42,730 81,000 34.5 65.5 70-80 23,151 49,139 32.0 68.0 80+ 19,841 78,308 20.2 79.8

Again, this metric is too crude to make any strong conclusions, but the trend is clear enough. If I were Nate Silver I’d draw you a graph and throw some correlation coefficients at you, but let’s just pretend I did that for now.

I did not do the same analysis for the other statewide candidates, because there are only so many hours in the day. My eyeballing of the data suggests that in most places Perry did better than some of his ballotmates, like David Dewhurst, and worse than others, like Carole Keeton Rylander. In other words, with the exception of HD42, which is in Tony Sanchez’s home county (Webb), Perry’s relative position was about where it was overall. I did not see anything that suggested to me that he did better than you might expect. Maybe I’ll tackle that another day.

The conclusions I will draw are that Perry is certainly capable of getting a third or better of the vote in heavily Latino areas, and that if his efforts aren’t matched by something at least as strong, he will do well enough to make a Democratic victory all but unattainable. You’ll see more evidence of that in Part 2.

More on the three options for the Dome

As promised last week, we now have more information on the three options for the Dome.

The Sports & Convention Corporation hosted a news conference Monday to present the broad outlines of three possible plans for the 45-year-old Astrodome and 35-year-old Reliant Arena:

Reliant Park Plaza plan: Raze the Dome for $128 million; replace Reliant Arena and make other improvements to park; build a hotel (with no public money) with as many as 1,500 rooms. Total price tag of $873 million.

Astrodome Multipurpose: Gut the Dome and add a new level of floor space, a science and technology center, a planetarium, solar panels on the roof that form a world map for $324 million to $374 million; keep other elements of plaza plan. Total price tag of $1.08 billion to $1.13 billion.

Astrodome Renaissance: Multipurpose plan plus add more Astrodome features, including conference space, a series of interactive exhibits that would allow users to simulate space travel and deep sea exploration, museums, an alternative energy center and a movie studio. The Astrodome portion would cost $588 million. Total price tag of $1.35 billion.

Mark Miller, general manager of Reliant Park, called the last option “the dream picture,” and said, “This is where we would like to go with the property.”

You can see more of the options, and give your feedback, here. There’s no mention of a privately-financed hotel there for Option 1, just green space as we originally heard. I guess once you have the green space, whatever you intend to use it for, you can wait around for a private-financing Prince Charming to come along at your leisure.

[County Judge Ed] Emmett favors minimal improvements to the Dome that would essentially convert it into an indoor fairgrounds.

“(A) middle option preserves the Dome but doesn’t lock us into a major cost item,” Emmett said. It buys time, too, for the possibility of a private developer coming along with a proposal to lease the Dome for a grander project.

That’s Option 2 on the Reliant Park webpage. I don’t quite understand the disconnect between what was presented at the press conference and what they’re actually soliciting feedback on, but this option has some appeal to me as well. Hair Balls has more, including the obligatory comments from people who don’t quite grasp the difference between city and county government, and who apparently missed the bit about these plans needing to be voted on by the public.

UPDATE: Swamplot has more.

Hey, remember when Kinky Friedman wanted you to believe he was a Democrat?

There’s a reason why some of us never believed a word he said. I figure he’ll reinvent himself again in 2012 as a Green, thus completing his tour of the Texas political world. Some people just don’t know when to leave.

The cheapest jail cell is the one you don’t use

Sorry, Newton County.

Commissioners Steve Radack and Jerry Eversole held up renewal of a contract with Newton County on Tuesday, and suggested that Harris County needs to do more to get the cheapest possible jail beds.

“If the dollars are the same, I have no problems with what we’re doing, but I’m not believing that the dollars are the same,” Eversole said. “I think the cost per day per prisoner is so much less in Louisiana than we’re getting in Texas.”


[County budget officer Dick] Raycraft will report to Commissioners Court in two weeks on where Harris County sends its inmates, at what cost and whether it could formally solicit bids from other counties.

“The main thing is to get out of this business of having anybody in another jail,” Raycraft said, by reducing local jail overcrowding through reforms such as diverting the mentally ill to treatment instead of incarceration.

What he said. The county is slowly and hesitantly taking steps in that direction, though there are still some kinks to iron out. At least the basic idea has started to sink in. Grits has more.

You can still text while driving in Arlington

At least one town is bucking the no-texting-while-driving trend.

The Arlington City Council on Tuesday decided not to consider a citywide ban on texting while driving.

City councilmember Robert Rivera had requested to set texting while driving as an agenda item for the council’s next session in August, but when Mayor Robert Cluck called for a straw vote the motion was defeated, 4-3.

“What I want is just to provide as premier a level of public safety on Arlington streets as possible,” Rivera said before Tuesday’s vote. “The first step is to have the discussion.”

Text away, Arlington drivers. For now, anyway. I do believe a state law banning the practice is inevitable – maybe not this session, but sooner or later – so enjoy it while you can.