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January 16th, 2012:

Interview with David Rosen

David Rosen

We kick off the 2012 primary interview season with David Rosen, who is running for the Harris County Department of Education, Position 3, At Large. Rosen has worked on numerous campaigns in recent years before making the switch from behind the scenes to center stage for this race. The winner of this primary gets the privilege of running against HCDE Trustee Michael Wolfe, who remains the biggest clown in county government, assuming Wolfe survives his own primary. Rosen is the son of two public school teachers and at age 27 would be the youngest Democrat elected countywide in 40 years if he wins. Here’s the interview:

Download the MP3 file

You can find a list of all interviews for this cycle, plus other related information, on my 2012 Harris County Primary Elections page. As I did for the 2011 cycle, I am going to try to group candidates running for the same office together when I run these, but that’s more dependent on their responsiveness and their calendars than anything I can do.

New Constable Berry sworn in

Interim Precinct 1 Constable Ken Berry wasn’t supposed to be sworn in until January 31, but recent events forced Commissioners Court to move up the timetable.

Harris County Commissioners Court on Friday held an emergency meeting to replace Precinct 1 Constable Jack Abercia, who resigned after his arrest by federal agents on corruption charges Thursday.

[…]

Berry said the biggest challenge he will face may be reorganizing the precinct to improve communication.

“The morale was not necessarily great when I got there, but the morale is good now and it’s going to get better,” Berry said after being sworn in. “I don’t anticipate any problems in managing the office as a result of the investigation.”

When picked for the post, Berry said he had no interest in running for the office this year. On Friday he repeated that he knows little of politics, but said he is “in limbo” about whether to pursue election.

“I might run for office, but I’m not committing to anything,” he said. “I’m enjoying the job.”

Berry had previously said that he had “no interest” in running for a full term, but that he “[hadn’t] really had time to give it any thought”, so who knows. Things can change fast, I suppose. Now he’ll have been able to spend some time on the job before he has to make a decision for the February 1 second filing deadline. At this point, we should not be surprised if he changes his mind.

Redistricting litigation threatens party conventions

With the April 3 primary date now almost certainly no longer in play, the two parties’ biennial conventions are also at risk as the redistricting litigation drags on.

Congressional districts for Texas as drawn by the court

The state’s Democratic and Republican parties made substantial down payments months ago to reserve convention and hotel space in June. But if the primaries are delayed again — as late as June 26, as was discussed at the U.S. Supreme Court last week — then the parties could be forced to postpone their conventions.

[…]

Delegates are chosen from congressional and senatorial districts; so, without valid redistricting maps, the parties will not be able chose delegates for the national conventions.

“We would have no idea how to proceed,” said Chris Elam, a spokesman for the Texas Republican Party. “We hope desperately not to be there.”

Elam said state GOP leaders were challenged to come up with solutions last month when a federal court in San Antonio moved the primaries from March 6 to April 3 because of redistricting uncertainty. But if the primaries get pushed back again, then “all bets are off,” Elam said.

“We’ll have to go back to the drawing board,” Elam added.

With contractual obligations to host as many as 18,000 people June 7-9 at the Fort Worth Convention Center, the Republican Party of Texas could be on the hook for “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Elam said, if the convention doesn’t go on as planned.

And with about $640,000 cash on hand, Elam said, a hit that big would be significant, especially for a party that was $500,000 in the red in 2010.

The Democrats wouldn’t fare much better if they were forced to choose a new convention date.

“Everything just is going to cost a lot more because you expect it to be a certain time and it isn’t,” said Lenora Sorola-Pohlman, who is chairwoman of the Texas Democratic Party’s convention committee.

Democratic Party leaders are expecting about 14,000 people at the state convention in Houston on June 8-9. And if the party cancels its contracts with the Hilton Americas, it will be responsible for 80 percent of the rooms reserved for the convention, the party said. The party didn’t say how much the contracts were worth, but officials said the party has about $141,000 on hand.

“At this point, we’re comfortable we’ll have our delegates on time to hold our convention on the day planned. We are reserving any more judgment on the election schedule until we have some rulings on the court maps,” party spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña said in a statement.

I feel oh so terribly sorry for the Republicans and the financial hardship this may put them through, given that it’s entirely their responsibility for the schedule chaos. RPT Chair Steve Munisteri has floated the idea of a split primary again, for which Democrats are not on board, and has filed an advisory with SCOTUS saying that “for numerous legal, logistical, and practical reasons, moving the Texas primary to any date after mid-April 2012 would wreak havoc with the state’s electoral process and present insurmountable difficulties.” Should have thought of all that before pursuing a stay on the San Antonio court maps, that’s all I know. I don’t know what’s going to happen – I’m not even sure what outcome to root for any more. All I know is that we had an agreement for an election date in hand with maps that were still pretty damn favorable to the Republicans and litigation that would go on in the background, but they weren’t satisfied with that. And so here we are, and they’re whining about the inconvenience of moving the primaries back again to accommodate their aggressive litigation strategy. I trust you’ll forgive me if I’m not moved by their plight.

State Bar clears Feldman

I believe this brings to a close the last unresolved issue involving former CM Jolanda Jones.

David Feldman

The State Bar of Texas has cleared City Attorney David Feldman of a grievance lodged by former Councilwoman Jolanda Jones that he mishandled an investigation of her.

Jones alleged last summer that Feldman violated the legal profession’s ethical standards by providing legal advice to her before an investigation into whether she used city resources to support her private law practice and later advised Mayor Annise Parker on the matter.

Feldman said he received formal notice from the State Bar on Friday that the grievance has been dismissed with no right of appeal.

See here and here for some background. Jones had been previously cleared by the District Attorney and the ethics panel, so as far as I know this puts a bow on the whole saga.