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January 30th, 2012:

Interview with Zack Fertitta

Zack Fertitta

We move on this week to the two top of the ticket races for Harris County, DA and Sheriff, starting today with Zack Fertitta, who is running for the Democratic nomination for District Attorney. Fertitta spent several years in the DA’s office as a prosecutor, and since then he has had his own practice as a criminal defense attorney, so he has seen the courtroom from both sides of the aisle. Though he has an opponent in this primary, the person he’s running against is a perennial candidate with a questionable history. The choice in this race is very clear.

I have been asked by a number of people to do interviews with Republican candidates for the primaries as well. Generally speaking, I don’t have the time or the inclination for that, but if there’s one office on the ballot this year for which I’d make an exception it’s District Attorney. I’m pleased to say that I have been able to line up interviews with both of the Republican candidates for this office as well, incumbent DA Pat Lykos and challenger Mike Anderson. Look for them to run in the near future. In the meantime, here’s my conversation with Zack Fertitta:

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. You can also follow this blog by liking its Facebook page.

Non-filers in Harris County races

As of today, the following candidates for county offices in Harris County have not filed campaign finance reports with the County Clerk:

Candidates for Sheriff

Charles Massey El (D)
Guy Clark (R, formerly D)
Daniel Lemkuil (R)

Candidates for HCDE

Jarvis Johnson (D)
Silvia Mintz (D)
Timothy Rose (R)
Tom Cruz (R)

Candidates for County Commissioner

Dave Wilson (“D”)
Chuck Maricle (R)

Candidates for Justice of the Peace

LaTonya Allen (D)
Tommy Ginn (R)

Candidates for Constable

Ruben Loreto (D)
Victor Archer (D)
Kenneth Perkins (D)
Rickey Spivey (D)
Edward Rios (R)

The last date that I saw a report filed was January 23. Obviously, some of these candidates are more serious than others. Massey El, Perkins, and Wilson are all perennials, with Wilson being a bad joke in addition. Clark is on at least his third run for Sheriff, this time as an R after running as a D in 2004 (he was the nominee) and 2008 (he, along with Charles Massey El, lost in the primary to Sheriff Adrian Garcia). Others should know better.

On free speech and reproductive rights

I must say, I was a bit flummoxed by this story.

The City of Austin might repeal a 2-year-old ordinance requiring some facilities that counsel women with unplanned pregnancies to post signs saying they don’t offer abortions or contraceptive services.

The four Austin facilities affected by the ordinance sued the city last fall, saying the ordinance violates their constitutional rights.

City attorneys are urging the City Council to repeal the ordinance at Thursday’s council meeting “to avoid further litigation costs” and because similar laws have been struck down in other cities, according to a written summary of their recommendation.

Bill Spelman, the council member who led the charge to enact the ordinance, is proposing that the council revise, not repeal, it.

“This is a consumer awareness issue,” Spelman said in an email. “I still believe that it is important for women to have as much information about these businesses as possible, and I believe the changes I’m proposing will provide women information as well as satisfying the legal issues that have come up since (the council) passed the original ordinance” in April 2010 .

The ordinance requires pregnancy resource centers that don’t offer or refer clients to abortions or birth control to display entrance signs in English and Spanish noting the lack of those services.

So, it’s perfectly constitutional for the state to compel doctors to show a sonogram they don’t want to show to a patient who doesn’t want them to show it to them, but it’s a violation of free speech for the state to require a “clinic” that performs no medical services to clearly state that they perform no medical services? How is that even remotely consistent? I’ve been trying to come up with a righteous rant about this, but in the end I decided it was better just to point you to what Katherine Haenschen said; see also her report on Council’s actions. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go put a helmet on so my head doesn’t explode.

New school food coming

No more mystery meat.

School lunches, long saddled with an unhealthy reputation, are getting a makeover.

Instead of salt-doused fried foods, highly processed white bread and sugar-laden desserts, cafeteria trays will be carrying whole wheat pizza, leafy green and orange vegetables and fresh fruit.

The changes, announced Wednesday by first lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, mark the first major nutritional adjustment to the $11 billion school meal program in 15 years.

Under the new guidelines, which were directed by the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, schools must limit calories, trans fat and sodium, while serving students a wider variety of fruit, vegetables and whole grains.


The new rules, which will affect 32 million children, will be phased in over the next three years.

Many Houston-area school districts have already taken steps to raise nutritional standards, instituting changes that mirror many of the new USDA requirements.

In Houston ISD, for example, all milk is fat-free or low-fat, and more than half of grains served are whole grain, including pasta, sliced bread, homemade rolls, pizza crust and brownies.

Meals contain no trans fat, and dark green and orange vegetables are served three times a week, said district spokesman Jason Spencer.

Clear Creek, Spring and Alief are among the other local school districts that have also made the switch to all whole-grain items, fat-free or low-fat milk and more dark green and orange vegetables.

Olivia has been asking to get the school lunch more often as of late. I think that’s more because it’s what her friends do than anything else, but that’s okay. I suspect she won’t have any problems with the change, but as The Lunch Tray wrote last month, there can be quite a few bumps in the road in getting better food to school kids. Don’t be surprised if there are problems here and there. If you don’t mind a little profanity, there’s an interesting perspective on the issue of better-quality food and why it isn’t always embraced here. This is a process, one that will likely take some time to show results. Here’s more from The Lunch Tray and Obamafoodorama, and The Spork Report has some related food news from HISD.