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November 10th, 2015:

Precinct analysis: City propositions

Not really much to see here, but here’s what things look like for Prop 1.

Dist      Yes       No    Yes%      No%
A       6,271   13,110  32.36%   67.64%
B       6,265   14,435  30.27%   69.73%
C      26,781   19,544  57.81%   42.19%
D       9,871   16,775  37.04%   62.96%
E       8,211   24,713  24.94%   75.06%
F       4,553    7,074  39.16%   60.84%
G      13,358   26,555  33.47%   66.53%
H       7,131    9,062  44.04%   55.96%
I       5,438    8,165  39.98%   60.02%
J       3,388    4,817  41.29%   58.71%
K       9,136   12,583  42.06%   57.94%

Elections that aren’t close yield precinct analyses that aren’t terribly interesting. District C supported HERO as expected, though for this thing to pass it probably needed to be at 65% or higher. I’ve said my piece about what I think heeds to happen next. It wasn’t about turnout, it’s about doing better outreach, all over the city. If these numbers don’t convince you of that, I don’t know what would. Lies can’t be sustained forever, but they don’t usually get dispelled without a lot of effort.

Prop 2 is more of (mostly) the same:

Dist      Yes       No    Yes%      No%
A      11,452    7,078  61.80%   38.20%
B      12,659    5,984  67.90%   32.10%
C      29,490   14,524  67.00%   33.00%
D      17,085    8,011  68.08%   31.92%
E      18,816   12,859  59.40%   40.60%
F       7,636    3,270  70.02%   29.98%
G      22,952   15,496  59.70%   40.30%
H      10,446    4,479  69.99%   30.01%
I       8,774    3,994  68.72%   31.28%
J       5,298    2,500  67.94%   32.06%
K      14,267    6,370  69.13%   30.87%

Like I said, boring precinct data in non-close elections. It would have been truly remarkable if there had been big variations in different districts. I don’t care for the change to the term limits ordinance (which I also didn’t care for and didn’t vote for back in 1991), but it is what it is and I’m finding my way towards acceptance on it. I have said that people probably didn’t know what they were voting on here, but that’s the way it goes. If the people always understood fully what they’re voting on, Prop 1 would have passed in as much comfort as Prop 2 did.

As before, see here for pretty colored maps. I’ll be back on city races tomorrow.

Mayoral runoff overview

Break’s over, back to the grind.

Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner

Sylvester Turner and Bill King, the top two finishers on Election Day, present Houston with a clear-cut choice in everything from policy priorities to personal demeanor.

“I talk about the need for the mayor to emphasize education, opportunities, addressing the economic inequality – not having two cities in one, a city of haves and have-nots – and the importance of placing emphasis on the arts and parks and neighborhood parks,” Turner said last Thursday in his downtown law office. “Bill does not believe, you know when you talk about education and income inequality, that those things are vital components of a mayor’s duties and responsibilities. We disagree on that.”

King agreed with Turner that the runoff likely will focus more on issues than on personalities, given their distinct approaches to the city’s top political job.

“We have a career politician that believes that property taxes are to be raised by more than 4.5 percent a year versus a businessman who thinks the city needs to live within its means,” King told reporters last Thursday before reporting to jury duty on Houston’s west side. “We’ve got a career politician that’s been endorsed by all the employee groups that thinks we need to keep kicking the can down the road on the pension system versus a businessman who thinks we need to do what private industry did 20-30 years ago and solve this once and for all.”


Bill King

Bill King

Turner’s African-American base and King’s conservative one each make up about a third of the electorate, meaning if both groups return for the runoff, they effectively could neutralize each other, local Democratic strategist Keir Murray said.

“The battleground becomes what Anglo Democrats, Hispanics, Asians, independents – which of those voters come back and who gets them,” Murray said.

Already, King has tacked to the center.

Asked about the challenge of winning the mayor’s seat as a Republican, which has not happened in more than 30 years, King said, “I don’t claim to be a Republican. I really claim to be independent.”

Turner, meanwhile, received Garcia’s endorsement Friday.

After more than 260,000 city voters cast a ballot in the general election, outpacing even political scientists’ most generous projections, estimates for the runoff varied widely, from 140,000 to 210,000.

The runoff is expected to be around Dec. 12, but cannot be set until last Tuesday’s vote is canvassed.

I’ve given my thoughts on the precinct data and what it might mean for the runoff. I don’t know how many people who might be likely to vote in the runoff aren’t already aware of the policy differences between Turner and King, but however many of them there are, now is the time to figure it out. If I had to guess now, I’d expect more low end than high on the turnout scale, but it’s too early to guess. I figure the next step is for the TV ads to get started again. Hope you enjoyed this brief respite from the campaign.

Anderson updates pot prosecution policy


Devon Anderson

Small amounts of marijuana now mean a citation, not a ride to jail, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said Thursday.

The county’s top prosecutor outlined changes to a pilot plan for low-level offenders she implemented last year, one that she called a “huge cultural change for Harris County.”

Instead of arresting first offenders caught with less than 2 ounces of marijuana, all police officers across Harris County will offer a diversion program and release the suspect, Anderson said.

The change, which will become mandatory Jan. 1, means suspects who agree to the diversion program no longer will be taken to jail, go to court or face charges if they stay clean and complete classes or community service.


For the past year, those arrested by another law enforcement agency – like campus police, a constable’s office or officers in other municipalities like Bellaire or Pasadena – would be taken to a police station, probably booked into a jail cell and later appear in a courtroom. Then they could agree to take advantage of the program.

In the past year, 2,270 people have been enrolled. Of those, 78 percent were arrested, transported to a police station and saw a judge before being offered the program.

There are more benefits, which Anderson listed, when suspects are ticketed instead of transported.

“It frees up space in jail. It minimizes the administrative burden that officers face when filing charges. It reduces the cost for prosecution and court proceedings. And of course, it gives the offender an opportunity to have a completely clean record,” she said. “When we don’t offer it until after the offender is charged, we lose a lot of the best benefits of the program.”

As noted, this is a modification to a policy Anderson proposed last year, which in turn was based on a plan put forth by Kim Ogg. I thought Anderson’s original plan should have gone farther – more like Ogg’s, to be precise – but better late than never. I hope this works as advertised, and I look forward to having more conversations about this kind of policy going forward.

No idling

From the inbox, from last week:

Mayor Annise Parker

Mayor Annise Parker

Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council today approved two significant ordinances that will improve Houston’s quality of life and protect public health: an anti-idling ordinance for motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 14,000 pounds; and a commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program.

“Adopting these ordinances are more key milestones for my administration,” said Mayor Annise Parker. “While we are excited to join the ranks of other Texas cities that have also passed idling reduction policies, we are proud to be the first city in Texas that has adopted a commercial PACE program. We all have to work together in improving our air quality and quality of life.”

Idling Reduction:

Idling is one contributor to air quality issues in the region. Nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and particulate matter (PM) are emitted from vehicle engine exhaust and can form ground-level ozone, or smog. Diesel engines emit hazardous air pollutants which have been linked to serious illnesses, including asthma, heart disease, chronic bronchitis, and cancer. Children, elderly, and those with asthma and other chronic health problems are especially vulnerable to the health dangers of exhaust.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE):

PACE is financing that enables Houston owners of commercial, industrial and residential properties with five or more units to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for water conservation, energy-efficiency, and renewable retrofits.  In exchange for funds provided by a private lender to pay for the improvement, the property owner voluntarily requests that the local government place an assessment secured with a senior lien on the property until the assessment is paid in full.  The benefits of PACE are multi-faceted, leading to a win for all stakeholders.

“We applaud Mayor Annise Parker and Houston for passing landmark environmental legislation that improves our quality of life,” said Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas. “Commercial PACE will make it easier for building owners to reduce energy and water usage and the anti-idling ordinance will clean the air and protect the health of families. It’s a double win.”

“These two ordinances have the potential to make a big impact on air quality and quality of life in Houston,” said Adrian Shelley, Executive Director of Air Alliance Houston. “Reducing idling and conserving energy and water help protect public health, as well as save money. We appreciate Mayor Parker’s significant commitment to improving our environment.”

This ordinance follows numerous other air quality initiatives and programs including:

  • Investing in electric vehicles and hybrids and a fleet sharing program
  • Investigating emissions from metal recyclers
  • Retrofitting over 6 millions square feet of municipal buildings to improve energy efficiency
  • Purchasing 50% green power for city operations
  • Retrofitting 165,000 streetlights to LED technology
  • Expanding bike share and bike facilities across the city

The Chron has a bit more about the anti-idling ordinance.

The anti-idling ordinance prohibits drivers of vehicles with a gross weight of more than 14,000 pounds from idling for more than five minutes when the vehicle is not in motion.

The law, however, exempts vehicles being used by military, emergency or law enforcement personnel, vehicles in the process of being loaded or unloaded, cars sitting in traffic jams, people defrosting their windshields, and various vehicles that must run heat or air conditioning for health and safety reasons.

Transit vehicles carrying passengers can idle for up to 15 minutes to use the heat or air conditioning.

Good. As we know, Houston has longstanding air quality issues, and as federal clean air standards have tightened we have been in greater danger of not being in compliance. There isn’t one single thing that can be done to fix this problem, but there are a lot of little things that can be done to move us in the right direction. This is one of them. Kudos all around for getting it done.