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November 11th, 2015:

Precinct analysis: Controller

Moving on to the office that is both second in prominence and last in ballot placement, the City Controller:

Dist  Khan   Brown  Frazer   Boney Jefferson Robinson
A    2,749   3,406   6,588     798       602    1,573
B    1,836   4,042   1,047   4,275     1,057    5,154
C    6,143  12,574  12,181   1,194       838    2,387
D    2,338   5,139   2,180   6,242     1,547    5,358
E    4,595   4,121  13,436     659       653    1,895
F    2,485   2,118   2,493     670       497    1,246
G    5,105   6,416  17,965     596       666    1,615
H    2,514   4,304   2,094   1,047       525    2,220
I    2,082   3,452   1,685   1,098       573    2,087
J    1,885   1,478   1,925     483       273      782
K    2,941   4,508   3,276   3,028       855    3,309
A   17.49%  21.67%  41.92%   5.08%     3.83%   10.01%
B   10.55%  23.22%   6.01%  24.55%     6.07%   29.60%
C   17.39%  35.60%  34.49%   3.38%     2.37%    6.76%
D   10.25%  22.54%   9.56%  27.37%     6.78%   23.50%
E   18.12%  16.25%  52.98%   2.60%     2.58%    7.47%
F   26.13%  22.27%  26.22%   7.05%     5.23%   13.10%
G   15.77%  19.83%  55.51%   1.84%     2.06%    4.99%
H   19.79%  33.88%  16.48%   8.24%     4.13%   17.47%
I   18.97%  31.45%  15.35%  10.00%     5.22%   19.01%
J   27.62%  21.65%  28.20%   7.08%     4.00%   11.46%
K   16.41%  25.61%  18.28%  16.90%     4.77%   18.47%
Bill Frazer

Bill Frazer

Remember how I said earlier that if you combined Lane Lewis, Tom McCasland, and Jenifer Pool in the At Large #1 race you’d have a leading candidate going into the runoff? The same can be said here for Jew Don Boney, Carroll Robinson, and Dwight Jefferson; just the first two together would be enough. Robinson was in the race first and had a more visible campaign, but Boney received some late-breaking endorsements from groups that likely moved a few votes. However you want to look at it, they basically canceled each other out.

MJ Khan got something for his party-like-it’s-2009 campaign strategy, just not nearly enough. He nudges ahead of Frazer in his old Council district once you add in Fort Bend, but then falls behind Chris Brown there. (Insert sad trombone sound effect.) The good news is that his timelessly generic TV ad that blanketed the airwaves over the past few weeks could easily be hauled out and reused in 2019 and/or 2023 as needed. He could be the model for campaigning in the Andrew Burks/Griff Griffin style with an actual budget to spend.

Here’s my three-point plan for Chris Brown to win next month:

Chris Brown

Chris Brown

1. Make sure Democrats know who he is and that he’s the only Dem in the race. Bill Frazer did about eight points better in District C than Bill King did. Putting it another, and more alarming way, Frazer plus Khan was almost 52% of the vote in C, while King plus Costello was 37%; even counting Ben Hall as a Republican only gets you to 43%. I can’t see a path to victory for Brown that doesn’t include a strong showing in C. The HCDP sent out an email on Monday saying that they would make recommendations now in races that have a single Dem in them, which will help a little, but I’d plan a blitz of mail targeting Democratic likely voters making sure they know which team each candidate in this race is playing for.

2. Deploy surrogates. First and foremost, do whatever is needed to get Brown’s soon-to-be-former boss Ronald Green to cut a radio ad or two for heavy rotation on KCOH and Majic 102 and so forth. Get Peter Brown to star in a mailer or two to voters who were known to like him from 2009 and his days on Council, and also from his days now advocating for sustainable urbanism. Chris Brown’s wife Divya is Indian-American; she and their baby daughter were in a standard family photo in Brown’s November mailings. I’d consider sending some mail to voters in F and J (where there is a high proportion of Asian voters as well as two district Council runoffs) that featured her more prominently. If a few voters there wind up thinking she’s the one they’d be voting for in this race, that would not be a bad outcome.

3. Make sure the police and firefighters are invested in this runoff. Frazer’s campaign is in large part based on the need for drastic action on pensions; there’s not much space between him and King on this issue. The police and firefighters’ unions backed Sylvester Turner for Mayor, but (as far as I know) did not take a position in the Controller’s race. Brown seems like a much better fit for them in the runoff. They may be gearing up to act anyway, but I’d be sure to talk to them and try to get them involved.

As for Frazer, he’s the frontrunner and thus only needs two bullet points: Make sure Republicans know who he is, and otherwise keep on doing what he’s been doing, which is to focus on the issues as he defines them and his qualifications as a CPA. The bad news for Frazer is that the runoff electorate is likely to be more favorable for Democratic candidates. The good news is that there’s no guarantee that voters who supported Robinson or Boney will necessarily transfer for Brown – one possibility is that they vote for Turner and one or more of the African-American Council runoff candidates and then stop there; Robinson recently sent an email urging support for Georgia Provost, Amanda Edwards, and Sharon Moses, but didn’t mention the Controller’s race at all – but Khan voters ought to have a home with him. What he’s done so far, in 2013 and this year, has worked pretty well for him. Don’t overthink it, and don’t do anything stupid, that’s my advice.

Fifth Circuit denies Obama immigration executive order appeal



A three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has once again ruled against the Obama administration’s controversial immigration program, upholding a lower court’s injunction barring the plan from taking effect while awaiting the outcome of a full trial on the lawsuit’s underlying arguments.

The policy, called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, was announced in November 2014 and would have allowed for more than 4 million undocumented immigrants nationwide to apply for three-year renewable work permits and reprieves from deportation proceedings.


Judge Jerry E. Smith, who was appointed by former President Ronald Reagan, and Judge Jennifer Elrod, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, voted to deny the request. Judge Carolyn Dineen King, appointed by former President Jimmy Carter, cast the dissenting vote.

Attorneys for the state of Texas had argued that in addition to circumventing Congress and abusing his authority to enact immigration laws, the president’s order would cause the state harm in the cost of providing undocumented immigrants driver’s licenses and other benefits.

Smith and Elrod agreed.

“The states have satisfied the other requirements for a preliminary injunction,” the opinion states. “DAPA beneficiaries would be eligible for driver’s licenses and other benefits, and a substantial number of the more than four million potential beneficiaries—many of whom live in the plaintiff states—would take advantage of that opportunity.”

The panel also rejected the administration’s argument that halting the program would harm the administration’s ability to prioritize its resources.

“Separately, the United States postulates that the injunction prevents DHS from effectively prioritizing illegal aliens for removal. But the injunction ‘does not enjoin or impair the Secretary’s ability to marshal his assets or deploy the resources of the DHS [or] to set priorities,'” the opinion states.

The next step for the administration will likely be an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court. But it’s unclear whether the high court, which began its current term last month, has enough time to consider the case.

“In this case the time line has always been a critical element of the outcome since it is a presidential discretionary order,” Muzaffar Chishti, an attorney and director of the Migration Policy Institute’s office at New York University School of Law, told the Tribune in October. “Whether it can happen during the life of this presidency has always been the dominant question.”

Chishti added that November might be the last month the Obama administration could ask the high court to consider the case. If it does, a ruling could come as late as June.

See here, here, and here for some background. The small bit of good news out of this is that there’s some (though not much) time for this ruling to be appealed to SCOTUS for their spring docket, which would be the last chance for this to be decided while President Obama is still in office. (In fact, the Obama administration has already said that it will appeal to SCOTUS.) After that, whatever happens will be up to the next President and what Congress and the courts allow. A statement from the Texas Organizing Project is beneath the fold, and the Associated Press, Think Progress, the Washington Post, and the Press have more.


Another review of Metro’s bus system reimagining

This time from the Chron:


Nearly three months into what many consider the most significant operational change any American transit system has made in three decades, Houston transit officials and supporters are calling the new bus network a rousing success. Critics, however, point to broken connections and to transit-dependent riders whose service has been cut as Metro tries to appeal to riders who have the option of driving.

For many, perhaps most, Metro riders, the new bus system didn’t drastically change anything. Their trips usually start and end at bus stops within a block of where they always have. Getting there might involve a different route, and buses may come a few minutes later or earlier.

Roughly two dozen riders – among more than 100 interviewed over seven weeks starting after Labor Day – said they preferred their old route. Reasons ranged from longer walks to crowded buses that require transfers in inconvenient spots.

Many others said the new system was easier to navigate and seemed quicker and more responsive to their needs. Most, however, could only point to a minute or two saved or lost – maybe a slightly shorter walk – while applauding the decision to expand weekend service. For many working folks and those dependent on the bus, the pluses and minuses were minor.


At the roughly 9,000 bus stops and train stations where Metro’s riders rely on service, reaction to the changes remains mixed. Some riders find the route changes inconvenient, while others cheer the more direct, dependable service.

Popular routes, notably the Route 82 Westheimer bus, have become huge carriers of transit riders. The Westheimer line is the most used bus in Metro’s system – averaging more than 12,000 trips on an average workday – leading some riders to complain of crowded bus stops and standing-room-only rides along a curvy, bumpy major street.

Those frustrations, however, can be fixed by adding service, something Metro started doing along some routes less than two weeks after rolling out the new system. Many more significant changes are planned for January, pending Metro board approval. Among them is adding even more buses to the Westheimer route, giving it a frequency of every six minutes during peak times. That would put it on par with the light rail Red Line that connects the central business district and Texas Medical Center.

The bus system changes have had little effect on the trip down Westheimer, however. Buses bounce along the same bad roads in the same congested traffic. Dozens of riders along major routes report that while buses might come more frequently, their trips are really no shorter or longer under the new system.

I’m sure that’s true, and it’s also one of the main selling points for light rail and BRT that have their own dedicated right of way, but more frequent buses means shorter wait times, and that’s definitely something. From my perspective as a once-or-twice-a-week rider, I used to primarily take the old #40 that ran down Bayland through the Heights. I’d catch it in the afternoon going home at a stop on Bagby in front of City Hall, where I could also catch the old #36 that ran down Washington Avenue. (Initially, the old #50 that went on Height Boulevard via Washington stopped there as well, but it was rerouted several months before the big change.) The #40 would drop me a few blocks from my house, but it ran infrequently so if a #36 came along first I’d catch it instead. That dropped me at Washington and Studemont, and from there I’d walk a bit more than a mile home. Now I catch the #85 – the new Washington Avenue bus, which has very frequent service – at a stop where the #44, which goes down Houston Avenue, also stops. The #85 has always been the first to arrive, usually within five minutes. I get off at Washington and Studemont as before, but can now catch the #56 to take me the rest of the way. It too has frequent service, and it too has usually arrived within five minutes. I find that this new two-bus commute is usually faster than the one-bus ride I used to take.

It helps that these are fairly short trips, and they are for the most part on streets that aren’t terribly congested. Be that as it may, it’s knowing that there’s a bus coming in short order is what makes the experience better for me. I don’t worry that I may have just missed a bus, which used to mean a potential 20 or 30 minute wait. For those times I had to ride in the morning and needed to worry about being late for work, that was an especially big deal. My experience is my own, and others will be different, but this is how it looks to me. I don’t know what individual ridership numbers are, but it also looks to me like the #56 is pretty popular – I see those buses go by all the time as I walk my dog, which includes early morning and nighttime, and there are always riders on these buses. And I’ll add, I’m already planning to take the #56 to next year’s Art Car Parade. I expect that will be a much better experience than driving and trying to park.

Mostly, I’m glad to hear that thus far there hasn’t been much more than basic grumbling. I mean, there were all those predictions of doom and gloom and whatnot. There are still issues to work through – I look forward to seeing what tweaks they have planned for January – but I feel like this has largely been a success so far. We just need the numbers to follow in due course.

Hillary’s promise to state parties

From the Daily Kos a few days ago, via Facebook:

Just got off of Robby Mook’s conference call for Hillary Clinton volunteers, and he mentioned in passing that all of the voter data that the campaign is collecting for Clinton is being shared with state parties.

Mook explicitly stated that they are doing this to directly combat midterm voting dropoffs, to avoid a repeat of 2014.

So I did some googling, and found this from Bloomberg.

The Clinton campaign now has deals in place with the Democratic parties in Florida, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, and Texas, among other states and Puerto Rico, to create “victory funds.” Contributions to those funds will be divided between the respective state parties and Clinton’s primary campaign war chest. Clinton has stressed that she wants her campaign and candidacy to boost other Democrats all the way down the ticket. Helping channel donors’ support for her into state parties is one way to leverage her fundraising power on behalf of other candidates—and to link the success of other Democrats to her own.

The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee announced a fundraising agreement in late August, making it possible for donors to give to her campaign and to the party’s general election fund with one check. Clinton would only benefit from the money if she becomes the Democratic nominee.

Nobody seems to be talking about this, but it seems like a BFD to me.

This is good news, but how B a BFD it is depends on some details. We have heard of this before, and we know there is at least one Team Hillary staffer in Texas, but beyond that it gets less clear. I haven’t seen any particulars about this as it pertains to Texas – the TDP hasn’t sent out an announcement about it that I have received, and a Google search didn’t yield any further information. The main question is what does this mean beyond the primary? I strongly suspect the Clinton campaign will have its eyes on other states for next November, though perhaps they will put some resources into CD23. I’d like to be optimistic about this, because there’s a lot of good that can be done, and just recognizing the need to engage with and build up the infrastructures of the state parties is encouraging. I just want to see what it means in practice before I get my hopes up too much.