July 2023 campaign finance reports: HISD

City of Houston, part 1
Harris County
City of Houston, part 2
City of Houston, part 3
City of Houston, part 4
City of Houston, part 5

January finance reports for HISD trustees are here. There is now a 2023 Trustee Elections page, which contains links to the finance reports for challengers to the incumbents, but not the incumbents themselves. You have to search the site for each incumbent’s name to find their individual finance reports. There’s no longer an index page that contains all of the elected Trustees’ names and bios and links to past finance reports – the “Board” page is a blank and the “Meet the School Board” page is all about the appointed Managers. That’s fine, but I object to the elected Trustees being memory-holed like this. They’re still elected officials, they’re still required to file finance reports, which we now have to go hunting for to find, and the fact that their opponents’ reports are in plain view while theirs aren’t is Not Cool. I expect this is somewhere between an oversight and a lack of interest on the part of whoever is maintaining this website right now – are we sure they didn’t get purged in the admin office firings? – and all I can say is that we deserve better.

I’m just going with the Trustees who are up for election and the opponents that are listed on that 2023 Election page.

Kathy Blueford-Daniels – Dist II
Dani Hernandez – Dist III
Fe Bencosme – Dist III
Patricia Allen – Dist IV
Meg Seff – Dist IV
Judith Cruz – Dist VIII
Plácido Gomez – Dist VIII

Dist  Candidate     Raised      Spent     Loan     On Hand
II    B-Daniels        700        700    2,000       1,689
III   Hernandez      2,000          5        0       4,160
III   Bencosme       5,583      4,230        0       1,353
IV    Allen              0          0        0           0
IV    Seff             225      3,144    4,000           ?
VIII  Cruz               0        199        0         946
VIII  Gomez          8,685        342        0       8,342

Kathy Blueford-Daniels’ report listed $700 in contributions on the cover sheet, but no money taken in on the subtotals page. Of the $700 she spent, $250 was from contributions and the rest was from personal funds.

Fe Bencosme is the challenger to Dani Hernandez, and I have more than a little side-eye for her. On a practical level, her finance report does not list the address or occupation of any of her donors, which is a violation of campaign finance law. She has an expenditure of $164 for car magnets to an outfit called “Country Gone Crazy”, which again is a side-eye moment. Her website lists “Parental Rights” as one of its top priorities, and we all know what that means in this context. Three strikes, you’re out. If you’re in HISD District III, please remember to vote for Dani Hernandez.

Also, and I only noticed this on a second look, the $5,583 she lists as contributions are monetary contributions. On her subtotal page she lists another $1,105 in in-kind contributions. That should have been added into the total on her cover page. The Chron did its story on candidates who didn’t file finance reports before, and that’s all well and good, but we need someone to take a more comprehensive look at candidates who just fill out the damn form all wrong.

Meg Seff is a white lady running in a predominantly Black district. Her photo on her website, which appears twice, shows her in front of a “KHOU11 Stands For Houston” image. I’m going to assume that KHOU has not endorsed her campaign and probably is not aware that she is using their advertising imagery on her website in that fashion. She also has “Parental Rights” as an issue, so, you know. The cover page of her finance report says she took in $225, spent $3,144, has $225 cash on hand, and $3,144 in loans. Her Subtotals page shows that she has a $4,000 loan, spent the $3,144 out of personal funds – there’s a category for “Expenditures made by credit card” ($721 for her) and “Political expenditures made from personal funds” ($2,288). The distinction here is not clear to me, and I’ll bet it’s not clear to her as well – the “expenditures made by credit card” slot is one I rarely see filled in and it has the feel of a legacy category to me. If you know better, please feel free to enlighten us. In any event, if I am reading this correctly, she has $4K in loans and spent another $3,144 from her own money. Be that as it may, vote for Patricia Allen.

Like the other two challengers to incumbents, Plácido Gomez is a teacher (the other two are former teachers), but that’s where the similarities end. Gomez talks about the HISD takeover and how the election of The Former Guy affected his mostly-immigrant students; this in turn led him to be a volunteer for the Beto campaign in 2018, and there’s a picture of him with Beto on his bio page. The first contribution listed for his campaign came from Karthik Soora. I like Judith Cruz and think she’s done a fine job, but Plácido Gomez also gets a thumbs-up from me, and if for whatever the reason Cruz decides not to run again, he’s exactly the kind of person you’d want to step in.

I have one more set of reports to go through, for HCC candidates. Please use this as a reminder that we are still voting for HISD Trustees this November. They may not have any real power for the next two to six years, but they still matter. And we damn sure want to return good Trustees back to power when their time comes, and not any “parental rights” puppets. Do not forget about these elections.

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2 Responses to July 2023 campaign finance reports: HISD

  1. Mainstream says:

    I know nothing about Meg Seff, but her Facebook page is critical of Miles for shutting down libraries and for firing half of the HR department and expecting the rest to work weekends and overtime. I would not be quick to pigeon-hole her based on vague website statements.

  2. C.L. says:

    @Mainstream re: “….but her Facebook page is critical of Miles for shutting down libraries and for firing half of the HR department and expecting the rest to work weekends and overtime.”

    Everyone has subscribed to the collected outrage over proposals that have yet to come to fruition, so I’m not so inclined to pat Meg on the back for her FB posts just yet.

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