Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The latest on Houston's elections

-- Texas Watchdog has a in-depth story on where HISD's candidates get their campaign contributions from: HISD vendors. Yet another depressing expose' into how our local officials are compromised by the money in politics.

Our analysis of three years' worth of campaign donations shows that vendors and contractors to the Houston Independent School District gave nearly half of all contributions to the incumbents in the past three years.

Here's a spreadsheet of the twenty largest contributors, which include an executive search firm that wanted to conduct the headhunting for Terry Grier's replacement, Centaurus Advisors (they've been mentioned here recently) and the maintenance and construction contractor for the school district, which has earned over $3 million and given back $62,000 in campaign donations.

Go look at their interactive tools to see each candidate's contributions.

-- At Large #2 legacy candidate Bolivar Fraga may have cleared up his campaign loan woes by paying it off early, but there are still plenty of reasons not to vote for him. Big Jolly's Yvonne Larsen also throws rocks at Stephen Costello, Mayor Annise Parker, and Ellen Cohen.

See? We do agree on some things.

-- I got some calls this week on my reporting relative to "Swift Boat" Bob Perry's contributions to District C candidate Ellen Cohen. Those callers essentially asked the same question: why I was holding Cohen to a higher standard than I held, say, Melissa Noriega, or Mayor Annise Parker, or Controller Ronald Green. (I could not find any record of homebuilder Perry's contributions to the mayor or the controller, but I'm not as good at sleuthing these things out as others.)

I thought the answer was obvious, but I'll explain again: Noriega, Parker, and Green do not have acceptable alternative, much less progressive, challengers. And all three have also met -- at times exceeded -- minimum acceptable job performance standards for this observer. All three earned endorsement from this corner... if only half-heartedly in the mayor's case. And as posted earlier, the contribution itself wasn't so much my issue with Cohen as it was the controversy created in the atmosphere around it.

"Non-partisan" general elections with multiple candidates, like primary elections where all the choices are from the same party, are the voters' opportunity to pick the best candidate among several. And the quality of of a solid progressive choice in the general election in Karen Derr is what drove my endorsement. Cohen, again as previously written, may emerge as the only acceptable (and progressive) choice in a runoff. If she does, I can easily support her election.

I'm sure there will be more developments with Election Day less than a week away. Go vote early if you haven't already.

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