Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Bloglunch with Mike Sullivan

Last Friday, the Harris County tax assessor/collector's new media and communications manager, Justin Concepcion -- he recently moved over from Mayor Annise Parker's office --  arranged a sit-down with us blogger types.

John filed a brief report about it already, and Noah has been a fan of Sullivan's for some time.

Sullivan's term as TA/C so far is in marked contrast with his way-too-high-profile predecessors Paul Bettencourt, Leo Vazquez, and Don Sumners.  (Between the three of those assholes, it seems I have written more than fifty blog posts.)  Sullivan appears to have figured out that the tax office doesn't need to make headlines, and that's to his credit.

Sullivan really wanted to brag a little on the improvements in customer service he's made, which include shortening the queues at the 16 branch offices and taking credit cards as payment for vehicle license registrations.  We wouldn't let him, however; much of our focus was on the voter registration side of things.

Mike Sullivan knew he had a big job ahead even before he was elected TA/C of Harris County. He just didn't know HOW big.
(photo courtesy Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle)

Let's get some advisories out of the way first: it's too late, as of yesterday, to register to vote in Houston's municipal elections on tap.  You still have time to make sure you have the proper photo identification in order to do so, and here's everything you need to know about that.  Make sure you get that done, and do it now.

Sullivan was avuncular and candid in our hour-long meeting.  He makes a good impression as an administrator and his record so far seems to reflect that competence.  I'm still not bowled over by his efforts to be bipartisan (or non-partisan, as the case may be).  He demurred when asked about things connected with the controversies of the recent past in regard to voter registration; he said that purging of the voter rolls is continuous and ongoing and in coordination with the Texas Secretary of State, John Steen.  But he dodged my questions about whether he favored or disfavored the creation of a county elections administrator.  The topic of True the Vote and Catherine Engelbrecht unfortunately did not come up.

And I am not at all impressed with his appointment of voter registration manager Albert Cheng.  Greg has a couple of posts on Cheng's testimony during this past summer's redistricting hearings, and how badly he misunderstands the concept of "candidate of choice".

But overall, like John and Noah, I admire Sullivan's work ethic and his efforts to improve the county's tax office are apparent.  I just won't ever be a fan of the man's politics.  He does, however, set an example that other Republicans would be wise to follow: leave the BS about Obama outside and do your job.

I'd like to see a lot more of that.

Update: Greg and Charles were also in attendance.

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