Thursday, January 02, 2014

2014, 2015, 2018...

No time like the now to talk about the future, I suppose.

-- CultureMap followed up with Annise Parker, who made news last week in disclosing her long-range political plans.

On the eve of her inauguration for a third — and final — term as Houston's mayor Thursday morning, it's a bittersweet time for Parker, who has always been more of a policy wonk that a back-slapping, baby-kissing politician. She can't run for another city of Houston office because of term limits. Yet, she finds the thought of not running again a bit liberating.

"I don't have any plans to run for anything so I am free to do things that people don't like and do what I think is right, whether it's settling 16 years of litigation with the topless industry or working on a nondiscrimination ordinance for the city of Houston or acknowledging legal (same-sex) marriages," Parker said.

Funny; that's not what she told Lone Star Q.

LSQ: What’s next for you after your term expires at the end of 2015? There’s been a lot of talk that you will run for statewide office as a Democrat in 2016 or 2018.

AP: I don’t intend to run for anything until I’m done as mayor. Unfortunately, in 2016, there’s not a lot out there, so I probably will need to go back into the private sector for a while, but I hope that while mayor of Houston is the best political job I would ever have, I hope it’s not my last political job. … I would certainly be interested in looking statewide. [I'm] not trying to be coy. People talked to me about running in 2014 as a Democrat for one of the statewide positions. I’ve had a lot of conversations with folks about that, but I made the commitment to serve as mayor of Houston and to do my best for the city for as long as I could. I just wasn’t in that place. I’ve also been fairly public that what I’m most interested in in terms of a future political position is something where I’m in an administrative or an executive position. [With] due respect to my members of Congress down here, I’ve been the CEO of a $5 billion corporation. I like to get things done, and the idea of, say, running for Congress, doesn’t excite me. … [It will be] a statewide executive position.

Strange. Those two quotes seem both direct and contradictory. Anyway, that reference to the $5 billion dollar corporation appears also in the CultureMap Q&A.

CM: As your last term as mayor, it must be a bittersweet time.

AP: It is because I hear the clock ticking. While we have done some amazing things, I really had to spend a lot of the first two years patching holes in a leaky boat. The economy was dreadful. I had to walk in and slash hundreds of millions of dollars in spending and it wasn't possible to drive an agenda at first, it was much more reactive.

... I also fully intend to do something about term limits before I leave, not that it will benefit me, and probably not benefit anyone serving in city government today. But two-year terms are too short. We're a $5 billion dollar corporation and we turn our leadership every two years. No corporation would do that.

Comparing government entities to public (or private) companies is simply a false analogy.  This corporate mentality that Democrats, even so-called progressive ones, fall back on is nothing but an old frame of the GOP.  It started with Reagan.

It is wrong to think that government should be run as a business.  If someone said "Corporations should be run like the government", they would be laughed out of the room.  The reverse premise is also mistaken.

I will have an opinion in just a moment with regard to term limits of municipal elected officials.  It's helpful to recall that such limits came about as the result of the deep-rooted corruption of several city council members some years ago.  At a time when people are crying about capping the terms for state and federal offices, to move in the opposite direction -- again -- is not the right move.   And with that...

As the inauguration of Houston's elected leaders begins Thursday morning, supporters and spectators gathered at the Wortham Center downtown will see six new City Council members walk across the stage.

Observers at the ceremony two years ago saw seven new members sworn in, and those present two years before that saw five new faces cross the stage. That's 18 position turnovers in four years around a horseshoe that seats 17, including the mayor, as Councilman C.O. Bradford pointed out at the council's final meeting of the year two weeks ago.

With this churn in mind, Mayor Annise Parker, Bradford and others are calling for changes to the city's term limits structure, which allows three two-year terms for the mayor, city controller and council members.

"That's simply too frequent. When I came to council, there were council members in the process of leaving … and they were just well-seasoned, they were just at the point where they were really ready to dig in and serve the city," said Bradford, who is starting his third and final term. "As we go forward in efforts to move our city forward, look at 18 turnovers in a four-year period and look at the challenge that presents."

Parker, herself term-limited out of office at the end of 2016, said she will ask council to present voters with a shift to two four-year terms, adding that any proposal will not apply to her.

"Churn" is the wrong word to use to describe this situation.  It's better left to the newspaper circulators and cable TV customer retention analysts.

And C.O. Bradford is self-servingly incorrect.

I just won't be in favor of anything that gives people on council, or the mayor or the city controller, more time in office.  One four-year term is enough; that way nobody is ever running for re-election, with its attendant fundraising and consultant-influenced bullshit.

This is how you get (some of) the money out of politics.

They can stagger the elections and have 50% of the new members rotate in and out every two years.  To refute Bradford directly: continuity on council is far too overvalued.  And as Mayor Parker herself noted, when you don't have to run for re-election, one can focus on one's agenda.  Whether it is hers, or Michael Kubosh's, or C.O. Bradford's.

Before we leave the topic of Houston city elections, let's read this and snort.

The 2013 election cycle has come to a close, meaning that speculation is already running rampant about the 2015 municipal election cycle. With an open Mayor and Controller’s race, potential candidates are already lining up to establish themselves as potential successors. State Representative and former Mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner has indicated his desire to run, along with former Congressman and Mayoral Candidate Chris Bell. Current Council Members Stephen Costello and Oliver Pennington are also rumored to be looking at the race. On the Controller’s side, Former Council Member and HCCS Trustee Carroll Robinson has expressed interest in running along with recent controller candidate Bill Frazier and current Deputy Controller Chris Brown. With a little over a year before candidates can formerly declare their intentions, many questions remain. Will Benjamin Hall consider running again after his unsuccessful 2013 campaign? Will the business community field a candidate along the lines of Bob Lanier in 1991 and Bill White in 2003? Will 2015 mark the entry of a viable Hispanic Mayoral Candidate? Already candidates have begun polling and meeting with financial backers to measure their viability. In the era of the continuous campaign, this is par for the course. Hopefully some or all of these candidates will address many of the longstanding issues that are facing this city. Only time will tell.

Way, way too much inappropriate capitalization.  This is a little better.

Houston Chronicle Reporter Mike Morris and Rice University Political Science Professor Bob Stein were guests on KUHF's Houston Matters.

Morris says there are a number of names already being discussed.

"Ed Gonzalez in District H, his name has been mentioned but I don't know that is particularly likely. I haven't put the question to him directly and I wouldn't expect him to really weigh in at this point in the game. Adrian Garcia, the sheriff of Harris County, his name has been mentioned. He's a former city councilman. I know State Rep. Sylvester Turner has not ruled it out."

Bob Stein says there's also Houston At-Large Councilmember Stephen Costello, who has already announced his intention to run for mayor.

"But I think there will be a half a dozen or so men and women who will run for this. But I think the candidate that's most likely to succeed, we don't know yet. I think you'll see a candidate come from outside of the elected officials we're talking about."

Stein says one name that likely won't be on the ballot again is Ben Hall, who lost to Parker in a thorough defeat.

-- Finally, something recent about the present.

Chili? No beans. Star Trek beats Star Wars. Hunting trumps fishing.

For those wondering whether Democratic Sen. Wendy Davis and Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott can agree on anything, the gubernatorial candidates' answers to a short set of light questions find a bit of common ground - and some amusing asides.

Not that amusing.  Except for this.

Asked to name one thing they fear, neither picked a potential physical danger, as Gov. Rick Perry did when the Des Moines Register asked if he had any little phobias (he hates snakes).

Abbott's answer could have come straight from a campaign speech: "The steady growth of government and how it is chipping away at our liberty. (Ex: Obamacare)"

Davis' was more personal. "Failing to do my best on behalf of others," she said.

Can't wait to see a picture of Abbott crying like a Boehner because of all the little Texas kids who won't grow up to live the 'Merkin dream... because affordable healthcare insurance held them back.

1 comment:

Gadfly said...

Totally agree on the "government is a corporation" angle. Sure-fire way to turn me off of a candidate.

And, interesting, the different answers she gave on her short/medium term post-mayoral political future.