Monday, August 31, 2015

The Weekly Wangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance remembers the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and honors the spirit of its survivors as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff recaps Ken Paxton's first day in court. It won't be his last.

Libby Shaw, writing for Texas Kaos and contributing to Daily Kos scolds the Republican Party for its cruel war on immigrants. Earth to the GOP: Stop picking on immigrants and do your jobs.

Socratic Gadfly turns a skeptical eye to Constitutional-era pop historian Joseph Ellis, and rakes him over the coals for writing something barely historical, but that adds to Constitutional myth-making.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme watches the Republican war on Latinos continue with throwing attorneys out of detention centers and denying birth certificates to citizens.

Houston city council races dominated PDiddie's Brains and Eggs this past week, with At Large 1, At Large 2, and At Large 3 all profiled and prognosticated.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson also covered the Texas attorney general's many legal troubles, noting they are not going away anytime soon, in Paxton's problems pile up.

Texas Leftist analyzed the "debate" between Jorge Ramos and Donald Trump on immigration, and Dos Centavos also added his two cents.

TXsharon at Bluedaze spent some time in Fracking Hell, aka the Eagle Ford shale, and lived to tell us about it.

Neil at All People Have Value expressed distress over how we drive in Harris County and asked that we be careful on our roads. APHV is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Ryan Holeywell and Stephen Klineberg debunk myths about Hurricane Katrina evacuees in Houston, while Ethan Raker shows how interacting with Katrina evacuees affected opinions about them.

Grits for Breakfast seemed surprised and perturbed at Texas media for seemingly ignoring one of the most important laws going into effect on September 1: raising the threshold for property theft crimes.

Carol Morgan commented on the many instances of disaster capitalism in "When the Parasite (the 1% and the corporations) Kills the Host (the rest of us)".

Trail Blazers covered the removal of the statue of Jefferson Davis from the grounds of the University of Texas.

Juanita Jean gives the idiots protesting at the HISD Arabic language immersion school a piece of her mind.

The Makeshift Academic builds a model to estimate how many people would benefit from Medicaid expansion.

jobsanger graphed the polling that shows Americans are split on whether to tax churches or not.

Paradise in Hell observes a rite of passage for George P. Bush.

HOUequality reprinted Pulitzer-winning writer Lisa Falkenburg's op-ed: "Anti-(HERO) campaign's scare tactics need to be flushed".

Erica Ciszek explains her anxiety about bathrooms.

Lawflog explained why Hearne's supervisor of the city's street department is being paid to sit in jail.

Chip Brown calls out Baylor President Ken Starr in the Art Briles/Sam Ukwuachu case.

Stephanie Stradley explains why the Deflategate case matters.

And Fascist Dyke Motors got a little creeped out on her recent visit to New Orleans.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The At Large 3 contest

Here are the entrants, as usual from the city's filings page and in alphabetical order.  Via Kuff, who has a post up about this and some mayoral fora upcoming, Mike Morris at the Chronicle's graphic shows the names listed in ballot order.

This race IMHO presents one of the more interesting lineups of candidates among the At-Larges despite its complete lack of diversity (I find AL 1 and AL 4 to be the protoypical mud wrestling matches, with AL 5 demonstrating more of what Houston is all about demographically).  Let's not bury the lede; one of Peterson or LaRue hopefully can push the incumbent Kubosh into a runoff in December.

Peterson has a long and impressive resume': strategist for NASA, leadership experience with environmental organizations like the Sierra Club, chairman of Senate District 11, active with the Bay Area New Democrats -- in short, everything just about anybody on the left could look for in a progressive, activist Democrat.   LaRue voted in the 2014 Republican primary in 2014, and McElligott -- affiliated with the Harris County Green Party, the only such candidate on the ballot -- voted in the 2010 Republican primary.  In a conversation with me, McElligott indicated that he did so strategically in the governor's race that year, for Kay Bailey Hutchison over Rick Perry.  I don't know LaRue's motivation so let's give him the benefit of the doubt that he did the same as McElligott.  (Many more Democrats than will admit it do this.  They even encourage others to do so; that's how weak Texas Democrats have become in midterm elections.)

McElligott has fleshed out strongly progressive policy issues: participatory budgeting (they've given it a go in NYC), repealing TABOR, reforming tax increment financing, advocating public banking and paid leave... sadly, these initiatives are outside the realm of concept for most municipal voters.  They will just screech "soshulist" and point at Bernie Sanders (or Jill Stein).  McElligott's paving the way to real progress for Greens, Democratic socialists and non-Democratic progressives.  Good on him for that.

LaRue is trying to run right down the middle of the partisan divide, rarely a winning electoral strategy at any level these days.  He has campaigned actively, appearing at numerous Democratic functions with photos on his Facebook page, and even making news as he and his husband became the first same-sex couple to receive a marriage license issued in Harris County.  Here's OutSmart magazine's retelling of the day-long saga involving Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart's refusals, County Attorney Vince Ryan's threats of legal injunction, and the media swarm that covered it all day.  Here's an article where LaRue describes his views as centrist and bipartisan, and also that his motivation for joining the race was Kubosh's votes against HERO.  And he's open about chasing moderate Republican votes, so there's that.

Despite his folk hero status, LaRue did not get the GLBT Caucus endorsement, probably due to their distasteful "viability" ratings of candidates.  Kuff underscored this point a couple of weeks ago in his reporting on endorsements.

I simply would not expect a great deal of votes to go to McElligott -- something on the order of the Greens' usual market share in contested races, about 1-2% -- but LaRue and Peterson could spoil each other's chances and let Kubosh waddle back to the horseshoe.  The incumbent and portly bail bondsman has voted against HERO and taken five large, the maximum financial contribution, from Steven Hotze this go-round.  He has a big target on his very wide back.  He got lucky two years ago when the Democrats washed each other out, and his popularity from fighting (and winning) the red-light camera battle with Mayor Annise Parker was at its zenith.  But unless turnout favors the liberal strongholds in the city, we could be looking at a rerun of 2013.

Prediction for the general: Kubosh could skate over thin ice again if Peterson and LaRue split the Democratic vote. If one of the two can get the incumbent mano a mano in December, odds are good that the seat flips.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Email matter reveals Clinton unfit for office

We'll continue with Houston city council races shortly, but this piece from Investors Business Daily is a must-read, especially for all you pathetic Clinton supporters who continue to insist that her e-mail server scandal is small potatoes, or a smear tactic or some other lame-ass excuse.

Last week, it was Hillary Clinton's campaign spokesman acknowledging that she "didn't really think it through" when she chose to use her personal email account for State Department business rather than a secure government account, thereby admitting that she isn't fit to be president.

This week, Clinton herself conceded she doesn't have the judgment to be president.

While campaigning in Iowa Wednesday, Clinton showed that she finally understands what nearly everyone else has long known, confessing that her use of personal email "clearly wasn't the best choice."

"I should've used two emails: one personal, one for work," she said.

Yes, one for yakking with friends about yoga routines, another for the classified material that was on her personal email and private server. Most anyone who isn't a Clinton (or a top Clinton aide or Democratic operatives at the IRS and the EPA) would do just that.

As we noted last week, America doesn't need a commander in chief who doesn't "really think it through" when making decisions that can affect national security.

Presidents have and will make bad choices on big issues, but the country needs someone who can at least make "the best choice" in small decisions. How will a candidate who is unable to select what's clearly the right option when there's no pressure fare when faced with the monumental decisions that a president has to make on a frequent basis?

And that is precisely it.  When the FBI investigates something as a potential criminal matter, it's not just screwing around.  You can't call it a partisan witch hunt, either.  If nothing arises from said investigation, then you can certainly trumpet that.  But this drip, drip, drip of gradually taking responsibility for a serious mistake in judgement is part of the Clinton modus operandi.  Fear not, Clintonites; it's still not enough to damage her long-term prospects.

Ever the evasive politician, Clinton told the Iowa crowd that she takes "responsibility for that decision," but just what does that mean? Exactly nothing.

There will be no consequences. She will not censure herself in any way or pay for her mistake.
But she knows that phrase plays well politically, that it makes her sound as if she's holding herself to account.
Clinton also applied slippery spin when she said she's looking forward to October when she testifies before Congress about her personal email account and private server. She's "confident," she said, "the process" will exonerate her.

In private, she's probably not so confident. She knows what she did. The president and vice president also probably know, too. Maybe that's why Joe Biden is preparing to run and the president has given him his blessing.

Joe Biden probably isn't running, as it turns out.

Vice President Joe Biden revealed to members of the Democratic National Committee Wednesday that he is assessing whether he has "the emotional fuel" to run for the White House.

"We're dealing at home with ... whether or not there is the emotional fuel at this time to run," Biden told DNC members on a conference call that was billed as an opportunity to hear from the vice president on the Iran nuclear deal. "If I were to announce to run, I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul, and right now, both are pretty well banged up."

If he did, polling shows he'd be a stronger nominee than Clinton.  She's damaged goods, but thanks to Donald Trump, she's still on pace to be the 45th president of the United States.  And that will be nothing to celebrate.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The At Large 2 contest

Once more, your choices on the ballot in November from the city's filings page, listed in alphabetical order by last name, and links to those candidate web pages where they exist.

Let's begin by recounting that just two years ago, Robinson defeated then-incumbent Burks in a squeaker of a runoff, 50.7% to 49.3, or a margin of less than 500 votes out of 52,000+ cast.  In the general that year, Robinson led with 41.2% followed by Burks with 38.2, Rivera with 16.3 and Trebor Gordon with 6.3. Gordon was rumored to file but did not, so the stage is set with Davis, a black pastor virulently opposed to HERO, replacing the Republican Gordon.

In 2011, when this seat was open, ten challengers split the vote, with Burks -- a perennial loser in City Hall elections to that point -- finishing first in the general, followed closely by Kristi Thibaut.  Robinson came in fourth that year, and Dick seventh.  Burks prevailed in December in a similarly close runoff election, 50.2 - 49.8, or just 111 votes.

Attorney Dick ran for mayor in 2013 and clocked in a solid third, well behind behind Annise Parker and Ben Hall but ahead of six others including a Green and a Socialist candidate, with over 18,000 votes out of 172,448 cast, or 10.6% of the tally.  (See the link above in the second graf for more details if you like.)  Dick also seems to like to run for political office more to boost the fortunes of his law firm than actually get elected, ever since his signs debacle a few cycles ago.

In a non-bathroom election year, you'd have to score a rematch with Robinson and Burks as the most likely outcome for a runoff.  But Dick and especially Davis complicate matters, with their distinct conservative supporters unlikely to switch away from their preferred candidate until the runoff dust is settled.  Rivera, a resident of Kingwood with a lengthy military background and a longtime Republican as well, completes the list of conservatives trying to win this office.  Latinos turning out for Garcia might know nothing about him and mark him on the basis of surname alone.

Burks has a Facebook page that saw its last update in March, with sad tales of knee replacements and broken arms and the passing of his mother.  His former campaign website,, returns a 404 on direct link, but the Yahoo search listing redirects to a domain hawking garcinia cambogia as a weight loss supplement.  And from deep in the bowels of the Internet, a site which looks current but only lists his political campaigns up to 2001 ("at present").  Still, none of this sort of thing held him back in 2011.  Though a nominal Democrat, Burks's record  is a fairly conservative one.  His HERO position is unclear.*  That isn't the case with Davis or Rivera or Dick, so expect the Republicans and social conservatives among the black Dems to be divided in their allegiances in this tilt.  No one of them can likely best Robinson -- a solid Democrat and quiet but effective council member with no philosophical challenger -- but a runoff with one of them, and the HERO vote in the record books, might be a different circumstance.

No bets taken on who might wind up facing the incumbent in December.  It all depends on how well the various conservative constituencies turn out their voters.

Prediction for the general: Robinson may be able to avoid a runoff if the black vote splits between Burks and Davis; even if it does then one of the two others could join him in the finals.  Strong liberal turnout for HERO gets him over the bar without one.

*See Charles Kuffner's remarks in the comments.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The At Large 1 contest

Here are your contestants, in alphabetical order by last name, from the city's filings page.  I'm only linking to the pages of the candidates that I believe have a realistic shot at the seat.

Last go first.

Griff and Partsch-Galván are perennial losing candidates for city council.  That's really all that can be said about either man.  Wait; Griff lost his tenth bid for city council in 2011 and promised us then that it was his final race, and he used to own a fun, dive-y sports bar that still has his name on it.  JP-G is a freak.  Now that's all.

Provost made the runoff in District D two years ago, clearing a field of twelve with 14% to face off against Dwight Boykins.  She ultimately fell to the incumbent, who had garnered almost enough votes (42.9%) to avoid the runoff.  She is well-known in the African American community as a professional photographer, businesswoman, TSU alum and fundraiser with Alan Helfman, the proprietor of River Oaks Chrysler Dodge Jeep.

Speaking of Boykins, he was the only African American council member who voted against the HERO last year... but he then voted to sustain it last month.  The equal rights ordinance is likely where AL1 will turn, with Pool (a trans-woman) and Lewis (a gay man, also chair of the Harris County Democrats) leading the contingent of pro-tolerance liberals among the Houston electorate.

Pool has run for at-large seats on council in 2011 and 2013, missing the runoff both times.  She has clashed with HGLBT favorite son Lewis a couple of times as well, most recently when she lost the Caucus endorsement last month.  Two years ago, she and the other three Dems -- Rogene Calvert, Roland Chavez, and Brad Batteau -- canceled each other out, allowing Republican Paul Kubosh to defeat Republican Roy Morales in AL3's runoff.  This same dynamic is in play for AL1 this time around.

Of these two, Lewis -- whom I support -- is most likely to move into the runoff.  He has by far the most endorsements, momentum, etc. to be left standing on the evening of November 3rd.  IMHO the only question is who will join him for the December round from among Knox, McCasland, and Oliver.

Knox -- former USAF, former HPD, defeated two years ago in the Stardig/Helena Brown second-time scrum in District A -- is running this time on what's being called the "straight slate".  Knox is the only reasonable Republican option (I am not counting Griff and P-G as reasonable, though they are certainly GOP).  If you think this is going to be a 'bathroom' election, and I do, then it's going to be Knox and Lewis in the final round.

McCasland is roundly praised for efforts in addressing public housing in the county, has the bonafides to be an effective council member, but is supported by too many of the local Democratic Party's conservative wing for my taste.  Bob Stein at U of H likes him as the best chance to move ahead with Lewis, but I am of the opinion that if the Democrats split their votes among their four very qualified candidates in this race, McCasland -- mostly by virtue of having the lowest name recognition -- is the odd man out in a strong field.

Oliver, elected a couple of times to the Houston Community College Board of Trustees -- often a stepping stone to a Council seat -- is the only black man in the race and received the endorsement of the Houston Black Dems, so I rate his chances ahead of Provost's, who doesn't have much online presence to speak of this cycle.  Google returns a lot of activity from two years ago, but she hasn't Tweeted since 2011, her Facebook page is low-profile, and a website in her name is inactive.  Oliver is running hard and has a good platform, but appears to be mum about HERO, from what I can find.  I cannot discount his shot at being one of the top two at the end, but somebody needs to get him on record as favoring or opposing the equal rights ordinance.  It's possible that Provost is only on the ballot to draw down his bid.

Prediction for the runoff: Lewis and either Knox or Oliver.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The very latest HERO developments

Here's an example of a bathroom right here in Houston that both sexes use that isn't disgusting, filthy, or unsafe.  It was in the mechanic's shop where I got my truck's state inspection performed earlier today, and it was clean, smelled nice, and was completely safe for men and women, cis- and trans- alike.  In fact, you have seen bathrooms like these all over the city, and similar bathrooms all over Texas, the United States, and even in European countries if you have been fortunate to travel there.

The terrorists screaming vulgarities on your radio are, in a word, Neanderthals.  They are throwing rocks at the moon.  You should no more allow them to foment panic in you any more than yesterday's stock market gyrations did.

Would you need more concrete proof?  Take a look at this, courtesy Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, from Equality Matters.

For as long as the transgender community has fought for protection from discrimination in public spaces, conservatives have peddled the myth that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws to sneak into women's restrooms. 
That fear has been an extremely effective tool for scaring people into voting against even basic protections for transgender people, which is why conservatives routinely use the phrase "bathroom bill" to describe laws prohibiting discrimination in public accommodations. When conservative media outlets attack non-discrimination laws for transgender people, they almost exclusively focus on bathroom and locker room facilities
But that fear is baseless -- completely unsupported by years of evidence from states that already have non-discrimination laws on the books. In a new Equality Matters report, experts from twelve states -- including law enforcement officials, state human rights workers, and sexual assault victims advocates -- debunk the myth that non-discrimination laws have any relation to incidents of sexual assault or harassment in public restrooms:

Public restrooms aren't a new battleground for civil rights. Social conservatives frequently invoke "bathroom panic" to justify discrimination against marginalized groups. As Lambda Legal notes, the regulation of bathrooms has been used as a tool to exclude people of color, women, and people with disabilities from participating in public spaces.

But the claim that sexual predators will exploit non-discrimination laws to sneak into women's restrooms is a lie, plain and simple. It's a lie that is unsupported by even a shred of evidence and contradicted by years of experience in states that already have non-discrimination laws on the books. It's a lie that does tremendous damage to efforts to protect transgender people from violence and harassment, which often occur in public restrooms. And it's a lie that persists because conservative media outlets would rather tout made-up stories about sexual harassment than fact-check the anti-LGBT groups who invent those stories from whole cloth.

Fear, hate, and intolerance has spawned a remarkable bipartisan effort locally.

The Houston Stonewall Young Democrats (HSYD) and the Log Cabin Republicans of Houston (LCRH) have decided to work together to protect the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) from being repealed. 
One might not expect anything to bring the two parties together, least of all HERO, which has been fought tooth and nail by a group of local conservatives. This is the first time the two organizations have ever participated in a joint effort; in fact, they are the only two-party organizations in Houston working together. 
The leadership displayed by HSYD and LCRH can teach us all a valuable lesson, not just about cooperation and collaboration, but also about HERO. As James Lee, president of HSYD stated, “We have come together, despite our differences, because the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is more important than party affiliation.” 
“It is always good when people can come together on a bipartisan basis to come to good legislation,” added Michael Baker, the Vice President of LCRH.

Nobody could have foreseen that.

As the most ethnically and culturally diverse city in the nation, a city of 2.2 million people with varying beliefs, traditions, backgrounds and idiosyncrasies, it is time to move forward together. Houston is the only major city in the country and the only major city in Texas that does not have an equal rights ordinance of any kind.

The HSYD and LCRH put it plainly. “We believe that all Houstonians should have the right to live, work, and prosper in our great city, and HERO will provide them the ability to do just that.”

Post time for Houston's city elections

Yesterday was the filing deadline, and first via Kuff, here is your lineup card for November 3rd.  Stace has some thoughts on who he prefers, and we are in general agreement.  Here's the Chron story, focusing more on council elections and reactions from people like Bob Stein and Dr. Richard Murray at U of H.

A total of thirteen mayoral hopefuls, and this post will shine a brief spotlight on the seven with little chance of influencing the race, much less making the runoff.

Marty McVey belongs among these also-rans, despite his many forum appearances with the big six, and even despite his fairly progressive platform.  He's just out of his league in this contest, despite good effort and intentions.

Aubrey Taylor's blog has spent a lot of pixels promoting the candidacy of Victoria Lane, who is running on an anti-HERO platform.  Lane and Demetria Smith -- whom you may recall as the candidate initially excluded from the TOP/SEIU forum last month, until her supporters demanded and got a place for her on the dais -- stand as the two people who could draw off enough votes to keep Ben Hall from making the runoff.  Taylor is your go-to guy for all things African American, socially conservative, and those who wish to appeal to that caucus.  (Taylor has also performed the courtesy of reminding us which members of City Council voted for or against the ordinance earlier this year.  You should expect some races to turn on that vote, as well as some candidates' stands on the issue.  More on that when I get to city council races in a future post.)

By contrast, I would not expect Rafael Munoz nor Joe Ferreira to pull many votes away from Adrian Garcia, by virtue of either their Latino surnames nor their low-profile candidacies.  So unlike Hall -- and all the many other Af-Am candidates on the ballot, a factor which should boost turnout in those precincts around the city -- either Garcia's "community will turn out in historic numbers" for him... or they won't.

Of the remaining long shots, Thai Hoc Nguyen is a conservative Republican who lost to former Council member Al Hoang in 2009 in District F -- who himself was upset in 2013 by incumbent Richard Nguyen (no relation), and Dale Steffes is a perennial candidate who, in the words of Texas Monthly's Greg Curtis (in 1999) is "a maverick oil-price prognosticator who now runs his consulting business out of his home".  He's more favorably and recently quoted in this story.  Nothing obvious about his political inclinations, but I'd be interested in his forecast for crude prices.

The next mayor of Houston will still come down to two of Garcia, Hall, Bill King, Steven Costello, Chris Bell, and Sylvester Turner, and ultimately determined in December.

We'll take a look at the the At-Large races next.

Anti-HERO ads roll out "filthy" and "disgusting"

Here we go.

"No men in women's bathrooms," the incendiary and misleading ad begins. "This ordinance will allow men to freely go into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers. That is filthy, that is disgusting, and that is unsafe," the woman, falsely, says in the ad. She also claims to speak for "all moms, sisters, and daughters," which is false.

The group sponsoring the ad is called the Campaign For Houston, and it's headed by Jared Woodfill, a 47-year old attorney and former chairman of the Republican Party of Harris County, Texas.

That's a awful lot of lies and fear to combat.

It falsely claims HERO "limits free speech and religious expression in unprecedented ways," "gives new special privileges to two special interests, neither of which qualify as true 'minorities' requiring special legal protection," and calls HERO's "naming of these groups ... a ruse in an attempt to hide the ordinance’s real purpose, which is to make 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identification' two new protected classes." It also falsely claims sexual orientation and gender identification "are defined by their behaviors -- not by characteristics given to them at birth.

Calling the ad "not subtle," ThinkProgress' Zack Ford offers a few observations:

Gender identity, as protected by HERO, is not something that can be flipflopped every day, and moreover, predatory behavior is still illegal. If HERO fails to pass, it will actually force many men into women’s restrooms, the very outcome they claim to oppose.

Houston Unites calls the ad "vulgar and grossly misleading."

"Nothing in the equal rights ordinance changes the fact that it is -- and always will be -- illegal to enter a restroom to harm or harass other people," the group told the Houston Chronicle. "And the ad leaves out the fact that the law protects tens of thousands of Houstonians from job discrimination based their race, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability."

Good rationales, but I'm concerned there aren't enough smart people in Houston to overcome a tidal wave of ignorance motivated by their God-given phobias.  You can listen to the ad if you can tolerate it at the link, but it's also coming to a radio near you.  Turning it off, changing the station, and otherwise generally ignoring the widespread panic from your conservative acquaintances misses the point: the weaponized paranoia is going to hit its intended target.  And the social Neanderthals are going to turn out in record numbers to vote against it.

Maybe a few more signatures on that petition to the NFL to pull the 2017 Super Bowl out of Houston might get the attention of the pro-business, pro-tolerance Republicans, but I hope Mayor Parker and her group have some strong counter-efforts ready to go soon.

Monday, August 24, 2015

More on the Houston municipal elections

-- If Ben Hall and Sylvester Turner make the runoff for mayor (maybe even before November), expect to see some fireworks along the lines of the Wayne Dolcefino/KTRK lawsuit which arose during the last days of the runoff almost 25 years ago (between Turner and Bob Lanier).  They battled to a draw in court, with the television station and then-investigative reporter found guilty of libeling Turner, but the14th Court of Appeals reversed the jury's decision.  Dolcefino is now a consultant advising Hall's campaign.

-- Chris Bell's profile in yesterday's Chronicle.  Relevant passage:

"I don't see any shame in running and not winning," Bell said. "The shame should be in not caring and not trying."

I think that's a win for me, Dr. Murray.

-- Houston Matters is interviewing mayorals, with Bell and Hall already in the can and Marty McVey coming tomorrow.  Kuff is logging his hours with the council candidates; here's his latest with AL4 candidate Jonathan Hansen, and links to many more.  Texas Leftist is posting his candidate questionnaires also; here's his most recent with District H's Roland Chavez.

-- And a programming note: the Texas Democratic Women of Harris County kicks off their Fall Speaker Series hosting Dr. Krista Comer of Rice University (not U of H, as the graphic below shows) at their monthly meeting this evening.

Dr. Comer's topic, "Youth Politics and Third Wave Feminism", focuses on two demographics that did not turn out in 2014, and what steps might be taken to boost their participation in 2015 and '16.

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance liked it better when politicians wanted to kiss babies and not deport them as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff took a closer look at who votes in City of Houston elections.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos, and contributing to Daily Kos, notes that when the GOP whistled for the dogs it ushered in the wolves. The GOP deserves its monster.

Fresh off his vacation, and as it approaches its centennial, SocraticGadfly casts a critical eye at what he describes as the decline and fall of the National Park Service.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme notes that Donald Trump is exposing the world to the racism consuming the GOP along with its authoritarian, 2nd amendment mindset.

It was all Houston mayoral elections all last week for PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, who attended a forum in his back yard, smelled some oligarchy in the HGLBT Caucus endorsement, covered the two adverse developments for the HERO, and witnessed Chris Bell's smackdown of Adrian Garcia.

Texas Leftist marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and how it changed Houston.

The Lewisville Texan Journal reports on the bond issues facing voters in that city.

Egberto Willies recounts Hillary Clinton's meeting with Black Lives Matter activists and wonders if it was her Sister Souljah moment.

With Bernie Sanders running strongly for 2016, Neil at All People Have Value wrote that polling data reports more and more Americans are open to socialism. APHV is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Carol Morgan covers the rise of Trump, made in America for Americans.

Grits for Breakfast makes the observation that overbuilt county jails have turned the for-profit prison system into a bust.

Paradise in Hell previews the fried delicacies that await us at this year's State Fair of Texas.

The Lunch Tray confirms that Americans do indeed want kids to eat healthier food at school.

Texas Watch tells you what's really driving the cost of your car insurance bill.

Alexa Garcia-Ditta takes you on a tour of San Antonio's new HB2-compliant abortion facility.

Tamara Tabo explains why you haven't heard more about all those bikers who were arrested in Waco in May.

Somervell County Salon has several blog posts and video of that county's hospital district and Glen Rose Medical Center's meetings.

The Makeshift Academic reports that Arkansas has fully embraced Medicaid expansion.

Pamela Coloff awards the title of Worst Lawyer in Texas to disgraced and now disbarred former prosecutor Charles Sebesta.

And Fascist Dyke Motors would like to teach a class in 'How to be a Feral Child in the City".

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Picking up what we scatter-shot

-- Big Jolly thinks I may be on to something with regard to my picks for the mayoral runoff.  It is of course difficult to analyze the conservative mind, but Jolly is reasoned and reasonable more often than any, and he's drifting toward Hall for All (the worst conservatives in the city).  His commenters point out the pastor's shortcomings, which are considerable and which few people remember from two years ago, mostly because the local media has done such a terrible job covering the city races.

For my part, I reserve the right to revise my predictions as circumstances warrant.  I'm expecting a fresh poll any day now, and there will certainly be a few after Labor Day weekend (you know, when the media tells us people begin paying attention).

-- As Hillary Clinton's polling slides further downhill and the FBI investigates her email, mumblings about Joe Biden entering the race get more serious.  This fellow thinks Bernie Sanders should now be considered the front-runner.  FWIW I believe Hillary Clinton will still be the Democratic nominee in 2016, and that she will defeat any Republican nominated, including and especially Donald Trump.  But my mother, nearly a nonagenarian and mostly a Democrat over the years, would vote for Bush.  When Hillary is losing women voters -- particularly women of her mother's generation -- she has big, big problems.

-- Why do some GOP presidential candidates now want to ban abortions without exceptions for rape, deformity, or when the mother's life is threatened?  An easier question to answer than you might think: conservatives are devolving into absolutists because they fear the wrath of their god.

“There is a significant change happening in the pro-life base, and it’s happening on a national level,” said Dan Becker, president of Georgia Right to Life. That shift is towards demanding, and being promised, an abortion ban without exceptions for rape, incest, or the life and health of the pregnant women. As many as half of the Republican candidates have fallen in line, a contrast from past election cycles.


The debate over whether to chip away at abortion rights or to openly advocate for the end of all abortion is an old one among anti-abortion activists. But despite the fact that personhood amendments have been repeatedly defeated in Colorado and Mississippi — and the fact that most Americans support such exceptions — the purist faction seems to be gaining ground.

“More and more pro-life people are starting to speak out against exceptions in legislation, and expecting more from the political process,” said Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee turned anti-abortion activist who frequently testifies before legislatures considering abortion restrictions.

She herself used to support exceptions for strategic reasons, until a change of heart in 2013. “I think there is this shift away from the hypocrisy that has been shown inside the pro-life movement, saying that some babies are worth our valuable time and effort to save and some or not,” she told msnbc, referring to abortions that would be allowable under an exception.

Much like the tea party’s tension with the Republican establishment, these anti-abortion activists are willing to go after their own nominal allies by accepting no less than the promise of a total ban.

“Nearly all GOP candidates since Reagan have claimed to be pro-life during elections, yet the killing continues,” Rebekah Maxwell, communications director for Personhood Iowa, told msnbc. “Grassroots activists are frustrated with the lack of action on this front.”

Some are also frustrated with the organizations that have long dominated their cause, especially the National Right to Life Committee, which has adopted a more pragmatic and incremental approach. Last year, Becker’s organization was ejected from its affiliation with the national group after it told Georgia’s congressional delegation to vote against a federal 20-week ban because it had exceptions for rape and incest. (This was the same bill over which a handful of Republican women rebelled for the opposite reason — because they believed its rape exception was too narrow.)

“Until the Supreme Court allows broad protections for unborn children, we work to protect as many children as possible by passing the strongest possible laws at the state and federal level,” the NRLC said in a statement then.

If you believe, as I do, that every awful conservative idea is cultivated in Texas, takes root here, and then the seedlings carried to other states and transplanted, then it's simple to see that with the trouncing of Wendy Davis last year, the pro-forced birth contingent has become more emboldened than ever.  The most restrictive women's reproductive laws in the nation came out of the Texas Lege earlier this year.  No compromise, no retreat, and absolutely nothing like surrender.

The split laid bare a broader dispute in the movement. “As far as I am concerned, Georgia Right to Life has now become the Westboro Baptist Church of the pro-life movement,” wrote prominent conservative activist Erick Erickson. “Instead of saving souls, they’d rather stone those who are trying to save souls.” But other anti-abortion groups have chosen to leave the fold and openly criticized the NRLC.

“What message does it send to our pro-life representatives when you whip them to support legislation that denies the right to life to innocent babies conceived in rape?” wondered one activist on Live Action News.
Kiessling, an activist who describes herself as having been “conceived in rape,” wrote that it was “clear that the emperor has no clothes, and they will need to be told so.”

Perry recounted how she persuaded him, then governor of Texas, to change his mind on exceptions. “We had a fairly lengthy and heartfelt conversation about how she was conceived in rape,” Perry said in 2011, during his last run for president. “Looking in her eyes, I couldn’t come up with an answer to defend exceptions for rape and incest.”

 It's still electoral death for Republicans, as Rick Perry again demonstrates, but these freaks just aren't going to go away.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Scattershooting things beside the upcoming city elections

After we note another pair of disasters at the Harris County Jail this week.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office announced that a jailer died after an altercation with an inmate early Thursday morning. And during an afternoon press conference Sheriff Ron Hickman called to take questions on how exactly this happened, he could answer virtually none of them.

Here's what Hickman did manage to say: At 4 a.m. Thursday, three Harris County jailers were transferring an inmate from recreation to his general population cell when the inmate became non-compliant and physically combative, leading one jailer to deploy his pepper spray.

But as for why detention officer Tronoski Jones collapsed moments later in the hallway and died, Hickman said he doesn't know—Hickman wouldn't speculate, at least not until they have more information from the medical examiner.

Hickman also said he doesn't know whether the inmate actually did anything to contribute to or cause Jones's death, or if the inmate even delivered any kind of blow at all—Jones did not have any outward injuries. As for why or how the struggle between the inmate and jailers escalated, Hickman said he did not know at this time. When asked if there was video of the incident, Hickman again said he didn't know.

Among other unanswered questions: Was it unusual for an inmate to be at recreation at 4 in the morning?  “I've been here for 90 days,” Hickman answered. “What do I know?”

Good on him.  At least he isn't blaming former sheriff Adrian Garcia, like I would.

At 9 p.m. Tuesday, spokesman Thomas Gilliland said two detention officers were yelling at each other when one of them, Carlton Bernard Freeney, pulled a knife. Gilliland says Freeney slashed the other jailer, whose identity has not been released, right above his left elbow.

Medical staff checked out the injured jailer, who didn't need to be hospitalized. Freeney, on the other hand, was detained and took a quick trip to, well, jail. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon (Gilliland said officers can carry knives up to 2 inches long). 

Other than to type "jailers get in fight with pocket knives", I got nothing.  Moving on...

-- Did you feel the summer heat was more than its usual oppressive last month?  Yeah, you weren't alone in feeling that way.  July was only the hottest month in the history of the world.  We seem to be back in our tropical mode here again in Houston, after the six-week drought that burned up a lot of the grass my lawn had grown for the first time in places.  And barely any hurricanes to speak of in the actual tropics.  Weird.

-- Hillary Clinton's email problems are weighing her down.  Congress critters are getting nervous.  It's just a Chinese water torture of some new revelation every single day.  She's now polling behind some of the Republican front-runners in three swing states.  Drip, drip, drip.  Are you ready for another fourteen-and-a-half months of watching her ship slowly list and then slip beneath the waves?  How could she blow such a sure thing?  All the Clinton supporters I know have stopped attacking Bernie Sanders and curled themselves up in a ball on the floor, moaning.

I can't take as much joy in this development as I would like, considering the fact that these people are going to be insufferable if she can't close the deal again.  Far too many of them are the type of Democrat who would vote for Bush before they would vote for Bernie Sanders.

-- Ashley Madison hacked.  Josh Duggar again.  That guy needs saltpeter (even if that is just an urban legend).  Then there's the hundreds of government workers, many with high-security clearances, who also got busted.

Hundreds of U.S. government employees — including some with sensitive jobs in the White House, Congress and law enforcement agencies — used Internet connections in their federal offices to access and pay membership fees to the cheating website Ashley Madison, The Associated Press has learned.

The AP traced many of the accounts exposed by hackers back to federal workers. They included at least two assistant U.S. attorneys; an information technology administrator in the Executive Office of the President; a division chief, an investigator and a trial attorney in the Justice Department; a government hacker at the Homeland Security Department and another DHS employee who indicated he worked on a U.S. counterterrorism response team.

Few actually paid for their services with their government email accounts. But AP traced their government Internet connections — logged by the website over five years — and reviewed their credit-card transactions to identify them. They included workers at more than two dozen Obama administration agencies, including the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Energy, Treasury, Transportation and Homeland Security. Others came from House or Senate computer networks.

Some of them used pre-paid credit cards to try to hide the transactions from their spouses, but still logged on at work.  No need to be worried about people being black-mailed, though.

"I was doing some things I shouldn't have been doing," a Justice Department investigator told the AP. Asked about the threat of blackmail, the investigator said if prompted he would reveal his actions to his family and employer to prevent it. "I've worked too hard all my life to be a victim of blackmail. That wouldn't happen," he said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was deeply embarrassed and not authorized by the government to speak to reporters using his name.

Not quite hard enough, by all appearances.

-- I'm already tired of blogging about other people's inappropriate sexual proclivities (irrespective of the fact they got hacked, which is the real crime), but then there's Jared Fogle.  The news to which I am not linking, either.  Hold the gyro-sandwich-size jokes along with the mayo, please.  If they will hurry up and arrest Duggar, there's a bunk right next to Fogle available.  Maybe they can go to counseling together.

The only thing I'll say is that you have a lot to look forward to on Sunday in the Funnies, because the cartoonists are swarming like flies.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bell: Garcia must answer for jail atrocities

Groogan at Fox, essentially the only reporter covering the city elections that's asking the tough questions.

Six fired, 29 suspended - the April bloodbath at the Harris County Jail put yet another dent in Sheriff Adrian Garcia's reputation as an effective administrator of the nation's third largest jail.

The mass terminations and punishment capped a seven year tenure riddled with jail related controversy - officers having sex with inmates, inmates raping other inmates and inmates dying after confrontations with jailers. In the minds of many, it just never seemed to get better. For mayoral candidate Garcia, management of the troubled jail looms as a potentially damaging portion of an otherwise solid resume.

In terms of political liability, Fox 26 asked University of Houston political analyst Brandon Rottinghaus to rate Garcia's jail house problems on a scale of one to ten.

"I'd rank this as a seven, rising perhaps to a nine if the issue becomes more pointed from the other candidates," said Rottinghaus.

That's because reforming the jail was arguably the biggest challenge in Garcia's career and consequently a measure of his ability to handle the city's most stubborn problems.

 "The reason is, if it happens multiple times and there is a cascade effect than it starts to look like a pattern that wasn't solved," said Rottinghaus.

It falls to Chris Bell, alone among mayoral hopefuls, to call out the former sheriff.

"He has to answer for the mistakes he made as sheriff and some of those were pretty serious mistakes that are going to cause a lot of people to question whether he really has the leadership skills to serve as the mayor of the 4th largest city," said Bel, adding, "You can't run a jail that way and you can't run a city that way."

In response to the criticism, Garcia offered Fox 26 the following statement:

"I always took responsibility and action for problems that occurred within the HCSO, disciplining or firing those responsible.  All of them were disappointing and some infuriated me.  I always faced the citizens to let them know how we were learning from each, correcting them and moving forward.  I took responsibility for any system failure that occurred during my administration.  And, we placed policies in place to keep them from happening again. This is the type of decisive and accountable leadership Houstonians want for our city."

It's nice that he took responsibility and all, but an effective sheriff would not have allowed things like this to happen in the first place, and would have moved faster to fix them, and put some measures in place to prevent other things like them from happening again.  That's the point here.

There's also these two wretched events.

A Spring woman claims sheriff's deputies violated constitutional protections by conducting a body cavity search on the concrete of a Texaco gas station parking lot during a routine traffic stop in late June.

Charnesia Corley, a 21-year-old African American, was driving in northern Harris County around 10:30 p.m. on June 21 when a male deputy pulled her over for allegedly running a stop sign. He said he smelled marijuana, handcuffed Corley, put her in his vehicle and searched her car for almost an hour. He didn't find any pot, according to her attorney, Sam Cammack.

Returning to his car where Corley was held, the deputy again said he smelled marijuana and called in a female deputy to conduct a cavity search. When the female deputy arrived, she told Corley to pull her pants down, but Corley protested because she was cuffed and had no underwear on. The deputy ordered Corley to bend over, pulled down her pants and began to search her.

Then, according to Cammack, Corley stood up and protested, so the deputy threw her to the ground and restrained her while another female was called in to assist. When backup arrived, each deputy held one of Corley's legs apart to conduct the probe.

"What these officers did out there at the Texaco station was unconscionable. I've worked many big cases and I've never seen that," said Cammack, who plans to sue the Harris County Sheriff's Office in federal court.

Garcia resigned in early May, so technically this incident didn't happen while he was sheriff.  But if you think the culture of the Harris County Sheriff's Office took a turn for the better two months after he left, then you've been smoking some of Ms. Corley's stash from the evidence room.  Sadly, for the lives of six children and two adults, sheriff's deputies topped that.

Earl Yanske heard early Saturday morning that his sister's ex-boyfriend was at her house, armed and angry.
Relatives called the Harris County's Sheriff's Office, asking them to go by the house in northwest Harris County to see if she was OK.

Hours passed.

Sick with worry and stuck in Montana, Yanske dialed David Ray Conley's cell phone number. He didn't pick up. His sister, Valerie Jackson, had two children with Conley, but feared him. She'd taken him back over the years, even after telling police he'd cut her and wrapping an electrical cord around her baby's neck. She'd changed the locks in July, after telling deputies he went after her 10-year-old with a belt.

Around 11 p.m., Yanske's cell phone rang. It was Conley.

"I need to ask you a question," Yanske said. "Did you kill my sister?"

Conley's voice was flat.

"He said, 'Yes I did.' It was like me asking if he went to the grocery store and he said, 'Yeah.' There was totally no emotion in his voice."

Conley, 48, surrendered to sheriff's deputies late Saturday night after a standoff outside the three-bedroom house on Falling Oaks. Authorities said he had broken in through a window, armed and with handcuffs, and methodically shot Valerie Jackson, her husband and six children, including his own son, one by one in the head. All eight died in the house.

Given the couple's history, Yanske said "they should have kicked down that door instantly. "

Chief Deputy Tim Cannon said deputies went to the house three times Saturday, starting in the morning.

Nothing was amiss. They came back in the afternoon. "They did not have enough information at that time to make a forced entry," he said.

On the last check around 9 p.m., they spotted a body through a window. Three officers and a sergeant tried to go inside, but Conley allegedly shot at them.

Conley was charged Sunday with multiple counts of capital murder and held without bail. Authorities identified the dead as Jonah Jackson, 6; Trinity Jackson, 7; Caleb Jackson, 9; Dwayne Jackson Jr., 10; Honesty Jackson, 11; Nathaniel Conley, 13; and Dwayne Jackson, 50.

My emphasis in bold above, to highlight Nick Anderson's cartoon with respect to what constitutes the appropriate time and circumstances for LEO to conduct a 'forcible entry'.  This tragedy also occurred after Garcia left the department, but the long-term failures of both the county's police officers and the CPS division (the latter outside the sheriff's purview, to be fair) is readily apparent.  And nobody's asking the greenhorn who moved in after Garcia moved out, Sheriff Ron Hickman, WTF happened in these two instances, either.  And if they did, he'd be sure to blame it on Garcia as well.

I have my beefs with Garcia as someone I believe is both intellectually in the slow lane and whose record as an executive demonstrates both neglect and cruelty.  Excerpting myself...

(Garcia) seems to be ambling toward the runoff as the most likable -- or least offensive -- dimwit in the race.  So far he is Teflon-coated.  Almost nobody has mentioned his lack of college degree, a la Scott Walker ... (nor his) failing the HPD sergeant's exam more than once, never having been promoted in his 23 years in the city's police department.  I have called him out numerous times: on his ugly record on deportations, his no-bid consultant scandal, his lousy responses to the county jail disaster, and even his whining about the personnel changes his Republican successor at the Sheriff's Office made after Garcia quit that job.

And if only one person in the media -- and one of his competitors -- is willing to get at how these things became commonplace in Garcia's tenure as top county cop, then we have a bigger problem than rogue, stupid sheriff's deputies.  But let's not blame the media for falling down on the job before the fact.  Let's put the accountability for these atrocities where it lies: at the feet of the former county sheriff, Adrian Garcia.

I can't vote for him even if makes the mayoral runoff against Ben Hall.  That's the definition of the lesser of two evils personified right there.  I'll have to pass on that race.

And I hope Chris Bell and Sylvester Turner are doing everything they can so that none of us have to make that choice in December.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Two adverse developments for HERO


The Texas Supreme Court has ordered city officials to reword the ballot language for the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, stating in a Wednesday ruling that the current language incorrectly calls for a vote on the repeal of the law, rather than the law itself.

"The City Council is directed to word the proposition such that voters will vote directly for or against the ordinance," the court ruled.

It's an enormous victory for semantics, and Houston attorney Andy Taylor, who's led the anti-anti-discrimination charge (how's that for proper wording?) states in a press release that "Once again, the highest court in this state has delivered a message to the Mayor to stop abusing her authority. It's time to stop the games that are wasting taxpayers' money." And if there's one thing we can all agree on, it's that a lawsuit over hair-splitting sentence structure is a judicious use of taxpayers' money.

That's bad enough, but then there's this:

Within the walls of Mt. Hebron Missionary Baptist church against the backdrop of a Houston Equal Rights Ordinance many consider morally offensive, mayoral candidate Ben Hall welcomed the wholehearted support of African American ministers representing dozens of congregations.

"An end has come to open warfare between the Mayor's office and the church. I invite you gladly, to have and assume your right position in the leadership of this great city," said Hall to members of the Baptist Ministers Association, representing more than 300 congregations.

The pastors say they're backing Hall because he backed them in the battle to allow the HERO ordinance be decided by the City's voters.

"When others ridiculed us. When no one thought we would stand for what was right in the eyesight of God, it was this man, this preacher, this candidate who stood with us and did not care if it cost him his candidacy," said Rev. Max Miller, President of the BMA.

This is a seriously hard couple of shots against tolerance in Houston.

As I feared, Hall is gathering both Republican extremists and black conservatives in a bid to make the runoff against the liberal front-runner.  Mark Jones at Rice finally gets one right.

"The HERO ruling was manna from heaven for Ben Hall and took a campaign that really didn't have a strong issue and was fighting for space and constituencies and gave it a ready-made issue to appeal to both Anglo social conservatives and to African American social conservatives," said Jones.


Jones says if history is a guide, about a third of the ballots cast in the November city election will be by black voters. He says a candidate who earns 18 to 20 percent could earn a runoff spot.

I'll revisit my prediction: if the election were held today, you'd have Ben Hall and Adrian Garcia in a December duel for mayor of Houston, a result similar to San Antonio's earlier this year.  Sylvester Turner, with all of his endorsements, money, and powerful friends could still get there, of course, and would certainly be the preferred option over Garcia.  But candidly it's difficult to see such a small number of voters as Houston normally turns out for muni elections sending two black men into the final round.

There are still openings for the most liberal and the most conservative Caucasians, Chris Bell and Bill King, but ground game and future developments have to favor them more than they have up to this point.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

About that HGLBT Caucus endorsement

So a week from last Saturday, as everybody who cares knows by now, the city's most powerful political constituency made its endorsements for the Houston municipal and county educational elections, coming up fast on the fall calendar.  Several other groups -- the DFA folks, the Tejanos, the Stonewalls, and others I am sure to be leaving out -- followed their lead for the most part.

Sylvester Turner, as Charles has noted, swept the so-called "progressive" endorsers, and Adrian Garcia secured his demographic identity caucus nod.

For this post, let's focus on the HGLBT Caucus, which all involved can agree carries the most weight in muni elections.  It's not disputable that they can throw their bulk around pretty effectively.  And they will need every ounce of it, and all the heavy help they can get, to once again turn back the Christian soldiers who have already gone Godwin on them, the mayor they elected thrice, and her signature accomplishment in office: the city's equal rights ordinance.

The Caucus (as it is known, sort of like The Donald) has beseeched Beyonce' Knowles via Twitter hashtag -- to no avail as yet -- to join their fight.  A few of its members have even signed my petition to kick the NFL and its league championship out of town in 2017 if the referendum on November's ballot fails.  In a crafty move, the ballot language -- being contested in court, as has everything associated with HERO -- is counter-intuitive; a 'no' vote upholds the ordinance, a 'yes' one repeals it.

The battle has begun; make sure you have your remote ready to change the channel when the teevee commercials come on, and reset your ad-blocking software to max for online exclusion (unless you just like getting paint-balled to death with advertising).

So we're up to speed on the latest.  Now, about that endorsement for mayor...

We already knew that Sylvester Turner purchased at least 76 memberships before the deadline in order for whomever they were intended to be able to vote at the Caucus endorsement meeting.  We know that Turner's consultant, Sue Davis, brushed it off as "something that's done every year".  (The Tejanos, for the record, do the same thing; the DFA has a small membership group and its executive committee makes the endorsements.  I have no idea how the process works for the Stonewalls.)  A handful of present and past officers of the Caucus even weighed in and said they had never seen an endorsement that was tilted by this "pay-to-play" mechanism in the recent past history of Caucus endorsements.

Well, they can't say that any longer, because Turner won by a count of 142-85... a margin of 57 votes.

These "endorsement membership drives" are an important part of these clubs' overall fundraising.  For its part, the Caucus also has its own PAC, and is hosting a fundraiser for it to "honor" its endorsees next week.

It might be valuable to go back to the top and click on the links for the groups mentioned in the first paragraph, where you will note that the same names of people are repetitively mentioned in the organizations doing the endorsing... of the same names over and over again of the people running for office.

So let's review.

If a mayoral candidate buys enough memberships in the Caucus to "democratically" earn its endorsement, and then gets feted by the Caucus at a PAC fundraiser, is he really a 'man of the people'?  Or just a very small, select group of people?  Let's only consider this instance of how the Caucus endorses, evaluating funds raised as an element of 'viability' scoring.  I know it's hard, but for a moment ignore the influence this might have in the outcome of the general election or the runoff.

If all that is accurate, then the election of Houston municipal officeholders is not in fact democratic at all, but oligarchic.  Or it might be plutocratic, since so much money is involved in the buying and selling -- and even in fundraising as a viability quotient -- of endorsements for public office.

Keep in mind that this bad business is not, of course, limited to Houston and its candidates for City Hall, and most certainly not limited to socially liberal Democrats and Republicans.  The same thing goes on for those who go to Austin and Washington to represent "us", when they're really only representing a very small number of people, almost all of whom can write their campaigns large checks.

We know we have big problems with too much money in our politics, but some people seem to think it's OK if "our people" win.  That's exactly what the other side thinks as well.  Now do we understand better why so many people who don't vote at all say that 'both parties do it"?  That both parties are the same?

And as Noah commented here, if Turner is "100% in" the runoff... as the candidate of the oligarchy/plutocracy, does he still meet the definition of 'progressive"?

That would be 'no', and it's not counter-intuitive.

My brother Neil communicates this with more brevity than I can muster, and for something tangential and fabulously entertaining, read Michelle Risher's screed at a certain scorned-for-endorsement council candidate.