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.


Unknown said...

I heard Ben Hall on the radio yesterday. He is unbelievably bad.

Was he this horrible last time he ran? I don't recall this far right wing rhetoric out of him last time...

Gadfly said...

That possible runoff result would make one hold one's nose before voting, wouldn't it?

PDiddie said...

No, he was not this atrocious two years ago. But he is seizing an opportunity left to him by King, who declined to go firm against HERO.

"(King is) between a rock and a hard place," said University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray. "The right conservative base doesn't like HERO, but the people who write big checks are more moderate on this issue."

PDiddie said...

It's difficult to see me voting for Garcia, but if the only alternative is Hall...