Showing posts sorted by relevance for query leo vasquez. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query leo vasquez. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Leo Vasquez and his histrionics re: Houston Votes *update*

Let's put an end to this sideshow right NOW.

The Harris County Voter Registrar says he's found thousands of voter applications filed in the last three months which are fraudulent. He calls this an attack on the voter rolls of Harris County. 

Horseshit, Leo. Your office is doing the same thing it has always done: verifying voter registration cards. If you don't like the work, maybe you shouldn't be tax assessor/collector. Oh, wait ... you won't be.

Harris County Voter Registrar Leo Vasquez's office has pored through thousands of voter registration applications, discovering many questionable filings. Like some which appear to be the same person with the same date of birth filing six times on the same day. And that's not all... 

Horrors. Who would do such a thing and think they could get away with it? Why, it must be the evil ACORN.

Vasquez said, "We have evidence indicating violations of the Texas election code, falsified documents being submitted to this governmental office and possibly violations of federal election laws." 

Then turn it over the the DA or the AG and le them prosecute. Simple as that.

The investigation found 1,597 instances of multiple applications for the same voter, 1,014 applications for folks already registered to vote, 325 for teenagers who are too young to register and even 25 from folks who admitted on the application they are not even US citizens. 

Sweet baby Jesus on a Christmas tree crutch. How could this be allowed to happen in the 21st century? It's a travesty, a miscarriage o' justice ...

"My office has been forced to expend countless hours and thousands of dollars of taxpayer money trying to sift through the garbage being dumped into our voter registration system," Vasquez explained. 

Vasquez shrieked, you mean.

Vasquez says the applications were all gathered by paid deputies with the group Houston Votes. Of the 25,000 applications the group filed in the last three months, only 7,193 were actually for new voters.

Sean Caddle is the director of Houston Votes, which he says is a privately funded organization which signs up voters.

"I didn't do anything wrong. I ran a legitimate program," Caddle said. "What's the motivation behind anyone else? I don't know."

Caddle says he has fired 20 to 30 of his workers as a result of filing these fraudulent applications. 

I bet another million voter registration cards come pouring in next week and poor ol' Leo is going to have to "sift through the garbage" and make sure no Ill Eagles are trying to vote Democratic.

Filling out a voter registration card incorrectly -- irrespective of the intent -- is NOT VOTER FRAUD. Voter fraud is when someone tries to vote, during early voting or on election day, who is using a fraudulent credential (that Vasquez should have snared in his verification process, I might add). Leo Vasquez cannot assume the guilt of any party to the process until an investigation is completed and charges are brought. Anything else is histrionics.

Get a grip, Leo. It's your job to verify voters' registration. Your load isn't any heavier than usual. People re-register at their new address when they move, and  people also forget they have previously registered -- even though it's probably a good idea for them to do so, since your predecessor was busily purging voter rolls as fast as he could, not to mention slow-walking new registrations. You, of course, have been forced to shuffle corrupt underlings around  after their misleading testimony to the Legislature to avoid the appearance of holdover impropriety from the Bettencourt regime.

There are bound to be mistakes when your office does such a lousy job of training deputy voter registrars. (I know this because I am one.) And if some people turned in cards with the same name on them six times, then somebody thought they were going to get paid extra for more regs. Your job -- again -- is to verify and discard if it doesn't pass muster, not cry and wail and call the media and flail your arms and gnash your teeth. (To be even-handed, part of what's wrong with this report is Kevin Quinn at ABC-13 falling hook, line, and sinker for Leo's dog-and-pony show.)

You've only got a few months to go on the job, Leo; shut up and get the work done.

And stop trying to suppress the vote with your hysterical ranting.

KHOU's report -- by veteran reporter Ron Trevino -- was more even-handed; they used "irregularities" in the header, for example:

The Harris County Registrar’s Office is investigating allegations of voter registration fraud by a registration project called Houston Votes.

[... more Vasquez hyperventilating ...]

There was a large crowd at the news conference Vasquez conducted. Among those in attendance were members of a group called True the Vote, who claimed they had brought the issue to light. ...

"I think it’s poor to make a judgment, cast a judgment made up by allegations of few select people and cast doubt on an entire organization," said Sean Caddle.

Good ol' TTV. Douchebags in Action.

Update: Go read Neil and John and Chisme. The Chronicle's Chris Moran revealed the hyperbole of Vasquez also, but as previously mentioned I won't be linking to it.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

TDP sues Vasquez, he wails

Boyd Richie's statement:

“In 2008, the Texas Democratic Party was forced to take legal action in Federal Court to protect Harris County voters from the inappropriate, partisan actions of former Voter Registrar Paul Bettencourt, whose office rejected tens of thousands of legitimate voter registration applications.

When Leo Vasquez took office following Bettencourt’s sudden resignation after the 2008 election, he defended his predecessor’s actions. However, when the Texas Democratic Party presented the Court evidence of the serious misdeeds in the Harris County voter registration office, Vasquez ultimately agreed to a settlement, providing hope that those inappropriate practices had come to an end.

“Unfortunately, we believe Leo Vasquez violated the terms of our agreement last week, based on statements and information he distributed at a press conference that resembled a political pep rally. At that event, Vasquez made reckless accusations against a non-partisan organization based on a “review” of voter registration applications conducted by a group called “True the Vote.” In order to conduct such a review, Vasquez apparently provided the group access to the same applications he refused to provide the Texas Democratic Party last year, when he argued in Federal Court that such documents contained confidential information such as date of birth.

The DOJ is going to have to get involved down here.

“All Harris County residents should be deeply disturbed by how easily this office disregards election law and federal court orders and by how casually they distribute voters’ confidential information. Just last year, well-documented reports revealed that deputy voter registrar Ed Johnson was selling driver’s license information to Republican candidates as part of an illicit side-business with Republican state representative Dwayne Bohac.

“Given Mr. Vasquez’ actions last week, we have been forced to take legal action to make sure his office does not repeat the same kind of practices that denied almost 70,000 Harris County citizens the right to register and vote in 2008.”

Vasquez does have a response, but it isn't very calm or measured ...

“Houston Votes has taken off its non-partisan mask by sending in the Democratic Party machinery to fight its losing battle. They can’t deny the evidence this Office has put forward of their misdeeds; so, they try to divert attention by once again slandering this Office again.

“The Tax Office has, per the law, fully and completely processed each and every application that has been submitted to it, even those that evidence obvious questionability. It is our duty to refer that questionable work over to law enforcement.

“It is the Texas Democratic Party that is making reckless and baseless allegations. No third party group has been granted access to any confidential information of any voter outside of legal open records requests available to any citizen. We continue to zealously guard voter data.

“The Tax Office met today with representatives of the Democratic Party to discuss their concerns. However, the Democrats were not interested in discussing actual facts. As we have seen in the past, their lawsuit is just about political posturing.

John has called for Vasquez to step down. I concur.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Anniversaries and updates

-- Five years since Katrina hit New Orleans. You can read my previous takes as the event unfolded at the top of the August 2005 archives, and from 9/05, some accounts from the Astrodome as evacuation center, Katrina's evacuees and Houston by the numbers, the days before Katrina we spent at Camp Casey, my own Astrodome volunteering experience (as well as dining at Brennan's a few days later), some of the ridiculous things said during the crisis, and a few posts about Hurricane Rita, which came to Southeast Texas a week later and caused its own bit of havoc.

Among current reading, see this account by the Louisiana Superdome's director in which he is haunted by an evacuee whom he saw for several days and then didn't, ever again. And this one about the farm which now grows in the Ninth Ward. And these three stories of survival and life after the storm.

-- Twenty years since Stevie Ray Vaughn died in a helicopter crash. I'll direct you to Charles Kuffner for the videos.

-- Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman is putting on a happy face about her burned-up election machines ...

"I'm very optimistic in spite of this great challenge," she said. "We've had floods and other issues in the past and we've always come out and provided the service people expect, and I expect we will do the same here. There is no dout in my mind that we will have a timely election and take care of our voters."

...but Burka isn't buying it (nor is anybody else, for that matter):

The continuing investigation into the origin of the fire that destroyed all of Harris County’s voting machines has not arrived at a conclusion. I’m not going to jump the gun. But I will say this: If arson proves to be the cause, the feds are going to be swarming into Harris County. With early voting less than two months away, the election has been seriously disrupted. If the fire was deliberately set, the immediate question is, who benefits from consequences of the fire, which will be long lines, changes in polling places, tens of thousand of people trying to figure out where they go to vote, and, possibly, the use of paper ballots and all the uncertainties that go with them? We could see a replay of Florida 2000.

No doubt the Democrats will feel that they are the losers in the fire. Bill White has been counting on a big turnout in Harris County to propel him to victory. The disruptions will surely depress turnout, but you can argue that two ways: (1) Republicans are more motivated than Democrats in this election cycle, so if turnout is depressed, Perry is damaged more than White. Or, (2) The confusion about polling places is more likely to depress turnout among minorities, who, of course, are likely Democratic voters.

Right now we are just at the beginning of this story. If the cause of the fire turns out to be bad wiring, much of the drama evaporates. But if it is arson, look out. Already Democrats have expressed concern that the courthouse Republicans who control the voting system will compress the number of polling places, making it more difficult for Democratic voters to find where to cast their ballots. This could get really ugly.

John Cobarruvias also compiles the conspiracies.

-- Houston Votes hits back at Leo Vasquez (bold emphasis mine).

Fred Lewis, head of Houston Votes, said, “Those who propagate lies and distortions like those of Mr. Vasquez and his partisan allies are eroding our democracy, and we ask the Voting Rights Section of the Justice Department to immediately investigate and monitor his office and his radical allies.”

Mr. Vasquez’s histrionic complaints are false and defamatory. Houston Votes seeks to register as many Houstonians as are eligible, which Mr. Vasquez unfortunately sees as a “burden” and a threat. Rather than celebrate new registrants, Mr. Vasquez apparently intends to reduce his workload by intimidating people from registering. He and his staff are paid with taxpayer dollars to process voter registration cards. They should do their jobs without complaining or engaging in partisan, political activity.

The recklessness and falseness of Mr. Vasquez’s allegations, combined with his unprofessional and partisan actions, raise serious questions about his political motivations. Houston Votes is asking the Justice Department to investigate voting rights violations by Mr. Vasquez and his office through a political campaign to intimidate voter registration. The Registrar’s Office has a long history of voter suppression. We have reason to believe that his office is continuing its systematic practice of illegally not approving registration applications from eligible citizens despite public outcry and costly litigation.

Mr. Vasquez’s press conference, as part of his official non-partisan duties, was a political circus, with dozens of partisan operatives present. Mr. Vasquez appears to have abused the power of his office by collaborating with the King Street Patriots, a partisan organization that took credit for uncovering the “fraud” alleged against Houston Votes This political organization’s website states “that current political initiatives must be focused on mobilizing the conservative electorate”. It appears that Leo Vasquez openly coordinated with King Street Patriots to further personal political goals and retard the efforts of Houston Votes in registering people. He also appears to have shared legally confidential voter registration data with partisan political third parties, which is unlawful. Both activities warrant a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

Neil Aquino made it to the press conferences by HV as well as the Liberty Institute (affiliated with the KSP) and reported on them here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

More on Houston Votes vs. Vasquez (and a real firestorm)

While I've been detached from the online world, Stace Medellin and Charles Kuffner and Neil Aquino have updated this week's most significant election-related story. Stace with his dos centavos first ...

Perhaps the appointed and losing candidate for Tax Assessor-Collector Leo Vasquez is doing one last favor for his Republican Party.  Yes, the same Republican Party which abandoned him for being Latino, yet, Vasquez still feels the need to stop the voter registrations of Latinos, African-Americans, the elderly and poor Whites by spreading outright lies about a voter registration group, Houston Votes.

[...]

There’s something different this time around, and that’s the use of a right-wing voter suppression group calling itself “True the Vote.”  Given their own description that they seek out “voter fraud” by placing “conservative” poll watchers at the polls is suspect in itself–reminders of the good ol’ Texas way of running polling locations where the boss is looking after the workers making sure they vote his way.

[...]

Needless to say, I find the motives of such a right-wing group suspect–they yell “fraud” whenever too many Latinos and Blacks votes, such after the 2008 election. But to find out that Vasquez allowed them to pore over applications containing voter information is something that should be investigated.


Some Off the Kuff next, cogent as always ...

Vasquez lobbed these charges at a press conference that was more political rally than anything else, as he packed the place with the sort of people who are convinced that the streets are teeming with illegal voters. You can just imagine them high-fiving and chest-bumping in the background.

[...]

It’s entirely possible that Texans Together has been sloppier than they should be. Maybe they’re not up to this task; maybe no one is. But to claim nefarious intent is quite a stretch, and I’ll be very surprised if the District Attorney, to whom Vasquez says he’s going to refer this, makes anything of it. I’m never quite sure how these schemes that Vasquez and his buddies dream about are supposed to work. Are all these people who’ve never voted before expected to show up at multiple polling places and hope nobody notices? Assuming that the bogus and duplicated registrations made it past both Vasquez and the Secretary of State, of course. Sure, that sounds bulletproof to me. I’ll bet Pat Lykos can’t wait to bring that before a jury.

I’ve also never quite understood why some people want to make it so hard for others to vote. I grew up believing that the right to vote was precious and what made democracy the best system of government there is. Apparently, that’s now a matter of partisanship. The story notes that much of the Texans Together board is made up of Democrats. Maybe that’s because the type of person who thinks it’s good for more people to vote tends to be Democratic. It’s been made quite clear in recent years that the type of person who wants to see fewer people vote tends to be Republican, that’s for sure.

And lastly a bit of Texas Liberal ...

Mr. Vasquez is working in tandem with local Tea Party groups. This despite the fact that Mr. Vasquez was defeated in the Republican primary earlier this year. At the time of his defeat, Mr. Vasquez said he felt that one of the reasons he had lost was possibly the fact he is Hispanic.

Mr. Vasquez is now in league with these bigoted so-called Tea Party Groups.

One local Tea Party group, the King Street Patriots , seems also to be offering up its resources to serve as a meeting place for a major Rick Perry for Governor event in Houston. 

The Tea Party wants change in Texas and in America so badly that they are supporting for reelection a man who has been Governor of Texas for ten years already.

It is as if the Boston Tea Party was all about keeping King George in power.

[...]

The fact is that there is not much voter fraud in Texas. 

What may well be at work here is orchestrated voter suppression and intimidation of voters.

[...]

It is a Texas Two-Step of voter suppression and intimidation. Mr. Vasquez works on the suppression while the Tea Party handles the intimidation.

I excerpted for brevity here but all three commentaries merit a full read. Their takes are clear, calm, and strike the nail solidly. Houston Votes will have their own public response later today, and coupled with the news this morning that a three-alarm fire has engulfed the building where Harris County's voting machines are warehoused, Houston appears well on its way to a most lively election season.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vasquez staff members offer misleading testimony

Let's start with Alan Bernstein:

Any honeymoon between (Texas) Democrats and the new Harris County voter registrar ended suddenly today.

Democratic state Reps. Garnet Coleman and Ana Hernandez of Houston said Leo Vasquez, who is tax assessor-collector and voter registration chief, is responsible for staffers who allegedly misled state legislators considering whether to require voters to offer more proof of identification before casting ballots.

“It is up to (Vasquez) to clean up his office,” Coleman and Hernandez said in a news media handout. “Otherwise, Leo needs to go.”


What's the issue here?


The Democrats today zeroed in on Hammerlein’s legislative testimony, several hours into hearing that ran past midnight, that thousands of Harris County residents who registered to vote on time were not eligible to participate in early voting two weeks later because they applied relatively late.

Hammerlein acknowledged today that his statement was wrong and said it was due to the strange hour rather than any attempt to mislead the Legislature.


Interesting. Vasquez apparently got reactionary and overly defensive about it:

(Vasquez) said today that testimony in Austin last week on the “voter ID” bill by ... Hammerlein and Ed Johnson was no partisan move. The pair, called to testify by Republican lawmakers, took no position on the bill and provided facts as requested, Vasquez said.

Coleman and Hernandez never have taken their concerns to him, Vasquez said, and they owe his staffers an apology for making baseless allegations.


More interesting. A catfight of sorts has erupted. Google searches for more reporting about this story seem a little thin at the moment. I'd like to know more, and if you do, post a link in the comments.

Update
: Courtesy Kuffner, here's the full statement outlining the complaint from Coleman and Hernandez. And Vince has some video of the testimony in question.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Harris County's plan for voter registration

I like the sound of this, so let's keep an eye out for how effectively it is implemented:

County Tax Assessor-Collector Leo Vasquez has put together a coalition of private organizations and large employers to make sure that residents who move within or to the county get an on-the-spot chance to fill out fresh voter registration applications.

Moving into an apartment or buying a dwelling involves signing lots of papers. Now the Houston Apartment Association and the Texas Land Title Association will make sure the papers include voter registration forms, Vasquez said Wednesday.

Continental Airlines and the Houston Independent School District are the first employers to join the coalition by ensuring that registration forms go to workers who update their personnel records with new addresses.

“Let’s hit people when they are trying to make one of those moves,” said Vasquez, who was appointed in December to succeed fellow Republican Paul Bettencourt, who resigned from his elected post.


Some poor word choices there, Leo, but the effort seems to be well-directed:


Vasquez said he created the voter registration coalition without regard to such controversies. He also said he does not plan to play a partisan role.

Registered voters who move without updating their registrations can, in most cases, vote on Election Day at the polling place for the precinct where they formerly lived. With the rise of early voting participation, where voters live within the county matters less because they can vote at any early voting station.

Having to return to an old neighborhood to vote sometimes discourages voters from casting ballots, Vasquez pointed out, so updated registrations make participation easier.

Vasquez also hopes the program will make the volume of voter registrations more consistent through the year. Typically, address changes and other registrations peak a few weeks before each election. These spikes lead to last-minute errors by those who fill out the cards and a processing backlog at the voter registrars’ office, according to Vasquez.


Fair enough. Let's see how it goes.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

An elections administration department in Harris County?

Liz Peterson has a good update here on the continuing saga of difficult democracy at the ballot box in the nation's third-largest county:

The departure of Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt has opened the door for some discussion of whether his successor should inherit the job of maintaining Harris County's voter rolls, a duty assigned to that office in the days of Jim Crow poll taxes.

State law allows Commissioners Court to assign that responsibility to the county clerk, who already conducts elections and counts the votes, as long as the county clerk and the tax assessor-collector sign off on the plan. The court also can create an independent elections administration office to handle all election-related duties.

Seventy-three of Texas' 254 counties have established separate elections offices, including every large, urban county but Harris and Travis. Nineteen other counties have assigned the voter registration role to the county clerk.

Earlier this month, Republican precinct chairman Jim Harding proposed moving the rolls to the County Clerk's Office, saying that would "streamline all of the voter activity from initial registration to final certification of an election under county clerk leadership."

Republican County Judge Ed Emmett and Democratic Commissioners Sylvia Garcia and El Franco Lee have said the idea of moving the rolls is worth discussing, though little consensus has emerged over how that should be done.

Emmett said he would be open to shifting those duties to the county clerk but opposed the creation of a new elections administration office. Garcia said she prefers the idea of an elections administrator because that person would be prohibited by law from making political contributions or endorsing candidates or ballot measures. Lee said he is not sure either change would do enough to make the voter registration process more transparent and user-friendly.


So Commissioner Garcia -- who abandoned her support of Diane Trautman for tax assessor/collector and voted for Leo Vasquez last week -- and Commissioner Lee are for the idea; Judge Emmett is lukewarm, and most of the rest of the parties involved are against it: Clerk Kaufman, TA/C Vasquez, and Commissioner Radack ...

For her part, Republican County Clerk Beverly Kaufman said she is not interested in adding voter registration to her many responsibilities. And newly appointed Tax Assessor-Collector Leo Vasquez said he believes the current system is very efficient.

"Why create yet another organization, another layer of bureaucracy in Harris County government?" Vasquez said of the elections administrator idea. "It just doesn't make sense."

The idea could also face significant opposition from Republican Commissioner Steve Radack, who said he would not vote for an elections administrator under any circumstance. He said the the current system offers checks and balances while allowing voters to judge whether the tax assessor-collector and the county clerk are doing a good job.

"I think that's good and healthy for the electoral process," he said.

An elections administrator would be appointed by a county elections commission composed of the county judge, the tax assessor-collector, the county clerk and the chairmen of both political parties.

Firing the administrator would take a four-fifths vote of the county elections commission and a majority vote of Commissioners Court.


Oh yeah, there's Federal-Indictment-Any-Day-Now Eversole:


Republican Commissioner Jerry Eversole declined to comment, saying he would make his opinion known if the topic came up during a court meeting.


Don't expect to see anything come of this entirely worthwhile proposal.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Reading the tea(bagger) leaves

-- First let's note Governor MoFo's pollster's contention that the 45% of early GOP primary voters in 2010 -- who had no prior Republican primary history -- put the governor over the top in Tuesday's election.

Now personally I believe that's hogwash. People in Texas who have a voting a history, just not a Republican one, turned out in the tens of thousands to vote for Rick Perry?!? LMAO.

There thousands of people with no prior Republican voting history who voted in the Republican primary, all right, and they were Democrats who voted for Kay Bailey ... and Debra Medina. Yes, we have our share of low-information voters too, and they're almost as ignorant as any conservative. Almost.

Baselice wants you to believe that TeaBaggers are legion, especially in Texas. That's partly right; they're just a whole lot smaller in number than he is spinning. I can't look at the full story on QR but that is ludicrous on its face. This is more of the Perry team trying to drive a narrative; don't fall for it. Moving on ...

-- Incumbent Texas Railroad Commissioner Victor Carillo laments his loss to David Porter ...

" ... an unknown, nocampaign (sic), no-qualification CPA from Midland residing in Giddings filed on the last day that he could file while I was waiting in Abilene to bury my dad. He has never held any elected office, has no geoscience, industry, or legal experience other than doing tax returns for oil and gas companies. ...

Early polling showed that the typical GOP primary voter has very little info about the position of Railroad Commissioner, what we do, or who my opponent or I were. Given the choice between “Porter” and “Carrillo” -- unfortunately, the Hispanic-surname was a serious setback from which I could never recover ...

Carrillo is, of course, precisely right and one of the commenters has a suggestion for him:

Message to Mr. Carrillo - why would you stay in a political party that votes out a qualified person just based on their surname?!?

If ever there was a poster child for the racist attitude that pervades the Republican party, to the point of kicking out a qualified incumbent with a hispanic surname, this is it.

Please join the Democratic party. This will not happen to you there!

But -- at least in Harris County -- that suggestion's closing point is also inaccurate. Hispanic judicial candidates on the Democratic ballot lost to non-Latinos by the bushel.

Everybody knows what this is all about, and you don't have to be a regular consumer of FOX or local talk-radio to get it.

The Texas Blue has an even better suggestion:

If (Carillo) is truly interested in supporting the candidate with the most oil & gas experience, he and all Texans should cast their votes in November for Democratic candidate Jeff Weems, a former roughneck and energy lawyer. I don't know about y'all, but I'd rather see an oil & gas person do an oil & gas person's job rather than leave it up to a candidate whose most germane qualification is that he lives near oil & gas infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Porter has hired former TRC member Barry Williamson -- a former finance chair for the RPT -- to raise money for him. I posted a lengthy bit of data on Porter here in January that tells you money is going to be the least of his concerns.

And look for more discussion on this surname topic, here and elsewhere.

--  Kuffner ...

Meanwhile, Harris County Tax Assessor Leo Vasquez suffered the same fate as Victor Carrillo.


Don Sumners won the Republican nomination for county tax assessor-collector Tuesday, ousting incumbent Leo Vasquez on his promises to continue the anti-tax crusade that characterized his tenure as county treasurer in the 1990s. 

Sumners campaigned on a slogan of "I was Tea Party before Tea Party was cool."
As treasurer, he publicly criticized Commissioners Court for increasing the tax rate and was an outspoken opponent of a bond measure that approved hotel and car rental taxes to fund football, basketball and baseball stadiums.

I think teabagging has been pretty cool among certain segments of homosexual men for ... what, decades maybe? Centuries possibly?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A four-year-old tale of corruption finally told: Greg Abbott and Houston Votes

The Texas attorney general and Republican gubernatorial candidate's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad weekend just got a whole lot worse.  From James Drew at the Dallas Morning News...

On an overcast Monday afternoon, officers in bulletproof vests swept into a house on Houston’s north side. The armed deputies and agents served a search warrant. They carted away computers, hard drives and documents.

The raid targeted a voter registration group called Houston Votes, which was accused of election fraud. It was initiated by investigators for Attorney General Greg Abbott. His aides say he is duty-bound to preserve the integrity of the ballot box.

His critics, however, say that what Abbott has really sought to preserve is the power of the Republican Party in Texas. They accuse him of political partisanship, targeting key Democratic voting blocs, especially minorities and the poor, in ways that make it harder for them to vote, or for their votes to count.

A close examination of the Houston Votes case reveals the consequences when an elected official pursues hotly contested allegations of election fraud.

The investigation was closed one year after the raid, with no charges filed. But for Houston Votes, the damage was done. Its funding dried up, and its efforts to register more low-income voters ended. Its records and office equipment never were returned. Instead, under a 2013 court order obtained by Abbott’s office, they were destroyed.

And the dramatic, heavily armed raid never was necessary, according to Fred Lewis, president of Texans Together, the nonprofit parent group of Houston Votes. “They could have used a subpoena,” he said. “They could have called us and asked for the records. They didn’t need guns.”

The previously unreported 2010 raid coincided with agitation by a local tea party group and Lewis’ testimony in the trial of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land. Lewis had filed a complaint against DeLay that, in large part, led to his indictment on corruption charges.

Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, declined interview requests. A spokesman, Jerry Strickland, said the attorney general does not recall being briefed by staff members on the Houston Votes investigation.

This is a lengthy piece, and you should set aside some time to read every word. I have a vested interest because Mo Haver (the former head of Houston Votes, mentioned prominently) is my friend, Fred Lewis is an acquaintance, and I was present at the kickoff for their mobilization four years ago.  The efforts of Houston Votes turned into a massive brouhaha -- as the article reveals -- involving three previous Harris County tax assessor-collectors: Paul Bettencourt (he's now poised to be elected state senator, replacing Dan Patrick), Leo Vasquez, and Don Sumners; the head of the now-notorious King Street Patriots/True the Vote, Catherine Engelbrecht; and a handful more of some of the most corrupt and venal Republicans in the state of Texas.

Here it might be useful to point out, via a very handy GIF, the entire substance of voter fraud in the United States.

You should read the entire DMN article, particularly for the backstory on this.

(OAG investigator Jennifer) Croswell said a Houston Votes employee had told her that scanned copies of voter registration applications were given to Lewis and several of them didn’t have personal information redacted.

That, Croswell said, was a felony violation of the Penal Code.

“You are not allowed to copy, scan, reproduce a voter registration application, period. Nobody is allowed to,” Croswell told Haver.

Haver responded that Houston Votes had received voter registration cards from the county in 2008. Printed on the cards was a note directing that copies should be kept for 18 months.

Haver’s attorney said Vasquez, the Harris County tax assessor-collector, had given copies of voter registration applications to King Street Patriots. Haver said Vasquez also displayed them during a news conference. Was that not illegal?

Croswell did not respond.

Croswell left the attorney general’s office a few months after her interview with Haver and is now an Austin police officer. She declined to comment.

And to the end.

Haver, who resigned for reasons of poor health from her job with Texans Together in January 2011, said she believes there was no prosecution because there was no “credible evidence of voter fraud or criminal behavior.”

“From the [voter] registrar to the attorney general to the district attorney, all the players were Republicans, so no one can point to partisan protection from indictment. Instead, one can point to a lack of evidence,” she said.

When Haver was interviewed by Abbott’s office in late 2010, her attorney asked if Haver could get some folders returned to her. They’d been taken in the Houston raid and contained research Haver had done on possible irregularities in how GOP officials in Harris County were handling voter registration.

Haver told the attorney general’s office that the research had no relationship to the Houston Votes investigation. “We kept following up, and they kept giving us the runaround about getting it returned,” she said recently.

In late 2013, Abbott’s office asked judges in Harris and Travis counties for permission to destroy the records seized in the two raids. The request said records contained the names of people who were not suspects, partial Social Security numbers and forged voter registration applications.

When the attorney general’s office received a green light from judges, Haver’s research, which did not contain personal identifying information, was among the materials destroyed.

As is historically the case, this development isn't likely to damage Abbott much with his true believers.  It will provide extra motivation to all those folks working with BGTX to mobilize Democratic turnout, registered and still-unregistered.

It helps everyone understand why Abbott doesn't want to do any debates.  He can't respond 'no comment' when the media asks him about things like voter "fraud" -- and Ted Nugent, and Dr. Murray, and CPRIT, and the Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman rape case, and "driving around" to ask if explosive chemicals are stored near your house, and all of the rest of his myriad of scandals -- in a debate.

And it also reveals once more the depth of the immoral, craven, opportunistic sociopath who sits in the OAG, and who hopes to sit in the Governor's Mansion next January.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Closing ranks behind a scandal

Leo Vasquez, Harris County tax assessor-collector and voter registrar, issued a statement that dismissed complaints that Johnson’s job, which can include approving or rejecting voter applications, conflicts with his side business.

“Ed Johnson is an honorable man,” Vasquez said. “It is slanderous and absolutely reprehensible to suggest without evidence that he is involved in inappropriate activity with regard to voter registration in Harris County.”


Bullshit, Leo. You squeal like a stuck pig every single time somebody shows you the dirt under your fingernails. You're a hack. A token Latin hack, at that.


Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos’ campaign paid more than $7,000 last year to CDS. She said late Wednesday her campaign hired CDS for targeted campaign mailers but she did not know about Johnson’s job with the county.

She insisted she saw no compromise of the elections office’s mission.

“I saw no conflict,” Lykos said.


Now that's the kind of hypocrisy Harris County Republicans are more accustomed to: blind injustice.

Gee, ya think there's any chance Attorney General Greg Abbott will investigate?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

An elections administrator for Harris County (?)

Harris County should consider appointing a bureaucrat to take over election duties from two elected officials who currently split the job, County Judge Ed Emmett said.

Emmett said he plans to ask Commissioners Court next month or in July to authorize a study of the costs and consequences of such a change.

Harris County's tax assessor-collector registers voters, a job that accompanied its duty to collect poll taxes. The county clerk runs elections. Both are elected.

Thus, taking voter registration out of the tax assessor/collector's office and elections management out of the county clerk's office and combining them into an elections administration department, under the supervision of an appointed county official, is the idea. And I like it.

Proponents of an elections czar say an appointee would be insulated from accusations and lawsuits alleging partisanship in carrying out the duties of the office.

In late 2008, the state Democratic Party said in a lawsuit that then-Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt, a Republican, had illegally blocked thousands of people from registering to vote. The lawsuit was settled last fall. Bettencourt resigned in December 2008 to work in the private sector, just weeks after being elected to a third four-year term.

“The Democrats' lawsuit against the tax office and Paul Bettencourt's abrupt departure were game changers,” Emmett said. “It brought to everybody's attention that any time you have partisan offices running elections, you're just sort of leaving yourself open to lawsuits.”

The legacy of Quittencourt. He now runs a company that negotiates with the Harris County Appraisal District to get property taxes lowered for homeowners, marking time for his next electoral opportunity.  Continuing with Chris Moran at the Chron ...

There was talk of tinkering with the county's elections machinery at the time. County Clerk Beverly Kaufman and newly appointed Tax Assessor-Collector Leo Vasquez opposed it. No formal proposal emerged.

“I was glad because I didn't want to lose a lot of my people,” Kaufman said.

But Kaufman is retiring, and her endorsed successor lost the March primary election for the nomination to succeed her. Vasquez lost his Republican primary.

That opens a window for proponents in which they can largely avoid the turf war over taking money, people and power from the tax assessor and clerk. Kaufman herself restarted talk of an administrator when she sent Emmett information about it a month ago. Now that she is leaving office she supports an elections administrator, she said.

“This is the ideal time, when you're not pulling the rug out from somebody that's already doing it,” she said.

No incumbent owns any turf to lose, but the challengers bidding to replace them are howling:

Democrat Ann Harris Bennett and Republican Stan Stanart, the November candidates to succeed Kaufman, both said they oppose an elections administrator.

“The voters don't have any way of removing (an appointee) when they're not happy with the performance,” Stanart said.

Democratic tax-assessor candidate Diane Trautman agreed with Stanart, though her released statement had a more partisan bent.

“Now that his hand-picked appointee for tax assessor and Beverly Kaufman's chosen successor for county clerk have been rejected by voters, Ed Emmett wants to change the rules,” Trautman said. “He wants to make sure that the next time he appoints someone to oversee elections processes in Harris County, that person cannot be removed by the voters.”

Republican tax-assessor candidate Don Sumners said, “It's not broken. We don't need to fix it.” He said he suspects the plan is retaliation for his past public criticism of Commissioners Court.

The partisan PDiddie would love for this crucial bit of democracy to fall under the control of Diane Trautman and Ann Harris Bennett. But the (perhaps utopian) idea of a non-partisan, unelected official has great appeal -- assuming it could actually happen.

Statewide, an administrator is used in 77 of the 254 counties, including Bexar, Dallas, El Paso and Tarrant. By state law, an election commission consisting of the county judge, the tax assessor, the county clerk and the heads of the local political parties hires and fires an elections administrator.

The leaders of the county's Republican and Democratic parties condemned the idea.

GOP Chairman Jared Woodfill said the party took a stand against an administrator two years ago. “It's another level of bureaucracy that we didn't need,” Woodfill said.

Democratic Chairman Gerry Birnberg said there is no party position on the matter but that he may take it up if the idea gets traction at Commissioners Court.

Charles Kuffner has more, including these questions:

Does this person have to be periodically re-appointed, or re-confirmed? Under what conditions can he or she be fired? How can you isolate this person from political pressure, yet ensure they are accountable?

All important considerations. I think my condition would be someone with prior metro county experience outside of Texas -- thus somewhat removed from the Republican Party of Texas' unique view on what constitutes free and fair elections. Yeah, I'm looking at you, Greg Abbott. Update: ... and so is Kuffner.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Vasquez reassigns his elections-office problema

Ed Johnson, Harris County elections official for hire to Republicans seeking insider information, finally loses his day job. Kinda:

The battle over alleged voter registration hijinks in the Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector office took another turn today when Leo Vasquez reportedly removed Ed Johnson from his job as Associate Voter Registrar and reassigned him to Communications.

Johnson, along with State Rep. Dwayne Bohac has been the subject of a series of investigative pieces by the Democratically funded Lone Star Project out of Washington, D.C. LSP's allegations took a decidedly more serious turn yesterday when they questioned whether the Johnson-Bohac political consulting firm had improperly obtained drivers license data for their voter files.

Bohac has not returned our call seeking comment.



Matt Angle has been hard on this case:

The Lone Star Project’s exposure of the ongoing scandal in the Harris County Elections Office clearly spooked Republican State Representative Dwayne Bohac (HD138 – Houston). When the story broke, Bohac suspiciously pulled down his campaign consulting firm website and, since then, has refused to answer any questions regarding his ties to the Elections Office or his firm’s work for local Republicans officeholders like State Representative Ken Legler (HD144) and Congressman Michael McCaul (CD10).

Why has Dwayne Bohac “gone to ground” and hidden from the media?

Maybe because of this:

Dwayne Bohac must either produce evidence that CDS obtained Texas Drivers License records from a source other than the Harris County Elections office OR admit that he lied to clients and did not enhance their voter data with driver license records. Otherwise, Dwayne Bohac and Ed Johnson conspired to illegally obtain Texas Driver License records and use them for commercial political purposes which is a violation under the Texas Transportation Code, Sec. 730.013, and the federal Driver Privacy Protection Act of 1994.


More stink to come out about this.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Voter registrations In Harris County to be mediated today

A little meeting today over the Harris County tax assessor/collector's continuing efforts to thwart voter registrations.

Harris County officials have rejected far fewer would-be voters since 2008, but Democrats are demanding more proof that voter rolls are not being illegally suppressed -- particularly among Hispanics -- as another U.S. presidential election approaches. The two sides will meet in secret mediation Friday as Democratic officials seek assurances the county is following the terms of a 2009 settlement reached after the party challenged Harris County voter reviews in a federal lawsuit. The county's voter registrations have remained fairly flat at about 1.9 million since 2008 (emphasis mine), failing to keep pace with a boom in the eligible voting population. "Harris County continues to fall behind other large cities. Harris County rejects far too many applications and removes far too many eligible voters from the rolls," Chad Dunn, an attorney for the Democrats, told the Houston Chronicle.

Sumners has severely curtailed efforts to recruit and train deputy voter registrars as well. Sumners is in fact a tool of the King Street Vote Suppressing Thugs, about which much has been written here.

Sumners said he believes more applicants were rejected in 2008 primarily because a group of deputy voter registrars working for nonprofit groups turned in thousands of duplicate, illegible or incomplete applications. He said he hopes that the quality of applications in 2012 will improve under a new law requiring deputy registrars to complete mandatory training. But Dunn told the court that party leaders need more information to confirm applications are being reviewed as the settlement requires. U.S. District Court Judge Gray H. Miller, who oversees the settlement, ordered both sides to meet with a mediator Friday. If the dispute is not resolved, a hearing has been set next week.

Sumners, in the first sentence of the above graf, refers to Houston Votes, which as an offshoot of Texans Together conducted voter registration drives in minority neighborhoods prior to the 2010 election. Those efforts were effectively demonized by Sumners' predecessor Leo Vasquez, the KSP/True the Vote pasty gangsters, and pretty much every conservative media outlet they could find.

On and on it goes. Progressives encourage people to vote, conservatives restrict it. They only want their voters to vote. They cannot win if more people vote. That "center-right" urban legend is thus advanced. It is fallacy that conservatives represent the view of Texans and Americans when 50% of the population doesn't vote and hundreds of thousands more -- perhaps millions just in Texas -- are prevented from voting. Update: Big Fat Republican Bloggers have their own take.

But conservatives would go further if they could, restricting voting to taxpayers and/or landowners exclusively. That's where we're eventually headed, and Texas will lead the way.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Aaron Peña, weasel diva

I've said here a handful of times that Aaron Peña is a weasel. Now hear this: Peña is also a diva.

In response to this, the little -- not so little -- prima donna got lots and lots of of telephone calls from lots and lots of people about switching parties. Here's how he responded to that ...

“Many of the Democrats are still thinking the party can be reformed and that perhaps, in a decade, we can be competitive again.

“Many of the calls from Republicans, including lawmakers, were that our community can still have a seat at the table now. Why wait a decade when you can have opportunities now?

“And so, after the large number of calls today and the growing speculation, I can say I am taking the matter under consideration and I will issue a public statement in the coming days, one way or the other.

“I am who I am and my intention is to represent my community and to give them the best possible advantage under the current environment.”

Peña added that when he gets back home he will talk to family, close friends and community leaders before issuing his public statement.

There's just not a dime's worth of difference between turncoat Peña and Newt Gingrich telling his cancer-stricken wife in the hospital he was divorcing her.

If Peña does switch over to the Republicans it would give them a Super Majority in the Texas House. They currently have 99 seats to the Democrats’ 51.

If Peña does switch, it would give the Republicans their first Texas House seat in heavily Democratic Hidalgo County. A Republican has never won elected office in Hidalgo County.

There's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that he switches. Furthermore, I'm even more confident that he gets turned out of office in 2012 whether he does or doesn't. Nueces County may be turning red but not Hidalgo.

Aaron Peña is a moderate Republatino no matter what letter shows up behind his name. And those have no base of support anywhere in the Great State (ask Victor Carillo or Leo Vasquez).

Unless he can reach down and find some tiny little core principle somewhere, declaring after his period of rumination and reflection that he is committed to the Democratic Party, its beliefs and values and goals and ambitions in the wake of Democalypse 2010 ... he is a goner.

Update: It makes sense that Peña would not be seeking re-election to HD-40 in 2012 if he and the Republicans can gerrymander a brand-new GOP seat in the US Congress for him, out of the coming redistricting efforts in the Lege.

Related:

Burka

Statesman

Burnt Orange

TexTrib

Update: John Coby piles on, and Allan Ritter falls in line behind Peña. Good riddance to yet another Blue Dog.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Loren Jackson, Ann Harris Bennett, and Diane Trautman

The Houston Chronic got most of the rest of their endorsements way, way wrong, but these they got right.

District Clerk: The duties of this office include summoning jurors for the district and county criminal courts, maintaining court records, preparing daily court dockets and receiving child support payments.

The choice for voters in this contest is easy. Democratic incumbent Loren Jackson has done an excellent job upgrading the electronic capabilities of the office and making it more efficient and user-friendly. On his first day in office, Jackson created an express window lawyers had long sought so they could quickly file papers and return to the courts. 

He has also expanded the online availability of court documents, and if the Texas Supreme Court approves, Jackson plans to open a free e-filing portal allowing lawsuits to be filed electronically. (He) says it will save litigants filing fees, cut down on printing, processing and storage costs, and reduce the number of trips lawyers must make to the courthouse. 

Jackson's efforts have won him overwhelming support in the legal community. On the Houston Bar Association Preference Poll, members chose Jackson over his opponent by 1,270 to 200. Voters should follow their lead.

County Clerk: In this contest to replace retiring incumbent Beverly Kaufman, the Chronicle endorses Ann Harris Bennett, a veteran of more than 14 years' service as a district court coordinator.

The duties of the county clerk include administering county, state and Houston municipal elections as well as maintaining records for county courts and Commissioners Court. The office also issues marriage certificates and records deeds, birth and death certificates and assumed names, wills and probate documents.

Bennett opposes turning over the election functions of the office to an appointed election administrator as advocated by some county officials. She supports eventually converting to voting machines that provide a paper record that can be used for recounts. Bennett also promises to work closely with District Clerk Loren Jackson to upgrade the technology and efficiency of the clerk's office.

County Tax Assessor-Collector: In this contest to fill the unexpired term of Republican Paul Bettencourt, who resigned shortly after his election in 2008, the Chronicle endorses the Democrat who narrowly lost to him, Diane Trautman. The incumbent appointed by Commissioners Court, Leo Vasquez, lost to a challenger in the GOP primary.

The duties of this office include collecting more than $5 billion in taxes annually for 66 taxing entities, selling license plates and vehicle titles, and maintaining county voter rolls.

A former bank lending and trust manager, Trautman now teaches ethics and management to graduate students at Stephen F. Austin University. She pledges to restore non-partisan leadership to a service position too often used in the past to promote the political views of the occupant.

There's really no comparison between these three and their GOP counterparts. They comprise the very worst of extremist, TeaBagging ideology and would only exacerbate lingering problems.

Friday, October 15, 2010

King Street Patriots are breaking the law -- again

If you see any of these thugs at your polling place on Election Day -- or, for that matter, at an early voting location -- call the Harris County Sheriff's Department immediately.

A video shows Texas House District candidate Jim Murphy (R) engaging in political speech at a King Street Patriots event to which opponent state Rep. Kristi Thibaut (D) was not invited. In the video, Murphy talks about his candidacy for office, criticizes Thibaut numerous times and appeals to the audience for help with his campaign.

“I think it’s blatant electioneering. What the King Street Patriots are doing as a nonprofit is prohibited under law,” said Craig McDonald, director of nonprofit watchdog Texans for Public Justice. “If they want to do that kind of one-sided politicking, they need to be a political party or a political committee. They can’t hide behind nonprofit laws to do political campaigning.”

KSP is registered with the Texas Secretary of State as a nonprofit corporation, and, according to KSP representatives, is a nonprofit 501(c)4 corporation. A 501(c)4 group does not have to disclose the source of its donations. Violating state campaign finance laws against corporate contributions is a felony that can carry thousands of dollars in fines and years in jail.

They're in league with the outgoing Harris County voter registrar Leo Vasquez, also a violation of the law which has resulted in yet another lawsuit filed against that office. The Harris County GOP is working in concert with them to "train pollworkers". They intend to intimidate and harass voters on Election Day.

Glenn Smith, Stace Medellin, and I have previously documented these violations. What these radicals have already done, however, pales in comparison to what they plan to do in the coming election period.

The video, posted Oct. 6 to vimeo.com by a user named King Street Patriots, opens with text introducing Murphy as a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives District 133. (There are only 32 congressional districts in Texas — Murphy is a candidate for the Texas House.) The text also identifies Catherine Engelbrecht, president of KSP and its 501(c)3 nonprofit True The Vote, and dates the video Sept. 20, 2010.

In the video, Engelbrecht introduces Murphy: “He is, as we all know now, up against Kristi Thibaut” — someone off-screen shouts “ACORN” — and Engelbrecht smiles and says, “Hmmm, really….”
Engelbrecht continues, “Without further ado, let’s bring up our soon-to-be Rep. Jim Murphy.”

Murphy begins his speech by thanking KSP for its work challenging voter applications sent in by nonprofit Houston Votes, a project of Texans Together Education Fund. Thibaut has a leadership position in the organization, and also received $43,000 in political contributions in 2008 from Texans Together’s affiliated political committee, which, unlike KSP, is registered with the Texas Ethics Commission.

In the video, Murphy calls on Thibaut to resign her position with the group, denounce its activities and to “return that tainted money.”

Murphy tells the audience that he lost his 2008 Texas House reelection bid to Thibaut by a mere 453 votes: “But who’s counting?” he jokes. (Murphy actually lost by 497 votes, according to the Texas Secretary of State.)

Murphy introduces his wife to the crowd, as well as his campaign manager Tom Holloway and assistant campaign manager Rachel Nicholson, identifying them by name.

“I point them out because they want you to get to work, and they want to see you after this presentation, so we’ll get to that,” Murphy says before launching into the subject of the Texas Legislature.

At the end of his roughly 30-minute talk, during a Q&A session with the audience, Murphy appeals for their help in electing more Republicans to the Texas House, in order to replace House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) with someone more conservative.

“We need about another eight Republicans across the state,” Murphy says. “And you have friends in Dallas; you have friends in East Texas; you have friends in Central Texas that can influence these elections, that will give us the numbers we did [before the 2008 elections].”

At one point in the video, after making an awkward joke about heterosexuality and marriage, Murphy laughs and says, “Is this being filmed? You can edit that part out.”

He continues, “We’re among friends.”

The Texas Ethics Commission has a procedure for filing a complaint against this illegal activity as the first step in citizen action. You may call them for more information at 1-800-325-8506.

Related:

* Houston tea party group King Street Patriots may risk violating state, federal laws, experts say
* Houston tea party-trained poll volunteers not expecting voter fraud, are prepared to address it, group leader says
* Harris County GOP directs pollworkers to training from tea party group
* Harris County spokesman: Democrats’ $1.5 million voter records request vastly different from tea party’s $1,000 one
* Rabid Dog Briefly Mistaken for Tea Party Candidate (Andy Borowitz)
* Right wing anxiety over voter fraud grows

And an excerpt from that last link ...

Emerging from the resulting hysteria has been a concerted effort among some tea party groups, most notably the one in Harris County, to conduct training sessions for poll workers and recruit volunteers to monitor the polls during election day. This development, in turn, has alarmed voting experts who are less concerned about dead or imaginary people showing up to vote than poll watchers who might unfairly challenge votes because they are partisan or don’t understand the rules of polling places.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance salutes the changing of the guard in Lone Star professional football prowess -- watching the Houston Texans vanquish their nemesis, the Indianapolis Colts, as the Dallas Cowboys folded like a cheap card table against their longtime rival, the Washington D.C. Native Americans -- as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

Off the Kuff concluded his legislative interviews with state representatives Carol Alvarado and Ana Hernandez, and candidates Kendra Yarbrough Camarena and Brad Neal.

Bay Area Houston believes Rick Perry is the insurance industry's bitch.

John Cornyn, best known as a rapist enabler, is busy throwing cold water on the GOP's Senate takeover chances. Just the other day, Cornyn pooh-poohed on Lisa Murkowski's race. South Texas Chisme thinks Cornyn is just a cold, cold guy.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson reminds us that in this election season, the Republican candidates don't want to talk about the most serious issues and we can't let them run and hide from the ones that matter the most.

The GOP would rather climb a tree to tell a lie than stand on the ground and speak the truth. Leo Vasquez and King Street Patriots: PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is looking at YOU.

Justin at Asian American Action Fund Blog points out that Houston Chronicle reporter Chris Moran is a racist for questioning Harris County Judge candidate Gordon Quan's lifelong residence in Harris County.

McBlogger takes a look at the debate over a Debate and concludes that it's time to stop asking Perry to debate and instead ask him to answer for his failure.

Neil at Texas Liberal "likes" Republican Senator John Cornyn on Facebook. Here is what people on Senator Cornyn's Facebook page wrote when the senator said he would be addressing a group of Hispanic lawyers. Many of the comments were not encouraging.

Libby Shaw tells the tale of Rick Perry's efforts to "spin" the unspinnable -- a $19 billion dollar hole in the state budget. Read the details over at TexasKaos: Watch Rick Perry spin his $18 billion budget deficit.

WhosPlayin encourages voters in Lewisville ISD to vote FOR the two-cent tax increase this Tuesday.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes everyone is having a wonderful Labor Day weekend as it brings you this week's blog roundup.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy takes a look at the positions of Chet Edwards and Bill Flores on energy, and finds it unlikely that leadership on the environment, clean energy, and climate change will come from Texas Congressional District 17. LoCS also covers the week in headlines.

WhosPlayin is watching the tax rate election for his local school district, where anonymous mailers are flying and things are not looking good for it to pass.

Libby Shaw is at again over at TexasKaos, exposing Republican puppetry of the rankest order. Who's pulling the strings? Check it out: Meet the GOP/Tea Party Billionaire Puppet Masters, Part 2.

This week at McBlogger, we take a look at Dick Armey and a really stupid fund manager who is pissy about finally being asked to pay the same taxes the rest of us pay.

Off the Kuff turned its attention to the state Senate this week, featuring interviews with state Sens. Rodney Ellis, John Whitmire, and Mario Gallegos.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders if anyone else is wary of the new ERCOT pricing scheme? Does anyone remember who the smartest guys in the room were?

Bay Area Houston believes that the Harris County voter registrar, Leo Vasquez, should resign before being indicted by the US Department of Justice.

The Harris County commissioners approved Clerk Beverly Kaufman's nearly $14 million emergency request for less than 25% of the necessary e-Slates to vote with, and she also included a rather large print order: 1.4 million paper ballots. PDiddie's Brains and Eggs has the details.

As Harris County Democrats draw a bead on the Republican attacks on legitimate voter registration drives and concern themselves with the county's response to the loss of all our voting machines in a fire, Neil at Texas Liberal had a brief Facebook exchange with Harris County Judge Ed Emmett on issues of election integrity.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance sure hopes that Harris County has a disaster recovery plan for the loss of its voting machines as it brings you this week's blog roundup. (There's an emergency commissioner's meeting on the topic scheduled for this afternoon that I will attend and report on.)

Off the Kuff had three more interviews this week, with state representatives. Armando Walle, Ellen Cohen, and Kristi Thibaut.

Meet Jeff "The Trucker" Evans, an unemployed 49-year-old whose unemployment benefits were restored by congressional Democrats after a Republican filibuster caused the payments to temporarily cease. Eye On Williamson returns to the Wrangle and explains how misdirected Tea Party anger causes Jeff the Trucker to vote against his economic best interest.

John Cornyn, known as a rapist enabler, decides to waffle on 14th amendment to the Constitution. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is certain that Cornyn doesn't care about civil rights -- just his fat a**.

Over at TexasKaos, lightseeker summaries the latest scandals at the Texas Youth Commission. The more things change over there, the more they remain the same, sadly.... Check it out : TYC Abuses Make the News Again.

Neil at Texas Liberal attended press conferences held by both Houston Votes and by a local so-called Tea Party group, as a possible pattern of harassment and intimidation against likely Democratic voters in Harris County may be at work. Also, Neil announced that he will now also be blogging at The Daily Hurricane as well as at Texas Liberal. Neil is also a featured politics reader-blogger at the Houston Chronicle.

WhosPlayin reports that the local school district sent a letter to the Texas Attorney General's office requesting exemption from release on the grounds that some personal expenses on district credit cards were too embarrassing to release.

The warehouse where Harris County's election machines are stored erupted in flames last Friday morning, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs had the early line on what it means for Houston and the surrounding area, which represent 15% of the statewide vote tally. Coupled with the histrionics of Leo Vasquez vis-a-vis Houston Votes, it's going to be a real lively election season (and that's before a single race gets mentioned).

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Best, worst, and most surprising results from yesterday

-- Perry won without a run-off and Kay conceded fairly early, before it was known for certain whether there would be one. At least she's a quitter in that respect.

-- Bill White got 76% of the vote against his five challengers. Farouk Shami appears to have paid about $10,000 per vote with less than 13%. No one else even got to 5%.

I am both amazed at the result and disgraced in my prediction. Humble pie for a month.

-- Hank Gilbert salted away Kinky Friedman and it was as close as I thought it would be: 52-48. Linda-Chavez Thompson cruised past Ronnie Earle 53-35; Marc Katz had 12.

-- Hector Uribe barely got past Bill Burton for GLO commissioner. The percentage was 51.6 to 48.4 and Uribe trailed late into the evening.

-- Borris Miles defeated Al Edwards by eleven votes. Another incumbent in the Texas House, Fort Bend-area Rep. Dora Olivo, lost her primary challenge to Ron Reynolds.

-- Sheila Jackson Lee thumped her two rivals and drew 67% of her district's vote. I'm convinced she can have that seat for life if she wants to, and she deserves it. I hope some day I get gerrymandered back into the 18th.

-- Keisha Rogers will be the Democratic nominee for US Congress in CD-22, besting two challengers with 52%.

-- And Ann Bennett topped Sue Schechter in the race for County Clerk. 63-37, in my personal biggest shocker.

Worth noting: Reynolds, Burton, Rogers, and Bennett are all African American candidates and may have benefited from increased AA turnout across the state. Jackson-Lee's contest and the Miles-Edwards battle certainly boosted tallies in Harris County for Burton and Bennett.

Bennett will square off against TeaBagger Stan Stanart for Beverly Kaufman's old job. He trounced the establishment candidate, Kevin Mauzy 60.5-39.5. This race was already at the top of my list, but because the two expected participants were both upset, big, it becomes impossible to predict in November.

-- In other Republican results, Ed Emmett-appointed lackey Leo Vasquez got pummeled by Don Sumners 57-43 in the race for Harris County tax-assessor/collector. Oh, the woe of a having a Latin surname in a GOP primary. And beleaguered HCRP chairman Jared Woodfill enters a run-off for his job with reform candidate Ed Hubbard.