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The Amen Subpoenas

I admit I am a little bit uncomfortable about the City of H-Town issuing subpoenas to try to get church sermons from some of the anti-HERO clergy.   Is this necessary?   I just kind of think that you give the other side some ammo in the fight for public opinion.  It is one thing for an individual or private entity to take this route, but a city?  Has this ever been done in our City’s history?

I just kind of think that we need to stay on the high road and not give up any ground.   I wonder if any members of City Council will mention the subpoenas this morning at City Hall.  I wonder if the Texas Freedom Network has a take on this.  Stay tuned!

Here is a bit from the Chron:

Houston’s embattled equal rights ordinance took another legal turn this week when it surfaced that city attorneys, in an unusual step, subpoenaed sermons given by local pastors who oppose the law and are tied to the conservative Christian activists who have sued the city. 

Opponents of the equal rights ordinance are hoping to force a repeal referendum when they get their day in court in January, claiming City Attorney David Feldman wrongly determined they had not gathered enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

 City attorneys issued subpoenas last month as part of the case’s discovery phase, seeking, among other communications, “all speeches, presentations, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by you or in your possession.” 

The subpoenas were issued to pastors and religious leaders who have been vocal in opposing the ordinance: Dave Welch, Hernan Castano, Magda Hermida, Khanh Huynh and Steve Riggle. The Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization known for its role in defending same-sex marriage bans, filed a motion Monday on behalf of the pastors seeking to quash the subpoenas, and in a press announcement called it a “witch hunt.” 

The city’s lawyers will face a high bar for proving the information in the sermons is essential to their case, said Charles Rhodes, a South Texas College of Law professor. The pastors are not named parties in the suit, and the “Church Autonomy Doctrine” offers fairly broad protections for internal church deliberations, he said. 

Calling it an “unusual but not unprecedented” subpoena request, Rhodes said the city would stand a better chance of getting the sermons if it were a criminal case in which the message or directive in the sermons prompted a specific criminal action. 

Still, he said, the city likely will get a boost because many of the sermons are broadcast or recorded and are intended to be shared with the public. 

“This is unusual to see it come up in a pure political controversy,” Rhodes said. “The city is going to have to prove there is something very particular in the sermons that does not come up anywhere else.” 

To that end, Feldman said the pastors made their sermons relevant to the case by using the pulpit to do political organizing. That included encouraging congregation members to sign petitions and help gather signatures for equal rights ordinance foes, who largely take issue with the rights extended to gay and transgender residents.

Like I said, I don’t like the smell of this.  Oh well!

KC is one win away from returning to the World Serious.  They last played in the Serious in 1985 when they beat San Luis in seven.  Name the 1985 World Serious MVP.

The Chron E-Board today endorsed three GOPers for the Court of Appeals.  Check out the endorsements here:  http://www.chron.com/opinion/recommendations/article/Courts-of-Appeals-5822853.php.

The E-Board also endorsed the GOP candidate for Railroad Commissioner.  Check it out here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/For-Railroad-commission-5822854.php.

KC pitcher Bret Saberhagen of course won the 1985 World Serious MVP Award.

KC could wrap up the AL Pennant early this evening and we may have to wait until Sunday night to get an NLCS Champ.

Harris County’s Mail Ballot Director sent this message out yesterday along with the latest mail ballot numbers:

I have attached the campaign application source totals as of Monday, October 13, 2014.

We are very close to passing the Presidential totals and should pass them in the next few days.

As of yesterday (Oct. 13) here in Harris County, 84,480 mail ballot applications have been submitted. 37,869 of the applications have been generated by the Democratic Party or Democratic candidate campaigns and 36,241 by the GOP and GOP candidate campaigns.

It is obvious that Dems have ramped up their efforts. It also helps that both candidates for governor are on the air. It also helps that there has been a considerable amount of press and media coverage this election cycle – a heckuva lot more than usual. And then there is the latest Team Davis ad that just got covered on the “Today” show, it sure is generating a whole lot of interest.

The Chron has a story on the ad today and the Chron E-Board also has a take. Here is from the story:

Dennis Borel, executive director of the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, said it is always a “good thing that candidates are reaching out to a community that is too often overlooked.” However, he said he wishes the both Abbott and Davis would use the spotlight on disabled people to discuss the problems they regularly face, including higher-than-average unemployment rates and underpaid caretakers.

“We’re not offended, we don’t feel pandered to, we don’t feel insulted,” Borel said. “But, hey, now that you’re talking about wheelchairs, let’s talk about the real issues facing three million Texans.”

SMU political science professor Cal Jillson said an apology may not be warranted, adding he thinks the ad’s reception already has evolved well beyond where it stood on Friday.

“I think opinion has shifted on the ad over the last couple days to a position that what made it shocking also makes it effective,” said Jillson, explaining that people are getting over their initial reactions.

“We’re in the middle of the match, and both people are back at the baseline hitting the ball as hard as they can,” he added. “Really, this is a stalemate in the sense that they are fighting for advantage over the imagery and the content of that ad. … This is a jump ball. It could go either way. But right now, it’s tending toward with Davis.”

Go to the E-Board take here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Bad-ad-5820089.php.

I think all the ad run helps Team Davis. I also think it helps Dem turnout here locally.

When the Giants swept the Tigers in four to take the 2012 World Serious, who was named the Serious MVP?

A mayoral skirmish?

This is interesting. Chris Bell thinks Rep. Sylvester Turner has an unfair advantage in fundraising heading into next year’s H-Town mayoral contest. Check this from the Chron:

Likely mayoral candidate Chris Bell is asking the city of Houston to reconsider its interpretation of an ordinance that would give Sylvester Turner a major fundraising advantage when he runs for mayor next year.

Bell’s law partner, Geoff Berg, sent City Attorney David Feldman a letter last week arguing that Turner and potential candidate Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia should not be able to raise money for their officeholder accounts and then transfer most of the funds to their mayoral accounts at the start of the race. As detailed in the Chronicle last month, Turner has raised money for his unopposed state legislative race this fall and has plans to eventually transfer the first $5,000 of each donation this winter. That is the limit for individual donations in a city election.

Feldman has signed off on Turner’s plan, but many campaign finance experts do not share his interpretation, instead arguing that candidates should merely be able to make a single $10,000 donation to the mayoral bid from their officeholder account. That is how much an entity like a PAC is allowed to donate under the city’s ordinance.

Bell, like other potential candidates who do not hold non-city offices, is prohibited from raising any money for a mayor’s race until Feb. 1. Berg argues in his letter that this unequal footing is ultimately unfair.

“The Ordinance simply cannot reasonably be read to mean anything other than what it says: the maximum amount which may be transferred from non-city campaign accounts is $10,000,” Berg wrote. “The blackout period was not intended to be a fundraising bonanza for officeholders at the expense of citizens who may wish to get involved in public service.”

Turner’s campaign raised more than $400,000 at a fundraiser last month, according to his campaign, and more fundraisers are planned.

The City Attorney is not going to change his mind. Maybe Bell ought to go get some of the former members of City Council who passed the current ordinance to explain their intent. If anything Bell can probably score some points on Turner by making noise on the issue and saying that the system is rigged, flawed and in need of reform. Stay tuned.

Pablo Sandoval of course was named the MVP of the 2012 World Serious.

The ALCS and NLCS get going again today.

Manufactured Outrage

Commentary has made it pretty clear in the past that I don’t do talking points or tow the party line.

That being said I think AG Abbott and supporters are in manufacture outrage mode over the Team Davis ad that started to air this past Friday. What team Davis is airing is an attack ad. It is not ridiculing, mean-spirited, or poking fun of AG Abbott being in a wheelchair. It also rehashes the subject matter of two previous Team Davis attack ads. I don’t find the ad offensive.

Team Davis said they ran the ad past a focus group and it worked. So they wouldn’t get careless and throw something out there that had not gotten tested.

Here is from today’s Chron:

“We’re confident that this ad is effective and is going to continue to be effective because it’s executing basically the same strategy we’ve had since Day 1,” said Joel Benenson, who has also served as the pollster for President Barack Obama. “We’ve always planned to use it in laying out a set of ads that showed him siding with insiders against average Texans, and that’s where we are today.”

Team Davis has aired nothing but attack ads. AG Abbott has run two ads where his wheelchair had a kind of prominent role. AG Abbott now is saying “it’s her choice if she wants to attack a guy in a wheelchair. I don’t think it’s going to sell too well.” Duh! This isn’t new.

I am thinking that AG Abbott is using this to fire up their base. I get it. But to voters out there who are not as invested, I really find it hard to picture that they are going to come across this ad in the coming days and develop a sense of outrage so don’t try to dumb them down. Tell me, what is there to be outraged about?

Erica Grieder of Texas Monthly has a different take on the ad. Here is a bit:

My initial reaction was that the ad was “mean-spirited and misleading”. I think most people agree with the first point, at least. The ad is, at best, weird, crass, and glib about the 1984 accident that left Abbott partially paralyzed at age 27; even Davis’s defenders were put off by the tone and framing.

Wow! Imagine campaigns putting out “mean-spirited and misleading” ads. How dare they!

Here is all of Grieder: http://www.texasmonthly.com/burka-blog/victims.

KC leads B’More 2 zip in the ALCS heading into tonight’s Game 3 at The K. When was the last time a team swept the ALCS?

Early Voting in Person starts in one week and I am betting that Voter IDs will be required.

There is a front page story in today’s Chron about the AG race. The GOP candidate is not campaigning. I wonder if voters are paying attention and I wonder if it matters. We will find out.

This week I got the GLBT endorsement card and a Vote Yes on Proposition 1 mailer.

From the Chron E-Board’s “Ups and downs” this past Saturday:

(Thumbs down) Memo to the dozen concerned citizens lining up to run for mayor of Houston: The central issue is not pension plans. The central issue is not crime and HPD’s inability to solve it. The central issue is not economic development. The central issue is traffic and streets and the inability to get from Point A to Point B in Houston without massive delays on our Third-World roads. The amount of construction has cascaded out of control inside the loop and in downtown. We now have gridlock, and it’s time for our highest-elected officials to coordinate a remedy.

Think about this when you are sitting in traffic.

In 2012, the Tigers swept the Yankees in four in the ALCS of course.

San Luis second baseman Kolten Wong had a walk-off dinger in the bottom of the 9th to grab a 5-4 win over the Giants last night. Wong was taken by the San Luis with the 22nd pick in the 2011 Amateur Player Draft. We took George Springer with the 11th pick that year.

Penny for Your Vote

Local mail ballots got some run on the Channel 13 news last night. Commentary was the first to talk about the postage costs that now are kind of causing a debate of sorts. I said this the other day:

My Mom still gets around the house but doesn’t drive these days. My Dad does drive but has undergone eye surgery recently so he hung up the car keys for the time being. This past Friday my Mom called to let me know that their mail ballots had arrived and on the return envelope it said you had to plunk down a 69 cent stamp instead of a Forever stamp. Who in the heck has a 69 cent stamp laying around? She said she didn’t like the idea of slapping on two Forevers on the envelope. I don’t blame her. Since I was planning to visit the next day to bring them some grub, I told them I would stop by the post office and buy a couple of 69ers out of the postage gizmo in the lobby.

I rarely handle mail ballots, but this is the first time I have ever seen the “69 cent postage due” printed on the return envelope. I am thinking that some older voters might miss the 69 cent notice and will just stick a Forever on the envelope. I hope they don’t get their ballots returned or lost.

Well, it turns out the USPS says the cost is actually 70 cents and the word is they are holding a tray or two of ballots over at the post office until they are assured of payment. Some ballots probably have the 69 cents, some the Forevers, and some probably don’t have any postage. Hey, times are tough at the post office these days.

Look, this is the first time the county ever printed on the return ballot envelope “69 cent postage due.” In the past they probably had to eat the difference of all the envelopes with the Forever stamps. But with more and more folks voting by mail and let’s say if 82,000 stick on a Forever, then that is $17,220 the county has to cough up. I get that but that is not a discussion we ought to be having less than four weeks before the election. Can we talk later and in the meantime let’s go over to Franklin Street and pick up our mail.

Well, while most of us were watching the Texans last night, Channel 13 ran a news story on the confusion, mix-up, screw-up, or whatever. Here is the story:

Hundreds of mail-in ballots that are being mistakenly held for days at a downtown post office will now be delivered to the Harris County Clerks Office.

The downtown post office was holding the ballots for insufficient postage, something they are not supposed to do.

“We found a glitch. And we’re going to expose this,” said Harris County Democratic Chairman Lane Lewis.

Lewis found out about the ballots and offered to pay for the postage shortage. Almost all the ballots were short on postage by just pennies.

“These votes whether Republican or Democrat, I don’t know, but they need to be counted,” said Lewis.

A postal worker told Eyewitness News the shortage was about $57. The worker said for that price, Lewis could take the ballots, put the stamp on himself and return them to the post office. That’s against policy and illegal.

“We could have walked out of here with those ballots. But we did not,” said Lewis.

That is totally irresponsible on their part,” said Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart.

Eyewitness News learned the county clerk’s office has an account with the Post Master, so any shortage should be billed to his office. Post office workers said they knew nothing about an account. They were ready to send the ballots back to the voters.

“By procedure and by law, deliver the ballots regardless of the postage on those ballots,” said Stanart.

Eyewitness News learned Stanart made his own mistake. The return ballot states the postage is 69 cents. But it should have been 70 cents. Some ballots were being held for just a penny. Stanart said he didn’t know about the change in postage.

“I personally didn’t. I would have to talk to my office if they do know that,” said Stanart.

Dionne Montague, a USPS spokeswoman, released the following statement to Eyewitness News:

“We have policies in place to ensure absentee balloting material, received in the mail, is handled promptly. We do not delay delivering ballot materials even when they are received with insufficient funds or no postage. Our policy is to attempt to collect the postage due from the election office at the time of delivery or at a later date. This policy will be rein forced with all of our employees.”

Stanart said the problem has been worked out, and the ballots will be soon delivered to his office.

I sure hope so. I wonder if you can ask a Forever stamp for a Voter ID.

Of the four teams remaining in the MLB Playoffs, name the player with the highest batting average of the past season?

Today the Chron E-Board endorsed in more state house races – 4 GOPers, 4 Dems, and 1 they skipped. Check it out here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/recommendations/article/State-House-part-2-5812628.php.

J.J. Watt certainly knows how to live up to the hype. He certainly owns this town.

Buster Posey of course of the Giants leads all playoff players with a .311 season batting average.

The ‘Stros won’t be bringing back pitcher Matt Albers next season. He was dinged up most of the season. He only pitched 10 innings and was paid $2.25 mil. The team also said adios to Jesus Guzman. He only got into 69 games, was paid $1.3 mil, and batted .188. Hitting Coach John Mallee is leaving so he can become Hitting Coach for the Cubbies. Mallee is credited with helping Jose Altuve win the MLB batting title. Mallee is from the Chicago area so you can’t blame him for wanting to be close to home and his family.

I put out this yesterday and it got some buzz:

In 2010, here in Harris County, 54,625 folks voted by mail. 24,231 went straight GOP and 11,448 went straight Dem. 31,101 voted for Governor Perry and 22,875 for Bill White.

In 2012, 75,177 voted by mail with 28,608 going straight GOP and 19,557 going Dem. 43,270 voted for Mitt Romney and 31,414 voting for the President.

As of yesterday here in Harris County, 80,641 mail ballot applications have been submitted. 36,910 of the applications have been generated by the Democratic Party or Democratic candidate campaigns and 34,381 by the GOP and GOP candidate campaigns.

Here are the new numbers:

As of yesterday (Oct. 8) here in Harris County, 82,129 mail ballot applications have been submitted. 37,250 of the applications have been generated by the Democratic Party or Democratic candidate campaigns and 35,230 by the GOP and GOP candidate campaigns.

Now what I didn’t say because I didn’t know until I checked was in 2012, the Harris County Clerk mailed out a little over 92,000 mail ballots and 76,000 were returned. That means 16,000 or so never made it back and didn’t get counted. I am figuring the Dems know this and are following up if you know what I mean. Dems are not going to let the mail ballots sit at home. Regardless, this looks like a pretty impressive effort. Just to approach the 2012 figure is A-Okay. Nice work! Keep following up!

B’More will host KC for the first two games in the ALCS. B’More last won the World Serious in 1983. Who did they beat?

The First Lady taped some radio ads for Team Davis. That’s a good move. AG Abbott has already injected The President into the race so The First Lady can only help – got it!

AG Abbott has $30 mil in the bank and he’s selling his campaign signs. Go figure! Here is what his campaign tweeted yesterday:

Texans for Abbott ‏@AbbottCampaign 7h7 hours ago
Get your Abbott for Governor yard sign today with a $14 contribution!

Here is the link if you want to score one:

http://store.gregabbott.com/accessories/offical-yard-sign.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=t.co&utm_campaign=20140930_gwa-d-yardsignpromotw930_twitter&utm_content=gwa.

Today the Chron E-Board endorsed in local state house races – 4 Dems and 3 GOPers. Here they are:

http://www.chron.com/opinion/recommendations/article/State-House-part-1-5810296.php.

It is too bad all news 92.1 FM didn’t work out. I guess the days of an all local news radio station in H-Town are history. Folks have a lot of choices to get their news these days and I guess when they are driving around they would rather hear talk radio, sports talk, Bluetooth audio, Sirius, CDs, NPR, or other FM tunes stations. Of course, if there ever is a breaking kick arse local news story that is deserving of live coverage, you aren’t going to hear about it on the radio.

In 1983, B’More won the World Series over the Phillies in five of course.

It looks like the ‘Stros/Rockets TV mess may be coming to a resolution in case anyone cares.

The only thing folks care about today is TNF at NRG this evening so take the afternoon off and get ready!

In 2010, here in Harris County, 54,625 folks voted by mail. 24,231 went straight GOP and 11,448 went straight Dem. 31,101 voted for Governor Perry and 22,875 for Bill White.

In 2012, 75,177 voted by mail with 28,608 going straight GOP and 19,557 going Dem. 43,270 voted for Mitt Romney and 31,414 voted for the President.

As of yesterday here in Harris County, 80,641 mail ballot applications have been submitted. 36,910 of the applications have been generated by the Democratic Party or Democratic candidate campaigns and 34,381 by the GOP and GOP candidate campaigns. Now that my friends is very interesting.

Congrats to the Dems! Keep up the good work!

San Luis eliminated the Dodgers from the playoffs last night. According to today’s Chron, how much is the Dodgers’ payroll this season?

Today the Chron E-Board endorsed in races for probate courts – three GOPers and one Dem. Check it out here: http://www.chron.com/opinion/recommendations/article/Probates-courts-5807712.php.

In her column today, Lisa Falkenberg calls on AG Abbott to stop appealing the same-sex marriage ruling. It is a loser she says. She’s right but he won’t.

I am going to stop watching CNN. They are falling down on the job. I had to learn this morning from a Sen. Dan Patrick ad that ISIS is at our border.

All news 92.1 FM is old news or gone news or no longer news.

The Dodgers paid their players $256 mil according to the Chron.

The ‘Stros paid their players $44 mil and change.

Over 2 Million!

We have never had a general election where here in Harris County we had over 2 million voters on the rolls. Here is from the Chron a couple of days ago:

Harris County leaders are expected to announce record-setting numbers of registered voters on Monday. As of last Wednesday, the county had 2.05 million voters, but fewer than half are expected to cast ballots this election cycle. Between 30 and 40 percent of registered voters in Harris County participated in recent midterm elections.

About 5 percent of the voters registered in the county this election cycle are new voters.

Can we outdo the “fewer than half are expected to cast ballots this election cycle” prediction?

Here in Harris County, in 2006, 601,186 out of 1,902,822 voted or 31.59% turnout. Dems won the straight party vote 50.9% to 48.04% and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson bested Barbara Radnofsky 56.47% to 41.26%. That was the year we had Guv Dude, Chris Bell, Carole Strayhorn, and Kinky Friedman running for governor.

In 2008, the Barack Obama year, 1,188,731 out of 1,892,656 voted or 62.81% turnout. Dems won the straight ticket 52.94% to 46.51% and Obama won with 50.45%. Dems also had a near sweep of countywide offices.

In 2010, the year of the Tea Party, 798,995 out of 1,917,534 voted or 41.67% turnout. The GOP routed Dems in straight party voting 54.33% to 45%. Bill White carried the county but all other Dems got beat pretty bad.

Two years ago, we had 1,942,566 registered voters and 1,204,167 showed up to vote or 61.99% turnout and the President edged Mitt Romney 49.39% to 49.31%.

This year isn’t 2006 or 2010. Immigration has replaced Obamacare as the GOP’s boogeyman, but this issue cuts both ways. Both major candidates for Governor have a significant presence on TV and the races are getting a lot of local media coverage – a whole lot more. And finally, dollars are being spent on local Spanish language media.

So where are we headed? Certainly not the 31.59% turnout of 2006. I am leaning north of the 41.67% turnout of 2010. I just see a whole lot more activity by Dems this go around so stay tuned!

San Luis third baseman Matt Carpenter hit his third dinger of the NLDS last night against the Dodgers. That’s three dingers in three games. Where did Carpenter go to high school?

Commentary has made it pretty clear that I love “The Good Wife.” This season we have had cameos from the great Gloria Steinem and The White House’s Valerie Jarrett. It looks like Alicia Florrick may run for office so stay tuned!

Commentary also is a huge fan of “60 Minutes.” Here us what I tweeted during Sunday’s show when FBI Director James Comey was being interviewed:

@FBI Director prefers the term #LoneRat over #LoneWolf when referring to potential home grown violent extremists in the #USA. #60Minutes

I can handle that.

Commentary has also been watching the new “Madam Secretary” with Tea Leoni that airs between “60 Minutes” and “The Good Wife.” Some are saying that the show is kind of promoting Hillary Clinton. Duh, I don’t think so. The only similarities are that they are both women. Secretary McCord has 20 years of service in the CIA. Secretary Clinton had 8 years of service in the U.S. Senate. Secretary McCord has three school age children living with her at home, Secretary Clinton didn’t. Secretary McCord’s hubby is a college professor. Secretary Clinton’s hubby is a former President. Hey, it is Sunday night TV so chill.

Matt Carpenter of course went to high school down the road at Elkins in Missouri City.

I forgot to mention that the ‘Stros’ Dallas Keuchel led all AL pitchers with tossing five complete games this past season How about that!

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