New ‘Stros pitcher Scott Kazmir didn’t disappoint us last night, going 7 2/3 innings, giving up three hits and zilch in the run department. Kazmir was drafted in the first round of the 2002 MLB Draft. Who selected him?
We will find out if this works. Commentary is talking about mayoral candidate Ben Hall trying to catch an anti-HERO wave. The play isn’t about Ben getting to City Hall. It is about who he hurts politically in the process. The Chron’s Rebecca Elliott has a lengthy piece on Ben’s play. It is definitely an insider story. Here it is:
Two years after coming up short in his first mayoral bid, a well-funded but unfocused affair, Ben Hall has found his campaign issue: taking down Houston’s equal rights ordinance.
Already a staunch opponent of the nondiscrimination law, Hall has become more vocal in the wake of last week’s Texas Supreme Court ruling that City Council must repeal the ordinance, known as HERO, or place it on November’s ballot.
From Twitter to television, Hall is using his criticism of HERO to set himself apart from the largely progressive mayoral field.
“There’s only one candidate in this race who has consistently for the last two years opposed HERO and supported the right of voters to vote,” Hall said in a Fox 26 segment that aired Tuesday. “When the pastors wanted to fight in the court system, none of the other candidates was present. I was.”
Most of Hall’s competitors have remained out of the HERO limelight, issuing a single press release about the Supreme Court’s decision or staying silent.
Five of them – former Congressman Chris Bell, City Councilman Stephen Costello, former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia, state Rep. Sylvester Turner and businessman Marty McVey – have said they support the ordinance, while former Kemah mayor Bill King has tried to straddle the fence.
“I do not see the empirical need for a discrimination ordinance,” King said last Saturday, after previously saying he would not have put the item on City Council’s agenda.
Like Costello, King is seeking the support of Houston’s conservative west side.
Through a spokesman, King declined to comment Thursday on whether he would vote to repeal HERO.
“He’s between a rock and a hard place,” said University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray. “The right conservative base doesn’t like HERO, but the people who write big checks are more moderate on this issue.”
Passed in May 2014, Houston’s equal rights ordinance bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy and genetic information, and family, marital or military status.
It applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting, and violators could be fined up to $5,000. Religious institutions are exempt.
Since the ordinance went into effect, 11 complaints have been filed with the city, five of them alleging racial discrimination, five alleging LGBT discrimination and one claiming gender discrimination, according to Houston’s Office of Inspector General. A settlement was reached in one of the five LGBT cases, and the gender case was closed due to insufficient evidence.
In accordance with the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling that the city suspend enforcement of HERO, the OIG is not continuing to investigate the other nine cases. The law’s most controversial provision remains its protection of transgender individuals’ ability to use the restroom consistent with their gender expression, regardless of their biological sex.
Like many of HERO’s conservative critics, Hall has voiced concern that the ordinance would allow men dressed in drag to enter ladies’ bathrooms to potentially harm women and children, and he is among those who signed anti-gay activist Dave Wilson’s petition to define gender identity.
In staking out that position, Hall has endeared himself to some on the right, including local donor Steven Hotze, who publishes an influential Republican endorsement mailer.
“Hall speaks his mind forthrightly with conviction,” Hotze wrote Tuesday in an email sent out through his Conservative Republicans of Texas group.
Campaign finance records show Hotze and his wife each contributed $5,000 to Hall’s campaign, the maximum allowed in a city race.
HERO also puts Hall in a position to chip away at Turner’s support in the African-American community, particularly its more religious subgroups, said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “If you’re Turner, this is not a positive development,” Jones said.
Among Hall’s donors is African-American pastor F.N. Williams, one of the plaintiffs in the case seeking to repeal the nondiscrimination ordinance.
“I’m excited that God has gained a victory. It’s not our battle, it’s his battle,” Williams said last Friday following the Texas Supreme Court’s ruling. “We’re standing for him. We’ll continue the fight against sin.”
Even with the resurgent HERO issue, Murray said it is unlikely that Hall, who earned little conservative support in 2013, will have the votes needed in November to make the expected runoff.
As it was two years ago, Hall’s campaign largely is self-funded; he received contributions from just 36 individual donors in the first half of the year, taking in some $94,000, according to his finance report. Hall lent himself an additional $850,000.
“I don’t think you can ride that single issue into the runoff,” Murray said. “I don’t think it has enough resonance with voters that are so much more concerned about infrastructure and the deterioration of the streets.”
Reporter Mike Morris contributed to this story.
No doubt Ben will get votes on this. But he becomes the anti-HERO candidate. A one issue candidate. Let’s see who he ends up hurting.
Scott Kazmir was drafted by the Mets of course in 2002.
Last night was electric! A scoreless game with two out, two on, and a one and two count against Jason Castro in the bottom of the ninth then his dinger to right and The Yard erupted! I was actually getting ready to settle into extra innings, instead, we swept the Angels. Baseball doesn’t get any better, folks!
The team is making some moves. We have us a two game lead. The D-Backs are in for three. Baseball is alive in H-Town and welcome to H-Town, Carlos Gomez