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Archive for December, 2019

Adios, 2019

Last year at this time, I was celebrating State Senator Carol Alvarado’s win.

I guess this year I can celebrate State Rep. Christina Morales’ win in March.

I can also celebrate H-Town City Council Member Karla Cisneros’ squeaker win from a couple of weeks ago. Like they say, a win is a win.

Four weeks from today, the voters will decide the #TXHD148SpecialRunoffElection. Former HISD Trustee Anna Eastman is the only Democrat in the race.

Commentary’s highlight of 2019 was at one point, handling three state legislative special elections within a calendar year. I am sure it has been done before in our state’s political history. If it has, please let me know.

In other political news, it is good to see a way whole lot more women on the H-Town City Council.

Commentary still can’t figure out what the Tony Buzbee campaign was about. Talk about a waste.

The Astros kind of disappointed Commentary for falling short. They failed to get the clutch hits versus the Nationals.

Commentary is also disappointed that they put netting in front of my seats at The Yard. I am thinking this may be my last season in those seats since the experience has been severely altered.

I watched the Democratic presidential candidates when I had time this past year. I still don’t have a choice. I have said it before. I prefer a candidate younger than Commentary and may I add, I want someone who will hold accountable those – well, you know who I am talking about.

Care to bet on who will be the next H-Town Mayor Pro Tem?

From an AP story on the passing of H-Town activist Benny Martinez:

GOLIAD, Texas (AP) — Benny Martinez, a Mexican American civil rights leader who helped organize the historic Latino meeting with President John F. Kennedy, died Sunday.

His daughter Loretta Martinez Williams said Martinez died peacefully of natural causes in Olmito, Texas, following a long bout with several illnesses. He was 85.

Born in Goliad, Texas, Martinez went to segregated schools before his father moved the family to Houston so his sons “wouldn’t have to pick cotton for a living.” After serving 18 months as a medic in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, Martinez returned to Houston and organized boycotts against businesses that refused to hire Mexican Americans.

Martinez later joined the League of United Latin American Citizens, then the nation’s largest civil rights organization for Latinos, and raised money for Mexican Americans to pay their Texas “poll taxes” so they could vote.

“We served in World War II and in Korea and deserved to be treated with respect,” Martinez told The Associated Press in 2013. “The time for silence was over.”

A registered nurse, Martinez joined civil rights attorney John J. Herrera to organize a special LULAC gala for Kennedy during his 1963 trip to Texas. The Houston gala took place the night before the president’s assassination in Dallas. Historians said the meeting was the first time a sitting president met with a Latino civil rights group.

“I didn’t get to shake his hand, but I was able to reach out and touch his shoulder,” Martinez said. “The next day, I was in tears.”

In his later years, Martinez continued to raise money for scholarships for Hispanic students.

Commentary will do work today on the Anna Eastman Campaign. I will also then slip away to exchange a Christmas gift sweater for one my size. Then I will go to a good friend’s house for a New Year’s Eve thing.

Stay safe tonight and ring in a Happy New Year!

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Bowl Games

Commentary remembers when the most meaningful college football bowl games used to be played on New Year’s Day. Not anymore.

A couple of the huge college football playoff bowl games were played this past Saturday on December 28. Why couldn’t they play them this Wednesday on New Year’s Day?

The Cotton Bowl was this past Saturday at 11 am. The Peach Bowl now made it to the big leagues and hosted a college playoff semi-finals game. The Fiesta Bowl also hosted a playoff game

The Orange Bowl is tonight, December 30.

The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl are on New Year’s Day.

The Gator Bowl is the following day.

The bowl games started 10 days ago and 22 games have been played.

There are 18 bowl games between now and the college football playoff championship game, two weeks from tonight. Got it?

On “What’s Your Point” yesterday, panelist Tony Diaz said the H-Town Mayor had huge support from the Latino community in the recent runoff. I don’t know how Tony defines “huge support”? There were a number of hardcore Latino precincts and neighborhoods that supported the Buzbee fella. I have to give Tony Diaz a nope on this one.

This is from today’s Trib on the Michael Bloomberg campaign in Texas:

Carla Brailey, vice chair of the Texas Democratic Party, will serve as Bloomberg’s senior advisor.

Ms. Brailey came out in third place in the H-Town City Council District D race back on November 5.

The Chron E-Board today wraps up its takes on the TEA takeover of HISD.

For those looking forward to next year’s Christmas Day, it falls on a Friday. Now you know.

2020 is two days away.

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Final Friday

The Chron E-Board is preparing us for a TEA takeover of HISD – sort of. The have another take today on HISD. They will have another one on Sunday and one on Monday.  Go check it out, please.

I think a lot of folks have accepted the takeover. Not much we can do about it.

Here is part of Kuffer’s take on the Harris County Constable Precinct 2 stuff:

See here for the “two Jerry Garcias” story, which I would have blogged about separately had it not been subsumed by this story. You can read the Chron article for details; I’m going to wait to see what happens at trial before making any firm conclusions, since I was not aware of any of this before now. On a broader level, is it maybe time to think about getting rid of the elected office of Constable all together? We have a pretty damn spotty record with Constables in Harris County, from Perry Wooten to Jack Abercia to Victor Trevino to Ron Hickman, and maybe allegedly now Chris Diaz. Someone make the case that elected Constables are still a good idea in the 21st century, as opposed to just absorbing the office into the Sheriff’s department. I’m going to need to hear it, because I’m not sure I see it. Campos has more.

Here is all of Kuffer: http://www.offthekuff.com/wp/?p=93562.

Interesting.

This is the last Friday of the year and the decade. Oh, well.

My niece Cristina is having a church wedding tomorrow. Cool. I am happy for her.

I hear Siete family members will be in town. Also, cool.

I think most stations are done with the Christmas tunes.

Have a nice final weekend of the decade!

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Constable Shenanigans

What is up with the shenanigans involving the office of Harris County Constable, Precinct 2? See this from the Chron:

Nearly a dozen former employees and high-ranking officials are suing Precinct 2 Constable Chris Diaz, alleging that the elected Harris County lawman required deputies and command staff to help with his reelection campaign and retaliated against them with demotions and terminations if they refused.

The wide-ranging accusations in the 33-page federal suit paint a picture of a troubled office, where campaign donors were allegedly given preference in promotions, and anyone who cooperated with state investigators could expect to be punished.

“He’s just running Precinct 2 like it was his own campaign,” said attorney Scott Poerschke, who is representing the former employees. “He’s conditioning employment upon service of his campaign and any time that is challenged in any way, then those employees are retaliated against.”

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Precinct-2-constable-sued-over-campaign-practices-14930537.php.

Then there was this from last week’s Chron:

Other than running for Harris County Precinct 2 constable and sharing a name with the late Grateful Dead guitarist, Jerry Garcia and Jerry Garcia have little in common.

Garcia No. 1 is a career law enforcement officer, currently a lieutenant in a neighboring constable’s office. He holds regular campaign events and has collected political contributions throughout the year.

Garcia No. 2 works at a vessel repair business on the Houston Ship Channel and has no law enforcement experience. He has never run for office and there is no evidence he is actively campaigning.

The second Jerry Garcia, however, does have something in common with incumbent Constable Chris Diaz, who is seeking re-election. He is a cousin of Diaz’s wife, Ana Diaz.

Lt. Garcia suspects the cousin, who filed to be on the ballot hours before the Dec. 9 deadline, is only in the race to confuse voters in the March primary, allowing Diaz to cruise to victory.

“I honestly think he knows he cannot beat me on merit, on leadership and on experience,” Garcia said. “So, I believe he’s resorted to these tactics to try to deceive the voters.”

Diaz said he did not encourage his wife’s cousin to enter the race.

“I tried to talk him out of it,” Diaz said. “I guess anybody can run for the seat.”

Here is the entire article: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/With-two-Jerry-Garcias-in-Harris-County-constable-14922524.php.

I don’t even know where to begin on these two stories. A sigh is certainly appropriate. None of the above appears to pass the smell test.

The Chron E-Board has a lengthy take today on the state takeover of HISD. Here it is: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/HISD-in-crisis-Looming-state-takeover-presents-14929858.php.

It is going to happen. I wonder what the Board of Managers will look like?

Well I got a couple of Beatles wall calendars, Beatles Christmas ornaments, a Saint Arnold T-shirt, a Netflex card – so I guess I am going to meet Netflex, socks, sweaters, a cool Astrodome poster and frame, some cool pint glasses that have The Yard mapped on them, and some other cool stuff. How was yours?

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Merry Christmas 2019

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly!”

Boughs are branches or limbs from bushes. Now you know.

You have to admit it sounds better than “deck the halls with holly limbs.”

Actor Danny Aiello left us a few days ago. He was good in “Moonstruck” and “Do the Right Thing.” He was also in “Godfather, Part II.” He is one of the thugs who tried to strangle Frankie Five Angels.

I went looking for this on the internet.

Are Santa’s Reindeer Female or Male?

Santa’s reindeer are typically portrayed as male in pop culture (Rudolph is referred to as a “him” in the song), but according to two professors at the University of Edinburgh, Santa’s reindeer are actually all female because male reindeer shed their antlers during the winter, while female reindeer retain their antlers, and Santa’s reindeer are always depicted with antlers. Male reindeer also lose nourishment and vitality during the winter months, so only the females are strong and healthy enough to pull a sleigh full of toys and a 260-lb. man.

Rudolph is a dude.

Who has the best Christmas tune voice of all time?

Bing Crosby hands down.

Merry Christmas, y’all!

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Christmas Eve 2019

This will be the last Christmas Eve of the decade. Are you Ok with it? I am.

Billy Pierce who on twitter is:

Candidate for Libertarian nomination for Harris County, Texas Tax Assessor and Voter Registrar 2020. Christian, Traveler, Sailor. Emotional baseball fan.

Mr. Pierce tweeted me this on my take on the Harris County Ballot Board going through the provisional ballots:

Marc – what’s your take on the ballot curing process? Is it fairly administered? Is it overly burdensome? Does it impact the outcome of elections? Does it respect the voting rights of members of the public? I’d like to understand your perspective.

I was able to see it all. Listen to all of the conversations. I got to ask some questions. I got to look at the provisional ballot affidavits. I could not touch them though. I could make notes on them.

First of all, curing the ballots is making them healthy enough to be counted. Got it?

It appeared to be fairly administered. The Ballot Board is made up of 5 Dems and 5 GOPers.  Maybe they ought to include a Libertarian.

Is it burdensome? For the voter it is because they have to fill out an affidavit and include Texas Driver’s License number, last four digits of social security number and other stuff. If the issue is voter ID and you don’t want to go find an accepted ID, you have six days to find one and come back to Voter Registrar’s Office to submit an ID.

The rest of the affidavits are divvyed up amongst the Ballot Board members to process various technicalities.

There were a few affidavits that were not signed by the Election Judge, but the Ballot Board chief honcho stated that they weren’t going to reject a ballot because of an Election Judge screwup. The sense I got was that they were going to cure as many as they possibly could.

A lot of them were mail ballot issues.  Folks were on the list to receive mail ballots but they voted at a polling place, so the Ballot Board had to check to see if their mail ballot had been received by the county.  If it wasn’t, their vote was allowed.

Let me give an example of a ballot that was rejected. Voter A listed an address in District H. The data base had her address outside of the City of H-Town but in Harris County. She voted the provisional ballot. The Ballot Board saw that last year her address was in District H, but she moved it to outside of the city. She voted in 2018 at her location out of the city. They decided not to let her vote count in the runoff since she had already cast a ballot from outside of the city. Got it?

I didn’t take a head count, but my recollection tells me more ballots were accepted than rejected. That was certainly the case in District H.

Can the process impact the outcome of an election? Only if it is an extremely close election.

The District H election would be considered extremely close. For awhile I was in a state of angst. After I figured out the process and realized how many provisional votes still had to be counted, I figured that the votes would have to break lopsided in the other direction to lose. Possible, but unlikely.

There were a few issues that could have been avoided if the election judge had paid attention to the process involving voting centers.

And once again, the Ballot Board doesn’t get to see an actual ballot.  Just the affidavits or mail ballots still in their envelopes.

All in all, it is a process that is needed to make sure all votes are properly and fairly counted. I have a better appreciation.

I think I have covered this on Christmas Eve before. The gift opening deal. Some folks open their gifts on Christmas Eve. Some open one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Day. Some folks wait for Christmas Day to open their gifts. Our family waits for Christmas Day. How can you open on Christmas Eve if Santa hasn’t arrived? Oh, well.

Have a safe Christmas Eve.

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That Was Too Close

I was at the County Clerk’s office Friday evening when I was handed the final results in the District H race at around 7:30 pm. A 16-vote win for H-Town City Council Member Karla Cisneros. Very close.

Commentary has not been involved in a close election in the provisional vote era. I didn’t know much about the process to count them. I do now.

They deal for the most part with not being on the voter registration list, being listed at a different precinct or address, misspellings, mail ballot issues, and not having a voter ID.

There were 18 provisional voters countywide dealing with voter ID and only 2 from within District H. 1 from H “cured’ their ballot, that means they came into the voter registrar’s office and presented their proper voter ID. The other 17 didn’t.

The other 505 or so provisional ballots dealt with the other issues. I was a Karla Cisneros poll watcher for the Harris County Ballot Board’s meetings and watched them go through the provisional voter’s affidavits. We don’t get to see the ballots.

The final results posted on Election Night, last week, had Cisneros ahead 5,283 to 5,271. A 12-vote lead. The final count handed out Friday had Cisneros 5,305 to 5,289. 40 more ballots were cast, and they went 22-18 Cisneros. Got it?

My hats off to Isabel Longoria and her campaign.

Congrats to Karla.

I ordered a few Christmas gifts online and they have arrived. I went into Christmas shopping full bore Saturday and made progress. Got some out of the way yesterday and I took my Dad along. Still have a wee bit left.

Changing the subject. Tex-Mex restaurants in H-Town would be better off if they had a larger array of craft beers on the menu. Some don’t offer it altogether. I was at a birthday party at Ninfa’s Uptown Saturday evening and they had a couple of choices. Original Ninfa’s on Navigation has maybe a couple. Next door at El Tiempo, nada. Teotihuacan has a few. Cadillac Bar, nada. Times are a changing.

If you are into the Christmas tunes like Commentary, you have probably run across “Christmas Island” that starts like this:

How’d ya like to spend Christmas
On Christmas Island?
How’d ya like to spend the holiday
Away across the sea?
How’d ya like to spend Christmas
On Christmas Island?
How’d ya like to hang a stocking
On a great big coconut tree?

It has been recorded by a few artists including Guy Lombardo and the Andrews Sisters, Leon Redbone, Kristen Chenowith, and Jimmy Buffett. My favorite is by the Lennon Sisters.

Just so you know, Christmas Island is in the Indian Ocean and it is a territory of Australia.

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