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Archive for February 7th, 2022

Peppermint and Reacher

Commentary’s sister is an election clerk. She went to her training last week. She told me that because of the lengthy primary ballot, two legal size sheets of paper are going to be produced by the gizmo that a voter will have to feed into the ballot box. They are going to have to be alert, to make sure voters do not walk away without getting the second sheet. Commentary doesn’t have to worry about that, since I vote by mail. 

My mail ballot arrived on Saturday, and it is three pages long. 

In case you’re wondering, Harris County GOP Precinct Chair Carla Richburg, who introduced the whacko bigoted resolution is from Precinct 602. That is in Cypress. It doesn’t matter.  More and more GOPers are showing their true colors these days. 

The Republican National Committee made it official.  They called the violent January 6, 2021, insurrection “legitimate political discourse.” 

Meanwhile, here in Texas, this past weekend the GOP put out talking points saying the grid is A-Okay. The problem is, most Texans aren’t buying it. The Texas GOP thinks we are stupid. The weather was nowhere near as bad as it was a year ago.  Keep talking about the grid, Beto. 

Zach Despart, who covers Harris County government for the Chron, did a great job with yesterday’s front page story on campaign contributions.  He went to great lengths to figure out tying contributions to county contracts. Here is from the piece:  

Shortly after taking office in 2019, (Harris County Judge Lina) Hidalgo said she would refuse contributions from vendors, saying she wished to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. She asks donors to certify they are not vendors and lists their occupations on her campaign finance reports. 

The Chronicle found three vendor contributions totaling $700; Hidalgo said she would return any such contribution identified by the newspaper. 

Hidalgo’s stance on vendor cash has not hurt her fundraising; through December, her campaign account held $1.5 million. It does require her to court small-dollar contributions from a far larger donor pool than her colleagues. 

During the two-year period, Hidalgo had 2,594 contributors who gave less than $50 compared to 95 for her four colleagues combined. 

And this: 

Commissioners Court members can, at any point, change the way the system works. Some reforms would make campaigns and procurement more transparent. Others would remove even the appearance of impropriety. 

Commissioners could follow Hidalgo’s lead and refuse contributions from vendors, though all four have declined to do so. 

They also could list the occupations and employers of their donors. In addition, the county could create an online database of contributors, following the lead of the city of Houston, state and federal governments. Such a tool also could flag which contributors are employed by vendors, a crucial piece of information for the public. 

(Comm. Adrian) Garcia and (Comm. Rodney) Ellis said they will not list the occupations of their donors on future disclosures because it is not required by law. They expressed support for a contributor database, but opposed flagging which donors are vendors. 

Here is the entire article: Harris County commissioners hide where campaign cash comes from: Donors they handpick for contracts (houstonchronicle.com). 

Those of us who read the campaign contribution and expenditure reports were not surprised. We know the practice. I just didn’t know at what level.  When the legislature required occupation and employer information for certain donation threshold levels, I don’t know why they didn’t include every public elective office. State law on reporting occupation and employers just covers state elected officials.  

The other thing is the county needs to modernize the reporting system.  Providing a pdf of campaign reports is BS. A Democratic majority commissioners court can fix this like at the next commissioners court meeting. Just saying. 

My favorite African American elected official is State Rep. Senfronia Thompson. I have known her for a very long time. 

My two Beatles wall calendars for the month of February has a photo of the four boarding an airline in 1964 and the other has three photos from 1963. 

Commentary has a confession. I was surfing the flat screen this past weekend and ran across two flicks with very high dead body counts. Tom Cruise’s “Jack Reacher” and Jennifer Garner’s “Peppermint.” I admit, I was entertained by both flicks. Cruise plays Jack Reacher and Garner plays Riley North. Both are highly skilled killers of bad guys. I didn’t keep count, but it appeared as though Riley knocked off more bad guys than Jack. I kept waiting for Riley to zap a bad guy and say, “what’s in your wallet.” 

Have a nice week. 

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