Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Aloysius Chronicles, Continued: The Hoang Way Leaves 'Em Scratching Their Heads at Alief Super Neighborhood Council Meeting

A correspondent, who wishes to be known only as “a correspondent,” sent along the following eyewitness account of the Tuesday, March 23 meeting of the Alief Super Neighborhood Council, which included an apparently impromptu appearance by Pearland and District F’s own representative on the Houston City Council, Aloysius “One-Term Al” Hoang. Not having been anywhere in the vicinity of the meeting site, we cannot vouch for the particulars of our correspondent’s account; however, this especially detailed and well-written report comports with another we’ve been privy to regarding the councilman’s demeanor in a public setting. We present the report in full, without elaboration (because it speaks for itself):
The councilman arrived, unannounced (not that he needed one, but this is the first meeting he ever attended) after the meeting started and sat in the back of the room. Two of the officers gave a report of the District F CIP meeting along with their observations of the District G meeting (they attended that earlier meeting in order observe the process). The report by the chair and vice-chair included data about how F compared to G in the number of projects that are currently on the CIP (39 for G and 6 for F) and the number of new CIP requests (including District G’s request to purchase a 100-acre tract of land near Beltway 8 and Westheimer for a city park and their thanks to the city for completing the $8 million Kindle library). The Alief SN board wanted to illustrate with facts what is generally known anyway –– F has been under served. M.J. Khan, the former District F council member, often said that F was the “Forgotten District,” and that phase was used in the comparison by the officers. Their entire report was about what happened in the past, with no mention of the current and new councilman ... period.

Toward the end of the meeting, the council member’s aide asked if the CM could address the group for a few minutes. He was recognized and took the floor with his young daughter clinging to his leg. The councilman got up and began, in a loud voice, what could only be described as a scolding of the members of the Alief SN council in general, and the chair in particular, over the CIP requests. “District F is not the forgotten district, he shouted, “it’s the future district.” Now, we don’t want to sound like a bunch of bigots, but the English of Mr. I-have-many-addresses is not the easiest thing to understand. As he continued his harangue, people were looking at each other trying to guess what the hell he was actually talking about and why he was speaking in such a belligerent tone, especially when he kept referring to the chair (or at least we think that’s who he was referencing) as “her” or “she,” probably because he had never taken the time or effort to learn anyone’s name.

"You want something you have to write it down," they were told several times. (The three Alief CIP requests had been input online as instructed by the CM’s office before his CIP meeting and were presented on camera at the District F CIP meeting). "You ask for things, it takes time, it takes a long time." Somewhere in his bullying Al mentioned that if he couldn’t get something done, he would pay for it, and that he needed help because his family took up a lot of his time. We're not sure what he was going to pay for since by then not only were the Alief residents in disarray, a lady, who had been one of the speakers earlier in the meeting, had taken Al's child out into the hallway because she felt the little girl was reacting to her father's raised voice, and the CM's aide was crying openly.

After the meeting, attendees were talking in the hallway and parking lot about being stunned by his bizarre behavior. In fact, one of the guest speakers for the night suggested reporting his conduct to the Mayor. We here in Alief have rarely experienced such a strange performance by an elected official. What on earth was he trying to gain by scolding his constituents?
Whew! Our correspondent also sent along an a copy of an official missive from the councilman’s office regarding an upcoming District F Clean-Up, which, as our correspondent noted, included a rather odd, not to mention grammatically tortuous, salutation as well as a glaring typo that seems to calls the hygiene of District F residents into question. We'll turn it back over to our correspondent in the field:
Besides the grammar thing about the singular "resident" and plural "supporters", what in the world is the word "supporters" doing on an official email from a councilman to his constituents? Maybe Pearland Al doesn’t know how to transition from campaign mode to actual governing. We know that things are done differently in Alief, but this must be a one-of-a-kind clean-up because the second sentence reads "This annual clean us.” Ok, then. Do we bring bath towels or rakes?
Meanwhile, another member of the growing Al Hoang Fan Club recently informed us that the councilman and his wife had acquired yet another property, this one at 6865 Turtlewood Dr. in a gated community off Bellaire near Wilcrest, giving Hoang a grand total of two domiciles in District F. Neither the newly acquired property nor the one at 4403 Bugle that Hoang is listed as having purchased in March 2009 carries a homestead exemption for the current tax year, according to Harris County Appraisal District records, but Brazoria County Appraisal District records show the tax exemption is still being retained on the Hoang house at 2702 Sunfish in Pearland, which Hoang's wife is listed as owning by herself. This is the same house that Hoang was listed as co-owning with his wife, and upon which he was claiming a homestead exemption, when he made unsuccessful runs for an at-large Houston council seat in 2003 and a Harris County judgeship in 2008 (he transferred full ownership to his wife after that defeat).

Despite the acquisition of the new digs, we notice that Hoang, his Brazoria County homestead-exemption-claiming wife and three other adults are still listed for voter registration purposes as residing at 4403 Bugle. We presume the councilman, between alienating new constituents and fulfilling family obligations, has just been too busy to take care of such mundane details as keeping his stories straight.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Three Dollars and Twenty-Four Cents Per Month of Stupid

We returned home late Thursday afternoon to discover that CenterPoint Energy, the self-described "electric delivery company" that endeared itself to so many Houstonians in the wake of Hurricane Ike, had finally installed one of those "smart meters" on our electric box. We were vaguely aware that the smart meter was out there and possibly headed our way, but we had not paid much attention to the particulars––that is, the fine print––of their impending placement, other than the odiferous fact that we had already been paying for the thing through an "advanced meter surcharge" tucked into the line items on our monthly bill.

It just so happened that much earlier that day we had read a story in the Houston Chronicle by Purva Patel reporting that information on customers' power usage available from a Web site CenterPoint unveiled with much fanfare was, as the faintly clever headline phrased it, "not so current." According to Patel, CenterPoint initially claimed that "the site would give consumers with smart meters information about their power usage in 15-minute intervals so they could make better choices about how much power they use." Turns out, though the "15-minute incremental information can take as long as 48 hours to hit the Web site," although a CenterPoint mouthpiece promised that "eventually" electricity users (and abusers, presumably) will be able to access "real-time electric consumption information directly from their smart meters using in-home monitors."

So right now, for instance, say it's Tuesday afternoon in mid-summer and you've got the thermostat set to 65 and the A/C cranked, all the lamps and overhead lights are on 'cause you're finishing Madame Bovary while watching that 70-inch flat-screen plasma TV and straightening your curly locks with a CHI Flat Iron, and the kids are upstairs "sexting" or whatever it is they do from their PCs ... but you'll have to wait until Thursday to find out from the CenterPoint Web site that YOU'RE A MORON WHO'S USING TOO DAMN MUCH ELECTRICITY.

We've had our own "smart meter" for years, and it's the voice in our head that sounds very much like our old man, who used to get extremely agitated if we'd stand too long in front of what he quaintly called the "icebox" with the door open while we contemplated the bountiful late-20th century selection of foodstuffs therein, which would invariably result in a brief lecture on how much electricity we were wasting due to the fact that we were an irremediable dumbass (or so we inferred). This happened approximately a million times, not including the many similar lectures that attended our waiting too long to get in the shower or our accidentally forgetting to turn off a sole light in our room, etc. We used to write this off to the fact that he grew up in a series of "labor camps" next to the lignite mines of East Texas, where electrical service was intermittent, when available, and indoor plumbing non-existent, but after having children we found our self channeling the old boy's very voice when we'd pleadingly ask our kids why, upon leaving the house, they had to leave on EVERY FRICKIN' LIGHT or why they had to let the shower "warm up" for a full 5 minutes before climbing in, etc.

It was in that spirit that we perused the door hanger that CenterPoint left touting the swell new "energy future" the smart meter is ushering in. Among the supposed benefits are "remote meter reading ... virtually eliminating the need to come to your house to read the meter" [as well as the jobs of the guys who used to do that, it apparently goes without saying], "energy efficiency and savings" by allowing consumers to "see your electric usage history* to better manage your energy costs by making small changes such as adjusting your thermostat" [can't they just do that by remote-control from headquarters?], "environmental benefits" resulting from more efficient consumer management of electric usage, and, of course, the always looming "new products and services" peddled by customers' retail electric providers, that is, the companies that actually bill you for the juice (REPs––got it?). Now we're definitely all for saving our nickels and dimes and helping to throttle back on electricity production, at least that generated by burning coal, but the only alleged benefit that really impressed us was the promised "automatic outage notification" of CenterPoint when our electricity is on the blink, and that's because anyone who's tried to call and report an outage knows what an infuriating, nerve-mangling time suck that can turn out to be.

We had to open up the foldable door-hanger to get to what we were looking for, the very last section, which CenterPoint had thoughtfully headlined "What will this cost me?" (¿Cuanto me costará este servicio?) Answer: $3.24 per month for two years starting in February 2009 (a full year before we got our digital doo-hickey) and $3.05 per month for an unspecified "thereafter." The curious and the pissed-off were instructed to call their REPs to learn more. We called ours, which does business under the handle of TXU, and a nice lady told us that this smart-meter charge, which of course is a pass-along from CenterPoint, would be costing the specified amount(s) for 10 years, meaning we'll be able to draw on our Social Security to pay off our smart meter. We later calculated the cost to be in the vicinity of $375 or so, for something we'll probably never use but apparently had no choice but to accept. We told the TXU lady that we didn't really need a smart meter and in fact were already missing our old dumb meter, whose spinning gauges it took us several years to learn to read in the correct order. She replied with some canned ham regarding the savings the smart meter will help us realize, which we politely interrupted to ask, "So have y'all been getting a lot of angry calls about this?" The nice lady hesitated––wary, perhaps, that we might be, say, Purva Patel––then replied with an emphatic "Yes." Seeking further confirmation, we asked again, "So lots of people are mad about this? "Uh ... yes," she replied, again without elaboration but with the clear implication that she was damn well tired of hearing from 'em. Well, said we politely, put us down as another PO'ed smart-meter owner-leasee.

And this was before we learned of today's announcement that CenterPoint Houston has reached agreement with the DOE to receive $200 million in stimulus money for its "advanced metering system and intelligent grid projects." So, we're thinking now, can we get the $3.24 back, or at least the amount we paid before our meter got so smart?

*"HPH007," a commentator on the above-mentioned Chronicle story, handily dismissed that supposed benefit: "What am I going to learn? I already know that I use more electrical energy during the summer when I run my air conditioner and that I use more electricity at night when I have lights on. I use less during the winter when I do not run my ac and I use less in the middle of the night when I am asleep and all the lights are off. I do not need a smart meter to tell me that. I have been managing my energy consumption quit nicely on my own for almost 40 years, thank you."

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mark Lanier for (Sophomore) Class President!

It was unfortunate, perhaps, that on the very day that the much-circulated story of the runaway Prius was being called into question, Texas Tombstone pile-driver plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier was quoted in the Wall Street Journal drawing an especially apt analogy for his and perhaps countless other litigators' jockeying to be chosen as lead attorneys in the expected consolidated mass tort against Toyota. (The Wall Street Journal has some funny idea that you should pay for its content, so we can't link to Monday's story, or even cut-and-paste the relevant verbiage, and in fact will have to type-in what follows by hand.):
All the positioning has the air of a high-school election, according to several attorneys involved.

"If it's not a high-school election then it's at least like being voted most popular," said Mark Lanier, a Houston attorney whose firm has filed numerous suits against Toyota.

Mr. Lanier, who led litigation against Vioxx maker Merck & Co. ... isn't shy about his desire to play a lead role in the Toyota suits. "Pick me, pick me," he said. "Vote for me for class president."
As previously noted, Mr. Lanier already has cornered the crucial Vietnamese vote.

Friday, March 12, 2010

They’re Getting Downright PISSy at the Houston Chronicle

We’ve noticed a lot of piss in our daily newspaper lately. Not the literal kind––what self-respecting pooch would even bother to lift a leg over The Good Life?––but the figure-of-speech kind. By that we mean variations on the verb form of “piss” that mean mad or angry, as in pissed and pissed-off. Here’s one from the March 7 column by Austin bureau columnizer/reporter Peggy Fikac:
[Former Texas Medical Association lobbyist Kim] Ross acknowledged his ouster didn't much register with the public: “At the end of the day, the general public neither knows nor cares about someone in the lobby who's put to sleep by a pissed-off governor. My parents were upset.”*
Whoa daddy! And here’s another one from an entry in a March 3 story plumping staff members’ picks for "best movie" Oscar, by our old pal Andy Olin:
It portrays Jews not as self-deprecating and neurotic, a la Woody Allen, but as empowered, fearless and pissed off.
Wait, lookee here--a Chronicle deployment of piss in the literal scene, from a super-lame column on 2-16-10 by Norman Chad For the Chronicle (may not be his real name) on the Westminster Dog Show (or something---we can’t read the whole thing):
My Uncle Scruffy loves to tell the story about the time his dog-obedience class took a field trip to Washington, D.C., and he pissed on the White House lawn.
That’s a whole lot of pissin’ going on, Jerry Lee, and that’s just dating back less than a month. We stuck the word pissed into the Chronicle search engine and it returned 137 hits, but in a few of the more recent stories on the list we could find no piss, or even pissed-off-edness, so maybe the pissing (and moaning, too) was in the readers’ comments affixed to the online versions; prior to this year most of the pissing appeared to be confined to the billion-and-one Pulitzer-quality Chronicle blogs (not the tasteful, adult ones we read, though).

[According to our 1981 abridged edition of Slang and Euphemism by Northwestern University linguistics professor Richard A. Spears, which includes a full page and a half of piss-related entries, including the fantabulous piss-Willy (“an insignificant person”), piss itself is from Vulgar Latin and is onomatopoetic––makes sense––and “in some parts of the English-speaking world can be used in polite conversation without giving offense.” Well all right! as Mick Jagger used to say.]

We must admit that when we first noticed the phenomenon––or perhaps trend is the better word––were somewhat taken aback, although not shocked (in either the literal or over-used ironic sense of the word). Back in the day when we toiled at 801 Texas Avenue we’re pretty sure no piss would find its way into the Chronicle, because the Baylor alums who ran the editorial side were squeamish about the (public) use of even such mildly scatological terms, and, mostly, because they didn’t relish having to deal with complaints from pissed-off deacons among the readership who would’ve phoned into complain that Jesse Jones never, ever printed piss in the Chronicle. We remember some years ago––this was after we vacated the premises––the word “shit” somehow slipped into a story in the features section, resulting in all manner of h-e-double hockey-sticks to pay. Now we fear the day may be coming when “shit” will appear in the Chronicle on a piss-level frequency, perhaps even a f--k or two. We feel deeply ambivalent about this, like when the pre-Safeway Randall’s started selling booze.

[Our own policy on bad words is ... we don’t have one. We just go with the flow, do what we’re feelin’. And sometimes we feel like bustin’ loose with a piss or shit or even a f--k, although mostly we use dashes with the latter because we’re old and it even offends us. We use these terms not to épater le bourgeois but because we have a severely stunted imagination. (Also because, as we once heard someone say––it was the very Yoga Lady of whom we’ve written––”I’m from Louisiana so I cuss a lot.”)]

Just like the executive editor of the Chronicle, we don’t read the paper that closely, so as a control for our experiment we entered the term “shit” into the paper’s search engine and got 11 returns, all appearing to be found in comments affixed to blogs. Alas, the word “fuck” brought forth no returns from the newspaper itself, but it did yield “sponsored links” for “Want to Fuck” (no question mark––where's the copyeditor?) and “Free Fuck Videos.”

It’s a good thing Jesse Jones is dead.

Excellent line, former TMA lobbyist!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Vietnamese-American and His (Or Her) Toyota: A Story of L-U-V Gone Wrong (Very Wrong)

On Monday the Houston Chronicle's Mary Flood reported on the media-abetted* client-recruitment efforts of Houston plaintiffs' lawyer Mark Lanier, who, like many members of the legal profession, is damn near salivating over the big payday he sees up around the bend in the accelerator problems afflicting Toyota products. "This is a mass tort," proclaimed Lanier, with dollar signs almost literally spinning in his eyeballs. "Toyota is in for billions of dollars and a number of years."

Lanier's non-corporeal presence has always left an oleaginous smudge, at least in our eyes, similar to the one we always detected after viewings of the now-disgraced boy evangelist, that phony hambone populist with the $400 haircut who once actually made us feel sympathetic toward Dick Cheney.** The nature of the Lanier enterprise was summed up, perhaps unconsciously but most likely not, by the Chronicle scribe's use of such skepticism-tinged phraseology as "called a press conference largely to mark his legal turf" (like a peein' hound dog--get it?) and "lawyers in Texas and around the country have smelled Toyota's corporate blood in the water and mustered" (like certain sea creatures whose teeth are pearly white--check it out!).

Although we are a founding member of the Weekley YMCA in southwest Houston, our purpose here today is not to prattle on about product liability, mass torts, smilin' plaintiffs' lawyers with expensive hair-dos, negligent corporate entities or the whole host of phenomena that surely will attend the upcoming legal disemboweling of the Toyota Corp. (which can only be good for the American auto industry, right?). No, what caught our eye in Flood's story was the following:
Lanier, a nationally known plaintiff's lawyer, stood on the courthouse steps with lawyer Tammy Tran, who supplied 300 possible cases from the local Vietnamese community.

Though they had boxes of files and Lainer's firm is one of those with priority advertising on Google, Lanier and Tran have filed only one lawsuit against Toyota so far over unspecified injuries by an undergraduate student whose Camry hit a parked car.
Three hundred possible cases from the local Vietnamese community? Dang, we're thinking, does every Vietnamese in Houston drive a Toyota (with or without a malfunctioning accelerator )? Well, apparently so,*** at least according to this report by Fox 26's Isiah Carey, who relates that the afore-mentioned Tran told him:
"When Vietnamese come to America there's three things they want: No. 1, a good job; No. 2, a house, and No. 3, a Toyota ... and they're very disappointed in the automaker."
Ms. Tran added:
"Each Vietnamese family owns two Toyota [sic]. Toyota is the dream of every Vietnamese."
(Carey reported that the driver of the afore-mentioned Camry is "in medical school" and was "seriously injured" and that her family is "the first of at least 300 Vietnamese families in Houston to file a lawsuit against Toyota, claiming acceleration problems." As a news consumer you sorta wish the media could get their story lines straight.)

It's stories like these that make us think back, fondly, on our late father, the obstinate son of an immigrant who after World War II resolutely refused to buy any product––car, radio, lawn mower, etc.––made in either Germany or Japan,*** not only because he had spent four or five months in continental Europe getting his ass shot at by Nazis on a semi-regular basis but also because so many of his college classmates (A&M, '41) fell and never got up at the hands of Hitler's and Tojo's minions, apparently to ensure that future generations of Vietnamese-Americans could fulfill their American dream by stocking up on Japanese-made automobiles. (You're in America now, so buy American, por favor.)

By the way, we noticed on her Web site that the afore-mentioned lawyer Tran is, like her litigation lord and overseer Lanier, a big-time Bible thumper ("Leading with Faith, Winning with Experience"). When we lay us down to sleep this evening we will ask our Lord Jesus to please shield us, not only from defective accelerators in Japanese-made automobiles but from smug, sanctimonious Bible thumpers, and Koran thumpers, too––especially smug, sanctimonious Bible thumpers, or Koran thumpers, with Bar cards.

*But as Tony Soprano often shrugged, "What are ya gonna do?"
**By the way, did you see that the National Enquirer is being considered for a Pulitzer for its eviscerating of the boy evangelist? Yeah--and it deserves the prize as a frontal rebuke to the prissy Mainstream News and Infotainment Media (M-NIM).
***Come to think of it, though, we know at least a few Vietnamese who do not drive Toyotas but instead chug around town in Hondas––perhaps we just know the wrong sort of Vietnamese.
****We, of course, are made of flimsier stuff and once owned a Volkswagen, although we have since stuck with American-made vehicles.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Aloysius Update: Too Many Siddiquis for One Dummy to Behold

Early Saturday morning, about the time the rooster was crowing and the buckwheat cake was in our mouth, we caught a TV rebroadcast of the March 2 Houston City Council meeting, or at least most of the public comments portion of that convocation, which featured several speakers associated with the ISGH Mosque on Old Galveston Road in southeast Houston. They had come before the council to complain about a false report of a hostage-taking allegedly phoned in to HPD by two Muslim gentlemen who, if we caught the speakers' drift, are also somehow associated with facility and one of whose name is "Siddiqui."

It was difficult to discern exactly what was the nature of the mosque-goers' complaint(s)––one seemed irked that HPD had responded to the call with (according to him) guns drawn, while another, a hijab-clad lady who for upcoming Census purposes most likely will check off "non-Hispanic white," seemed to be complaining that no criminal charges had been filed in the incident, although, thanks to deft questioning by the mayor and some council members, it apparently* was established that no one had bothered to file a formal complaint about what was described several times as a "prank." (We suspect that such "pranks" aren't commonly used to settle disputes or get attention at, say, Second Baptist Church, but we could be wrong, as usual.)

The mayor and several council members lobbed forth some queries in an effort to suss-out the murky episode, then the wheel of misfortune spun 'round to our very own non-resident council member from District F, the less-than-honorable Aloysius D. Hoang, who, while addressing the above-mentioned hijab-clad complainant, veered off into a little vocal jag we can only accurately describe as "bizarre." As best we could tell, Al D. appeared to be suggesting that this "Siddiqui" was a cop or some kind of city employee who had done a lot of good for the community, the city, whatever, by translating documents to or from Urdu as well as some other stuff and that the hijab-clad complainant ought to balance and take into account all the good that Siddiqui had done against this one apparently isolated incident, or something exactly like that. We began paying very close attention at that moment, for it appeared that not only had Al Hoang revealed that someone stupid enough to phone-in a false report of a hostage-taking to the police was in the employ of Houston taxpayers but that this person was deserving of some kind of preferential treatment. (When Aloysuis D. is indicted on some criminal charge or another, don't say you weren't warned.) The mayor, seeming to sense that the episode had entered new territory, told the complainant that she needed to take the matter up with so-and-so at the back of the council chambers, apparently because an open council meeting was not the proper venue to discuss such an allegation against a city employee.

At that point, Council member Clarence Bradford, who's been impressing us with his crisp, Joe Friday-approach to council discourse, interjected, "Mayor, I believe this is a different Siddiqui."

"Well," laughed the mayor, looking relieved, "as we know, there are a lot of Siddiquis."

We interpreted this as a factual (there are indeed a lot of Siddiquis) and diplomatic stab at bringing the proceedings back to Earth from Planet Hoang. We, however, have no use for diplomacy in our line of work (truth-telling), so let us unequivocally state what everyone around the council cul-de-sac was thinking at the moment: "My God but AL HOANG IS ONE COLOSSAL DUMBASS."

*We must employ such weasel words because this entire mosque incident was very poorly explained by the complainants, although it sounds as if it'd be a fascinating subject for some credentialed member of the Mainstream News and Infotainment Media (MNIM) to explore at length.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Rick Perry: Unheralded Savant of Texas Politics ...

Or Lucky Doofus Who Fell Off the Back of a Pick-Up and Landed on a Mattress Lying in the Middle of the Freeway?

Time will tell. It has occurred to us, though, that Perry might be an age-defying phenomenon similar to the Rumble-in-the-Jungle era Ali, employing his version of the rope-a-dope to lay back on the ropes and suck up the gut punches and bide his time until his adversary is exhausted and then step right to it--BAM! Yeah, they saw that 39 percent and thought he was done, spent, washed-up, a goner, but....

On the other hand, we are reminded that Perry first obtained his office by constitutional succession and has held it since by first dispatching the colorless, odorless Tony Sanchez and then the tag-team duo of Chris Bell and Grandma Whazzhername, and that Bill White, if we may extend the boxing metaphor into hazily obscure territory, is no Jürgen Blin.

Like Perry, White did what he needed to do on Tuesday. What he needs to do from here on out is pay close attention to the deeply encoded instructions we will be issuing in this space (the anagram spells “V-I-C-T-O-R-Y”). Our first bit of advice, which as usual we are providing free of charge as a selfless act of civic-mindedness, is to STAY AS FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE from all other Democratic nominees for statewide office, and never, ever, speak of the “Democratic ticket.” If you should accidently run into one of these people at, say, the airport terminal in Junction,* ACT LIKE YOU DON’T KNOW THEM, in case a weekly newspaper reporter or Republican operative obtains photographic evidence of you in flagrante (in the legal sense) with, say, Barbara Ann Radnofsky. In fact, and we know this will probably be impossible to do, instruct your scheduler to make sure that you’re never any closer than 50 miles to any other Democratic statewide officer-seeker.

Also: Go negative right away. Ali’s off the ropes.

*Did we ever tell ya about the time we were flying ‘round the Lone Star State at nighttime with some humble office-seeker or another and they were trying to land the plane in Junction, but the pilot couldn’t spot the airport and finally he had to raise the sheriff’s department on the horn to get somebody over to the facility to turn on the runway lights? The candidate was going to lose anyway and if we'd died in a crash that night we might not even have made the last paragraph of the obit.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Late-Breaking Pre-Primary Non-News (With Hyphens!)

Non-news from nowhere, and points in between:
  • We recently went on at length regarding the re-rematch between state Rep. Al Edwards and challenger Borris Miles and noted that should we shrug our spindly shoulders and participate in the Democratic primary––as a nominal Democrat/committed independent it will depend solely on how we feel upon awakening tomorrow, most likely at 5:30 or thereabouts*––we would probably cast our lot with our new Facebook pal, Rep.-for-Life Edwards. Since that writing, we have moved–––or, more passively, been moved––from the “leaning somewhat” to Rep. Al to the “leaning strongly” to Rep. Al column. This oh-so-subtle shift occurred after we realized that almost everybody who’s anybody is against the Rev. Al (or, more positively, for his opponent, Borris the Third Ward Insurance Magnate). And when we say "everybody" we mean everybody from Mayor Annise Parker to the Houston Chronicle editorial board to what appears to be the entire labor-liberal Democratic Party establishment to a veritable host of Borris-believing lions and lionesses of Judah who've lent their names and faces to the pro-Borris propaganda (it's all phony,* BTW, as some Jewish bard from northern Minnesota once sang) that's been cluttering our mailbox (under the apparent and possibly proven assumption that a goodly number of white Democratic primary voters in District 146 are/will be Jews, although an endorsement by the publisher of the Jewish Herald Voice means bupkis to us, and we doubt it means a while lot to the two Jewish households on our block, but whadda we know). Yeah, we're sticking with Rep.-Rev. Al DESPITE the franked mailing we received from his legislative office last week touting a $5.7 million grant to the city from Rick Perry's Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs to help Houston's homeless "transition" to rental housing and "access services designed to enhance self-sufficiency ..." (In fairness to the Rev.-Rep. Al, he has sent us previous mailings from his legislative office, although these were mostly end-of-the-legislative-session wrap-ups that we found generally informative.)
  • On Sunday we received a warm and engaging personal call from Anthony Hall, the former city councilman, Metro chairman, city attorney and mayoral assistant, on behalf of his daughter, Ursula Hall, who's pursuing the Democratic nomination for a civil-court judgeship in the party primary. Hall's delivery was so slow and precisely enunciated that for a moment we thought he might be live on our telephone machine, but after we interjected an "Anthony?" and a "Hey, Anthony, are you there?" we deduced that the call was recorded, or else Hall has become extremely hard of hearing. In either case, there's nothing like an endorsement from your father to sway voters (and it probably will in the Democratic primary, given the elder Hall's party credentials). Ursula Hall's legal experience––or lack thereof––was the subject of a pretty decent recent offering from the Chronicle's Teen Columnist, who followed up with an equally interesting piece on the primary endorsements of inexperienced district criminal-court contenders by the lordly Coalition of Harris County Elected Democrats (perhaps motherhood has had a maturing effect on the young columnist, although, possibly because the subjects of her explorations were Democrats, she couldn't fully bring the hammer down to squarely nail it, y'understand). We're not wholly convinced that a criminal court judge needs past experience in the criminal courts any more than we believe that a daily newspaper columnist needs past experience as a daily newspaper columnist, but we suppose it couldn't hurt in either profession.
  • So do we have any predictions on Tuesday's primaries? Nah––all the polls and predictions seem about right to us, most especially this one from Prof 13, aka the Bob Lanier Professor of Public Policy at the University Houston, who based on the early-voting turnout for the GOP primary has the intra-party gubernatorial race a little tighter than other pollster/forecasters/all-knowing seers, with Mofo Perry at 44 percent, K.B. "Maybe You Like Us Both" Hutchison at 37 and D. "I Transcend All Attempts at Semi-Clever Nickname-ry" Medina at 19. On the D side, he guesstimates it as 65 percent for White, 18 for Shami and "others"--there are five such no-names––at 17 percent. Let us be the first, or possibly the 301st, to say that if somehow White gets below 60 percent and/or Shami cracks 25 percent, White loses. (God forbid he's forced into a runoff.) White needs to run up the score, like the Yates High basketball team. We think either of these possibilities is unlikely, but that's why we hold elections (in addition to picking our elected officials, etc.).

  • *If it's dark, rainy and gloomy outside we may give into our Burkean impulses and vote in the GOP election.
    **And we don't mean just the Borris Miles propaganda.