The Houston Democracy Project is traveling this week. It's good to keep up with family & friends! I'll be back to daily posting soon.
I'm glad to report that on Monday, 7/3, the Project will be featured on the Facebook interview program run by Diana Martinez Alexander & Michelle Palmer. This will be at 6:30. I'll post soon the details on how to watch.
Diana & Michelle are the real deal of activism and advocacy both as former candidates for office running strong races & also showing up for protest and in forums outside official Democratic Party structures. I'm appreciative they are having me as a guest.
The next meeting of the democracy-killing HISD Board of Managers is Thursday, 6/22, at 5:30 PM.
Community Voices For Public Education has information about the meeting & how to sign up to speak in-person or on Zoom.
The Board restricted public entry and had a member of the public arrested at the most recent meeting.
It is essential that the rank & file public bear witness to the relentless assaults on democracy in Houston and Harris County.
Most Houston City Council incumbents and candidates have been silent about the takeover. They have not organized people to attend the meetings or responded to the loss of an elected school board with any sense of urgency in what was just 60 years ago a Jim Crow city.
The Houston Democracy Project will in July send a letter to every Democrat running for Houston municipal office in 2023. This letter will ask the candidates how they will respond to the erosion of democracy in Houston and Harris County. (There will also be a letter to Republicans later this summer.)
This letter will go to candidates for Mayor, Controller, City Council and the Houston Community College Board. The responses ( Or lack of.) will be shared on the Houston Democracy Project.
Please consider your role as a Houstonian in this fight.
Please support the Houston Democracy Project.
Amanda Edwards left the race for Mayor of Houston to run for Congress instead.
Michael Kubosh left the Controller's race citing health concerns. Surely the Channel 11 report on Kubosh's campaign finances has nothing to do with him quitting the race.
There have been all sorts of coming and goings in the race for Mayor and Controller. And people flipping and switching what Council seat they'll seek.
Business as usual.
But politics today are not business as usual. Especially in Houston, Harris County and the State of Texas.
Houston has lost its elected school board in what just 60 years ago was a Jim Crow city.
Harris County Republicans are in court trying to undo 21 election defeats from 2022.
The Texas Legislature has restricted the rights of cities and counties to pass ordinances to protect local residents and workers.
Elected officials and candidates will do what is best for themselves. The deal is supposed to be the mainstream political system will at the least protect whatever democracy it is we have left.
Amanda Edwards and Micheal Kubosh are not the center of any relevant story.
The work of protecting our remaining freedom, and realizing the full multi-racial democracy we've never had, is a task for each of us.
Please take the time to learn about the Houston Democracy Project and consider supporting the effort.
All of us merit a future for ourselves and for our families rooted in democracy.
Here in Houston, we can work towards that future by changing the culture of municipal politics to reflect reality, rather than the artificial environment consultants and politicians seek to construct to suit themselves.
Juneteenth reading for the Houston Democracy Project is On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed.
The author grew up in Conroe just up the road from Houston.
Here is an interesting C-SPAN interview with Ms. Gordon-Reed.
The Houston Democracy Project appreciates Michelle Davis of Fort Worth who wrote up the Project in her widely-read Substack newsletter Lone Star Left. Please read and subscribe to Lone Star Left.
Michelle is a citizen who takes the lead in fighting for democracy. That is just the ethic behind this Project.
We can't wait for elected officials. It is up to rank & file citizens to get out in front as extremists attack our freedom.
I watched the weekly Thursday public hearing on Zoom on Thursday, 6/15, before Judge David Peeples in San Antonio about the 21 election denial suits filed by Harris County Republicans defeated in the 2022 elections. There was no hearing last week.
The Houston Democracy Project watches the hearing each week. Here is the previous report.
Weekly repeating points: Re-doing elections is sought--Not declaring new winner. /Judge Peeples decides cases. No jury./Judge Peeples seems fair-minded./First trial is Erin Lunceford seeking to commandeer election from Judge Tamika Craft. It’s separated from the other cases because is further along in discovery./Craft trial starts August 1/Other 20 cases in fall. Maybe all 20 in a bundle. Maybe two separate trials./All cases likely headed to hyper-partisan Texas Supreme Court.
In these hearings, the Judge asks the lawyers questions about what kind of evidence will you present, on what facts or witnesses will the evidence be based, are lawyers cooperating with each other in accordance with rules of discovery and as Judge ordered & when should we schedule certain proceedings.
With 21 cases going on, there are many lawyers on the call. I can’t screen-shot a picture because a graphic on the video says doing so is contempt of court.
There was an attorney for the Harris County Election Administrator on the call.
Almost all discussion Thursday was about the Erin Lunceford--Tamika Craft trial. Judge Craft beat Republican Lunceford by 2743 votes.
The lawyer for sore-loser Lunceford--Andy Taylor--is annoying & talks and talks. He says things about the case that opposing lawyers say are really not so.
The two sides went back and forth at length about possible dates for various meetings and deadlines. The essence of the exchanges seemed to be a lack of trust. The Craft people express concern the Lunceford folks will introduce last-minute claims, evidence and witnesses not consistent with proper discovery and pre-trial rules.
Trust--the lack of trust--has been a consistent theme. The attorneys for the Democrats are doubtful of the theories being offered and feel Republicans are looking for the whatever they think they can sell to the Supreme Court.
Based on listening to the guy at length now, I feel Judge Peeples sees through willfully false actions. He seems difficult to pull one over on. The Texas Supreme Court is a different issue.
A topic that came up was people who go to the polls, sign in to vote and then leave before voting. I’ve figured that must happen with people who feel duty-bound to vote, but don’t like anybody running. Or whatever reason. There are times I’ve pondered it. It does in fact take place.
There is also an upcoming motion for summary dismissal of the cases before any trials because there is no solid evidence. This is discussed parallel to talk about the trials.
Bottom line--Republicans throw out all sorts of horse-hockey ideas in hope of discrediting elections and taking our freedom. They don’t like cities and counties populated with Democrats and people who are not white.
Two recent investigative reports, one by Jennifer Rice at the Houston Chronicle and the other by Andrew Schneider at KUHF 88.7 FM, say the facts are not there to merit new elections.
I’ve started the Houston Democracy Project to change the culture of city elections in Houston. It's up to rank and file Democrats and to anybody who cares about democracy to demand more of our candidates and elected officials. The issue in these lawsuits is not the candidates and elected officials--It is our democracy and our future as free people.
I attended the 2nd sham meeting of the Greg Abbott-appointed HISD Board of Managers last night.
Here is the Houston Democracy Project account of the first meeting last week.
Last week's meeting had a pre-planned agenda approved by the board without public debate.
This week's meeting had new practices and rules that further marginalized the public.
In the main board meeting hall that has a capacity of 310, there were only 25 chairs for the public.
Registered speakers were diverted into an overflow room and told to speak on video from the overflow room. The picture below is of the overflow room.
In the past, registered speakers were brought into the main room even if in the overflow room.
There were a lot of HISD police at the meeting. The overflow room had 3 HISD police inside for whatever purpose.
The Houston Landing reports police arrested a man.
The Houston Chronicle last week criticized the new board for a lack of openness.
The non-elected board did even worse this week. They make no pretense of trying to do better.
It's important each of us bear witness to this attack on democracy. We've lost our elected school board in what was just 60 years ago a Jim Crow city.
The next board meeting is Thursday, 6/22, at 5:30 PM.
Please consider watching, attending or signing up to speak. It's going to be rank & file Houstonians to protect and expand democracy. We can't wait on or depend upon elected officials.
Please consider supporting the Houston Democracy Project.
Today I’m moving forward with the faith we can fight successfully against the anti-democratic tide, that we can mobilize people who want to live freely & that the multi-racial democracy we’ve never truly had can be obtained.
Later this afternoon, I'm signed up to speak at the 2nd meeting of our sham HISD Board of Managers & in the next couple days I'll post my report on the regular Thursday pre-trial hearing for the 21 election-denial suits from Harris County Republicans. I watch the hearings so you don't have to!
Please support the Houston Democracy Project. It's up to rank and file Democrats and all folks who care about the future of democracy in Houston and Harris County to take the lead in the fight for freedom.
Worst Legislator Designation Offers Whitmire Chance To Do Better--He Could Change His Misguided Course
When Senator John Whitmire got a tough primary challenge last year that held the 49 year veteran of the legislature to only 58%, his opponent said it was no good that Sen. Whitmire was running for the Senate and Mayor of Houston at the same time.
Senator Whitmire said this in the '22 campaign: "The mayor's race is not on the ballot this time. I'm doing nothing different than wanting to go back to Austin and fight with my seniority..."
In selecting Senator Whitmire as one of the ten worst legislators of the recently concluded legislative session, Texas Monthly felt the Senator had the Mayor's race on his mind during the session.
Here is some of what Texas Monthly observed: "......he did a lot of ranting. In the past Whitmire has indulged in a panic about crime, but this time it took on a different tenor, given that he announced a campaign for Houston Mayor.....He turned the Criminal Justice Committee, which he chairs, into a platform for monologues that seemed tailor-made for voters who watch a lot of alarmist TV news.....The fact is Houston is getting safer. Homocides have dropped 28 percent from last year, and overall violent crime is down 12 percent in the first quarter of 2023....Maybe Whitmire is just ensuring that donors such as Houston billionaire Timan Fertitta and Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale continue to fund his mayoral campaign....."
The Houston Democracy Project is about democracy. And one of the biggest threats to democracy in Harris County are the 21 Republican horse-hockey lawsuits moving towards the far-right Texas Supreme Court that seek to undo much of the 2022 Harris County election. Democrats won sweeping victories in Harris County in 2022.
Mattress Mack is doing all he can to move these bad lawsuits forward.
Mattress Mack is a big supporter of Senator Whitmire.
Why would you accept political support from that guy?
Each day is a new day and Senator Whitmire has opportunity to do better.
The Senator has the option to step away from the exaggerated crime narrative being used to undermine democracy in Houston and Harris County & to step away from people attacking elections.
The Houston Democracy Project encourages Houston voters to ask more of Senator Whitmire.
The HDP encourages the Senator to reflect upon on his misguided path as he runs for Mayor of the most diverse city in America and a city currently under relentless assault from our authoritarian state government.
Houston Democracy Project Updates--Former Houston City Councilwoman Melissa Noriega Supports Project
Some notes from the Houston Democracy Project--
* The Houston Democracy Project is appreciative of the support of former Houston City Councilwoman Melissa Noriega. See Tweet above. Melissa has always been a thoughtful actor in public life and her kind words are helpful.
* The Houston Democracy Project made a pitch for this effort last night at the monthly Zoom meeting of the Katy Democrats. I'm working hard to promote this project and change the culture of Houston municipal politics.
* The next meeting of the sham HISD Board of Managers is Thursday, 6/15, at 5:30 PM at the Hattie Mae White Building. Here are details. Consider attending and signing up to speak. The removal of our elected School Board by an authoritarian state government in what just 60 years ago a Jim Crow city is nothing more than an act of violence. We must fight back.
* At today's John Cornyn Houston Office Protest--Which I help organize--a man threw a softball and then some eggs at us from a fifth floor balcony. He was no Cy Young however as he missed us with every pitch.
* Please consider donating. I'd also like to hear your ideas and thought about the Houston Democracy Project. Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'm Neil Aquino