Sunday, November 25, 2007

Precinct 1 County Commissioner: A Horse Race In Fort Bend County

Politics in Texas is always interesting if not outré. And one would think that politics at the county level would just be a microcosm of what goes on at the state level, but one would be wrong in thinking that. Fort Bend County politics make state politics seem fair and balanced.

That’s mainly because in Fort Bend County, while there are no domino parlors, there ought to be. I am reminded of an ad run in the local press before the recent off-off year election to vote for or against Fort Bend ISD school bonds. Remember this picture? A bunch of old white guys sitting and standing over a game of dominoes, played on an old army blanket. These, and others, are the movers and shakers in Fort Bend County.

Good ol’ boys.

I like that misnomer because the only thing that is really true in the label is the word “ol’”, short for old.

They are that.

Missing from the photo is another Fort Bend County good ol’ boy, Fort Bend County Commissioner Tom Stavinoha. Stavinoha, who, with pictured James Patterson, and not in picture Andy Meyers and Bob Hebert form the "good ol’ boy majority" on Fort Bend County’s Commissioners Court.

Stavinoha, a two-term commissioner, has announced that he will run for re-election in 2008. This came two weeks after the announcement of his friend and colleague, Greg Ordineaux, head shot at right, who announced in late October that he would seek Tom’s seat on the commissioners’ court.

You always have to wonder why primary challenges are launched against a fellow party member who already holds the office. There are the usual reasons, such as the guy really isn’t of your party, just says he is, or the guy has become a political liability, as the Republicans had in Tom DeLay in 2006 when he had 4 primary opponents.

So what is it about Ordineaux and Stavinoha?

Here is what Greg Ordineaux says about his candidacy:

“I am focused on ensuring Fort Bend County's continued success and protecting the rights of property owners and taxpayers. While mobility is a critical issue in Fort Bend County, we must exercise caution in defining our future and protect our existing neighborhoods. We should fight to ensure that Fort Bend County controls its own destiny.”
In his candidate’s statement Ordineaux had these words put together in a sentence:

“… the residents of Precinct 1 deserve a full-time commissioner who will listen to their concerns and act in the best interest of the citizens.”
OK, I’ll bite.

Ordineaux thinks that Tom Stavinoha isn’t doing a good job for the residents of Precinct 1 because he doesn’t work hard enough, and works counter to the interests of the residents. In short, Greg Ordineaux is running against the good ol’boy network.

But I don’t know. Some would say that Tom is doing the residents a favor by not working so hard, if he is truly working against the interests of Precinct 1 residents. This is much along the reasoning of those who think having a state legislature meet only 140 days every two years is a good thing.

But more than attacking the good ol’ boy network, it also looks like Ordineaux is capitalizing on Stavinoha’s tacit approval of the Section C corridor for expansion of the Grand Parkway (Highway 99) as a toll road. Why this is, because Ordineaux himself is, of late, Treasurer on the Fort Bend Toll Road Authority board, remains a mystery.

It could simply be the law of the jungle. Stavinoha, in his tacit approval of Section C, and in his non-opposition to expansion of the Blue Ridge Landfill to a proposed 17 story high trash heap, has incurred the wrath of Precinct 1 voters, and like a wounded gazelle, Stavinoha is easy pickings.

But I’ll bet there is more to the story than that.

I’ll bet it’s more of the DeLay scenario, where Republicans see Stavinoha as a weak spot in the down ballot, and would like to replace him with a stronger (that is, less well-known) candidate who is seemingly on the sidelines over the burning issues. Hence his waffling statement: “While mobility is a critical issue in Fort Bend County, we must exercise caution in defining our future. . .”. Meaning of course, that while he once held a post on the Fort Bend Toll Road Authority, that doesn’t mean he is for the Grand Parkway Tollroad.

If you believe that one, I have a gold mine in Alaska that I’d like to sell you.

And why is it important to put a stronger Republican candidate on the ballot in November? Up until recently, the only one who had expressed any interest in running for Precinct 1 Commissioner as a Democrat was Stavinoha’s previous opponent in ’04, Rodrigo Carreon. Stavinoha bested Rodrigo by 67 to 32 percent of the vote in ’04 (although I’d like to see a redo of that with the current demographics of Precinct 1).

But I have been hearing a rumbling on the far horizon for months now, and that rumbling climaxed last weekend at the regular monthly meeting of the Fort Bend Democrats. Richard Morrison, a local trial lawyer, has opted to run for the Democratic Party’s candidate for Precinct 1 Commissioner.

Yes, THAT Richard Morrison. The Richard Morrison who launched Netroots' Draft Rick Noriega movement. The Richard Morrison whose efforts have effectively challenged the expansion of the Blue Ridge Landfill, Tom Stavinoha’s cash cow. The Richard Morrison who showed the world that Tom “The Hammer” DeLay was vulnerable in his once-safe congressional district.

FortBendNow says that Morrison will bring “spice” to the commissioner’s race. That is an understatement. Not only does Richard Morrison’s candidacy bring spice to the race, it brings choice.

Precinct 1 homeowners and residents will have a clear choice in November: vote for the Section C Toll Road by voting for either Stavinoha or Ordineaux (whoever survives the primary) or vote against the Toll Road by voting for Richard Morrison.

Ordineaux and Stavinoha share one point of view. They agree that whatever happens, whoever wins, the Grand Parkway Toll Road is a done deal. No one can stop it. TXDOT has made up its mind.

What does Richard Morrison have to say on that? “That’s bullcrap”.

[Jeez, Richard, don’t mince your words, just tell us what you really think.]

So good ol’ boys or no, to Toll Road or not to Toll Road will be the burning local issue in November ’08, and the lines on this focus issue are clearly drawn.


Sal Costello said...

Go Richard Morrison Go!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm a former repub who is supporting Richard & Dora! I am concerned about the two sanctions by the TX Bar against Reynolds and his list of supporters which doesn't check out (at least those I've talked to). He also makes several claims of involvements I know not to be factual. Dora is the only incumbent I will vote for and her and Morrison do not have any sanctions listed with the bar association!

Go Richard and Dora!

Forget Lampson, he's acting too much like the incumbent he replaced last year.

Anonymous said...

I don't ever want to hear Lampsons name again!

Hal said...

Lampson. Lampson. Nick Lampson. Nicholas Valentino Lampson.


Nick Lampson.

Get used to it Anon. If you are a Democrat you have no other choice. Lampson, Lampson, Lampson.

If you are from the Dark Side then you have a choice from among a throng. Lucky you.

You have a choice.

A choice between "Huh? Where's Iraq?" and "Iraq needs to be our fifty-first state".

Oh, and if your ideals fall somewhere inbetween, can I interest you in some authentic swastikas? Worn by The Fuhrer himself?

OK enough with the divisive politics.

I have to stick with the guy who sometimes votes my way. Sometimes, but most decidedly more times than what I had with The Hammer.

Nick, you rock . . . sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Nick, Hal and do not like what he is doing. Calling it the only choice isn't good enough either. Even our own party members were very outspoken on this just a month ago. Also I would like to remind everyone they are Americans first and party members second:

look at this recent post (much more on the link above):

17 Mark Bankston - Sep, 07:17 PM
An Open Letter to Carol Trujillo:

I must say I am extremely disappointed in you at the moment.

This was a difficult letter for me to write. After all, I have considered us friends. I’ve always enjoyed your company, and you know how much I adore your grand-daughter. I debated whether I send this to you privately, but considering how you attack Marsha Rovai in public, in the end I felt it was appropriate to respond in kind.

You know Marsha Rovai. You know her character, what kind of woman she is. Contrary to your insinuations, you know she is an amazingly loyal Democrat who is firmly dedicated the principles of progressivism. And above all, she is a wonderful human being, full of joy and empathy. Which makes it all the more disturbing that you would baselessly attack her.

First, you seem to claim it is shameful for a democrat to criticize an elected official of their own party. That kind of “never criticize our own” attitude is what allowed the rotting stink of corruption to fester among the Republican majority this past decade.

Next, you use your bitter sarcasm to instruct Marsha that “it might have been helpful to call his office BEFORE a vote”. It’s odd, because you know full well that Marsha has discussed these topics with Mr. Lampson personally throughout the campaign. And contrary to your baseless distortions, Marsha has contacted Mr. Lampson’s congressional office frequently. Mr. Lampson’s staff, by the way, assured many democrats that Nick was committed to opposing any extensions of FISA power.

Or consider the Ultra-Deepwater oil industry earmark flip-flop. I was standing right next to Mr. Lampson when he pledged at a campaign speech to fight the secret deals that lead to DeLay’s Ultra-Deepwater boondoggle earmark. Instead, he snuck off to Washington in secret in the middle of his campaign to help kill public debate on the earmark without telling any of his supporters. Then he took credit for the deal in the weeks after the election. So it really doesn’t matter what Mr. Lampson says…His actions speak for themselves.

But this isn’t about Mr. Lampson. This about why you would feel the need to attack a loyal, hardworking democrat who gives her heart and soul to fight for an America she sees slipping away. I understand Marsha’s motivations. Your motivations for attacking her, however, are a bit more puzzling.

Then there is this bit about all these people who claim to be Lampson supporters who you never saw once. I’m not sure who you are talking about here…Certainly not Marsha, who exhausted every muscle in her body for 12 straight months doing the kind of fieldwork that would wipe out a 20-something, much less a 70 year old. And you certainly aren’t talking about my team of volunteers, who despite their growing frustration with the Lampson campaign worked their tails off from primary night to the last minutes of election day for Mr. Lampson. And while I made no secret of some of my frustrations, I worked to turn out Lampson votes to the end, and loudly cheered his victory.

And I clearly remember your diagreements with Mr. Lampson. I remember you coming to the headquarters and telling me and my brother that you would no longer be making phone calls for Mr. Lampson, and that you only wanted call lists for Shane Sklar. Not that there is anything wrong with that. We are all entitled to our frustrations. But do not tar and feather a fellow democrat for expressions of frustrations that you’ve also shown.

Next, on the subject of Precinct 1040, I can only chalk up your strange observations about that area to your ignorance of voter registration phenomena. Due to the demographic and migratory trends of the area, the precinct contains a huge amount of registered voters who no longer live in the precinct. In addition, massive registration efforts in 1040 have led to a precinct with an abnormally high rate of registration. When you compare the turnout of 1040 to the actual number of households (not registrations) in the precinct, it turned out better than YOUR precinct.

In addition, precinct 1040 cast more democratic votes in November than YOUR precinct. Don’t believe me? Check the official results in PDF. In addition, precinct 1040 had twice as many straight ticket Democrat votes as your precinct, and had the second largest margin of victory for Lampson.

Furthermore, your willingness to marginalize democratic votes and denigrate Marsha’s stellar performance as precinct chair shows this is clearly more about some kind of ridiculous regional / neighborhood chauvinism than it is about pragmatic politics.

Finally, there is an important lesson in all this for you Carol. You need to learn what it means to be a loyal democrat. It isn’t about loyalty to a person, it’s about loyalty to a platform. Spying on Americans is NOT part of our platform. Handing out billions to the oil industry in earmarks is NOT part of our platform. Enabling the continuation of the escalation in Iraq is NOT part of our platform. And criticizing Mr. Lampson does NOT make one a disloyal democrat.

I truly hope you can put aside whatever animosities caused you to lash out at Marsha in this way. She is a wonderful asset to our party and our community, and deserves none of the scorn and ridicule you have shown.

1916 said...

I like it that Richard Morrison used a strong statement indicating he does believe we can overcome the construction of the destructive Sector C of GrandPky toll road.

I'd like to hear more.

Anonymous said...

Good luck Mr. Morrison!

StopGPToll said...

Me too 1916, me too.

Anonymous said...

Finally a choice for a change between a man of integrity and fools!

Anonymous said...

"That’s mainly because in Fort Bend County, while there are no domino parlors..."

But Hal, there REALLY ARE domino parlors in Fort Bend County... they're called beer joints. Head down Hwy 36 in Rosenberg to the highest spot in the road... you will find Highland Tavern and inside you'll find a number of Czech speaking older gentlemen who will happily lead you onto the path of enlightenment known as straight dominoes. Recommended!

Hal said...

I knew that had to be the case but they don't jump out at you when you try to look them up in the Yellow Pages.

There's a high spot in the road on Hwy 36?

Elizabeth said...

This is to the first "anonymous" poster -- Of course his supporters are being a little wishy-washy when they talk to YOU. It's embarrassing to be confronted by the incumbent about your support for the challenger. But Dora (or her employee, whichever you are), I am glad to see you admit that you're a "former Republican." It certainly explains Dora's position on many issues...