Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Judge Joel Clouser “Allowed” on the Ballot

I heard this via word of mouth last week, but now see that Bev Carter has the story on the Fort Bend Star website.

I like spreading word of mouth stuff around, but do feel more comfortable when I see it printed elsewhere. Comfortable like getting the story right comfortable.

It seems that Tony Sherman, who has filed to oppose Judge Joel Clouser in his bid to be re-elected to his Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace tried to do an end-around earlier this month, and get himself, and himself alone on the primary ballot. Sherman looked at the 747 signatures that Judge Clouser filed in a candidates petition, in lieu of the $1000 filing fee, and called some of them into question to his friend and County Chair of the Fort Bend Democratic Party, Elaine Bishop.

Bishop took Sherman’s suggestion and counted 160 names that lacked a city, state or zip code on the signature line. If included with 144 signatures which were found to be invalid, that would take his total valid signatures from 744 to 440, 60 shy of the 500 minimum required signatures.

If Clouser were excluded from the ballot, Sherman would have found himself elected because a Republican running in Precinct 2 has next to no chance of becoming elected to anything.

An election by County Chair fiat, and at first, that was what was going to happen.

But in the article by Carter, it seems there was a change of heart. It seems that Bishop now feels that it was the voters who should decide who should be elected to the office.

From the Fort Bend Star:

“Bishop said she felt very strongly that the voters should decide, and therefore she and Sherman had come to an agreement to let Clouser’s name remain on the ballot.”

Now you know, that makes absolutely no sense at all. If the minimum number of signatures aren’t collected, the candidate should by all rights be excluded. Take it to the extreme: how many under 500 is permissible then? 60 (as in this case)? 61? 100? 499?

A candidate’s petition is meant to show that a candidate has a voter base and is not just any old nut who wants to run for office for free.

So Bishop’s decision, and the logic and reasoning that went into it, was ludicrous and actually anti-democratic. But that was the reason she gave for including Clouser on the ballot.

But that wasn’t the real reason.

The real reason was two-fold. First, the Supreme Court has already ruled that a candidate’s petition signer does not have to include their City and State information as long as the voter is registered to vote. Something that is easily verified on the voter enrollment records.

That is, quibbling in this way to keep people off the ballot is not the intention of the founding fathers. They wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to run for office.

Second, with that decision as background, keeping Clouser off the ballot would result in a massive lawsuit. A lawsuit that would have exposed the incompetence of the Chair.

The incompetence of a County Chair who by all rights, and by all minimum expectations, should be up to snuff on the latest rules on the requirements of candidates’ petitions signatures.

It also underlines the sheer ignorance of the man who wants to replace Judge Clouser. Sherman claims that Judge Clouser was “skirting the law” in being allowed on the ballot, something that he was going to take to the precinct chairs.

Sherman, on the other hand has been caught red-handed attempting to skirt the election.

Judge Clouser came to the Fort Bend Democrats’ club meeting last weekend and I videoed his remarks. He also attended the Fort Bend County Democratic Party meeting.

Sherman attended neither meeting.

Here is what Judge Clouser said to the Democratic club meeting. I especially like his description of his “Teen Court.”


Anonymous said...

Judge Clouser does an excellent job under extremely difficult circumstances. Incidently Texas Election Code Sec.141.032 states that party officials “shall review the application to determine whether it complies with the requirements as to form, content, and procedure and promptly notify the candidate that his application did not comply to enable the candidate to remedy any defect.
But as in this case the party chair doesn't allow candidates to file until the last day for filing there is no time for the candidate to remedy the defect.

Hal said...

Absolutely correct, Anon. The Chair not only ignores court rulings but also the laws of her own state.

Had the Chair allowed filings before the 4 January filing date as statutarily permitted, this would never have come to be a problem.

Another reason why this County Chair needs to be replaced.

Now if only we can get her minions, hangers-on and (Tom)delay-sayers (who vote in primaries) to see the truth... Like as not, that will not be the case. Which is why I continue to remain the ever pessimist here.

If you don't vote for Steve Brown for Party Chair, it is upon you that the party failed in 2010. Upon you and no one else.

Anonymous said...

Hal--you need to keep closer attention. This was out long ago and even in a local paper.

Hal said...

Yes, that was in the first sentence. The 2nd sentence explained why I waited.

Susan said...

I think what Bishop did was cagey. She claimed that Clouser violated the law but then robbed the man of his day in court.

Once she left him on the ballot, he had no way to go to court to get an injunction - something he could have done (and cleared his name) if she had taken him off.

Very cagey. UnAmerican, rude, and mean, but cagey: call him a crook and then not have to prove it.

I do not blame Clouser for being furious at this cheap shot from Bishop.

Anonymous said...

Bishop/Sherman knew they were going to lose. Sherman acknowledged over 375 of the signatures were valid. His objections to an additional 150 signatures were only based on the omission of the city. The Supreme Court case was directly on point. By the way how is it that Bishop's opponent's name (Steve Brown) somehow gets transformed to Stephan Brown on the ballot? Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

When are you all going to let posts go through that don't agree with you? Some open forum.

Hal said...

Anon #1:

Obviously the Chair thought that it would be to Mr. Brown's benefit to attract the Norwegian vote.

Anon #2:

Who ever said that this was an open forum? That is just delusional. This is my blog, not an open forum. I get to decide what is on it. If you want an open forum, start one.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that stephan brown was threatening to sue the county for not changing the ballot to include his nick name?

Hal said...

No that is not even close to being true, and I believe you know it.

Stephen Brown (spelled with an "e" and not an "a") wanted them to get his first name spelling to be correct, and not the spelling that the Chair, for whatever reason, gave the county.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of lawsuits, Poor Tony Sherman has realized he can't win so he has now filed a writ of mandamus with the 1st Court of Appeals. Wanna bet that goes down in flames as well? Poor Tony doesn't even know what County he lives in. Named Beverly Kaufman(Harris County Clerk) as a party. Psst Tony we are in Fort Bend County. Maybe he copied from the wrong paper.

margaret brossette said...

I am extremely proud of the manner in which Judge Joel Clouser handled the unprofessional, catty behavior from chair beverly Kaufman. He remained professional and dignified as always. That is why he will reamain and enter his 7th term in office!! You have my vote Judge Joel!!!

Hal said...

Ms. Brossette, the woman I think you mean is not Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufmann, but Fort Bend County Democratic Party Chair Elaine Bishop. Bishop is the one who tried to get Judge Clouser off the ballot so her friend, Tony Sherman could take it without putting it to a vote in Precinct 2.

Yes, vote for Judge Joel, and then look down the ballot for Steve Brown who is challenging Bishop for the county party chair. Steve will get the job done.

Anonymous said...

The Court of Appeals dismissed Sherman's Writ of Mandamus in record time.Sherman'Petition was full of gramatical errors and mispellings and incorrectly listed Beverly Kaufman the HARRIS County Clerk as a party.Looks like He copied a form.