Sunday, September 30, 2007

Rick and Nick Visit Fort Bend County Fair

Deep in the heart of Fort Bend County lies the sprawling city of Rosenberg, Texas. Just as the city transitions to country along Highway 36 going south toward Needville, you encounter the fairgrounds of Fort Bend County.

This is where I went today to man the Fort Bend Democrats booth. It was going to be a great day. Around 2 PM a small system moved up from the gulf and the sky opened up. I had just finished my second rant on the TTC when I heard the rain start, so I checked a Doppler radar weather map and saw that if I got in my car right then I could drive out of the storm into blue skies at the fairground.

So that’s what I did.

Besides, I’d been saying that Rick Noriega was going to be stopping by the booth today and I wanted to be there for that.

So I got there at 2:30 and found Don, Marsha and Nadia fully engrossed in the business of the day – talking politics.

Three PM came and went. No Rick. Then a few minutes after three Don got a call from Susan informing him that they were going to be late. It occurred to me that this was not newsy news since we had watches and could tell time.

Then Marsha sent me to take two passes to Bev and Geri, who had just arrived, telling me that they were standing outside the gate near “Building G”, and she said “Go that way.” Exiting the building I looked and could see that the building name progression increased from C to F so logic dictated that Building G was next to F. So I started walking. It was hot. There IS no building G next to F, it is instead in front of it. But upon arriving there I noticed no gate. So I started following the boundary fence all the way through the midway and then back to the exhibition area, found Bev and Geri at a gate. I looked at Geri who was on her cell phone again with Marsha (I can just imagine the conversation). She just said “Here he is” and clicked off. I passed the tickets over to her, pointed at the nearby building and said “That’s Building C.”

“I know, that’s what I told Marsha.”

“She told me Building G”.

I didn’t really mind that I had just taken a 5 minute brisk walk in 98% humidity and now had sweat coming out of every pore I knew of, and some I didn’t. Not really. Think of it, I now know were everything is at the Fort Bend County Fair. I can be a guide.

I am sitting down now with a 2-dollar Coke in one hand and a $3.50 sausage on a stick in the other, and in walks Rick. Melissa was close behind him. Rick shakes hands all around, and Melissa followed suit when she arrived. I think they were impressed with our setup, mainly because they said so. Rick asked me where the good food was and I directed him to my school’s FFA booth.

They left to get food, and not a minute after they left, in walked Nick Lampson with his two staffers, Nicholas and Steve (there can be only one Nick in Nick’s office). Nick took one look at Marsha while shaking hands and said “Are you OK now?” Seems Marsha took Nick to task over his FISA vote, heck we all did, but Marsha was the most vocal and public in her display of her distaste for some of his votes.

But you have to know that these women and Nick have been in the trenches for so long that it was easy to reassume the old friendships. They still told them that they were watching and Nick said, that’s your job.

The club had also dropped off at Nick’s Stafford office a big bag of balls of all sorts the past week. I mentioned to Nicholas that if he didn’t know what to do with the bowling ball he could drop it off at my school. “It’s good for inertia”, I said.

We also talked a little about calls that come to Nick’s office. “We don’t hear from you,” he said. What we hear, the calls that we get are all about immigration. This is what we hear the people in the district are concerned about. Just that.

Nick noticed Rick’s petition to get on the primary ballot, and immediately picked up a pen to sign it. Given what went on earlier this year, I give Nick a huge amount of credit doing this then and there. It shows the man has class. I kicked myself then and there for forgetting to have my camera.

After his visit, Nick left to visit the other booths at the fair. Rick came back loaded down with barbecue and sausage, Melissa with a baked potato, and we proceeded to eat and talk.

Melissa told me a great story that reveals just how far and wide their story has traveled. They were out hiking recently, climbing a trail up a rock and there were geologists out there on a field trip. Small children, too. Melissa offered to take a group picture and they all started arguing about light and angle. Melissa said words to the effect: stop it now there are unsupervised children here and we need to get this done now. So they all quieted down, Melissa took the photo, and they thanked her. One asked whether there was anything they could do for her. Her reply? “Yes, there is. You can vote for Rick Noriega for US Senate.”

There was a pause.

Then one of the geologists called out from the pack: “. . . Are you Melissa?”

Melissa, and then later, Rick, explained why they were late. They were attending a memorial function at the Houston VA National Cemetery that afternoon. A ceremony honoring the Gold Star Mothers “mothers whose sons or daughters have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country”. Beside the keynote speaker, Rick said, there were 4 congressmen there as well as himself, so the service went long. In attendance along with Rick and Melissa were Congressmen Al Green, Nick Lampson, Chet Edwards (?) and Ted Poe. Both Rick and Melissa noticed that during the entire ceremony with presentations to the Gold Star Mothers, Ted Poe, Nick Lampson’s Republican opponent in the 2004 election, was busily working on his Blackberry, ignoring the entire ceremony. Rick said that he had a lot of trouble restraining himself from addressing this congressman’s blatant disregard for the sacrifices of these mothers. Mothers who lost their sons and daughters to a war that Poe refuses to help to end. But he limited his public display of displeasure to refusing to shake Poe’s hand.

That’s probably a good thing. I suppose if Rick had used his gray belt knowledge to introduce Poe’s face to the surface of the earth, Watts’ toadies might have picked up on that.

Rick sat with us for awhile and we talked about lots of issues, the TTC came up, so did S-CHIP. Melissa’s dad was there, too and he mentioned the fact that Immigration was going to be a hot issue this next year. Rick’s views on this are interesting. Rick holds that the Republicans do not want to solve this issue. They want it to continue to be an issue so they have something to whip people into frenzy over. Democrats, Rick said, being Democrats, want to solve problems. Republicans don’t want to solve this particular problem. They want it around so that they can point accusing fingers at people who don’t think the government should split up families on this issue. Rick pointed out the Hispanic US Senator from Florida, Mel Martinez, has pointed the finger right back at Republicans and said “you didn’t like our solution? What is YOUR solution? How are YOU going to solve this problem?”

Rick’s right. Republicans want this issue around.

Getting back to Nick, this is probably why Nick Lampson’s office was inundated with calls demanding a solution to the immigration issue.

I’ll bet Ted Poe doesn’t get these virulent calls.

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