Lawyers for Republican nominee Lucinda Little, the only candidate who was listed on the ballot, and Green Party nominee Cheri Honkala, who waged a write-in campaign, sent letters to the Commissioners Thursday, demanding that they seal and preserve the ballots.
Both camps alleged widespread voter fraud in the North Philadelphia district.
Little won just 198 votes, which was 7.4 percent of the 2,681 ballots cast. In an unusual development, 2,483 write-in votes were cast.
The Wikipedia page for Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives still shows the seat for District 197 as VACANT after Tuesday's special election. This is not because the editor of that page has yet to update it. It's because we still don't know the winner. Under normal circumstances, a winner would have been announced Friday. These circumstances are anything but normal.
Big-time kudos to Houston's City Council for approving the new and sorely needed Bike Plan. After a two-week delay for further consideration, the Council passed the plan by a vote of 11-4.
UPDATE: In the original post, I mistakenly said that the vote was 13-4. Councilmembers Brenda Stardig (District A) and Ellen Cohen (District C) did not vote.
Take a look at this text from the Council's agenda, describing the goals of the Plan.
Kudos also to the Chronicle's transportation beat writer Dug Begley, with additional points for resisting the temptation to use "Houston, we have a bike plan" as a lead. He has covered the story even-handedly, addressing concerns such as the lack of a solid plan to pay for the Plan's implementation. Here are Begley's posts from Wednesday, after the vote, and from Tuesday before. Tuesday's article has the profusely illustrated Bike Plan PDF embedded within it. (You may need a digital subscription to get through the paywall.)
But I reserve the blue-ribbon kudos for Bike Houston and other citizen groups, along with the consultants they enlisted. It's always heartening to see activists' hard work rewarded with legislation of this sort, with the goal of improving overall quality of life, not just for cyclists, but for all users of streets—indeed, for everyone who breathes.
I would like to dedicate this piece to a fallen friend and neighbor, Shane Patrick Boyle. Most folks in H-Town's arts underground remember Shane as a director/facilitator of Zine Fest Houston. Some remember him as the self-described queer anarchist who wrote a column in the Daily Cougar during his student years. Apart from his literary pursuits, I remember him as an avid bicycle commuter who until recently lived in the building next to mine.
While it saddens me to report Shane's passing from diabetic complications, it relieves me to report that he is not the latest casualty of an auto-bike collision. We have had too many of those in Greater Houston just in the last few years.
Shane had left Houston and relocated to Mena, Arkansas, to be with his mother in her last days. For the last few months, he had no income or health insurance, and had started a GoFundMe page to solicit donations for insulin. The page is now repurposed for defraying funeral expenses.
Insert rant about our crying need for universal single-payer health care here. Until recently, the whole notion of having to start a GoFundMe just to survive a chronic illness in these United States was somebody's idea of a dark joke. Now that I've actually seen this phenomenon, it's an even darker reality.
This is a follow-up to my entry from earlier today. In a revision of that entry, I added a link to this hour-plus video of Chris Hedges speaking in Vancouver BC just over a week ago. About 20 minutes into the speech, Hedges connects our alleged president's puppeteer Steve Bannon with the generational theory of William Strauss and Neil Howe, co-authors of The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy.
Hedges paints Strauss and Howe as guilty by association with Bannon's alt-right ideology. He refers to them as "pseudo-intellectuals" playing the same role as propagandists and apologists for the Third Reich. Having read The Fourth Turning twice, I must say that I find this depiction terribly unfair. And, I am happy to report, I am not alone in thinking so.
I have been reading the columns of Rev. Christopher Hedges for more than a decade. The photo at right has been in use on Common Dreams for at least that long, so he has aged some since it was taken.
In November 2015, I had the good fortunate of attending the Peacemaker Awards banquet at which he was honored. Before the banquet began, I had the honor of standing in the same men's room with him.
Here are some recent columns that Hedges published on Truthdig, which were then reposted on Common Dreams: "A Last Chance for Resistance" and "The Dance of Death." According to our man Chris, we are watching the death spiral of Late Capitalism, of which the election of the Tangerine Nightmare is but the most obvious symptom.
This entry is a sequel to this one from last week. Please forgive the long and clunky introduction.
The downside of true intersectionality is that it can be exhausting. I don't know how people manage it. Putting one's beliefs into practice consistently, even on one issue, is a full-time job; it helps if one can actually make a living from it. Imagine doing that for a whole cross-section of related issues—i.e., every issue on which well-funded reactionary elements are trying to roll back all the social and environmental progress of the last century.
Very few colleges and universities in North America offer programs for students to major in social justice. My alma mater certainly didn't in the 1980s and still doesn't. I'm grateful to count several full-time activists among my friends; I don't know how many of them are doing what their degrees (or unfinished degree plans) prepared them for.
Allow me to air some lightly worn but not entirely soiled laundry about the Harris County Green Party. The current website is incredibly old-school. Since it was first cobbled together in the early '00s, the indefatigable Art Browning has maintained it using an ancient version of Dreamweaver. As in pre–Adobe buyout Macromedia Dreamweaver, complete with some long-deprecated HTML code. Some of the content itself has not been updated since Jill Stein was virtually unknown outside Lexington MA.
Art, also the chief producer of GreenwatchTV, announced several years ago that he'd had enough of the website gig. At last, Gaia be praised, Art can be liberated from this drudgery: We are converting the whole thing to NationBuilder.
And I'm helping with that process of conversion, along with some other HCGP regulars. It's soooooo much easier than installing Dreamweaver and connecting it to our current web host. It's also a powerful feeling, because beyond simply copying and pasting content, we're making it relevant. I've already done some major updating on the homepage and various pages in the About section, but there's still plenty of room for further improvements. If I'm not careful, I may get carried away and turn simple paragraphs into screeds as long as these blog entries.
Because the conversion is very much a work in progress, it's best not provide any links to the new site yet. The goal is to have the site completely functional by April. This will help us kick off the year-long drive to find 50,000 or so Greens and Green-sympathizers in Texas, folks willing either to show up at precinct conventions in 2018 or to sign our ballot-access petition.
The finished hcgp.org will be a sub-nation of the Green Party of Texas site. This is not so important for the purpose of public content as for the underlying data. NationBuilder is only partly a tool for generating web content. It is also excellent for behind-the-scenes managing of information about our current volunteers, prospective volunteers, and people who don't have time to volunteer but like us anyway. We'll be able to consolidate and share data with the state party and other county parties.
Some friends of mine made a bit of history today. Former HAUSmate Maximo Cortez (pronouns he-him-his) visited our state Capitol yesterday and today, representing the Transgender Education Network of Texas.
Yesterday's visit involved a chat with the legislative staff of Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), one of the co-sponsors of this session's Senate Bill 6. This "bathroom bill" is very similar to the one that caused so much controversy in North Carolina. Despite that fact, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R-Talk Radio) has made this particular bit of legislation a public crusade of his. Kolkhorst published this op-ed in Sunday's Houston Chronicle, which you may need a digital subscription to read in its entirety; here is the counterpoint from Houston writer Elizabeth Gregory.
Today involved not just testimony against SB6, but also the filing of SB 1342, "Relating to prohibited nonconsensual genital surgery on certain minors with intersex traits," by Houston Democrat Sylvia Garcia. I have included Mo's testimony, very lightly edited, below the fold. And I must say, I love Mo's angle on this topic, pointing out that Texas may have occasional visitors with just a tiny number of public restrooms in this huge state that correspond to the sex marked on their birth certificates.
In the 1980s and '90s, my stepfather worked in Saudi Arabia for a total of eight years as a project engineer with the Fluor Corporation, or Fluor Daniel, or various incarnations thereof. My mother, who has never been one to just sit at home and play dutiful housewife and hostess, took a part-time job at the US Consulate for a portion of their time in the Kingdom. My half-siblings went to Dhahran American School through ninth grade, before shipping off to their respective boarding schools in Europe.
The stories my family members tell of living in Saudi could fill a book or two (and numerous blogs like this one); several expats have published books about expat life there. One can summarize it this way: There are good reasons that engineering and construction firms would pay engineers double to work in Saudi. For most, though certainly not all, the experience is generally unpleasant, made bearable by the company of other miserable expats and third-country nationals one might encounter.
It's 26 minutes and 49 seconds. Invest it.
Don't worry: Jimmy and Caity do not spend the entire time busting Rachel Maddow's chops. They discuss other, mostly related topics.
Caity is at her best relating issues to the Big Picture, describing where they intersect, and diagnosing the morbidity of society. I look forward to her getting more such interviews and getting better when speaking off the cuff.
Conventional wisdom states that a politician's site should focus on the campaign. I can focus with the best of them, but I choose not to.