Also, I may have given complex answers to a few questions where simple answers would serve better; I'm known for that.
There were about a dozen people, and I could have spent time connecting with them person-to-person instead of making a windy speech about the Green Movement and its platform.
I didn't drop in any Green Party buzzwords like "Grassroots Democracy" and "Social Justice." There's a first time for everything, I guess. I'd like to think I didn't need to, that I represented myself and the Green Party well for the dozen-plus who showed up, for whose presence on a Tuesday night I am truly grateful.
The appearance, which I pulled off without a script or even a rehearsal, was something of a civics lesson, which is half the job of a County Judge candidate. Who even knows what county governments do in Texas? What is that Commissioners' Court thing, anyway? How much power do the County Judge and Commissioners have? None of these educated folks could articulate answers to those questions, or at least they weren't willing to try. So together we spelled it out.
In Harris County, it comes down to five people setting the budget for agencies that serve more than 4 million, as well as determining how property taxes will be collected and apportioned. There are a lot of countries in the world with fewer than 4 million people, but most of them have parliaments, or at least a council of advisors serving the monarch. We have Commissioners' Court.
I did not expect a full house at Lone Star, and it didn't even come close to filling the multi-purpose room of the Student and Conference Center. That's quite all right.
I did not expect any other Green candidates for judgeships to show up, and none did. Our candidates for State Supreme Court and Criminal Court of Appeals could have shown up, but they're busy attorneys. Jim Chisolm lives in Houston, and he could have made a good showing, but he's not known for actively campaigning. I honestly didn't mind having to be the entire show, because I had plenty to talk about.
Politicians are often loath to admit mistakes. I'm usually willing to admit mine, even if I require some convincing first. My biggest mistake was not preparing sufficiently for The Astrodome Question, the highest profile question of this entire County Judge election.
Some people think that the 2012 referendum to demolish the Dome is all the justification needed to knock it down and turn it into more parking for NRG Park. Others think the Dome's historical designation is all that's required to preserve it. Incumbent Judge Ed Emmett is talking about refashioning the Dome as an indoor park, and he is building a coalition of business interests (corporate sponsors) to make it a reality. Despite all these ideas, the Dome's future remains in legal limbo.
I should not have even answered the questions about the Dome and the decades of dubious benefits to the county that it represents, great Astros and Oilers memories notwithstanding. I did not have the facts to give good answers, and for that I humbly apologize.
The bigger mistake was not pushing the idea of turning the Dome into an urban farm.
Here is an article from CultureMap just last week that proposes something similar.
The Dome is ideal for a gigantic greenhouse. Replace the painted-over roof tiles with transparent solar collectors. Don't even bother to air-condition the interior, because without air conditioning it will rain inside, which is exactly what is needed. Have an irrigation system installed just in case. Place mosquito-proofing plants strategically inside and outside. Allow individual farmers and organizations to lease portions of it and sell their produce at a market right on the NRG Park grounds, or at any other area farmers' market. Teach homeless and jobless folks who may be so inclined to grow fruits and vegetables, and let them benefit from their labors.
I did mention quipping at dinner recently that Texas should legalize the production of cannabis, so we could grow tons of it inside the Dome every year. That's a guaranteed money-maker for the county. That money could be used to fully fund county health services including the Harris County Hospital District and the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Administration, particularly for our tens of thousands of addicts.
But I believe the people of Houston and Harris County could benefit more from growing food in there.
Having a local supply of fresh produce, especially in the event of natural disasters (whether drought or hurricane), may not stimulate the business climate like a casino, but it would make Houston a bellwether in the field of urban agriculture, which is the proverbial wave of the future. We cannot continue to depend on distant lands, or even California, for our produce.
If this initiative is successful, it could lead to a boom in urban farms, not just in Harris County, but in urban areas all over North America.
Houston-Area Urban Agriculture Links:
Last Organic Outpost
Plant It Forward.