Remington Alessi is one of my favorite local troublemakers. He camped with Occupy Houston in 2011-12, hooked up with the Harris County Greens and ran for Sheriff in 2012, ran for Sheila Jackson Lee's Congressional seat in 2014. His wife Valerie Alessi ran for Texas Land Commissioner in 2014.
Between Rem's occasional arrests, his law studies, Val's graduate studies in art, and their team-parenting a beautiful child, they have added some youthful energy and sabor to the HCGP.
I'm not going to run down Rem's entire list of direct actions and confrontations with law enforcement over the years. As the song goes, he has "been to jail for justice" a few times. But he has been put in Facebook time-out, including 30-day bans, all too frequently. He doesn't post graphic nudity or violence; his oft-controversial posts repeatedly get reported by overly sensitive white folks who don't or can't acknowledge their own racist tendencies. During these probationary periods, Val has been kind enough to let Rem use her account to post messages, as long as he keeps them free of reportable material.
As is often the case with social media warriors, Rem is far more personable in person than online. On Facebook, sometimes he does step on some toes, rhetorically speaking, in an effort to get well-intentioned white people thinking about the privilege behind their speech and actions. Sometimes this toe-stomping is called for, sometimes not so much; he is willing to admit when he has crossed a line unnecessarily.
Take a look at the 2014 Texas NORML Voters' Guide. Tell everyone you know who is concerned with the legal status of The Herb to look at it, too.
Candidates for County Judgeships and other county offices are pretty far down the page. You will find my responses there, but not Ed Emmett's. I'm sure Judge Emmett is too busy to answer questions from a public policy advocacy group like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Most of the candidates who bothered to complete NORML's brief questionnaire support either legalization or decriminalization of cannabis. Some candidates apparently were afraid they'd get a contact high just from opening email from NORML. You may not be surprised to see a lot of G's and L's represented. Those would be Greens and Libertarians, not Gays and Lesbians.
I was surprised not to see Remington Alessi's responses (Green Congressional candidate in District 18), but an interesting entry from an Independent candidate for the same seat, Vincent Duncan. Says Duncan, explaining his opposition to medical marijuana, legalization, and decriminalization:
"In My Mind We Are An Overly Medicated Society, Prescribed Or Recreational." (Initial Caps His.)
For the record, my friend Remington has hosted fund-raisers at the Last Concert Café. Anyone who spends much time at Last Concert knows the attitude of most patrons toward cannabis, and Remington certainly does too.
Toward the bottom, NORML prints some quotes from candidates who did not respond to the questionnaire, but have expressed their positions previously. In the race for Governor, Sen. Wendy Davis is cautiously in favor of decriminalization; Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott "supports current drug policy." Libertarian Kathie Glass articulates her party's line and favors complete legalization: "Medical or recreational, treat marijuana like beer. Green candidate Brandon Parmer and did not get his answers in on time.
For what it's worth, the Democrat candidate for District Attorney in Harris County personally favors legalization, but would not be in a position to advocate for it.
September 22: Harris County Green Party candidates' forum, 7 pm
Trinity Episcopal Church Fellowship Hall, 1015 Holman Street, near Ensemble/HCC MetroRail stop. If you want to know what the Greens really stand for, please join us, and invite lots of friends.
Invite your friends who are inclined to vote Green, perhaps as a protest vote, perhaps because they are true embodiments of the Green Vision.
Invite your friends who are considering not voting at all because "both major parties suck," but who don't know about the Greens beyond the occasional joke on late-night TV.
Invite your friends who will likely vote for Democrats, but maybe don't know that I am the only alternative to Ed Emmett on this year's ballot.
In a press release, Blogmeister Perry Dorrell of Brains & Eggs has actually referred to the Harris County Judge election as the most significant for Greens in this area, owing to the lack of a Democratic candidate in the race. I take that as a profound compliment on my long-considered decision to put my name in for the position.
The County Judge gig was not my first choice, I will admit with all due frankness. I am much more the legislator type than the executive type. At the 2012 Green Party of Texas convention, in my nomination speech I told those assembled that I would be willing to run again in 2014. However, when Emily Sánchez indicated that she wanted to run for the US Senate seat currently housing the tush of John Cornyn, I yielded to her because I relished the thought of our running a smart Latina for such an exalted position.
My next thought was to run for Sheila Jackson-Lee's Congressional seat in District 18, where I have lived for nearly three years. Last fall, however, Remington Alessi and I worked it out where he would run against Sheila. He's really the better choice for that, because it takes someone with Remington's raw irreverence to challenge SJ-L: She occupies one of the safest seats in the nation.
I told Remington the story of my traveling to Palm Center for the only Sunday of early voting in the 2012 General Election, when the women who came out to represent SJ-L were telling voters to vote a straight Democratic ticket. That made him even more eager to run in District 18.
I don't pin the blame for the Palm Center episode on SJ-L herself. There were not many cameras on the scene, so she did not appear. Let the Democratic Party Culture of Inevitability wear the blame.
There's this tragic notion in low-income and African-American neighborhoods that the Democratic Party and its candidates are actually working for them; that there are only two political parties, and no matter how unresponsive and ineffective the D's are, the R's are openly hostile and therefore worse. Anything or anyone challenging the Democrats is a mere annoyance to be ignored or swatted away. Democrats keep getting elected, but even though many of those elected are black or brown, racism and de facto segregation don't go away. Good jobs don't come running to the neighborhoods. We still get government of, by, and for the corporations.
If Sheila is guilty, it's guilt by association with a party that continues to run interference for corporate titans, to support the US "all I got is a hammer" foreign policy, to talk about the changing climate but (to paraphrase Mark Twain) not do anything about it. Whatever the Green Party is, it's not that.
See you at Trinity Episcopal on the 22nd.
(NOTE: I composed this entry some time in June, before I was able to put this website together. I never finished it, but it's long enough as it is, don't you think?--dbc)
I'll be quite candid with you, Dear Reader. I didn't especially want to run for Harris County Judge. Much of county government in Texas revolves around tax policy, and my understanding of tax policy is best described as "intuitive." County taxation and expenditure is as nuts & bolts as it gets.
When I ran for the open US Senate seat in 2012, the office of Senator fit my big-picture orientation on the world; I have a much deeper understanding of and appreciation for the philosophical questions that guide the deliberative house of Congress. I made several trips to various spots in Texas, some of which I had visited previously, some not. It was easy to connect with voters in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth, Laredo, Midland-Odessa, Lufkin-Nacogdoches, and West, as well as Houston; most of the voters knew a thing or two about he US Senate.
I saw myself running for Senate again in 2014, this time against the incumbent John Cornyn. However, I made my move a little too late, and Emily "SpicyBrown" Sánchez of Del Rio filed for that position first. I could have run against her—sometimes we do have contested nominations in the Green Party of Texas—but I saw that my schedule in my new job would be less flexible about traveling during the work week and thus demurred.
My next choice would have been to run for US House District 18, occupied since 1995 by Sheila Jackson Lee. Yes, as much as I have touted Rep. Jackson Lee as a Progressive ally, it was time to give her some competition. However, Remington Alessi proved himself much more enthusiastic about taking on this challenge. Whereas I have trepidations about alienating potential allies in the Democratic Party (going back to 2000), Remington has none.
OK then, how about County Judge? I have lived in Houston itself, as well as in the unincorporated wilds of Cy-Fair and Clear Lake. My total time living in Harris County adds up to more than 40 years. I wasn't born here, but destiny brought me here at age 3. My first home here was in Bunker Hill Village, where my grandparents had bought a house during the great oil & gas migrations of the 1960s and '70s. As much as I love Houston itself, I love this sprawling county that is larger than Rhode Island and four times as populous. I have seen examples of good and bad county government: I lived in Precinct 3 when Bob Eckels had his legal difficulties. I have seen 40 years of unguided growth, flood maps redrawn in secret, real estate developers getting too wealthy and powerful, people and small businesses getting the shaft.
It's well past time to bring smart, sensible growth to Harris County.
Side note: Why run against Sheila? For one thing, she's not as Progressive as she would like her constituents to believe. It's hard to be consistently Progressive in the House of Representatives, so I completely understand that: Sometimes you have to engage in horse-trading, and sometimes you have to follow the path that will best serve your district regardless of your ideology. What galls me even more, though, was an incident having to do with Sheila's campaign troops in 2012.
I went to Palm Center on the Sunday of early voting in October 2012. Palm Center, at the corner of Griggs Road and Martin Luther King Boulevard, combines commercial and community facilities between the Third Ward and Sunnyside districts of southeast Houston. It's a great place for early voting, and on that one Sunday locals turn out after church, dressed in their finery, and they socialize before and after they vote. I was encouraging voters to vote for Green candidates in races where the Democrats had no nominees, and to look farther down the ballot for the bond issues (such as $2 billion for fixing HISD school buildings). A few of Sheila's crew showed up and started encouraging voters to vote straight-ticket Democrat, which would have deprived them of voting in two statewide races and on the bonds.
If it were just me, the middle-aged white dude, affected by this, it would have been bad enough, as they made me feel like an outsider bringing in complex foreign ideas like multi-party democracy. But it wasn't just me: Dozens of high schoolers were already there as well, trying to convince voters to approve the HISD bonds, which they couldn't do if they just voted Straight D and walked out. I truly believe that Sheila's campaigners did the people of the MLK Corridor a grave disservice by telling them that voting anything other than Straight D was too complicated for them.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.