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2013 Elections

Burnt Orange Report Endorses Celia Israel in the HD-50 Special Election


by: Burnt Orange Report

Sat Oct 19, 2013 at 11:00 AM CDT

(Today is Election Day in the run-off for HD-50. If you live in HD-50, please head to the polls. You may vote at any polling location today. Polls close at 7:00 pm. Locations are here: http://bit.ly/1ndreyD - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)

In the special election for HD-50, Burnt Orange Report endorses Celia Israel as the best successor to Mark Strama.

In a four-way race for an empty house seat, we find Celia Israel to be the best choice in HD-50. Her Democratic bonafides are unquestionable. She worked for Governor Ann Richards and has been deeply involved in the progressive, Democratic community here in Austin for decades. She is a leader on transportation and equality for all Texans, and a staunch supporter of higher education.

Her own experiences as the first member of her family to go to college and her work in government and as an entrepreneur prepare her well to make sure the promise of Texas remains available for current and future generations.

On the campaign trail, we have seen Israel demonstrate an impressive array of policy knowledge and an awareness of the issues facing the district that will allow her to hit the ground running if elected in this special election, which will seat the winner immediately (or after a runoff, if one is necessary). We have also watched as Israel has become more confident in herself, and we think she is ready to take the step from extensive civic engagement as a volunteer to elected public service.

In the legislature, Israel will be a reliable progressive vote and will advance our shared Democratic agenda. Over her decades of extensive service in Austin, she has developed a broad network of contacts that will serve her well in office. On the balance, we find Celia Israel to be the best choice in this election. She earned a clear, outright majority of votes from members of the staff who participated in this vote.

We enthusiastically endorse Celia Israel in the special election for House District 50 and urge our readers to vote for her as the successor to Mark Strama.


Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races. All filed candidates were considered for this endorsement, which was made without any consultation of the candidates or their campaigns.

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Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote FOR Austin Affordable Housing Bonds


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 02:30 PM CDT

In the November 2013 constitutional amendment election, Burnt Orange Report endorses a vote FOR the Austin Affordable Housing bonds.

This is an important measure that will provide funds within the City's current bonding capacity for constructing and improving affordable housing for low-income Austinites, acquiring land and property for affordable housing, and funding existing non-profit affordable housing programs.

This will help families, senior citizens, those with disabilities, and a wide variety if Austinites who are having difficulty keeping up with the rising cost of living in our city. The programs supported by this bond are already doing wonderful work to help low-income Austinites find housing, but the challenge of addressing our crisis in affordability is so great that these funds are necessary to help keep pace with the growing need.

This bond will fund programs focused on addressing affordability through a wide range of initiatives. This bond will not raise taxes, as the funds are within the City of Austin's existing bonding capacity. For those who oppose "government hand-outs," (and who probably do not read this blog anyways) it's worth noting that all residents of housing supported by these bonds pay rent or put some of their own money into purchasing their homes.

It is a good program that deserves the support of Austin voters.

We enthusiastically and unanimously endorse a vote FOR the Austin Affordable Housing bonds, listed on the ballot as "City of Austin Bond Election."


Early Voting: October 21-November 1, 2013 | Election Day: Tuesday November 5
Travis County voting locations can be found HERE.

Photo Voter ID is required to vote. Click here for a list of acceptable forms of ID.

Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.

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Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote AGAINST Pasadena Proposition 1


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 02:00 PM CDT

In the November 2013 constitutional amendment election, Burnt Orange Report unanimously and strongly endorses a vote AGAINST Pasadena Charter Amendment Proposition 1.

Proposition 1 is a blatant attempt to deny minority voters representation on the Pasadena City Council, and is the work of a Mayor committed to denying Hispanic voters the right to elect candidates of their choosing.

Should the full Voting Rights Act still be in effect, this measure would fail to obtain pre-clearance because it willfully denies minority representation.

The charter amendment reads as follows:

    Proposition I

    Shall the City Charter be amended to replace the current Council election system, which consists of a Mayor and eight Councilmembers elected from single-member Districts, with a Council with a Mayor, six Council members elected from single-member Districts, and two Councilmembers elected at large.

    Proposición I

    Deberá ser enmendada la Carta Orgánica para reemplazar el sistema actual de elección del Consejo, el cual consiste de un Alcalde y ocho Concejales elegidos de Distritos de miembro único, por un Consejo con un Alcalde, seis Concejales elegidos de Distritos de miembro único y dos Concej

This is a xenophobic, reactionary move by Mayor Johnny Isbell, who has been on the Pasadena City Council off and on since 1969. According to Census figures, Pasadena has seen a dramatic increase in Hispanic residents over the last decade. In 2000, Pasadena was 48.2% Hispanic. In 2010, Pasadena was 62.2% Hispanic.

This measure was recommended against by the Pasadena Charter Review Committee. It was placed on the ballot by a majority-Anglo council that just recently saw the addition of a second Hispanic member. The last election this past May saw a dramatic increase in Hispanic candidates for Pasadena municipal office. Isbell faced a Hispanic challenger himself and won handily, with 83%, in an election that saw 9.2% of all voters participate.

This amendment is a shameful effort to deny minority residents a voice on the City Council and the opportunity to elect representation of their choosing. It is intended to have a retrogressive effect and would not be permissible under the Voting Rights Act.

We unanimously endorse a vote AGAINST Pasadena Proposition 1 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections and implore all residents to vote against a measure designed to decrease minority representation. Pasadena should be no place for hate.


Early Voting: October 21-November 1, 2013 | Election Day: Tuesday November 5
Harris County voting information can be found HERE.

Photo Voter ID is required to vote. Click here for a list of acceptable forms of ID.

Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.

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Burnt Orange Report Endorses Annise Parker For Re-Election as Mayor of Houston


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 01:30 PM CDT

Burnt Orange Report unanimously endorses Annise Parker for re-election as Mayor of Houston.

Our state's largest city deserves a mayor with vision and the Texas-sized skills to carry out a challenging job. We endorsed Parker in 2009 and 2011 and we're excited to endorse her again in 2013 for re-election.

Parker has created jobs, improved public safety, and implemented a broad array of initiatives designed to improve the quality of life in Houston. She has earned another term in her own right.

One of Parker's more notable accomplishments has been starting the Hire Houston First program, which helped award more than $139 million of city business to designated Hire Houston First firms, sustaining more than 6,000 jobs in the city. She also balanced every budget during the recession without raising taxes and without laying off police and fire fighters.

However, our endorsement is made all the more stronger by the weaknesses of her opponents. Ben Hall has a history of failing to pay his taxes, and hasn't bothered to vote in a city election in 11 years. Hall just moved back into the city last year so he would be eligible to run for mayor. His campaign appears to veer between the hapless and the offensive.

Parker's list of accomplishments is as long as it is wide-ranging and substantive. She has earned another term and deserves the votes of Houstonians who want a leader who is capable of keeping their city going in the right direction.

We unanimously and enthusiastically endorse the Honorable Annise Parker for re-election as Mayor of Houston.


Early Voting: October 21-November 1, 2013 | Election Day: Tuesday November 5
Harris County voting information can be found HERE.

Photo Voter ID is required to vote. Click here for a list of acceptable forms of ID.

Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.

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Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote FOR Statewide Proposition 9


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 01:00 PM CDT

In the November 2013 constitutional amendment election, Burnt Orange Report endorses a vote FOR Statewide Proposition 9.

This amendment will expand Section 1-a(8), Article V of the Texas Constitution, giving the State Commission on Judicial Conduct more sanctions to use against a judge or justice following a hearing.

Currently, the commission may only issue public censures and endorse the removal or retirement of the judge or justice following hearing. The additional sanctions would include public admonition, warning, reprimands, or requiring that the judge or justice receive additional education and training.

Supporters of the amendment argue that the current limit of sanctions may give the commission fewer reasons to pursue certain cases. A broader array of sanctions against judges and justices seems like a good thing. After all, if they're doing their jobs correctly, they're not going to be sanctioned, right?

We unanimously endorse a vote FOR Proposition 9 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections.


Early Voting: October 21-November 1, 2013 | Election Day: Tuesday November 5

Photo Voter ID is required to vote. Click here for a list of acceptable forms of ID.

Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.

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Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote FOR Statewide Proposition 8


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 00:30 PM CDT

In the November 2013 constitutional amendment election, Burnt Orange Report endorses a vote FOR Statewide Proposition 8.

This proposed amendment would repeal Section 7, Article IX of the Texas Constitution, which allows the legislature to authorize a hospital district in Hidalgo County, but also limits the property tax rate that can be assessed to 10 cents per $100 valuation taxable property to help with financing the district. To be clear, the proposition would not stop Hidalgo County from building a hospital district in the future.

The original amendment that created the hospital district was passed when Hidalgo County was too small to have statutory authority to pass its own hospital district without statewide voter approval. However, the current limit on the property tax rate of 10 cents per $100 valuation makes it difficult to create a hospital district because there would not be enough funding.

We unanimously endorse a vote FOR Proposition 8 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections.


Early Voting: October 21-November 1, 2013 | Election Day: Tuesday November 5

Photo Voter ID is required to vote. Click here for a list of acceptable forms of ID.

Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.

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Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote AGAINST Statewide Proposition 7


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 00:00 PM CDT

In the November 2013 constitutional amendment election, Burnt Orange Report endorses a vote AGAINST Statewide Proposition 7.

Proposition 7 reads as follows:

    The constitutional amendment authorizing a home-rule municipality to provide in its charter the procedure to fill a vacancy on its governing body for which the unexpired term is 12 months or less.

This allows home-rule municipal governments -- those that have charters and are 5,000 people or larger -- to hold a charter amendment election to allow voters to determine if they want to fill municipal vacancies of 12 months or less by appointment.

Our opposition to this amendment is rooted in the myriad unintended negative consequences such a measure can have.

The maximum length of time of the appointment -- 12 months -- strikes us as too long for someone to serve without voter approval. If this amendment had a shorter time-frame -- say, less than 3 months, in which the expense of holding an additional election might be a more pressing concern -- we would have less opposition.

This amendment also permits charter amendments that provide the real potential for a council to act against the will of the voters in appointing a replacement. For instance, in municipalities with single member districts, if passed, such a charter amendment would allow an Anglo-majority council to appoint Anglo representatives to minority districts in the case of a vacancy. We are uncomfortable with an elected municipal body selecting their own colleagues and think it presents an increased opportunity for corruption and unethical behavior.

Furthermore, since there is such a wide discrepancy between turnout rates in May and November elections especially considering even and odd years, we worry that such a charter amendment might be strategically placed on the ballot during a low-turnout cycle to increase its odds of passage and thwart the will of a larger electorate.  

While this amendment simply gives municipalities the opportunity to decide if they want to put forth charter amendments to allow appointments to fill vacancies to be an option, we believe that the consequences of such changes are likely to be more negative than positive. Therefore we oppose the amendment that makes such changes possible.

We endorse a vote AGAINST Proposition 7 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections.


Early Voting: October 21-November 1, 2013 | Election Day: Tuesday November 5

Photo Voter ID is required to vote. Click here for a list of acceptable forms of ID.

Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.

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Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote FOR Statewide Proposition 6


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 11:30 AM CDT

In the November 2013 constitutional amendment election, Burnt Orange Report unanimously and enthusiastically endorses a vote FOR Statewide Proposition 6 to fund our state water plan.

Texas has a crisis in water infrastructure. Our development of water projects has not kept pace with our population growth. While we believe that the Legislature should be responsible enough to pay for such urgent infrastructure out of the general fund, in the meantime we must make sure our water projects get funded and urge voters to cast a ballot FOR proposition 6.

Proposition 6 creates two new water funds: the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) and the State Water Implementation Revenue Fund for Texas (SWIRFT). Should Proposition 6 pass, $2 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund (aka the Rainy Day Fund) will be placed once and only one in the SWIFT to provide financing for State Water Plan projects.

Texas must act now to invest in water infrastructure, or else we may not have enough water to meet the needs of our state. Several towns and smaller jurisdictions are already close to running out of water, and the situation is already more dire than most Texans realize. The best first step to addressing this crisis is voting FOR Proposition 6 on this year's ballot.

We unanimously and enthusiastically endorse a vote FOR Proposition 6 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections.


Early Voting: October 21-November 1, 2013 | Election Day: Tuesday November 5

Photo Voter ID is required to vote. Click here for a list of acceptable forms of ID.

Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.

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Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote FOR Statewide Proposition 5


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 11:00 AM CDT


In the November 2013 constitutional amendment election, Burnt Orange Report endorses a vote FOR Statewide Proposition 5.

The text of Proposition 5 reads as follows:

    The constitutional amendment to authorize the making of a reverse mortgage loan for the purchase of homestead property and to amend lender disclosures and other requirements in connection with a reverse mortgage loan.

Yes, it permits reverse mortgages, which are currently not allowed in Texas. Yes, we are endorsing it. Hear us out on this one.

At first, as a group of people psychologically conditioned to oppose the phrase "reverse mortgage" thanks in no small part to Fred C. Thompson, we thought this amendment sounded bad. After all, the highly regulated housing market in Texas helped prevent a crash in the last decade, and this sounds like something that would weaken those safeguards to allow unscrupulous corporations to take advantage of Texas seniors.  

However, these reverse mortgage loans are optional, and overseen and regulated by HUD. Anyone who takes the loan is required to complete counseling before it is issued, and a full notice of the terms of the loan is sent 12 days before it starts so a borrower can be super-duper sure it's on the up and up. This process actually has more protections in place than regular reverse mortgages, and is regulated by HUD, aka the Federal Government.

The name makes it sound bad, but the instrument is a pretty good option for a lot of seniors and there are a lot of safeguards in place -- including the additional Texas-specific safeguards that the amendment would provide.

We still have concerns that this may inadvertently open the door to bad actors in the housing market who try to prey on senior citizens. However, additional safeguards appear to be in place to prevent that. On the balance, this seems acceptable.

We narrowly endorse a vote FOR Proposition 5 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections.


Early Voting: October 21-November 1, 2013 | Election Day: Tuesday November 5

Photo Voter ID is required to vote. Click here for a list of acceptable forms of ID.

Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.

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Burnt Orange Report Endorses A Vote FOR Statewide Proposition 4


by: Burnt Orange Report

Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 10:30 AM CDT

In the November 2013 constitutional amendment election, Burnt Orange Report endorses a vote FOR Statewide Proposition 4.

This amendment will authorize the legislature to provide a property tax break for specific disabled veterans. Several charities in Texas donate handicapped-accessible homes to disabled veterans, to make life easier for them. However, not all veterans can afford to pay the property taxes on their homes and risk losing them.

Prop 4 grants a tax exemption relative to the veteran's level of disability - i.e., a 70 percent exemption for a veteran who is 70 percent disabled, but only if the residence homestead was donated to the disabled veteran by a charitable organization. This is an important measure that will help disabled veterans stay in homes provided for them by charitable organizations.

We enthusiastically endorse a vote FOR Proposition 4 in the November 2013 constitutional amendment elections.


Early Voting: October 21-November 1, 2013 | Election Day: Tuesday November 5

Photo Voter ID is required to vote. Click here for a list of acceptable forms of ID.

Endorsements are made based on a weighted consensus of the staff, which guides the type and tone of endorsement. Members of the Burnt Orange Report staff employed by campaigns abstain from voting on those races.

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