Food Fight Hiccup

Will four felonies spoil Four Families' Hobby deal?

TSA Washington spokesman David Steigman says his agency is researching whether corporations with felony records are ineligible for airport security clearance.

City Councilman Gabe Vasquez chairs the council's aviation committee and was crucial in the 9-6 vote that awarded the Hobby contract to Four Families. At the time, he cited the delinquent tax record of a member of the CA One team as his reason for siding with Four Families. Vasquez now says he and other councilmembers were unaware of Pappas's felony convictions when the contract was considered.

"It never came up, and this is the first time I've heard of it," says the councilman. As to whether Pappas should be prohibited from operating concessions at Houston's airports, Vasquez says, "It's kind of early to come to a final conclusion. I'd want to see some specifics, some details, and a legal ruling before making a full determination."

Pappas's past turns into a potential problem.
Pappas's past turns into a potential problem.

Tony, Orlando and Dawn

No candidate for office in Texas has spent more of his money trying to get elected than Laredo banker Tony Sanchez ($57 million), and his reward was a drubbing by GOP Governor Rick Perry. But if Democrats and their defeated standard-bearer want some consolation, Houston's Hispanic precincts hold out hope for the future.

Not only did Sanchez demonstrate that Democrats have a solid hold on the Latino vote, he decisively outperformed that other Sanchez named Orlando who ran for Houston mayor last year. Orlando narrowly lost a runoff against incumbent Lee Brown while flaunting his Republican colors.

The Insider crunched precinct numbers from both races to get some results that debunk the conventional wisdom that Tony Sanchez flamed out in the Hispanic community. Turnout comparisons show that the gubernatorial Sanchez drew more Hispanics to the polls than his mayoral counterpart, and corralled much bigger majorities.

For example, In Magnolia Park's Box 11, Tony Sanchez outpolled Perry 510 to 56, an 89 percent majority, while Orlando in 2001 pulled 294 to Brown's 183 for a 61 percent majority.

In Denver Harbor's precinct 560, Sanchez ran ahead of Perry 329 to 40 for an 87 percent majority. His mayoral counterpart Orlando outpolled Brown 236 to 71 for a 77 percent majority. The same pattern was evident in eight other precincts sampled.

As a breakthrough Hispanic candidate in Harris County, Tony Sanchez drew larger totals and larger turnouts than Orlando Sanchez in his history-making run for mayor. Black voters also supported Tony Sanchez by overwhelming margins, with only a slight falloff from the even more lopsided majorities they gave African-American senatorial candidate Ron Kirk against Republican John Cornyn. The tale of the precinct totals is that the Democrats' black-brown coalition worked in Harris County.

The difference in the local vote was not a collapse in minority support for Democrats but rather the sky-high turnout in heavily GOP Anglo precincts. In some cases it approached levels of a presidential year, and doubled that in black and Hispanic boxes. Margins of nine and ten to one, magnified by the lopsided turnout, allowed Republicans to sweep every countywide race.

UH Center for Public Policy director Dr. Richard Murray says the results show the Democrats have a solid base, "but you've got to have candidates who can get a more significant share of the Anglo vote, as well as probably stir somewhat more enthusiasm in the minority community."

He pauses, and then concludes, "Read: Henry Cisneros."

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