Ready for Battle

Ready for Battle

Highlights from Hair Balls

Political Animals

Wendy Davis v. Greg Abbott.

Let me take the suspense out of this race: Abbott will win in convincing fashion. As I've noted before, there are simply not enough women and minority voters in Texas who will support Davis such that she can win. Indeed, setting aside gender, there aren't enough Democrats in Texas. What is more, Abbott has three times as much cash on hand as Davis.

Both easily won their parties' respective primaries, with Davis garnering nearly 80 percent of the Democratic vote and Abbott prevailing with more than 90 percent of ­Republicans backing him.

Up next: Abbott is going to rain down hellfire — in the form of TV ads — that question the propriety of Davis's work for two law firms vis-a-vis funneling state contracts to those same firms. The Texas Tribune reported on this awhile back, and it is now starting to gain traction in the right-wing blogosphere, which means Fox News will pick up the story, thus forcing the MSM to cover it as well. Davis has never been found guilty of any actual wrong­doing, but this is politics.

What else do we know from the primary election results? Well, the Tea Party can count the Lt. Governor's runoff as a win. Dan Patrick actually won a plurality of the votes (41.5 percent), while "establishment" candidate David Dewhurst won only slightly more than 28 percent. Dewhurst also lost to Ted Cruz in the 2012 Senate race when Cruz was able to paint Dewhurst as not conservative enough. If you are a Democrat, you should be scared of having someone as conservative as Patrick in the Lt. Governor's seat, which is considered the most powerful statewide office. Patrick is a fire-breathing conservative.

But the Tea Party can't take much solace in Senator John Cornyn's spanking of Steve Stockman, nor Pete Sessions's — who is chairman of the important House Rules Committee — easy win over his Tea Party challenger. And I would be remiss not to note that George P. Bush is on his way to becoming your newest Land Commissioner.

Road Rage

E-nough is enough
Houston threatens Uber with legalese over email campaign.

Jeff Balke

Houston's mayor and City Council have been in discussions on what to do about car services like Uber and Lyft that provide an alternative to taxis and limos. Both allow users to request a car via an app, which also handles payment. The driver is paid electronically.

Some 10,000 Houstonians signed an online petition in support of Uber, the most vocal of whom are young urbanites who are strong supporters of the technological aspects of the service. Apparently, the city is tired of having its inbox filled up with Uber petition signatures:

From: Feldman, David M. — LGL [] Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 8:46 AM To: Miller, Robert Subject: Uber Cease and Desist

Robert — Please consider this as a formal demand that your client, Uber, cease and desist from transmitting or aiding in the transmission of form e-mails to City officials regarding the adoption of an ordinance to accommodate their enterprise. Despite my informal request to you by telephone on Monday, the excessive number of e-mails has gone unabated, to the point that it has become harassing in nature and arguably unlawful. Failure to cease and desist will be met with appropriate action by the City.

David M. Feldman

City Attorney

City of Houston

Generally, Uber's services tend to be more reliable than traditional taxis in cities where the car service is allowed to operate. Cab services are often unreliable at peak hours. Uber and Lyft combat that by increasing fares — sometimes dramatically — during those times. This has caused some controversy surrounding the services, along with questions relating to how the services handle driver insurance and background checks.

Back to the petition. Perhaps I missed something, but I thought this was simply citizens exercising democracy. The fact that a company with a vested interest in those signed petitions is facilitating them being sent is irrelevant. If people want to interact with the city and some web-based service gives them the ability to do so, that is certainly their right.

Letter-writing campaigns have been the backbone of grassroots organizations for decades. If the constituency's airwaves can be flooded with paid-for political advertisements and phone lines clogged with supporters of candidates and ballot initiatives, I'm pretty sure the city mail servers can handle an influx of signed online petitions.


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