Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2014 League City election picks for City Council

Early voting for the City Council races in League City (plus many other muni, county, state, and federal positions) began yesterday but I withheld publishing my picks until today out of a desire for fairness and balance.  I wanted to incorporate the primary alternate editorial source, which is the recommendations put forth by Galveston County Daily News (paywalled), and also see some of those forum comments, so that you could compare and contrast both sets of picks in the process of doing your own evaluation and arriving at your own voting choices.

I note again for the record that this is a non-commercial, non-politically-affiliated blog that presents personal opinions only.  This blog is not associated in any way with Centerpointe POA; we just happen to live in the same named place.
Here we go... the early vote is now on!  Signs at the corner of SH 3 and League City Parkway.  
For those of you who are not familiar with my local involvement, I gathered the information that underpins my picks from the following sources:

  1. Daily reading of our local newspapers (GCDN and Chron; I am a paying subscriber to both, ca-ching!).
  2. Daily participation in local online discussion forums, some behind paywalls, and also email discussion threads.
  3. Daily general attention to League City goings-on for the past 5 years of my residency here.
  4. A little bit of attendance at a few historical City Council meetings and watching of additional meeting videos on the internet
  5. Attendance at the City Council candidates forum held on October 8, 2014 (you can see a full video of that forum here - not paywalled - with corresponding GCDN link here). 
  6. My own October 9, 2014 public appeal for historical context and additional "back-story" information on all candidates in competing races.  

Cutting to the chase, here are my picks, and I will describe my rationale for these choices in sections to follow this graphic.


My choice is either Becker (if you can stand him) or a no-vote in this ballot position (which is called undervoting) if you cannot stand him.  GCDN picked Ewend because they obviously cannot stand Becker, but I find that their rationale for doing so was weak and didn't take all relevant decision factors into proper account.  Becker is well-known for his obvious intelligence and League City managerial experience, but GCDN essentially argues that he's too much of a hot-head to deserve a vote.  My response to this is YES, he certainly is a hot-head, and furthermore, he does not seem to be improving himself in that regard.  But the example that GCDN gave was that of the fist-fight with fellow Council member Okeeffe, which I argued was mostly a cosmetic issue that, if anything, suggests that both men are probably honest at the core.  I don't pick my political candidates based on the cosmetics of their behavior or sensationalized news accounts of same.  Far more consequential in this analysis is Becker's Achilles heel:  Despite his higher IQ, he sucks out loud when it comes to risk assessment and decisional priority weightings.  I could provide you with specific, pointed examples but I'm afraid it would make this post too long, and so I will reserve that for later.

In my opinion, voting for Ewend would simply make a questionable Council seat much, much worse.  Ewend has not represented himself well during this election cycle.  Jim Guidry's local news service, which almost never crosses my radar, explained exactly how in an op-ed titled "The circus left Houston last week - a missed calling".  The writer described Ewend as "our town jester" and I agree with that evaluation.  Ewend seems to be intentionally making a mockery of the American democratic process and he has already cost the LC taxpayers unnecessary time and money with his absolute failure (or refusal?) to comprehend Ethics 101 (sorry - paywalled; can't find an open info source on that one).

In absolutely no scenario that I can imagine would Ewend be an improvement over Becker, as imperfect as Becker is.  Becker is the clear lesser of evils, as I see it.


I pick Morris because I think he's strong enough to deserve a chance to prove himself.  He's an attorney, so we get that proverbial "free attorney" on Council which is something we desperately need (and this is particularly important because I do NOT pick attorney Gross; explanation given in the next section).

GCDN picked Cones and argued their choice on the basis that nobody knows LC better than Cones does, but that's not necessarily a good thing unless Cones can also behave in a functional manner with respect to City business and relationships.  During my public appeal, every single piece of feedback I received on Cones was strongly negative, and every email was backed up with objective information that the commenters used to justify their thumbs-down (so it wasn't  just subjective ranting on their parts).  Whatever the hell Cones did during his previous Council tenure, he made a lot of enemies.  And we don't need enemy-makers on Council when we have a potentially better choice available in Morris.


I pick Dawson for much the same reason that GCDN also picks her - because there is no other voice on Council who has proven themselves to be the least bit concerned about quality-of-life issues.  We desperately need a canary in our Council coal mine, and Dawson, as limited as she appears to be in certain functional respects (explanation omitted for brevity), has proven herself capable of filling that specialized role.  Dawson will be the whistle-blower when the rest of the WASPy conservative clones on Council step too far out of line.  And we really, really need that for counterpoint perspective if nothing else.

As further support for this pick, I note that Jason Long is not a good choice by virtue of his criminal record (paywalled) which calls his temperament into question if nothing else, and the fact that he does not represent himself well in debate (see the forum video for evidence).

As further evidence for this pick, I note that Gross is a litigator, an adversarial character whose mannerisms struck me as way, way too far toward a slash-and-burn mentality.  Watch the forum video and I think you'll see what I mean.  He does not appear to come to the table with a cooperative demeanor - rather it's a short-sighted, over-the-top attitude of (paraphrased), "You people are all screwing up spending money on moving oak trees and thank goodness I'm swooping in to save the good people of League City from your wild incompetence and dastardly influences."  We do not need that kind of attitude on Council given the personalities that we've already got.  He may be an attorney and he may have some professional strengths as a result of that, but that's not enough.


Agreeing with GCDN on this one as well, I pick Nick Long for the simple reason that he's an extremely strong candidate, so strong that if he ran against any one of those others, he'd still be a shoe-in (danged pity that he did not choose to run against Becker).  In the candidates forum, Al-Sahli proved himself to be no slouch, and if he were running against a weaker opponent, I think he would be both electable and desirable as a Council member.  He seems to be a buoyantly positive, laid back kind of guy (in some instances, probably a bit too laid back for his own self-preservational good).  I sense that Mr. Abdul has a latent potential to become a Great Dispeller of Bullsh*t, if only he were given a chance.  I hope that decides to run again in the future if he loses his current bid.

There are my opinions for you to do with as you see fit in formulating your own.  With respect to voting resources, here are a few useful links.  Following the closing meme below, I will also reproduce GCDN's contrasting election picks with their own rationales presented in full for your consideration.

But not until the skinny lady sings.  Good luck at the polls.  
In the contested races for city council in League City, The Daily News recommends:
• Council Position 1: Jay Ewend. This is a case of addition by subtraction. The incumbent, Dan Becker, was arguably the most knowledgeable candidate at a recent forum. He provided informed answers on questions about debt and infrastructure. But League City got national attention when two council members got into a fistfight in the city manager’s office. Voters shouldn’t have to worry about things like that.
• Council Position 2: Tommy Cones. Cones had a colorful run during his previous tenure on council — and he could work on decorum. Nevertheless, few people know League City better.
• Council Position 6: Joanna Sharp Dawson. Attorney Keith Gross is an articulate candidate and would be a good choice, but Dawson deserves another term. She has been a voice of decency on a council that is sometimes bitterly divided. She’s also been an advocate for parks and historic preservation — interests that ought to warrant at least one spokesman in one position on council.
• Council Position 7: Nick Long. Long, a financial consultant, gave the most detailed view on how the city should balance debt with the need to build infrastructure to accommodate growth. While Long gets the endorsement, it’s hard to argue against the experience in operating small businesses offered by his opponent, Abdul Al-Sahli.


  1. Point of clarification based on initial feedback I received on this post (with this kind of blog, most people prefer to provide private feedback rather than post here in the Comments section, so that is what I am drawing upon) -

    Yes, I realize that my assessment above is blunt. The opposite of "blunt" tends to be "politically correct". I believe that political correctness is nothing more than a diversional scourge upon the Earth. Furthermore, I believe that League City has not done a danged thing to deserve political correctness from me or anyone else. Politics was a blood sport in League City long before I got here, and it will be a blood sport long after I'm gone. I'm not making any more extreme an editorial contribution here than what many others have done via other outlets.

    In fact, I hope I'm doing a little bit better. Rather than attacking candidates on the basis of their political philosophies as has become the useless and twisted norm in our post-political-correctness world, I would rather speak frankly in terms of what I perceive are their apolitical strengths and weaknesses. Political attacks can only lead to one result: conversational stalemates. Strengths and weaknesses evaluations, even if not agreed upon by others, instead lead to additional questions and contemplation and maybe even improvement.

    So that is why I approach these issues in my chosen tone. As a writer, I never set out to produce the editorial analogs of selfies - there's no incremental value in that; it would be a waste of my time and yours. I set out to identify a niche that nobody else was acknowledging so that I could make a practical contribution to filling the resulting perceptual hole (it's a dirty job, but someone should be doing it). And I do get feedback along those lines - people say things like, "I don't know why you're doing this, and I don't particularly enjoy what you're doing - but I have to admit that it does bring something new to table, an element that nobody else around here seems to be in touch with." Amen to that.

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  3. In that particular case, I agreed with the author and so the author's motivations were not an overriding concern to me. My love for the Tea party approaches negative infinity, but this was a point upon which many of us could agree. I personally believe that some of Ewend's campaign actions were unconscionable.


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