Thursday, October 01, 2009

Candidates Locke and Brown: You Blew it Big Time As Forum No-Shows

Three Republican womens groups tonight hosted candidate forums for City of Houston Mayor and Controller. It was an interesting evening.

The first panel was for Controller. The three candidates running were all present. City of Houston races are supposed to be non-partisan in nature. If a voter is current on politics, however, the candidate's political party is usually known.

Pam Holm, M.J. Khan, and Ronald Green all currently serve on the City Council. All have served on City Council for six years. All are budget savvy candidates. Sixteen questions were asked.

Pam Holm spoke of not increasing taxes as a budget deficit remedy. She spoke of not increasing "extra" fees that are often used as revenue. M.J. Khan spoke of attracting new business and Ronald Green spoke of "horizontal growth" - growing city revenue with the creation of new business and the employee base.

Pam Holm and M.J. Khan both have personal experience in the business community. Ronald Green touts a newly acquired MBA, along with his law degree and the fact that he has served on City Council in an at-large position - serving all the city instead of an individual district.

Pam Holm spoke of having the courage to be a watchdog for the city in the Controller's office. All of the candidates committed to online transparency of the city budget, though none of them currently have their city council office's budget online. Green spoke of putting a paper copy of the budget updates in water bills - to reach everyone. He didn't, however, include how he would fund that or the expense of that idea.

Both Holm and Khan claimed that their city council offices were held under budget.

For the second candidate panel, the candidates for Mayor were asked 14 questions. Roy Morales, Annise Parker, Charles Cupp and Luis Ullrich, Jr. were present. Though all candidates were invited and all responded in the affirmative that they would participate, two front runners, Gene Locke and Peter Brown, did not bother to show up. Neither bothered to notify the hosts that they would not be present. Brown had a member of his campaign staff there and he asked for time to speak on Brown's behalf. That request was promptly denied.

If voters can not count on a candidate to show up for a forum as previously agreed to, what does that say? It says that candidate is not true to his word and not to be trusted. It says they do not surround themselves with professional acting staffers. It says we are not important, that they believe they will win an election without the ordinary voter. It is incredibly arrogant and unprofessional.

Recent news reports have drawn a link to Team Obama to the campaign of Gene Locke, a successful lawyer. Since the emergence of Team Obama in consultation with the Locke campaign, the leading three Democrat candidates said they would scale back on forums, as they had done a number of them already. Well, one of that three was present tonight. The other two didn't bother to show or explain. They definitely previously confirmed their appearance.

Maybe Locke didn't want to answer questions that have emerged about any links to ACORN or to black liberation religion. Annise Parker and Roy Morales knew the answer to the question of how much the City of Houston has paid to ACORN in the past year. The answer was $155,000 for a foreclosure prevention program and there are no current projects with ACORN pending.

Everyone in the audience was told that the candidates were not present and had previously confirmed their appearance, so many will know of their behavior. Maybe they don't think they need the votes.

I call on all those who support the businesses listed as endorsing either Gene Locke or Peter Brown to stop their support. Boycott the businesses if they will not stop their public support of either candidate.

Martha Wong, former state representative and the first Asian American to be elected to Houston City Council, was our moderator. Her personal political experience lends itself to excellent monitoring of questions and answers.

Noemi Medina from the office of Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector, Leo Vasquez, was available as community outreach in voter registration.

And, a special thanks to Robert Rosenfeld. He is President of Commercial Audio-Video, Inc. He filled in at the last minute for microphone/audio needs at the previous forum held September 17 and we were pleased to have his help again tonight. He is a real pro in the audio-visual equipment rental, events and staging business.

Candidates Locke and Brown: you blew it big time.