Fighting for election integrity and transparency

Small Towns, Big Loopholes: Joshua’s Mayoral Election

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Citizens of Joshua are facing a locked door and a lack of confidence in the integrity of their November 23rd Mayoral Special Election. Could the current administration of Joshua use gray areas and loopholes in the code to steal a hotly contested election? That is the question many are asking in Joshua right now.

A Brief History

Earlier this year Kenny Robinson defeated 3-term Mayor Joe Hollarn. The Citizens of Joshua wanted a change. Then, after less than three months in office, Mayor Robinson resigned.

Robinson stated in a letter addressed to city officials and the Joshua City Council that the “wants of the city manager and members of the city council are at a difference.” He further stated that “The stress from the differences has caused me health issues. After discussion with my wife and family, it is with a heavy heart and much praying I have decided to resign as mayor of Joshua effective immediately.”

The conflict in Joshua is one that is common in small-town Texas today, economic development. The big question is should Joshua retain its country living feel or focus on growth into a larger city. Those that supported Kenny Robinson don’t want Joshua to become another Frisco. 

Special Election

The candidates vying to fill the vacant seat are formerly ousted Joe Hollarn and Robert Fleming. Hollarn is once again backed by those that want to push for growth and Fleming’s supporters are largely the same as those that backed Robinson. Hollarn’s advantage is the backing of the City Manager and City Council, especially since that City Council appointed City Manager Josh Jones to administer the election and serve as Election Judge for the City’s single precinct.  

The previous Mayoral Election was administered by City Secretary Lisa Cabrera.  She did not administer the November elections as she was terminated by the City Council in October. Her termination came after Mayor Robinson vacated his office and not long before the election of his replacement. The Council remains tight-lipped on the cause for her termination. The City Secretary vacancy appears to have paved the way to appoint the City Manager. The City Council held a Special Council Meeting November 14th to appoint City Manager Jones to the Early Voting Clerk position (election administrator) for the November 23rd election as well as ratifying his actions as Early Voting Clerk for the November 5thelection. This action was clearly after the fact, but the Secretary of State tends to look the other way when cities make “mistakes” like this.

While this appointment is legal, many citizens of Joshua feel the fox is guarding the henhouse. This sentiment is further aggravated by the polling location’s locked door.

There is only one voting location and it is inside City Hall behind a closed, locked, door that requires a code for entry. When a voter enters City Hall, the City Manager is paged, he enters the room from an interior door, lets the voter in, and processes the voter. If the City Manager is not available, the Assistant City Manager/Election Clerk processes the voter. This process makes some voters uneasy.

The City may argue that this is the best procedure to both keep the ballots safe and save money for the city. However, there have been reports of voters showing up to the polling location, finding the locked door and no one at the reception desk, and leaving without voting. This is very problematic. How many voters’ votes were suppressed by this setup? This election could be determined by a handful of votes, so every vote does matter. Hopefully, those voters will return on Election Day, but they may not. 

The City of Joshua did not contract with Johnson County for this election so the voters cannot turn to the County for assistance. They must instead appeal to the Secretary of State (SoS).  The SoS can bring in State Inspectors to oversee the administration of the election and ensure its integrity. Candidate Robert Fleming has made those appeals if only to reassure the citizens of Joshua. However, as of the posting of this article, calls to the SoS have not been returned. 

Lost Opportunity

Over a dozen bills were filed in the Texas Legislature in the 86th session that dealt with uniform election dates. Uniform election dates would demand that City and ISD elections be held on the same dates as County and State Elections. This would be a huge step toward ensuring that cities and school districts would contract with the County for their elections. Ultimately contracting with the County adds an extra layer of oversight and impartiality to the election.

Unfortunately, all of these bills failed along with most of the other legislation that would have improved election integrity in Texas. We must now wait until the next session in 2021 to help cities like Joshua.

Breaking: Cook Children’s Hospital Sues to Have Judge Recused

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It seems, based on legal filings reviewed by Direct Action Texas, that Cook Children’s Hospital really wants to wash its hands of infant Tinslee Lewis.

Cook Children’s is suing to have Judge Alex Kim recused from legal proceedings after the jurist issued a temporary restraining order preventing the hospital from pulling the plug on Lewis on November 10. Judge Kim later scheduled a hearing within the statutorily required timeframe.

On October 30, Cook Children’s evoked the 10-Day Rule on Lewis, a Texas law that permits hospitals to end life-sustaining treatment against the wishes of a patient’s family. Lewis, a 10-month-old, was born prematurely and requires a ventilator to breathe.

In judge shopping legal filings, the hospital contends Kim should be recused because of the mechanics used to get the restraining order in place and on the grounds that Kim compromised his ability to oversee further proceedings.

Neither appears to be true based on representations from the hospital.

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DPS Affidavit: Poncho Nevarez Dropped his Cocaine

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On November 6, Representative Poncho Nevarez (Poncho) issued a press release stating he was immediately suspending his Facebook page.

He blamed Mark Zuckerberg.

Two days later, Poncho announced he would not be running for reelection but didn’t place blame. Maybe it was the envelope of cocaine he’s alleged to have dropped outside of an Austin airport.

On October 29 a search warrant was sworn out for a DNA sample from Poncho after he was linked to an envelope full of cocaine.

Here’s how it went down according to the affidavit attached to the search warrant.

On September 6 a pair of DPS employees at the TXDOT Flight Services location in Austin, Texas found a sealed white envelope on the ground outside of the terminal. Inside were four clear plastic baggies containing “white power.”

That powder was cocaine.

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Election Integrity Roundup 11.10.19

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Here’s a look at election integrity news from around Texas and the country.

Some of these stories have been shared via our social media accounts, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Harris County

This week Texans voted in the off-year constitutional amendment election, sprinkled with local, bond and special elections in various jurisdictions.

In Harris County, returns from the election were delayed. The delays were unanticipated by most, predicted by a few and leave much to be desired moving forward in the largest county in the state.

On election night, after the polls closed, Harris county election officials took what amount to memory cards to a central location to be loaded up onto a computer and counted. This is a different process than has been used in the past and different than what was recommended by secretary of state staff.

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Democrats Sue to Harvest Votes

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Today is election day, the last day to vote in a Texas election that hasn’t been marred by the disruptive vote harvesting tactic of rolling polling. The practice was ended during the 2019 legislative session by HB 1888.

Last week Democrats sued the state of Texas over the newly enacted law, a move that was wholly unsurprising.

Avid observers of the left in Texas, we’ve been tracking and covering the coordinated public relations campaign waged by Democrats through friendly media outlets like the Texas Tribune and third-party organizations for weeks as they worked up the lawsuit filing.

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