UPDATE: Early voting numbers in Dallas County

Early voting numbers in Dallas County are in, and the Democrats have a solid lead in the straight ticket tally, 77,693 to 62909. David Alameel, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, also has the lead in the early ballots, with 107,605 votes to 98,841 for incumbent Republican John Cornyn.

In other statewide races, Dallas County early voters went decidedly Democratc, as well. Democrat Wendy Davis leads Republican Greg Abbott in the gubernatorial race, 118,350 to 93,637, and Democrat Leticia Van de Putte is ahead of Republican Dan Patrick, 117,113 to 91,171.

In county-wide races, at least one Republican is out-performing her GOP colleagues. Challenger Susan Hawk holds a narrow early vote lead over Democratic incumbent Craig Watkins, 105,345 to 104,931. But in the county judge race, early vote tallies returned to form, with incumbent Democrat Clay Jenkins ahead of Republican challenger Ron Natinsky, 116,053 to 92,294.

Stay tuned here at DallasVoice.com for more.

 

—  Tammye Nash

Vote for competence and integrity, not just party

Natinsky, Hawk, Lee, DeWitt deserve your vote.

 

Rob SchleinFor too many elections, Dallas Voice readers voted based on the question “Are they ‘with me’ or ‘against me’ as it pertains to gay rights. The main criteria have always been the questions of same-sex marriage and non-discrimination in employment. And therefore, readers aligned with the Democrat Party.

Now that the courts are nearly unanimous in deciding the marriage question, and since major cities and corporations have addressed non-discrimination policies protecting gay people, perhaps it is time to move beyond this traditional paradigm.

I believe it’s time to ask: “How qualified, competent and honest is the candidate?”

The answer to this question does not fall neatly within political party lines.

There are a number of candidates on the Republican side that clearly excel, and I will ask you to avoid your tendency to pull the “D” lever at the polls and to vote for them.

They are Ron Natinsky for Dallas County judge, Susan Hawk for Dallas County district attorney, Mike Lee for judge and Lisa DeWitt for judge.

Ron Natinsky won the endorsement of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance when he ran for mayor, and he has a proven record of public and private accomplishments.

I have had far too many Democrats contact me to ask about Ron because they are unimpressed with Clay Jenkins’ Ebola preparedness, the quality of his communication skills during broadcast interviews and his desire to bring thousands of illegal immigrant children to Dallas.

But aside from Ebola, Clay just isn’t working well for Dallas County. The New Parkland Hospital is already a budget mess, and the hiring of a $1 million-a-year salaried director is questionable. If you are concerned with income inequality, that should “rankle your feathers.”

More importantly, Dallas area growth hasn’t come to Dallas County because Clay Jenkins doesn’t know how to attract businesses to our county, and how to avoid the northern county migration.

Susan Hawk has an impeccable reputation and the experience of a prosecuting attorney.  She can restore morale and proficiency in the office of the district attorney.

Craig Watkins, on the other hand, has lost all integrity. Are you really okay with the idea that he uses forfeiture funds for personal purposes?

Forget whether he is “pro-gay” or not,, he has a reputation for being a bully. He fired one well-regarded attorney in his office just for attending a GOP political function. This is the kind of bullying gays should abhor.

Mike Lee is running against Sally Montgomery. It’s one thing to have different views on politics. But it’s quite another to make rulings from the bench that have no basis in law.

The Dallas Observer rated Sally “The Worst Judge in Texas,” and wrote that the 5th Court of Appeals is very busy undoing her decisions. The Dallas Morning News editorial board, once referred to her as “arrogant and capricious.”

And, let’s not forget Lisa DeWitt, who is on the leadership team of the local Log Cabin Republicans chapter.

Are there Democrats worthy of Republican consideration?

Yes. I’m likely voting Democrat in these races:

• Mike Collier for comptroller. As a former employee of a Big 8 accounting firm from my early professional years, I appreciate the competence of a CPA in that position. The Republican candidate has no such background. It takes more skills than espousing one’s religious faith to run a comptroller’s office effectively.

• Leticia Van de Putte for lieutenant governor. I’m not convinced that Republican Dan Patrick is a good choice for lieutenant governor. GOP friends in the Senate have had less than kind words for him during his primary campaign. Dan is not well liked or trusted among his Austin peers, and I worry that he would become the Republican Harry Reid of our state Senate, creating the gridlock most of us hate in Washington.

• Sam Houston for attorney general. Republican Ken Paxton has some legal troubles ahead as was pointed out by his GOP Primary opponent, Dan Branch, that are very serious. Enough said.

So, I ask all the readers this election season: Don’t just vote for a Party. Vote for competence. Vote for integrity. I am,

Rob Schlein is president of Metroplex Republicans, an LGBT Republican organization.

—  Tammye Nash

Mass hysteria from media at Ebola press conference

Ebola

Dallas Councilwoman Jennifer Gates, left, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, center, and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins were on hand Thursday to answer questions from the press regarding Ebola in Dallas.

“Reporters can be part of the problem or part of the solution,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said during a press conference on the Ebola virus today (Thursday, Oct. 2) at Dallas County Commissioners Court.

Judging by the questions, the members of the press gathered for the press conference are determined to be part of the problem when it comes to spreading panic and misinformation.

First, the foremost expert on Ebola in this country who has experience treating the disease in Africa is in Dallas working at Presbyterian Hospital.

Second, 10 people from the Centers for Disease Control are in Dallas. Half are working in the community and half in the hospital doing “tracing.” Their job is to trace contact between Mr. Duncan, the Ebola patient at the hospital, and people he was in contact with.

During the press conference, Rawlings indicated that members of the media are paying residents of Duncan’s apartment complex to live in their apartments so they can be first there if someone else in the household gets sick.

Idiotic questions from the media included asking Dallas Health and Human Services Director Zach Thompson what protective gear he was wearing when he visited with Duncan’s family. Thompson tried to explain that no one in the family is showing any symptoms and therefore no one in the family is contagious, even if they have been exposed to Ebola and come down with the illness later.

Ebola has a two-to-21 day incubation period. When the patient is not showing symptoms, the virus can’t be transmitted.

County Judge Clay Jenkins explained Duncan’s apartment has been cleaned by a company that sanitizes hospitals and has experience working with blood infected with HIV. That seemed to go over the heads of most of the reporters at the press conference as well.

Another reporter wanted to know what hospital would take the next Ebola patient. Jenkins said all hospitals in Dallas have been working to prepare to take another Ebola patient but that didn’t satisfy Dallas media. Why wait til the last minute? Why don’t you know?

Jenkins tried to explain that in all probability, the patient would be taken to Presby, but if a patient walked into Parkland or another hospital those hospitals are prepared, too.

The patient would probably go to Presbyterian because that’s the hospital closest to Duncan’s family’s apartment. And Ebola isn’t going to suddenly show up in Oak Cliff. The virus doesn’t spread that way. It takes direct contact with bodily fluids from someone showing symptoms.

But no one in Dallas media would listen to that. They shouted down Thompson and Jenkins, with the county judge ending the press conference by explaining he had other meetings to get to. He had a job to do.

“We have a job to do too,” shouted one female reporter — I couldn’t see who she was or what station she was with.

She’d do her job better if she stopped panicking and looked up how Ebola spreads.

Brace yourselves for tonight’s coverage on the news. It’s going to make Dallas look like the entire city is in mass hysteria.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: John Wiley Price arrested this morning

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DMN staff photo/2014

The ongoing legal battle centering on Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price took a new twist Friday morning when the FBI arrested the embattled incumbent at his home.

The Dallas Morning News reports that a sealed indictment was filed on Wednesday, citing Price for:

• Conspiracy to Commit Bribery Concerning a Local Government Receiving Federal Benefits

• Deprivation of Honest Services by Mail Fraud and Aiding and Abetting

• Conspiracy to Defraud the Internal Revenue Service

• Subscribing to a False and Fraudulent U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Price’s attorney Billy Ravkind said he learned of the arrest through media reports. “Next time we want to know something, we’ll call the press,” he told the DMN. “I guess I haven’t been around long enough. I’ve never had this happen before. You win or lose cases in the courtroom. What the government does is irrelevant.”

A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. at the at the Earle Cabell Federal Building in downtown Dallas.

This story is breaking. We will be updating readers throughout the day.

—  James Russell

Cantrell absent from Pride resolution

ResolutionWhen County Commissioner Elba Garcia presented her Pride month proclamation to the LGBT community last Tuesday, Commissioner Mike Cantrell quietly got up and left the horseshoe.

On Friday, Resource Center Communications and Advocacy Manager Rafael McDonnell went to the county office building to pick up the proclamation. Three commissioners and County Judge Clay Jenkins signed the proclamation. Where Cantrell’s signature would have gone, the document is marked “absent.”

Funny he wasn’t absent five minutes earlier when the court honored an 18-year employee who was retiring from the county.

McDonnell checked on an earlier proclamation recognizing Resource Center’s anniversary. His signature appears there. Maybe he was just a little bit confused and thought Resource Center is where the gays went for their reparative therapy.

Or maybe he’s just the Vonceil Jones Hill of the commissioners court.

—  David Taffet

AHF opens STD clinic in North Dallas

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Bret Camp

AIDS Healthcare Foundation has opened an STD clinic at its North Dallas office.

AHF Texas Regional Director Bret Camp said the clinic is open twice a week to offer free STD testing. In addition to checking for HIV, tests will be given for syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia.

While Dallas has the highest rate of new HIV infections in the state, Camp said, Houston is ahead of Dallas with other sexually transmitted diseases. But STD rates in Dallas remain high and Camp encourages testing for them as well as for HIV.

Dallas County’s rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea increased while syphilis decreased over the previous year. Chlamydia was the most prevalent STD with 16,848 cases reported. Camp said these three STDs are all curable when caught in their early stages and much more difficult to treat if left undiagnosed.

Free testing is available at the AHF office at 7777 Forest Lane, Suite B-122 on the Medical City campus on Mondays from 3–7 p.m. and Thursdays from 3–6 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 972-383-1066.

AHF has offices in Fort Worth and Dallas and is the largest provider of healthcare to people with HIV in the United States.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Dallas County passes 1st LGBT Pride Month resolution

LGBT advocates who attended Tuesday’s Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting gather on the steps of the administration building after the Pride resolution passed. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

LGBT advocates who attended Tuesday’s Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting gather on the steps of the administration building after the Pride resolution passes. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Dallas County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday declaring June LGBT Pride Month.

The resolution is the first of its kind for the county. The Dallas City Council has issued proclamations the past three years recognizing June as LGBT Pride Month.

Commissioner Theresa Daniel presented the resolution, reading it to the room before it passed. Commissioner Mike Cantrell, the only Republican on the five-member court, was absent from the meeting.

“On this special occasion, we must bear in mind that while we have overcome difficult obstacles, tolerance and acceptance is something we must all practice and teach future generations,” the resolution reads in part. (Read the full version here)

After its passage, activist Omar Narvaez then addressed the court with several LGBT supporters standing behind him. He spoke about the importance of the LGBT community having showing its Pride during June.

“It’s so appropriate that our symbol for the LGBT community is a rainbow because we are every single part, we are every fabric of that rainbow,” he said. “We are African-American, we’re Latino, we are white, we are Asian, we are Native American.”

—  Dallasvoice

Gay District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons champions new county courthouse

Gary Fitzsimmons

Gary Fitzsimmons

Dallas County’s openly gay District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons is hoping the Commissioners Court starts looking into a plan to replace the Frank Crowley Courts Building.

Fitzsimmons points to several flaws in design and layout of the building, as well as faulty hardware and cracking floors in a Dallas Morning News story.

But the estimated cost for a new building is $665 million, a price tag commissioners aren’t sure how they want to pay to replace the 24-year-old structure. Especially since more than $9 million is expected to be spent on repairs and renovations through 2016.

Fitzsimmons doesn’t expect the court to come up with a plan immediately, but he wants them to start thinking about how to solve the problems the building has had, including access points after a woman snuck into a jury room to address juror earlier this year and caused a mistrial.

“Travis County spent five to seven years studying a new Justice Center to meet the needs of the courts and voters approved $340 million in bonds to fund it,” Fitzsimmons wrote on Facebook above a link to The DMN story. “Travis enjoys a AAA S&P rating so this is not pie-in-sky. This is Dallas — we think big here and live large and I believe we should settle for nothing less than the finest court facilities and system in the state.”

Fitzsimmons, who was first elected in the Democratic sweep of 2006, is up for re-election in 2014.

—  Dallasvoice

Sheriff Valdez speaks at the Round-Up after being re-elected to 3rd term

Sheriff Lupe Valdez receives applause Tuesday night at The Round-Up Saloon after her victory had been declared. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

With results showing her well ahead of her Republican challenger, lesbian Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez declared victory at the Round-Up Saloon on Tuesday night.

With 330 of 1,000 precincts reporting, Valdez had 58 percent of the vote to Republican Kirk Launius’ 41 percent.

“I’m blessed, I’m honored and continually grateful for the progressiveness of Dallas County,” Valdez told Dallas Voice after addressing the crowd. “This has to be a very progressive county or they wouldn’t keep putting in someone like me continually.”

Admitting that her first term in office was a challenge, Valdez said she has proven herself as sheriff in the change she has brought to the department during her second term.

“It’s not the same department that I got when I went in there. It is totally different,” she said. “So, we’ve done a job of bringing about change. And change is never an easy thing to do. The first four years were quite a struggle but after the second term, things started to flow. We want to continue to build on the progress so we can continue doing a good job.”

—  Dallasvoice

BREAKING: Dallas County approves domestic partner insurance benefits


Derrick Spillman with DFW Pride Movement addresses the Dallas County Commissioners Court on Oct. 30, 2012. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The gay and straight domestic partners of Dallas County employees will soon be eligible for a $300 monthly subsidy from the county to help pay for health insurance.

The County Commissioners Court voted 3-2 along party lines Tuesday morning to offer the subsidy to employees who have same- or opposite-sex domestic partners who do not have insurance through other means. The subsidy will be equal to the amount the county contributes to an employee’s health insurance.

County Judge Clay Jenkins, and Commissioners Dr. Elba Garcia and John Wiley Price, who comprise the court’s Democratic majority, voted in favor of offering the domestic partner subsidy. Republican Commissioners Mike Cantrell and Maurine Dickey voted against it.

Commissioners made comments before several speakers addressed the court on the issue.

Dickey said the court shouldn’t fund a special group outside of the Public Employee Benefits Cooperative because its members didn’t approve it.

Jenkins and Garcia, who spearheaded the initiative, had initially hoped to offer domestic partner benefits through the PEBC, a multi-county partner agency, but other members — including Denton and Tarrant counties — would not allow it.

Dickey said approving benefits for domestic partners would lead to funding other special groups, such as obese people, smokers or people that have blue Pontiacs.

“We must stay within the realm of our group, of our PEBC, in order to offer our employees the best possible and lowest possible health insurance,” she said.

—  Dallasvoice