Take pity on the Houston Chronicle Editorial Board.
The board, noted for such losing bets as the endorsements of Barack Obama, Bill White and Wendy Davis recently made its endorsements in State House races, including the race for hotly contested House District 148. To its credit as an out of touch, liberal-biased publisher of advertisements, the Chronicle endorsed the most incompetent, incoherent and inane State Representative over her much more capable and promising challenger; family law attorney and grassroots activist Chris Carmona.
As if their endorsement on October 9, 2014 weren’t enough of an insult to the citizens of HD 148, the condescending tone the editorial board took in ridiculing Carmona’s position (one held equally by residents in the district) that churches and non-profits should be more involved when it comes to community issues demonstrates the Board’s callous disregard for the needs of the district:
“Republican challenger Chris Carmona, 32, is eloquent on the issues but cannot bridge the gap to solutions. Meeting with the Chronicle, he spoke about the need to get non-profits and churches involved with the community, but his main proposal involved altering federal tax policy that prohibits non-profits from engaging in partisan politicking. If this unique idea is Carmona’s goal, he should be running for Congress, not state Legislature.”
Having heard Carmona speak numerous times, one understands immediately that his central proposals are based on education and economic opportunity – not federal tax policy as the Chronicle board would have readers believe. But behind their snarky comment that Carmona may be better suited for a congressional seat stands the truth of the board’s opinion: they don’t think that involving churches and non-profits in community issues is a serious idea that actually needs to be addressed.
If only time had stopped right then.
Following Mayor Annise Parker’s attempts to bully local pastors who had the temerity to challenge her implementation of the “Let Men Use Women’s Restrooms” ordinance, known to activist zealots as “HERO”, the Chronicle found itself painted into an awkward corner of having to defend the First Amendment freedoms of those they had deemed irrelevant. Fast forward to the editorial of October 15, when the same editorial board which had dismissed Carmona’s concerns as irrelevant made a desperate about-face turn, not only raising the same concerns that Carmona advanced in their interview, but also using nearly identical language, which they originally ridiculed:
“Regardless, the legal questions can be sorted out without heavy-handed tactics that polarize the community. Feldman’s actions look like intimidation. They also raise questions about the city’s support for freedom of speech from the pulpit and for those with whom the mayor disagrees. We certainly understand that lobbying for a particular candidate can get a church or minister into trouble with the IRS, but even it recognizes that issue advocacy is another animal entirely.”
How does crow taste? One has to wonder. Carmona isn’t just the right person for District 148, but also appears to be qualified enough to be on the Chronicle editorial board (not a high bar) after taking them to task on non-profit exceptions and allowed behaviors.
It is shameful when agenda-driven media stands in opposition to exceptional candidates who not only know their community, but have solid solutions to real concerns, driven by what could only be labeled a compelling cause. District 148 faces the challenges of high poverty and high unemployment; all compounded by more than 20 years of failed representation masquerading as leadership in Austin. It is time to ignore the voices of incompetence, and enlist the churches and non-profits within our communities, and seek answers at the local level.
For all intents and purposes, in ultimately agreeing with Carmona’s position, and going to such lengths as repeating his emphasis of the importance of having churches involved in their communities, the Chronicle editorial board admits their error in the endorsement in the District 148 race. Regardless of the insult, one can be sure Carmona was not bothered by their endorsement and most likely not expecting a well-deserved apology. However, he should take some solace in the fact that against all odds, he made the incompetent, incoherent and inane editorial board look as idiotically biased we know they are.