Why You Should Hire a Speech Writer

Tony Buzbee is what happens if you combine Kenny Powers, Matthew McConaughey, and quite possibly, some alcohol.

And it’s not pretty.

This is my quick transcript take from ABC-KTRK’s video of Tony Buzbee’s speech from his election night watch party. If it seems disjointed, it is. If you think I missed a word, there’s a small chance I did, but a bigger chance I nailed that part of the transcription and Tony’s the one who whiffed it.

Without further ado, Tony Buzbee, in his own words.

“We’re going to do something different. Can I put my glasses on, is that ok? Ok, alright.

Because back on October 31st, I started this race with the idea to get Houston back on track.

I knew that I would not be the most popular person. I knew that people would accuse me of being a politician, but I’m not politician. I deeply care about the city of Houston. I deeply care about the city of Houston. Let me tell you why I care. Let me tell you why I care.

I’m gonna take you back. I’m gonna take you back to 1980. Now how many of you were even alive in 1980? I’m gonna take you back. Can I? Can I take you back to 1980? Alright. I’m gonna take you back …

In 1980, oh, goodness gracious. Goodness gracious. In 1980. You know what I was worried about in 1980? I was worried about a lot more … all I was worried about in 1980 was and I gotta say it and my momma’s here, my momma’s here, my momma’s right there [points].

Momma, in 1980, all I was worried about was could I avoid you gonna understand what I’m saying, right? In 1980? You don’t remember? I know you remember? Yeah, you can’t hear me. She can’t hear me!

Listen, guys, we’re going to change the city. We’re going to change the city.

I am so excited about the City of Houston. Are you excited about the City of Houston? I am so excited. I’m not going to go back into our past and y momma knows our past and it was hard. It was rough and tumble.

People say like oh, he had a hard upbringing. Well, I had a hard upbringing. My dad used to say I’ll fight at the drop of the hat and I’ll drop the hat.

And I love my father and I’ve come to peace with my daddy, but it was bad. We had a hard time. We had a hard time.

And I’ll say this about my mom. She made sure that, she made sure, my mother. I want y’all to all celebrate my mother right here. My momma my mother made sure that when Sunday school Sunday service Sunday night Sunday…uhh…Tuesday bible service, Wednesday night, Vacation bible school, uhhh, my momma made sure I went to church.

Thank. You.

Thank you, momma.

Mom, if nothing else, I want to tell you something right now. And I got all these people and if nobody else if I never done it before, I love you. Thank you.

My mother let me tell you about my momma. She drove my school bus, my mother drove by school bus and everybody in my whole community, 1300 people, everybody in my community loved my mother.

Mom,  you know it’s true. We love you. We love you.

We lived 9 miles outside of a 1300 city. We lived in a 1300-person city and my mother is probably the most famous person from the city. After me. Maybe after me.

Mom, I love you so much. Now my dad, not so much. Naw, I’m just saying …

My dad was pretty mean and he would like, you know, but whatever.

But let me say, I got my sister right here. My sister my sister my biggest fan. I love you girl. I love you. I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen in this election. But I know that my mother, and my sister ,and my girlfriend, Frances Moody, no matter what happens, we’re gonna be good. We’re gonna be good.

Now let me say this. Now I’m gonna say it. I’ve got my glasses and I’m getting ready to preach! Are y’all ready? Alright let me preach.

On December 14th, I started this race for Houston, to put Houston back on track.

I announced that we can do better. That we were at a crossroads. Are we gonna be the city that we could be, the city we know we should be, the city that we all expect we could be, or are we gonna be the city that we’re a little bit scared we might become?

And that’s what we’ve been working for.

That’s what we’ve been working for. And I love the city of Houston. Do you love the city of Houston?

When we talk about … lemme talk about something.

There’s a woman that lives on the east side of Houston. Every morning, she walks 2 blocks to her bus stop, and it’s not safe, and it’s not covered. And she drives she gets on the bus she goes all the way across Houston. And she sees the inequity between the East Side, and Tanglewood and River Oaks and Uptown. My question to you is who at City Hall represents her?

I will represent her. I will represent her. Now, listen, listen, hear me very carefully. Hear me carefully.

There are people that are homeless. That live in tents in our city. They live in tents in our city. They live in tents.

And they have a job. But the city doesn’t care if they have a job. So they go to their job, and when they’re gone, the city comes and takes everything they own. Who represents them?

I represent them. I represent them.

We will do better.

Now, the press says Oh goodness gracious alive. That’s what we say in east Texas. Goodness gracious alive. Turner’s gonna win without a runoff.

I don’t think that’s true. I don’t think that’s true.

There are homeless people across this city that have no representation. There are people that care about animals that are all across this city. There are people in this city that have no representation and guess what? Tony Buzbee will represent them.

And here’s the thing. Here’s the thing. I’m wearing my United States…I can still wear…isn’t that funny? I can still wear my Marine Corps greens.

And I’ll tell you something right now. I grew up and my father was a butcher. He cut meat for 43 years. 43 years. Stood on his feet and he was mad at the world. My momma drove our school bus and worked in the high school cafeteria. Actually, she worked in the snack bar. I’ll be honest. I mean my mom’s like Tony, I worked in the snack bar.

I didn’t have a lot of options. I told my mom I said mom I want to go to college and she says I think we don’t have I mean a $1,300 check, I don’t remember what it was.

I didn’t have a lot of options. Now, here I am. In the City of Houston. Running for mayor. If you don’t think the American Dream exists, it exists right now. It is here.

Now some of you say oh, Tony Buzbee’s not gonna make the runoff. Well guess what?

We’re gonna make the runoff. And when we make that runoff, we are going to win.

We are gonna win!

We’re gonna win.

And I want to say something to you.

The other day, the other day, when I went and voted, early voted, there was this this song like the red…have y’all ever heard that song, the red dirt road? Oh my god. What a song, right?

I was listening to that and I was with my momma. And obviously, I love my momma. Mom, you’re going to be famous! I love you so much. Thank you for being so good to me.

When there was this song that talks about uh a person that grew up on a red dirt road. Because I grew up 9 miles outside of a 1300-person town. That’s where I grew up. I didn’t know anything. All I knew is I wanted to get the hell out of that town. That’s all I knew.

And I wanna tell you something right now. The fact that I’m standing here with all of you people, all of you people, gonna be your next mayor, gonna be your next mayor, I wanna say this to you, I wanna say this to you.

There’s something to be said for honesty. There’s something to be said for being true. To your principles. There’s something to be said to that. Career politicians have put us in the position that we are in, and we’re gonna change it. We’re gonnna change it.

And let me say, let me say this, and I don’t know what’s gonna happen tonight. The good news is this. I’m still gonna love my mom, and I’m gonna love my sister ,and I’m gonna love Frances no matter what happens.

God is good. All the time, All the time , God is good. All the time

And let’s say guys, guys, are we, are we ready for this? We’re gonna do it, we’re gonna do it.

And I wanna tell you a little story. So there was this guy, ok so I’m just gonna tell you this story. So there was this guy and he was sitting on his beach house, some fancy guy and I don’t know what the hell he was doing but he was sitting on his beach house and he was he was sitting on his beach house and he saw somebody like way in the distance and he’s like saw somebody and look at that.  Sylvester Turner hates that I don’t know.

I was a United States Marine alright, alright, ok, but they in the distance they saw this old man he was walking down the beach have y’all heard this story before? OK I’m gonna tell you and so they saw this old man and he was down the beach and he’s like throwing like starfish into the ocean have you heard that right? OK? And so the guy was like watching this and he was like ok, I’m going to go talk to this old man and he was like old man, what are you doing?

And the old man is throwing starfish into the ocean have you heard this? OK, so the guy gets off of the deck of his beach house and goes over and talks to the old man and he goes old man, old man, what are you doing?

And he goes I’m throwing these starfish into the ocean. And he said old man, what difference could that make. And he picked up a starfish, and he threw it into the ocean and he says for this starfish, it makes a world of difference. Right, you hear me? You understand what I’m saying?

This mayor this mayor thinks that everybody is just gonna look the other way, he’s gonna look the other way and he’s gonna let this city go the wrong way.

And guess what. Everybody here assembled, no different. Am I right, am I right? I’m gonna say this and I’m gonna be done because I think I’ve worn out my welcome.

[Chants of Tony, Tony…]

I could I could never live up to everything that y’all are saying. I will promise you I will try. I will promise you I will try. But I will do a damn better than our current mayor. I promise you that. I promise you that. Whether we talk about the homelessness issue in this city, whether we talk about stray animal ahh-uhh-shish…whether we talk about the animal cruelty that exists in our city, whether we talk about like doing something about about flooding. We’ve done nothing. We can do better. We can do better.

When I was a, when I was uh and I know we got some I can see one Marine right there. When we talk about the United States Marine Corps, one thing we know about somebody said to me the other day Tony, how are you putting up with this baloney, all these people that are attacking you and messing with you and listen.

Let’s be clear about this. All the stuff that have been attacking me. Let’s be clear. I stood, and I lay in one place for 8 days in a row ok? Yeah man. 8 days in a row. Listen. Lemme say this. Lemme say can I say this? Lemme just finish with this. I appreciate you. I appreciate you. I am excited I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight but I bet we’re going to a runoff. Are we ready? Are we ready? Are we ready?

And lemme tell you this. Our city deserves better than what we have now!  Better than what we have now! And we’re gonna do better!”

In contrast, Mayor Turner released this statement:

“To those who voted for me, thank you. To those who did not, I will work hard to earn your votes.

“The good news about this runoff is that Houstonians have a very simple and very clear choice for mayor: An experienced leader who has been delivering for Houston for more than 30 years? Or a Donald Trump imitator who has no experience, no ideas and will say anything, do anything or spend anything to get elected?

“I trust Houstonians to make the right decision for our city.”



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What Did Cisneros Really Say About I-45 Expansion?

The Houston Chronicle said on its editorial page on October 15, 2019:

If she is re-elected, she hopes to be a strong voice against the Interstate 45 project as it’s currently proposed. No other district is as affected by the highway expansion, so its representative must be an active force in working to minimize any adverse effects as the project moves forward.

Hopes to be a strong voice?

Hope, as the saying famously goes, is not a method. Not in birth control, not in war, and not in politics.

Here is what she said about the I-45 expansion project on October 3, 2019 District H Forum co-hosted by Baker Ripley Leonel Castillo Community Center, Avenue and GO Neighborhoods Northside Houston, and Houston Super Neighborhood 51.

Osvaldo Corral, Noticias 45 Univision – Moderator: Knowing that the current I-45 expansion project will have a significant impact on District H, what is your position on the project, and what are you willing to do to ensure the best outcome for the community?

Karla Cisneros: This is going to have a huge impact on our community, in whatever happens, we will be stuck with it for the next 50 years, so it’s important to get it right.

There’ve been a number of different groups that have come together, you know, the I-45 Commission, the Make It Better, and the Stop I-45.

I’m still in the Make it Better area. I’m hopeful that when we see the results of the alternative plans that will be presented sometime soon, I hope … they’ll be … I expect to see that the input from this community that can be given back to TxDOT saying “this is what we would rather see.”

So, we haven’t seen that yet, but that’s what I’m really hoping that we will see. Because right now, the impact for this part of town, you know, is almost all negative. Further south, there’re some good things, but not up here. So, it’s not OK, it is not OK.

So, um, I, you know, I think we still … I’m waiting to see what that’s, what they say. But we will need to make very serious decisions about it.

Doing nothing is also not a good idea because it’s trapping water and flooding neighborhoods just, as you know, right now. Independence Heights is a detention pond, you know, out there, you know, and it’s water trapped because of the highways.

So, that’s just to say that we don’t want to nothing at all, that’s not right either. We need to fix the roads, we need to get it right. And we need to have a vision that really looks to the future, you know, and the way people travel in the future, not just now. Thank you.

This is not a forceful condemnation of the plan as-is. This does not sound like someone prepared to extend the fight.

This is hand-wringing and golly gee’ing I sure hope they listen to us.


The first Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was announced in 2011. The schedule calls for the final EIS to be released later this year, 2019, circulated for comment, and then, a decision recorded.

There’s not much time left for input. TxDOT has not yet scheduled any meetings between now and year’s end.

Cisneros has been in office since 2015, and all she can say is that she is hopeful about what she might see and thinks we’ll have to make some serious decision.

I’ll point out once again the donation she accepted from the I-45 project company’s PAC on July 24, 1019, which perhaps explains her tepid and hesitant sort-of opposition:

I personally have already made one serious decision about Cisneros based on her lack of leadership. I‘m voting for Isabel Longoria for District H. We need Longoria’s commitment to proactive community engagement. Even if it is too late for anything but minor changes to I-45, there will be a host of other highway, major thoroughfare, and bayou drainage projects on the horizon. We can’t afford hope as a method on those.


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Karla Cisneros Takes Money from I-45 Expansion Firm

I’ve gone to a number of Houston City Council District H candidate forums.

One constant is that people are not at all happy about the I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project.

So, imagine my surprise when, looking at Council Member Karla Cisneros’ most recent campaign finance report, I saw a contribution of $1,500 made at the end of July, 2019 by HNTB Holdings LTD PAC of Kansas City. 

HNTB Holdings LTD, the company affiliated with the PAC, are the folks who designed the I-45 North Houston Highway Improvement Project.

The  Make I-45 Better Coalition is one of several groups formed to oppose the plan. They say that the plan will displace, largely in District H:

  • 168 single family homes,
  • 1,067 multi-family homes, which include:
    • 368 units of low-income housing, and
    • 60 homeless veterans’ units.

And yet, CM Cisneros was glad to take their money.

Who else is giving her money?

I looked at all of her contributions from 2018 and 2019 through the most recent filing. During those 21 months, she raised $138,101.

About that campaign cash:

  • She received $54,901, or 40%, from 34 political action committees (PACs).
  • $64,100 came from 122 individuals (46%).
  • The remaining 14% came from law firms and partnerships (not from corporations, which would be illegal).

When you dive into the details about the $64,100 from individual donors, you see that:

  • $55,575 (or 87%) came from individuals who listed a zip code which is outside the District H boundaries.
  • Roughly 50% of the individuals for whom a professional affiliation is either listed or easily found online are involved in a small number of fields with companies that work or have worked with the city: real estate development, engineering, construction, lobbying, or a job or position that places them in close proximity to city government, like serving on a city board or as a political appointee.

Who are the PACs and partnerships?

  • Ten are engineering, construction, & real estate developers/associations.
  • Nine are public employee unions.
  • Eight are law firms with lobbying and public finance practices.
  • The rest, with one in each category:
    • An airline headquartered in Chicago.
    • An airport concessions joint venture between some Houstonians and a company based in Milan, Italy.
    • A local motel & hotel owners association.
    • A nationwide telecom company.
    • A nationwide health insurance company.
    • A nationwide funeral service company based in Houston.
    • A Houston-based natural gas and electric utility.

I’ll let my District H neighbors decide how comfortable they are with PACs and people from outside the district being their council member’s largest supporters.

But it is one of the many reasons I’m voting for Isabel Longoria for Houston City Council District H.

You can go look at any candidate’s campaign finance reports on the city’s website.


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Beto for Senate 2020

I started supporting Beto’s challenge to Ted Cruz very early—friends and I hosted an event for him in my home the weekend he launched his campaign.

His presidential campaign never grabbed me in the same way. From the kickoff rally at TSU to the debates, his affect seemed flat. Bottom line, I was not buying it.

How furious and sad am I that it took a horrific mass murder in El Paso to bring back Beto’s fire? I would gladly spend the next 200 years with Beto as an also-ran 2020 presidential contender if it meant we could have those precious lives back.

But that’s when the Beto we all remember from 2018 came back.

His seething rage and distraught demeanor are no act, and the love he has for El Paso and Texas cannot be ignored. His love for Texas is his superpower.

We are going to have an amazing Democratic ticket to tackle Trump, but Trump has never been our only problem. Mitch McConnell and the Senate Republicans who follow his lead are right now an even bigger impediment to sensible gun safety laws than the occupant of the White House.

If Beto switched to take on Cornyn, not only could he very likely win and have a direct impact on so much in the Senate, he would give a huge lift to every other Democrat running in Texas in the first year they’ll be running without the benefit of the straight ticket punch on the ballot. Not to mention he’d basically be the 3rd person on the presidential ticket by focusing on Texas.

Beto, let the rest of the candidates tackle the other 49 states. They’ve got those covered. Come help us take Texas back.

In case you think I’m copying what the Houston Chronicle editorial board wrote today, N.B. my post from November, 2018. #justsaying 

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Reading the Campaign Finance Fine Print

For hardcore political inside baseball, nothing beats checking out campaign finance reports.

By law, candidates must report both who donates to them and how they spend their money. You can look up federal, state, and municipal campaigns, as well as school board (use HISD’s search bar to find reports). Different jurisdictions do things differently, of course, depending upon funding and the desire to be more or less transparent, so full searchable access like you find at the federal level is not a given across the board.

If money talks, then the $500,000 Tony Buzbee donated to Trump’s inauguration committee after he claimed he couldn’t possibly support Trump is like Niedermeyer spitting in your face as he berates you during uniform inspection. Yikes, dude. And that’s just one of many 5- and 6-figure gifts he’s made to Republicans, in case you are wondering where his political sympathies lie.

In the spirit of finding out where some other candidates’ sympathies lie, I scrolled through some other reports.

Sometimes, you find a little thing that may actually be a big thing inasmuch as it reflects how a candidate’s values affect their daily choices.

My current District H Council Member, Karla Cisneros, spent $200 at Chik-Fil-A in May of 2019 on food and drinks. I don’t know about you, but I find it really, really easy in Houston, of all places, to avoid spending money at this non-local chain notorious for its anti-GLBTQIA policies.

It reminded me of the candidate who claimed to be pro-labor but bought all campaign supplies at Wal-Mart. I get that it is impossible to be pure in a capitalist society (which is why I’m not roasting this person), but maybe try Costco?

Anyway …

I noticed that Bill King has campaign finance reports filed under Bill King and William E. King, so if you are looking for the current campaign (or his 2008 and 2009 filings), use William, but if you want to see his 2015 filings, search using Bill.

Not sure why you would switch. Could be a fluke. Could be trying to make it a tad bit harder to compare who is donating now versus then if someone searching doesn’t think to search under both names.

The big takeaway for me, each time I look through these reports, is that we could definitely benefit from campaign finance reforms at all levels. Smaller max gifts, greater restrictions on PACs and corporate gifts, more transparency in who gives to PACs, etc.

Also, mandatory digitization of records so that the average constituent can easily search records. Until then, I’ll be the dork exporting CSV files or downloading PDFs so I can browse at my leisure. Cheap, at-home entertainment and a window into democracy. What could be more fun?

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Oh Beto, Don’t Take Your Love to Town. Or Iowa.

He should run for President! He’s in Iowa! There he is at the airport with Ted Cruz! Maybe he can go solve things in Syria or North Korea!

Hang on. Just chill, everyone else. Hands off.

Beto, we need you in Texas.

Your work here is not done. Our work here is not done. We knocked it out of the park in the state’s largest county. And we came painfully close in many other races. But we didn’t get the prize of putting Democrats in statewide offices. We’re still a state shamefully represented by a Lt. Gov. obsessed to a troubling degree with how and where people urinate, and a thrice-indicted Attorney General.

Please don’t abandon Texas. Don’t leave us to try to recreate what you’ve built. We know all too well what years of chronic under-investment and infighting does to Democrats’ chances on the ballot. It’s time to find out what happens when we do the opposite and keep doing it, over and over again. 

You’ve shown you are willing to do the painstaking work that kind of movement requires.

Analyzing the numbers shows where the Democrats need to focus going forward, and your campaign shows what sort of outreach and activism turns citizens into voters. And you’ve got some great newly-elected Democrats from Congress on down who will be there to keep the work going, too.

So Iowa may be calling, and New Hampshire is going to love you, trust me. Speaking engagements on college campuses and with Democratic organizations around the county will be yours for the taking, and undoubtedly, podcasts and political talk shows are already clamoring to book you.

But, as one of my heroes would say, I sure hope you’ll dance with them what brung you. Keep talking with us, listening to us, and working alongside us in this Lone Star State.

No one expects you to be the actual Lone Star, by the way. We need a whole galaxy, so we need you to do what I know too few in Texas Democratic politics do well—reach back and pull others up alongside you. Showcase local candidates and longtime activists. Partner with leadership development programs, and help fund the infrastructure we’ve fought to hard to put in place.

Turn your star power on for the benefit of all of us, and the light will reflect back to make you an even brighter light in the Democratic firmament.

Soon, it’ll be time to gin it all up again. It’ll be time to put young progressive candidates on city council, on school boards, and in other municipal leadership roles. And right after we’re done doing that, it’ll be time to fight for more seats in the Texas House of Representatives and Senate. And let’s get ready to restore integrity in those statewide offices while we’re at it.

We can do this, and we will do this, but it’ll be a helluva lot easier and more fun to be doing it with your support and leadership.

So Beto, please don’t go. We’ve only just begun. We need your voice and your vision in this state.

And then, once we take Texas, we’ll gladly help you get anywhere you want to go.


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Ed Emmett, Time To Pick a Side

At the vigil on Sunday evening at the Jewish Community Center, County Judge Ed Emmett spoke to the crowd assembled to honor and memorialize the victims of the horrific murders in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue:

And even though we love to say never, never, never can we let this happen again, unfortunately, we know it will. But gatherings like this send a very clear message. That we will stand against evil. We will stand against hatred. We will stand against rhetoric. And after these candles go out, the light will still be burning, because we were all here tonight.

We will stand against rhetoric.

Well, Judge Emmett, here’s your chance.

You’ve endorsed Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, whose campaign website trumpets anti-Semitic rhetoric about George Soros.

This is, in fact, the very rhetoric you exhorted the crowd to stand against.

Will you walk the talk?

Will you stand against evil, against hatred, against rhetoric, and call upon Stan Stanart to remove this slur from his website? Will you rescind your endorsement if he refuses?

Pick a side of history to stand on, Judge Emmett.

It matters. Voters deserve to know.

Your thirteen grandchildren deserve to know.

On Saturday, a man wielding a gun entered a synagogue during a naming ceremony and murdered people because they were Jewish.

For months leading up to this heinous assault, Republican politicians from the president on down, echoed and amplified by the partisan infotainment media outlets masquerading as reputable news organizations, have grown bolder in their anti-Semitism. Using coded language that calls back to ugly anti-Jewish propaganda of the late 19th and early 20th century, they have elevated George Soros as the new enemy who stands, to them, for some nefarious and nonexistent community of Jewish people somehow powerful and rich enough to threaten American democracy and control every industry, every media outlet, every government official who refuses to march to the Republican drum.

And now, eleven people are dead.

This is not hard. This is easy, Judge.

You called upon the community to take a stand against evil, hatred, and rhetoric.

Now the community expects you to do the same.


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