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Attorney of 24 women suing Watson says Texans will be added as defendants



Regardless of what the Houston Texans actually knew about former quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s massage habits, they arguably knew enough to justify finding out even more. Now, we’ll be learning exactly what they knew and when they knew it.

Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the 24 women who have sued Watson for sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions, issued a statement on Wednesday indicating that he will add the Texans as defendants to the cases, along with others.

“Based on what we have learned from the Houston Police Department, we will soon be joining the Houston Texans organization and others as defendants in the ongoing lawsuits against Deshaun Watson,” Buzbee said. “Our team has thoroughly vetted each case. We are considering many others. These women are the true heroes in this sordid story. What has become clear is that the Houston Texans organization and their contracting ‘massage therapy company’ facilitated Deshaun Watson’s conduct. In many of these cases, the Texans provided the opportunity for this conduct to occur. We believe the Texans organization was well aware of Watson’s issues, but failed to act. They knew or certainly should have known. The Houston Texans organization provided rooms for Watson at the high-end Houstonian hotel for his ‘massages’; the Texans also provided massage tables and other support for Watson’s proclivities—ostensibly to protect their ‘asset.’ We intend to make sure all involved in Watson’s conduct are held accountable, in addition to and including Watson himself.”

Tuesday’s story from Jenny Vrentas of the New York Times explains that the Texans provided hotel rooms at The Houstonian for Watson, and that these rooms were used for some of his massages. Also, after one of the recent plaintiffs threatened to expose Watson on social media in 2020, the team’s director of security provided Watson with a nondisclosure agreement, which he then asked those who massaged Watson to sign.

It doesn’t mean that the Texans knew what Watson was doing. The argument will be that they failed to ask obvious questions once they became aware that he was receiving massages from multiple different women, especially since he had access to those services from the team directly.

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Crucial election set for Saturday with Houston mayoral runoff



As the city of Houston headed into the final week before the runoff election for mayor, an ad for one of the contenders, Rep. Sheila Jackson Leeurged city residents to “vote on or before December 7th.” There was one problem: The runoff election is on Sat., Dec. 9 and the early voting period ended on Dec. 5.

Jackson Lee’s office quickly pulled the ad, telling Houston Public Media that it debuted Saturday and ran on the local ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates but had been created by an outside ad agency, not the campaign.

The erroneous ad and even the lack of knowledge about the date of the election seemed to sum up everything happening so far in the mayoral race in America’s fourth-largest city — limping ahead to a low turnout outcome in what is the last major election of 2023.

Jackson Lee, a 30-year veteran of Congress, is trailing in polls to state Sen. John Whitmire, who has had more than 50 years in public service. The two were the top two vote-getters in the Nov. 7 general election, which had 17 candidates on the ballot and a write-in candidate. Whitmire, 74, received 43% of the vote to 36% for Jackson Lee, 73. About 21% of Houston’s 1.2 million registered voters cast ballots in the Nov. 7 election, according to The Associated Press. The current mayor, Sylvester Turner, is term-limited.

“It’s been a pretty sleepy race so far,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a professor of political science at the University of Houston. “We’ve seen mayor’s races in the past that have had a lot more fireworks, a lot more partisanship. This has been a race that frankly hasn’t really caught the voters’ attention.”

Since the Nov. election, the numbers haven’t moved much. A SurveyUSA Research poll on behalf of the University of Houston conducted in mid-November found Whitmire leading Jackson Lee 42% to 35%.

The race is considered nonpartisan, but both Whitmire and Jackson Lee are Democrats. Jackson Lee has pulled out major endorsements, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clintonformer House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. But, as Rottinghaus pointed out, the big-time endorsements haven’t managed to move the needle.

Whitmire, meanwhile, has boasted of some big-time local support, including Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvaleformer Houston City Councilman Jack Christie, who ran as a Republican in the first round, and Republican megadonor Tilman Fertitta.

Houston is considered America’s most diverse large city, so winning the mayor’s office means winning a coalition of voters.

Turner’s victory in 2015 by just two points over a conservative businessman was driven in large part by Black voters and get-out-the-vote efforts, according to the Houston Chronicle. Jackson Lee, who, if elected, would be the city’s first Black female mayor,  has not managed to galvanize Black voters the same way, Rottinghaus said. In the precincts with high numbers of Black voters, the voting numbers are way down, Rottinghaus said.

Although Whitmire has touted his Democratic party credentials, he also courted Republican support and has multiple large GOP donors backing him. The University of Houston poll showed him with a 56-point advantage among Republicans. While Houston leans Democratic, the city is not as much a Democratic stronghold as other large U.S. cities, and the Republican vote could be crucial to winning. Republicans also have complete control over the state government, with a GOP governor and majorities in both the Legislature and state Senate.

Whitmire, who is White, has also courted the Latino vote, and the University of Houston poll showed him with a 20-point advantage among Latino voters, who make up roughly 45% of the city’s population.

Although Houston is a young city, the average age of the Houstonian voter is 62, according to Rottinghaus. The major local issue has been crime, and both candidates said in the final debate on Monday that they would keep Police Chief Troy Finner.

With the two candidates so close on many of the issues, the race has had some slugfest.

Two weeks before the general election, audio was leaked where Jackson Lee appeared to berate a staffer with profanity. “I know I am not perfect,” she said in a statement in response. As Rottinghaus noted, they added a poll question in November about the leaked audio, and while most people said it didn’t make a difference, a “sizeable percentage” said it did. Those people tended to be younger and in particular, younger women — two groups that Jackson Lee needs to win.

In addition to the leaked audio, Jackson Lee goes into the runoff election with high unfavorables. An October poll from the Hobby School at the University of Houston found that 43% said they would never vote for her compared to 15% who said they would never vote for Whitmire. In the same poll, 41% said they had a “very unfavorable” view of Jackson Lee with 28% having a “very favorable” view, compared to 13% reporting a “very unfavorable” view of Whitmire while 27% said they had a “very favorable” view.

But Whitmire has been dogged by allegations of conflict of interest as a state senator. According to the Houston Chronicle, Whitmire has been accused of blurring the line between public and private roles. Whitmire has maintained that the Legislature is part-time and has a salary of $7,200 a year, making avoiding conflicts of interest impossible.

“The major difference is when I’m mayor, I’ll be a full-time mayor. I won’t have a law practice,” Whitmire said at the debate earlier this week. “A bunch of the Chronicle issues I could dispute but it’s not necessary. It involved the practice of law. Most of those allegations arrived in previous campaigns. We make $600 a month as a senator. … You have to have civilian jobs, that’s where most of that was arrived at.”

Harris County, which includes Houston, has been targeted with state audits in 2022 and 2023 over voting and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law this year that removed Harris County’s elections administrator and transferred the responsibility to other local officials. This election has been the first election with the new system.

Culled from CBS

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Houston runoff elections: Tough mayoral race as early voting starts Monday



U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Texas Sen. John Whitmire are headlining the runoff election this year after neither cleared the required 50 percent vote mark required to be called Houston’s next mayor.

Early voting for Houston’s runoff elections kicks off next Monday. Here’s what you should know.

Early voting begins Nov. 27 and runs through Dec. 5 before the election on Dec. 9. There will be nine races on the ballot.

Mayoral race

U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and State Sen. John Whitmire are headlining the runoff election this year after neither cleared the required 50 percent vote mark required to be called Houston’s next mayor.

The two led a crowded race weeks ago when final ballot counts revealed that 42 percent of voters supported Whitmire and 35 percent voted for Jackson Lee. Jackson Lee and Whitmire were quick to become headbutting contenders, rising to the top of a crowded field of mayoral candidates for their legislative experience and notable endorsements.

Their months-long heated race for the seat has stayed the subject of local and national headlines after their campaigns dished out thousand of dollars in advertisements and billboards.

Gilbert Garcia came in third place in the general election with 7.2 percent of the vote, and former city councilman Jack Christie followed with 6.9 percent of the vote.

The eight other races in the runoff are for city controller and seven of the 16 seats on the Houston City Council, including four of the five at-large positions. Here’s what else is on the runoff ballot.

Other races on the ballot

City controller – Former Harris County treasurer Orlando Sanchez against former Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins

District D – Incumbent Carolyn Evans-Shabazz against Travis McGee

District G – Incumbent Mary Nan Huffman against Houston attorney Tony Buzbee

District H – Mario Castillo against Cynthia Reyes Revilla

At-large position 1 – Julian Ramirez against Melanie Miles

At-large position 2 – Willie Davis against Nick Hellyar

At-large position 3 – Richard Cantu against Twila Carter

At-large position 4 – Letitia Plummer against Roy Morales

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Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner at the FITCC Event – Spectacular Photos



Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner, attended the Fidelity International Trade & Creative Connect (FITCC) conference where he gave an opening speech emphasizing the significance of hosting such a global event in the fourth-largest city in the United States. October 24-25, Fidelity Bank Plc. Nigeria premiered this international trade and creative fair attracting the brightest minds and industry leaders to explore the ever-evolving landscape of international trade, exports, and creative connections.

Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner is being introduced to Mustafa Chike-Obi, Chairman of Fidelity Bank Nigeria by event facilitator, Linda Anukwuem.

Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner is being introduced to the President of Afreximbank, Professor Benedict Oramah

To Mayor Turner, this event meant so much to his administrative agenda regarding global commerce. For instance, he just led a three-country trade mission to West Africa. He will out-serve his tenure next month, making this event his last endeavor to strengthen the City’s business ties with Africa.

Houston’s Mayor, Sylvester Turner greets the President of Afreximbank, Professor Benedict Oramah

Houston is designated as a hub for international commerce, known as the energy capital of the world, and a global leader in healthcare, aeronautics, advanced manufacturing, and innovation. Besides having the largest Nigerian population in the country, the city remains the most diverse, with over 2.5 million residents. The city also holds the largest port in the U.S. in foreign tonnage, two international airports, and the largest medical center in the world. In addition, more than 5,000 Houston companies are engaged in international business, and approximately 1,000 Houston firms report foreign ownership.

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