Tuesday, February 2, 2021
The Statute Must Be Upheld in the Matter Regarding Councilwoman Tarsha Jackson Says 25 Year Legal Veteran Paula Robnett
Mayor Sylvester Turner (left) pictured above with Councilwoman Tarsha Jackson (District B) are all smiles right now -- but that could change in the very near future. Why? Well, Section 43.130 of the Texas Local Government Code says, “A resident of an area annexed for limited purposes is not eligible to be a candidate for or to be elected to a municipal office,” So, Councilwoman Tarsha Jackson is "ILLEGALLY OCCUPYING" the Houston City Council District B seat right now. And according to 25 year legal veteran Paula Robnett, who received her Law Degree from The University of Houston back in 1995, "The statute must be upheld."
Calling It As I See It
by Attorney Paula Robnett
Since my last article on quo warranto lawsuits and issues concerning residency to hold public office, I have been bombarded with many questions. Where does a person have to live to hold an office in Houston? How long do you have to live in an approved area of Houston before you can run for office?Can you move into city sanctioned areas of Houston after winning a seat, or do you have to be there before running?
All good credible questions, with many of the answers being found at the Texas Secretary of State’s website under the “election” section, and on that same site at “Voter Registration Requirements for Candidates,” at VoteTexas.gov, as well as through House Bill 484 as amended in the Texas Election Code. Section 141.001.
I certainly understand why people would want to have this information. If you want to hold an office, you have to get it right. To get it wrong could get you booted off a political ticket, thus possibly losing money and valuable time.
In Houston, after reviewing applications, the city attorney’s office determines whether an applicant qualifies to run for a coveted public office seat. In fact, after their review, the Mayor declared at least eight 2019 city council candidates ineligible to run. At least one of those candidates, Michelle Bonton, was declared ineligible because she lived in an annexed limited jurisdiction area of the city, where people there freely vote in local elections, but cannot hold municipal office. This may sound like old news, but in fact is very new, and as you continue to read you will see why.
If Bonton had continued her quest for the office, it would have been in violation of Texas Local Government Code Sec 43.130 at (b) which states that, “ A resident of an area annexed for limited purposes is not eligible to be a candidate for, or to be elected to a municipal office”.
To prevent a violation of the statute, it was important, if ineligible, that Bonton was pulled from the ticket no matter how late in the game that information was discovered or relayed to her. After all, the rule had to be upheld, and certainly not violated. Bonton’s name remained on the ballot because it was too late to take it off, and basically any votes she garnered were thrown out. She was asked to leave before getting to the other side.
Gosh, I am sure this lady was thoroughly heartbroken when she was told of her fate, but she had to move on. The rules are the rules, even if at times they are a bit hard to discern. They were put in place for a reason. If she would have been allowed to stay, how could you prevent another from vying to obtain the seat again, in violation of the statute? The statute has to be upheld.
Now, here we are, once again, with this same issue raising its head. So is it just a matter of time for city officials to tell Tarsha Jackson, who now holds a council seat, that she is ineligible to hold that seat as she is similarly situated as Michelle Bonton?
But, wait, how was she even able to get to this point? Wasn’t there a careful review of the applications?
In taking a quick look at The Texas Secretary of State’s website at “Voter Registration Requirements for Candidates,” It states under Section 141.032 of the Texas Election Code that, at a minimum,
• There is a review of the face of a candidate’s application for office.
Further under that same statute and most critical to this issue is that,
· • “If you look up one candidate’s status, you should look up everyone’s.”
It appears that once a candidate’s status is being reviewed, then “all” are to be reviewed. Is this just a suggestion found in the election code? It certainly would be the fair and equitable thing to do. If you are going to review applications for eligibility to run for office, what criteria do you use to skip over others and not review them?
Finally in a continuation of that same statute it states that,
· • application forms (revised 2015) should show that review of the registration status by the filing authority.
It seems to state that any application, once reviewed, should have some indication of that review noted on that application. If that is the case, all of those reviewed applications, which should have been 100% of them, should contain some marking, possibly showing an eligible or ineligible status.
There are a lot of questions here. Starting with,
· • Could the city attorney’s office have dropped the ball?
· • Has anyone lodged an investigation to determine if Tarsha Jackson lives in an area where she may be able keep her seat?
· • Is someone going to review her application if it has not yet been reviewed, but should have since others were?
· • Is the only way to remove Jackson from council is through filing a quo warranto lawsuit?
· Will we all be required to learn sign language because everyone has now gone hearing impaired and mute? (which is actually a good thing as it should be a required language anyway, and an issue that I fight very hard for).
Nevertheless, after the issue of Tarsha Jackson’s eligibility came into question, she told a Houston Chronicle staff writer Dylan McGuiness, who published an article about the matter on January 5th, 2021 that, “I’ve been forthright on everything when I applied to run to represent the residents of District B. My address is on all the documentation.” “I looked at the criteria we needed to run, and as far as I’m concerned, I met that criteria.”
So why should she not think this? After all, city officials made a list and checked it twice. They booted off those deemed ineligible. If Jackson did not fit the criteria, wouldn’t she have been ousted as well? Surely they checked her credentials. Surely?
In that public statement to the press, Jackson solidified the address that she stands by is the one that is “all on the documentation.” Any newly acquired address afterwards should not be an issue if a different residency address were to surface, just saying.
You know, it is really time that things are done in the manner they should be. We place people in these offices because we want to be able to depend on them. Do not continue to take our hope.
I understand that Ms. Jackson may be an excellent addition to the City Council. However, if she does not fit the criteria for holding that seat, she has to be asked to step down.
I do not believe, just like with Michelle Bonton, that Tarsha Jackson, just got up one day, made up her mind to run for a council seat, filled out the application and ran a long and tiring campaign. I do not think that she went through the suffering that comes with such efforts, and all the while had the knowledge that she was prohibited from running. She absolutely did not know then. But she must now surely know, and no matter how late in the game it is, there is a decision has to be made.
By the way, the filing of a quo warranto lawsuit by the district attorney, county attorney, or attorney general’s office is purely discretionary. They do not have to file such a lawsuit if they chose not to. But, if they do not, what does that say to the citizens of Houston? The citizens whom they are to protect and serve? Why should we even vote if people are going to continue to do whatever they want, and represent us minimally at best. Sometimes, I wish I were dealing with robots.
I do not personally know any of the members of City Council. I am not a friend or foe to anyone of whom has been mentioned in this article. In fact, I do not even know any of them personally. I write on the issues as they are presented. I am my own person, and owe no allegiance to anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ. That is all.
I am Paula S. Robnett, Attorney at Law, and I can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Paula Suzette Robnett
An Attorney At Law for 25 years, Paula holds a B.S. from Texas Southern University in Public Health Administration, and a Law Degree from The University of Houston Class of 1995. Paula decided to become an attorney after serving as a Congressional Intern in Washington DC. I am so thankful that I had that internship as a college student. From 6 years of age, I was being groomed to run for public office. My experiences on the Hill led me to the area of support. I found that my happiness was in supporting quality and highly responsible individuals who sought to be the candidate. She loves her behind the scenes political work.
Paula also loves to write. She has written (6) children’s books, a book on surviving divorce and one for new lawyers. This is my passion, writing is my love. She has been the resident Author at the Houston Area Urban League and has read her children’s books through schools throughout the city. She has a bullying series children’s book that she will soon launch called “Buddy the Bull”. Paula has traveled to African and European Countries in her law practice where she negotiated business contracts, to her practice today where she focuses on contracts, personal injury and criminal law. She is looking for other writing opportunities to add to her portfolio.
I’m the President/CEO of Aubrey R. Taylor Communications, the publisher of Houston Business Connections Newspaper©. In case you don’t know, I have 30-years of experience in marketing, branding, investigative reporting, public relations, opposition research, and political consulting. I’ve assisted in branding Republican and Democratic candidates in statewide elections and local municipalities throughout the State of Texas. Over the years, I’ve also assisted in branding and marketing (through my various publications) such corporations and institutions as Shell Oil, The City of Houston, Texas A&M University, Texas Southern University, Prairie View A&M University, Chevron, Waste Management, Nationwide Insurance, Momentum Jaguar/BMW, Channel 11, Channel 13, State Farm Insurance, and Allstate Insurance to name a few.
I would have you to know that not everyone who has been accused of a crime or enters a guilty plea in connection with a crime is guilty of the crime they're accused of committing. Neither is everyone who goes to trial to fight charges that are leveled against them and get's convicted are guilty. Look, over the years, some very bad things have happened to people of color in our criminal justice system. So to this end, please understand, that during my career, I’ve gone into the Harris County Jail and Texas prisons on numerous occasions (on secret assignments) working in conjunction with the owner of one of the largest locally owned private security, and investigations firms. The man who was funding my investigations back then (who mysteriously died) also was the godfather of one of my sons, and the backer of one of my publications. That being said, I can straight-faced assure you that I’ve seen some of the injustices that are occurring in the Texas penal system up close and personal. While on the inside, I interviewed (face-to-face) some of the hardest criminals you can imagine for my research. I also discovered first-hand that many of the people who should be locked up are walking around free, and not all of those who are locked behind bars are guilty of the crimes that they, in some cases pleaded guilty to – for whatever reason. So, let me assure you that I know a criminal when I see one. And we have a handful of local elected officials who are straight-criminals and must be stopped!!!
PEOPLE OVER POLITICS
Based on my direct observations over the years, I can attest to the fact that our current criminal justice system is more about “HAVE’S AND HAVE NOT’S” to a greater degree than most people realize. That being said, sure, in some cases, the skin color of the person being accused of a crime plays a role in who gets indicted and eventually convicted of crimes and those who go free. However, at the end of the day, from observing the system from the inside, and out; having money, good legal representation and access to influential people are unfortunately key determining factors when it comes to who will spend the rest of their life walking around with an “X” on their back and who doesn’t. So, to this end, we must endeavor to change our criminal justice system and political landscape by “TAKING POLITICS OUT” of the way our judges are selected in the Lone Star State – that’s very important to me! Have you ever taken a moment to look at all of the people who have been wrongfully convicted of crimes?
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