HEAA Slings Some Loaded Questions at Four Mayoral Candidates

electriccar.jpg
photo by frankh

The Houston Electric Auto Association recently cornered the four biggest mayoral candidates and grilled them on environmental issues, most (unsurprisingly) having to do with the unmitigated wonderfulness of the electric car. They were also quizzed on their support of proposed or already-existing City of Houston initiatives.

Peter Brown, Gene Locke, Roy Morales, and Annise Parker each participated to some extent, although Locke's hilarious response was to stonewall the interviewer and avoid him entirely when follow-ups were attempted. He answered only a few questions in the pre-interview chat, responding directly to none of the actual interview questions, and we like to imagine him lighting the action pledge on fire, then using its flame to light a big ol' cigar.

Yes, there was a pledge to take immediate (for Texas legislature) action which Morales and Parker signed, Parker promising to move forward with environmental concerns within 100 days of taking office; Morales pledged to do the same within 200 days. Curiously, Brown declined to sign the pledge on multiple occasions. Maybe he thought it was legally binding.

The 25 questions asked of each candidate start off innocently enough: "Did you know Houston is the USA's 2nd largest 'non-attainment area'?" and "Are you convinced humans are responsible for global warming?" (A "non-attainment area" is an area that does not meet one or more of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for the criteria pollutants designated in the Clean Air Act.) Around question 10, however, they start to become rather pointed: "Did you know electric generation for the e-car makes 1/10 of the direct carbon gas as an average car?" and by number 12 we have finally reached a question no candidate in his or her right mind would say "yes" to: "Do you want the City to spend more than necessary on gas when the e-car will suffice?"

"Why yes, NEAA interviewer! In fact, I intend to implement many exciting new programs that will spend more money than is necessary as part of my Glorious Hedonistic Abandon Initiative! We're going to build a vomitorium!"

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photo by The U.S. National Archives

The questions pretty much continue in that vein for the rest of the interview ("Do you personally want to encourage Houstonians to make less pollution / carbon gas?") before lapsing into unintelligibility towards the end: question 20 / 21 reads like a random string of words, and here it is in its untouched-by-proofreaders entirety: "re City's 2008 report Re plan to lower carbon footprint by Mercury & Assoc, no mention of zero emission vehicles". Just as confounding are the answers: three of the candidates answered "sad". We understand. We get sad, too, when we're completely ass-backwards lost.

The candidates' overall final scores are: Parker, 102; Morales, 97; Brown 93, and Locke bringing up the rear with a shameful 0. We're not told on what scale these scores are; are they being graded on a scale of 0 to 100? 0 to 200? It's an important distinction; if it's your standard schoolhouse grading, then Parker is the annoying kid who got every question right AND the extra credit, while Morales and Brown are the honors students whose parents pressure them too much, and Locke is the kid who got expelled for setting fire to his desk and kicking the vice principal in the balls. However, if the scale is 0 to 200 (or higher), they all performed miserably.

Of course, all of this business seems a little unnecessary, when the HEAA fails to even address the fact that Houston is home to an incredibly busy shipping channel and one container ship puts out as much pollution as 50 million cars. Oops!

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