Of 93,000 eligible voters, around 4,200 people showed up.
This despite the fact that at stake was the chance to add a second Hispanic to council. There is only one Hispanic on council despite the fact that something like 40% of our people in Houston are Hispanic.
Local bloggers Charles Kuffner and Marc Campos suggested an issue in the outcome of the race was the location of early voting centers.
Now in a narrow sense the location of the voting machines may have impacted the outcome of the race. But that is missing the larger story.
When you get 7% turnout the issue is not early voting locations, it is the fact that nobody cared about the election.
It’s a culture within the city as a whole that says who serves on City Council does not matter. It’s years of infighting within the Hispanic political class that have helped hold back the advancement of Hispanic political power.
It is campaigns that fail to motivate voters. It’s minority elected officials okay with low voter turnout because they can be elected every two years without real opposition.
It’s a Democratic Party as a whole that is content with how things are even as they count on strong minority support. It’s a Republican Party that has demonized people because they are different from most Republican voters.
After 11 years here, I’ve still yet to grasp the acceptance of the terrible turnout in our city elections. Mr. Kuffner does more than his bit to increase civic involvement and improve the quality of life in Houston. But as a general matter—and in many regards— it is remarkable what we accept in Houston as normal.
If you live in District H please consider these two candidates and vote in the runoff.
(Blogger’s Note 3/14/12—This policy has now been changed! You can now bring food and drink into Astros games.)
USA Today reports that the Houston Astros are the only team in Major League Baseball that does not allow fans to bring either food or water into the stadium. You have to buy the overpriced and often yucky stadium food.
( Above–None of these good-for-you apples would be permitted at the Houston Astros game. Here are many facts about apples. )
This despite the fact that the stadium the Astros play in was built in large part with taxpayer dollars.
From USA Today—
“Most teams don’t publicize it, but at least 21 of 30 major league clubs allow fans to bring some food and drink items to ballparks, according to a review of team websites. Another eight allows fans to bring their own bottled water. One, the Houston Astros, prohibits all outside food and drink.”
Please click here for the full story. The section about food and drink at stadiums is at the bottom.
(Below–Please consume your dried squid before attending the game.)
The price of food is high at the Astros’ games. Something like $4 for a water. $5 for a hot dog. You get the idea.
The Astros are the only team that can’t even allow you to bring in a bottle of water? They took the taxpayer money to build the stadium.
It would be very fan-friendly if the Astros would make some concession on the issue of concessions in this time of recession.
( Below–Deep fried giant water bugs are eaten in Thailand. You’ll have to finish that snack before your ticket is taken at an Astros game. Here is information about water bugs.)
In Houston’s City Council District H special election yesterday , two candidates beat some other candidates and have qualified for a runoff that will be held some day sooner or later. Here is the Houston Chronicle story on the issue.
Of 93,000 registered voters, only 4,200 folks showed up.
Some folks blog about this stuff quite often. Here is what Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner said about the District H election.
A frog telephones the Psychic Hotline and is told, “You are going to meet a beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you.”The frog says, “This is great! Will I meet her at a party, or what?”“No,” says the psychic. “Next semester in her biology class.”
( Yes–The District H race was not a very good joke which is why I ran a not so good joke.)
Also, I’m going to run a picture of rubber chickens–
Maybe Mr. Kuffner has some insight I’ve missed, but one has to wonder how much time this stuff is worth when the people who live in the district don’t care.
Above is a picture of a barge loaded with pipes. The barge is in the Houston Ship Channel back in 1939. The photo was taken by Russell Lee.
Here is information about Russell Lee. He took pictures for a New Deal agency and was later a professor of photography at the University of Texas.
I like the picture because it looks like such a quiet scene. I used to enjoy seeing barges coming up the Ohio River whenever I was a few miles out of town from home in Cincinnati. Especially in the summer. While I’m not certain that life on a barge is really so nice, it just seemed so quiet to be moving up and down the river past the trees on the shore and past the small towns.
Pipes are basic to transporting something from one place to another. (Though in the picture above it is the pipes themselves that are being transported.) Pipes have been used for a long time. Below is a picture of lead pipes from ancient Rome.
Some parts of the world apparently worship pipes. Below is a statue of water pipes in Mytishchi, Russia.
Barges are basic as well. Below is the Japanese painting Barges on the Yotsugi-dori Canal. I’d much rather be riding in the barge than pulling it along. This painting is one of 100 Views Of Edo by Ando Hiroshige. These paintings were made between 1856 and 1858. Please click here to see all 100 views.
Below you see a picture of barges gone wild. Here is information about the so-called 1985 Election Day Flood on the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania. This was the flood that caused the barges below to go wild.
I think barges and pipes are interesting to consider. We often hear in life that the journey is as important as the destination. For the stuff we use in our lives, it is with barges and pipes that these things reach us.
Houston District A Councilwoman Toni Lawrence said that the small child from Mexico who died in a Houston hospital last week from Swine Flu should not have been treated here because the child was not an American citizen.
Here’s what she said—
“The last thing I want to do and I may be overreacting, I will be the first to say. But we had a situation in their pediatrics department now, Children’s Hospital. This child was not a United States citizen and to me we have jeopardized the Hospital District and possibly conventions. I know tour boats are not leaving Galveston now because they are not going to Mexico.”
Now I realize that Ms. Lawrence is not a fully coherent person based on this statement, but the part about the kid not being an American citizen is clear enough.
Ms. Lawrence also said this—I’m very concerned that someone died here in Houston with (swine flu). I’m very concerned that council wasn’t told of this in a prompt way. Again we could have got an e-mail this morning. We did not. So that is a very big concern for me. I think it’s a real reality and we need to be aware of this and continue to do things for Houston and not for anybody else but what’s best for Houston.”
Houston District I Councilmember James Rodriguez offered a fair and useful retort to Ms. Lawrence’s views. Here is what Mr. Rodriguez said—
“During our City Council meeting this week, my colleague, Council Member Toni Lawrence made reference to the 23 month old child who died of Swine Flu in a local hospital. She emphasized that “The child was not a United States citizen” and added that “we need to do things for Houston and not for anybody else.” Consequently, those comments have negatively alarmed many residents throughout the city. Now is not the time for rhetoric that could potentially have a negative impact on public health. Now is not the time to inject a person’s immigration status in this very critical issue. If an individual is showing symptoms, we want them to seek immediate medical treatment without fear of being questioned of their immigration status….”
However, Councilman Rodriguez has not been so welcoming of a new home for the homeless in Houston that has been planned for construction in his district. He asserted the following position after the murder of a homeless person near where the home has been proposed.
“I am not against homeless initiatives. I do support them. I just think this area and this part of my district has enough on its plate right now,” said Rodriguez.”
I’m sure Mr. Rodriguez is fair to say that his district has many of these homes. Yet a frequent argument about our undocumented population and about further immigration to the United States is that we have enough of those folks here already.
I don’t think compassion stops at our borders and I don’t think compassion stops at the lines of Mr. Rodriguez ‘s district.
Below—Councilman Rodriguez and the singer Rihanna. Each have umbrellas.
My friend Saleema writes in her blog that Hispanic kids are getting the cold shoulder from other students in Houston schools because of the Swine Flu.
This is, at the surface, because the Swine Flu started in Mexico. The more substantive reason though, as Saleema suggests in her blog, is that many parents are incompetent and don’t teach their kids to treat others well.
Saleema’s sister attends a Houston High School and has seen Hispanic kids being avoided. Saleema writes the blog Ink Spot. Here is the post I’m referencing.
It’s important for us to recall that all people are yucky. They cough and sneeze without covering their mouths, they don’t wash after using the restroom and they don’t wash their hands before eating a meal.
A group of people should not be shunned for any reason. Let’s focus on specific individuals who are walking around coughing on people.
The first Swine Flu case has been found in the Houston-area. This case is in Fort Bend County. Fort Bend County borders Harris County. Houston is in Harris County.
The Houston area’s first local resident to be diagnosed with swine flu has been confirmed in Fort Bend County. Officials at Fort Bend County’s health department said early Wednesday evening that they just received confirmation of the case from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The resident, a teenage girl, was not hospitalized and is recovering, said the officials. She is a student in Bellaire at Episcopal High School, which starting Thursday will close through the weekend. The illness started in the middle of last week, and she was treated by a private medical center. She had not recently traveled to Mexico.”
So far we have one confirmed case in an area of over five million people and the girl who got sick did not have a severe illness. That’s we are at this point in Houston. It may well be a bad deal before it is all over. But all we can do now is take steps not to get sick.
Here are tips from the City of Houston Swine Flu web home about avoiding the Swine Flu—
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid close contact with sick people.
- If you get sick with influenza, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Cough and sneeze into a tissue and throw it away promptly. If there is no tissue available, cough or sneeze into your sleeve.
- Avoid shaking hands. Do not kiss in greeting.
Here is the full City of Houston site. It has information relevant from wherever in the world you are reading this blog post.
Instead of a kiss or shaking hands, try a hat tip instead as you see President Calvin Coolidge doing back in 1924.
Remember, there is no point getting mad at pigs for all this trouble. They are just getting us back for how we eat them. Below is an illustration of the process of pork packing in 19th-Century Cincinnati. Cincinnati was known as “Porkopolis” in those days for all the pork packing. I don’t believe in Karma, but here may a case of what goes around comes around.
Here is how to wash your hands from the folks who bring you National Hand Washing Week—
There’s a right way to wash your hands. A splash of water and a drop or two of soap won’t do the trick. Follow these simple steps to keep your hands clean:
- Use warm water (not cold or hot).
- Use whatever soap you like. Antibacterial soaps are popular but regular soap works fine. If you suspect that your hands have come into contact with someone with an infection, think about using an alcohol hand sanitizer.
- Rub your hands together vigorously and scrub all surfaces: Lather up on both sides of your hands, your wrists, between your fingers, and around your nails. Wash for 15 seconds – about how long it takes to sing “Happy Birthday.”
- Rinse well under warm running water and pat dry with a clean towel.
- In public restrooms, consider using a paper towel to flush the toilet and open the door because toilet
- and door handles harbor germs. Throw the towel away after you leave.
Please click here for the City of Houston Swine Flu information home page. It is very helpful.
Another reason I’m linking to it is what it says at the bottom of the page. It says this—
Other sources of information:
- State Health Department swine flu information
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention swine flu web site: http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/
- World Health Organization swine flu web site: http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html
The needed facts to deal with Swine Flu, and the tools needed for a proper response to this threat, come from city government, state government, the federal government and from world health authorities. People are going to have to work together.
The 17th-century poet John Donne wrote the following—
“Therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.
Everything is connected. This is not a hurricane where you can evacuate. While it may well be that this threat does turn out as bad as feared, once again we are reminded that our fates in life are tied together.
The bell in the picture above is from the Cathedral de León in Nicaragua.
Heavy rains in the Houston area are limiting the ability of people to get around and give each other the swine flu. These rains may extend well into today.
Already the global financial panic has cut down on international travel and visits to stores and restaurants. Folks are missing out on a lot of the exchange of germs and disease.
If only things would get even worse we would be just fine. Life going well is our enemy.
Below is a photo taken by a Chronicle reader named Sakar Bhusal with the caption ” I wonder why these people were in such a hurry?”
(My blogger friend AmyEmilia has a picture of the flooding at her blog A Normal Life.)
Maybe they were in a hurry to meet up and give each other the Swine Flu.
Maybe they thought they were driving away from the Swine Flu.
Or maybe it was the just the same dumb behavior we see on our roads in Houston each day.
Houston At-Large position 4 council candidate Noel Freeman will be holding his campaign kick off event on Thursday April 30. This event will be held at the Cafe Adobe restaurant at 6:30 PM. Cafe Adobe is at 2111 Westheimer. You can call 713-828-7821 for details.
Above is Arlen Specter. Like Mr. Freeman, Mr. Specter was once a Republican who has now become a Democrat.
Immigrants In Houston & Harris County Should Be Assured That Flu-Related ER and Clinic Visits Involve No Immigration Check
With Swine Flu cases possible in Houston and Harris County, it should be made clear to our Spanish speaking population that they will be able to visit hospitals or clinics with flu symptoms and not be subject to immigration checks.
This message should be broadcast to all our immigrant communities because it is not just Spanish speaking people who are in the county without documentation.
The Swine Flu may or not become a major health problem in the United States. It should not be made worse because of political concerns that have nothing to do with the issue at hand.
Local governments in Harris County should be working with the county, state and federal government to make sure that everybody who needs help gets help, and that public health officials are able to track the spread of any Swine Flu.
In addition to this blog you’re reading, I’m also a featured politics reader-blogger at the Houston Chronicle. At that space, I’ve often been criticized by readers for not being a native Texan. They say I’m a carpetbagging Yankee.
Here’s how the subject was addressed by a Chronicle blog reader who goes by the name typical_white_man——-”TexasLiberal=Yankee nit-wit! The whole piece is worthless because as 5genTexas so aptly provided the definition for treason, which the YankeeLiberal (there is nothing Texan about this idiot!) was clueless.”
This reader was writing in response to my post that Texas Republicans are talking treason.
Am I a real Texan? What makes a real Texan?
I was born in 1967 in Worcester, Massachusetts. I did not live there long.
Between 1968 and 1980 I lived in Providence, Rhode Island. Below you see a picture I took last year of the Providence hurricane dam. Just as I could tell you about Hurricane Ike, my father could tell you about the 1938 New England Hurricane.
While living in Rhode Island, I was a Rhode Islander.
Between 1980 and 1998 I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. Below you see a picture of Cincinnati I took from a city park maybe two years ago. (Here is a story on the damage Hurricane Ike did in Cincinnati last year. My parents were without power for a time.)
While living in Ohio, I was an Ohioan.
What am I while living in Texas?
You got it!— I’m a Texan!
It does not matter that I spent 13 years in New England or that I lived for 18 years in the Midwest.
All that I need to be a Texan is to live in Texas. I’ve been a Texan for 11 years.
Texas has 24 million people. No one thing defines all these people except the fact that they live in Texas. Definitions of what makes someone a “real Texan” or a “true Texan” are sure to leave many people out.
All I’ve got to do to be a Texan is live in Texas.
A better way to identify people would be to see them as individuals. This is better than creating a definition based on one’s own inevitably limited and erroneous assumptions of what defines a certain place. (Here is my autobiography in 220 words.)
If what you see below is your image of a Texan, you are free to have that thought. But when you try to impose that notion on others, I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to ride off into the sunset.
Above you see a video of an Ankole cattle. The video lasts about 25 seconds. In the video the beast chomps on some trees and at the end makes a mooing noise.
This video was taken at the Houston Zoo. The Houston Zoo is getting better, but still has a way to go to being good enough for a city the size of Houston. When I moved to Houston 11 years ago and saw that the zoo had no admission charge, I figured that could only be bad news for the animals. The adult admission is now $10. I know that’s a lot of money, but I’m not convinced the fee is yet high enough for the good of the animals.
Here is information about the Ankole cattle from a breeds of livestock web page of Oklahoma State University—
The Ankole cattle are distributed from Lake Mobutu to Lake Tanganyika in eastern Africa. The original animals were thought to have been brought to northern Uganda by Hamitic tribes sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries. The Ankole’s susceptiblity to the tsetse fly forced the tribes and their cattle further south. The Hima or Bahima tribe settled on the shores of Lake Victoria in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzani. The Watusi or Tutsi tribe continued to Rwanda and Burundi withtheircattle, some of which have spread to the lake districts of Zaire. Selection in all the tribes is based on horn size. The purer Ankolecattlehave a medium-long head, a short neck with a deep dewlap and a narrow chest. …Although the small-uddered Ankole cows yield meager amounts of milk, milking is an important ritual in some tribes. Bloodletting is a common practice. A few tribes use the cattle for work, none use them for meat. In general the animals are highly prized as status symbols, for ceremonial functions and not for their productivity.
( The OSU site has very comprehensive information on breeds of cattle, pigs, sheep, horses and goats. It is well worth study.)
It’s good to know people in Africa are as dumb-assed as we are here. Keeping these big beasts as a status symbol–Don’t they have better things to do with their resources? Like the $40 I spent at the Astros’ baseball game a few nights ago including a $7.50 beer and a $4 ice cream item.
Here is the link to Heifer International. If you donate some money to these folks, they’ll buy a useful farm animal for somebody in the world. Do you know why you and I live in a rich nation while some other person lives in a poor place? Dumb luck–That’s why.
A NY Times article from last year says the Ankole is under long-term threat. The article says that they are being cross-bred with Holsteinsin Africa because the Holsteins are of greater use. The excerpt below says that the Ankole have been bred to survive in a harsh African environment and this is why they may not be so useful.
From the article—
“…Indigenous animals like East Africa’s sinewy Ankole, the product of centuries of selection for traits adapted to harsh conditions, are struggling to compete with foreign imports bred for maximal production. This worries some scientists. The world’s food supply is increasingly dependent on a small and narrowing list of highly engineered breeds: the Holstein, the Large White pig and the Rhode Island Red and Leghorn chickens. There’s a risk that future diseases could ravage these homogeneous animal populations. Poor countries, which possess much of the world’s vanishing biodiversity, may also be discarding breeds that possess undiscovered genetic advantages. But farmers like Mugira say they can’t afford to wait for science. And so, on the African savanna, a competition for survival is underway.”
I guess necessity makes people forget about ornamental and status items all over the world.
Below in italics is a report that deals with the views of residents in the Houston-area on the subject of immigration as recorded by the 2009 Houston Area Survey.
You can read the full post here. It is taken from the Houston Chronicle immigration blog.
Above–Ellis Island 1905.
You can read it for yourself but the upshot is this—Most people in the Houston-area support just and reasonable policies towards the many immigrants we have around here. For all the right wing noise and all the mean and horrible things that are said, what you see below are the views of the people.
While the half of people who would deny health services to illegals are short-sighted, the numbers here are pretty good when you think of all the invective directed at these folks in Texas and in our local area.
Let’s hope our local elected officials see this information and let’s hope our eligible Hispanic voters in the area realize that if they would vote in greater numbers that they could make a difference.
From the survey—
The numbers of area residents who believe that the new immigration “mostly strengthens American culture” increased from 39 percent in 1997 to 57 percent in 2005, and then dropped to 44 percent in 2007, before recovering to 49 percent in this year’s survey.
The percentage of area residents who favor “granting illegal immigrants a path to legal citizenship if they speak English and have no criminal record” dropped from 68 percent in 2007 to 56 percent in 2008, and then recovered to 61 percent in this year’s survey.
The numbers saying that the increasing ethnic diversity brought about by immigration is a “good thing” dropped from 67 percent in 2005 to 62 percent in 2007, and remained unchanged (at 61 percent) in 2009.
In the 2009 survey, 64 percent agreed that, “The children of illegal immigrants should have the right to attend the public schools,” down from 71 percent in 2007.
68 percent today are in favor of “imposing fines and criminal charges against employers in this community who hire illegal immigrants,” up from 56 percent two years ago.
In 2007, 44 percent were in favor of “a law that would deny health and welfare services to il-legal immigrants in Texas.” In 2009, 50 percent were in support of that proposal.
Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas is the second elected Republican in the Lone Star State to talk treason in recent days. (Photo of Rep. Paul, in front of our flag, above.) (Here is a map of the areas represented by Rep. Paul.)
“[Perry] really stirred some of the liberal media, where they started screaming about: ‘what is going on here, this is un-American.’ I heard one individual say ‘this is treasonous to even talk about it.’ Well, they don’t know their history very well, because when you think about it… it is very American to talk about secession. That’s how we came in being. Thirteen colonies seceded from the British and established a new country. So secession is a very much American principle….”
Rep. Paul terms himself a libertarian, even as he asks for $398 million in earmarks from the most recent federal budget, but he is an elected Republican in our Congress.
Last week Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry said Texas could consider leaving the union if it felt oppressed by the federal government. The federal government has of late been oppressing Texas with hundreds of millions of dollars in stimulus funds
Is the Republican Party of Texas loyal to our union or is it not? What do they think Ronald Reagan would have thought about this disloyal talk?
A recent Rasmussen poll reports that 18% of Texans would vote to leave the union if they had the chance. Another 7% are not sure. That is 25% of folks in Texas would would support or consider supporting leaving the union.
What share of Texas rank-and-file Republicans hold this view? It seems that at least 40% or so of Texas Republicans must hold this view. I doubt it is Democrats that support this position of treason and blind anger.
It’s not just Texas. National Republicans had little problem with putting secessionist Sarah Palin within close reach of the White House.
If Republicans and conservatives want to equate our elected President Obama and our elected Democratic Congress to taxation without representation, they are free to do so.
What I will do, as will liberals and Democrats across the nation, is salute the flag of the United States of America.
National Republican Party leader and conservative leader Rush Limbaugh has defended Governor Perry’s views on treason. Given Mr. Limbaugh’s wide following with conservatives, one would be fair to conclude that the option of tearing the nation apart is a mainstream Republican view.
Ideally in our democracy, competing political parties would offer differing views on the issues before the nation and the people would decide which views they feel are best.
But if Americans have cause to question the loyalty of one the two main parties, and have reason to question the loyalty of the conservative movement, then we may reach the point where Republicans and conservatives can no longer be seen as legitimate participants in the national political debate.