Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Houston Mayor Annise Parker Is “Happy” With Houston Economy Even As Many Live In Poverty—She Says It Is The Best Economy In The Nation

Houston Mayor Annise Parker, a Democrat, has offered up the City of Houston budget for the fiscal year ahead.

(Above–Mayor Parker)

Here is a Houston Chronicle story on the proposed budget.

In her remarks on the budget, Mayor Parker said the following—

“I’m happy that our economy is still better than that in any other part of the country, and that decisions that we’ve made over the years have kept us from the financial straits that many other cities are facing,”

That is an interesting viewpoint.

There are facts on the Houston economy and related social conditions that the Mayor left out of her assessment.

For example—

The Census Bureau estimates that as an average between 2006 and 2008,  20.5% of people in Houston lived in poverty against a national average of 13.2%.

The same data shows a child poverty rate of nearly one-third of all children.

Houston has attracted national attention for the number of people we have without health insurance. Yet while Mayor Parker has spoken out about clean air standards and NASA job cuts as federal issues that impact Houston, she had nothing to say about President Obama’s health care reform. This reform will extend coverage to millions of Americans–most of them employed but without coverage–including many people in Houston

Houston has a high dropout rate. While the numbers are disputed, as many as 47% of kids who enter Houston high schools do not finish within 6 years. Even if the numbers are not this bad, they are still bad. Is this graduation rate, and the bleak economic prospects for dropouts, part of a strong economy?

There is often high student turnover in Houston classrooms as families move from one apartment to another looking for the lowest rent.

This is an economy Mayor Parker is “happy” about? Is an economy that has higher rates of poverty than many other places one “that is better than that in any other part of the country?

What passes for liberalism in Houston often seems to ask nothing more of Mayor Parker that she be progressive on some social issues and that she talk about clean air and making Houston more “green.”

While these things matter, so do economic issues.

You can get a sense of where the Mayor is coming from her campaign web site.

Here is what Ms. Parker says about the economic history of Houston–

“Houston was built by innovators and entrepreneurs – from the oil and gas industry and the Port of Houston to NASA and the Texas Medical Center, the city’s largest provider of jobs.”

There is truth in what the Mayor says. It is also true that Houston was built by any number of low wage—and in some cases no-wage—workers. This low wage economy is still very much a part of Houston today.

In the past, Ms. Parker has advocated for Houston janitors looking for fair wages and she has advocated for better banking services for the poor.

Where is this Annise Parker? Where is the Annise Parker who started in politics as a fighter for human rights?

Better yet, where are the liberals and progressives in a Democratic city demanding that the needs of all people in Houston be part of Mayor Parker’s agenda?

May 12, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

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