Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Annise Parker Knows The Stone The Builders Rejected Will Be The Cornerstone—How Will She Lead Houston?

The Houston Chronicle recently ran an excellent profile on Houston Mayor-elect Annise Parker.

Here is the link to that profile.

From the Chronicle story—

“She loved sports and tagged along with her father when he refereed boxing matches and high-school football games around Houston. She also loved her grandparents’ 100-acre farm in Spring Branch, where she learned how to ride horses, milk cows and fix tractors….School was more problematic. She much preferred walking the rows of her grandparents’ organic farm picking bugs off tomato vines than trudging, head cast down, through the hallways of Spring Branch Elementary. She enjoyed learning, but school was a nightmare for the frightened little girl…It got even scarier in 1968, when her father bought a fishing camp on the back bay of Biloxi, Miss., and 12-year-old Annise was forced to adapt to new surroundings. A year after the Parkers moved to Mississippi, a runaway barge knocked down the only bridge connecting the fishing camp to the mainland. Cut off from its customers, the camp went bust…Les Parker eventually found a job with the American Red Cross, and his position required frequent moves. Annise attended three junior high schools and three high schools, including a high school in Mannheim, Germany. As a teenager, she was prey to anxiety attacks and in a constant state of stress…Coming to terms with her sexual orientation also was stressful. From an early age, she said, she felt different. At 15, while living in Mannheim, she fell hopelessly in love; many a night she found herself playing Romeo beneath the upstairs window of her winsome Juliet. Her parents realized the nature of the relationship and did everything they could to keep the two girls separated...As a senior at R.B. Stall High School in Charleston, S.C., she was a high jumper and long jumper on the women’s track team and a member of the school’s Ecology Club, National Honor Society and Christian Youth Fellowship. She graduated in 1974, won a coveted National Merit Scholarship and enrolled at Rice University, the only college she had ever wanted to attend.”

Texas Liberal readers know I’m not a policy wonk. I’m more concerned with abstraction and analogy than the specifics of day-to-day policy. I do a lot of reading about many subjects because you can’t draw analogies or the grasp the symbolism of an act without an understanding of the world. However, for the purposes of communicating, I see all things as connected rather than as standing alone. Every word and deed is representative of some other word and deed.

As Sojourner Truth said–I sell the shadow to support the substance.

Annise Parker is a policy-wonk. I bet she knows Houston city government up-and-down. She has been clear as an elected official that she is a pragmatic leader. Her focus seems always on what she feels she can accomplish as a practical matter.

The thing is that politics is at core about imagination.  Something that needs to be accomplished  is imagined, and a plan or strategy is worked out to reach the objective. Often, the concern is minor. Yet at other times, broad social and economic change is the issue.

From my own experiences, and from my reading, I’ve found there is little greater spur to imagination than a feeling of being on the outside of the so-called mainstream of society.  As it says in the Bible—The stone the builders rejected became the cornerstone.

Houston has a lot of poverty and lot of people on the outside looking for inclusion. Mayor-elect Parker knows this is the case. She knows many folks will turn their backs without  second thought on people who want to be fully included in society.

Ms. Parker can let her past be her guide and address these issues of full-inclusion in Houston. She knows that full-inclusion is about economic progress as well as the social progress of Houston electing an openly gay Mayor. Ms. Parker has the opportunity to imagine a Houston where all people matter.

Or, as she did in her campaign , Ms. Parker can continue to ignore issues of poverty, homelessness, and the under- representation of Latinos in Houston’s political process.

All progress is connected. Freedom for one group of people is directly connected to the freedom and progress of all people.

Ms. Parker has a decision to make about how she will govern our city. Let us hope that she follows her best impulses and does not hide behind the excuse of pragmatism at the expense of people in Houston who need a city government that is on their side.

December 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Annise Parker’s Inaugural Address—Mayor Parker Challenges Houston And Herself

File:Montage Houston.jpg

New Houston Mayor Annise Parker made her inaugural address this morning. I attended the inauguration ceremony.

( Above—Houston.)

Many citizens of Houston attended the ceremony. (My Houston blogger colleague John Coby of Bay Area Houston was there as well.)

Houston now has an openly gay mayor.

Mayor Parker used her speech today to challenge the people of Houston to take a larger part in shaping the city.

And whether intended or not, Mayor Parker challenged herself to lead an adminstration that focuses on more than just infrastructure and crime.

Infrastructure and crime are important issues in Houston and they are concerns Ms. Parker discussed at length in her campaign.

But in a city like Houston with a deep and disturbing history of poverty, environmental outrages, and political apathy, there is far more work to do than addressing residential flooding. (Though, of course, flooding is an important matter in our city.)

(For those seeking a better understanding of the social, environmental and economic landscape of Houston, the book Energy Metropolis–An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast connects many of the dots.)

In her speech today, Ms. Parker talked about a “city built on dreams.”

She said Houston would be “shaped together by its citizens.”

She said “We’re in this together.”

She said Houston is a city that “abhors elitism and selfishness.”

She said “Do not fear to dream your dreams.”

Mayor Parker said people should be engaged in “Developing the highest things they know.”

Mayor Parker made reference to her gay supporters and made note of the historic nature of her victory.

Ms. Parker’s words today, combined with her personal knowledge of what it is like to be an outsider and the scope of Houston’s problems, demand that Mayor Parker seek to include all Houstonians in the prosperity of our city.

Taking the cue from Ms. Parker’s words, it is up to the people of Houston to ensure that she governs in a way that helps all people and not just the wealthy, or big campaign donors, or only the appallingly small number of Houstonians who actually vote in city elections.

Will Ms. Parker’s gay supporters now seek victories and progress for every segment of our city?

Will progressive bloggers in Houston insist that Ms. Parker govern as the Democrat she is and the progressive she sometimes allows herself to sound like?

Will liberal, progressive and Democratic voters who voted for Ms. Parker remain engaged in city politics–as Mayor Parker has asked all voters to remain involved–or will we not hear from these folks again until the next election?   ( Here are the lyrics to the Phil Ochs’ song “Love Me, I’m a Liberal.”)

Will Houston’s Hispanics begin to take responsibility for gaining the share of political power  in Houston that their numbers merit? I think Ms. Parker will listen to anybody she sees as voting in good numbers and making a solid case with effective political activism.

I don’t doubt mayor Parker loves Houston as much as she asserts. Why wouldn’t she given her success in Houston?

At the same time, Mayor Parker knows that in many respects this city is a mess of poverty and pollution.

Let us follow her suggestion today and assist the Mayor governing in a way inclusive of all people of Houston. We can do this by taking part in city affairs over the two years of Mayor Parker’s term and beyond that point as well.

Let us also continue to remind the Mayor that she is a Democrat, a progressive, and a beneficiary of the never-ending fight for social and economic justice for all Americans.

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Lousy Comments From Houston City Controller Annise Parker

Houston City Controller Annise Parker, a Democrat, recently made some disappointing comments in the Houston Chronicle about City Councilmember Peter Brown.

Mr. Brown is also a Democrat.

These comments appeared in a Kristen Mack column highlighting Councilman Brown’s intent to run for Mayor of Houston in 2009. 

A focus of Ms. Mack’s column was to suggest that Mr. Brown is not realistic in his plans and goals for Houston.  A suggestion is made that Mr. Brown’s agenda is overly broad.

Mr. Brown wants to more aggressively address social issues and urban planning concerns.

Wild! Where did he ever get the idea that stuff like that matters? Is Brown a follower of Trotsky?

Ms. Parker, also a potential candidate for Mayor in 2009, said about Mr. Brown, “You have to focus on what’s achievable…”

Ms. Parker is an openly gay elected official. Were the gains of the gay rights movement “achievable” at the time of the Stonewall protests in 1969?

How long are we supposed to wait for basic standards of social justice and fair play to become “achievable” in Houston?

How long are we supposed to wait before clean air and decent schools become “achievable?”

Ms. Parker should know better. I bet she does.

Yet what Ms. Parker may know best are her own political ambitions. I’m sure that signaling to potential business campaign donors that she is a “safe Democrat” is achievable for Ms. Parker.

Life is brief and often brutal. Who needs this stuff from people who should know better?   

August 20, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics | Leave a comment

Houston School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez Distributes Anti-Gay Campaign Materials—It Would Be Great To See Houston GLBT Caucus Backing The Progressives Who So Often Support Them

Houston Independent School Board Member Manuel Rodriguez has distributed campaign materials that by any reading appear anti-gay.

The Houston Chronicle has rescinded their endorsement of Mr. Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez up for election on November 8. He holds position 3 on the board.

From The Chronicle—

A last-minute campaign flier for Rodriguez displays appalling homophobia. The flier urges recipients not just to vote for Rodriguez, but to vote against his opponent,Ramiro Fonseca, because he has been endorsed by the Houston GLBT Caucus, “the South’s oldest civil rights organization dedicated solely to the advancement of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights.” The flier further states that Fonseca has “spent years advocating for gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender rights … not kids,” and winds up with a pair of bullet points noting that he’s 54 years old with no children and has a male partner. That’s obvious gay-bashing, of the kind that HISD rightly prohibits on the playground. It has no place on HISD’s board.

Mr. Rodriquez’s opponent is Ramiro Fonseca. Here is Mr. Fonseca’s website.

‎Perry Dorrell at Brains & Eggs has blogged on thisissue. Art Pronin from the Meyerland Dems is on the case as well as reported in Perry’s post.

I’ve been involved in these issues since opposing anti-gay Cincinnati Issue 3 as a City Council staffer in 1993, and as a Stonewall Cincinnati endorsed candidate for the Cincinnati Board of Education in 1997.

It would be great to see our Houston GLBT Political Caucus come to an Occupy Houston event, and to see them ask more of Mayor Parker as she writes a $40K check to the Texas Conservative Review for a campaign ad.

It seems so often a wide range of progressives and liberals advocate strongly for the cause of gay rights and equal rights for all, but that GLBT political organizations are always not to be found on issues of social and economic justice that impact all people.

The rights of all people are connected.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—Xmas Mail At Corpus Christi, Texas Trailer Court In 1940

Image, Source: intermediary roll film

At the bottom of this post is the most recent weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

The picture is of a gentleman sorting Christmas mail at a trailer court in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1940.

Here is some history of trailer courts and trailer parks from the Affordable Housing Institute.

Here is a list of mobile home and manufactured home parks in Texas.

The picture was taken by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. I found the photo at the American Memory Project of the Library of Congress.

Here is a poem I have written about the main reading room at the Library of Congress.

The round-up–

The picture taken by RuTXsharon @ Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS helps you follow the money to see why Governor Perry and others want Texans to keep breathing toxic air.

BossKitty at TruthHugger is proud to give a hat tip to Houston – Annise Parker inherits a City of Progress.

The Stonewall Democrats of Denton County denounce Rep. Michael Burgess for his recent actions against openly gay Safe Schools Czar Kevin Jennnings, at the Texas Cloverleaf.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy covers the dispute in Waco between the McLennan County Republican Party and the Hispanic Republican Club of McLennan County over whether or not the Republicans needs to reach out to minority voters. Also, the tradition of homophobia continues at Texas A&M and the Coalition for Life invites anti-choice and anti-woman Jeb Bush to speak at their annual fundraiser. Left of College Station also covers the week in headlines.

While Houstonians took great pride in the election of Annise Parker as mayor, it was discouraging to see — despite his company’s multi-million dollar contracts with the city and his apparent misunderstanding of their value — that Stephen Costello was elected to city council over a good Democrat, Karen Derr.

Continue reading

December 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Won’t Gene Locke Admit What Types Of People He’ll Toss Under The Bus To Win An Election?

Houston Mayoral run-off candidate Gene Locke has denied any part in anti-gay mailings directed at his opponent Annise Parker.

Yet what Mr. Locke asserts may not be the case.

From the Houston Chronicle—

“The finance chairman and a finance committee member of Gene Locke’s mayoral campaign helped bankroll the conservative political action committee that sent out an anti-gay mailer targeting City Controller Annise Parker and other municipal candidates earlier this month, according to Texas Ethics Commission documents….The revelation immediately drew accusations of illegal coordination from the campaign of Parker, whom the mailer urged voters not to choose because she was endorsed by the “gay and lesbian political caucus.” Parker is openly gay.”

Here is the full story.

It seems we cannot trust Gene Locke to admit what types of people he is willing to toss under the bus to win this election.

(Above–One of our Houston city buses as photographed by Brian Reading. Gene Locke will —in a symbolic regard—run that bus over anybody!)

He’ll sell out one bunch of folks one day, and then maybe some other group of folks another day.

Regular readers of this blog–Thanks mom!!–will note that I’ve not criticized Annise Parker nearly as much in recent days as I have in the past few weeks.

Don’t worry! We’ll get Ms. Parker elected and then have two years to take after her.

Here are my endorsements in our Houston citywide races for 2009.

As I never weary of telling people, this blogger was in 1997 a Stonewall Cincinnati endorsed candidate for the Cincinnati Board of Education.

December 9, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment