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Houston Mayor Annise Parker Blind To The Symbolism Of The Anti-Food Sharing Ordinance—The Shadow Sells The Substance

Below are specifics of the anti-food sharing ordinance as reported by Mayor Annise Parker’s office.

The Mayor’s office was able to post these rules on the day in-between the anniversary Martin Luther King’s death and Good Friday, to tell folks how sharing food with the homeless will now be regulated.

One  of the two most disturbing things about this in my view, is that public property is seen as having an “owner’ and is being treated  here by Mayor Parker no differently than private property.

The other issue that bothers me most is the blindness of the Mayor and Council Democrats regarding the symbolism of restricting the sharing of food with the homeless.

Sojourner Truth had it right when she said that “the shadow sells the substance.”

The only Councilmember who seems to fully get the symbolism is Libertarian-leaning Republican Helena Brown, who will soon be holding a so-called town meeting on the subject. Ms. Brown is both smarter and more dangerous than people on various sides of this debate want to give her credit for being. Ms. Brown denies her City Hall staff fulltime hours and access to City of Houston health benefits.

Here is the Facebook group that is organizing a petition drive to repeal the ordinance.   

In any case, you can read here the Mayor’s side of the issue as we move ahead with the petition drive to repeal the ordinance. Nothing you’ll read will change the bottom line that the sharing of the food with the homeless has now in many instances been criminalized. Mayor Parker simply does not want to understand this basic reality.

From Mayor Parker—

There is lots of misinformation about the Charitable Food Service Ordinance. Here are the facts about the ordinance adopted by City Council yesterday:

  • It takes effect July 1, 2012
  • It recognizes the importance of charitable behavior while still providing protection for owners who don’t want that charity occurring on their properties
  • The only mandatory component is a requirement to obtain written permission from the owner before any charitable food service on both public and private property without the written permission of the owner.  Organizations that fail to obtain written permission may be charged with a misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to $500. The rest of the ordinance creates the voluntary Charitable Food Service Provider Program.  This allows organizations to coordinate services, but without concerns about red tape. Organizations desiring to participate in the voluntary Recognized Charitable Food Service Provider Program will be required to:
  • o Register basic contact information with the City of Houston
  • o Cooperate with the City in scheduling any food service event at which five or more individuals will be fed
  • o Follow basic hygiene, sanitation, and food safety rules provided by the Houston Department of Health and Human Services
  • o Have at least one person at each food service site who has completed the free training in sanitary food preparation offered by HDHHS
  • o Authorize inspections by the HDHHS of their kitchens and transport vehicles and the like
  • o Implement changes suggested by the Health Department
  • o Clean up after the event
  • The names and addresses of organizations that abide by the above requirements will be listed on the City’s website. In addition, they will be entitled to use their designation as a Recognized Charitable Food Service Provider in their publications.
  • The Parks and Health Departments are developing rules for the use of City properties for charitable food service activities.

In Houston, we identify a problem, put an idea out there to address it and then listen to the community for feedback.  This time the process worked better than we expected.  So many people from many diverse groups got engaged and there is renewed focus on finding ways to address our problem of homelessness.  While not everything is in agreement as to the direction being taken, the process has been very productive. Mayor Parker hopes everyone will all stay engaged because there is more work to do to solve the problems that prompted this discussion:  the unapproved use of private property, the lack of coordination that results in food being wasted, the health and safety issues that can arise due to improperly prepared food and the trash often left behind. In six months, this ordinance will be reviewed in the City Council- Quality of Life Committee.

April 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Groups Opposing Cruel Proposed Anti-Food Sharing Ordinance In Houston—Two Protests On Tuesday, 4/3

Many groups in Houston oppose Annise Parker’s proposed mean-spirited anti-food sharing ordinance.

Here is the list of groups so far that oppose this proposed ordinance—

American Rights Association • A Simple Thread • Canvas Church Houston • Casa Juan Diego • Casa de la Fuente • Center for Student Missions Houston • The Central American Resource Center • Central Canaan Christian Church • Christ the Servant Lutheran Church • Clear Lake Tea Party • Dominican Sisters of Houston • Ecclesia Church • Emmaus Ministries Houston • The Executive Council • Feed My Sheep Ministries • Free Radicals • Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church • Harris County Democratic Socialists • Harris County Green Party • Harris County Libertarian Party • The Harris County Republican Party (Local Government Committee) • House of Amos • Houston Area Pastor Council • Houston Food Not Bombs • Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center • Houston Property Rights Association • Houston Tea Party Society • Houston United • Houston Young Republicans • Immaculate Concepcion Catholic Church • IMPACT: I am the Movement • ISKCON Houston (Hare Krishna Temple) • Japhet Civic Association • Joe Williams Ministries • KHA-Atheists • Last Chance Recovery Center • Last Organic Outpost • Love Out Loud Homeless Ministry • Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers • Mosque #45, Nation of Islam • Muslims Against Hunger, Disease and Injustice • Light the Way Home, Inc. • National Lawyers Guild, Houston Chapter • NHPO Leadership Institute • Noah’s Kitchen • Occupy Houston • Occupy Wall Street, Houston • Pat Greer’s Kitchen • Pax Christi • Ryon Civic Association • The Progressive Action Alliance • Shape Community Center • Sinfull Bakery • Stand Up for Kids • St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church Outreach Program • Texas Public Policy Foundation • Taxpayers  For  Equal  Appraisal • UH Fair Labor Action Committee • UH Students for a Democratic Society • UH Students Against Sexual Harassment and Assault • Sonic Visions • Voice of the Homeless Awareness Project • West Houston Assistance Ministries • Young Americans for Liberty, HCC • Community Leaders: Deloyd Parker • Minister Robert Muhammad • Reverend Fana, Women’s Resource Center • Duane Bradley, KPFT General manager • Houston City Council Member Helena Brown • Ray Hill • Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Editor and Publisher, Faith That Inspires Action • Dave Atwood, Houston Peace and Justice Center • Rhonda Omberg, Harris County GOP Pct. 839 Pct chair

How is it that Mayor Parker and many Democratic members of Houston City Council are on the wrong side of this issue? My view is that Mayor Parker should face a challager from the left in 2013.

While the ordinance  is not on the Houston City Council calendar for the week ahead, it is still alive.

This being so, there will be two protests this Tuesday against the ordinance.

Here are details of these protests—-

Those wanting to share food with one another can gather in anticipation of the Free To Give public rally which meets @ 1:00 PM outside Houston City Hall.

Starting at 11am, feel free to come to the people’s park: Hermann Square Park around the reflection pool at City Hall. Bring homemade snacks, treats from some of our great local businesses, a blanket, and your 1st amendment right to gather with edibles. Continue reading

April 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Two Protests Against Cruel Proposed Houston Anti-Food Sharing Ordinance On Tuesday, April 3—Annise Parker Wants To Limit How You Can Help Those Most In Need

There are two upcoming events to protest the ongoing efforts of Houston Mayor Annise Parker and  Houston City Council to criminalize many acts of sharing food with the homeless in Houston.

Both protests are taking place on Tuesday, April 3.

Here is the first event–

Those wanting to share food with one another can gather in anticipation of the Free To Give public rally which meets @ 1:00 PM outside Houston City Hall.

Starting at 11am, feel free to come to the people’s park: Hermann Square Park around the reflection pool at City Hall. Bring homemade snacks, treats from some of our great local businesses, a blanket, and your 1st amendment right to gather with edibles.

We’re also trying to get as many of our needy friends out to share lunch with us. If you work with a community like this, please invite them out! We will be signing up people to speak at that time.

Lots of people have a lunch hour. Let’s support the people who are trying to make our government work FOR us, not against us.

Here is the Facebook page for this event.

Here is the 2nd event–

Public Rally at 1:00 PM outside Houston City Hall by reflection pool. Also, if you can sign up to Speak at Houston City Council meeting at 2 PM for 1, 2 or 3 minutes or just attend the public meeting to show support against the City’s continued effort to criminalize feeding the homeless. To speak call the Houston City Secretary at 832/393-1100 and ask to speak under the subject “Anti-Giving and Sharing Food Ordinance” Chapter 20 and choose 1, 2 or 3 minutes.

Here is the Facebook page for this rally.

Conservative Mayor Annise Parker merits a challenger from the left in 2013. This link also details Mayor Parker’s odd views about how public space in really private space.

How in these hard times can it made illegal to help those most in need? How can this be the right course at any time?

I will be at these Tuesday protests. I hope to see you there as well.

March 31, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Photos From Sunday Trayvon Martin Protest At Houston City Hall

This past Sunday afternoon, I attended a rally in at Houston City Hall calling for justice in the case of Trayvon Martin. This rally was organized by the Houston NAACP and by LULAC in Houston.

I went to this protest and took some  pictures.

The Trayvon Martin shooting , which took place in Sanford, Florida, is relevant to Houston because everything is connected. The killing of Trayvon in Florida could happen to a young person any place in our nation.

Above you see a picture of the Houston rally. There were estimates that 1,000 people showed up. Most of the people were black. But by no means were all the people at the rally black.

What people wanted at this protest was simple.

They wanted peace, justice, an end to racism, and the right to be who they are.

These are goals as American as apple pie.

These citizens made their own signs and came on down to the rally.

You will see that one of the signs indicates that the person holding the sign is his or her brother’s keeper.

What could be more basic and accurate?

Among the speakers at the rally were Congressperson Sheila Jackson Lee in blue, former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia in the hoodie, and two students from Texas Southern University.

The young lady in red is a TSU student. I’m sorry that I did not catch the names of the two young people from TSU, but they did a good job at the podium.

In addition to Congressperson Jackson Lee and Ms. Garcia, Richard Shaw from the Harris County, Texas AFL-CIO was present.

I do regret that while many local black officeholders were at the event, that white and Hispanic elected officials did not seem to be present.

We are all connected.

It is especially confusing  that Houston Mayor Annise Parker was not there, or that she could not send a representative.

Mayor Parker, a so-called Democrat, was in 2011 able to attend the Reagan-Lincoln Day fundraiser of the Harris County Republican Party.

What Mayor Parker needs is a challenger from the left in 2013.

While there was a strong crowd at City Hall last Sunday, there is always room for your involvement.

The work of freedom and democracy is up to each of us.

March 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Conservative Houston Mayor Annise Parker Keeps After The Homeless And Says That Public Is Private—A Progressive Challenger Is Needed In 2013

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has been pushing an anti-food sharing ordinance in Houston that would criminalize  many acts of kindness towards those most in need in our city

(Above–The type of sharing with others that may soon be illegal in Houston.)  

Beyond that, Mayor Parker, in explaining her support for the anti-giving ordinance, has some strange views about the public’s right to use public space.

From the Houston Press

“Mayor Parker argued that City property is, indeed, private — it’s owned by the City, she reminded people — and that the owner of City property should have the same rights as any homeowner or other private property owner…. “It’s a mistake to conflate city property with my front yard,” said Raj Mankad, editor of Rice University’s Cite Magazine, as he addressed the Council in response to Mayor Parker. “They’re completely different kinds of property. City land is public space; there’s a different history and a different body of laws that apply in public space.”

( Here is the website for Cite Magazine.) 

Mayor Parker views our public resources as somehow private.

No surprise from somebody who received an A- in fiscal conservatism from the Texas Conservative Review.

The anti-food sharing ordinance is not dead. It may well be back before council–in a watered down but still obnoxious fashion–On Tuesday, April 3.

Call the Mayor and members of Council to make your voice heard.

In Houston, the homeless get three laws in nine months directed at them, while millions of city dollars go to dog shelters to win the dog-owner vote, while soccer stadiums and so-called arthouse movie theaters get tax dollars, and while tailgating Downtown at the soccer stadium is encouraged so we can have more drunks driving on–of all places–Houston highways.

Funny how the fiscal conservatism the Mayor asserts when appealing to the right does not seem to preclude these panderings and give-aways.

Everybody is having a great time! Folks are out at the movie theater, or are drinking in public so they can hit the highways and drive drunk. The developers and the private concerns are feasting on taxpayer dollars.

It is big whoopee for all but the homeless who are getting moved along and arrested, and for those helping the homeless who will get a ticket from the police.

Mayor Parker won a fraction over 50% of the vote in 2011 against 3 minor candidates despite raising over $ 2 million dollars. She did this in an election where something like 10% of eligible voters cast a ballot.

The Mayor is hardly democratically legitimate. Her real support in Houston is maybe 6% or 7% of the whole city.

I hope a progressive candidate emerges in 2013 to oppose this conservative Mayor.

How long do we go along being afraid that we can’t do better than folks like Annise Parker?

Why don’t we try for once try reaching out to all of Houston, and try a hopeful inclusive  message in our diverse and optimistic city?

(Below–The address for a great Facebook site that has been working hard to defeat this cruel ordinance.)

March 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 5 Comments

The State-Mandated Rape Of The Texas Forced Sonogram Bill, The Cruel Houston Anti Food-Sharing Ordinance & A Report On A Trayvon Martin Protest Are The Topics For The Week Ahead

Above is a photo from a rally for justice for Trayvon Martin that was held in Downtown Houston on Sunday afternoon.

I attended this rally. I’ve seen one estimate of 1,000 people at the protest. All I can say is that there were many people present.

We’ve all got to stick up for each other. What happens to one person happens to everybody.

My time is a bit short today, but I will have a lot to discuss in the days ahead.

Topics of concern at the blog this week will be the state-mandated rape of the Texas forced sonogram law, the cruel anti-food sharing ordinance being pushed by Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and a more complete report on the rally that is pictured above.

Thanks for reading Texas Liberal.

March 26, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photos From Possibly Last Legal Sharing Of Food By Food Not Bombs In Houston—Annise Parker Says It Has To Stop

(Blogger’s update 3/21/12–Mayor Parker has changed the ordiance and the issue remains before Houston City Council. I’ll have more to say about this in the days ahead.) 

This evening I attended that may be the last legal sharing of food here in Houston by Food Not Bombs.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council are considering a city ordinance that would criminalize some acts of sharing food with the homeless in Houston.

Above you see what may soon be illegal.

These proposed restrictions would be the third city ordinance directed at the homeless in Houston in nine months. 

In her inaugural address a few months back, Mayor Parker said the homeless would be a focus of her administration in her second term.

I guess she was not lying.

Councilwoman Helena Brown was at the Food Not Bombs food sharing tonight.

Above you see Ms. Brown speaking to a citizen of Houston.

While Councilwoman Brown is a right-wing extremist who denies fulltime hours and access to City of Houston health insurance to her staff, it is good that she was present this evening.

Councilwoman Brown is right to see this proposed ordinance as overreach by government.

Above you see a final photo of the events of this evening.

The American flag is quite appropriate here as people in need are offered help by their fellow citizens.

I’m sorry that Annise Parker has a problem with the scene in the photo above, and that she is engaging in a legislative barrage against the homeless in Houston.

As it stands now, the Houston City Council meeting at 2 PM on Tuesday, 3/20 will be when this ordinance is discussed and possibly voted on.

Call the Mayor and members of Council to make your voice heard.

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 16 Comments

Mayor Parker And City Of Houston Considering A Third Restriction On The Homeless In Nine Months—Criminalizing Sharing

A broad cross-section of Houston is opposing Mayor Annise Parker’s proposal that would criminalize some acts of sharing food with the homeless in Houston.

Below is a list of groups and community leaders that oppose this measure—

American Rights Association • Casa Juan Diego • Casa de la Fuente • Central Canaan Christian Church • Christ the Servant Lutheran Church • Dominican Sisters of Houston • Ecclesia Church Simple Feast • The Executive Council • Harris County Democratic Socialists • Harris County Green Party • The Harris County Libertarian Party • House of Amos • Houston Area Pastor Council • Houston Food Not Bombs • Houston Interfaith Worker Justice Center • Houston Property Rights Association • Houston Tea Party Society • Houston United • Houston Young Republicans • IMPACT: I am the Movement • ISKCON Houston (Hare Krishna Temple) • Japhet Civic Association • Joe Williams Ministries • KHA-Atheists • Last Chance Recovery Center • Last Organic Outpost • Mosque #45, Nation of Islam • Muslims Against Hunger, Disease and Injustice • National Lawyers Guild, Houston Chapter • Noah’s Kitchen • Occupy Houston • Pat Greer’s Kitchen • Pax Christi • Ryon Civic Association • Shape Community Center • Sinfull Bakery • Stand Up for Kids • Texas Public Policy Foundation • Taxpayers  For  Equal  Appraisal • UH Fair Labor Action Committee • UH Students for a Democratic Society • UH Students Against Sexual Harassment and Assault• West Houston Assistance Ministries. • Young Americans for Liberty, HCC • Community Leaders: Deloyd Parker • Minister Robert Muhammad • Reverend Fana, Women’s Resource Center • Duane Bradley, KPFT General manager • Houston City Council Member Helena Brown • Ray Hill • Rev. Robert A. Crutchfield, Editor and Publisher, Faith That Inspires Action • Dave Atwood, Houston Peace and Justice Center

Here are details of this proposal from the Houston Chronicle

“Mayor Annise Parker is asking the council to adopt rules that would require organizations and people who feed the homeless to register with the city, take a food safety class, prepare the food in certified kitchens, serve only at three public parks, and leave those parks as clean as when they entered them…Councilwoman Helena Brown agreed and praised the speakers from groups who serve meals on the streets, telling them she hoped they’ll “have the freedom to do that and you don’t have to stop and say, ‘Wait a minute, I have to go visit City Hall first…”It’s kind of strange and ironic that they want to stop help. We have actually been called to do this, to help those in need,” said Edward J. Sweet Sr., Strait & Narrow’s bishop. “It’s kind of sad that they would want to stop different organizations who are trying to make a change.”…If adopted, the feeding rules would mark the third time in nine months that the council has acted to contain the city’s homelessness problem, which by some estimates has 13,000 people living on the street. Last July, the council expanded the area where it is illegal to sleep on the sidewalk per the city’s so-called civility ordinance. The next month, the council forbade panhandlers from coming within eight feet of patio diners…Parker said in her inaugural address in January that making progress on homelessness would be a priority of her second term. Her administration pitched the rule changes as a way to protect the homeless from food poisoning and allergies, although opponents insist there is no evidence to suggest any health threat from donated food.”

Here is the press release from Mayor Parker’s office on this issue.

With this being the third measure to restrict the actions of the homeless in nine months, it seems that Annise Parker and at least some members of Houston City Council believe that just moving the homeless along will solve the problem.

The Mayor has in the past spoken up against payday loan operators in Houston and for the rights of Downtown office tower janitors to organize.

How can Mayor Parker see a series of punitive measures against the homeless as the right course?

As it stands now, City Council will take up this issue again on Tuesday, March 20. The Council session begins at 2 PM.

Here are some details about speaking at this session—

1) You must call the City Secretary (832) 393 – 1100 to reserve time to speak, ask for one minute, call asap during business hours to reserve your slot. Tell them you want to speak about “criminalizing public service”

2) Leave time to find parking, the session starts at 2. You must arrive with an ID, and be prepared to go through a metal detector.

If you can’t attend the session, call the Mayor and your members of council.

Here is information on contacting Mayor Parker. 

Here is information on contacting members of Houston City Council.

We seem to have plenty of money in Houston to offer tax breaks and incentives for soccer stadiums and so-called arthouse movie theaters. If we have these kinds of funds, than why not more resources to help the homeless—many of them no doubt veterans—towards work and self-sufficiency?

March 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 11 Comments

Harris County Republican Party To Hold Convention At Grace Community Church

The Harris County Republican Party will be holding its 2012 convention at one outlet of the Grace Community Church chain.

From the Harris County Republican Party

“… we will be having our County/SD Convention on Saturday, April 21st at Grace Community Church, 14505 Gulf Freeway, Houston, TX 77034. Please mark your calendars for this date! We will update the website as further details are finalized.”

I imagine that Grace Community Church is a tax-exempt outfit.

Yet the Harris County Republican Party convention will be held at Grace.

The Pastor of Grace is Steven Riggle.

Here is some recent news about Mr. Riggle from the Houston Chronicle—

“Taking advantage of his mega-church pulpit on Sunday morning, Pastor Steve Riggle of Houston’s Grace Community Church advanced his crusade against Mayor Annise Parker’s public support for same-sex marriage by urging Houston’s lesbian mayor to either stand up for traditional marriage “or do the honorable thing and step down.”…Speaking at the congregation’s 10 a.m. service, Riggle promised some 3,000 worshippers “the shortest sermon that has ever been preached in this congregation.” After reading 25 Bible versions of the Genesis account of marriage as a man “leaving his father and mother and being joined to his wife,” Riggle spent the next 50 minutes reading a letter he wrote to Parker last week, summarizing her response and then reading a new letter he has written to the mayor…At the morning service, Riggle also objected to the description of Parker’s partner as “the First Lady of Houston.”

(Top Texas political blogger Perry Dorrell has more on this at Brains & Eggs.)

The issue is not if Mr. Riggle hates gay people. I have no idea what Mr. Riggle feels in his heart. I have no idea how Mr. Riggle sees any issue other than his stated views on gay marriage. The issue is that Mr. Riggle supports policies that would deny free Americans the basic right to get married.

Why is the Harris County Republican Party comfortable holding any event at Grace Community Church? How is the prohibition of gay marriage consistent with keeping government out of people’s lives?

Well…If you are in league with statewide Texas Republicans who enacted in our legislature what some see as state-sponsored rape in the form of the Texas forced sonogram law, and that is going after cancer screenings offered by Planned Parenthood in a state with the highest percentage of uninsured people in the nation, I would wager that Mr. Riggle’s opposition to gay marriage is small beans in the context of public policy that violates women and leads to people’s death.

(Here is information on the services provided by Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast. You can also make a donation at this site.)

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Annise Parker’s Ongoing Legislative Barrage On Houston’s Homeless—Isn’t The Dignity Of All People Connected?

For the third time in recent months, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Houston City Council are considering regulations directed at homeless people.

From the Houston Chronicle

“Mayor Annise Parker is asking the council to adopt rules that would require organizations and people who feed the homeless to register with the city, take a food safety class, prepare the food in certified kitchens, serve only at three public parks, and leave those parks as clean as when they entered them…Councilwoman Helena Brown agreed and praised the speakers from groups who serve meals on the streets, telling them she hoped they’ll “have the freedom to do that and you don’t have to stop and say, ‘Wait a minute, I have to go visit City Hall first…”It’s kind of strange and ironic that they want to stop help. We have actually been called to do this, to help those in need,” said Edward J. Sweet Sr., Strait & Narrow’s bishop. “It’s kind of sad that they would want to stop different organizations who are trying to make a change.”…If adopted, the feeding rules would mark the third time in nine months that the council has acted to contain the city’s homelessness problem, which by some estimates has 13,000 people living on the street. Last July, the council expanded the area where it is illegal to sleep on the sidewalk per the city’s so-called civility ordinance. The next month, the council forbade panhandlers from coming within eight feet of patio diners…Parker said in her inaugural address in January that making progress on homelessness would be a priority of her second term. Her administration pitched the rule changes as a way to protect the homeless from food poisoning and allergies, although opponents insist there is no evidence to suggest any health threat from donated food.”

This item will be considered again on March 21. Thanks to Councilpersons Helena Brown and Wanda Adams for delaying this issue so there can be more public attention and debate.

Here is the press release from the Mayor’s office on this issue.  

Is this how Mayor Parker feels she can best meet her inaugural pledge to help the homeless?

The way we help the construction of soccer stadiums and of so-called arthouse movie theaters in Houston, is to give them millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars.

If you feel that these are good projects for Houston, why not also allocate resources to help those most in need in our city? Wouldn’t that be a good investment as well? How does a Sundance movie house merit more concern than do human beings out on the street?

Are we supposed to believe that three council initiatives directed at the homeless in a nine month stretch are about making the lives of the homeless better?

Mayor Parker has quite correctly spoken up in recent weeks about full rights in our society for people who happen to be born gay.

I don’t assume Mayor Parker holds these beliefs for the rights of gay folks because she is a lesbian.

My assumption is that Mayor Parker sees the rights and advancement of all people as connected. This is the underlying logic of any civil rights cause.

Yet Mayor Parker appears to view one segment of our population as meriting an extraordinary series of restrictive ordinances.

Not worthy of government subsidy in the fashion that Mayor Parker rewards multi-million dollar private enterprises with taxpayer dollars, and seemingly outside her conception of who merits full concern as an equal human being in our great City of Houston, the homeless find themselves under legislative and legal assault by Mayor Annise Parker and our Houston City Council.

March 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Occupy Houston Camp Ordered To Disband—There Is A Great Deal To Be Hopeful About

The Occupy Houston camp at Tranquility Park was cleared out this evening by the Houston Police Department at the order of Mayor Annise Parker.

(Above–An Occupy Houston photo from the end of the Tranquility Park camp in Downtown Houston.)

It was a peaceful process.

Here is the press release on this matter from Mayor Parker. 

I could not truthfully argue that Mayor Parker acted in a rash or unreasonable fashion in moving out the Occupy camp. She was patient in this regard.

At the same time, progressives and liberals in Houston should not forget the A- rating on fiscal concerns Mayor Parker received in 2011 from the Texas Conservative Review. Mayor Parker–A Democrat– is no true friend of progressive and liberal aspirations in our great City of Houston.

The camp began on October 6, 2011.  Here is my post from the first day of Occupy Houston.

In the months since October, the Occupy Houston camp had become an eyesore and had stopped serving any useful purpose for the cause of a more just society.

There were many good people who took part on the camp and who are still part of Occupy Houston. Yet this is simply the case as to what the camp at Tranquility had become.

At the same time, the Occupy Houston Facebook page has more than 16,000 followers and the Occupy Wall Street effort continues.

There have been other victories as well.

InterOccupy offers conference calls and news for a growing network of activists and supporters.

As the Occupy effort chooses its next course, it can already claim success in propelling issues of income inequality and economic fair play into the national debate.

I remain hopeful. I’ve come to know a number of good and smart people through my support of Occupy Houston and the Occupy movement.

Just this past weekend I attended an organizing training session in which a number of other Occupy backers also took part.

I don’t know what form the Occupy effort will take nationally or in Houston in the weeks ahead.

I do know that victories have already been won, and that there is much to be hopeful about in the weeks and months ahead.

February 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Felony Charges Against Occupy Houston Protestors—When Will We Realize That The Freedom Of All People Is Connected?

The Occupy protestors arrested by Annise Parker’s police and charged with a felony  for engaging in civil disobedience by alleged moderate DA Pat Lykos are a matter of concern for every liberal, progressive, and civil libertarian in Houston and Harris County.

(Above–A scene from the day the arrests in question took place.) 

The freedom of all people is connected.

This is the case if the issue is the Houston police beating of Chad Holley, or anti-gay slurs by a member of the Houston school board.

Everybody is connected. The freedom of all people is connected.

When are civil rights groups in Houston and progressive voters in Houston going to realize this most basic fact?

When will all people realize this most basic fact?

Here is the latest report on the felony indictments from the Houston Chronicle.

Here is the Occupy Houston response to the indictments.

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Arrests At Occupy Houston—First Amendment Protections For Some But Not For Others

A number of people were arrested at Occupy Houston last night.

They were arrested for having a tarp out in the rain and for jaywalking.

Here is video of the arrests from the Houston Chronicle.

Here is a report from TV station KHOU.

Here is a report from TV station KPRC. 

If members of Occupy Houston could come up with a lot of money and bundle it into large anonymous donations so as to legally bribe politicians, that would have been protected speech under the Citzens United case.

Also–correctly–protected by the Supreme Court are the anti-gay protests of the Westboro Baptist Church at military funerals.

In Houston however, the presence of a tarp during rain and jaywalking merits arrest.

It would be great to see conservatives  speak up about the use of state power to stifle First Amendment protections.

The office of Houston Mayor Annise Parker released following on November 4—

“Here’s a statement Mayor Parker tweeted last night regarding Occupy Houston: “There has been misinformation spread regarding the Occupy Houston protests. We have not made plans to ‘evict’ the participants. The City and Occupy Houston have a working relationship to allow protesters to exercise their first amendment rights without endangering public health or safety”

Sure.

Occupy Houston held a press conference this morning about the arrests and I attended.

I took some pictures at the press conference to run here on the blog.

Below—The press conference. Many Houston media outlets were interested in what had taken place.

Below—Two Occupy Houston participants being interviewed. In the background is a sign with a quote from Martin Luther King that reads—“Reconstruction of society itself is the real issue to be faced

Below—A member of the National Lawyer’s Guild speaking to the press.  The Guild has been helping Occupy efforts across the nation with legal issues. The building is the foreground with the American flag on top is Houston City Hall. City Hall is dwarfed by the corporate tower in background.

Here is the Occupy Houston website.

Here is the Occupy Wall Street website.

My understanding is that the interactions with Houston police will be YouTube at some point soon.

Houston police officers are everyday working people no different from anybody else.

You can also find Occupy Houston, Occupy Wall Street and many other Occupy efforts on Facebook and on the web.

The placement of tarps and the actions of peaceful protesters were the most important things that Houston police had to deal with last night?

Occupy Houston protestors merit jail while the bank and financial executives who did so much to cause this recession with lies and fraud run free?

How can any person of any ideological viewpoint not be concerned with what is taking place with the arrests in a number of cities of Occupy protestors?

First it will be somebody else. Next time it will be you.

November 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Who Can Liberals & Progressives Support For Houston City Council In 2011—Election Day Is Here

(Blogger’s note 11/8/11—Election Day is here. This was first posted two weeks ago.)    

It is time for our Houston municipal elections.

(Above–Houston City Hall.)

General Election Day is November 8.

Here is a link to help you find out where to vote.

Who can a liberal or progressive support in these elections?

As is so often the case in Houston, the pickings are slim.

Houston city elections are low-turnout affairs in which an electorate not representative of Houston’s demographics chooses from candidates who discuss a very narrow range of issues. Just how much is it that can we hear about red light cameras?

The credibility of the candidates on the ballot is often judged by how much money they have raised.

Here is my look at the Houston city ballot and, also, some additional links to help you figure out how you’d like to vote.

Houstonians merit liberal and progressive options at the ballot box.

Houston was a 61% Obama city in 2008. If we can’t muster up some decent candidates, then maybe we should use our political energies to support Occupy Houston.

While we should vote in every election, the energy and hope we are seeing from the Occupy Wall Street movement is more positive  and hopeful than anything occurring in our municipal elections.

Here are my endorsements—

Mayor-–I’m leaving my ballot blank for Mayor. I simply don’t believe Mayor Annise Parker has any consistent commitment to progressive values. Good people will disagree, but the Mayor has had two years to offer leadership on pressing issues of poverty and on the lack of broad political participation in Houston. She seems to have little interest in these subjects.

Mayor Parker is likely to win reelection in 2011. The absence of competent and credible opponents, and her campaign war chest of more than $2 million helps make this so. Yet despite her good electoral outlook for 2011, the Mayor is concerned with winning a strong majority of voters in 2011 so as to strengthen her hand with City Council, and to help her fend off challengers in 2013.

I’ve no desire in helping the Mayor accomplish these goals. No matter what percentage of votes cast in 2011 Annise Parker ends up  winning, it will be done with an overall turnout of somewhere between 10% and 15%. There is no way the Mayor will have a credible mandate from an involved public. Why should Mayor Parker be given the illusion of a mandate when she has never engaged in serious grassroots efforts to expand voter turnout in Houston, and when she does not pursue policies that are inclusive of Houstonians of every economic status?

(Update 10/31–Mayor Parker has received a grade of A- for fiscal conservatism from the Texas Conservative Review. I say again that Mayor Parker does not warrant the support of liberals and progressives.) Continue reading

November 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Liberal & Progressive Options For 2011 Houston City Council—Eric Dick Tells You Who He Is

I early voted a few hours ago in our Houston 2011 city elections.

Above are campaign signs that were across the street from the polling place.

The man with the dark hair on the other side of that Eric Dick sign near the center of the picture is none other than Council position #2 candidate  Eric Dick. It is not very good picture of Eric–But it is him.

I’ve met Eric twice and have had nice conversations with him each time.

I’m not going to vote for the guy and his placement of signs all over Houston this year has been a misdeed.

Yet I can’t muster any anger at Eric. He has been so brazen in his actions that I just have to laugh. And, unlike so many others running for municipal office in Houston in 2011, Eric makes it clear he is a Republican. He does not hide his party affiliation.

Eric Dick tells you right up front who he is.

With early voting down to the last few days and General Election Day next Tuesday, here is a reposting of my liberal and progressive endorsements for the Houston municipal ballot —

It is time for our Houston municipal elections.

Early voting runs October 24-November 4. General Election Day is November 8.

Here is a link to help you find out where to vote.

Who can a liberal or progressive support in these elections?

As is so often the case in Houston, the pickings are slim. Continue reading

November 3, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment