Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Urban & Rural America Are Not So Far Apart

I flew over many farms today between Houston and Chicago. Though I’ve always lived in a city and don’t know anything about farms, I’ve long thought that urban areas and rural areas have many problems in common.

There are issues of finding good jobs and substance abuse that urban and rural areas have in common. Both areas depend very much on good public schools.

I wish that in state legislatures across the country, urban and rural legislators would caucus and discuss ways to work together.

At least at 600 miles an hour,there does not seem to be a so great a distance between urban and rural America.

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Obama Urban Policy Effort

President-elect Barack Obama has created an office of urban policy. His transition web home has details on his urban policies

This is good news. America’s cities get worse and worse and little is said or done.

Here in Houston, where I’ve lived for ten years, and in Cincinnati, where I was once involved in local politics, county Democratic parties have long seen minority voters as people to be used on Election Day.

In the most recent election, the Harris County Democratic Party saw robocalls with Hillary Clinton asking Hispanics to turn out and vote as a GOTV effort worth discussing. There was no real focus on issues that would make a difference in people’s lives.

This new attention to urban issues from the Obama team will hopefully be a sincere effort. I guess I’ll believe it when I see it. 

What would also be of benefit to urban voters would be an Obama administration that asks as little as possible from existing minority political power structures in big cities.

For years, what we have often seen in the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, and city halls, are minority officeholders who sit in safe and often uncontested districts, don’t train a next generation of minority political leaders, and who offer an overall acquiescence to the poor conditions we often see in America’s cities.

I’m all for a President Obama who uses his muscle and support with black voters to help change American cities for the better. I hope this success will be matched by outreach to Hispanic voters and an ongoing connection to urban voters of all stripes. 

Change in our American cities is change we need.

November 12, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Houston Democratic State Representative Hubert Vo Owns A Slum Property

Houston-area Democratic state representative Hubert Vo owns an apartment building that appears to suffer from slum conditions.

This property has been cited by the City of Houston for these slum conditions.

From the Houston Chronicle article about the slum citation

City building inspectors on Wednesday issued several safety citations against an East End apartment complex owned by state Rep. Hubert Vo.

The citations to the Courtyard Apartments on Villa de Matel allege eight structural and electrical problems, including rotting wood, missing balcony railings, loose boards and broken windows, city officials said.

“There were the kinds of things you’d see in a building that has not been well-maintained,” said Susan McMillian, a senior staff analyst in the city’s Public Works and Engineering Department. “It needed more intense maintenance than what had been done.”

Homeowners in the nearby County Club neighborhood have complained about the property for years, calling it a visual blight and a magnet for crime.

“It’s really a deplorable situation, and the sad thing is that people are actually living there,” said Charles Mayfield, a member of the area’s Super Neighborhood Council. “It’s really disheartening to see, and surprising, to say the least, that anybody — no matter who they are — would let the property get into such a condition.”

Vo, a Democrat running for re-election to his southwest Houston seat in the Texas House, has owned the four-building, $2.8 million property under one of his companies, Newlink Investments, Inc., since 2002.

Here is a Chronicle blog post by city reporter Matt Stiles that has pictures of the apartment building.   

A frequent theme of this blog is that city voters have the right to expect more from Democrats than just being pimped for votes at election time. 

How did this building get into such a state of poor repair to start? How about a push for more inspectors and better enforcement from our Democratic Mayor and Democrats on Houston City Council?

I don’t live in Mr. Vo’s district. If I did I would not vote for either Mr. Vo or his Republican opponent in November. 

This is all the worse coming from Mr. Vo because his winning the seat over the very obnoxious Republican incumbent Talmadge Heflin was such a great victory.   

This is not about private conduct by Mr. Vo. He has a public responsibility to the people who live in his building and to the public as a whole to keep this building in good condition. 

I’m not having any more of voting for Democrats at the municipal or urban level when they have a hand in the seemingly never-ending decline and neglect of America’s cities.  

I don’t know if we need a third-party, or a competitive Republican party in our cities, or a new Marcus Garvey to lead people out of a society that does not care if city folk live or die.

Maybe what we need is a better Democratic party.

I do know that we don’t need Hubert Vo.

April 4, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , | 17 Comments

After Years Of Voting For Democrats, Institutionalized Regressive Taxes Remain For Providence, Rhode Island Schools

In a recent column in the excellent liberal magazine The American Prospect discussing the debate over slavery reparations, I read some disturbing information about the public school system in Providence, Rhode Island.

I lived in Providence as a kid from 1968 until 1980. I attended the public schools in Providence in those years.

From the column by Dana Goldstein

Three-quarters of children in the Providence schools live in poverty. Rhode Island ranks among the top three states dependent on municipal property taxes to fund education, a regressive system that disadvantages city schools…Providence–like many other cities across the nation—is geographically contiguous with affluent suburbs…”  

I’ll just make the point I’ve made a number of times in this blog. While Rhode Island has had a run of Republican governors in recent years, most voters in this state and in Providence vote for Democrats year after year. Rhode Island is one of the most Democratic states in the nation.

How long are black folks and city residents of all races going to vote for Democrats and see no improvement in the institutionalized conditions that help keep people poor and disempowered?  

(Here is a recent Texas Liberal post called The Institutionalized Way We Kill Black People about sub-standard operating conditions in many urban hospitals.)       

January 8, 2008 Posted by | Politics, Taxes---Yes! | , , , , , , | Leave a comment