Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Houston Councilman James Rodriguez—Should We Trust Him Or Not?

 
Houston District I Councilmember James Rodriguez (Mr. Rodriguez  is the gentleman to the left of the center in the photo above.has been in the news of late. With the election of Adrian Garcia to serve as Harris County Sheriff, Mr. Rodriguez, who says he is a Democrat, is now the only Hispanic member of Houston City Council. This despite the fact that we have at least 850,000 Hispanic persons here in Houston.
( Here is a most forceful rebuttal to this post from a local Democrat.)
(Here is a reply that is a little more useful.)
 
Here is Mr. Rodriguez’s campaign web home.  
 
Here is a map of Council District I
 
Should we trust Councilman Rodriguez? Will he be an effective representative of Houston’s Hispanic population, and for all persons in his district and in our city? 
  
In Houston, it can be hard to pin down just where our political leaders stand.  Party identification is easily obscured in our so-called non-partisan municipal elections. (Voter turnout is always low. And once elected, incumbent councilmembers are nearly unaccountable at the ballot box  until term limits force them out.) Take, for example, the photo above. In the center you see Republican Bill King. On either side of Mr. King are members of his so-called issue study group.
 
Mr. King has been considering a run for citywide office in 2009. So why is a Democrat like Mr. Rodriguez sitting with Mr. King? Seated to the right of Mr. King is Democratic State Representative Senfronia Thompson and, next to Rep. Thompson, one Jessica Colon. Ms. Colon is identified as “national chair of the Young Republicans.”      
 
Now I’m certain the conversation to get Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Thompson to serve on Mr. King’s issues committee went just like this–
 
Mr. King—Hey James and Senfronia, I’m really concerned for the future of Houston and I need your input. Would you please serve on my issues committee so we can work for a better city?
     
Mr. Rodriguez & Ms. Thompson—Why sure Bill. Let’s get going!
 
Of course, this kind of stuff is just how Houston is politically. So we’ll keep hope alive for Mr. Rodriguez until we see him in action a little longer. 
 
Below you see a picture of Mr. Rodriguez that recently ran in the Houston Chronicle. You see that Mr. Rodriguez is pondering the future. (That or he’s trying to remember if he turned  his stove off at home.)
 
What is Mr. Rodriguez  pondering?
 
Is he wondering when leadership in Houston’s Hispanic community will finally pass from yesterday’s men who wasted years fighting amongst themselves while people in the community needed help and political power? Is he wondering what he can do to help give Houston’s Hispanics the seat at the political table their numbers, energy, and abilities merit?….. Or is he thinking he’s got six years to serve as a councilmember, and he’d better make the right people happy so he can be well-postioned for higher office when term limits knock him off council?
 
I’ll wager Mr. Rodriguez is thinking about both helping people and about his own ambitions. We’ll see which side of that equation comes out the winner. Here’s hoping he is an okay person.      
 
( Below the photo of  Councilman Rodriguez is Gene Kelly in Singing In The Rain.)   
    
photo

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In Praise Of Gene Kelly & Outlaw Josey Wales

Two perennial candidates for office in Texas are Gene Kelly and Outlaw Josey Wales.

Mr. Kelly runs statewide and Mr. Wales runs for Mayor of Houston.

In the recently contested Texas primary, Mr. Kelly won 27% in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary against Rick Noriega. Mr. Noriega won the primary and avoided a runoff with 51% of the vote. 

Here is some information about Mr. Kelly from today’s Houston Chronicle.

Kelly is a reclusive retired military judge and lawyer from Universal City, a San Antonio suburb. He traditionally does little more than pay his filing fee, but apparently he wins votes because he has the same name as the late movie star and dancer.

Since 1990, Kelly has run for the Texas Supreme Court, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, attorney general and U.S. Senate.

In 2006, he forced Barbara Ann Radnofsky into a runoff in the Democratic U.S. Senate race. She overcame with “the dancer is dead” campaign, but the fact that she was in a runoff is believed to have cost her financial support from national Democratic donors.

Many candidates have an aspect of personal identity that wins them votes.

Did Mr. Noriega win votes because he is Hispanic? ( This no doubt cost him some votes as well.)

Some people voted for Barack Obama because he is black. Hillary Clinton gets some votes for being a woman and she has a famous last name. 

So what? That’s democracy for you. It’s a big spin of the wheel.  

It’s not Gene Kelly’s fault that by simply putting his name on the ballot he wins a quarter of the vote. I say more power to Mr. Kelly.  

If the party that likes to think of itself as the more “enlightened” party has to convince people that the actual “Singing in the Rain” Gene Kelly is not on the ballot–Well, then we have bigger problems than Mr. Kelly’s presence on the ballot. 

Here in Houston, I am a big fan of Outlaw Josey Wales.   

That’s his legal name.

Mr. Wales ran for Mayor of Houston last year. 

In 1999, I voted for Mr. Wales against incumbent Houston Mayor Lee Brown.

Mr. Brown was certain to win the election. I did not think so much of Mr. Brown. 

Once I convinced myself that Mr. Wales was not a right-wing kook, I figured what the hell? 

Two years later when Mr. Brown had a serious Republican challenger, I voted for Mr. Brown.

Here is what I said about Mr. Wales last October

As for Mr. Wales, self-creation and starting fresh are acts fully consistent with Houston and with politics.

He changed his name because he wanted to make some money. Good for him. I hope he made some money. If I thought I could make a lot of money by changing my name to Wyatt Earp, I would likely do so..   

Mr. Wales has had fewer names than former Texas Comptroller and candidate for Governor One Tough Grandma Carole Keeton Rylander Strayhorn…. 

Bloggers give themselves new names and made-up names all the time…

I don’t care what people choose to call themselves.    

Is Mr. Wales anymore or less stable than our civic Founding Father Sam Houston? Mr. Houston used to walk around Houston dressed as a cross between a frontiersman and an Indian. Sam Houston was, in his way, a serious and talented man.

Is Mr. Wales any more or less serious than the process of how we elect our city officials in Houston with silly six year term limits and terrible turnout? I think Mr. Wales might in fact be somewhat dignified for such a screwed-up process.  

Absurdity is a refuge from the day-to-day pain of life. As long as absurdity does not become detachment, what harm does it do?   

I look forward to seeing Mr. Kelly and Mr. Wales on the ballot many more times.    

March 6, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics, Texas, Texas Political History, Texas Primary '08 | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments