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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

Houston Council At-Large #2 Candidate Bolivar Fraga On All Sides—He Can Call Harris County GOP At 713-838-7900 To Clear Up The Confusion

Houston At-Large #2 City Council Candidate Bolivar Fraga appears to be playing all sides.

The Harris County Republican Party website lists Mr. Fraga as a Republican.

This would make sense as Mr. Fraga voted in the 2010 Republican Primary.

However, Mr. Fraga told Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner in an interview that  he voted in the Republican primary to support one candidate in particular.

Mr. Fraga told Mr. Kuffner that other than in 2010 he has voted in Democratic primaries. You can find the exchange on this topic in the 11th minute  of Mr. Kuffner’s interview with Mr. Fraga.

At the same time, we find that Mr. Fraga has been endorsed by the conservative C Club of Houston.

The C Club of Houston says right at the top of its website that it has a goal of  “Keeping Houston Politics Fiscally Conservative…”  

Here is Mr. Fraga’s website.  Maybe you see virtues in his campaign and you would like to cast your ballot for him in our municipal elections. That is your call.

What I would say is this—Mr. Fraga is looking to take advantage of the fact that he is a relative unknown to create different impressions with different voting groups.

With this being the case, how can anybody have confidence in the things Mr. Fraga asserts in his campaign?

Mr. Fraga tells Mr. Kuffner that he is a Democrat.

Mr. Kuffner’s blog is strongly on the side of Democratic candidates.

Mr. Fraga tells the C Club that he is on board with a conservative agenda.

The C Club stands with conservatives.

If Mr. Fraga is a Democrat, he can call the Harris County Republican Party at 713-838-7900 and ask them to list him as a Democrat rather than as a Republican.

Many will tell you that Houston municipal elections are non-partisan.

While it is true that party identification is not on the ballot, candidates are free to identify themselves with one party or another as they campaign.

There are partisan differences in how cities deliver basic services.

Cities can decide to work with unions or to fight unions. Cities can decide to layoff people or to value municipal employees. Cities can work hard for green initiatives in how operate on a daily basis, or they can ignore more environmentally friendly ways of operating.

Mr. Fraga’s course so far in this campaign leaves all voters uncertain of where he stands on issues before Houston.

September 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Who Is Running In 2011 City Of Houston Elections?

Houston municipal elections are just weeks away.

(Above–Photo montage of Houston by Yassie.

October 11 is the last day to register to vote.

Early voting runs October 24–November 4.

Election Day is November 8.

Voters in Houston will be selecting a Mayor, the City Controller, 5 at-large citywide Council positions, and 11 district Council seats.

(Update 10/25/11—Here are my endorsements for Houston in 2011)

Who are the candidates?

There are some useful resources online for you to get the lay of the land.

Fellow Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has a list posted of the candidates and of what groups have endorsed the candidates.  Charles has also conducted interviews with many of the candidates.These interviews can also be accessed at the link above.

The Harris County Republican Party has a very helpful list of the candidates with the party identification of each candidate.

The Harris County Democratic Party—damned near useless in municipal elections as always—has a list of candidates that offers no clues at all as to who is a Democrat.

The Harris County Green Party has a web site as well.  There are two Green candidates in 2011.

While candidates are not listed by party on the city ballot, nothing prohibits candidates for Houston city office from saying what party they represent.

Party identification is a core political question that tells voters a number of things about a candidate.

I don’t know why the Harris County Democratic Party does not promote itself and all the Democratic candidates on the ballot  more aggressively in City of Houston elections.

Most people in Houston vote Democratic in most elections.

You would think that given how lousy turnout is in city elections year-after-year, that the Democratic Party would want to expand the number of people who take part in these elections.

You would think this would be even more the case as the 2012 elections approach. Democrats will have positions to gain and to defend in Harris County in 2012.

While I do not believe that Barack Obama will win Texas in 2012, there is no reason to concede 14 months before the election. You never know. Houston is the largest city in Texas. Should not every effort be made to mobilize likely Democratic voters in Houston?

I suppose though that if the local Democratic establishment did really try to expand turnout , they might have to start to answer questions about why our local Democrats are silent about a near 50% child poverty rate in Houston.

And, of course, we would not want partisanship to get in the way of Democratic Mayor Annise Parker’s outreach to Republicans.

Mayor Parker’s 70% victory with 15% turnout is going to be of cold comfort should Republicans make major gains in Harris County in 2012 and if Rick Perry is elected President.

As we progress towards Election Day, I’m going to have more on the candidates and on who liberals and progressives can support with some measure of enthusiasm.

I’m afraid that may not be a very long list.

In any case, it is up to each voter to learn about the candidates and to ask questions of the candidates during the election season.

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

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Democrats, Liberals & Others Have The Right And The Obligation To Ask More Of Annise Parker

According the Facebook of Republican Texas State Senator Dan Patrick, Houston Mayor Annise Parker was the only Democrat to attend the Lincoln-Reagan Day fundraiser of the Harris County Republican Party.

How you view this fact could be a kind of Rorschach Test.

(Above–Rorschach Test. I see a polar bear climbing Mt. Everest.)

It could be that Mayor Parker was conning Republicans as she works to fend off possible challengers in the 2011 election.

It could that Mayor Parker is a political moderate and that she is reaching out to voters of all parties.

It could be that Mayor Parker is deserting Democratic voters for political reasons even though she was elected Mayor in 2009 as a Democrat.

In any case, Democrats, progressives and liberals have the right to ask more of the Mayor in what was a  61% Obama city in the 2008 election.

How is that Mayor Parker can attend a Republican fundraiser where Senator Patrick and Mike Huckabee took the stage to play a tune, but she could not attend the rally outside Houston City Hall last week to address the sharp cuts to vital public services being considered in the ongoing session of the Texas legislature.

Democrats, progressives, liberals, and others who would reliably vote for Democrats, merit a Mayor who consistently addresses basic questions of economic fairness and opportunity in Houston.

Given the wide  divide between the two major  parties at the moment, and given the strong divisions between the parties on civil rights questions that Mayor Parker has championed in the past, you have to wonder what the Mayor is sacrificing for the rest of us as she seeks the political support of the Republican far-right in Houston.

(Below–Senator Patrick (left) and Mike Huckabee (right) jamming at the Lincoln-Reagan Day Harris County Republican Fundraiser.)

March 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Who Are The Democrats Running For Houston City Offices In 2009?

Who are the Democrats running in our upcoming Houston city elections?

This can be hard to figure out because many candidates for Houston city office shy away from party identification. It seems as if they are trying to trick voters.

Folks will tell you our city elections are supposed to be non-partisan. It is true that party ID is not listed on the ballot. However, none of this means that individual candidates or county parties cannot address the subject.

What political party a candidate supports matters at all levels of government. City budgets reflect public priorities and, as such, moral values. Issues such as housing and health need to be addressed in Houston. City workers must make decent wages. 

Public office provides a platform for officeholders to address topics such as poverty and the environment. It matters who has access to this platform. 

It is a clear statement of values whether someone voted for Barack Obama or John McCain last November. I don’t want elected officials who feel Sarah Palin should be Vice President of the United States. 

I want the values and policies I support represented at City Hall. Elections should offer real choices. 

The Harris County Democratic Party has a list of city candidates. This list is not fully useful in trying to determine who is a Democrat. The Harris County Democratic Party list tells who is a “sustaining member” of the party.   

This is fine as far as it goes. But candidates such as Noel Freeman for At-Large Position 4 and Richard Sedita in Council District G are Democrats even if the party feels they have not given enough money to be listed as such. The Democratic list offers no clues beyond who has donated.

The Harris County Republican Party has a party identification list for candidates running in Houston in 2009. The listings are based upon what ballot a candidate took in the 2008 primary season. This list also has the party ID for candidates in local school races and for candidates running in the smaller cities and towns of Harris County.    

The Republican list is more helpful than the Democratic list.

There is also a slate of Progressive candidates running in Houston for 2009. These candidates merit a look. 

Where there is more than one candidate from the same party running for the same office, you may need to do some studying. 

Just because a candidate says he or she is of the same party you generally support, does not mean that person has an automatic right to your vote.

These things said, party identification is a useful starting point when deciding who to vote for on the upcoming Houston ballot.

October 13, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment