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Who Are The Good Democrats Tossed Overboard By John Whitmire, Mario Gallegos & Carol Alvarado In Houston’s Council District G?

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A few days ago I received a political mailing telling me that Democratic Texas State Senators John Whitmire and Mario Gallegos support Oliver Pennington to represent me in Houston’s Council District G. Not only that—Texas State Representative Carol Alvarado supports Mr. Pennington as well.

The thing is that Mr Pennington is a Republican.

The web site of the Harris County Republican Party says Mr. Pennington is a Republican

If you call Mr. Pennington’s campaign office they will tell you the same thing—Mr. Pennington is a Republican.

There are two good Democrats running in District G. Either merits your consideration on Election Day.

They merit your consideration despite the fact they have tossed overboard by some well-known Democrats.

(Above–Palinurus Overboard. From 1535 and painted by Francesco Xanto Avelli da Rovigo. Part of the collection at the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati.)

Dexter Handy is a 25 year military veteran and is endorsed by a number of local Democratic groups.

Richard Sedita is a registered nurse case manager who was a delegate for  Hillary Clinton at the 2008 Texas Democratic convention.

If you live in District G, or even if you don’t, please take the time to look at the campaign web homes of both these candidates. They both seem like decent people with lifelong commitments of service to others.

District G is likely to vote Republican for City Council in 2009. Though who can know for sure until the votes are counted?

There will be plenty of time for Mr. Whitmire, Mr. Gallegos and Ms. Alvarado to work with Mr. Pennington if he is elected.

Loyal Democrats like Mr. Handy and Mr. Sedita merit better from Democratic party leaders.

Now is the time for these elected officials to back one of the two good Democrats in this race.

October 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Consider The Progressive Coalition On Your 2009 Houston City Council Ballot

(l-r) Donald Cook, Deb Shafto, Alfred Molison

There is a “Progressive Coalition” of candidates running the Houston City Council in 2009.

Dan Cook (Left in photo)  is a candidate for At-Large Position #1.

Deborah Shafto (Center) is a candidate for At-Large Position #4.

Alfred Molison (Right) is a write-in candidate for District C.  (It is not clear to me why Mr. Molison could not get his name on the ballot in a district when the other two candidates could get on the ballot for citywide positions.)     

Here is the web home of the Progressive Coalition. 

Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner conducted an interview with these candidates. 

Here is part of the Progressive Coalition agenda—

· We want to give this international city the voice it deserves by using the “bully pulpit” of the Council to speak out on national and international issues that concern us as Houstonians: global warming, endless foreign wars, and poverty.

· We support single-payer health insurance and Rep. Conyer’s bill H.R. 676, which would save the City of Houston $163 million a year. We believe the City of Houston should use its influence and resources to push for it, too. We urge the passage of this resolution proposed by Health Care for All Texas.

· We support a city-wide mandated Living Wage.

That all sounds good to me.

Given how many people in Houston lack health insurance, health care reform in Washington is very much a local issue.  

From listening to the Democrats running for municipal offices in 2009,  you’d have a hard time thinking we have any liberals in our majority-Democratic city of Houston.

Candidates with a message can make a difference even with little chance of winning.  They can shape the debate and put issues on the agenda that might otherwise be ignored. 

Politics are at core about imagination. Something undone is seen as needing to be addressed, and plans are made to get the work done.

If you’re  lucky, it is an agenda that matches your own that is imagined and completed.

If you’re a liberal or progressive in Houston, you may have a long wait until issues of importance to you are taken up by Democrats running for city office.

Many of these Democratic candidates are good people. But low turnout in city elections, and a history of  few and low expectations by the Houston electorate, make strong liberal and progressive action unlikely from Houston City Hall.

It is up to us as citizens to change these expectations and to insist upon more.

If this is not possible in our majority-Democratic city in the age of Obama, where and when will it be possible?

October 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 7 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

Ronald Green Is Only Democrat Running For Houston City Controller—Take That For What It Is Worth To You

City Councilmember Ronald Green is the only Democrat running for Houston City Controller.

Here is a story about the candidates in the Houston Chronicle.

Mr. Green’s two opponents are Republicans. 

You can take this for what it is worth to you.

I’m not going to be voting for any Republican in the upcoming City of Houston elections.

Mr. Green offers nothing special to the people of Houston. He’s been a go-along-to-get-along member of council in his three terms at City Hall.

He’s been quiet when he should have been speaking our for greater social justice in our city. There is no reason a liberal or progressive should make much effort for his election.  

But Mr. Green is the only Democrat on that ballot and he likely can do the job well enough.

So I suppose I will vote for him to serve as our City Controller.

Here is Mr. Green’s campaign web home.

October 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Houston Mayoral Candidate Annise Parker Offers Plan For City Dog Pound, But Offers No Plan For Poverty And Houston’s Children

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The campaign web home of Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker, our current Houston City Controller, has plenty of information about what Ms. Parker would do about the city dog and animal pound if she is elected.

( Above—Annise Parker. Ms. Parker is a Democrat running for Mayor of Houston.)

What you won’t find at her campaign web home is any information about Ms. Parker’s approach to poverty in Houston if she is elected. Also, you won’t find what Ms. Parker would do to improve the lives of children in Houston.   

The city dog pound is a mess and it should be made right. It is an issue our next mayor needs to address.

But what about poor folks and all the poor children we have in Houston?

Here is some extensive data on poverty in Houston for 2007.

Some of the facts—

* Just over one-third of kids in Houston under the age of 5 in Houston lived in poverty in 2007. The number for Texas as a whole was just under 27%.

* Nearly one-fifth of all women aged 35-44 in Houston lived in poverty in 2007.

* Over 8% of people in Houston had an income less than that of half the poverty level in 2007.

With the hard economic times in 2008 and 2009, it is likely that these already bad numbers are now worse today.

Given the condition of so many of our people in Houston, is it any shock we mistreat dogs? 

Ms. Parker is a decent person. She’s right that the pound needs to be fixed. Yet there are even more pressing issues in Houston that Ms. Parker does not appear to be focused on at the moment.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Councilman Ed Gonzalez Should Help Clean 1218 Shepherd Drive

GonzalezPhoto

Above you see the Ed Gonzalez for Houston City Council sign located at 1218 Shepherd Drive in Houston.

Mr. Gonzalez is the District H member of Houston City Council. He is running this November to keep his seat on council. 

I’ll assume that Councilman Gonzalez and the Gonzalez campaign got permission from the property owner to attach that sign to that fence. I’m certain the campaign did not just come around and stick a sign up on vacant property.

So even though–of course–the sign has been placed there legally, I wonder why Mr. Gonzalez does not report this property to the city for possible citation. This location is a public eyesore! (Please click here to see all the litter behind the fence at this address.) 

Though I do suppose reporting the property would be a knife-in-the-back of the property owner. Maybe the Gonzalez campaign could pay back the  owner for his or her loyal support by offering to clean the area behind the fence.

Maybe Gonzalez campaign volunteers could walk this stretch of Shepherd and make it nicer for all the people of Houston.  

For the moment however, what you see is the Gonzalez for Council campaign as it is represented at 1218 Shepherd Drive.

July 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Houston Council Candidate Karen Derr Should Help Clean 1218 Shepherd Drive

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Above you see the Karen Derr for Houston City Council sign located at 1218 Shepherd Drive in Houston.

Ms. Derr is running for Council At-Large position #1. As you can see on the sign, her campaign web home is KarenForCouncil.org.  

We’ll assume that Ms. Derr and the Derr campaign got permission from the property owner to attach that sign to that fence. I’m certain the campaign did not just come around and stick a sign up on vacant property.

( Please click here to see who else is making use of this fence.)

So even though–of course–the sign has been placed there legally, I do wonder why Ms. Derr or the Derr campaign does not report this property to the city for possible citation. This location is a public eyesore!

Though I do suppose reporting the property would be a knife-in-the-back of the property owner. Maybe the Derr campaign could pay back the  owner for his or her loyal support by offering to clean the area behind the fence.

Maybe Derr campaign volunteers could walk this stretch of Shepherd and make it nicer for all the people of Houston.  

For the moment however, what you see is the Derr for Council campaign as it is represented at 1218 Shepherd Drive.

July 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Houston Council Candidate Noel Freeman Reponds To This Blog

Blogger’s Note—Last week I made a post about Houston City Council Candidate Noel Freeman. Please click here to read that post. Mr. Freeman is running for at-large place #4. Here is his campaign web home.

Mr. Freeman has been kind enough to respond to the questions I asked in my post. He has even highlighted my questions in bold lettering. What I like most about Mr. Freeman’s reply is his very first line where he says “Thank you for the wonderful post about me.”  These are the words of a great statesperson. I’d liken the insight involved  with such words to De Gaulle’s decision to grant independence to Algeria. ( Above–De Gaulle)

At some point soon I will comment on what Mr. Freeman has had to say. At the moment though my in-laws are in town and we’re going to the art museum.  

Mr. Freeman’s reply—

Thank you for the wonderful post about me. I enjoyed meeting you, and wish I had been able to dedicate time to responding to your questions earlier. Be warned, my post is a long one.

I have worked for in the Public Works Department for nearly five years and have been dedicated to resolving problems and making our City work better for my fellow Houstonians. Simply put, I’m not running to just get elected to something; I’m running to make a difference in the way our City operates and to make a positive impact on the lives of others and to build a stronger future for our City.

Every candidate has their stump speech, sound bites and usual rhetoric, but many of them don’t have the extensive knowledge of how our City functions on a daily basis or the experience getting results across our City’s government that I do.

With that, I will get to your questions.

“What will he do to make the Democratic party in Houston more responsive to the needs and hopes of all Houstonians?”

Let me start by saying that I really do appreciate the officially non-partisan nature of our elections for City Council. There are so many issues that transcend political party affiliation, and I intend to be a strong representative of all Houstonians, not just Democrats.

However, I think that the Democratic Party here in Houston has struggled for a very long time with getting certain parts of its base out to vote. The demographics of those who vote do not reflect the demographics of the City as a whole. I want to work with the party to find new ways to engage communities with historically low voter turnout and get them engaged in the political process. We have to take ownership of our future, and the only way to do that is to be actively engaged in the process.

Continue reading

April 7, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Houston Council Candidate Noel Freeman

Noel Freeman is running for At-Large position 4 on the Houston City Council. Mr. Freeman is a Democrat.

Above you see a picture of Mr. Freeman. He is in front of Houston City Hall. Mr. Freeman works for the Department of Public Works in Houston.

What was Mr. Freeman thinking while posing for this picture? He looks serious enough, but he might have been thinking of something silly.

I think Mr. Freeman was thinking about this truck full of puppies you see below.

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Mr. Freeman first attracted my regal notice by making a friend request on Facebook. Blogging is an act of vanity and I’m glad for all attention.      

Mr. Freeman and I later exchanged messages on Facebook regarding the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library  in College Station, Texas. I’d mentioned I was thinking of visiting the library and Mr. Freeman said such a visit would be worth my time.

Reading about Mr. Freeman on Facebook, I learned he is a graduate of Texas A & M in College Station.  

Checking out his campaign web home, I learned he is a member of the Houston Area Stonewall Democrats.

I never get tired of telling people that I was a Stonewall Cincinnati endorsed candidate for the Cincinnati Board of Education in 1997.

Mr. Freeman is a former Republican who supported Barack Obama in 2008. He had a conversion. 

Below is how Michelangelo painted St. Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus.

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 Mr. Freeman addressed his political switch in a comment on the Houston blog Dos Centavos.

I’ve linked to Mr. Freeman’s campaign web home up at the top of this post. You can see what he is saying. Of course what Mr. Freeman is saying at his web home is what many candidates for office in Houston say.

Mr. Freeman loves Houston. Mr. Freeman is for safe streets. Mr. Freeman is for a strong economy in Houston.

And that’s great—I’m glad Mr. Freeman has these views.  

Regular readers here know I have a longstanding concern that the Democratic Party in Houston—and in cities across the nation— use minority voters without offering much in return for the loyalty at the polls. I’ve also said that the concerns of Houston’s many poor people are ignored at election time.   

I’d like to see Mr. Freeman please address these issues. What will he do to make the Democratic party in Houston more responsive to the needs and hopes of all Houstonians?   

Houston is a Democratic city. Many council races this year will be fought out between Democrats. I’d like to know what Mr. Freeman sees as the role of the Democratic Party in Houston. 

Politics is at core an act of imagination. You envision something that does not yet exist and you work to make it real. What does Mr. Freeman see as undone in our city? There people in our city who are not on the agenda at City Hall. What will Mr. Freeman do to get them on the agenda?     

I recently met Mr. Freeman for the first time. He seems like an okay guy. He said if I had any questions I should get in touch. All righty—I can do that. I’m going to place the link to this post on his Facebook page and see what he says in reply. I’ll keep the blog reading public updated on this matter.  

(Below—The Bush Library in College Station.) 

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March 26, 2009 Posted by | Art, Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments