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 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.
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.
NAACP And Many Others To Stand At Houston City Hall On 3/25 For Justice In Trayvon Martin Case And For Justice For All
There will be a protest later today at Houston City Hall to call for justice in the Trayvon Martin case.
While Trayvon was shot and killed in Florida, his death is a matter of national concern.
I will be attending this event.
We’ve got to stick together and show up for each other when times are difficult.
We don’t always do that in Houston and in the nation. The rights and freedoms of all people are connected.
I encourage you to take part in this protest at Houston City Hall.
Here are details of the City Hall protest—
On Sunday, March 25, Houston will join the official Justice for Trayvon Martin Movement. The Houston Unites for Justice Rally happens Sunday at 3PM at City Hall’s Reflection Pool, 901 Bagby Street, in Downtown Houston.
The event is organized by the NAACP-Houston Branch, Rev. Reginald Lillie-President and Texas NAACP, Gary Bledsoe-President. Partnering organizations and officials include, area Churches, the Houston Urban League-Judson Robinson, Executive Director, LULAC-Mary Ramos, President, Local Unions, Greek fraternities and sororities, Congressional Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green, and a host of other officials and groups.
Houstonians of diverse races and affiliations are passionate about expressing our outrage and righteous resolve to see that justice is done in this matter. We join the National Movement calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman and a thorough investigation of the Sanford Police Department.
To… ask questions please contact the NAACP Chairman of Religious Affairs, Bishop James Dixon at (713) 688-2900, extension 224 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or Yolanda Smith at the Houston Branch at (713) 545-9696.
There will be an Occupy Houston Protest this upcoming Tuesday, 2/28. The focus of the protest is the ongoing national official repression of the Occupy Wall Street movement. This protest will address specifically events in Houston as detailed below.
Here is the Occupy Houston website. There is also an Occupy Houston Facebook page.
Here are details of this event—
Stop the Suppression of the Occupy Movement
Tuesday, February 28 Hermann Square Park
No Rubber Bullets, No Beatings, No Tear Gas, No Mass Arrests, Don’t Suppress OWS!
Please join Occupy Houston in answering the Call for Mass Action Against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement.
On Tuesday, February 28th, Occupy Houston will be standing in National Solidarity to give voice to our concerns over the suppression and to show that no matter what, WE WILL STAND TOGETHER. Even though the Occupy Movement has faced police brutality and harassment, mass evictions, excessive criminal charges, infiltration, and even been labeled as domestic terrorists, we are not going away. We will strengthen our bonds within our communities and with each other. We will push forward in our struggle against the corporate corruption of our democracy. On Feb 28, we stand together in solidarity and prove You Cannot Evict An Idea Whose Time Has Come.
Schedule of Events
2:00 Houston City Council Public Comment- Sign up, before 1:30 pm on Tuesday, to get on stack and voice your objection to the suppression of the Occupy Movement. The number is: 832-393-1100.
“We object to…”
1. The City’s alterations of the Hermann Square Park scheduled hours targeting & limiting Occupiers’ rights to free speech & assembly
2. Police Harassment of Occupiers
3. The City’s excessive charges that are deliberate attempts to intimidate into silence the peaceful protestors of Occupy
4. The lack of cooperation from the City with #OH’s right to use public space to peaceably assemble, day or night
5. Ask the city to not be involved in this National effort to suppress the Occupy Movement
Gather at Hermann Square Park in front of City Hall.
Don’t forget your signs.
Get on stack and use this time to show what Occupy means to you.
What lit the spark for you to become involved with Occupy?
I Occupy because…
I support Occupy because…
I am the 99% because….
“Movements grow, and can only grow, by answering repression with even greater and more powerful mobilization.”
Did you know that Houston city parks have designated “First Amendment Expression Areas?”
(Above–Houston City Hall Plaza is well-protected from any misplaced outbreak of free speech.)
They sure do.
You might have thought that every part of a Houston city park was a “First Amendment Expression Area.”
You’d be wrong at least as we are told by our Houston Parks and Recreation Department.
From the Parks and Recreation Department—
“First Amendment Expression Areas are open to users for exercise of their First Amendment rights during park hours. Locations of First Amendment Expression Areas are listed below in alphabetic order. Although it is not a requirement of the area’s use, it is recommended that all users register to avoid conflicts. Users must register with the HPARD Permits Office (832) 395-7012 in order to reserve the area in advance.”
Right. The bold type is from the Parks Department.
You don’t have to get a permit. But you should. Imagine the problem if two citizens of Houston wished to exercise First Amendment rights at the same time? And remember– First Amendment activity is allowed only in the designated area and only during certain hours.
To give you a sense of this, here is how the free speech area is described for Brentwood Park in Houston—
“The area inside of the red square only is considered the First Amendment Expression Area. This is a 10ft x 10ft square located at Latitude: 29°38’9.39″N Longitude: 95°26’7.82″W”
It’s not enough to know that Brentwood Park is at 13220 Landmark here in Houston. You’ve also got to know about Latitude: 29°38’9.39″N Longitude: 95°26’7.82″W to exercise your First Amendment rights at Brentwood Park.
The free speech area at Brentwood Park is a 1oft X 10ft square.
How about City Hall Plaza?
You have some free speech rights at City Hall Plaza. Here is a link to a picture of where you have First Amendment Rights at City Hall Plaza.
In case the picture is not clear, let me help you out with information from the City of Houston about the free speech area at City Hall Plaza—
“The area inside of the red square only is considered the First Amendment Expression Area. This is a 10ft x 10ft square located at Latitude: 29°45’35.95″N Longitude: 95°22’8.55″W”
I wonder if all the corporate lobbyists who come in and out of Houston City Hall have to come outside and to discuss what they want from city officials in the free speech zone?
Here is the text of the First Amendment—
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
How many of these rights are restricted in Houston parks?
Has anyone been cited for engaging in free speech or any other First Amendment activity outside the First Amendment zone?
How long have these zones been in effect?
Why does the City of Houston feel these zones are needed?
(Below—The Houston Parks and Recreation Department is quite serious when they tell you it is “Our Park.” Here is the free speech area for Our Park.)
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.
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”
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.
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.
Who Can Liberals & Progressives Support In 2011 City Of Houston Elections?—Who Is Running For Houston City Council?
It is time for our Houston municipal elections.
(Above–Houston City Hall.)
Early voting runs October 24-November 4. General Election Day is November 8.
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.
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.)
(Below–Recent picture of ongoing drought in Houston as seen in Memorial Park. The grassroots have dried up. Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino)
Council At-Large #1–Incumbent Stephen Costello plays all sides of the political aisle while Green Don Cook does not work hard in his campaigns. Mr. Costello’s Renew Houston plan addresses the serious issue of flooding in Houston, but is also regressive in how it is funded and makes little effort to include green solutions in the plan. I’m leaving my ballot blank in this race.
Council At Large #2–I’m supporting Jennifer Rene Pool in this 10 candidate race. She will occasionally say liberal and progressive things. Maybe she means some of them.
Council At-Large #3–Incumbent Melissa Noriega is a thoughtful person and has my support.
Council At-Large #4–Green Amy Price is an energetic and upbeat. She works hard to learn the issues and will be a councilmember who seeks solutions and who listens. Incumbent Democrat C.O. Bradford has on his balance sheet his terrible administration of the crime lab when he was Houston’s police chief, and his calls for austerity-type budgeting for Houston.
Council At-Large #5–Only you know if you want to support Jolanda Jones for one last term. She is always involved in some type of fuss. Sometimes it seems to be her fault, while other times it is not her fault. In any case, you wish that Ms.Jones was a more disciplined and effective advocate for the poor and disenfranchised in Houston. Her story on Council seems in good part to be of an opportunity missed. After some thought, I’ve decided I’m going to vote for Ms. Jones. Ms. Jones made a recent visit to Occupy Houston and I appreciate that fact. I’m not aware of any other incumbent city official who has done the same.
Council District C-–I live in this district. Karen Derr is a more progressive option than Ellen Cohen. I’m going to be voting Ms. Derr. Ms. Cohen is a fund-raising machine who in the recent past has accepted campaign funds from gay marriage opponent Bob Perry. I’d rather have a fresh voice in City Hall rather than a candidate who seems to have the advantage in part due to her friendship with Mayor Parker, and in part due to her ability to raise a lot of money from big donors. Ms. Cohen gives the impression of being an incumbent even before she is elected.
Council District H–I don’t live in this district. However, incumbent Ed Gonzalez merits mention as a decent person and as someone open to hearing voices on all sides of a debate.
There are also 10 amendments to the Texas Constitution on the ballot. Here is my in-depth analysis of these propositions.
There are 2 resources that stand out when considering our city elections. These resources cover all the Houston district council seats up for election in 2011.
Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has a page at his blog Off The Kuff with his interviews of many of the candidates. This page also has links to the websites of the candidates and listings of selections by the various interest groups that endorse in city elections.
Houston city elections often seem to be a taxpayer-financed subsidy for a political class of consultants, city contract seekers, and all-purpose opportunists who all have little do with everyday life in Houston.
That said, you should still go and vote. I don’t have the heart to tell you otherwise.
The work of freedom and democracy is up to each of us.
Vote in Houston in 2011 and then commit yourselves to making our local democracy better.
Pictures From The First Day Of Occupy Houston—Learn About The Occupy Effort On Your Own And Determine What You Think
Today I attended the Occupy Houston event in Downtown Houston.
(Update 10/7/11–Here is an update on day two of Occupy from the Houston Chronicle.)
Though Houston police estimated the crowd to have been about 200, I think the crowd was larger than that. It may have been closer to 500 at the beginning.
In any case, the event had some energy and it felt like a good start.
Houston police officers were helpful. They helped the march run well.
In Ohio, the Republican governor and the Republican state legislature essentially ended the right of police officers to collectively bargain. Police officers are working people just like anybody else.
If the Tea Party/Republican Party will mess with politically popular police unions, what chance do other working people have with wages and worker’s rights?
Below are some pictures I took of Occupy Houston —
Below are folks this morning organizing for the day ahead at Market Square Park.
From Market Square Park, people walked to the Chase building Downtown and rallied there for a time. Below are people at the Chase Building.
From the Chase building, people went to Houston City Hall. Below are folks in front of Houston City Hall.
Here again are Occupy Houston backers at Houston City Hall.
This fellow citizen you see below took the work of freedom and democracy into his own hands. This is the type of effort that reflects well on free citizens of any ideological leaning.
Below are some of the signs from Occupy Houston.
The plan is for Occupy Houston to camp out at Hermann Square in front of Houston City Hall.
Over time I imagine there will be public speakers and other events at that location.
What will constitute success for this effort?
This is not clear as of yet.
The Occupy Wall Street effort and other such efforts across the nation, have helped put issues of corporate greed and the declining condition of the American worker back on the table.
These are the issues we need to be discussing rather than more cuts and austerity.
Occupy Houston is taking donations to keep the operation going for the long haul.
There are also Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Houston pages on Facebook. There are Occupy pages for many cities on Facebook.
Take the time to look around the web for yourself to see where this cause is headed.
It may flame out or it may last for a long time.
From Bloomberg Businessweek–
“The Occupy Wall Street protests came to Washington today, as marchers gathered near the White House and President Barack Obama said the demonstrations are “giving voice” to frustrations with the financial system. “The American people understand that not everybody’s been following the rules, that Wall Street is an example of that,” Obama said at a White House press conference. He stopped short of endorsing the movement that began three weeks ago in Lower Manhattan and has spread to cities from Houston to San Francisco with the help of postings on Twitter and websites.”
Mother Jones magazine has a great interactive map of Occupy events across our great nation. This link also includes a timeline of the Occupy protests.
The issue is not resentment of the rich. The issue is the ability to get a good job in America. The overwhelming number of people in America just want to work and be able to earn a decent living.
The crowd in Houston today was good-natured and hopeful. The police were helpful. More passing motorists honked in support than yelled out something nasty.
If you are in the Houston area, go down to Hermann Square and see what is happening. Follow Occupy Houston on the web and on Facebook.
No matter where you are—You can learn about this movement on your own and determine what you think.
My own view is that it is great to have a possible counterweight to the Tea Party, and it is great that everyday people are getting involved in the work of taking back our country from big money.
How are drastic cuts in education funding going to help Texas children prosper in the global economy? Isn’t it hard enough for young adults to get a start in the changing world economy?
If you live in the Houston-area and Alief ISD area, there is a free bus you can take to the protest.
Here are facts about this bus—
What: Alief to Austin bus for Save Texas School rally at the Capitol
When: Saturday, March 12. 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM
Where: LeRoy Crump Stadium parking lot, 4214 Cook, Houston, TX (map)
RSVP: Natali. Lacasa@gmail.com
(Below–Buffalo High School is in Buffalo, Texas. Buffalo is in Leon County. Buffalo is “Where the mighty bison roam.”)
Here are details about others folks in Texas planning to help people get to the rally. There is another Houston-area location on this list.
Here is a history of education in Texas from the excellent Handbook of Texas Online. You always have the option to learn more.
(Below—Amarillo High School is in Amarillo. Amarillo I.S.D. says — “Our mission is to graduate every student prepared for success beyond high school.”)
Regardless of if you attend the rally or not, there are steps you can take to fight for Texas kids and for a better future for Texas. Please consider the list below as a model for all sorts of citizen-action that you ,and the people you know, have the ability to complete. Here is the Save Texas Education Funding site that is the source of this list.
(The good folks at Save Texas Education Funding want you to know that they are a non-partisan group and that they seek the support of all Texans.)
1. Write to your legislators by mail or fax using a letter template
2. Email your legislators using the same letter template
3. Call your legislators (this will only take you 5 minutes or less per call)
4. Contact the members of the Education and Appropriations Committees. If you mail a letter to the Committee Chairman, you can include a sticky note asking the Aide to distribute a copy of your letter to all members of the Committee.
5. Meet with your legislators
7. Attend the “Save Texas Schools Rally” in Austin on March 12th
8. Attend the Legislative Day in Austin on Monday, March 14th (free bus transportation, lunch and training will be provided, but no children permitted to attend): http://www.texasedfunding.com/home/activities/legislative-meeting-day (Emailsusan.email@example.com to RSVP by March 1st)
9. Join an Email Distribution List for updates by emailing TexasEdFunding@gmail.com. Join the Facebook group: Texans for Public Education Funding
10. Ask your children to write letters to Governor Perry and Legislators
And Finally: Email everyone you know (even outside Texas) to inform them of the issues and ask for them to take the above actions as well. Spread the word to Save Texas Schools!
We all have the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes you value, and even run for office yourself. It is up to you to do the work of freedom and to make progress for the future in our state of Texas.
Statewide Save Texas Schools Rally In Austin On March 12—Texas Progressive Alliance Blogger Round-Up
Blogger’s Note–3/1/11–Updated post with new facts about the rally.
Here is the most recent edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political citizen-bloggers in Texas.
On Saturday,March 12, a Save Texas Schools rally and march will be held at the State Capitol in Austin. This event will begin at noon. There is hope that this will be a good-sized protest with people coming to Austin from all over the state.
On Tuesday, March 15, there will be a Texans Day of Outrage protest at Houston City Hall. This event will take place at 4:30 PM.
Be certain to pass on word of these rallies to your friends and neighbors.
There has already been a rally at the Capitol against harsh immigration measures that some in the legislature are proposing.
I’m certain this is a very incomplete list. If you are aware of an upcoming event anywhere in Texas, please leave a comment.
It is likely the pace of protests will pick up as the legislature begins to seriously consider bills and to take important votes.
It is up to each of us to do the hard work of freedom. Do you want to be out-worked and out-organized by the Tea Party/Republican Party yet again?
Let’s get to work now. Not just for the issues being discussed in the legislature at the moment, but also for the fights ahead and for 2012.
We can flood the Capitol just like we are seeing in Wisconsin. We can fight back and make progress.
Letters From Texas reports on a note that a pregnant woman sent to Texas state Senator Leticia Van de Putte, as the Senate prepared to pass the sonogram bill, and as the woman prepared to leave for the hospital to deliver her baby. Surprise #1: the woman is against the bill. Surprise #2: so is her father. Surprise #3: her father is another Texas state Senator.
This week the Legislative Study Group released an updated version of the “Texas on the Brink”, Eye On Williamson had this to say: for Texas to get off the brink, we must fight for the impossible.
A gaggle of Houston bloggateers met with Metro’s CEO and board membersand discussed the many changes the transit authority has completed in the past year. PDiddie from Brains and Eggs was there and filed a report. Continue reading
Some good local blog coverage of Houston politics is being done by David Ortez.
(Above–Houston City Hall. Here is some good history of Houston City Hall at City Mayors.com. City Mayors is well worth checking out—You’ll find a lot of information world cities and the people who run them.)
Not only is David running a fine blog, I met David for the first time a few days ago and he was not annoying. David was okay and I hope to see him again soon.
David writes the blog David Ortez–A Political/Social Thought Blog.
That is pretty good naming the blog after yourself. I never considered that when I started Texas Liberal. Seeing how David has named his blog, I wish I had given that idea some thought.
David is going to work hard in the campaign season ahead to inform you–the blog reading public–about our races for Mayor of Houston and Houston City Council. Please check out what he is doing and offer him your support.