Texas Liberal

All People Matter

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

Noel Freeman For Houston At-Large Seat #4—I Wish I Had Something I Could Put On My Car For Mr. Freeman

I support Noel Freeman for Houston City Council At-Large # 4.

I support Mr. Freeman even though he is not as far to the left as I am.

Mr. Freeman offers a solid mix of experience and personal qualities that will well- serve the people of Houston.

Please click here to learn more about Mr. Freeman’s campaign.

Mr. Freeman has been an employee of the City of Houston since 2004. He has worked in the Public Works and Engineering Department and, also, in the Office of the City Engineer.

From day one on City Council, Mr. Freeman will bring a strong understanding of how to assist citizens of Houston in dealing with city government. He will offer comprehensive knowledge of infrastructure issues facing Houston.

In 2009, Mr. Freeman completed studies for a Masters in Public Administration from Norwich University. Mr. Freeman has a Political Science degree from Texas A & M. Mr. Freeman served in Operation Desert Fox as a member of the U.S. Air Force. 

Mr. Freeman was for many years a Republican. As he reflected on the politics of our nation and on his views about public policy, Mr. Freeman became a Democrat. He lists himself on his Facebook profile as a “Moderate Democrat.”

There is something to be said about a person who thinks things out and changes his views. It’s not just that Mr. Freeman came to a point closer to where I am on the ideological spectrum—Though he still has plenty of room for a further shift to the left—it is that Mr. Freeman thought stuff out, saw the facts, and was open to changing his mind.    

A mix of concern over fixed-principles along with open-mindedness is a great combination in a person and in a political leader. It is a sign of personal strength.

These personal qualities along with his knowledge of how Houston works make Noel Freeman an excellent candidate for Houston City Council.

Wanting to show my support, I called Mr. Freeman’s campaign office a few days ago looking for a bumper sticker. The gentleman on the phone said they were not doing bumper stickers for the campaign.

Okay–But I sure wish I had a way to express my support for Mr. Freeman on my car. If Mr. Freeman or someone in his campaign happens to read this post, could they help me out with that?

I’d put a big magnet sign on my car door if they had something like that. Whatever. Anything that does not peel the paint. I’m on the road an average of 40 miles a day and plenty of people would see the car.  

Please click here to learn more about Mr. Freeman’s campaign.

(Below–Car with many bumper stickers. Not my car.)

September 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Houston’s District H Council Race Makes Me Ill

As part of a determined effort to kill my blog traffic, I’m going to write again about Houston’s Council District  H runoff election.

District H held a special election last week to fill a council vacancy.  In this election, the district’s educated Anglo voters in the Heights neighborhood teamed up with the district’s politically underrepresented Hispanic voters to generate a turnout of something like 5 %. 

( Here is a story about people in India voting despite attacks from Maoist guerrillas.) 

Because who cares?

As long as you can send your own kid to a Montessori pre-school who gives a shit if the Latino kid a few miles away has limited prospects in life?

Just because you’ve been treated like crap for hundreds of years doesn’t  mean you should change that fact. Stay home! Why not?!?  

The District H race last week offered voters the chance to put a second Latino Councilmember on Houston City Council. Houston is a 40% Latino city with one Hispanic Councilmember out of 14 members.

The upcoming runoff offers voters the same chance to elect a Hispanic.

Now one should not vote for someone just based on ethnic group. But ethnic loyalty in minority communities is often a factor in how people vote in these communities. Political representation is a visible and important symbol that ethnic groups have arrived as important participants in urban politics.

Is there unity among Hispanic Democrats in Houston?

That’s crazy talk! 

My fellow blogger Charles Kuffner writes today about a defeated Hispanic challenger in District H endorsing runoff candidate Maverick Welsh over opponent Ed Gonzalez. 

Maybe the endorsement was based fully on a weighing of the merits of each contender, but it seems quite likely that factional disputes among Hispanic Democrats played some part in the endorsement.

These factional disputes go back many years in Houston’s Hispanic community. The people involved in these disputes for all these years should reflect on the harm they have done to a community they say they are serving.

I don’t live in District H. With both candidates being Democrats, I don’t care who wins the June 13 runoff. I write about it because the whole thing makes me sick on a variety of levels.

People should turn out to vote. People should care who governs their city. People should have some sense of loyalty and respect for each other in gaining a political foothold in a city. That’s what people do in a normal healthy city and community.

Here is the link for Maverick Welsh.

Here is the link for Ed Gonzalez 

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Houston District H Council Race—Nobody Gave A Damn

Last week there was a special election to fill a vacant seat in Houston City Council District H.

Of 93,000 eligible voters, around 4,200 people showed up.

This despite the fact that at stake was the chance to add a second Hispanic to council. There is only one Hispanic on council despite the fact that something like 40% of our people in Houston are Hispanic.

Local bloggers Charles Kuffner and Marc Campos suggested an issue in the outcome of the race was the location of early voting centers.

Here is Mr. Kuffner’s comment. 

Here is what Mr. Campos had to say.

Now in a narrow sense the location of the voting machines may have impacted the outcome of the race. But that is missing the larger story.

When you get 7% turnout the issue is not early voting locations, it is the fact that nobody cared about the election.

It’s a culture within the city as a whole that says who serves on City Council does not matter. It’s years of infighting within the Hispanic political class that have helped hold back the advancement of Hispanic political power.

It is campaigns that fail to motivate voters. It’s minority elected officials okay with low voter turnout because they can be elected every two years without real opposition.

It’s a Democratic Party as a whole that is content with how things are even as they count on strong minority support. It’s a Republican Party that has demonized people because they are different from most Republican voters. 

After 11 years here, I’ve still yet to grasp the acceptance of the terrible turnout in our city elections. Mr. Kuffner does more than his bit to increase civic involvement and improve the quality of life in Houston. But as a general matter—and in many regards— it is remarkable what we accept in  Houston as normal.

The two remaining candidates in District H are Maverick Welsh  and Ed Gonzalez. 

If you live in District H please consider these two candidates and vote in the runoff.

May 13, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Houston District H Council Election A Joke—Photo Of Rubber Chickens

In Houston’s City Council District H special election yesterday , two candidates beat some other candidates and have qualified for a runoff that will be held some day sooner or later. Here is the Houston Chronicle story on the issue.

Of 93,000 registered voters, only 4,200 folks showed up. 

Sure. 

Some folks blog about this stuff quite often. Here is what Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner said about the District H election.

Me?

I’m going to run a joke here on the blog— 

A frog telephones the Psychic Hotline and is told, “You are going to meet a beautiful young girl who will want to know everything about you.”The frog says, “This is great! Will I meet her at a party, or what?”“No,” says the psychic. “Next semester in her biology class.” 

( Yes–The District H race was not a very good joke which is why I ran a not so good joke.)

Also, I’m going to run a picture of rubber chickens  

File:Archie McPhee rubber chickens.jpg

Maybe Mr. Kuffner has some insight I’ve missed, but one has to wonder how much time this stuff is worth when the people who live in the district don’t care.

May 10, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Houston Council Candidate Noel Freeman Holding Campaign Kick Off

File:Arlen Specter, official Senate photo portrait.jpg

Houston At-Large position 4 council candidate Noel Freeman will be holding his campaign kick off event on Thursday April 30. This event will be held at the Cafe Adobe restaurant at 6:30 PM. Cafe Adobe is at 2111 Westheimer. You can call 713-828-7821 for details.

Above is Arlen Specter. Like Mr. Freeman, Mr. Specter was once a Republican who has now become a Democrat.

Please click here for more details on Mr. Freeman’s event.

Mr. Freeman is a thoughtful candidate who has offered his viewpoints for readers of this blog.

Here is Mr. Freeman’s campaign web home.

April 28, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On Municipal Elections In Houston—To What Extent Should We Care?

I sometimes find it difficult to take seriously the subjects of Houston City Council, and, also, municipal elections here in Houston. I find it hard to do so for the following reasons–

1. Few Houstonians vote in city elections and given my limited resources of time, I can’t always muster much effort on something people don’t care about and that does not seem to make a big difference in the lives of people of Houston.

2. The six year term limits mean that councilmembers come and go and you really have no idea who they are.  They dance around and wait for an empty seat to run for. Just like this game of musical chairs you see below. ( No..I don’t know who those people are.)

3. Despite the fact that so-called Democrats have a majority on the Council, they don’t appear to do anything in a cohesive fashion. Does the caucus have meetings? Have they offered a vision of what they would like to see from the ongoing Texas Legislative session? Or from the Obama stimulus package? Is there any agenda all except the separate agendas of individuals?  

At least one Council Democrat, James Rodriguez, will possibly be supporting a Republican for citywide office.  What is his agenda? Can we trust Mr. Rodriguez to serve our city well?  The verdict is still out.

4. I’ve been voting for Democrats at the municipal level since I was first eligible to vote in 1985.  I feel that  often they take the votes and offer in little in return in terms of imagination and concern for people who need the most help from government. (Though I’m  glad to see that Barack Obama of Chicago is saying he has a focus on urban issues. Maybe that focus will trickle down and offer some new energy to local urban policy makers.)

What got me thinking about the topic of the Houston City Council was a post by Houston blogger Charles Kuffner. Mr. Kuffner’s post dealt with possible candidates for municipal offices in Houston in 2009. ( 50,000 page views this month Charles. I’m getting there.) Mr. Kuffner, who is one of the best sources for these things in Houston, reports various people running for the various offices.

How does the process work? Here’s what I’m seeing—Some political insider, or some person who feels they might be able to access sufficient funds to run a campaign, waits for the right moment and the right opportunity and decides to give it a whirl.  

For the average person it is all very nebulous. (Below—A nebula. Click here for information about nebulas.) Where do these folks come from? For what reason are people donating to their campaigns? What political party and beliefs do candidates represent as they hide behind the lie of the so-called “non-partisan” municipal ballot? 

What are the candidates and councilmembers themselves thinking?

Maybe they wonder why people don’t care who represents them at City Hall. They could be thinking that if the public does not trust them to serve more than six years, why then should they trust the public? 

It might be that council candidates and councilmembers are thinking that with low turnout and term limits  the public has, in effect, ceded control of city government to special interests and the personal ambitions of office holders.

(Here is a previous post where I asked if the people of Houston merit municipal representation.)

In 2009, I’m going to make some effort to listen to what our Houston municipal candidates are saying. I’ll offer my views as we go along.  I’ll be looking for a specific agenda, and for some connection between Houston and the big changes and new resources we are seeing in Washington. It won’t be nearly enough that a candidate claims that he or she is a Democrat. That is a road I have been down often before. (Below—An old road not used as much as it once was.) 

January 29, 2009 Posted by | Barack Obama, Houston | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Because He Made Me A Friend On Facebook, I Endorse Councilmember Peter Brown For Mayor Of Houston In 2009

As I’ve posted before on this blog, I’ll endorse any Democrat running for public office who makes me a friend on Facebook.

I do this out of a general tendency to vote for Democrats, a respect for the logical coherence of straight-ticket voting, a belief in the idea of political parties, and because , as the fact I’m blogging suggests, I want attention.

( As a blogger, I want to put forth my views, seek influence, gain attention, and obtain patronage. It depends on my mood as to which of these things I seek the most. While I think patronage may be hard to get, if  Mr. Brown is elected Mayor I will ask him for a job as Houston’s lighthouse keeper. I need work that won’t get in the way of my blogging.) 

Today I was made a friend on Facebook by Houston City Councilmember Peter Brown. Mr. Brown is running for Mayor of Houston next year. 

While Mr. Brown will likely be running against other Democrats in the first round of voting next year, he’s the candidate I was likely to support in any case.   

Now I’m certain I will support Mr. Brown. Please click here to view Mr. Brown’s campaign web page.   

Mr. Brown joins Texas House District 29 candidate Kevin Murphy on my endorsement list. Mr. Murphy made me a friend some weeks ago. 

I will add each campaign to my blogroll. I’ve created a new ” Campaigns I Support” list at the bottom of my longer blogroll.

Peter Brown & Kevin Murphy! Clearly the best!

July 3, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments