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With Hestiancy, I’m Supporting Annise Parker For Mayor Of Houston

With some hesitancy, I’m supporting Annise Parker for Mayor of Houston.

(Above–Annise Parker)

Ms. Parker, our current Houston City Controller, is the best bet to address issues of importance to Houston’s poor and working class. Ms. Parker is the candidate most likely to pursue anything approaching a liberal and progressive agenda that involves social, environmental and economic fair play.

Though all three serious candidates for Mayor of Houston are Democrats, each has run to the right so as to appeal to Republicans. It is not the fault of Democrats, and of people in Houston who could use help from government, that no credible Republican thought Houston important enough to run for Mayor.

Into this vacuum , Ms. Parker and the other leading candidates have talked at length about crime and so-called fiscal conservatism.

If you’re a Republican reading this please be clear—Annise Parker, Peter Brown and Gene Locke are Democrats. 

Nobody wants to be a victim of crime and it is the poor who are most likely to be victims of crime. Yet it must be noted that crime rates have been going down in Houston.

It is one thing to address an issue that all people are concerned about. It is another thing to use that issue to obscure the facts and to deflect attention from the wide range of critical issues that have been ignored in this empty campaign.

On economic issues, Ms. Parker’s occasional embrace of the “fiscal conservative” label has been disheartening. 

I was ready to write in support of Ms. Parker last week. However, I was given pause after the Parker campaign circulated a blog post written by my fellow blogger Martha Griffin. Ms. Parker’s campaign used Ms. Griffin’s post to appeal to so-called fiscal conservatives.

Ms. Griffin’s post discussed how Ms. Parker had saved the City of Houston taxpayer dollars in her capacity as City Controller.

That’s good. That is what Ms. Parker should be doing as Controller.   

However, fiscal conservatism is a philosophy of governance. It is about far more than how one  executes the duties of City Controller. To confuse the two is to confuse the voter. Ms. Griffin was saying that Ms. Parker has done a good job as Controller. Yet it is hard to think that this is what the Parker campaign was trying to convey in circulating the post.

Did Ms. Parker pitch herself as a fiscal conservative when she won the endorsements of the Houston Federation of Teachers, the Harris County AFL-CIO Council, HOPE Local 123 and the Service Employees International Union?

Is this what we have come to in our majority-Democrat City of Houston? If I want a fiscal conservative, I’ll vote for a Republican. The fact that no credible Republican is running suggests that voters in Houston are not as receptive to a Republican message as our 2009 Mayoral candidates seem to believe.   

Still, the union endorsements and some aspects of Ms. Parker’s record provide hope that Ms. Parker offers more to the people of Houston than she’s been advertising in her campaign.

Ms. Parker has done great work in helping low income residents of Houston gain access to banks

Ms. Parker has supported efforts by janitors in Houston to be better paid and to receive benefits.

Ms. Parker has a personal history of fighting for the political and social rights of people seeking a rightful place in society.

The Houston of 2009 is not of Ms. Parker’s making. We’re all trapped to some extent in a world we did not create. Ms. Parker must run a campaign that is mindful of Houston’s political climate.

That said, there is also a place for courage and for leadership. This is not a place Ms. Parker has yet realized in this campaign.

My hope is that Ms. Parker wins the chance to serve as our Mayor, and that her tenure is one dedicated to the aspirations and needs of all citizens of our city.

This post can also be found at the Houston Chronicle where I am a featured political reader-blogger. 

(For those seeking a better understanding of the social, environmental and economic landscape of Houston, the book Energy Metropolis–An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast connects many of the dots.)

October 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 13 Comments

So-Called Democrat Gene Locke Solicits Republicans—Locke Seeking To Trick And Bamboozle Black & Republican Voters

Houston politics blogger Martha Griffin has a post up this evening at her blog Musings reporting that Houston Mayoral candidate Gene Locke, a so-called Democrat, has solicited Republican Harris County Clerk Beverly Kaufman to annoy citizens of Houston with robocalls.

From Ms. Griffin’s post—“This is the same Beverly Kaufman who is on record as being against the pre-clearance portion of the Voting Rights Act. Pre-clearance is in place for nine Southern states that have a history of discrimination or suppressing minority voting, including Texas.”

Here is the link to the entirety of Ms. Griffin’s post. Ms. Griffin has an audio of the robocall that you can hear.

In the call Ms Kaufman talks about the support Mr. Locke has gained from “conservative business groups.” Ms. Kaufman makes it clear in the call that she is a Republican.

Mr. Locke assumes black voters in Houston will support him for Mayor because he is black—But black support may not be enough to reach a runoff. To get the extra votes he feels he needs, Mr. Locke will engage in low-down tactics

He’ll sell out his core supporters in a heartbeat.

Mr. Locke thinks black folks in Houston are stupid. He thinks he can trumpet the support of people who don’t at all share the beliefs of his most important voters, and that people won’t catch on that he is a fraud.  

People will indeed catch on to the fact that Mr. Locke is seeking to trick and bamboozle them on Election Day.

If you’re a Republican, please recall that Gene Locke is a Democrat. He is looking to trick and bamboozle you as well.

How can anybody trust this man to stick true to any belief? He is loyal only to his own ambitions.

September 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Amanda Ulman, Socialist Candidate For Mayor Of Houston, Should Run A Serious Campaign—Or She Should Not Run At All

(Blogger’s Note 11/5/11–What I said here about Ms. Ulman’s campaign 2 years ago is valid again for her 2011 campaign.)    

Amanda Ulman is a Socialist candidate for Mayor of Houston.

It is useful for voters in Houston to have the option of a socialist candidate. Republicans have put the idea of socialism back in the public’s mind after a long absence. Nobody was thinking of socialism before the Republicans started calling Barack Obama a socialist.

Though it has been many years, socialist candidates for public office were once able to win between 5% and 10% of the votes in elections all over the nation. Once in a while they would even win a race.

In 1912, Eugene V. Debs took 6% of the vote nationwide as the Socialist candidate for President of the United States. There is nothing to say that candidates running as Socialists could not at some point in the future win support in our nation.

If Ms. Ulman is going to run for Mayor of Houston, as she did also in 2007, she should be serious about what she is doing. Otherwise, she will be easy to dismiss as a kind of joke.

As far as I can see, Ms. Ulman does not have a web site. How can a credible campaign in this day and age not have web site? Ms. Ulman is missing a cheap and easy way to get her message out.

I can tell Ms. Ulman that as Election Day approaches, people will start putting her name in search engines as they see her name on the ballot.

Two years ago, when Texas Liberal got much less traffic than it does today, I got something like 1000 hits in the days leading up to Election Day for a post I’d written about a candidate for Mayor of Houston named Outlaw Josey Wales. (Sadly, Mr. Wales is not running in 2009.)

Every time I write about a candidate for public office, I get a large spike in my blog traffic for that post in the last few days before the election. People see who is running for the various offices and they research these candidates. Often traffic about that candidate’s post goes up for a few weeks before the election as people early vote.

With a web site, Ms. Ulman could write about how her Socialist beliefs are relevant to governing Houston. What is more socialist than a government run police department or fire department?

Ms. Ulman could talk about the local relevance of issues like the need for universal health insurance or a more fair distrubution of income. The three “serious” candidates for Mayor of Houston, all Democrats, seem not to care very much about issues facing the poor—and about economic issues facing working people of all kinds—here in Houston.

While Ms. Ulman may not be able to raise much money, she could stand on busy street corners with a sign that simply said: Amanda Ulman–Socialist For Mayor Of Houston.

I realize she might not want to do that by herself in the current political climate. Still, voters would could least attach a real human being to the idea of socialism and would see that at least one fellow citizen of Houston holds socialist beliefs.

Has Ms. Ulman contacted the editorial boards of the Houston Chronicle and of the various community weekly newspapers in Houston asking for an interview? Has she asked for time on all of the T.V. and radio community affairs programs? Has she produced a cable public access message that is being broadcast? Does she have a Twitter account?

Ms. Ulman could represent a real choice for voters frustrated with the big money donors and lack of attention to so many serious issues that seems to define campaigns for Mayor of Houston. Maybe Ms. Ulman could be the start of a real core of socialist support in Houston. You never know.

Ms. Ulman should run a real race or she should give it up and stop harming her cause by not being serious.

Here is a series of articles from The Nation magazine about ideas for socialism in modern America.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Democrats Parker, Locke & Brown Must Earn Support Of Liberals, Progressives & Democrats

Recent stories in the Houston Chronicle detail tough conditions for people in Houston and all of Harris County.

These stories have reported…  

High rates of domestic abuse….

Houston leading the nation in teen mothers….

and

Low rates of health insurance in our city and area.

All these concerns are directly connected to the economic distress that is inherent to much of Houston even when we are not in a recession.

You’d think that with all three serious candidates for Mayor of Houston being Democrats, that these issues and concerns about poverty in our city would be part of the discussion as we approach Election Day.

The three candidates are Annise Parker, Gene Locke and Peter Brown. 

Health care reform is clearly a local issue and it is an issue currently on the table in Washington. When you’re a Democrat and you’re running for Mayor of a city of two million people, you’d think the prospect of health care for all would be a matter you’d address.

How can liberals, progressives and people in Houston who need some help count on any of these three Democrats when they are silent on such a big question?

Don’t believe the lie that City of Houston elections are non-partisan. Party identification can’t be made known on the ballot, but candidates are certainly free to identify themselves with a political party during the campaign. All three of the main candidates are Democrats.

If Republicans in Houston want to vote for one of these Democrats they are clearly free to do so—But these folks are Democrats. 

Ms. Parker, Mr. Locke and Mr. Brown are making calculations about who matters based on who they expect to vote in November. Other people, no matter how much in need they may be, don’t seem to count.

Liberals, progressives and loyal Democrats need to be sure they are not pushed aside in a race that they should in fact be defining.

September 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All Three Candidates For Houston Mayor Are Democrats—Where Is Comment On Senator Kennedy And Health Care Reform?

All three leading candidates for Mayor of Houston are Democrats. These candidates are Annise Parker, Gene Locke and Peter Brown.

Despite the fact that these candidates are all Democrats, none I’m aware of have yet to comment on the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. None have offered any support to health care efforts that might well help many uninsured citizens of Houston get coverage. Health care reform was a lifetime concern of Senator Kennedy.

Health care reform is an issue with a direct impact on Houston.

These three candidates have actively sought out the support of local Democrats in Houston. I hope that these Democrats running for Mayor see party affiliation as more than simply something to be used when it suits them and ignored when inconvenient.

Not one serious Republican in Houston thought his or her city was worth putting forth a Republican vision for the future of Houston. Democrats should fill this void with strong leadership that puts the values of the Democratic Party at the center of where Houston should move in the years ahead.    

The lie is that our Houston city elections are non-partisan. The fact is that candidates for city office can and often do make note of their party affiliation. It is time for the Democratic Party in Houston and Harris County to assert control of Houston City Government that voters of Houston seem prepared to allow at the ballot box.  

(Update–Gene Locke has made a Twitter comment on Senator Kennedy’s death. That’s a small start.)

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I May Have Rushed To Judgement In Next Year’s Race For Mayor Of Houston

Johnnie Cochran Dies at 67

As I recall, the term “rush to judgement” came into wide popular usage when Johnnie Cochran used the line while defending O.J. Simpson. Mr. Cochran spoke the phrase in his opening statement.

I’m going to borrow that line from Mr. Cochran (R.I.P.)

I may have rushed to judgement in my view of who should be the next Mayor of Houston, Texas. The election will be held in November of 2009.

There are, at this point, two leading Democratic contenders. City Controller Annise Parker and City Councilmember Peter Brown.

I’ve always had a visceral negative reaction to Ms. Parker. I’m now questioning if this reaction has been fair. 

Ms. Parker very often uses terms that allude to, or directly refer to, ideas like pragmatism and only seeking to get done things that, in her view, are politically obtainable. 

Ms. Parker’s language frustrates me. I feel that politics is at core about imagination. A political figure begins with an idea, sometimes even an idea that does not seem likely to suceed at first, and then works to see her idea become a reality.

Ms. Parker has reminded me at times of current Houston Mayor Bill White. In my observation, Mayor White is often simply dismissive of ideas that do not conform with his immediate agenda. He’s obnoxious and unimaginative in that way. 

What has given me a second thought about Ms. Parker was that as I was doing some research for another post, I came across an anti-poverty event she attended with former Presidential candidate John Edwards. Ms. Parker has had a standing concern about easier access to banking for low-income citizens of Houston.

Up to now I have been supporting Councilmember Brown. I felt that, when you got down to it, Councilmember Brown was to the left of Ms. Parker.

But just as I learned something about Ms. Parker that shifted my view, I also learned something about Mr. Brown that gave me pause.

In August, Mr. Brown attended a Republican fundraiser that had as featured speaker Karl Rove. I don’t believe Mr. Brown is a Republican. But I did feel that the whole thing was screwy. Just why would an elected Democrat, ( You can take a hike with that non-partisan municipal election junk) go to an event featuring Karl Rove?

Is this the kind of goofball campaign we are going to see from Mr. Brown?

So I’m going to wait and see on the question of who should be the next Mayor of Houston. I’m going to give Ms. Parker a new look and turn a harder eye to Mr. Brown. I may still end up supporting Mr. Brown, but I don’t want to make a “rush to judgement.”

October 1, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments