Texas Liberal

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Hubert Vo—The Accidental Refomer

The Houston Chronicle has another story today about safety violations in apartment buildings. There have been a been a number of apartment complex related issues around the city that have spurred this focus. 

A big spur to public attention on this issue were slum-condition apartments owned by Houston-area Democratic Texas State Representative Hubert Vo.

Mr. Vo has now, after the attention, brought the buildings to code.

Houston City Government is taking steps to address the poor conditions in many area apartment buildings. 

This is happening because of press attention. You might think the Democrats we elect to municipal office would have focused on this issue at some point, but it was never a priority. 

Republicans? I ask, and expect, nothing of them.

Maybe the way to get problems addressed is to have public servants commit misdeeds.

For example, restaurant health code violations could be exposed by secret camera footage of an elected official reusing a plate at a buffet. 

If an elected official were to write a check that came back for insufficient funds, maybe public discussion would turn to budget deficits and budget shortfalls.    

The song lyrics go—“You’ve got to be cruel to be kind, in the right measure

Mr. Vo, a reformer in his way, could play on this logic and say you’ve got to be in violation to get others in compliance.

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , | Leave a comment

Houston/Galveston County Notes

 

Here are some Houston and Galveston County notes.

Above is the pink dolphin spotted in Galveston Bay last year.

Skelly On The Move

Texas political blog Capitol Annex posts that Democratic Texas U.S. House District 7 candidate Michael Skelly is on the radar of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Mr. Skelly is going to defeat incumbent John Culberson in this Houston-area district. Watch for this race to get more attention as Election Day nears.

Please here click for my post on why you should volunteer for Mr. Skelly. I say in the post that the Skelly race is an uphill race. I’m glad to say I will be adjusting my thinking on that matter.   

TexBlog Pac To Hold Houston Fundraiser

TexBlog pac will be holding a fundraiser in Houston on June 26.

The goal is to raise money to help elect a Democratic majority in the Texas House.

The event will be at the Rice Lofts located at 909 Texas Avenue in Downtown Houston.

It starts at 6:30 PM.

Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has more details

State Representative Garnet Coleman will be there as will a number of other local office holders and candidates.

Vo Fixes Apartments

Democratic State Representative Hubert Vo has brought apartments he owns up to building codes.

Well….That’s good. But why does a urban Democratic officeholder run a slum operation to start? People deserve forgiveness. I make mistakes all the time. Still, I find this frustrating on many levels. 

Voters in Mr. Vo’s district can decide this November how they feel about the issue.   

Galveston County Reconstruction-Era Black Settlement Marked

The black run town of Our Settlement, the only all black town in Galveston County in the years right after the Civil War, now has a Texas historical marker.  

First Woman Elected In Galveston Dies

From the Galveston County Daily News ( Here is the full obit)—

Ruth Levy Kempner, the trailblazing, outspoken lover of Galveston politics who was the city’s first female elected official, died Monday in her home at the age of 90. A self-described “civic busybody,” Kempner influenced Galveston politics for decades and kept up with city council antics until her death.              

Kempner and her best friend of 80 years, Frances Kay Harris, lobbied for a change in the form of city government to “anyone who would listen” in the late 1950s, Harris said.

When the city adopted the council-manager form of government, Kempner ran for council and became the first woman elected to city office. As a councilwoman, she was a sharp-witted, well-spoken fighter for her cause, said Bob Albright, who served on the council with Kempner from 1961 to 1963.

June 19, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Galveston, Houston, Politics, Texas, Texas Political History | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Houston Democratic State Representative Hubert Vo Owns A Slum Property

Houston-area Democratic state representative Hubert Vo owns an apartment building that appears to suffer from slum conditions.

This property has been cited by the City of Houston for these slum conditions.

From the Houston Chronicle article about the slum citation

City building inspectors on Wednesday issued several safety citations against an East End apartment complex owned by state Rep. Hubert Vo.

The citations to the Courtyard Apartments on Villa de Matel allege eight structural and electrical problems, including rotting wood, missing balcony railings, loose boards and broken windows, city officials said.

“There were the kinds of things you’d see in a building that has not been well-maintained,” said Susan McMillian, a senior staff analyst in the city’s Public Works and Engineering Department. “It needed more intense maintenance than what had been done.”

Homeowners in the nearby County Club neighborhood have complained about the property for years, calling it a visual blight and a magnet for crime.

“It’s really a deplorable situation, and the sad thing is that people are actually living there,” said Charles Mayfield, a member of the area’s Super Neighborhood Council. “It’s really disheartening to see, and surprising, to say the least, that anybody — no matter who they are — would let the property get into such a condition.”

Vo, a Democrat running for re-election to his southwest Houston seat in the Texas House, has owned the four-building, $2.8 million property under one of his companies, Newlink Investments, Inc., since 2002.

Here is a Chronicle blog post by city reporter Matt Stiles that has pictures of the apartment building.   

A frequent theme of this blog is that city voters have the right to expect more from Democrats than just being pimped for votes at election time. 

How did this building get into such a state of poor repair to start? How about a push for more inspectors and better enforcement from our Democratic Mayor and Democrats on Houston City Council?

I don’t live in Mr. Vo’s district. If I did I would not vote for either Mr. Vo or his Republican opponent in November. 

This is all the worse coming from Mr. Vo because his winning the seat over the very obnoxious Republican incumbent Talmadge Heflin was such a great victory.   

This is not about private conduct by Mr. Vo. He has a public responsibility to the people who live in his building and to the public as a whole to keep this building in good condition. 

I’m not having any more of voting for Democrats at the municipal or urban level when they have a hand in the seemingly never-ending decline and neglect of America’s cities.  

I don’t know if we need a third-party, or a competitive Republican party in our cities, or a new Marcus Garvey to lead people out of a society that does not care if city folk live or die.

Maybe what we need is a better Democratic party.

I do know that we don’t need Hubert Vo.

April 4, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , | 17 Comments