Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Talking Points To Defeat Cruel New Houston Anti-Food Sharing Ordinance—Collective Actions Must Be Guided By Individual Conscience

Houston City Council, led by Mayor Annise Parker and Councilman James Rodriguez, have passed an ordinace that will criminalize many instances of sharing food with the homeless.

Here are some details of this law from Mayor Parker’s office.

Mayor Parker and Mr. Rodriguez are blind to the fact that Sojourner Truth understood many years ago—It is the shadow that sells the substance.

This new law is a mean-spirited law that is meant to harass the homeless. It is the third restriction on the homeless in nine months as we offer public subsidy to soccer stadiums and so-called arthouse movie theaters.

There is a Facebook group that is opposing this new law.  They are circulating a petition to oppose this new law. Go to the Facebook page to learn more details.

Here is an e-mail to get a petition to circulate to help repeal the ordinance — Free2GiveVolunteers@gmail.com

Some of the folks in the coalition to defeat the new law are very good people who are concerned with the fate of all people.

Others are conservatives who just want to move Houston to the right, and see this as a chance to link the brutality of modern conservatism to an illusion of compassion for those most in need.

I support repeal of this law and will post on this subject a number of times in the days ahead.

At the same time, I will keep some distance from the organized opposition to this law.

Collective action is essential, yet it is individual conscience that must guide our acts.

The Keep Houston Sharing Free website has come up with talking  points to discuss this cruel ordinance in the days ahead.

These points are useful if you decide to circulate the petition, or if you just want to discuss the new law with your fellow citizens of Houston.

Here are the talking points—-

1) The new ordinance will regulate a natural expression of human compassion, inhibit groups sharing food with the poor, and cause suffering. Any group or individual who drives around looking for hungry people in need of food will be immediately criminalized since they wouldn’t have prior written permission for the locations where they find people. A significant portion of Houston homeless rely on these forms of spontaneous feeding. This law will cause homeless people to suffer and become sick.

2) In City Council chambers, the few homeless service providers who supported the law were those with city contracts, every other homeless and poor service provider opposed it. At a faith-based food sharers study group conducted by Coalition for the Homeless, not one of the many diverse religious group representatives favored the mandatory and punitive aspects of this law. These compassionate people know best: this type of law will cause poor to suffer.

3) Requiring permission for groups to serve has precedent. In San Francisco in 1988, the permit requirement was used to criminalize and arrest hundreds of food sharing volunteers. Asking for permission is never easy, free, quick, or fair. These permit requirements violate 1st Amendment freedoms of assembly, speech, and religion. Since the law only applies to those sharing food with the homeless, and not those at a tailgating party, the law violates the “equal protection under the law” clause of the 14th Amendment.

4) The law was written hastily and is incomplete, declaring that “there exists a public emergency” without explaining what the emergency is. The law does not include a fee schedule or any of the criteria or processes for obtaining permission to serve. It seems it was written vaguely intentionally to require expansion later, when public attention has waned.

5) The law doesn’t achieve any clear policy objectives. The extra expenses that will be incurred are not necessary and have not been budgeted. The law creates additional work and bureaucracy for various city agencies and homeless food providers without any clearly identified benefits. The law punishes, but does not reward. There were no studies or data presented to justify a new law.

6) When interviewed, over 90% of homeless downtown indicated that without volunteer groups able to help them in the streets, they would turn to crime, begging for money, or less healthy options.

7) The permission process could be used to re-introduce all of the most hated criteria that were taken out of the earlier draft.

8) The police would be given the new job of surveillance and enforcement against good Samaritans. The amount of the fines are said to be $500, which is much more than the entire monthly income of many who help the homeless.

9) There are over 60 groups speaking out against this law. From the conservative Houston Area Pastor’s Council to the Catholic Workers, from Occupy to the Tea Party, evangelical protestants to civil rights organizations, from the Harris County Republican Party to the Green Party, from the Nation of Islam to the Hare Krishnas, the diversity of these groups may well be unprecedented.

10) We the people have a right to share food with the needy and no one has the right to make us ask for permission each time. Volunteers help feed the homeless without making financial demands on the city, and as such should be held up as examples, not criminalized.

11) Spontaneous and un-coordinated distribution of food to the needy is a proud Houston tradition and groups have done so for years without problems.

12) Mayor Parker did not offer any studies to document instances of food poisoning, significant food wastage, or the projected impact of these new regulations on homeless populations.

13) The management districts in and near downtown are funded with tax dollars to implement service plans (posted on their websites) that embrace responsibilities that warrant placement of trash receptacles, public toilets and litter removal programs to beautify and rebrand their geographic areas, and already do so to an extent.

14) No laws can eliminate the annoyances the mayor’s ordinance is addressing, and trying to do so will waste police time in a futile quest.

15) The City, through this ordinance, has converted public property to private property. Public property, paid for with tax dollars, is now the Mayor’s property that you have to get permission to use. This sets a terrible precedent: This week it is permission to feed others, next week it could easily be that you may need permission to take your child to the parks because of the liability that exist if you don’t watch your child and they fall off the swing, etc…

April 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

As He Complains About Council Redistricting, What Work Has Councilmember James Rodriguez Done To Increase Latino Turnout In Houston?

A Houston City Council redistricting proposal has been offered by Mayor Annise Parker.

(Above–Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts. That is Gerry as in gerrymander.)

Every ten years Houston must redistrict council seats to match the new census numbers.

Here is the City of Houston redistricting web page.

The current plan is a first draft. There will be hearings and then a final vote.

Here is the time and location of the redistricting hearings—

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
City Hall, 901 Bagby
2nd Floor, Council Chambers
9:00 a.m.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
City Hall, 901 Bagby
2nd Floor, Council Chambers
9:00 a.m.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
City Hall, 901 Bagby
2nd Floor, Council Chambers
7:00 p.m.

If you want to read the best analysis on this redistricting, check out the top local political blog Greg’s Opinion.

Charles Kuffner at Off The Kuff and Stace Medellin at Dos Centavos have also written on the redistricting plan.

One thing I read this morning in the Houston Chronicle’s redistricting story raised my eyebrows.

(Below—Raised eyebrows.)

From the Chronicle—

“The proposal also creates two new districts, as the city charter required once Houston topped 2.1 million residents. Hispanic voters make up 51 percent of the voting-age residents in each. District I Councilman James Rodriguez said that is insufficient…”I think it’s incumbent upon all Latino officials to get our numbers up,” Rodriguez said, but added that turnout alone cannot offset the insufficient numbers of Hispanics in the proposed A and F districts.”

I wish Councilman Rodriguez, a Democrat, would tell the people of Houston what hard work he has done to increase Latino turnout in our city. Whatever it is, he has not mentioned it on his campaign web page.

Here is all of what Mr. Rodriguez had to say abut the redistricting plan  as reported in the Campos Communication Blog.

Nothing in this statement indicates what Mr. Rodriguez has done to increase Latino turnout. It is all about what other people should be doing.

What has Mr. Rodriguez done to increase the often weak Latino turnout  in Houston?

I know I’ve not heard of any leadership from the Councilman on the brutal cuts being worked on in our Texas legislature.

Maybe this is because he has been working very hard on increasing Latino voter turnout in Houston.

If I’m missing something, please tell me.

It is easy to say you don’t like the districts that are being drawn up. It is more difficult to actually go out and work to get people to vote in every election.

We clearly need a greater Hispanic presence on Houston City Council.

Reaching that goal must be a two way street of fair district lines and increased Hispanic turnout.

(Another thing that would help bring about higher turnout and increased politcal involvement in Houston, would be Mayor Parker sharing some of the wealth from her million dollar fundraiser.)

(Below–Councilman Rodriguez)


April 8, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Renew Houston—Why The Regressive Funding? Who Gets The Jobs? Where Are The Green Plans?

There is an effort to place on the November 2010 ballot in Houston an initiative to fund a large multi-year program to strengthen and rebuild Houston’s streets and drainage system. This plan is called Renew Houston.

(Above–Urban runoff. Picture taken by Robert Lawton.)

As anybody who lives in Houston knows, this is an important concern.

Here is the Renew Houston web page.

Here is a Houston Chronicle story on this issue.

A Renew Houston press release says this initiative  is “citizen-driven.” What are the odds of something being “citizen-driven” in a city like Houston where turnout  for mayor’s races often runs around 15%?

Renew Houston could post a list of donors to show if it is citizen-driven.

Republican Houston At-Large City Councilmember Stephen Costello recently invited local bloggers to attend a briefing about Renew Houston. I went to this briefing.

Mr. Costello is leading this issue. Why is a Republican leading a citywide push in a Democratic city where there are so many unmet needs that go unaddressed year-after-year?

I don’t know. Next time you see one of our Democratic Councilmembers, ask them what it is they do all day.

While I support as a matter of principle large government programs meant to fix or build stuff, and that will employ people,—with the exception of taxpayer funds to build our Nero-like sports stadiums—I have questions about Renew Houston.

The sentence below is from the Chronicle story about one of the major funding sources for the plan–

“…. the “Stormwater User Fee” that is expected to amount to about $5 per month for an average homeowner and $90 a month for an average commercial property owner with 14 units per acre.”

This is a flat or regressive fee. With Renew Houston, property owners will pay the same no matter the value of the property. Should progressive ends be met by regressive means?

I also wonder who will get the jobs created over the life of the program.

On the introductory mailer sent out to voters in Houston, there was a so-called “union bug.”  This is a small union logo showing that the printing was done by a union shop.

That’s fine. I believe in unions. But what the bug suggested to me was that the Renew Houston people have gone to the unions, and said that jobs that union members may get will be forthcoming if they get on-board to support the initiative.

It is time to expand the pool of qualified blue-collar job seekers in Houston with an aggressive  program of apprenticeship and outreach into the most chronically poor Houston neighborhoods.There is no reason unions could not be part of this effort. Maybe also we could train some new engineers and college educated professionals along the way.

Mayor Annise Parker, a Democrat, could insist upon this as a condition of her backing of the plan. If  she did this, maybe Ms. Parker could expand her support in the next election beyond just over half of the 16% of people who voted in the 2009 election. People in every part of Houston would see that they matter at City Hall.

District I  Councilmember James Rodriguez could do the same. At his campaign web home, Mr. Rodriguez talks about “Bringing capital improvement  projects to the district” and “Promoting development that embraces the expectations of all our stakeholders”

Here’s your chance Mr. Rodriguez. Are people in your district going to get a fair share of this regressively-funded, taxpayer-sponsored program, or are they going to be shut-out in a closed shop? You could walk around Harrisburg Blvd, and Canal Street, and Navigation Blvd. and tell folks that you are going to fight for them, instead of relying on low-turnout and keeping your mouth shut as a reelection strategy.

(Below–As illustrated here, infrastructure is quite metaphoric. Here we see that all is connected. If there is a new source of revenue and a new source of jobs in Houston, then there will be those who get the beneficial runoff of prosperity and others who will be left high and dry.)

A final concern I have is the lack of any green plans in the Renew Houston strategy presentation I was shown.

The latest issue of the excellent urban policy magazine Next American City talks about ways to reduce the flow of rainwater into drainage systems with urban gardens, rain barrels, more trees and other plans. ( I subscribe to Next American City and suggest that you do the same.)

Renew Houston should discuss and implement long-term efforts to reduce the strain on our drainage systems with some of these green plans. In this way, what we build will work better and last longer.

I’m certain an enlightened progressive like Mayor Parker would not support this program unless it employed green strategies.

Though, I do note that in her campaign plank on infrastructure, Ms. Parker says nothing about green efforts on these important and costly plans.

(Below–An urban garden in Minneapolis planted to treat storm water from the concrete parking lot also in the picture.)

For the moment, I’m withholding support for Renew Houston until the issues I mention here are addressed. While meeting an important need of infrastructure improvement,  Renew Houston also seems narrowly-crafted to benefit engineering firms, to benefit those already in the pipeline for jobs to the exclusion of people who could benefit from training and work, and to use methods of drainage and waste-water removal not up to date with the new demands of sustainable urban living.

My fellow Houston bloggers Perry Dorrell, Charles KuffnerJohn Coby and Tory Gattis were at the briefing and have written posts on Renew Houston. Each of these bloggers is committed to a better Houston and their views should be considered.

June 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Houston CM Toni Lawrence—Not In My Country/ Houston CM James Rodriguez—Not In My Backyard

Houston District A Councilwoman Toni Lawrence said that the small child from Mexico who died in a Houston hospital last week  from Swine Flu should not have been treated here because the child was not an American citizen.

Here’s what she said—

“The last thing I want to do and I may be overreacting, I will be the first to say. But we had a situation in their pediatrics department now, Children’s Hospital. This child was not a United States citizen and to me we have jeopardized the Hospital District and possibly conventions. I know tour boats are not leaving Galveston now because they are not going to Mexico.”

Now I realize that Ms. Lawrence is not a fully coherent person based on this statement,  but the part about the kid not being an American citizen is clear enough.

Ms. Lawrence also said this—I’m very concerned that someone died here in Houston with (swine flu). I’m very concerned that council wasn’t told of this in a prompt way. Again we could have got an e-mail this morning. We did not. So that is a very big concern for me. I think it’s a real reality and we need to be aware of this and continue to do things for Houston and not for anybody else but what’s best for Houston.”

Houston District I Councilmember James Rodriguez offered a fair and useful retort to Ms. Lawrence’s views. Here is what Mr. Rodriguez said—

“During our City Council meeting this week, my colleague, Council Member Toni Lawrence made reference to the 23 month old child who died of Swine Flu in a local hospital. She emphasized that “The child was not a United States citizen” and added that “we need to do things for Houston and not for anybody else.” Consequently, those comments have negatively alarmed many residents throughout the city. Now is not the time for rhetoric that could potentially have a negative impact on public health. Now is not the time to inject a person’s immigration status in this very critical issue. If an individual is showing symptoms, we want them to seek immediate medical treatment without fear of being questioned of their immigration status….”

However, Councilman Rodriguez has not been so welcoming of a new home for the homeless in Houston that has been planned for construction in his district. He asserted the following position after the murder of a homeless person near where the home has been proposed.

“I am not against homeless initiatives. I do support them. I just think this area and this part of my district has enough on its plate right now,” said Rodriguez.”

Councilmember Rodriguez has in the past argued that his district has a number of these type facilities already.

I’m sure Mr. Rodriguez is fair to say that his district has many of these homes. Yet a frequent argument about our undocumented population and about further immigration to the United States is that we have enough of those folks here already.

I don’t think compassion stops at our borders and I don’t think compassion stops at the lines of Mr. Rodriguez ‘s district.

Below—Councilman Rodriguez and the singer Rihanna. Each have umbrellas.


May 5, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Immigration, Politics | , , , , , | 4 Comments

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

Local Democrat Carl Whitmarsh Blasts This Blog (With Bonus Pictures)

Below is an e-mail sent out by local Houston Democrat Carl Whitmarsh to his extensive list of Democrats around the state. ( I don’t normally write in color, But this was the font Carl used, and copying his e-mail is making this full post in color. Color is good. )  Mr. Whitmarsh’s ire has been raised by a post I wrote yesterday asking if Houston Councilmember James Rodriguez can be trusted to be an effective representative for Houston.    

I surely never said Mr. Rodriguez was engaged in any so-called “wrongdoing.” I said that Mr. Rodriguez  helping a Republican who was considering a citywide run was how Houston is politically. It’s also not something I would do. 

I know it is shocking to ask if we can trust a politician. Whoever heard of such a thing?  Even more offensive were my brazen assertions that Mr. Rodriguez might take political steps to seek higher office at some later date, and ending the post by saying I remained hopeful that Mr. Rodriguez is an okay guy. What could I have been thinking!?! 

You’ll note that Carl never addresses why Mr. Rodriguez was supporting a Republican. 


From Mr. Whitmarsh  ( I added the pictures)  —

A Message from CARL WHITMARSH--One of the things about this email list is that I try to give everyone their say without too much of a say on my part.  I’m going to make an exception today because of the Over the Top Inflamatory Headline of the blog written below by Neil Aquino.  What earthly reason would anyone have to ask the question of Councilmember James Rodriguez, “Can We Trust Him?”  You’re going to have to bring a lot more to the table than a picture which appeared in a campaign brochure.  I’m not acquainted with Ms. Colon other than by her reputation, but I do know Senfronia Thompson – known her for 37 years – and I do know the lady on the left side of the picture, one Paula Arnold, former member of the HISD Board of Trustees and a former National Democratic Delegate.  Mr Aquino, maybe you were unaware, but during Ms. Arnold’s presidency of the HISD Board, she oversaw redistricting which effectively drew her out of her own district in order that Hispanics could have another representative at the table.  And of course I know James Rodriguez, as most of us involved have known him since he was knee high to a grasshopper and watched him grow, work through the different layers of government, campaign in the snows up north for Al Gore,  marry and settle down, offer himself for public office and now serves as a member of City Council.  If there is a word you associate with James , it is LOYAL!  WHAT IN THE HELL    POSSIBLE REASON WOULD SOMEONE ASK “CAN WE TRUST HIM OR NOT?” of JAMES RODRIGUEZ?  In reading this blog entry, I begin to think the writer is trying to resurrect McCarthyism  of the 2000’s…For shame….for absolute shame.  And for what imaginable reason could or should any of this have been written?

If you want to use your headline, why don’t you write about Borris Miles or maybe Jarvis Johnson – folks where at least allegations of wrongdoing have previously been made, but to write about someone like James Rodriguez, who has never even had a hint of wrongdoing attached to him is as far below the belt as I have seen a writer stoop.  If you have proof of something, BRING IT ON

While I am running this blog entry, I want it clearly understood I disassociate myself from it and stand here ready to stand with my friends, JAMES RODRIGUEZ, SENFRONIA THOMPSON and PAULA ARNOLD and will vouch for their good names and intentions and most of all their allegiance to the Democratic Party until the cows   come home.  Guilt by association based on a photograph is as sleazy as it comes……If you have an opinion about this entry by this blogger, who is also carried by the Houston Chronicle, write him directly at naa six-one-eight at att.net…….. cew……before somebody asks why I wrote this let me say…this is my email list and when folks I know, trust and care about are unfairly treated, I am going to come out like a cornered lion in their defense.

January 13, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Houston Councilman James Rodriguez—Should We Trust Him Or Not?

Houston District I Councilmember James Rodriguez (Mr. Rodriguez  is the gentleman to the left of the center in the photo above.has been in the news of late. With the election of Adrian Garcia to serve as Harris County Sheriff, Mr. Rodriguez, who says he is a Democrat, is now the only Hispanic member of Houston City Council. This despite the fact that we have at least 850,000 Hispanic persons here in Houston.
( Here is a most forceful rebuttal to this post from a local Democrat.)
(Here is a reply that is a little more useful.)
Here is Mr. Rodriguez’s campaign web home.  
Here is a map of Council District I
Should we trust Councilman Rodriguez? Will he be an effective representative of Houston’s Hispanic population, and for all persons in his district and in our city? 
In Houston, it can be hard to pin down just where our political leaders stand.  Party identification is easily obscured in our so-called non-partisan municipal elections. (Voter turnout is always low. And once elected, incumbent councilmembers are nearly unaccountable at the ballot box  until term limits force them out.) Take, for example, the photo above. In the center you see Republican Bill King. On either side of Mr. King are members of his so-called issue study group.
Mr. King has been considering a run for citywide office in 2009. So why is a Democrat like Mr. Rodriguez sitting with Mr. King? Seated to the right of Mr. King is Democratic State Representative Senfronia Thompson and, next to Rep. Thompson, one Jessica Colon. Ms. Colon is identified as “national chair of the Young Republicans.”      
Now I’m certain the conversation to get Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Thompson to serve on Mr. King’s issues committee went just like this–
Mr. King—Hey James and Senfronia, I’m really concerned for the future of Houston and I need your input. Would you please serve on my issues committee so we can work for a better city?
Mr. Rodriguez & Ms. Thompson—Why sure Bill. Let’s get going!
Of course, this kind of stuff is just how Houston is politically. So we’ll keep hope alive for Mr. Rodriguez until we see him in action a little longer. 
Below you see a picture of Mr. Rodriguez that recently ran in the Houston Chronicle. You see that Mr. Rodriguez is pondering the future. (That or he’s trying to remember if he turned  his stove off at home.)
What is Mr. Rodriguez  pondering?
Is he wondering when leadership in Houston’s Hispanic community will finally pass from yesterday’s men who wasted years fighting amongst themselves while people in the community needed help and political power? Is he wondering what he can do to help give Houston’s Hispanics the seat at the political table their numbers, energy, and abilities merit?….. Or is he thinking he’s got six years to serve as a councilmember, and he’d better make the right people happy so he can be well-postioned for higher office when term limits knock him off council?
I’ll wager Mr. Rodriguez is thinking about both helping people and about his own ambitions. We’ll see which side of that equation comes out the winner. Here’s hoping he is an okay person.      
( Below the photo of  Councilman Rodriguez is Gene Kelly in Singing In The Rain.)   

January 12, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stricter Parking Enforcement In Houston—Real Story Behind Solar Powered Meters

The City of Houston is going to step up enforcement at Downtown parking meters. The city is going enforce the limit of two hours at a meter even if you’ve paid the $6 all day Downtown Hopper rate. Parking enforcement officers will be tracking cars with handheld devices. They’ll plug your license plate number in and see how long you hang around. Even if you have paid for more time, you will get a ticket after two hours.

It is now also illegal for someone else to put money in your meter. I could write a check to pay your income tax bill or your electricity bill (I won’t though.) , but I can’t put 50 cents in your parking meter.

I’m not a reflexive basher of city services, but here’s the thing—THE METERS SO OFTEN DO NOT WORK. (That was my first all caps sentence in two and a half years of writing this blog.)

Our Houston parking meters are solar-powered meters. Yet often they don’t function even when the sun is shining. Here is a post I made last July about the solar-powered meters not working on a sunny 95 degree day.

Since then I’ve had a number of instances where I could not use the meters because they were not working. I go downtown between one to three times a week.

Maybe six weeks ago, I called a city councilmember’s office to complain. In the week after Christmas, I had a morning where I had to go to five meters (moving my car twice in the process) to find one that worked.

In my view, it’s clear the sunbeams the meters are collecting are being diverted to some kind of new and terrible solar weapon such as you see below.  This is the only possible answer as to why Houston councilmembers Sue Lovell and James Rodriguez would talk in the newspaper about stricter parking enforcement, without talking about how the meters, time and time again, do not work.  

Maybe the more people who try to use the meters without success, the more destructive energy the meters collect. It could be that beyond sunlight, the meters are also sapping human energy given off in incidents of extreme frustration trying to get the meters to work.   

Well, it’s one thing if Ms. Lovell and Mr. Rodriguez are the henchpeople of our military industrial complex (Assuming what you see below is a weapon of American or even Earth origin). That does not by definition get in the way of my finding a place to park. I  just wish that they would find a plan that would allow people to come to Downtown Houston and use a parking meter without such hassle.  

January 8, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Houston Political Consultant Marc Campos Rips Me, But Fails To Provide Link

Houston political consultant Marc Campos has blasted me, but, lacking a true sense of sportsmanship, failed to provide a link. This is in sharp contrast to the nice folks at the right-wing blog Lone Star Times who once mocked a poem I wrote with a link that generated a lot of traffic. 

Here is the link to Campos Communications. Here is the link to his Daily Commentary.

Below is what Marc said in his Daily Commentary today—

“Commentary’s recent takes on local Latino voter turnout has definitely ruffled a feather or two. The liberal blog fella has been suspicious of Commentary’s motives from the outset. He was the one that said I might be more interested in looking for a “gig” plus he threw in that dig questioning H-Town CM James Rodriguez’ political party affiliation. Hey, that’s his right. Here’s what he sent me yesterday:

“Are Hispanics in Houston and Harris County unable to vote without extra prodding? At what point does this become the fault of the community in question?”

Commentary thought about having a discussion with him to talk about how to get out the vote and what is involved but I decided against because I think he had already made up his mind on this issue so here’s what I sent him:

“Look, I don’t want to get into it with you because folks like you are determined to undermine a point I have been making for over a decade now – sorry.”

I think I hurt his feeling because here’s how he responded:

“Folks like me? You hardly have any idea who I am or what I think. I sure have never had great relations with my fellow bloggers. I’ve agreed with a number of things you’ve written over time. Often agreeing with some your views about statements of bravado by bloggers.

Between my own blog and my space on the Chronicle, I’ve got a bigger audfeince than any progressive Houston blogger than but Kuffner. I was open to a discussion and you chose to make an enemy. You’re a fool.”

Marc has the story half right. I did call him a fool. It seemed a good response to anybody who says “folks like me.”  (Though I guess it is better than a Ross Perot “you people.”) Marc leaves out where I apologized to him. Lincoln (Photo Above) said it was always wrong to speak in anger. I’m happy to apologize to Marc right here again. Though I will say Marc is a bit misguided to regard me as a player around here when I don’t really see myself as such. Thanks for the promotion. 

Marc is nice to highlight my traffic. I’ve run 889 page views a day for 2008. And over 2,100 a day for November so far. These are good numbers and I’m proud to discuss them. They reflect a lot of work and time for not a dollar’s worth of pay. I’ve told Kuffner I’ll catch up with him. Self-promotion is the coin of the realm for bloggers. If I don’t do it, who will? (Besides Mr. Campos. I hope he’s not going to charge me a fee for the plug. I hope he spends the same time on his paying clients.

Here is the link to Kuffner. Here is a link to Julie Pippert at Momocrats. She also has very good traffic. Maybe higher than mine.


As for Councilman Rodriguez, here is the link to where he is a co-chair of the issues committee for Republican Bill King. (Picture Above. Mr Rodriguez is to the left of Mr. King. ) Mr. King is a former Mayor of Kemah who may well run for Mayor of Houston. According to the Chronicle, Mr. King has voted in Republican primaries for the last decade.  I’ve never posted on this issue before today. I might never have gotten around to it if not pressed. 

(Yes–I know Lincoln was a Republican as well. But that’s different.)

As for the question of Hispanic turnout in Houston, at what point does the Hispanic community itself bear some fault for the poor turnout? That was my question and it was a good one. Anyone got a thought?   

Mr. Campos gets it wrong in one big respect. I had not made my mind up about anything or anybody. I wanted to learn from the guy. That’s why I asked him a question. He seems unable to look past a George W. Bush black or white view of the world of are you with me or against me? If Marc is about outreach, doesn’t that mean talking to people?

In the year ahead I intend to post more than I have in the past about City of Houston politics. There are a number of people I figure I can learn from as we move ahead. If Marc would like to share his wisdom with me, I’d be more than happy to listen. I’ve e-mailed him saying that I would be happy to talk. I’m open to anybody who would like to talk.

As a matter of fact, I’ll give Mr. Campos and Mr. Rodriguez space on this blog to reply to anything I’ve said or to make any case they would like to make.

November 13, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments