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Liberal & Progressive Options For 2011 Houston City Council—Eric Dick Tells You Who He Is

I early voted a few hours ago in our Houston 2011 city elections.

Above are campaign signs that were across the street from the polling place.

The man with the dark hair on the other side of that Eric Dick sign near the center of the picture is none other than Council position #2 candidate  Eric Dick. It is not very good picture of Eric–But it is him.

I’ve met Eric twice and have had nice conversations with him each time.

I’m not going to vote for the guy and his placement of signs all over Houston this year has been a misdeed.

Yet I can’t muster any anger at Eric. He has been so brazen in his actions that I just have to laugh. And, unlike so many others running for municipal office in Houston in 2011, Eric makes it clear he is a Republican. He does not hide his party affiliation.

Eric Dick tells you right up front who he is.

With early voting down to the last few days and General Election Day next Tuesday, here is a reposting of my liberal and progressive endorsements for the Houston municipal ballot —

It is time for our Houston municipal elections.

Early voting runs October 24-November 4. General Election Day is November 8.

Here is a link to help you find out where to vote.

Who can a liberal or progressive support in these elections?

As is so often the case in Houston, the pickings are slim. Continue reading

November 3, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Karen Derr Makes Her Case For Houston City Council District C In 2011

I asked Houston City Council District C candidate Karen Derr if she would like to make her case with a brief statement at my blog.

I live in District C. I am voting for Ms. Derr.

Ms. Derr was nice enough to provide the following statement—

In 2009, when I first ran for city council at large, my previous political experience had been volunteering for candidates I admired since I was a child.  Those who know me knew that I wanted to make a difference in Houston as an elected representative  and when I sold my company in 2008, I launched my campaign.  I learned a great deal in that campaign and some of what I learned was eye-opening.   I learned that there is a disproportionate level of influence over the political process from those who do business with the city. Seasoned political watchers look at the money raised from these “usual givers” to predict who will win and this determines who’s a good bet for further investment and endorsements.  As an active volunteer, I was convinced that everyone needs to be engaged – apartment dwellers, home owners, parents, seniors, business owners and youth – yes, even youth need to be involved in making our neighborhoods better.   Yet, there is a considerable lack of faith in our city government and our elections are decided by dismal voter turnout.

I strongly believe these two facts are closely connected and that those of us who aspire to serve on city council need to rebuild that trust by avoiding close financial relationships with those who benefit from contracts, 380 agreements and behind the scenes access to city hall. Other candidates this election cycle take a different position on this issue and that’s their prerogative. However, let us not be so naive to suggest that money doesn’t change things. It does. And in a time with so few resources available to neighborhoods, it’s particularly important that tax dollars are spent efficiently and fairly. In this economic climate, mine aren’t the only eyes being opened.  Voters know what their neighborhoods need to thrive – neighborhood based patrolling, bike trails and sidewalks that connect with neighborhood friendly local businesses, clean air, and protection from flooding. They know these improvements could be more easily acheived if backroom deals were negotiated in the open to fully benefit communities.  This new awareness makes it a great time to run for public office.  A candidate with a passion for these issues can win without a bloated campaign budget.  I believe this is a climate in which a candidate can win with hard work and good communication skills to express a determination to reach these goals that resonate with voters.

Here is a Houston Chronicle overview of the District C race.

Here are my endorsements for 2011 Houston elections.

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

2011 Harris County Green Party Endorsements For Houston City Council

Below are the Harris County Green Party endorsements for Houston City Council in 2011.

Here are my Houston municipal election endorsements for 2011.

Green Party members:
Don Cook, for Houston City Council At-Large Position 1
Video interview on Greenwatch
Amy Price for Houston City Council At-Large Position 4

Video interview on Greenwatch

also endorsed:
Jenifer René Pool (At-Large 2)
Jolanda Jones (At-Large 5)
Karen Derr (District C)

also endorsed OCCUPY HOUSTON (non-partisan)
Greenwatch TV about O H

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Here is a link to help you find out where to vote.

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.

Houston was a 61% Obama city in 2008. If we can’t muster up some decent candidates, then maybe we should use our political energies to support Occupy Houston.

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.

The League of Women Voters of the Houston Area offers a voter’s guide that profiles and asks questions of all the Houston candidates.

Fellow blogger Perry Dorrell at Brains And Eggs has made a series of excellent posts endorsing candidates in Houston for 2011.

Greg Wythe at Greg’s Opinion has also made some well thought-out endorsements.

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.

(Below–Houston skyline in 1971. Photo by YixilTesiphon. Here is a link to a history of Houston.) 

October 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Houston City Elections—Vote Even If You Are Not Enthused

I’m overdue to blog extensively about the upcoming Houston municipal elections. Early voting starts on October 24 and Election Day is November 8.

I’m embarrassed to claim these elections are relevant. The energy and optimism of the Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Houston movements in recent weeks has made our Houston city elections seem even more irrelevant.

The narrow ideological range of the issues discussed in city elections—and of the candidates themselves—helps explain and perpetuate the chronically low turnout in Houston.

I don’t care about red light cameras. I am so tired of hearing about the red light cameras.

However, there are reasons for hope and ways to make your views known even within the paltry options provided on the 2011 Houston municipal ballot.

Karen Derr and Josh Verde are progressive options to the Ellen Cohen money machine is Council district C. I live in Distrct C.

Amy Price is a great new voice for At-Large #4.

And while Democratic Mayor Annise Parker is the only credible candidate for Mayor—Progressives and liberals have the option to leave the ballot blank for Mayor.

You don’t have to reward Mayor Parker for attending Republican fundraisers, or for raising a $2.3 million campaign warchest while doing nothing to register voters or strengthen the Democratic Party for the fights ahead in 2012.

The near 50% child poverty rate in Houston? It’ll be a cold day in July in Houston before you hear Mayor Annise Parker address that topic with any intensity.

Houston city elections often seem to be little more 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.

We’ll have to make the best of this election, and then work with Occupy movement to bring real hope and change to our politics.

I’ll be blogging more on our Houston elections over the next couple of weeks.

The League of Women Voters of the Houston Area has a voter’s guide online in pdf form to help voters learn more about Houston city candidates. 

October 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Are The Democrats Running In Houston City Election Runoffs?—Who Can A Liberal Support?

Who are the Democrats running in our Houston City Elections?

Runoff elections for Houston are taking place. Early voting ends on December 8 and General Election Day is December 12.

It is important to know who is running as a Democrat for our Houston city offices.

In this way, you can see who will do the least harm once elected.

This is not a hopeful view. It is not a 100% accurate view. But it is true enough.

Urban voters know they vote for Democrats time after time, and that our cities continue to decline.

While much of this has to do with factors beyond the control of city government, where is the effective advocacy and action on behalf of our cities?

Where can a liberal turn?

Where can someone who could use some help from government turn, when Democrats running for city office call themselves “fiscal conservatives” and talk about taxes as if they are the plague?

While I understand why candidates want the police endorsement, there are other things that matter in Houston as well. There is more to the public welfare than fear of crime.

Here are the Citywide races on the Houston ballot—


In our Houston Mayoral run-off, both Gene Locke and current City Controller Annise Parker are Democrats.

Mr. Locke consorts with gay-bashers and I don’t see how he can be trusted to do the right thing in any regard. Bigotry towards one is bigotry towards all.

Ms. Parker is, I think, a decent person who has run, in many regards, a shameless campaign.

You have to have a belief in the future unless you are just going to sit around and hope 2012 is for real—So Ms. Parker has my vote. She strikes me as smart and at least aware of a course of action that would benefit Houstonians of all economic classes.

I guess we’ll roll the dice and find out about Ms. Parker if she is able to win the election.

(Below–Rolling the dice in an 1840 painting called The Last Blow by Charles Robert Leslie.)

City Controller

The Democrat in this race is current City Councilmember Ronald Green. He is running against a Republican.

Mr. Green has not paid all his taxes. I’m not going to vote for a City Controller who has not paid all his taxes.

Mr. Green says is seeking to resolve the matter. I’m sure he is seeking to resolve the matter.

I wish Mr. Green had resolved the matter long before election season.

Not much is more central to how Democrats see the world than using tax dollars to enhance the public condition. I expect little-to-nothing of Republicans. I expect Democrats to pay up on taxes owed.

I won’t be voting for the Republican in this race. I’m going to leave this ballot space blank and let the chips fall where they may.

( Below–The chips are on the table. His Station And Four Aces from 1903 by Cassius Coolidge.)

Council At-Large # 1-

Real estate agent  Karen Derr is the Democrat in this race. I’ve met Ms. Derr twice and we really did not hit it off. That is my problem. No doubt I was difficult.

Ms. Derr’s web home says she is for ethics and against crime. This is good to know.

Ms. Derr  appears to be a successful hard-working woman. I’ll spin the wheel on Election Day and hope Ms. Derr has a measure of longterm vision to go along with her day-to-day qualities.

(Below–These folks are spinning the wheel in early 19th-century Europe.)

Council At -Large #2

Both incumbent Sue Lovell and challenger Andrew Burks are Democrats. Ms. Lovell has offered up four years of uninspiring service, but Mr. Burks is not really a credible alternative.  Mr. Burks runs for council every two years and this year lucked into a runoff he has little chance to win based on the first round of voting.

This will be Ms. Lovell’s last term on Council under the current term limits law. It would be great to hear a bit more from Ms. Lovell in this last term on behalf of people often left out at Houston City Hall.

(Here is some disturbing late information about Ms. Lovell. She has been helping a Republican in his effort to win against Jolanda Jones for At-Large # 5. Why must these people do this kind of stuff?)

( Below—In a two-horse race, somebody has got to win. John Herring’s Great Match (The Flying Dutchman and Voltigeur.) From the 1850’s.)

Council At-Large # 5—

Jolanda Jones is the Democratic incumbent in a tough race against a Republican.

I’m going to vote for Ms. Jones. She stresses in her campaign that she is an advocate for all people and not just the privileged.

Is she?

Who knows?

You can’t go by what they tell you— But you can’t leave the process to others when you have your own voice.

My gut feeling is that Ms. Jones cares about people and makes some effort on Council to help folks. She sure is a lot better than her challenger.

(Below–The People! The masses looking to enter Toronto’s Dufferin Racetrack in 1908.)

Houston’s municipal electorate is more affluent than the city as whole.

It is the concerns of this electorate that Houston politicians seek to address.

The fact remains, however, that many in Houston are playing for their last dollar.

These folks, as well as all people of Houston, should be on the agenda at Houston City Hall.

(Below–Gambling With Their Cotton Money. From 1939. Picture taken by Marion Post Wolcott for the Farm  Security Administration.)

December 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Check Out Houston Council Candidate Karen Derr’s Classy Campaign Sign Locations

Houston at-large position #1 City Council candidate Karen Derr is running a classy campaign. Ms. Derr, a Democrat and a realtor, has campaign signs in all the best locations. 

A recent drive on Harrisburg Blvd. in Houston showed the handywork of the Derr effort. See below how the Derr campaign projects itself to the public. (Please note the Pam Holm sign on the middle picture. More on Ms. Holm’s sign campaign to come.)

(Here is a previous post I wrote about another Derr sign at a vacant lot.)

The first picture is at the 3800 block of Harrisburg near the intersection of Harrisburg and Drennan St. The second location is at the 4400 block of Harrisburg across the street from the intersection of Harrisburg and Super St. The final sign location is at the intersection of the 6100 block of Harrisburg and Caylor St.  

Now, of course, I know Ms. Derr had the permission of the property owners at these sites to place these signs.  

You’ll notice in the pictures that the signs say Ms. Derr is running for the District H council seat. Ms. Derr had intended to run in the District H special election earlier this year, but she missed the filing deadline. So these signs in the vacant lots and at the abandoned building are signs for a race Ms. Derr never ran and not for the race she is currently running.

I was actively involved in electoral politics in Cincinnati, Ohio during much of the 1990’s. I worked for a member of the Cincinnati City Council.  I had the assignment over a number of campaigns to place yard signs all over Cincinnati. Not once did I place a sign at a vacant lot or on an abandoned building. 

How does the placement of these signs show any level of respect by Ms. Derr for the people she is hoping to represent at Houston City Hall? One would hope for more from a Democrat.    


September 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Houston Council Candidate Karen Derr Should Help Clean 1218 Shepherd Drive


Above you see the Karen Derr for Houston City Council sign located at 1218 Shepherd Drive in Houston.

Ms. Derr is running for Council At-Large position #1. As you can see on the sign, her campaign web home is KarenForCouncil.org.  

We’ll assume that Ms. Derr and the Derr campaign got permission from the property owner to attach that sign to that fence. I’m certain the campaign did not just come around and stick a sign up on vacant property.

( Please click here to see who else is making use of this fence.)

So even though–of course–the sign has been placed there legally, I do wonder why Ms. Derr or the Derr campaign does not report this property to the city for possible citation. This location is a public eyesore!

Though I do suppose reporting the property would be a knife-in-the-back of the property owner. Maybe the Derr campaign could pay back the  owner for his or her loyal support by offering to clean the area behind the fence.

Maybe Derr campaign volunteers could walk this stretch of Shepherd and make it nicer for all the people of Houston.  

For the moment however, what you see is the Derr for Council campaign as it is represented at 1218 Shepherd Drive.

July 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment