Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Houston Janitors Conduct Peaceful March For A More Fair Wage—Video Of The Arrest By Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s Police

There was a peaceful protest in Houston this afternoon asking for no more than that janitors in Downtown Houston’s big office buildings be paid a more fair wage.

Below is a picture I took of these peaceful protesters marching under the Flag of the United States on this Flag Day.

What could be more patriotic and more American than the belief that a fair day’s work merits a fair paycheck?

What could be more patriotic and American than the right to assemble and to put forth our grievances?

Here is the website for these Houston janitors who are asking for a raise.

11 Houston janitors have already been fired for advocating for higher wages. 

The great liberal magazine The Nation has written about this issue.

From The Nation—

“Yesterday, the contract between the janitors and the cleaning contractors expired. SEIU Local 1 spent the past month trying to reach an agreement to raise the janitors’ hourly wage to $10 over the next three years. (They currently make $ 8.35 an hour.) But the contractors countered with an offer of a $0.50 pay raise phased in over five years and—according to SEIU spokesperson Paloma Martinez—said that they “wouldn’t budge.” The contractors claimed that the building owners and tenants—the aforementioned corporations—aren’t willing to pay anything close to a living wage…the city’s janitors are among the lowest paid in the nation, with workers in cities with far weaker real estate markets earning a significantly higher hourly wage: Cincinnati ($9.80), Cleveland ($10.30), Detroit ($10.97) and Chicago ($15.45) are a few examples.”

Here is what Houston Mayor Annise Parker- –a Democrat— recently said on her official Facebook page.

“Houston continues to be a leader in job growth!”

Everything is wonderful. Or at least everything is wonderful so long as you are content with $ 8.35 an hour.

(Below–Another picture from the rally.)

There was one arrest at this peaceful rally.

The Houston Chronicle has reported this arrest.

CNBC–a business network–reports that police horses from Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s police force trampled over some Houston janitors.

I counted at least 21 Houston police officers watching over this rally. Many of these officers were on horseback.

There was no need for this excessive presence. This was a peaceful march.

The only tension came from the excessive police presence. These were peaceful demonstrators.

Police officers are working people just like anybody else. I belive that most police officers are good honest people.  At the same time, Houston police are mistaken if they see janitors making $ 8.35 an hour as the enemy.

Here is a video of the arrest—

Below is a another video of the arrest at the march that was taken by Occupy Wall Street: Houston. The arrest is at around the 2 minute point of the video.

Houston City Council–with the near unanimous consent of Council Democrats as well as Mayor Parker, recently voted to criminalize many acts of sharing food with the homeless.

Not a single Council Democrat was at the rally today. Mayor Parker was not at the rally today.

What good are these Democrats if they don’t stick up for working people?

The bottom line is clear.

The freedom of all people is connected and the work of freedom is up to each of us.

The fate of all working people is connected.

Houston janitors merit better wages and we all  should consider taking up their just cause.

June 15, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 6 Comments

Latest Edition Of The Occupy Wall Street: Houston Newsletter

Here is the most recent edition of the Occupy Wall Street: Houston newsletter. OWSH is a strong effort to reboot the Occupy Wall Street effort here in Houston. Here is the Facebook page of OWSH. Please read the newsletter and see if you would like to help in some way.

Upcoming Events


TX Democratic Party State Comvention Events: CANCELLED. Our search for partners for this event found none. That’s right, folks: Democrats in Texas are such a non-entity that even those of us who would normally protest against their to live up to commit to a truly progressive platform and follow-through can’t get enthused. So rest up on the first morning of the convention and join us that evening at Domy Books for our first movie, The Corporation!


2nd Friday of each month (June 8), 8:30PM, Domy Books, 1709 Westheimer Rd, back courtyard (enter through Cafe Brasil):Movies for Change series. This month we’re showing “The Corporation”. Reviewscall it “the most astute and flat-out persuasive political documentary of the new millennium.” Come see for yourself!

June 11, 3-4:30, Silverman Law Group, 917 Franklin St., 4th Fl:legal observer training. This is a training for Spanish-speakers only.Please RSVP to Daphne Silverman at 713-229-0687. There’s only room for 10, so sign up now!


June 16, 2:30, 28th st., between Ave Q and Seawall Blvd:
Juneteenth parade with Occupy Galveston. Lline-up and the parade start at 4pm. The theme of the parade is African American music, so we are making signs with lyrics from African American musicians on topics relevant to Occupy!

Twice monthly. First Sunday of the month, 1:30 PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd (in Tlaquepaque Market). Third Tuesday of the month, 6PM, 1732 Westheimer Rd, Empire Cafe: GA. Our next one is Tues the 19th.

July 4, Take Back Your Capital, Austin: Some details on their webpage, others tbd, but Occupy Austin is working hard to make sure that any occupier in Texas who wants to come has a way there. This is our chance to show that Occupy is alive and well in the Lone Star State, and to connect with other Texas occupations.

Ongoing


Tuesdays, 5:30 PM, U.S. 59 and Dunlavy:Freeway blog.

Autonomous action:petition drive to require a referendum vote on the anti food-sharing ordinance. We need 28,000 valid signatures by early July. Download the updated (as of 4/17) petition hereUpdate: so far, very few sigs have been turned in. Help us meet our goal!

ALEC in Texas:
The Texas Public Policy Foundation

by Donni Romaniello

(This article is the second in a three-part series on ALEC, The American Legislative Exchange Council)

The influence of American Legislative Exchange Council in Texas is undeniable.  Between 2001 and 2011 ALEC member corporations contributed more than $16 million to state lawmakers.  The leading recipient of corporate largesse was Governor Rick Perry, who received $2 million. Those ten years brought significant changes to Texas tort law, all favoring corporate interests.  The 2003 Texas Omnibus Civil Justice Reform Act, described by Governor Perry as “the most sweeping comprehensive lawsuit reform in the nation”, was an ALEC wish-list come true for CEOs everywhere.

The 2003 Tort Reforms changed substantive law regarding liability and placed arbitrary limitations on noneconomic and punitive damages.  The reforms also made significant revisions to the law of Civil Procedure.  They made it more difficult to bring class action suits.  They also made parties who reject settlement offers liable for attorney’s fees in the event the judgment is within twenty percent of the offer.  All of these changes work to the benefit of corporations and against the interests of those harmed by defective and/or dangerous products.

Ironically, one of ALEC’s greatest victories, the Stand Your Ground self-defense laws, may lead to its undoing.  In 2007 the Texas State Senate unanimously passed the bill while only 13 of 150 Representatives voted against it.  The legislation was based on a Florida statue enacted in 2003 and brought to ALEC for widespread distribution.   Less than three months after the it became effective, Joe Horn of Pasadena shot and killed two black men who he believed were burglarizing a neighbor’s home.  A Harris County Grand Jury failed to indict him after two weeks of testimony.  Presently, Stand Your Ground laws are on trial as that legislation is at the heart of the Trayvon Martin shooting controversy.

Since the publicity of the Trayvon Martin case ALEC and the work it does has come under fire throughout the nation.  In recent months 22 corporate members have cut their ties with the organization.  As of May 22nd 54 state legislators have left ALEC.  Twelve Texas legislators, all Democrats, are among them.  Nationwide over one-half million people have signed anti-ALEC petitions.  As a response to recent controversy, ALEC has disbanded its Public Safety and Elections Task Force.

Defending ALEC in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece was the Texas Public Policy Foundation.  Established in 1989, TPPF is a state version of ALEC as well as a “proud” member of its parent organization.  Like ALEC, it has nonprofit status.  It claims to be a “$5 million organization” with 30 employees.  Its stated beliefs are “limited government, free enterprise, private property rights and individual responsibility”.

Through ALEC and TPPF, corporations are having their say in the fine print of legislation here in Texas and nationwide.  They focus on state lawmakers for a number of reasons, but they understand one important fact: state laws have more impact on the day to day activities of people and business entities than Federal law.  Therefore they seek to create a favorable environment for corporate greed in all 50 states.

As the saying goes, we must think globally but must act on the local level, that level being state lawmakers as they have so much influence on the lives of the 99%.

Next Edition: ALEC and the Gutting of Laws to Protect the Injured.

Notes from the Freeway Blog:
Bank of America/Bad for America/Divest Now

This week we got our usual, very uplifting honks from folks headed home after work. One of them came from an officer in a HPD car. Love it when the 99% knows who they are!

Other News from Our GA

  • We’ve picked our July movie: One Peace at a Time. The plan is to make sure that our movie series contains movies that not only highlight what’s wrong with the world but prescribe cures. “One Peace At A Time” is one of those later films.
  • We continue to plan for Oct 8, the first anniversary of Occcupy in Houston. In honor of the spirit of volunteerism that characterized the best of Occupy, we’re organizing a volunteer festival. We’re going to connect the good people of Houston who want to donate their time to groups that need help. Eleanor Tinsley Park and Tranquillity Park are NOT available, so we’re on the lookout for a location. We’re also in the process of brainstorming groups who might want to table at the festival. Our thought is not to vet
  • The “Pay It Forward” project is percolating. We continue to gather skills we can use to help others when we gather our forces come fall.
  • T-shirts are on the way to the printer! We hope that we have them by the Juneteenth march.

Volunteer Opportunities

Come to a GA or contact us atowshou@gmail.com and find out how to participate.

from your home:

  • Facebook admin(in charge of researching and posting Tuesday Houston City Council agenda items)
  • Google group member (helps plan our actions outside of GAs)

out in the world, with other members:

  • Freeway blogger(participates in banner hangs on Houston’s bridges. Safe and fun.)
  • Film coordinator(sets up for the monthy film screening)

out in the world, autonomously:

  • Coalition builder(speaks for OWSH at meetings of other orgs in the GHA, builds bridges.)

OWSH Gives A Big Thank You To…

Laura Palmer, for agreeing to edit the video footage of our divorce from the Big Banks. Thanks to Laura’s generosity with her talent and time, we hope to have a great vid out soon. As the saying goes, “This could be the start of a beautiful friendship”.



Got an item–an announcement, a proposal, a report–for the next GA? Send it toowshou@gmail.com before Sat, Jun  at 10 PM, and Facilitation will get it onto the agenda! Know of an Occupy-friendly event coming up? Email it and we’ll put it in the next newsletter.


June 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Latest Occupy Wall Street: Houston Newsletter

Here is the most recent edition of the Occupy Wall Street: Houston newsletter. OWSH is a strong effort to reboot the Occupy Wall Street effort here in Houston. Here is the Facebook page of OWSH. Please read the newsletter and see if you would like to help in some way.

Upcoming Events
Thurs May 24, 7PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd:computer privacy and freedom skillshare with activist Patrick Gibbs. Bring your laptop if you’ve got one!
Thurs evening June 7, time and location tba:Poster making party. Getting ready to hit the TX Dem convention in style. Bring your poster board, paper, markers, etc.
Fri June 8- Sat June 9, time tba, 1001 Avenida de las America, George R. Brown Convention Center: TX Democratic Party state convention. We’re looking to ally with a local group/s either on wage theft or the sonagram bill. If our allies agree, we’ll hit the con on Friday morning, as the delegates are first coming in. Details will be set by the next newsletter.
June 11, 3-4:30, Silverman Law Group, 917 Franklin St., 4th Fl:legal observer training. This is a training for Spanish-speakers only. Please RSVP to Daphne Silverman at 713-229-0687. There’s only room for 10, so sign up now!
July 4, Take Back Your Capital, Austin: Some details on their webpage, others tbd, but Occupy Austin is working hard to make sure that any occupier in Texas who wants to come has a way there. This is our chance to show that Occupy is alive and well in the Lone Star State, and to connect with other Texas occupations.

Ongoing


2nd Friday of each month, 8:30PM, Domy Books, 1709 Westheimer Rd, back courtyard (enter through Cafe Brasil):On June 8 we’re showing “The Corporation”.Reviews call it “the most astute and flat-out persuasive political documentary of the new millennium.” Come see for yourself!


Twice monthly. First Sunday of the month, 1:30 PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd (in Tlaquepaque Market). Third Tuesday of the month, 6PM, 1732 Westheimer Rd, Empire Cafe: GA.


Tuesdays, 5:30 PM, U.S. 59 and Dunlavy:Freeway blog.


Autonomous action:join the OWSHopsgoogle group and help plan our actions outside of the GA.

Autonomous action:petition drive to require a referendum vote on the anti food-sharing ordinance. We need 28,000 valid signatures by the middle of July. Download the updated (as of 4/17) petition here.Update: so far, very few sigs have been turned in. This weekend, Free Press Houston is holding their annual Summer Fest at Eleanor Tinsley Park. Standing outside of the fest and catching folks as they go in should be a great place to collect sigs.

ALEC and Politics by Playbook
Corporations get to rewrite state laws at the expense of the 99%.

by Donni RomanielloAt the heart of OWSH’s commitment to economic justice is the undue corporate influence on legislation at the expense of everyone and everything else. Standing center stage but hidden behind the curtain of non-profit charity status is the American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC. Founded in 1973 to “promote a conservative agenda,” ALEC bills itself as a “non- profit…think-tank for state-based public policy issues.” In reality it is a bill mill churning out hundreds of “model bills” on a variety of issues each year that always benefit the revenue streams of corporate big business.
And although it claims that promoting the Constitutionally mandated system of Federalism is one of its core goals, ALEC has managed to turn the concept on its head. Federalism allows individual states control over most laws that affect the day to day interactions of people and corporations, which ideally turns the states into laboratories of public policy. But ALEC develops laws in Americas corporate board rooms and shops them wholesale to the states, a top-down approach to legislation that runs counter to the intent of Federalism.ALEC has released over 800 “model bills”. They cover a wide range of subjects, from worker and consumer rights, to tort reform, to energy and environmental issues, to voter rights. Its most infamous bill is Arizona’s Anti-Immigrant SB-1070, approved by ALEC’s legislative and corporate members in 2009. Another ALEC bill is the “Stand Your Ground” or “Castle Bill” self- defense law that underpins the legal defense of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin in Florida.ALEC’s membership includes 2000 legislators from all 50 states and about 300 corporate members. In 2010 its Public Sector Board of Directors was
comprised of 20 Republican and 3 Democrat legislators.  Its corporate members include oil, tobacco, insurance and big banks, a veritable Economic Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.Legislators pay annual dues of $100. Tthe price tag for corporate members paying anywhere from $7000 to $50,000. In recent years dues from “public” members amounted to slightly more than 1% while more than 81% of ALEC’s income comes from corporate contributions. With this money, ALEC sponsors Legislative Task Force meetings, a State and National Policy Summit and a posh Annual Meeting.

Because the “model bills” ALEC writes often address technical legal doctrines like assumption of risk, the determination of fault in tort cases, or who pays the cost of a jury in personal injury cases, they rarely attract the interest of the average person because of their legalistic nature and can slip through a state legislature quietly. Currently, ALEC has countless bills in the making.

In a political system in which access and money are the primary modes of influencing lawmaking, ALEC stands front and center. Describing the purpose of corporations joining ALEC, with its large costs of sponsorship, Task Force Chair Dennis Bartlett stated, “Our members join for the purpose of having a seat at the table.” Bob Edgar of Common Cause stated, “This is proof positive of the depth and scope of the corporate reach into the democratic process.” This reach into the legislative process includes off-the-rack legislation designed to make state laws ever more favorable to corporate interests.

The OWSH Newsletter will present a series of articles on ALEC, its impact on the 99% and its impact on Texas and its state legislators. Next Week: ALEC in Texas.

Permablitz with Transition Houston

by Amy Price

Cons: the planning coud’ve been farther along when we arrived and the materials to be used better thought through.
Pros: accomplished something real, instant gratification, met good folks, learned something, fits with OWSH’s mission to promote an environmentally sustainable society.
Overall: I’m so doing this again.

This past Saturday, I joined about ten other folks forTransition Houston’s last Permablitz of the season. In a Permablitz, volunteers grab any useful tools they have on hand and show up for a group gardening experience. The landowner provides the raw materials, some of Transition Houston’s gardening gurus help draw up a plan, and volunteers donate the muscle needed to transform a lucky lottery winner’s backyard into a space that better follows permaculture practices such as minimizing grassy areas. (You know how Houston floods? Like, a lot? Part of the reason is our oceans of semi-permeable lawn.) The project goes on hiatus during our Africa-hot summer.

We started trickling in just before 8:30, feasted on breakfast provided by the homeowner and the Transition Houston regulars, then trooped onto the grounds to begin dithering over some design elements. Despite a late start, an unplanned trip to the hardware store and work stoppages to explain basics to folks like me who don’t know much about gardening, we actually got a lot done. By the time we stripped off our gloves at 12:30 we had extended one large bed to a brick walkway, planned where some young citrus trees would be planted in the fall, rerouted an existing stepping stone pathway, and installed a raised bed for a vegetable garden. There’s plenty of planting left for the homeowner, but all of the heavy lifting is done.


]The light post-blitz lunch consisted of leftover breakfast goodies–including wedges from a cultivar of grapefruit that can only be obtained from a friend of one of the gardening gurus–and a cake celebrating the 13th birthday of one of our blitzers. Sitting serenely in the beautifully landscaped backyard of what might well be a 1%er, given the posh Kirby Drive address, I felt a flash of unease. Why had we donated our time to somebody who could certainly afford to pay for the work? And was I OK with that?

Yep. Once you’ve participated in three Permablitzes you can toss your name in the lottery to be blitzed. Our hostess, besides being a hard worker with a friendly and down-to-earth way about her, is by all reports a giving and good-hearted person. That counts more for me than most any other category I might put someone into. What’s more, she clearly appreciated the sense of community that the work engendered. There is something undeniably powerful about throwing in with a bunch of people you don’t know to accomplish a common goal, sweating together, finishing, and seeing that what you’ve done is tangible and good. I was so impressed with the experience that I started the lottery process…and I don’t even have a place to put a garden.

Which means that come November, when I’ll be eligible for my own Permablitz, it could be a really good time to be my friend.



Got an item–an announcement, a proposal, a report–for the next GA? Send it toowshou@gmail.com before Thurs May 31 at 10 PM, and Facilitation will get it onto the agenda! Know of an Occupy-friendly event coming up? Email it and we’ll put it in the next newsletter.



OWSH Allies with HPJCHouston Peace and Justice Center has agreed to be our fiscal sponsor, which means that we’ll soon have a bank account and a way of collecting tax-free donations.We learned that HPJC is primarily an umbrella organization for justice-oriented activist groups in Houston. At their encouragement, we’re going to apply for membership at their August board meeting. This promises to be a great way to network with other orgs in Houston and might afford us resources to support work that matters to both HPJC and OWSH.

Our Next GA

This GA will be devoted to long-range planning. Topics will include

  • Pay it Forward project. We’re starting to learn about installing urban gardens from Transition Houston and other groups. We’re also going to contact the folks at the Houston Green Building Resource Center to see what we can learn about making homes more energy efficient. First we learn, then we’re ready to spread the knowledge!

Our Next GA (Cont.)

  • Oct 6, 1st anniversary of Occupy in Houston. We’re planning a volunteer festival to help activate folks by connecting them with orgs that need volunteers. It’s going to be AWESOME.
  • Occupy solidarity events.What’s coming up in other occupies that we can help with here in Houston?

May 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Latest Occupy Wall Street: Houston Newsletter—The Work Of Freedom Is Up To Each Of Us

Here is the latest newsletter of Occupy Wall Street: Houston. OWSH is an ongoing effort to revitalize the Occupy Wall Street effort in Houston.

Please read the newsletter and consider getting involved. Contact information is on the newsletter.

It is up to each of us to do the work of freedom.

News from the 5/6/12 GA

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Upcoming Events


Sat May 19, 8:30AM-12:30PM, 949 Kirby Dr:
Permablitz with Transition Houston.


Thurs May 24, 7PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd:
computer privacy and freedom skillshare with activist Patrick Gibbs. Bring your laptop if
you’ve got one!


June 7-9: TX state Democratic convention. Details to come.

Ongoing


2nd Friday of each month, 8:30PM, Domy Books, 1709 Westheimer Rd, back courtyard (enter through Cafe Brasil):
 On June 8 we’re showing “The Corporation”. Reviews call it “the most astute and flat-out persuasive political documentary of the new millennium.” Come see for yourself!

Sundays, 1:30 PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd (in Tlaquepaque Market):GA.


Tuesdays, 5PM, U.S. 59 and Dunlavy: Freeway blog.

Autonomous action: join the OWSHops google group and help plan our actions outside of the GA.

Autonomous action: petition drive to require a referendum vote on the anti food-sharing ordinance. We need 28,000 valid signatures by the middle of July. Download the updated (as of 4/17) petition here.

Occupy Your Capital on Independence Day


We’re gearing up for July 4, when occupiers from all over the state of Texas will gather in Austin to show our commitment to a just future in Texas and also connecting folks with cars with folks in need of rides. Check out theirweb page and make your voice heard!

Breaking Up with the Big Banks

by Amy PriceI was one of 15-20 people who showed up on May 9, the date of Bank of America’s annual shareholder meeting, to “divorce” from the Big Banks. We donned top hat and veil and unmarried the institutions that have abused their relationship with the American public, occupier Donni Romaniello doing a great job officiating. The rest of us were an anti-bride, an anti-groom, and witnesses, all of whom promised to support our local banks and credit unions, “for as long as we all shall bank”.

This was OWSH’s first piece of street theater, and we learned a lot from it. Some of what we learned can apply to other actions:

  • Look non-activisty for as long as possible. Had we done this, we might’ve been able to finish the skit at all three locations, and we might’ve been able to sneak in some props that the police refused to allow.
  • Plan a rehearsal beforehand. We did a brief run-through, but folks were paying scant attention. Had we invested ourselves more in that runthrough things might’ve gone a little more smoothly out of the gate.
  • Designate people to deal with management. We stopped the skit once to speak to a manager, when we could’ve just barrelled right through.

What went well? Everything! We did a good job with an action we’d never done before, distributed a bunch of flyers that were packed with good info about how the big banks reward themselves for wrecking the American economy, picked the right action for the number of people we thought we’d pull out, had a member of the public tell a police officer to let us exercise our free speech rights, and collected good footage that we hope to make into a great video. Just as importantly, we had FUN. We left proud of our actions and happy, and the whole group agreed that this action is worth repeating at others bank branches on different occasions.

Educating the Public

One of the early steps in any campaign is to educate the people you’re trying to motivate. Unlike cities such as San Fransico, which has a long history of activism and a large and dedicated core of activists, Houston is hard to mobilize. That’s one reason OWSH is focusing hard on this step.

Our freeway blog, at US59 and Dunlavy, is going strong. We took a break this week to concentrate on May Day actions and will be finishing up a Bank of America thread next week. Next thread: ALEC.

Beginning in June, OWSH will be hosting a monthly film at Domy Books, starting with “The Corporation” on June 8. Be sure to invite your friends! Let’s make the most of this great opportunity to lay some truth on people in a way they’ll be able to hear.

We plan to show entertaining films that point out problems with the world we live in and solutions to those problems. Got film suggestions? Send them toowshou@gmail.com.

Other News from Our GA

  • Donnie Romaniellocontinues to sort out HPJC sponsorship to secure a bank account and a means of collecting online payment.
  • At the next GA,Delbert Jacksonwill present a report on two other groups he’s working with, OSHA and an anti Hewlett-Packard group. This sort of cross pollination is part of how we can build a strong coalition.
  • Jesus Waldo, Amy Price, and Donnie Romaniello are researching corporate donations and ties between ALEC and the Texas Democratic party to plan for the state Democratic convention in June.
  • We plan to move to twice monthly GAs in June.
  • At the next GA, we will discuss becoming a non-profit.

Volunteer Opportunities

Come to a GA or contact us atowshou@gmail.com and find out how to participate.

from your home:

  • Video editor(takes previously recorded footage of OWSH actions, helps it tell an engaging story)
  • Facebook admin(in charge of researching and posting Tuesday Houston City Council agenda items)

out in the world, with other members:

  • Freeway blogger(participates in banner hangs on Houston’s bridges. Safe and fun.)
  • Film coordinator(sets up for the monthy film screening)

out in the world, autonomously:

  • Coalition builder(speaks for OWSH at meetings of other orgs in the GHA, builds bridges.)


Got an item–an announcement, a proposal, a report–for the next GA? Send it toowshou@gmail.com before Thurs at 10 PM, and Facilitation will get it onto the agenda! Know of an Occupy-friendly event coming up? Email it and we’ll put it in the next newsletter.



Make Your Ideas Heard Outside of the GAJoin our google group,owshOps. Some of the threads so far:

  • Ladder of engagement–ways for interested parties to become engaged at different levels of involvement?
  • Facebook Campaign–how can we promote dialog?
  • Website–usability and design preferences?

Agenda Items For Our Next GA

Discussion

  • providing opportunities for engagement
  • Permablitz report
  • website (offered by Jesus Waldo’s business as a portfolio-builder)
  • coalition building
  • Pay It Forward in Edward Munoz’s and Selene Ballestas’s neighborhood
  • coalition building

Agenda Items (Cont.)

  • long range planning: June (state Democratic convention), July (Occupy Your Capital), Aug (?), Sept (?), Oct (Re-occupy), November (elections), Occupy solidarity actions

Reports

  • banner hang
  • Permablitz
  • Finance on HPJC, bank account
  • Theater for the 99%
  • website

May 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Latest Newsletter From Occupy Wall Street: Houston—Freeway Blogging

Below is the weekly newsletter of Occupy Wall Street: Houston. OWSH is an effort to give another try at the Occupy Wall Street effort here in Houston.  There is also an OWSH Facebook page. If you’d like to take part, the information you need is in the newsletter. There is always reason to keep at it and to move forward. The work of freedom and justice is up to each of us.

Here is a picture of some freeway blogging that OWSH members took part in earlier this week—

Here is the newsletter—

Upcoming Events

Sun Apr 28, 8:30AM, 711 Sabine St: Permablitz withTransition Houston. The group is dedicated to promoting sustainable living practices and selects at random one backyard per month to transform into a permaculture paradise. Full descriptionhere. Wouldn’t this be a great group to ally with and the permablitz a great way to do it?

Tues May 1: Occupy general strike. We’re working with Occupy Houston to outreach to different groups accross the city. OH is working on blocking entrance into downtown and OWSH will be coordinating a picket line within downtown, the goal being to provide opportunities for different levels of action.
Thu May 3, Fri May 4, and Sat May 5, 8PM, Good Jobs=Great Houston, 2955 Gulf Fwy: LookOut Arts Collective presents Theatre for the 99%: 6 short plays about living in America. All performances are PAY WHAT YOU WANT!!! Occupier Caleb Travis is producing.
May 9, evening, time and place TBA: Bank divestment action coincident with Bank of America’s annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, NC. We’re caravaning between different grocery store bank branches, telling the story of “I’m leaving this abusive relationship and marrying my credit union!” OWSH will provide materials to decorate vehicles a la “Just Divorced”, and if you’re divesting on this day, we’ll provide veils for “brides” and (we hope) top hats for “grooms”. Take this opportunity to divest from Wells Fargo, BoA, whichever big bank you’re currently banking with, and join a local bank or credit union! This is a non-arrest piece of street theater.
Computer Privacy and Freedom Skillshare with activist Patrick Gibbs. Details to come.

Ongoing


Sundays, 1:30 PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd (in Tlaquepaque Market):GA.

Tuesdays, 5PM, U.S. 59 and Dunlavy: Freeway blog.

Autonomous action: petition drive to require a referendum vote on the anti food-sharing ordinance. We need 28,000 valid signatures by the middle of July. Download the updated (as of 4/17) petition here.

Volunteer Opportunities

Come to a GA or contact us at owshou@gmail.com and find out how to participate
from your home:

  • Video editor (takes previously recorded footage of OWSH actions, makes it tell an engaging story)

out in the world, with other members:

  • Freeway blogger (participates in banner hangs on Houston’s bridges. Safe and fun.)
  • Pay It Forwarder (works to strengthen community in GHA, one neighborhood at a time, by providing requested services to neighborhood residents. Trash pickup, house painting, garden prep, whatever’s requested. We ask that those who have received our help work to help others in their neighborhood.)

out in the world, autonomously:

  • Coalition builder (speaks for OWSH at meetings of other orgs in the GHA, builds bridges.)

GA Endorses MLK’s Principles of Non-Violence

by Jesus Waldo

We the people of Occupy Wall Street Houston have organized under the banner of nonviolence as our overarching principle. Through the practice of nonviolence as exemplified by Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and many other influential leaders the world over, the actions, rhetoric, and beliefs of our movement will be guided in the favor of what is just.

Why each individual has chosen to adhere to nonviolence in their actions is personal and, without discussion, is valid and equal to the same choice made by all. We at Occupy Wall Street Houston understand that nonviolence is simply the way we have chosen to operate. We must now fully understand what the commitment is and we must ensure that we educate all involved in our actions about the principles of nonviolence.

Occupy Wall Street Houston will be a force in the community because we are the community. The force will be positive and will build toward a stronger more connected community. As human beings and activists we will commit to growth within ourselves and will mentor the spiritual, emotional, intellectual growth of others to reach full potential. All will be welcomed to speak their mind because no person is evil regardless of the darkness of their thoughts or actions. We understand that because no person can be evil then no person should be on the receiving end of violence.

Understanding that Occupy Wall Street Houston is a movement of nonviolent actions is easier in theory than it is in practice. We will not judge, humiliate, provoke or take advantage of our opponent’s weaknesses to achieve our goals. We will study an issue to look for ways to address it before taking any direct action. Opponents will understand our complaints and we will trust their intentions to address them. If a compromise is not achieved, having exhausted all means of alternative dispute resolution within our power, we will organize and participate in civil disobedience.

All actions of civil disobedience by Occupy Wall Street Houston will remain nonviolent. We will not reciprocate an offence directed at us as a group or as individuals. In breaking a law, just or not, there will be consequences that must be accepted. It is the responsibility of any person acting in civil disobedience to accept the humiliations and suffering in hopes that the world will see their commitment and sincerity. Anyone participating in an action by Occupy Wall Street Houston will be informed of the possible consequences as well as any laws that will be broken. During any action we will not allow hate to rule our actions or words. We believe that our voices will be listened to, not just heard, if we express the facts about the issues and our ideas for solutions.

After every action we will look for the reconciliation of parties involved. Our ultimate goal is justice: social, environmental, economic. Occupy Wall Street Houston accepts that justice will prevail in the end and have chosen nonviolence as our means.

Occupy Austin Announces Occupy Your Capital

Four members of OA traveled to Houston to spread the word about this 4th of July action to Houston’s Occupys. The event is still in the planning stages, but the overall vision is to 1) put forth a show of numbers to show America that Occupy is alive and well; 2) make explicit the deeply patriotic nature of civil protest in general and Occupy in particular; 3) connect with other Occupiers from across Texas. The facebook group, Occupy Your Capital: July 4, is being used to plan the event and will have tools to coordinate rideshares and day-specific events.

T-Shirts Ready to Order


Will Bermudez did such a great job coming up with logo designs that we decided not to pick just one. All of them will be available for printing on the t-shirt of your choice. Your t-shirt options:

  1. Get one from a resale shop. This option is cheap and green.
  2. Get a new, plain tee. Here’s one option that’s sweatshop-free.
  3. Purchase white shirts from our printer. It’s not sweatshop-free, but it’s cheap and easy. Email us at owshou@gmail.com with your name, size, quantity, and design before this Sunday, and we’ll put your order in.

If you’re providing your own shirt(s), get it to Selene at the next GA, and she’ll pass it on to the printer.

Thanks to an anonymous donor for sponsoring the $35 screen that will be used to print the shirts. This is our screen, which means that whenever we need a shirt printed, it’s ready to go (in one color). Our printer will print the shirts for $2 each, $6 if he’s providing the shirt.

May 1

Occupy Houston wrote apress release describing the origin of May Day and the thought behind the May 1 General Strike..They are planning a blockade of downtown, details to come. Houston United is marching from Bellaire and Renwick to Burnet Bayland Park at 5:30. Individuals are welcome to lend their support to any May Day actions, and OWSH will decide at the next GA what to officially support.

Community Pot-Lucks with Occupy Austin


by Lainie Duro, Occupy Austin
They shared this idea with us at our last GA and said potluck No. 1 was a hit. Something to work towards when our numbers are a little bigger?–ed. note.
We decided to divide the city into quadrants and scheduled potlucks every couple of weeks in different areas of town. A different person is responsible for heading up each potluck & they choose the location for the potluck, which typically will be a neighborhood park. We brainstormed a list of activities and topics for the picnics, and will invite the community to join us for food, fun, and discussion. We’d also like to try to teach the principles of horizontal democracy and facilitation, so neighborhoods can choose to start their own general assemblies if they desire.

Here are [some of] the notes from our planning meeting:
Agenda
• Choose Parks
• Plan Dates (through Sept 30)
• Brainstorm Activities/Topics (inspire conversation rather than soapboxing)
• Assign Rotating Magnet
• Create Checklist

General Brainstorming
• Create contact list for orgs who might partner
• Do outreach physically at external orgs (visit open meetings, contact by phone, etc)
• Create banner(s) for potlucks
Potluck planning checklist
• Schedule all potlucks (try to keep 3-6 month schedule)
• Choose themes and activities for potlucks
• Find speakers/musicians/artists/performers
• Create Occupy Austin Information Binder (Lainie’s task that keeps not getting done!)
• Find partners in community
• Create Flyer Template (English/Spanish) to be edited and used for all potlucks (doorhangers?)
• Outreach 2 weeks out (immediately following previous potluck)
• Canvassing/Facebook event/Community Calendars/Flyering (Laundromats, Libraries, bus stops)

April 26, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Occupy Wall Street: Houston Is Up And Running

Here is the latest newsletter from Occupy Wall Street: Houston. OWSH is an affort to restart Occupy Wall Street in Houston. All are welcome. There are details about getting involved in the newsletter. I’ll have more to say about this in the days ahead.


Upcoming Events

Thu Apr 19, 7PM, Downtown Library Plaza (500 McKinney):Planning meeting for May 1 General Strike. Hosted by Occupy Houston, CARE and Critical Mass.


Sun Apr 22, 1:30 PM, Bohemeo’s, 708 Telephone Rd (in Tlaquepaque Market):GA

Tues Apr 24, 5PM, U.S. 59 and Dunlavy:Freeway blog. Ongoing, every Tuesday.

Sun Apr 28, 8:30AM, 711 Sabine St: Permablitz withTransition Houston. The group is dedicated to promoting sustainable living practices and selects at random one backyard per month to transform into a permaculture paradise. Full descriptionhere. Wouldn’t this be a great group to ally with and the permablitz a great way to do it?

Tues May 1: Occupy general strike. Details to come.

Thu May 3, Fri May 4, and Sat May 5, 8PM, Good Jobs=Great Houston, 2955 Gulf Fwy: LookOut Arts Collective presents Theatre for the 99%: 6 short plays about living in America. All performances are PAY WHAT YOU WANT!!! Occupier Caleb Travis is producing.

Sat May 5: Cinco de Mayo in the East End. Details to come.

May 9: Bank divestment action coincident with Bank of America’s annual shareholder meeting in Charlotte, NC. Good Jobs=Great Houston will be joining us, but it’s OWSH’s action. Details to come.

Ongoing autonomous action: petition drive to require a referendum vote on the anti food-sharing ordinance. We need 28,000 valid signatures by the middle of July. Download the updated (as of 4/17) petition here.

Volunteers Needed

Thanks to Donnie Romaniello and Edwin Munoz for volunteering to represent OWSH at Theater for the 99%. We need one more person to to deliver a talk-back on May 3, 4, or 5, This is a unique opportunity to connect the arts and activist communities. If you’re willing to help, please emailowshou@gmail.com

Thanks also to Will Bermudez for working up a great looking logo design (see newsletter banner). We’ll vote on it at the next GA, and with a little luck, we’ll have a t-shirt design!

OWSH Kicks Off Freeway Blog

Occupiers Selene BallestasEdwin Munoz, their daughters Maya and Zoe, and Amy Price have staked out the bridge over U.S. 59 at Dunlavy and plan to hit it on Tuesday afternoons to deliver narratives of the 99% to Houstonians headed home from work. The current thread is “Divest from Bank of America.” The first message, delivered on tax day, read “Bank of America paid $0 taxes. How much did you pay?”

Houston, with its many bridges over freeways and heavy rush hour, is a great place to do banner hangs. All it takes is 1-2 willing spirits and a banner. If you can donate an hour or more of your time in the AM or PM, let us know and we’ll work with you to get your thread of the OWSH Freeway Blog spinning out into the city.

99% Spring Training in Non-Violent Direct Action

Donnie Romaniello

Last September, in response to the execution of Troy Davis, I attended a Day of Outrage Rally at Union Square in NYC. Surprised at the numbers in attendance I joined when they marched through the streets of Greenwich Village chanting, “We are all Troy Davis.” Not until later that night when at Zuccotti Park that I realized this was Occupy Wall Street. Over the next two months I came to Zuccotti on days I wasn’t working to stand with the Occupiers. Each time I went I was moved to the core of my being having waited forty years for something like this to come along.

This February I had been in Houston just ten days when I was in the Central Library. I heard drumbeats and chanting outside. I ran outside and asked the first person I could find, “Is this part of the Occupy Movement?” I was greeted by an affirmative answer. I had walked into the eviction of Occupy Houston’s four month encampment.

Last Sunday April 15, I took part in one of nearly one thousand trainings that took place last week across the nation as part of the 99% Spring Training designed to: 1. Tell the story of our economy, how we got here and what we can do about it; 2. Learn the history of non-violent direct action; and 3. Get into action on our own campaigns to win change.

From this three-hour training that lasted four, I left with an appreciation of two things. First, that we all have a story. Our stories are unique; they capture both the challenges and the possibilities in our lives. But they also reflect the times that we live in. Stories have been the centerpiece of the Occupy Movement since its inception. Since we are all leaders we need to tell our own stories and provide a space for others to tell theirs.

From the training I learned an overlooked fact regarding the Montgomery Bus Strike of 1955-6. Rosa Parks was not merely a tired woman who happened to refuse to move to the back of the bus. She was a trained activist from the Highlander Folk School who had been selected to initiate this act of civil disobedience. The Civil Rights Movement didn’t begin simply by chance. It began because its leaders possessed: A Vision that was big, transformative and inspiring – racial equality; A Goal – a boycott designed to last one day but lasted more than a year; A Strategy, an overall plan to organize and deploy their resources to achieve their goal; and Tactics, the actual activities to obtain a victory.

We in the Occupy Movement belong to an historical legacy of direct action that dates back to the 19th century Abolitionist Movement, the Suffragette Movement, the Worker’s Rights Movement of the 1930’s, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s and more. We live in a moment with great potential for historical significance. This is a time when each of our stories can weave into a great leap forward towards a more just and equitable world.

Port of Houston Authority Loses $100 Million Annually in Tax Revenues

Last Thursday, TOP (Texas Organizing Project), Air Alliance Houston, and Neighborhood Centers hosted a Town Hall so that port community residents could weigh in on concerns pertiment to the Sunset Review process.Sunset Review is the assessment by the State Legislature as to whether a state agency should continue to exist. It can also be an opportunity for the Legislature to look closely at an agency and make fundamental changes to an agency’s mission or operations if needed. The PoHA is slated for Sunset Review during the 2013 legislative session.

Terry O’Roarke from the Harris County Attorney’s office shared that the PoHA refuses to operate its tax-free zones according to best practices, resulting in $100 million in tax revenue lost annually. He also reiterated alongstanding criticism of the PoHA, that it is a governmental organization that calls itself “quasi-governmental”, meaning that they act as if they exist to service the companies around the Ship Channel rather than to manage the Port, a public asset. Although Senator Mario Gallegos, who attended the Town Hall, pledged his support for keeping the PoHA a governmental organization, he could not vouch for the behavior of the rest of the Legislature.

The Houston Ship Channel will quite possibly be dredged deeper to accommodate the New Panamax class ships that will be sailing through an enlarged Panama Canal. But, although some local residents did mention the need to train area residents for new jobs that would accompany a Port expansion, most community members who spoke at the town hall mentioned environmental concerns as being of paramount importance.

To offer opinions or documents pertinent to the Sunset Review of the PoHA, contact the Sunset Commissionhere.



Got an item–an announcement, a proposal, a report–for the next GA? Send it toowshou@gmail.com before Thurs Apr 19 at 10 PM, and Facilitation will do their best to get it onto the agenda! Know of an Occupy-friendly event coming up? Email it and we’ll put it in the next newsletter.



Make Your Ideas Heard Outside of the GA

We’ve started a google group, owshOps, to facilitate planning. So far, we’ve begun discussing messaging–how do we help others connect the dots? What language would be most effective? What points do we want to emphasize and repeat?–and the Apr 9 divestment action. Until we get larger, this will be OWSH’s ONLY group, and it will be devoted entirely to thinking through how to make our actions as successful as possible.

To join, click here.

Agenda Items For Our Next GA

  • discussion: t-shirts. Voting on a final design
  • proposal: adopting a statement of non-violence
  • Theater for the 99%: status of participation. What more we need to do to support it.
  • proposal: participation guidelines
  • report back: banner hang
  • proposal: bank account
  • report back: 99% Spring
  • discussion: May 1 action
  • discussion: May 9 divestment action. Links with GJGH. Next steps.
  • Campaign planning. a) East End. What has Jamin found out re May 5? Next steps. b) Pay it forward. c) Coalition building. d) Our internet presence. e) Messaging. f) Other long term planning, focused on the calendar.

GA Passes Mission and Values Statements, Begins Writing Bylaws

OWSH now has a Mission Statement to help us explain ourselves to others, based on demands for economic, social, and environmental justice. We have a Values Statement, against which we can measure the wisdom our own decisions.

Bylaws have been started which, when finished, will provide a basis for operating smoothly. Right now, our bylaws address proposals, requiring that proposals be posted prior to consideration and that information regarding proposals be made available to OWSH members promptly.

Full text of all three items here.

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment