Archive for August, 2009

The Mayor Orders Belt Tightening At City Hall
August 31, 2009

Houston Mayor Bill White fired back Monday at City Controller Annise Parker, saying the city is, “in good financial shape and there is no $103 Million shortfall.”

During an afternoon news conference at City Hall, the mayor told reporters that the city IS facing a shortfall of about $51 Million, and will have to find ways to save money.

The mayor says those cost saving measures could include anything from selling Off real estate, reorganizing payroll,  to delaying some expenditures on technology and new helicopters for police. 

The Mayor also seemed to back down from his previous statement  from his communications director Frank Michel, that the would not furlough city employees.

While ruling out across the board furloughs, the mayor said  that if a department head suggested a furlough as a way to save money, then the Mayor would allow that department to move forward with the idea. 

In addition, the Mayor has ordered departments to slash spending by one-percent across the board.

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Kinky Friedman To Announce For Texas Governor
August 31, 2009

Just when you thought the 2010 race for Governor of  Texas couldn’t get any crazier,  musician and humorist Kinky Friedman has announced that he plans to run for Governor –  again –  but this time  as a DEMOCRAT.

Beginning Tuesday, September 1, 2009, Kinky will be in Houston to kickoff  a statewide tour  formally announcing his candidacy for  the March 2010 Democratic Primary.

His website is already up and running: http://www.kinkyfriedman.com/, and it looks like he has a packed schedule of  political events and personal appearances.

Remember when Kinky ran in 2006 as an independent candidate?

 He finished dead last  in a four-way fight between incumbent Governor Ricky Perry, former Railroad Commissioner Carole Keeton Strayhorn, and Democrat Chris Bell.

Still,  his campaign seemed to inspire a lot of  voters, who  enjoyed watching the self  proclaimed“Jewish Cowboy”  criticize politics as usual, and attack the better funded political insiders. 

Hank Gilbert and Tom Schieffer are the two other candidates who have announced plans to run in the democratic primary.

But, only Kinky will by the guy puffing on a cigar, wearing cowboy boots, asking for your vote.

Houston City Council Member Mike Sullivan Talks About City’s Budget Problems
August 31, 2009

Houston City Council Member Mike Sullivan (District E) is weighing in on the budget battle at city hall.

As we reported, Controller Annise Parker is projecting  a $103 Million dollar shortfall, while Mayor Bill White’s office says the shortfall is between $20 – $40 Million.

We”ll hear more from the Mayor in a news conference this afternoon.

In the meantime, Sullivan gives his take on the bleak financial forecast.

He told 2 on the Beat that in addition to a drop in property and sales tax revenue, the city has also seen a decrease in the amount of money collected for traffic meters, traffic citations, city building permits and in other areas that contribute to the city’s $4 Billion annual operating budget.

Budget Battle At Houston City Hall
August 30, 2009

Is the city of  Houston facing a  $20 Million or $103 Million shortfall?

How could the numbers be so far apart?

That’s what many Houston city hall insiders and taxpayers are asking after city controller Annise Parker  sent  her most recent monthly financial report to Mayor Bill White and city council members,.

It projects a $103 Million shortfall in the general fund.

2 on the Beat was given a copy of the interoffice correspondence, and you can read it here: www.houstontx.gov/budget/mfr/fy10/july/i.pdf

Parker’s letter says the shortfall is a result, in part,  of the city collecting substantially less than expected revenue from both property taxes and sales taxes. 

But late Sunday evening, Mayor Whites’ spokesman Frank Michel strongly disputed the numbers released by the controller.

Michel told KPRC Local 2 that the revenue projections are off  by $20 Million, not $103 Million.  Michel said Parkers numbers are incorrect.  

He stressed that the Mayor is not considering any drastic cutbacks  in city services, nor is Mayor White on the verge of ordering furloughs for city employees.

We will hear more about the budget battle this week.  Parker is expected to brief  the mayor and council members during Wednesday’s meeting.

Both Parker and White are running for higher office, Parker for Mayor and White for the U.S. Senate.

Neither wants to look as though he or she dropped the ball on the city’s finances.

Locke Hosts Live Social Media Summit
August 29, 2009

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In a sign of  how much political campaigns have learned to embrace  the on-line social network of  blogs, twitter, facebook and you tube, Houston Mayoral candidate Gene Locke hosted a live-streamed Social Media Summit  on Saturday.

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While he was chatting on-line and in person with the group,  Locke also unveiled his business plan for the city of Houston, which focuses on ethics, accountability, job growth and entrepreneurship.

The interactive discussion was moderated by Matt Nathan, with Houston Technology Center, and lasted about forty-five minutes to an hour.

Locke appeared to be at ease while he sat at at a table , in front of a camera, and fielded questions from people in the room and over the Internet. 

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Each time Locke answered a question or  talked about his vision for Houston, the bloggers were able to update their followers instantly, via facebook, twitter and other methods of instant messaging.  

This is another tool that campaigns are using to effectively get their message directly to the voters, without always having to rely on the mainstream media.

During the discussion, Locke stressed that social media now gives candidates like him an opportunity to, ” talk directly to the public in ways that were not dreamed of  before.”

His campaign has hired a social media strategist, and if elected, Locke promised to utilize social media at city  hall. He also vowed that his  administration would be transparent and accessible. 

Certainly Locke isn’t the only Houston mayoral candidate to recognize the power of new media.

Mayoral candidates Annise Parker and Peter Brown have both hired social media managers. 

Their campaign information is constantly being updated on-line  to make it easier for supporters and volunteers to stay informed.

Saying Goodbye To Channel 2’s Managing Editor
August 28, 2009

As KPRC’s managing editor, John Laporte is responsible for making sure we cover the important news of the day, assigning reporters to news stories, and supervising the assignments desk.

After almost 5 years in Houston, Laporte is saying goodbye to the heat and humidity and heading to Wisconsin, otherwise known as  the frozen tundra to us Texans.  =)

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On Thursday night, news reporters, producers, photographers, and production employees gathered at a local pub to say goodbye to John.

On Friday morning, he lead his final news editorial meeting, and  Friday afternoon we celebrated his success with lunch and a candy, cake and ice cream party.

We’re going to miss John at Channel 2, but we wish him luck as he begins his new adventure!

Annise Parker Makes It Official – She’s Running For Mayor
August 28, 2009

A diverse crowd  of  about  100  people rallied on the steps of  Houston city hall Thursday to support Annise Parker after she wrote a check for $1250 and officially filed to run for  Mayor of  Houston.

During a brief speech that was interrupted several times by applause, Parker emphasized her experience as city controller and a member of Houston city council.

Parker told the crowd that she is the best candidate to lead the city, especially during the time of  economic uncertainty. 

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The I Can Make A Difference Rally featured members of  some of the unions and civic clubs that have endorsed Parker for mayor.

As the filing deadline approaches, Parker’s campaign decided to turn the usually routine filing event into a  day  that could be shared with her volunteers and supporters.

(and get some free media coverage – all candidates love that!)

These are the kind of mini-momentum building moments we can expect to see more of as the campaign begins to heat up after labor day.

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If  elected, Parker would make history by becoming the first openly gay mayor in the city of Houston.  

As a result,  the election is being closely watched by local and national organizations that support gay and lesbian candidates for political office.

Community Prayer Breakfast
August 28, 2009

Fort Bend County Constable Ruben Davis  is hosting his 13th annual community prayer breakfast on Saturday, September 5, 2009.

It begins at 8:30 a.m., and everyone is invited but you must RSVP to attend.

                              Constable Ruben Davis

13th Annual Community Prayer Breakfast

 

Saturday, September 5, 2009 8:30am

16748 Quail Park Drive

Missouri City, Texas 77489

 

Guest Speaker

Congressman Al Green

 

 

The breakfast is free, but please RSVP! 

For more info please call

832-444-5354 or 281-437-7500

 

 

 

Secretary of Defense Gates To Visit Houston
August 27, 2009

United States Secretary of  Defense Robert Gates will visit Houston on Monday, August  31st, to participate in a program designed to help wounded war heroes.

Secretary Gates will join with former Houston Astros  star Craig Biggio, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and others,  in presenting the keys to a new home to retired United States Marine Captain Daniel Moran.

Captain Moran, a Purple Heart recipient, was wounded in action during his second tour of duty in Iraq.

After spending 2 1/2 years in a burn unit, and enduring thirty-one surgeries, the husband and father of  two young children requires special care and living arrangements to continue on the road to recovery.

Captain Moran’s new home will be located in the master planned community of  BRIDGELAND, which is  located in Northwest Houston and developed by Perry Homes.

The home presentation is part of a program called HelpingaHero.Org.

Meredith Iler, National Chair  of  HelpingaHero.Org  describes  Captain Moran as a man of  integrity and honor. “Captain Moran is an American patriot who loves this country so deeply. We are honored to give back to someone who served so valiantly  and continues to reach out to other  wounded heroes and assist them in their journey to recovery,” says  Iler.

Watch Peter Brown’s Campaign Commercial
August 26, 2009

He was the first Houston Mayoral Candidate to launch a TV political campaign.

If you haven’t seen Peter Brown’s first ad, then you are missing out on the catchy music and the  message!

Brown says he plans to continue paid political TV advertising through election day.

No word on when he will shoot another version.

Meanwhile, Annise Parker says she will wait to begin airing TV ads. She has the benefit of high name identification after serving five years as city controller and six years on city council.

Gene Locke also says he will be competitive on TV, but he wouldn’t say when he plans to start buying TV political time.