Archive for November, 2009

Annise Parker Responds To Police Union Concerns
November 30, 2009

Earlier I posted a news release from the Houston Police Officers’ Union attacking mayoral candidate Annise Parker for running what the Union called “false and misleading” TV ads.

The Parker campaign has issued the following response:

Statement by Adam Harris, Annise Parker Campaign Manager on HPOU release:  

The one who is “playing fast and loose with the truth” is Gary Blankinship.  Parker’s ad clearly states the law enforcement organizations that have endorsed her:  the Houston Police Patrolmen’s Union, the Metro Police, the Mexican American Sheriff’s Organization and the Harris County Afro-American Sheriff’s Deputy League.  Yet, Blankinship says these are not “legitimate” police officers.

In fact, Lawyer-Lobbyist Gene Locke’s ad implies he has the endorsement of all police officers, which is patently untrue, and does not mention the name of the organization endorsing him.  

Mr. Blankinship is recycling tired, false accusations that have already been discredited in an effort to divert attention from his own problems with credibility.  His excuse that “the tape ran out” on Parker’s screening meeting with HPOU is akin to a “the dog ate my homework” excuse that a five- year-old would use. Mr. Blankinship won’t come clean with the tape because he knows it will prove his accusations false. 

The voters know that Annise Parker has committed to providing Houstonians the best trained, best equipped and best paid police officers in the state.  In fact, as Controller, Parker conducted audits that identified waste and mismanagement and freed up funding for priorities like public safety.  Lawyer-lobbyist Locke, on the other hand, has made promise after promise but has not detailed how he will pay for anything.

 

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The Race For Mayor Heats Up On The First Day Of Early Voting
November 30, 2009

It’s cold and wet on the first day of  early voting in the city of  Houston runoff election, but the attacks are starting to heat up in the race for Mayor.

Candidate Annise Parker and a group of   her supporters gathered at the West Gray Multi-Service Center to cast their ballots.  They didn’t let the gray skies and drizzle dampen their enthusiasm. 

Parker, who polls show is holding a slight lead over Gene Locke, says she feels optimistic about her chances of winning the runoff  election.

She also told reporters that the tone of the race is about to get much “sharper” and that she plans to “defend herself against false attacks from Locke.”

Meanwhile, The Houston Police Officers’ Union is accusing Parker of  running false and misleading radio and TV ads.

HPOU, the largest police union in the city, sent 2 On The Beat  the following news release today: 

*** ALL POINTS BULLETIN ***

November 30, 2009

 Houston Police OfficersAccuse Annise Parker

Of Identity Theft Scheme

 HOUSTON – How would you feel if someone had stolen your identity?   

Today, the Houston Police Officers’ Union put out an all-points “press” bulletin asking Houston voters to be wary of false and misleading radio and television ads by mayoral candidate, Ms. Annise Parker.

 HPOU, Houston’s largest and most respected police officer organization, is warning Houston voters to not be misled by Parker’s radio and television ads which falsely imply she has the police group’s endorsement. The police organization has endorsed Gene Locke for Mayor in the upcoming runoff election.

“To trick voters, Annise Parker is playing fast and loose with the truth and our respected identity,” said Gary Blankinship, president of the 5,000-plus member Houston Police Officers’ Union.  “While it may not be a true crime, it’s disingenuous for Ms. Parker to claim we support her.  The truth is, in past elections we did support her, however, recently she lost our support and our trust.  Houston police do not support Ms. Parker because she has no plan to support the police department of help officers fight crime in Houston.

 The HPOU encourages voters to approach Parker and her claims with extreme caution.  “Parker’s ads deceitfully imply she has our endorsement, which she does not,” Blankinship stated. “We endorse Gene Locke for Mayor.” 

“Annise Parker needs to immediately pull down her misleading ads, but too much is at stake for her to do the right thing.  Houston voters need to know what we know.  Ms. Parker’s ill-advised non-plan is to do absolutely nothing to help HPD.  Her only plan is to mislead people into believing legitimate police officers have endorsed her.  We have not and would strongly advise voters to reject Ms. Parker’s false and intentionally misleading claims,” challenged Blankinship.    

The police group says Parker’s mayoral campaign has developed a rap sheet of being abandoning HPD on successful crime fighting strategies. During the mayoral campaign Parker has said she wants to “take apart” the Houston Police Department and has said she would NOT support more funding for additional police patrol officers.  The police group also points out that Parker has voted against funding for expanded gang crime enforcement.

 “Parker has been caught red-handed,” Blankinship concluded. “For public safety’s sake, Houston’s voters are strongly advised to not become victims of Annise Parker’s false and intentionally misleading statements.”

Thanks, But No Thanks, On That Endorsement.
November 29, 2009

City Council At-Large Position 1 candidate Stephen Costello is repudiating an endorsement from a controversial figure, who some view as a conservative  political kingmaker.

Late Sunday, Costello issued a statement through his media spokesperson stating, “Today, some people received a mail piece from Steven Hotze with his endorsements in  the upcoming city runoff elections.  I did not seek this endorsement and I specifically asked not to be endorsed by Mr. Hotze.  I am running to represent all Houstonians and my door at City Hall will be open to everyone.”

The mail piece sent by Dr.  Hotze,   the  leader of  Conservative Republicans of  Texas/ Harris County, is landing in mailboxes in time for the start of  early voting, which begins Monday, November 30th. 

It encourages voters to support Costello over  opponent,  realtor Karen Derr, who is described in the flyer as a “radical liberal, who was endorsed by the gay lesbian political action committee and supporters higher taxes on businesses.”  

Meanwhile,  Costello is praised as a candidate who “supports responsible economic policies that promote development and job creation.”

Hotze also endorsed Gene Locke for Mayor,  Brenda Stardig in District A, Al Hoang in District F, Andrew Burks in the at-large position 2 race, Jack Christie in at-large position 5 and M.J. Khan for city controller.

Unless you follow politics and are familiar with some of  the  behind the scenes players, you are probably asking yourself,  “what’s wrong with getting an  endorsement from Hotze?”

Democrats  argue that  Hotze has a long history of  engaging in race-baiting and  homophobic politics in city of  Houston/Harris County elections.

You can log on to his website  http://www.conservativerepublicansoftexas.com/welcome and get more information.

While city of  Houston elections are officially non-partisan, all of the candidates have been trying to woo republican and conservative voters.

According to some political observers, conservatives are the only voting bloc that is still undecided in the race for mayor and other seats on the ballot.

 

Grocery Store And Blood Drive To Honor Wounded Doctor
November 26, 2009

 A blood drive will be held  on Saturday in honor of  a  Ben Taub medical resident  who was shot  during an attempted robbery  in the parking lot of  a Kroger Grocery Store. 

Kroger and The Gulf  Coast Regional Blood Center have teamed up to sponsor a replenishment blood drive for Dr. Stephanie Wuest, on Saturday, November 28,  from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at 1990 Old Spanish Trail and the corner of  Cambridge.

It will be held in the same Kroger parking lot where Dr. Wuest was shot on the evening of  October 30.

http://www.click2houston.com/news/21474064/detail.html

According to Houston Police, suspect Anthony Bell approached Dr. Wuest as she was standing next to her vehicle after she exited the store, which is located near the Texas Medical Center.

Witnesses told police there was a brief  struggle and that Bell shot Wuest several times. 

Dr. Wuest was rushed to Ben Taub Hospital in critical condition, but no information has been released about her since that night.

Meanwhile, the blood drive is open to everyone.

If you need more information you can  contact The Blood Center at 713–791-6326.

Peter Brown Stumping For Annise Parker In Runoff Race For Mayor
November 25, 2009

After finishing  third in the general election, Houston City Council Member Peter Brown endorsed Annise Parker over Gene Locke for Mayor in the runoff.

Brown is doing more than just giving speeches, he is also hitting the trenches: raising money, block walking and taking part in strategy meetings.

Brown has recently sent an email to those who supported him in the first round, to get behind Parker in the runoff.

Dear Friends and Supporters, As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to thank all of you for supporting my vision for an even better Houston. Although we did not prevail, we worked hard and made a real difference. Now, after lengthy discussions with the two remaining candidates, I am wholeheartedly supporting Annise Parker as our next mayor. I urge you to do the same. Annise Parker, I am convinced, will pursue the quality of life agenda important to us all. Just as she has done for the past 12 years as a Council Member and City Controller, Annise will continue to make government more efficient, to reduce crime, create jobs, and deal effectively with traffic, air quality, infrastructure and flooding. She knows how to get results at City Hall, and has the experience and the track-record we can count on. This past weekend I block-walked for Annise in the East End and in Kingwood, talking to voters about the important issues facing our city. This experience, like many others, confirmed that Annise and I share a clear vision for our great city. Therefore, I hope that you will support Annise Parker, by going to her website where you can make a donation, or sign up to volunteer. As well, I urge you to email your friends to support Annise. This is an important election – about a real commitment to a more prosperous, greener and livable Houston, with a commitment to open,

Senator John Whitmire Disturbed by “Smear Tactics” In Mayor’s Race
November 25, 2009

Both Houston Mayoral candidates Annise Parker and Gene Locke are viewed as friendly on issues important to the Democratic party.

 While city elections are officially non-partisan, each of the candidates has also reached out to Republicans and Independents to win votes in the runoff  race for Mayor of  Houston.

(see my earlier post about both Locke and Parker speaking to the Houston Pachyderm Club, a Republican group.https://2onthebeat.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/will-conservative-voters-choose-houstons-next-mayor/)

Some of the folks who  don’t support  Locke or his policies,  are criticizing him for  reaching out to the same  critical group of  voters being courted by Parker. 

You may recall that Locke also came under fire for speaking to the conservative leaning U.S. Pastor Council,  because some  of the ministers are attacking Parker for her sexual orientation

 Ironically, many of  Parker’s supporters were silent earlier this week when Mayor Bill White, who is also a likely Democratic party  candidate for Governor, was honored for his work in office by the same group. ( here’s the link to the Houston’s Chronicle’s coverage: http://blogs.chron.com/houstonpolitics/2009/11/bill_white_speaks_to_the_pasto.html)

It begs the question, are democrats willing to destroy one of their own, for the sake of  getting another candidate elected?

The blistering attacks on Locke have  forced Houston Senator John Whitmire,  a Locke supporter,  to issue a statement condemning the tone of the negative campaigning.

“It concerns me that fellow Democrats are resorting to smear tactics to destroy the reputation of my good friend Gene Locke.  Our friendship spans nearly four decades.  Throughout his career, both in the public and private sector, Gene has never been questioned on matters involving ethics or personal finances,” said Whitmire in a statement released by the Locke campaign.

” In fact, Gene has counseled many public officials on issues involving ethics and financial disclosure.  Those of  us that have worked closely with Gene can vouch for ethics for his ethics and character.  When Gene wins this race, rest assured he will follow all laws and ordinances that have been required of past mayors on these issues.  Let’s try to have a discussion on issues important to rank and file Democrats throughout the city like public safety, transportation, and good parks,” continued Whitmire.

Will this change the tone of   the campaign?

Doubtful.

But, whether Parker or  Locke wins or loses the runoff, neither should have to walk away with  his or  her  personal character and professional reputation in pieces, simply because each tried to make a difference by running for Mayor of  Houston.

Mayor Bill White Considers Run For Governor of Texas
November 23, 2009

Monday afternoon Mayor Bill White held a news conference at Houston City Hall to discuss the possibility that he will enter the race for Governor Texas.

This is the context of  his entire statement: 

Since Friday a week ago Texans from all backgrounds and all regions have asked me to consider running to be our next Governor of Texas. Today I agree to consider running for Governor, and shall make a decision by Friday, December 4th.

Before then I invite the citizens of Texas to weigh in on this decision by visiting this page and emailing me at billwhite@billwhitefortexas.com.

Both our next Governor and Senator should bring new energy to the task of moving our state forward. In both positions, we need leadership that can bring our state together and reduce the strident partisanship in both Austin and Washington.

Texans know we can do better than ranking dead last in the nation in the percentage of our population with a high school diploma. Texans know we can do better than the last decade of soaring electricity and insurance costs, and skyrocketing college tuition.

Sen. Hutchison has postponed her departure from the Senate and acknowledged that her continued service limits her ability to campaign in our state. I share her belief, and that of her supporters, that we need a new Governor.

I thank many thousands of Texans who have supported my campaign with their volunteer hours and dollars. I will listen to your views on how we can best work together to do what is right for Texas. I especially welcome advice from the citizens of Texas’ largest city, who know me best and have supported leadership by solutions, not just soundbites. You have been my partners in moving Houston forward by finding common ground, and running our City Hall with integrity, in a business-like, financially sound, and inclusive manner.

Politics aside, Texans should enjoy their friends and family during this week of Thanksgiving and say a prayer for those who cannot be home with their loved ones because they are serving us abroad.

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The Battle Over Public Safety In The Race For Mayor Of Houston
November 19, 2009

The Houston Police Officers Union has endorsed Gene Locke in the race for Mayor of  Houston, and today  HPOU held a news conference to talk about why police officers believe that Locke would do a better job on the issue of  public safety.

The news conference also featured Stephanie Abernethy, the  widow of  slain HPD officer  Tim Abernethy.

2 On the Beat is assigned to a different story, but I have posted the groups news release below.  We are also waiting on a statement from the Annise Parker for Mayor campaign.

HOUSTON POLICE OFFICERS SAY THAT ANNISE PARKER HAS LOST THEIR SUPPORT AND CONFIDENCE

 

Houston, TX–The Houston Police Officers’ Union (HPOU) today criticized mayoral candidate Annise Parker and reiterated their support of Gene Locke, saying that Locke is the one who will be tough on crime and has a real plan to make Houston’s neighborhoods safer.

Gary Blankinship, president of the 5,000-plus member Houston Police Officers’ Union stated, “Our organization screened all the candidates and found Gene Locke to be, without equivocation, the only candidate to make the commitment to increase officers on the streets of our city and in the investigative divisions so that HPD officers can do a better job of protecting the people of Houston.

“By comparison, Annise Parker supports status quo. Her ill-advised positions on public safety embrace the kind of soft-on-crime approach that poses a threat to our families and neighborhoods,” continued Blankinship. “Now is not the time to turn back the clock to the 1980s, when police academies were halted and crime began to skyrocket, and our officers battled not just criminals, but a staffing shortage and lack of support from City Hall.”

Although HPOU has endorsed Parker in her previous campaigns, she has on several occasions been on the opposite side of Houston Police.

As a member of the City Council, Parker voted against adding a permanent anti-gang task force in every HPD substation[i].

In addition, Parker has publicly stated that if elected mayor she will “take apart the police department”[ii] and that Houston police officers are merely “report-takers and ticket-writers….not crime-solvers.”[iii] The irony of her position is that if we follow her plan and do nothing, there won’t be enough officers to take the reports much less conduct follow-up investigations. 

Finally, during the endorsement screening process for the mayor’s race earlier this year, Parker made it clear that if elected mayor she would not work with HPD to put a halt to the current staffing shortage, thereby creating a dangerous public safety climate in Houston.  Ms. Parker erroneously believes HPD has adequate staffing and ignores the fact that by best accounts of the administration of HPD we are 1,400 officers understaffed.

HPD is a proud organization with men and women who are dedicated to laying down their lives for their community. Our department would take great exception to being taken apart rather than doing what Houstonians want, which is to make our department effectively expand so that we can do the job that the citizens of our city expect and need.

“Sitting idle and not expanding the department to meet our citizens’ needs to be safe is a recipe for disaster.  It is the equivalent of doing nothing,” said Blankinship.

Locke has repeatedly affirmed his support for increasing Houston’s police ranks through hiring of new cadets and adding experienced officers through lateral entry, which allows officers from other departments to bring their years of expertise to support public safety in Houston while reducing the city’s training burden. He has also advocated putting more police officers on the streets, equipping officers with advanced technology and placing more civilians in roles that do not require police officers’ extensive training and skills.

The Gay Controversy That Won’t Die In The Runoff Race For Mayor
November 19, 2009

Supporters of  Houston Mayoral candidate Annise Parker are holding a fundraiser in her honor, and the event  will feature the national and state leaders of  a  gay rights organization.

“Victory In Diversity”  it a chance for people to donate to Parker’s campaign and meet the leaders of  Stonewall.

 The event comes at a time when Parker’s sexuality is being made an issue by conservative leader Steven Hotze.  Some have also sent out a political flyer picturing Parker with her partner of  many years.

The Parker campaign has tried to mayoral candidate  Gene Locke to the movement, but Locke has strongly denounced those tactics, while admitting that he did meet with Hotze  before  the general election to discuss a possible  endorsement.  Hotze endorsed Roy Morales, who finished in fourth place.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party issued a statement denouncing the anti-gay rhetoric, and urging candidates to stay clear of  Hotze.

CANDIDATES – ALL CANDIDATES – STAY CLEAR OF HOTZE

Steven Hotze is a hatemonger.

For nearly twenty five years he has stoked the flames of bigotry in this community like no other local politico. In the mid-1980’s he masterminded the repeal of the City of Houston non-discrimination ordinance which had been enacted by Mayor Kathy Whitmire and the Houston City Council. The following year, he fielded a group of right wing zealots to run for City Council on the “Straight Slate.” Their platform consisted of unadulterated gay-baiting epitomized by the reply of their mayoral candidate to a question of what could be done about the AIDS epidemic: “Shoot the queers.” Hotze would not repudiate that response, nor the mayoral candidate who uttered it. Fortunately, they all lost.

Hotze continues vehemently to espouse his brand of extreme intolerance. For example, he regularly insists that the death penalty is filling for homosexual conduct. And in 2008, he insisted, without one iota of evidence, that gays and lesbians were devoted to “recruiting sexually confused adolescents into their lifestyle.”

Hotze’s bigotry and extremism are not confined to homophobia. His anti-women beliefs are evidenced by his strident insistence that “a wife may work outside the home only with her husband’s consent.” And in 2008, he was reportedly behind the financing of a blatantly racist piece of campaign literature which depicted Barack Obama, Harold Dutton, Congressmember Sheila Jackson-Lee, and the Anglo Democratic candidate state legislature in House District 144, and an ominous line of black crows on a dead tree, with the caption “birds of a feather flock together.” Maybe he wasn’t the person who arranged financing for that shameful piece as has been suggested, but the political consultant with whom he has worked for years was the author of the flyer.

And Hotze is virulently anti-Obama and ardently anti-Democrats. He intently opposes health care reform. And on November 12, 2009, he sent an e-mail across Texas in which he disclosed his commitment to defeating Democratic state legislative candidates in the 2010 elections, asking, “Will we continue down the road of socialism, universal health care, and the leadership of Obama / Pelosi / Reid? Or will conservatives finally stand united and declare ‘Enough!’ in the face of economic and moral starvation?”

Anyone who is as dedicated to destroying the Democratic Party and crushing its candidates and unyieldingly opposed to the anti-discrimination principles of the Democratic Party as is Steven Hotze cannot be embraced by Democrats.

It has been reported that before the November election, more than one Democrat still running for city office in the December 12 runoff sought the support of Hotze or one of the gay-baiting groups with which he is associated. The Houston Chronicle has recently called on all candidates to repudiate the hateful and divisive rhetoric of these folks. (Do The Right Thing – It’s time to disavow the politics of discrimination and bgotry. Click here to read.)

I do, too.

Hotze did not endorse the Democratic mayoral candidate who sought his endorsement before November. Instead, he threw his support to the Republican in the race, Roy Morales. And the Democratic mayoral candidate who solicited Hotze’s help before November has publicly condemned the “divisive rhetoric” and “style of campaigning” Hotze has always embraced. Good for him.

But all candidates – judicial, city council, and mayor – take heed: whether in the December 12 runoff election, the March, 2010 primary election, or the November, 2010 general election, accepting support from anyone who, like Steven Hotze and the right wing extremist groups with whom he is associated, spews homophobic rhetoric, racial hatred, and intolerance, who would subjugate women to the dictates of their husbands, and who is working tirelessly to destroy the Obama administration, block heath care reform, and defeat Democratic legislative candidates would be anathema to Democrats and contrary to the cherished ideals for which we stand. Courting endorsement from such despicable individuals or groups – or failing unequivocally to repudiate and reject it should such support be unsolicitedly bestowed – would be reprehensible, condemnable, and utterly unacceptable to Democrats.

My Dad used to say, “You lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.” He was right.

Gerry Birnberg
Chair, Harris County Democratic Party
November 17, 2009

Parker Calls On Locke To “Come Clean Gene”
November 19, 2009

After releasing her and her partner’s tax returns, and having them closely scrutinized by a  respected CPA, Houston Mayoral candidate Annise Parker has repeatedly called on Gene Locke to do the same.

The following is a copy of   the news release (with a clever image of  a  washing machine and bubbles) that the Parker campaign has been sending out daily, with the message “Come Clean Gene.”

Sources have told 2 On The Beat that Locke will release his tax returns in a few days, but until he does, the Parker campaign is going to keep turning up the heat on Locke: 

(The following Is A News Release) 

What Is Gene Locke Hiding? 

Two weeks after request, Locke still has not released tax returns 

Houston, TX – Today the Annise Parker for Mayor campaign pressed lawyer-lobbyist Gene Locke to release his personal tax returns and answer a series of unanswered questions dealing with his conflicts of interest.

Image“It’s been two weeks since Texas Watchdog asked the mayoral candidates to publicly release their tax returns. Annise Parker released hers last week. Where are Gene Locke’s?” said Adam Harris, Parker’s campaign manager.

Texas Watchdog is a news website that scrutinizes the actions of government agencies, bureaucracies and politicians in Texas.

“Mr. Locke’s web of dealings with Metro, the financially troubled Sports Authority and his own law firm that has billed more than $17 million to these agencies and the City of Houston raises serious questions of massive conflicts of interest,” Harris continued. “If Mr. Locke has nothing to hide, he should come clean and make his tax returns public just as Annise Parker has done.”

Lawyer-lobbyist Locke has also refused to answer a series of questions posed by Watchdog more than six weeks ago about his relationship with the Harris County – Houston Sports Authority. According to documents uncovered by Watchdog, Locke was still involved with the authority well after he claimed to have resigned when the campaign began.

And this week, instead of responding to a series of questions relating to his conflict of interest with his law firm, Locke went on the attack in a failed attempt to change the subject.

“It’s up to Gene Locke to come clean about his conflicts of interest and put these issues behind us once and for all by giving voters the answers they deserve,” said Harris.

Questions yet to be answered by lawyer-lobbyist Gene Locke:

1)    When will you answer Texas Watchdog’s questions about your relationship with the financially troubled Harris County – Houston Sports Authority? (Asked October 2)

2)    When will you publicly release your tax returns? (Asked November 4)

3)    Will you release within one week your divestment and payout plan with Andrews Kurth? Will Andrews Kurth’s future income affect the size of your payout? Will you retain any interest in a pension or retirement plan or any other interest tied to the income of Andrews Kurth? (Asked November 16)

4)    Will you permanently resign from Andrews Kurth if elected mayor and enter into a legally-binding agreement never to have a financial interest or association with the firm or any relationship with the firm after you leave the office of mayor? (Asked November 16)

5)    Will you as mayor recuse yourself on all questions involving clients of Andrews Kurth, including all business with Metro, the Sports Authority and the Port Authority and bond transactions and other business done by Andrews Kurth for the City? (Asked November 16)

6)    Will you prohibit Andrews Kurth from representing the city and affiliated public agencies during your tenure as mayor, so as to avoid the inevitable appearance of impropriety involving any city business done with your partners and firm? (Asked November 16)

 Read the release on www.AnniseParker.com

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