Archive for November, 2011

Join The Mayor’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting
November 27, 2011

Houston, it’s time to get into the holiday spirit.

Mayor Annise Parker, Santa, Frosty the Snowman, Mrs. Gingerbread, along with officials from Reliant Energy and the Downtown District, gathered recently to announce details of  the city’s annual holiday celebration and tree lighting.

The event is scheduled to take place on Friday, December 2 at City Hall from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The fun event will feature a towering 67-foot White Fir holiday tree, along with Grammy Award-winning entertainers, Diane Schuur and 2003 American Idol winner Ruben Studdard.

There will also be pictures with Santa, gospel music and a toy drive benefiting the Salvation Army Greater Houston Area Command.

I covered the news conference and of course, I had to have my picture taken with my favorite Christmastime characters.

For more information about the event, please visit www.houstontx.gov or www.houstonspecialevents.org

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State Rep. Borris Miles Provides A Happy Thanksgiving for Houston Families
November 21, 2011

It was the kind of event that warmed your heart, but one that also made you wonder about the state of  the nation’s economy.

This past Saturday, hundreds of people lined up for an opportunity to get a free turkey just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday.

This is the seventh year that State Rep. Borris Miles has provided turkeys for underserved  families living in the neighborhoods he represents. 

Many of the people were elderly or disabled, and the Houston lawmaker assembled a team of young men to carry the turkeys to the recipients’ vehicles.

 This year, Rep. Miles donated the turkeys in collaboration with TexStars Foundation and Our Legends Givings.

“When we work together as a community, we all rise,” says Miles about his turkey give-a-way.  “I want to thank all the people who have worked with me over the past seven years to brighten the holidays for District 146 families. I know that together we have made a difference.”

Gov. Perry Unveils “Uproot and Overhaul Washington” Plan
November 15, 2011

(News Release from Perry Campaign posted with full details)

 

 

Calls for part-time Congress, ending lifetime appointments for federal judges, elimination of agencies and privatizing TSA, Fannie and Freddie

 

BETTENDORF, Iowa – Gov. Rick Perry today unveiled his Uproot and Overhaul Washington plan to fundamentally reform the three branches of government and review all federal departments, agencies, and spending programs from the top down. 


The governor’s Uproot and Overhaul Washington plan includes establishing a part-time, citizen Congress, cutting congressional salaries, ending lifetime appointments of federal judges, issuing an immediate moratorium on new and pending federal regulations, and dismantling wasteful, redundant federal agencies, Gov. Perry announced his plan at the Schebler Manufacturing Facility in Bettendorf, Iowa. 


Gov. Perry’s full plan can be viewed at  http://www.rickperry.org/uproot-and-overhaul-washington-html/


“Washington is too broken to be fixed by tinkering on the margins,” said Gov. Perry. “I do not believe Washington needs a new coat of paint, it needs a complete overhaul. We need to uproot, tear down and rebuild Washington, D.C. and our federal institutions.  


“Washington is so broken, Americans will accept nothing less than a complete overhaul of the way business is done in America. We need new leadership. We need a new builder. We need a Washington Outsider. Unique to the Republican field, I have never been an establishment figure. My career has been that of a Washington outsider.” 


Gov. Perry’s plan will reform the federal judiciary by ending lifetime appointments of all unelected federal judges. He will champion a constitutional amendment to prospectively institute 18-year terms for the Supreme Court, staggered every two years, so that justices are replaced in order of seniority every other year. This will instill regularity to the nominations process, discourage justices from choosing a retirement date based on politics and put an end to the ever-increasing tenure of justices.


Second, the governor’s plan calls for fundamental reform of the legislative branch by establishing a part-time, citizen Congress that cuts in half their salaries, office budgets and time in Washington. Additionally, if Congress cannot balance the budget by 2020, as the governor has previously called for, their salaries should be cut in half again. Gov. Perry will also work to freeze Congressional and federal civilian salaries until the budget is balanced, holding Congress accountable to the American people. 


“Congress is out of touch because Congressmen are overpaid, over-staffed and away from home too much,” said Gov. Perry. “It’s time to create a part-time Congress where their pay is cut in half, their office budgets are cut in half, and their time in Washington is cut in half.  And if they do not submit a budget that balances by 2020 as my plan calls for, we should cut their pay in half again.” 


Gov. Perry also noted recent abuse by Congressional members of insider information that has been used to enhance their stock portfolios, and is calling for the criminalization of such insider trading by members of Congress. Not only will that be a part of the governor’s government reform plan, but he is also calling on Congress to pass such a law immediately (watch Gov. Perry’s video calling for an end to this practice at  http://bit.ly/uj73gl).


The governor added, “Congress has proven it can’t be trusted to watch our money, and now its clear they can’t be trusted with theirs. Any Congressman or Senator that uses their insider knowledge to profit in the stock market ought to be sent to jail – period.” 


Third, Gov. Perry’s plan will reform congressional spending, through measures that include:

 

  • Ending bailouts and earmarks, and veto of any legislation containing such measures
  • Passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution
  • Ending federal funding of Planned Parenthood
  • Vetoing legislation that places new, unfunded mandates on states, local communities or schools
  • Supporting legislation requiring a two-thirds majority to pass tax increase
  • Capping federal spending to 18 percent of GDP (average amount over last 50 years)

Lastly, Gov. Perry called for the dismantling and rebuilding of federal bureaucracy, including the privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the elimination of agencies that perform redundant functions.


“No longer will we prop up failed entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were at the heart of the economic collapse because of mortgage financing policies that gave false confidence to homebuyers who have now defaulted or are under water,” said Gov. Perry. “We will privatize Fannie and Freddie so politicians can no longer politicize them, and taxpayers will no longer be fleeced by them.”


The governor’s plan will also eliminate the departments of Commerce, Education and Energy, moving key programs, like National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Nuclear Security Administration and civil rights programs, among others, to more appropriate federal departments. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Homeland Security will be completely restructured and reformed, and the Transportation Security Administration will be transitioned to a public-private partnership. 


“We will perform a full audit of the federal government, and there will be no sacred cows, including wasteful spending at the Department of Defense, where every dollar we spend should support our warfighters around the world,” Gov. Perry said. “And we will say to every bureaucrat: no salary increases until the federal budget is balanced. And because a president must lead by example, we should cut his salary in half until the budget is balanced.”


Additionally, the governor reiterated his call for a moratorium on all pending federal regulations, an audit of every regulation promulgated since 2008 and subsequent repeal of any regulations that are not found to be affordable, effective and compatible with job creation.


Gov. Perry’s plan is the third in a series of key policy initiatives Gov. Perry has unveiled in the last several weeks, including his Cut, Balance and Grow plan and his Energizing American Jobs and Security plan. Cut, Balance and Grow cuts personal and business tax rates to a lower, flat 20 percent rate, cuts federal spending, ends earmarks and corporate loopholes and calls for a federal Balanced Budget Amendment. Energizing American Jobs and Security will create up to 1.2 million jobs in every sector, reduce our nation’s dependence on hostile foreign oil, revitalize manufacturing and help contain the cost of electricity and fuel. 


To view Gov. Perry’s full plan, please visit  http://www.rickperry.org/uproot-and-overhaul-washington-html/.  


To view the governor’s remarks announcing his plan, please visit  http://www.rickperry.org/news/text-of-gov-perry-uproot-and-overhaul-washington-speech/


For more information about Gov. Perry’s record, presidential campaign and plan to get America working again, please visit:  www.rickperry.org.

 

Mayor Annise Parker Joins Delegation In Trip To Israel
November 14, 2011

 

Houston Mayor Annise Parker has joined a bipartisan delegation of  five U.S. mayors and their senior staffers in a trip to Jerusalem, Israel, which was arranged by Project Interchange. projectinterchange.org

The mayor’s communications office is expected to announce more details today, however, according to a news release from Project Interchange the mayors will participate in intensive dialogue and briefings.

Other mayors on the trip include the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Miami-Dade County, FL., Provo, Utah, Cinicinnati, OH and St. Paul, MN. 

“Houston and Israel have in common an entrepreneurial spirit and an appetite for innovation.” She continued, “I am looking forward to the opportunity to learn how we might be able to apply Israel’s

model back in Houston,” said Mayor Parker in the news release.

While in Israel Mayor Parker and the others are scheduled to attend

meetings with several influential Israeli, Palestinian and Israeli Arab

leaders.

PR, Politics and A Pinata – The Right Mix For This Birthday Party.
November 14, 2011

One of the city’s top-notch public relations professionals celebrated her birthday Saturday night and the party attracted a mix of political leaders, popular movers and shakers, along with a brightly colored pinata nicknamed Todd.

Cindy Clifford of the Clifford Group knows how to bring together a diverse group of clients and close friends under one roof. The birthday celebration – which included dancing to a live band and a tower of cupcakes – was held at El Real Tex-Mex Cafe in  Montrose.

The A-List crowd included Houston city council member-elect Ellen Cohen, State Rep. Carol Alvarado and Mini Timmaraju of Planned Parenthood, METRO’s Russ Frank, Jason Fuller, Regional Director for U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Clear Channel VP Lee Vela and his wife Corinne, Dana Kervin of the Houston Realtor Association, Federal Judge Vanessa Gilmore, Congressman Al Green, Justice of the Peace Zinetta Burney and several Houston city council members celebrating last Tuesday’s election results.

By the way, “Todd the Pinata” is named after an artist in Seattle. Jason Fuller bought one of his painting’s for Cindy.

I have a feeling both Todd and the painting will hanging around for a long time.

Motor Vehicles Board Votes Down Controversial Confederate License Plate
November 10, 2011

Word out of Austin is that the Texas Board of Motor Vehicles voted down a proposal to begin issuing license plates featuring the flag of the Sons of the Confederate.

Senator Rodney Ellis issued this response immediately after the decision. Ellis opposed the license plates.  

“I am pleased the Board acknowledged that the Confederate battle flag is unworthy of the state’s honor.  The battle flag has become a symbol of repression and violence, not heritage.  It provokes feelings of fear and intimidation amongst far too many Texans, and the Board was right to deny it official approval with today’s decision,” said Senator Ellis.

Vote Looming on Controversial Sons of The Confederate Plate
November 9, 2011

Is it hate or heritage?

That’s the question asked every time the emotionally charged issue of the Confederate flag or any related symbol is debated in public.

On Thursday, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles will vote on whether to approve a specialty license plate featuring the Sons of the Confederate.  This is the second time a vote will be taken. The first ended with a 4-4 tie.

People from around the state have spoken out on this issue and many are making plans to travel to Austin to attend the meeting.

A few weeks ago, a group of  elected officials and concerned residents held a news conference in downtown Houston to speak against the license plate. One speaker said it’s not the kind of symbol she wants to see while driving down the highway in Texas.

 

The Texas Pastor Council has issued a statement on the pending vote, which I posted in full below.

What’s your take?

Inter-racial pastors group urges Texas DMV to reject Confederate Plate

“What is a historical symbol for some is a reminder of oppression for others.”

 Houston, TX – The Texas Pastor Council, an inter-racial, inter-denominational organization representing local pastor councils in Houston, Austin, Beaumont, El Paso and other pastors throughout the state, issued the following statement responding to the proposal before the Department of Motor Vehicles board to issue a plate featuring the Sons of Confederate Veterans logo:

Dear Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board Members:

“We are well aware that symbols play an important role in our society for historic, cultural, religious and other purposes.  Some symbols may carry both positive and negative impact based on the perspective of the viewer, and some evoke such emotional reaction that even if a legal case can be made in a free society for their display, we must always look at all facets of the greater good.  As pastors, we are keenly aware of the past and present racial tensions that tragically divide even the church at times.  The confederate battle flag is one of those symbols and we are deeply concerned about the pending decision by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

What is history for some is a reminder of oppression for others and we propose that there are times we must yield a personal right when by doing so we look toward the well being and value of our “brother.”  It seems clear based on existing court decisions that the Sons of Confederate Veterans have legal standing to request the issuance of a plate with the Confederate battle flag as part of their logo.  What we question is whether, given the deep wounds that should have been buried long ago but clearly have not, we should as a state take steps that reopen those wounds.

We therefore urge the DMV board to table the consideration of this license plate with the Confederate symbol on it for the greater good, while we also call upon pastors around the state in particular to come together and lead boldly so we may truly bury one of the greatest evils of our past in the form of racial separation, strife and division.  As God does not look on the outward appearance but on the heart, it is time that we do the same and stand for healing and unity as well as against those from any race who have and would foster racial strife for personal or political gain.”

 

Conservative Republicans Announce Endorsements for Tuesday’s Election
November 7, 2011

If you are a conservative republican, here’s a list you want to take with you to your polling location on Tuesday.

Steven Hotze has issued a list of endorsements in the race for Houston city council, Mayor and the proposed constitutional amendments.

If you are a democrat – just ignore the list.

Dear Fellow Conservatives,

Your vote in the Houston City Elections tomorrow, November 8th, is critical!

By supporting the candidates below that have been endorsed by Conservative Republicans of Texas, you can prevent Houston from being controlled by liberal politicians. You can help take Houston back from the liberals and their socialist policies.

Please forward this endorsement list to your family members, friends and associates and make sure that they exercise their right and duty to vote.

Conservative Republicans of Texas Endorsements
2011 Houston City Council Elections and Constitutional Amendments

  • Mayor – Dual Endorsement – Dave Wilson or John “Jack” O’Connor
  • City Council District A – Helena Brown
  • City Council District B – Phillip “Paul” Bryant
  • City Council District C – Brian Cweren
  • City Council District D – No endorsement  
  • City Council District E – Mike Sullivan
  • City Council District F – Al Hoang 
  • City Council District G – Clyde Bryan
  • City Council District H – No endorsement  
  • City Council District I – Leticia Gutierrez Ablaza
  • City Council District J – No endorsement
  • City Council District K – Pat Frazier
  • At-Large Council
  • Position 1- Scott Boates
  • Position 2 – Elizabeth Perez
  • Position 3 – Chris Carmona
  • Position 4 – No endorsement  
  • Position 5 – Jack Christie

Constitutional Amendments

  • Proposition 1 – YES
  • Proposition 2– NO
  • Proposition 3– NO
  • Proposition 4– NO
  • Proposition 5 – NO
  • Proposition 6 – NO
  • Proposition 7 – NO
  • Proposition 8 – NO
  • Proposition 9 – NO
  • Proposition 10 – YES

Print out this endorsement letter and take it with you to the polls on election day tomorrow.

Please forward this endorsement list to your family members, friends and associates and make sure that they exercise their right and duty to vote.

Thanking you in advance for taking action during this crucial time, I remain, as always,

Sincerely yours,


Steven F. Hotze, M.D.
President, Conservative Republicans of Texas

P.S. Please review the above website for our endorsements and a detailed analysis of the proposed Constitutional Amendments.

Do You Need an ID to Vote This Election Day?
November 7, 2011

The Texas Legislature passed a Voter ID law during the session, but it won’t be in effect on election day, Tuesday, November 8, according to the ACLU.
 
Election judges and voters have expressed concern and a bit of confusion about the type of ID that would be required to cast a ballot.
 
The ACLU has issued the following information.  

ACLU Of Texas: Voter ID Law Is Not In Effect

Hotline Available For Voters Who Encounter Problems On Election Day

HOUSTON – The ACLU of Texas wants voters to know that they do not need to provide a photo ID at the polls because the new law known as Voter ID has not yet taken effect.

“We hope that all the confusion surrounding what form of identification is necessary to vote will not keep people from going out and voting on election day,” said Dotty Griffith, Director of Public Education for the ACLU of Texas.  “The take home message is that voter ID rules have not yet changed, and we urge all people eligible to vote to head to the polls tomorrow, regardless of if they have a photo ID.”

“Harris County election officials were first given instructions that voters had to show a photo ID. That instruction is flat out wrong,” said Rebecca Robertson, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy. “We understand that the manual used by election officials has now been corrected, and we hope this confusion has not occurred in other counties, but we are concerned that voters without photo ID will be turned away. Voters who encounter problems at the polls should call ACLU’s Voter Protection Hotline, 877-523-2792.” 

The voter ID bill (SB 14), which will require Texans to show a valid photo ID to vote, won’t go into  effect until January 1, 2012. 

A copy of the informational flyer is available below.

###

ELECTION DAY IS TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8

Vote as you always have—the ID requirements have not yet changed.

You are NOT required to have or show photo identification. If you did not provide an ID number when you registered to vote, you may be asked to show identification.  (It does not need to be a photo ID: you can show a utility bill, bank statement, photo identification, government check, or other government document that has your name and address.)

 

Before November 8:

  1. Find out where to go vote: https://team1.sos.state.tx.us/voterws/viw/faces/SearchSelectionPolling.jsp
  2. Plan ahead, particularly if you require some form of assistance.
  3. Be wary of rumors and false information that may be designed to discourage you from voting.

On November 8:

  1. Polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  You can vote if you are in line by 7 p.m.
  2. You are NOT required to have or show photo identification.
  3. Wear comfortable and adequate clothing in case of long lines or inclement weather. Do not wear candidate-specific clothing.
  4. Take your time and read all instructions carefully. Ask for help if you need it.

Problems?  Questions? 

Call ACLU’s Voter Protection Hotline:  877-523-2792

or

MALDEF: 877-224-5476

Does HISD Trusteee Manuel Rodriguez Deserve To Be Re-Elected?
November 6, 2011

What is being called an Offensive Flyer is being circulated in the race for the Houston Independent School board of trustees position III and some are wondering if the controversy could impact the election.

In a new campaign flyer that was mailed to voters days before Tuesday’s election, incumbent Manuel Rodriguez  appears to attack his opponent, Ramiro Fonseca, for receiving the endorsement of the Houston gay and lesbian community.

The Houston GLBT Political Caucus issued a statement condemning Rodriguez and the flyer. (the entire statement is posted below) In a rare move, the Houston Chronicle retracted its endorsement of  Rodriguez.

As of Sunday night Rodriguez had not issued a statement.

Do you think the controversial campaign flyer will impact Tuesday’s election results?

 STATEMENT ON MANUEL RODRIGUEZ ANTI-GLBT HATE MAIL

(HOUSTON, TX) The Houston GLBT Political Caucus strongly condemns the recent anti-GLBT campaign mailpiece sent to voters by incumbent HISD Trustee Manuel “Manny” Rodriguez. The mailpiece attacks his opponent, Ramiro Fonseca for supporting equal rights for the GLBT community and for receiving the endorsement of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus PAC.

“GLBT youth are twelve times more likely to be bullied in schools, five times more likely to commit suicide, and eight times more likely to be homeless.” said Caucus president Noel Freeman. “A bigoted homophobe like Rodriguez has no business making decisions that affect our children.”

HISD recently adopted a non-discrimination policy that protects the rights of GLBT students, staff an d faculty. Rodriguez’ anti-GLBT attitude runs strongly against that policy and promotes an environment of intolerance and hatred. Our schools should be an environment where our children feel safe and welcome.

“Manuel Rodriguez is assuming the voters of District III share the same bigoted, hateful views he holds.” Freeman said. “Houstonians have proven time and time again that such views are not welcome in our City, and have consistently rejected candidates who espouse such hateful views. We urge the voters of District III to reject Manuel Rodriguez on election day.”