Mayor Parker To Lead Houston Gay Pride Parade
April 9, 2010

In 2000,  Lee Brown began the city’s first Mayor to ride in the Houston Gay Pride Parade.  

Years later,  Bill White would make news headlines when he became the first Mayor of Houston  to walk the entire parade route through Montrose.

In 2010,  it should come as no surprise to learn that the first  openly gay mayor elected in Houston, Annise Parker, has been named  Honorary Community Grand Marshal of the 2010 Gay Pride Parade and Festival.

That was announced on Thursday night by organizers of the event. 

2 On The Beat has never attended a Pride Parade and Festival, but according to organizers, every year the event attracts 150, 000 people from all over the world. 

I have a feeling that media and public interest will be higher than normal this year because of the Mayor’s historic role.  Parker participated in the pride parade while she was on city council and as the city controller, but this time she will be involved as the city’s highest elected official.

Here’s some information if you’re  interested in watching the show:

Houston Pride Festival and Parade

Date: June 26, 2010 — 12PM – 11PM
Location: Montrose Area

The annual Pride Festival is a multi-block celebration of the GLBT community. Featuring a variety of performers on a number of different stages, the Pride Festival is a great way to experience the community, learn about it’s history, and visit the many booths from local vendors and organizations.

Mayor Parker’s Pre-Inaugural Media Reception
January 3, 2010

On the night before her historic public swearing-in, Houston’s new Mayor hosted a reception for members of  the local and national media covering the inaugural festivities.

Mayor Annise Parker chatted with television, newspaper, and radio reporters, along with a host of  local bloggers who helped raise social media to a new level during the mayoral campaign. 

The reception was held on the 51st floor of the Fulbright & Jaworski law firm in downtown Houston. 

In addition to the media, attorneys, campaign staffers and members of  the inaugural committee attended the reception, which was paid for with donated funds.

Faces in the Crowd included: Cindy Clifford of The Clifford Group, Jason Fuller, Adrian Patterson and Neil Thomas of Fulbright and Jaworski, David Arpin, Nancy Sims of Pierpont Communications, Sue Davis of  Sue Davis Communications, Bradley Olson of  The Houston Chronicle, local well-known bloggers Charles Kuffner, Stace Medellin and Erik Vidor.

Mayor Parker Sworn In At Houston City Hall
January 2, 2010

 

picture taken by photographer Jenny Antill. 

Congratulations to Mayor Annise Parker and City of  Houston Controller Ronald Green. 

Both were sworn in on Saturday, January 2, 2010 during a private ceremony at city hall. 

With her partner Kathy Hubbard standing beside her, Parker was sworn in as Houston’s 61st Mayor and first openly gay person elected to lead the nation’s fourth largest city. 

The event was historic for another reason: Parker was sworn in by her close friend and former campaign manager Steven Kirkland, who is the first openly gay person elected as a state district judge in Harris County. 

Mayor Parker and City Controller sworn in  

This is the official news release   

With her hand on her grandparents’ Bible, Annise D. Parker was sworn in as Mayor of Houston in a private ceremony held at Houston City Hall today.  State District Judge Steven Kirkland administered the oath to Mayor Parker.  City Controller Ronald C. Green also took the oath of office.  Green’s wife, Harris County Justice of the Peace Hilary Green, had the honor of administering the oath to her husband.  A small gathering of family and friends was present. 

 The private ceremony was held to meet the legal requirements of the City Charter, which mandate the transfer of power occur on January 2.  The official public inauguration of Mayor Parker, City Controller Green and Houston City Council is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Monday at the Wortham Theater Center. 

Mayor Parker chose the private Saturday morning ceremony followed by a formal public inaugural on Monday to avoid the overtime costs the city would have incurred from having to call in police and other city employees for a weekend inauguration.  She also did not want to interrupt the holiday weekend for city employees.  “At a time when the city is facing budget shortfalls, we will be continually looking for ways to cut expenses,” said Mayor Parker.  

The inaugural celebration will end Monday evening with a free concert from 6 to 9 p.m. at Discovery Green.

Houston’s Popular Outgoing Mayor Appoints Commission to Study Term Limits
December 29, 2009

Let’s be honest. There are plenty of voters in the city of Houston who wouldn’t  mind seeing Mayor Bill White stick around for another six years.

But according to current city rules, council members, the controller and Mayor can serve a maximum of  six years in office.

As he prepares to leave office on December 31, 2009, the Mayor has announced the appointment of a commission to review the city’s term limit provisions.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 29, 2009

Mayor Bill White Announces the Appointment of a Commission to

Review the City’s Term Limit Provisions                                                                      

Mayor Bill White today announced the appointment of a blue-ribbon Commission on term limits.  This Commission was created by an ordinance adopted unanimously by City Council.  The commission will prepare a report analyzing the impact of term limitations adopted as part of Houston’s City Charter in 1993.  This commission will make recommendations concerning any changes to the length of the terms that an individual could serve.  The commission is not authorized by the ordinance to recommend an abolition of term limits.

 According to Mayor White, “We need to examine whether the city of Houston has the right length of terms and number of terms based on the experiences of citizens in this community.  There is a balance between wanting to prevent incumbents from becoming too entrenched and the need to maintain some experience in the elected leadership so that a career official in city government is accountable to informed elected officials.  The members of this commission reflect a diverse leadership group within our city.” 

The Commission shall make its recommendations and report by July 1, 2010, and shall be disbanded after this time.  Any changes in term limits recommended by the Term Limits Commission would have to be voted on by the public in order to be effective.  According to the commission proposed by Mayor White, Mayor White would not be eligible for any service as Mayor, regardless of changes recommended by the Commission for any other City officials.

Arthur Schechter, a former Chairman of the Metropolitan Transit Authority and former U.S. Ambassador to the Bahamas, was designated by Mayor White as Chair.  Claudia Williamson was nominated by Controller Annise Parker as as Vice-Chair.  Williamson was the founding Chair of Blue Print Houston.  She has served on many business and non-profit boards including the Houston Read Commission and the Houston Area Water Corporation.

The commission is composed of six members nominated by Mayor White, including the Chair, a Vice-Chair (nominated by the City Controller); and the balance of 15 members nominated by City Council.  Those members are:  Frumencio Reyes, Council Member Toni Lawrence, Christina Cabral, Sylvia K. Brooks, John L. Nau, Jane Cahill West, Kathryn Chace-McNiel, Ed Wulfe, Thomas Jones, Jr., Ester King, Dorothy Miller, William A. Jordan, Robert M. Stein, Theodore L. Deaver, Carrol G. Robinson, Anan Qaddumi, Edward J. Cummins, Jr., James S. Bowie, and Diana Davila Martinez.

#####

 

 

 

 

 

Mayor-Elect Parker’s First News Conference
December 13, 2009

Houston Mayor-Elect Annise Parker held her first news conference Sunday morning,  the night after she made history by  becoming the first openly gay woman elected Mayor in the city of  Houston.

As the reality of  her victory sinks in,  Parker said she has a tough job ahead of her, looking for ways to cut spending in the city budget. 

“The city of Houston is in better shape financially than other cities in America, but we have problems,” said Parker.

“The first act of the incoming Mayor is to look for spending cuts,” said Parker

Gay Caucus Celebrates Historic Victory
December 13, 2009

*CAUCUS CELEBRATES HISTORIC VICTORY*  The Houston Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Political Caucus hailed the victory of Annise Parker, who tonight was elected to become the first openly gay mayor of a major city in the United States.  

 

 “Decades of work, by both Mayor-elect Parker and this organization, have finally paid off,” said Kristopher Banks, president of the Caucus. “We celebrate tonight the biggest benchmark to date that our city judges people not by their sexual orientation, but by their hard work and ability.” The Caucus endorsed Parker early, in February, and made her election a priority, funneling volunteer efforts to her campaign and offering it their resources. Parker is a former president of the Caucus, and her leadership of the organization was one of her first roles in civic engagement. She was the first openly gay person elected to office in the Houston area when she won an at-large City Council seat in 1997.  To date, the largest city with an openly gay mayor in the United States has been Portland, Oregon, a city less than one quarter the population of Houston.   

 “History has been made for the entire nation, and we could not be prouder that the catalyst comes from our city and from our community,” Banks said. Parker will be one of two former Caucus presidents at Council dais. Council Member Sue Lovell, a former president, was re-elected to her third term.Council Member Lovell was also endorsed by the Caucus and remains a strong supporter of the organization.   

Gays Celebrate History With Parker Victory
December 13, 2009

Subject: PRESS RELEASE: Houston Overcomes Hate, HSYD Congratulates Mayor-Elect Parker and Other Endorsed Candidates  Saturday, December 12th, 2009    *Houston Overcomes Hate, HSYD Congratulates Mayor-Elect Parker and Other Endorsed Candidates* 

The Houston Stonewall Young Democrats congratulates Annise Parker tonight on winning the Houston mayoral race and being elected the first openly gay mayor of a major city in United States history. With the strong support of HSYD and other GLBT organizations at her back, Ms. Parker triumphed over her opponent, attorney Gene Locke, by a margin of 53% to 47% in the December 12 th runoff election.   

“Houstonians will forever remember this day as the moment when our city was first recognized internationally as being the cosmopolitan progressive city we have always known it to be,” said HSYD President Brandon Webb. “The citizens of our city ignored the hateful rhetoric of bigots and elected the most qualified individual to our highest municipal office”.  HSYD members spent countless hours volunteering for Ms. Parker and other endorsed candidates to ensure that GLBT rights would remain paramount on the minds of Houston’s leaders in the coming years. Besides Parker, HSYD endorsed City Council candidates Jolanda Jones, Sue Lovell, and controller candidate Ronald Green all triumphed in their runoff elections. They join HSYD endorsed candidates Melissa Noriega and Wanda Adams who won their seats outright in the November 3rd general election. “We are thrilled to have such a progressive slate of council members to lead our city into the New Year,” said Webb, “The next goal for us is making sure that the new mayor and council make good on their campaign promises to fight for the rights of our community in office. Today is just the beginning of a long road ahead where we expect to have an open dialogue with our newly-elected representatives”. The Houston Stonewall Young Democrats is a group of Houston area young progressives, aged 14 to 40, whose focus is to educate the GLBT community about the issues affecting them, to mobilize the community to get out to vote on Election Day for fair-minded Democrats, and to fight for GLBT civil rights while leading the Democratic party to continue improving its record on issues important to our community.  For more information on joining HSYD, please contact our director of membership, Lindsey Baker, at director.membership@houstonstonewallyd.org.   

Fight Between Council Members Exposes A Political Double Standard
December 9, 2009

Houston City Council member and mayor pro-tem Sue Lovell’s  campaign has sent out a political mail piece attacking  city council member Jolanda Jones.

Jones, who is seeking her second term, is in a runoff against  former State Board of  Education Chairman Jack Christie, a staunch conservative who has been endorsed by Dr. Steven Hotze.

You have likely heard  Hotze’s name a lot lately. 

 He is the mastermind of the political mail piece that was sent to thousands of conservative voters supporting Gene Locke for Mayor and attacking Annise Parker because of  her homosexuality.

I’m a little surprised  that all  of   the  “progressive democrats and bloggers”  who support Parker for mayor, have remained silent on what appears to be a  political double standard.

I guess it’s ok to criticize Locke, but not Lovell  for aligning with republiclans and appearing cozy with a conservative anti-gay political leader?

First, Lovell (who is openly gay like Parker) is in her own runoff race against Andrew Burks(who is African-American)  for a city council at-large  seat.

 Hotze has endorsed Burks and also criticized  Lovell’s gay lifestyle in the mail piece sent to conservative voters.

Second,  it’s very unusual for a sitting council member, who is also in a runoff race,  to  exhaust energy and money fighting against an incumbent colleague who shares most of the same progressive  and gay supporters.

So why the beef between two former close friends and colleagues?

Two years ago,  Jones recruited someone to challenge Lovell’s  position as a Democratic National Committeewoman from Texas.

(UPDATE: I received a call from a  Jones’ supporter. He said Jones did not recruit, but only  supported Rozzy Shorter who ran as a Obama delegate)

Jones, who supported Barack Obama, was upset that Lovell was backing Hillary Clinton in the party primary.

Also,  Jones’ style on council that has been described as “combative” by city hall staffers and elected officials.

Jones has also been a very vocal critic of the Houston Fire Department following an outcry  of  racism and sexism made by two female firefighters at Station #54.

Her tactics have angered many including  Jeff  Caynon, the President of   the Houston Professional Firefighters Association.

Canyon has  accused Jones of  calling him a “house Negro”  when he tried to defend the men and women of  the fire department.

Who knows what impact the flyer will have on the Jones vs. Christie matchup?

I do know that if  both she and Lovell are reelected, and Annise Parker is sitting at the mayor’s seat,  city council is going to get a lot more interesting to cover.

No one seems concerned about what appears to be a huge political double standard.

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.

 

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.”