Former Opponent Endorses Mayor Parker for Re-Election
March 28, 2011

You know the saying, “politics makes for strange bedfellows?”

That thought must be reverberating in the minds of many Houstonians this week as they started receiving invitations in the mail for Mayor Annise Parker’s first re-election campaign kick-off fundraiser.  

The invitation includes a surprising endorsement from the Mayor’s former political opponent, Houston Attorney Gene Locke.

On the surface it seems like an unlikely alliance – considering they faced off in a heated runoff race in 2009

But that was then and this is 2011. 

Over the past several months Parker and Locke have apparently found common ground.

“Annise Parker is bringing Houstonians together to solve our toughest challenges,” states Locke’s endorsement on the invitation.

The invitation also includes words of praise from former Houston Mayor Bob Lanier, who endorsed Locke during 2009 mayoral race.

The April 6th event is expected to help build the Mayor’s already hefty campaign war chest. 

While she has suffered a handful of  bitter losses to city council  during her first term, she’s also scored some impressive victories.

The Mayor seems poised to run on a record of responsible leadership during a time of economic challenges facing the city. Her solutions have included employee furloughs, layoffs and streamlining of all city departments.

  

Don’t worry if you can’t afford to contribute to the Mayor’s campaign for a second term. Sources in her camp tell me that they are working on plans for a public kickoff event on April 23rd at Discovery Green. Details are still TBA.

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.

History and The Houston Parks and Recreation Department
December 9, 2009

It is  an important part of  Houston’s past that has been preserved for future generations.

On Tuesday evening,  Mayor Bill White and the city of  Houston Parks and Recreation Department unveiled the newly renovated Gragg Building in Southeast Houston.

Years ago the same building served as the headquarters for NASA’s manned spacecraft center.

Today the  spacious  building  serves as the headquarters for HPARD  Director Joe Turner and countless other employees who help  keep our city facilities looking nice and well-maintained throughout the year.

Beginning  in 2010,   Houstonians will have the opportunity to rent some of the  indoor and outdoor  space to hold weddings and other special events.

Few people realize that the Gragg Building’s connection to NASA from 1962 to 1964,  In fact, there are several really cool photographs hanging in the lobby to remind city employees and visitors that the building has special significance, and is more than just brick  and mortar.

You can read more about the building’s history on the city of  Houston website: http://www.houstontx.gov/parks/graggpark.html

The building recently underwent a $16 million renovation that preserved its character and historic significance, according to Turner.

The Gragg Building is a city landmark and is on the National Register of  Historical Places. 

 It will also be designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark by the Commission.

Meanwhile, dozens of  Houstonians attended the unveiling Tuesday  night, including Houston’s first Lady Andrea White, newly elected city council member Oliver Pennington and his wife,  HPARD staff member Gail Brown, Mayoral candidate Gene Locke and Mrs. Locke, the architects and many others who had an opportunity to tour the building.

Police Union Sends Out Mail Piece For Gene Locke
December 1, 2009

As the issue of  public safety continues to dominate the debate in the runoff  race for mayor,  the Houston Police Officers’ Union is making a big push to help Gene Locke, its endorsed candidate, get elected. 

HPOU is preparing to send this political mail piece/election flyer to homes across the city.   The message is direct: Vote to keep Houston safe. Vote Gene Locke for Mayor.

HPOU believes that Locke has the best plan to protect Houston’s neighborhoods.  He has promised to increase the number of  officers on the street, screen for an  inmate’s immigration status inside the jails and support a coordinated partnership between law enforcement agencies.

Under the current city budget  prepared by  Mayor Bill White and his administration, public safety expenditures account for more than sixty-percent of the total general fund budget.

Locke has promised voters and police officers that he will continue to  keep public safety his top priority if elected mayor.

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.”

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.

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 Releases Campaign’s First TV Political Ad
September 24, 2009

Houston Mayoral Candidate Annise Parker is jumping into the TV political ad war.

Her campaign’s  new ad titled “Annise Parker Delivers” focuses on the crime problem in Houston, and discusses Parker’s record and vision for the city.

The ad begins running today, and it also  touts Parker winning the endorsement of  the Houston Police Patrolmen’s Union. 

Most political analysts  say that Parker already has the highest name  identification among all of the major mayoral candidates, so going up on TV  a few weeks before the start of  early voting can only help boost her name and ideas. 

Council member/Mayoral Candidate  Peter Brown was the first to begin advertising on TV.

Brown now has two campaign commercials and he is also running radio ads.

That  means that attorney Gene Locke is the only major mayoral candidate who is not up on TV, spreading his message to viewers and voters.

I spoke with a Locke campaign aide, who would only say that the campaign plans to launch its first  TV ad “very soon.”

No word on when or if  Mayoral Candidate Roy Morales will launch a TV political campaign.

Stay tuned!

A Mayoral Forum That Wasn’t Cancelled
September 17, 2009

On Thursday night, the top four candidates for Mayor of  Houston participated in the Forum on Quality of  Life Issues, which was held at the Houston Garden Center in Hermann Park.  

Peter Brown, Gene Locke, Annise Parker and Roy Morales answered questions about water quality, visual blight , trees, landscaping, flooding and city parks.

It wasn’t a fiery debate, but more of a discussion about how the candidates would prioritize and fund these projects if  elected the city’s next mayor.

 P0LITICS 011

Moderated by  Nancy Sims of  Pierpont Communications, the forum was sponsored by the Bayou Preservation Association, Houston Parks Board, Quality of  Life Coalition, Scenic Houston, and Trees For Houston.

P0LITICSP0LITICS 013

Perhaps, more importantly than the topics discussed, the event could be one of  the few remaining opportunities that voters will have to see all of the candidates on one stage , leading up to election day.  

As 2 On The Beat reported earlier, the candidates have decided to cut back on the number of joint appearances.

Locke, Parker and Brown, have already held more than forty joint appearances, and not all of  the events have attracted big crowds.

The candidates say they’re tired of talking to each other, and they want to spend more time campaigning directly to people in the community and raising money. 

Are the candidates short-changing voters by limiting the number of  debates and forums?

We’ll have to wait and see, but if you are really interested in learning about the candidates you can always visit their websites, instead of waiting for them to show up at a forum in your neighborhood!