BICYCLES: The Houston City Council unanimously passed a "safe passing" ordinance that requires drivers to give vulnerable road users, including bicyclists, pedestrians, disabled travelers, highway utility workers and tow truck drivers, three feet of space while passing.
Since our tax dollars tend to heavily support the sports we love, it was only a matter of time before a politician waded into a battle for getting one of Texas's exclusive sports channels onto constituents' televisions. Mayor Annise Parker took a stand today on behalf of Houston sports fans.
The Burnt Orange Report readers who root for a Houston team or two may be frustrated that they cannot see their favorite baseball, football, or soccer team on television.
The Houston Rockets, the Houston Astros, and NBC Sports started a Houston-based sports network six months ago, the Comcast Sports Network - Houston, and the network shows Houston Dynamo games, as well. But the network is available only on Comcast, owned by NBC. Comcast does not even cover a majority of Houston (not to mention Austin or other nearby markets with fans).
Mayor Parker, hoping to help remedy the situation, today called for a summit with the local television providers and CSN Houston. Read on to learn about the proposed summit and its chances of success.
With Battleground Texas stoking hopes of turning Texas into a swing state by the 2016 presidential election, more attention is being paid to organizing during the interim. Before the 2014 midterms, Texas Dems have an amazing opportunity to identify supporters, mobilize communities, and train organizers and activists this year. Major cities in Texas will be having municipal elections this year. In competitive contests for offices from Mayor to City Councilperson, millions of dollars will be spent and countless organizing opportunities will arise. I have put together an overview of the Mayoral contests in the biggest cities in Texas:
Shaping up to be the most expensive and possibly most divisive of the city races, Houston's mayoral race pits incumbent Annise Parker against former City Attorney and current superlawyer Ben Hall. First elected in 2009 in a runoff victory against Gene Locke, Parker narrowly avoided another runoff in her reelection campaign in 2011, winning 50.4 percent of the vote against a slew of unknown candidates. Because of Ben Hall's ability to fundraise and large personal resources, the race is likely to be much more competitive this time around. The unaccounted variable in the race is potential entry of a Republican candidate in the race.
Golden Boy, Future Presidential Nominee, and Great Brown Hope of the Texas Democratic Party Julian Castro still has to win re-election as Mayor of San Antonio this year before he can fulfill the wish of every democrat in Texas. He is facing an array of newbie and perennial candidates with little name ID or campaign funds. As of this writing, unless something crazy happens between now and Election Day, he will cruise to re-election without having to stop his current national speaking schedule.
Current Mayor John Cook is term-limited and a large field of candidates are vying to replace him Among the eight declared candidates are current City Representative Steven Ortega, local businessmen Oscar Leeser and Robert Cormell, and substitute teacher Jorge Artalejo. Even in such a crowd, Cormell and Ortega, by virtue of their early fundraising prowess, are beginning to separate themselves from the pack.
After handily winning her election to a first-term as Mayor of Fort Worth, Republican Betsy Price is running unopposed in her re-election campaign.
Aboubacar "Asn" Ndiaye was a Field Organizer on the Harris County Democratic Party's 2012 Coordinated Campaign. Follow him at twitter.com/thehardask
It's time for the Friday Wrap, where your Burnt Orange Reporters comment on all the news that fits in a blockquote.
It was a great week for consumers as Senator Elizabeth Warren attended her first Senate Banking Committee hearing. The gentlewoman from Massachusetts had a few questions for regulators that were long overdue. Upworthy has the video:
Senator Elizabeth Warren, y'all!
Below the jump, get caught up on Ted Cruz, Jerry Patterson, Annise Parker, Steve Munisteri, and religious fervor in Texas.
For the first time in over a decade, a Democrat leads a Republican statewide in a public opinion poll. Sure, it's within the margin of error. And sure, we aren't close to an election and Republicans poll better as we get closer. And sure, the polls that truly matter (in November) show that Texas actually has a very long way to go before electing a Democrat.
But a scientific survey of Texans has a Democrat winning the state.
"If the candidates for Governor next year were Republican Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White, who would you vote for?" asked Public Policy Polling. 47% answered Bill White. 44% answered Rick Perry.
Before we go hootin' and hollerin' in excitement, let's remember that if Rick Perry wants to run for reelection to governor in 2014, Rick Perry is still the favorite. This is just one poll, and we don't even know if Bill White would want to run again. Rick Perry also leads other hypothetical match-ups against Democrats.
But Battleground Texas is getting Democrats excited to compete sooner rather than later and to aggressively campaign instead of simply waiting for demographics. If we're ready to bring the fight to a new level, we need a candidate, too. So, we only hear Greg Abbott's name when people speak of potential challengers to Rick Perry? We can't make Texas a battleground without strong candidates. And if nothing else, this poll shows that even as soon as 2014, a strong Democratic candidate can win Texas.
If you're still unsure; the reasoning is a two-step process. First, Rick Perry is the favorite if he runs again in the Republican Primary. Second, Rick Perry can be beat. But he clearly can't be beat by anybody, so we need someone to step up. Read on below the fold about these two steps.
(Thanks to Charles Kuffner for this detailed first look into Houston's upcoming November elections. - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Dist Name Cash on hand
Myr Parker 1,281,657
Ctrl R Green 9,983
AL 1 Costello 57,345
AL 2 Burks 3,160
AL 4 Bradford 20,590
AL 5 Christie 14,535
A Brown 22,641
B Davis 64,211
C Cohen 45,597
F Hoang 6,429
G Pennington 119,951
H Gonzalez 57,899
J Laster 31,816
K L Green 9,107
It is 2013, right? So while we have the SD06 special election and the new legislative session to worry about, it's not too early to start talking about the 2013 elections. Let's start with a peek at the campaign finance reports from last July of the Houston officeholders who will be on the ballot this November, at right.
I omitted the three Council members who are term-limited out (Melissa Noriega, Wanda Adams, and James Rodriguez), as well as newly-elected Dave Martin, since his July report would not be relevant. Normally there would have been five open seats this year, but with Mike Sullivan stepping down due to his successful candidacy for Tax Assessor and Jolanda Jones losing in 2011, there are only three vacancies, and as such there will likely be a stampede for those seats. But we'll get to that in a minute.
Below the jump, let's take a closer look at where the non-term limited incumbents are.
Today, Freedom to Marry, a national organization promoting equal marriage rights, issued a major statement of nearly 100 mayors across the county who signaled their support for same-sex marriage rights. Co-Chair Annise Parker of Houston was joined by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro in representing Texas as part of today's announcement.
Having strong allies and leaders in Texas helps move the national conversation about equality in the right direction and I'm happy to include Mayor Leffingwell's statement below.
MAYOR LEE LEFFINGWELL SIGNS FREEDOM TO MARRY PLEDGE FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES
AUSTIN - Mayor Lee Leffingwell has today joined dozens of mayors from across America in supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry by signing on to the Mayors for Freedom to Marry Pledge. The Mayors Freedom to Marry group - an effort of the national Freedom to Marry organization - aims to expand public and political support for ending discrimination in marriage.
"I'm proud to stand with the gay and lesbian community and defend their right to equal marriage," said Mayor Leffingwell. "The tide is changing in America and I hope that by joining this loud chorus, I can play a small role in helping set us on a path to full marriage equality in our country in my lifetime."
Other big city mayors to sign the pledge include Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Michael Bloomberg of New York, Michael Nutter of Philadelphia and Thomas Menino of Boston. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is openly gay, is the only other Texas mayor on the list.
Community leaders in Austin applauded Mayor Leffingwell's decision to join the coalition.
"As the first openly gay person elected to serve on the Austin City Council, I am especially appreciative of Mayor Leffingwell's leadership on this issue," said former Council Member Randi Shade. "Mayor Leffingwell recognizes the importance of achieving marriage equality and is willing to fight for it."
"Mayor Leffingwell is to be commended for his pro-equality stance with regard to the Freedom to Marry initiative," said Rich Bailey, President of the Stonewall Democrats of Austin. "For too long we have seen the LGBT community used as a wedge issue in politics and it is refreshing, but not unexpected, for the Mayor to be supportive of the right of all consenting adults to enter into marriage."
"This is a very important step in the path to equality," said Anne Wynn, Founder of Atticus Circle. "I started Atticus Circle in 2004 in response to the trend of states constitutionally prohibiting same-gender couples from marrying and I am so happy to see my hometown standing up to achieve equality for every parent and every partnership."
"I appreciate Mayor Leffingwell's endorsement of this petition along with other U.S. mayors," said community activist Celia Israel. "It is yet another reason for all of us - not just GLBT Austinites - to be proud of our city."
"Mayor Leffingwell echoes the values and beliefs of Austinites - that ALL men and women are created equal," said Eugene Sepulveda, former co-chair of President Obama's GLBT Leadership Council.
"I've always known Austin to be a community of respect and I am glad to see our Mayor taking the lead on this issue," said Karen Gross, Austin Community Director for the Anti-Defamation League. "I hope other Texas mayors will follow suit and join this important effort."
"Public support for marriage equality has grown in leaps and bounds in this country over the past few decades and too often, politicians refuse to catch up with the times," said Karl-Thomas Musselman, publisher of the Burnt Orange Report. "Mayor Leffingwell is instead reflecting Austin's values by rejecting discrimination and embracing our entire community."
(Thanks, Kuff! Houston readers, what are your thoughts on this November's elections? - promoted by Katherine Haenschen)
Howdy. This is Charles Kuffner from Off the Kuff, and I was asked by the fine folks at BOR to write an overview of the 2011 Houston municipal elections. What follows is my effort to summarize it all for you. For more information, please see my 2011 Election page, which contains links to interviews I have conducted with the candidates (more are to come), campaign finance reports, and endorsement lists. On to the overview...
The Texas Progressive Alliance announced on Wednesday, December 30th that Houston Mayor-Elect Annise Parker is its "Texan of the Year" for 2009.
"Annise Parker's win is a testament to the power of grassroots campaigning," said Texas Progressive Alliance Chair Vince Leibowitz. "Key Houston progressive bloggers endorsed Parker and contributed to her win, with hard hitting stories contrasting her strengths with her opponent's weaknesses," he continued.
Annise Parker is the Alliance's fifth recipient of its "Texan of the Year Award." Parker joins former State Representative Carter Casteel of New Braunfels, who won the award in 2005; Carolyn Boyle of Texas Parent PAC in 2006; State Representatives Garnet Coleman, Jim Dunnam, and Pete Gallego who shared the honor in 2007; and the Harris County Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign in 2008.
With the election of Annise Parker as mayor of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States signaled that they pay more attention to qualifications than to sexual orientation. This news reverberated around the globe, and brought positive attention to Texas. National Democratic groups took note of a more progressive Houston than they assumed, and the talk and speculation turned to the possibilities of Texas turning blue sooner rather than later.
The Parker win was no accident. She put together a talented campaign team that ran on the strength of the grassroots, rather than City Hall insiders. Key Houston area progressive bloggers aligned themselves with Parker, and were embraced by the campaign. Blogs became an effective messaging strategy, emphasizing Parker's qualifications, and her opponent's weaknesses.
In the runoff, several third parties, including one longtime right wing operative who endorsed Parker's opponent, launched a series of homophobic attacks against her, but they failed to do her any serious damage because voters recognized her distinguished service as a member of Council and City Controller, and valued her experience and financial acumen. Voters knew who she was and what she was about because she had always been open and honest about it, and that was more important than anything some agitator could say.
For her historic victory, for making the rest of the world re-evaluate its opinion of Texas, and for running a truly modern grassroots campaign, the Texas Progressive Alliance is proud to name Houston's Mayor-Elect Annise Parker its Texan of the Year for 2009.
The Texan of the Year Award is voted on annually by the members of the Texas Progressive Alliance, the largest state-level organization of bloggers, blogs, and netroots activists in the United States.
Also earning recognition from the Alliance were Ramey Ko, Hank Gilbert, Calvin Tillman, Texas Watchdog, and State Representative Elliott Naishtat, who were each recognized as "Gold Star Texans" for 2009.
Oftentimes in campaigns a great deal of misinformation gets bandied about that if not nipped in the bud immediately can eventually become what I like to call a political myth---which is to say, a lie. Look no farther than the 2009 debate on reforming our country's health care system and how Republicans went out of their way to lie about important elements of emerging legislation.
During his interview with WFAA's Brad Watson, Shami made the following remarks when asked about platform specifics such as balancing the upcoming state budget in 2011 or how he'd create jobs:
By creating more jobs here. When you create more jobs you are creating more taxpayers and that is the only solution to create money is to create jobs. The current people in this state with the current governor, a Republican, not doing anything about it. Neither is the candidate from Houston. He is on the verge of bankrupting the city. We need to get rid of those things that really delays our budget and put us in a worse recession that we are in.