Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The Center is saved!

Good news for those following The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation vs. the City of Houston: the Center is saved!

The Center and the city have reached a preliminary agreement which will allow the Center to remain at its West Dallas location and raise money to improve the Center’s campus.

Under the agreement, the Foundation for the Retarded will purchase the land and leases from the City for a price of $6.0 million. The City will also help provide the financing for the purchase. The transaction will be structured to resolve any and all disputes between the Center and the City regarding the legal status of our leases, and will allow the Center to continue operating from this location indefinitely. The closing of the transaction is subject to approval by the City Council of Houston and the Boards of the Center and the Foundation, and is further subject to negotiating mutually agreeable definitive documentation.

This is very exciting. Many congratulations to all those involved in this process, you have truly made a difference in the Houston community.

Who would you sell for $26 million? Houston vs. Center for the Retarded (CRI)

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As you may have read in the Chronicle this past week (and here and here), Houston Center serving Persons with Mental Retardation (CRI) is in danger of being booted from their West Dallas campus property by the city of Houston.

This is direct violation of the 99-year lease the Center signed in 1963 with the city and would potentially displace about 600 residents – many of whom have lived at the West Dallas campus for decades. Should the sale of the land go through, the Center would have 3 years to move out. This might seem like a long time, but is quite soon considering how difficult it is to find affordable, accessible and quality housing on this scale.

There are multiple sides to every story, but in the end I see this as the city wanting to capitalize on the valuable property that the Center sits on (worth an estimated $26 million) by being assholes. Business-minded yes, but condo building assholes all the same.

The Center has launched a Save the Center Web site to educate concerned Houstonians and help get their voice heard through online petitions and city government contact info.

What do you think about this? Should the Center have to move to satisfy the city’s build-lust? Or is this just business as usual?

9-11 Truth Conference!

I’m recommending that you all attend this upcoming conference in Austin this weekend if you have the means, time & interest. I will definitely be there!

Mayor White snags JFK Profile in Courage Award

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Mayor Bill White won the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award this week for making “courageous decisions of conscience without regard for the personal or professional consequences” during the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

This year’s Profile in Courage award is also being awarded to Doris Voitier, Superintendent of Schools for St. Bernard Parish, LA who re-built and re-opened public schools in the hurricane’s aftermath. From Bill White’s press release:

“Mayor Bill White and Doris Voitier demonstrated tremendous courage in the face of extraordinary odds and they serve as an inspiration to us all,” said Caroline Kennedy, President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. “Mayor White’s quick actions evacuating thousands of families displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita most certainly helped to save lives. Despite insurmountable odds, Doris Voitier rebuilt the schools of St. Bernard Parish, making sure the children of her community had a place to learn and grow when they returned home. They are both true profiles in courage.”

This is really cool news and reflects well on the city’s efforts as well. Thanks to Ed Schipul for the linkie!

Rush hour and large plastic bull testicles = bad experience

So I’m sure I’m a little touchy on this, as this is something that’s happened a few times now – but is anyone else sick of seeing large plastic testicles hanging from cars?

I’ve been stuck behind vehicles (typically of the enormous diesel guzzling pick-up truck variety) during rush hour a handful of times now and get tired of seeing those things swing.

Maryland legislators are working on a bill to ban them and all explicit vehicle decorations – do you think we should do something like that in Houston? Am I the only one who finds them repulsive? Vote and let us know how you feel!

And this ends the most random Metblog post that I’ve ever written. Thanks.

Onion Creek goes smoke-free early – your thoughts?

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The Houston Heights Onion Creek had its last indoor smoker friendly day last Thursday, February 15th. The patio is still tobacco happy, but the O.C. has decided to honor the Houston-wide bar indoor smoking ban a little early. From their press release:

… Onion Creek will remain ahead of the curve by no longer allowing smoking indoors. We are one of the first establishments in the city to adopt the recently approved smoking ban prior to its actual date of enforcement in September of this year, and we look forward to providing a clean, smoke-free environment for our patrons and employees. Onion Creek values our customers who smoke, and will still allow smoking on its spacious patio. We see this as a win-win situation and hope that our customers – smokers and non-smokers alike – will appreciate our efforts to provide a comfortable experience for all Onion Creek visitors.

Will other Houston-area bars banning smoking early lose your business? Or will you be more likely to visit them, knowing that even a late night DJ-accompanied beer will mean a nicotine-free adventure? Photo thanks to Onion Creek Cafe

Judge Robert Eckels moves on

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Well known for his work with Hurricane Katrina evacuees, County Judge Robert Eckels announced his resignation at the State of the County address yesterday for the Greater Houston Partnership.

As Charles Kuffner mentioned earlier, it is irritating that he would decide 2 months into the new 4 year term that he was leaving for the private sector. Is that fair to voters or is that just standard practice in the political world?

The above photo was taken by Ed Schipul at the Accessible Internet Rally (AIR Houston) where Judge Eckels served as a co-chairman. The only other interaction I’ve had with him was as a speaker at a PR luncheon where he outlined Houston’s efforts to help Katrina victims. He impressed me at both events by not being a greasy politician. Sometimes I’m easy to please… or maybe just easy to fool?

Friendswood Councilman: Spanish Speakers = Sex Offenders

Friendswood City Councilmen Chris Peden and John LeCour want to make the English the city’s official language. Thats not really uncommon these days, plenty of politicians are pushing for that in city, state and country. What is unique about their proposal is the blatant idiocy in their reasoning. They say that making English the official language:

  1. Will help border security
  2. Is similar to the city’s ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of places where children gather

According to the Chron:

City Councilman Chris Peden said the proposed measure would be a safeguard for Friendswood and compared it to the city’s ordinance prohibiting sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of places where children gather.

How, in any way, does specifying an official language compare to protecting children from sex offenders? Well, it doesnt. So, that means that you’re likening the people who speak the language to someone you have to protect your children from. That is just plain racism.

The slightly less insidious but equally stupid John LeCour says: “(Our borders) need to be controlled, and maybe it’s something we can start here, a movement here that the state and the federal government should see that the citizens are serious

Yes sir, language secures borders. All this time we thought it was the lack of policing and promise of opportunities here that allowed people to enter the country. No! It was just the fact that they’re allowed to speak Spanish to city officials that brings ’em in.

At least they’re putting it up to citizen vote and not just taking matters into their own hands.

Ok, so you know my opinion… whats yours? Do you think this would help national security or Friendswood city services?

Vote to rid me of my sadness!

I went to vote today on my way home from work shortly after 12pm. I’d been to the same polling location before, but when I got there and didn’t see a line, I thought I made a mistake. Unfortunately, I hadn’t. A sign tracking the number of votes cast at the location was taped to the door. 247 before 12pm. There was one woman voting when I got there, and one man came in while I was in the middle of casting my ballot. My sister and mom said their voting experiences were very similar to mine. How depressing!

Please go vote!

Go here to find your polling location and see a sample ballot (click on the Election 2006 button in the upper right corner).

Early voting begins today!!!

Despite what you don’t read on the front page of Houston’s only remaining major newspaper, today is the start of early voting.

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That’s right… in the fourth largest city in the nation, when the highest office in the state is up for reelection, it appears that someone thinks it is not very important. Apparently, immigration in Appalachia and selling trucks for Bill Heard is more important than who will be the next Governor, whether or not Houstonians vote to overturn spending caps that local politicians find too restrictive, or a myriad of other real issues.

Regardless of mainstream coverage, you can count on bloggers to cover the real issues, here at MetBlogs and elsewhere. Also, whether you agree with the right, the left, or independents like myself, you need to exercise your right to shape the state and country in which you live.

Go vote!

Screen capture from Chron.com

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