Tag Archives: City of Houston

Catching Up on Local Political Stuff

Cops Endorse

I haven’t been a fan of HPOU ever since they supported racial profiling of Latinos for immigration purposes. You see, some of us good liberals never forget. I always hope that some of my favorite candidates vie for the nod then throw it back in their faces. Of course, I’m always disappointed. Earlier this week, some activists protested at HPOU requesting that they not back the current racial profiling law that is being debated in Austin (SB185). The protesters pretty much got the same message as before from the cops.

Sheriff Adrian Garcia continues to be the only prospect for 2015 to take a stand against SB185, which would directly affect HPD and the City of Houston.

Durrel Douglas for AL5

I’m glad to see Durrel Douglas announce for At-Large 5 against Jack Christie. He’s been a good organizer and activist and will have a lot to say during the campaign.  Douglas, an immigration reform supporter, has already proposed enacting a municipal ID as a means of making Houston more welcoming and safer. I’m looking forward to Durrel elevating the political conversation in this town. It is way overdue.

Make sure you attend Durrel Douglas’ kick-off.

Who Will Run on Fighting Corruption?

Because I got sick of it 10 years ago when airport concessions were being debated.

 

 

 

Is He or Isn’t He? The Saga Continues…

adrianWell, there’s nothing official yet, but Schleifer at the Chron cites “sources” as saying that Sheriff Adrian Garcia will announce for Houston Mayor in another month.

Garcia has sent signals over the past six months that he would join the crowded race to replace Mayor Annise Parker, emptying his mostly non-transferable political bank account, commissioning a poll and this past weekend attending a labor-organized policy forum intended for potential candidates for municipal office.

I’m sort of with Kuff on this in that it really is sounding like a broken record; not Garcia’s record player, but everyone elses. But, what if it’s really true?

I’m sure the Democratic freak-outs will continue over the Sheriff’s imminent resignation, leaving the Republican county commissioner’s court to appoint a right-winger to the post. I’m sure none of us wants a right-winger as Sheriff who will roll back any advances Garcia has pushed forward. And for those who have a beef with the Sheriff over his deportation record given his support of 287g and Secure Communities, I’m pretty sure we’ll be debating immigrant tent jails and pink striped jail uniforms soon with a Republican in office. Still, nothing is forever, and if Garcia wants to move on to another position, that’s his right. Who knows? He may become your favorite candidate for Mayor if and once he rolls out his plan for Houston.

I will add that recently, Sheriff Garcia came out against SB185–the legalized racial profiling bill that was debated on Monday. Of all the unofficial and official candidates, Garcia is the only one who has offered a take on a bill that would affect the City of Houston quite negatively.

That said, until I get a embargoed press release from his team, he’s still Houston Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia.

PDiddie has some questions for the Sheriff.

 

 

 

Playing Catch-Up on Houston Election Stuff

runningPDiddie posted on a meeting last week in which it was rumored that Sheriff Adrian Garcia was going to make some sort of announcement. I had been too busy with family stuff to give it any attention, but, here goes.

Perry credited a “Latino activist” as spreading the rumor, but, when I saw who it was, I realized that it was a self-proclaimed mayoral campaign staffer of the republatino who’s rumored to become a perennial candidate if he runs a third time.

Anyway, chalk it up to barrio chisme which doesn’t really help get Latinos excited about the 2015 election.

What is news is that Sheriff Adrian Garcia has taken on the issue of Pre-K as a means of stopping the school-to-prison pipeline. It’s good to see someone in law enforcement looking toward a future that lessens the number of warehoused folks.

“Many of the inmates in our Texas jails and prisons encountered setbacks with behavior and academics in their earliest years. A high-quality pre-kindergarten education is a crime prevention tool that will help children succeed while saving lives and taxpayer dollars in the future.”

Anyway, from the looks of the internets, there’s some movement among other candidates–whether it’s attending events, photo ops, or actually announcing. I’m not feeling the warm and fuzzies with the current line-up for Mayor, though.

That said, I hadn’t been feeling it for City Controller either, at least, not until the revelation that Chris Brown, who serves as the chief #2 in that office, was running for it. I mean, the institutional experience is a good thing, but I’m still waiting for the rest of the line-up. With four candidates, thus far, it may have the makings of a big, media-heavy race. But if any more join the fray, we’re looking at a race to make a run-off, for sure.

There was also movement in District H, but perhaps also a switcheroo, which PDiddie references. Since I don’t live in the district, I haven’t gotten any official announcement from any of the announced candidates, but I have spoken to at least one prospective candidate in local police officer Jason Cisneroz, whom I think will be the candidate to watch once he tosses his hat in the ring.

One possible race that I’ll start to watch is District F. I’m pretty sure that my own District J CM Mike Laster will get re-elected, therefore, he will not need my vote. In other words, I’m making a move to District F, and I’ve heard some good things about Richard Nguyen.

Well, let’s keep our ears open for the latest chisme.

Bell Announces for Mayor

The thing about being the first out of the chute is that you get some press and you get an opportunity at a first strike against your opponents. Chris Bell announced for Houston Mayor today, as reported by the Chron, and, along with promises to fix streets and traffic lights, is trying to get ahead of any criticism that might be thrown his way.

“I know my competitors will do their best to try and define me. They might even talk about some of the political races that I have run and lost,” Bell, 55, said. “And that’s fair game – because if it’s necessary, I’ll talk about the races they’ve run and lost.”

Really, if all the candidates try to do is protect their legacies and define others’ legacies, then the 2015 campaign will have been a waste. Instead, let’s get the voters interested in actually showing up in November (and December). Let’s hope the Chron and their writers don’t try to define the candidates based on win/loss records; instead, helping to highlight the discussion of ideas.

Anyway, that’s one down. Who’s next?

 

City of Houston: Is 2015 Going To Be Interesting?

Well, there’s no doubt that there are folks running for Mayor in 2015–good, OK, and awful–and there are those rumored-t0-be candidates–good, OK, and awful. The Chron’s Schleifer provided another report on where things seem to stand, especially regarding the possibility of a Latino candidacy.

Obviously, the biggest name is that of Sheriff Adrian Garcia. There are a lot of folks who would be excited for this kind of run, but there are also Democrats who are thinking about the ramifications of this for 2016, including my favorite Senator Sylvia Garcia.

“You’re going to be giving them an early 2016 gift,” said Democratic Sen. Sylvia Garcia, who had the sheriff at her home this month and expressed concern about a run. “Nobody wants a Latino mayor more than I do, but it’s got to be the right time.”

While there’s a lot of buzz about Garcia, folks should know that if he were to announce, he is done as Sheriff.  Those thinking about 2016 argue Garcia is needed on the ticket to help down-ballot Democrats. And then there’s even more to think about which I’m sure people are avoiding talking about. I do agree with Kuff that the 2016 Prez candidate will help down-ballot folks a lot more than someone like Garcia who has enjoyed support from the other side of the aisle that may not have really transferred to those down-ballot Democrats. If our incumbent Dems can’t win during a presidential election year, then our problems are much bigger than missing one of our anchors.

Anyway, the article mentions a host of others, including local State Rep. Sylvester Turner, who has been labeled the front-runner and top fundraiser. Still, I’m sure there will be plenty of cash available for the top tier candidates and their consultants and staffers.

Of course, At-Large 1 seems to have gotten interesting with a Chron article telling us that Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Lane Lewis has tossed his hat in the ring. I had also heard about Phillipe Nassif’s candidacy. I’ve heard other names, too, but I haven’t seen anything remotely official. Once all the candidates are announced, t’ll be a pretty diverse race, which will make it all the more interesting and a race to keep an eye on. Texpate has more.

Some fear some nastiness in this and other races, but as I’ve told folks recently, we need some contentious battles to get peoples attention. Let’s face it, elections generally have been boring affairs, other than for the volunteers and activists and the consultants. If candidates can commit to lively, productive discussion and debate, all the better. If the people aren’t caring enough until they get mad about bathrooms and charitable meals way after election season, then there’s a bigger problem in this game we call democracy.

More to come, I’m sure.

 

 

Tweet of the Day: Payday Lending Ordinance Passes

I’ll give the big prize to Mike Morris of the Chron.

PDiddie has more.

Council Should Vote For Payday Lending Regs

It’s just the right thing to do. But if there are members of City Council who want to talk about “free markets” or claim they haven’t heard anything from the community, Lisa Falkenberg at the Chron has a hard-hitting article this morning, including quotes from those affected by the predatory lending practices of the industry. And then this.

Guerrero said it never occurred to her to call her councilman: “I just never thought the City Council was involved with, you know, all these little loan places out there.”

I asked the grandmother the same question: Why hadn’t she complained to her councilman about her struggles with the loan companies?

“The truth is,” she told me, “I’ve never had anybody like you come up to me and show some kind of interest. I didn’t know there was somebody out there who had somebody’s back. There’s a lot of questions that we the people have. But there’s nobody out there to hear us.”

Do you hear them now, Councilman Rodriguez?

C’mon, this is a financial issue for most families, why would most think about going to their Council member for help? A State Rep., maybe, but it’s obvious that some State Reps have been influenced by the same lobbyists and PACs, so, they probably would have met the same walls. That said, as Falkenberg mentions, the lack of movement by the Texas Legislature has now placed the opportunity to do something about this problem in the hands of City Council members, thanks to Mayor Annise Parker.

There are other members of Council who might use terms like, “personal responsibility” to describe those who cannot get ahead of these loans. But the practices, as described by Falkenberg and those interviewed, say much about the industry as it is today and how the loan process is designed to do exactly what it is doing to families. All a politician who is interested in “industry” dollars for a 2015 run for something has to do is open their eyes–or take off the blinders.

When I went off to college, my parents would worry about my finances at least a few times a year and wanted to make sure I had a few bucks in my pocket–usually as I waited for my grant/loan check to be released. So, they’d visit the local “loan company”–a pawn shop and short-term loan place. Everyone in town knew him as “El Pat,” a white dude who built his business and relied on the Chicanos in the town. High interest? Sure. Predatory? Certainly not how things are today. Then again, we’re talking about the late 80s. Years and years of Republican promotion of the “free market” have allowed the industry to run amok.

Are these businesses needed? And will these businesses still make sizable profits–even enough to pay for an extra lobbyist–with these regulations? Yes to both.

So, the smart thing is to simply vote yes–or at the very least, allow an up or down vote.

Kuff has some background. Texpatriate supports the regs, too.

Post #5000 ~ Some Thoughts

Well, the 2013 election is finally over and I’m proud to say that DosCentavos.net went 6-0, as far as picks go. Congrats to Robert Gallegos, Dwight Boykins, David Robinson, Zeph Capo, Adriana Tamez, and Robert Glaser who had some big wins against well-funded opponents.

There’s some concern about dealing with Kubosh (my at-large 3 “leave it blank” campaign garnered 6.5%, but there was even more undervotes in at-large 2!). Mayor Annise Parker is a grown-up and an effective negotiator. If everyone else plays the grown-up, then things should go smoothly. And if one is a first-termer on council, they should get to work and not “wait their turn.” The people deserve the best representation. Because as close as some of these races were, or,  as notorious as some of the member-elects may be, people will be deciding if one should be re-elected in 2015. (Texpatriate has more on this.)

There is also some concern about the lack of women on the horseshoe, and I agree with every concern. Heck, there are only two Latinos on the council, as always. But much like I don’t support just any Latino because they have brown skin (Morales), the same is probably true for other folks of other demographic groups, as was evident this year. People need to be judged on the issues, and I hope that most of the 4% who voted decided in this manner, rather than just for the mere demographic numbers game we seem to get caught up on. The real test is when someone who isn’t a woman, or black, or Latino, or Asian, or LGBT, or disabled, defends and represents whatever aforementioned demographic, or at the very least listens to those constituents. And that goes for conservatives, moderates, and liberals on the council.

The more important thing to come out of this local election is that the payday lending lobby/pacs took it in the teeth on Saturday as those they funded lost. So, where do the lame ducks stand now? Will they go with the will of the people? Or will they stand by their check-writers? If we’re going to be asking questions about City Council, then let us begin with a pending issue–because the last meeting of the City Council is this week.

On the 5,000

For those that have been reading for the last almost-nine years, and have looked at at least one of my posts, thank you. Blogging is fun, especially if you don’t take yourself so damn seriously. But I will admit, the occasional “you’re awesome,” feels good, too.

Thanks to those who have contributed, as I cannot take credit for all of the posts. But the blog sure can, and I’m glad I helped make you famous. Thank you to the organizations who have invited me to speak. Above all, thanks to those of you who have become great friends during these last nine years, whether one is a politician/officeholder, or a reader who is genuinely appreciative of a good friend (me).

Now, the  bad news. I’ll be getting caught up in politics during the first third of the year, so, my blogging may not be as plentiful. If you’re a fellow lib-lab who wants to submit something, by all means, do. I do plan on doing more Podcasting with my entertainment political commentary partner, Dr. Rey Guerra and others.

I’m no Marxist, but they’re good people. – Pope Pancho

A Video Message To Readers – Loving You by Raul Malo and Michael Guerra

Another Delay for Payday Lending Regs

Looks like a payday lending ordinance was delayed for a week at Houston City Council by Andrew Burks and Jerry Davis today after they tagged it, as reported by Laurie Johnson at KUHF today. The bigger story is how it might be tagged again next week because CM James Rodriguez was absent this week.

Mustafa Tameez is a political analyst who knows the ins and outs of City Hall.

“When something comes for a vote on city council, councilmembers have the right to tag that and what that means is that the vote is delayed for a week while they get further information. If a councilmember is not present during that tag, they have a right to tag it the following week.”

And that’s where things get interesting.

This is probably a good time to point out that Tameez has a horse in this race: he’s a consultant for the coalition of organizations that want to pass the new regulations.

“The rumors in City Hall are that Councilmember James Rodriguez wasn’t here today because it gives him the ability to tag this next week when he’s here.”

“And what does that mean?”

“Well, next week’s meeting is the last meeting for city council this year. And as of next year, there’ll be a whole new city council. The industry doesn’t have the votes to oppose this payday lending ordinance, and so there are rumors running rampant around city hall that this is a tactic being used. It’s a Washington D.C.-style tactic.”

Rodriguez who has been quite vocal against the ordinance had this reaction.

“It’s a councilmember’s prerogative to tag items, it always has been.

The Mayor, though, states she’ll pass it one way or another.

“He has the ability — through procedural moves — to throw it into the next calendar year. But I fully expect to have it passed in January if it doesn’t pass this calendar year.”

So, if Rodriguez delays it again next week, rather than allow an up or down vote, it won’t be up again until January 8.

Oh, to be a payday lending lobbyist at Christmas time.

Texpatriate has more.

Mayor Parker Proposes Payday Lending Regulations

This is something I had been awaiting for a while. Here are the specifics.

With support from other major Texas cities and numerous advocacy groups, Mayor Annise Parker today unveiled proposed regulations for payday lending in Houston. The mayor’s plan establishes minimum business practices for payday lending institutions and mirrors ordinances previously adopted in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, San Antonio and several smaller Texas cities.

“I had initially favored a Houston-specific measure, but decided that joining with other Texas cities in a united front on this issue is the best way to send a strong message to the Texas legislature,” said Mayor Parker.  “Lenders deserve to make a profit on their investments, but not by charging astronomical interest rates to desperate consumers who have nowhere else to turn for emergency financial assistance.  The statewide model I am recommending for approval by Houston City Council achieves this balance.”

Payday and auto title loans are high cost, small-dollar loans offered to individuals without credit checks and little consideration for their ability to repay. The initial term is typically two weeks to one month, with the term usually determined based on the borrower’s pay cycle. A borrower who fails to make a payment on an auto title loan could wind up losing his means to get to work and take his children to school.

Under existing Texas law, there is no limit to the fees that payday lenders and auto title businesses can charge and no limit on the number of times they can charge high-fees for essentially the same loan – often trapping borrowers in a cycle of debt where they are never able to pay down the loan.  For example, a fast cash payday advance of $500 that is rolled over five or more times could wind up costing $1200 or more.

Houston’s proposed ordinance would help alleviate this problem by:

  • Requiring payday loan and auto title loan businesses to register with the city annually
  • Limiting payday loans to 20 percent of the borrower’s gross monthly income
  • Limiting auto title loans to three percent of the borrower’s gross annual income or 70 percent of the vehicle value, whichever is less
  • Limiting single payment loans to no more than three refinances or rollovers and installment loans to no more than four installments
  • Requiring each installment, refinance, or rollover payment to reduce the total principal owed by at least 25 percent
  • Defining a rollover or renewal as a loan within seven days of the previous loan
  • Requiring loan agreements to be written in easy-to-understand language
  • Requiring contact information for nonprofits offering financial literacy and cash assistance

This sounds OK to me. There’s no doubt that folks have a need for emergency loans–heck, I’ve been there as a college student awaiting the arrival of the student loan check with rent due a week before disbursement. And as a college student, there’s no doubt that there was an uneasy feeling that one may  lose a crappy, yet running, vehicle.

That said, there’s also some responsibility on the part of the borrower, but I think this proposal provides for a good shot at fairness for all.

Senator Sylvia Garcia had this to say:

I applaud Mayor Parker and the Houston City Council for presenting a package of payday lending regulations to protect our citizens from unscrupulous payday lenders. The proposed package is modeled after an ordinance that was passed by the City of San Antonio and other major urban cities. I look forward to supporting Mayor Parker and the city council’s efforts to pass a Houston ordinance as quickly as possible.

So, let’s hope this gets passed in December.