Category Archives: La Familia

Parklets? Parklets? What’s A Parklet?

I had given some mention to parklets previously during the City of Houston budget amendment fun-time a few weeks ago and thought they were a good idea from my friend CM Ed Gonzalez. The Chron seems to like the idea.

Well, what are they?

Under this plan, businesses can apply to adopt on-street parking spots and turn them into parks, outdoor seating or some other storefront extension. This means more greenspace and pedestrian friendly areas at no cost to the city. And if the parklets don’t work out, they can just be turned back into parking. The parklets can even be created on a temporary basis for times of high pedestrian traffic – imagine holiday-themed parklets during December.

Well, that  doesn’t sound bad. And the Chron has given them their seal of approval.

I’ve heard from friends who like the idea and others who really dislike it.

I wouldn’t mind seeing more green space down the street from my place; perhaps it could take up some of the superfluous parking from PlazAmericas (on the back end of it). A few trees, some benches and the families in the surrounding apartment complexes would be nicely served. It could be a nice public-private effort, even.

Just a thought. Anyway, the Chron continues:

Of course, one can question whether a small park is worth the lost on-street parking spot, especially given that the most walkable areas also appear to have the worst parking crunches – lower Westheimer, for example. But because the parklet process must be initiated with neighborhood approval, it seems unlikely that parklets will replace anything but superfluous parking.

For naysayers who think that parklets aren’t a worthwhile endeavor, we encourage patience. Gonzalez isn’t proposing any massive overhaul, nor forcing parklets where they aren’t wanted. This will be a trial run to see how a parklet policy could work.

Anyway, I like the idea, too.

Inbox: Community Emergency Response Team Training for Spanish Speakers

From the Inbox to You:

The City of Houston Department of Neighborhoods Office of International Communities announces a series of Spanish language Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training sessions for individual residents, social service providers and community leaders.

Presented in collaboration with the City’s Office of Emergency Management and Harris County Citizens Corps, the training will consist of eight training modules led by experts covering a full range of disaster preparedness topics.  The final session will feature a mock drill, giving participants the opportunity to apply the knowledge and practice the skills they acquired through the training.

All participants who complete the eight-week training will receive a City of Houston and Harris County first aid training certificate, a CERT program identification card and an emergency response manual.

The training sessions will be held on Saturdays, from 9:00 12:00 p.m., at the Southwest Multi-Service Center, 6400 High Star, Houston 77074, as follows:

  • July 21 — Module 1:  General Disaster Preparedness
  • July 28 — Module 2:  Fire Safety & Suppression
  • August 4 — Module 3:  Basic Medical Operations – Part 1
  • August 18 — Module 4:  Basic Medical Operations – Part 2
  • September 15 — Module 5:  Light Search & Rescue
  • September 22 — Module 6/7: Incident Command System/Disaster Psychology
  • September 29 — Module 8:  Terrorism Awareness
  • October 6 –Mock Search and Rescue Drill

The July 21 opening session will provide participants with an overview of disaster and emergency preparedness.  The session will feature presentations by Marni Rosen, City of Houston CERT Coordinator, Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security; Captain Homero Ponce-Lopez, HFD (retired); Captain Juan Guerrero, HFD; Any Villanueva, Volunteer Coordinator, Hispanic CERT Team; and Carlos Robles, Meteorologist, Univision 45.

Enrollment is limited. Interested persons are encouraged to register in advance.  Walk-ins may be accepted, based on availability of participant slots.  To enroll contact Benito Juarez, Office of International Communities, at 713.778.6503 or

For more information about the Department of Neighborhoods, visit  To learn more about the City of Houston Office of Emergency Management, visit

Janitors on Strike–A Week of Action

It has been an action-filled week for Houston Janitors who are on strike. With corporate employers not agreeing to a pay raise for these hard-working individuals, the Janitors have had no choice but to go on strike and demonstrate outside of Houston’s high rises in downtown.

On Wednesday, fifteen (15) supporters of the striking Janitors were arrested after blocking traffic in Downtown during the lunch hour.

The group sat in a circle in the intersection of Smith and Bell about 12:30 p.m., surrounded by about 250 supporters carrying mops and banging on drums. Police closed the street about a block away, and some traffic backed up behind the roadblocks.

The Service Employees International Union said in news releases that the people arrested came from around the country. Fewer than half are from Houston, and none are janitors themselves, according to a list included in one release.

On Tuesday, I met some of these folks and saw their organizing skills in action as Janitors protested at the ExxonMobil HQ in Downtown Houston. I also lent them my support and marched with them.

This past weekend, the children of the Janitors staged a protest.

While we get so caught up with political campaigns, we must not forget about the working people our campaigns talk about–and that goes for the candidates, too. But I will say it has been good to see a few of our elected officials out there, but more are needed.

On Thursday at 7PM, a Mass will be held at the Co-Cathedral in Downtown. Attend and show your support of these hard-working Houstonians Taxpayers who are being mistreated by local corporations.

Farrar, St. Arnold’s Team Up for Backpack Drive

Since I’m in Austin this week, I cannot attend, but my good friend, State Rep. Jessica Farrar, has teamed up again with St. Arnold’s Brewery for the annual backpack drive to collect school supplies for local students.

From the FB event:

Join me at Saint Arnold Brewery on Tuesday, June 26 from 6 – 8 pm! Admission is one new backpack and two new school supplies (1 subject wide-ruled notebooks, 4 pocket folders with brads, 1 packet of loose leaf wide ruled paper, 1 box of 24-ct crayons, 2 glue sticks). The taps will be open to you and the root beer will be flowing as well. This event is family friendly. Also feel free to bring dinner or a snack with you!

All backpacks and school supplies will benefit school children within District 148.

I hope to see you there!

Again, that’s at St. Arnold’s, 6/26 at 6pm (2000 Lyons).

And a big DC Salute to State Rep. Farrar for all of her good work.

Houston: DREAMer Info Summit

The Potential of Latino Voter Growth

The Center for American Progress is telling us something we already know:  There is a lot of growth potential in Latino voters in Texas, as reported by Julian Aguilar at the Trib.

About 2.15 million voting-age Latinos in Texas who are U.S. citizens are not registered to cast a ballot, according to a report released by the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based policy research and educational institute. The left-leaning organization also posits that about 880,000 legal permanent residents will be eligible to vote in November if they receive their citizenship before the Nov. 6 general election. Eligible Texans have until Oct. 9 to register to vote.

The center says the number of unregistered Latino voters exceeds the number of votes — 950,695 — by which 2008 Republican presidential nominee, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., defeated then-Sen. Barack Obama in the Lone Star State.

That sounds about right. Is it any wonder that Republicans are doing everything they can to make it harder to register citizens, along with making it harder for them to vote?

Fellow blogger John Cobarruvias was spot-on this morning when he talked about what could be a second “Alamo” we may all be remembering if Republicans continue on this track.

Later “Remember the Alamo!” became the battle cry for the Texas Revolution. It was a lot easier to say and more catchy than “Remember when we tried to pick a fight with a few thousand well armed Mexicans by stealing their land and got the living hell beaten out of us!”. Now another group of white folks, called  republicans and tea party “patriots”, are stealing from Hispanics, Blacks, the elderly, and students by taking their rights to vote away through illegal purging of voter rolls and voter ID bills.

So true.

Filling out the piece of paper isn’t enough, though. Voter education is of utmost importance, as well. Of course, that kind of talk puts quite the fear in incumbents of all political stripes. But, whether things work out or not in the Supreme Court over Voter ID, these voters can still be registered, educated, and let loose at the nearest voting machine. Ultimately, it’s all about priorities.

In Case You Missed Tacos and Votes [Video]

Our friends, The Parra Brothers, produced a short highlight film of this past Saturday’s Tacos and Votes voter engagement program. Enjoy and/or be amazed!

Reminder: Tacos y Votes – Saturday, May 19

Tacos y Votes

Spread the Word: May 1st March!

Rally for Reproductive Rights – The Bus Schedule

Thanks to Richard Shaw for getting this bit of information out about Saturday the 28th.

Rally with the Women of Texas on the Steps of the Capitol

Unite against the War on Women!

Date:    Saturday, April 28, 2012

Time:    4-6 P.M.

Where:  Texas State Capitol, Austin, Texas (South Steps)

Buses from Houston

North:  Deerbrook Mall parking lot by Macy’s, 20131 Highway 59 North, Humble, Texas 77338

Central:  Lowe’s parking lot, behind the IBEW Hall, 1475 North Loop West, Houston, Texas 77008

Cost:  $20 early registration (by April 25th)

 $25 after April 25th

Meet at 11 a.m.  Buses depart promptly at 11:30 a.m.

Bring your favorite snacks or soft drinks.  Water provided.

Reservation and payment required:

For Inquires, email: or leave phone message at 713-868-4805.