Archive for December 16th, 2013

Good Morning H-Town!

This is the first time since March of 2012 that I am not thinking about an upcoming election. I think that is probably a good thing. Now I have time to do a little Christmas shopping, catch up on my reading, do a few crossword puzzles, and watch those cheesy made for TV Christmas movies on the Hallmark and Lifetime channels.

MLB Hall of Fame great Rickey Henderson played for nine different teams – name them?

The Chronicle’s lead story today is about the low number of women on the H-Town City Council. I don’t know what to say other than it would have been nice to have this story run a week or so ago, Oh, well. Here it is:

The Houston City Council will have its fewest women in 15 years this January, which political observers called a troublesome regression for one of the most diverse cities in the U.S.

Just two women will remain on the 16-member council. And for the first time in about 25 years, a minority woman will not hold a seat.

“It’s more a step back rather than a step forward for the city of Houston,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “Women represent slightly over 50 percent of population but will account for less than a fifth of the City Council.”

There are currently four women on the council. Except for 1999, when there were also just two, the council has had at least three females in each of the last 25 years. It peaked at eight in 2005, according to data compiled by Rice University political scientist Bob Stein. Also, from 1989 until 1999, there were at least three women on council.

Political analysts say the makeup, likely a result of chance, is not an optimal mix.

City Council member Ellen Cohen said it would serve the city well to have a better balance. Cohen and Brenda Stardig, who unseated incumbent Helena Brown in the run off, will be the only females.

“When we have a blending of people, it serves us well,” Cohen said. “We want City Council to look like the city of Houston. Right now, with two women, it doesn’t look like the city of Houston.”

Still, she said she is not concerned that her voice won’t be heard. She hopes more qualified women will be inspired to run in the future.

“It’s symbolic, but the fact is it’s significant symbolism,” Cohen said.

Stein said a persistent finding in social science research shows that a higher proportion of women on governing bodies means less gridlock and more efficiency. He said some believe this is a genetic trait in women and also because women have different experiences than men.

Effect on Parker

Stein said this election season saw a diverse group of candidates in the mix, including women, but the turnout was extremely low. He predicted it would be a challenging year for Mayor Annise Parker, who is heading into her final term with her sights on statewide office. In part, this will be because women may be more sympathetic to some of her issues, such as discrimination.

Rice University’s Jones said because Parker will be at the helm of city government, the policy impact will not be dramatic, but that the new council makeup could draw attention to the under-representation of women in governing bodies.

He said these election results were due to bad luck and he does not believe there is any broader anti-woman trends in Houston, noting several races where women were contenders. He also pointed out this low representation of women could persist because incumbents have such an advantage in future elections.

Sue Lovell, who served on council for six years from 2005 to 2011, including the first time there was a majority of women, said the council worked very well during her tenure, even though members had different views and backgrounds.

“It was the first time in history the city had a majority of women. It was very collaborative and effective,” Lovell said. “The city was proud that we had reached that point.”

She said the dynamics on council could change with the new uneven proportion of men and women.
“In some way it will diminish the voices of the women in the city,” she said. “We need to consider what you want your council to look like. You want everyone to be represented.”

Future leaders

This may spark a call for qualified women to consider politics in the future, she said.

“I think you should take into your decision-making, do you want to be reflective of the city?” Lovell said.

Cindy Clifford, who runs a Houston-based public relations company, said she plans to start a group to empower promising women in Houston to consider public office and donate to female candidates. She said women have a harder time raising money and asking for things for themselves. She said she hopes to inspire confidence in promising female leaders.

“It’s important for women to have a seat at the table,” she said. “Women see things differently; there will be a different dialogue and discussion.”

Congrats go to Robert Gallegos for his District I victory. I hope he does a good job.

Team Graci Garces worked very hard but just were not able to get enough of our supporters to the polls on Election Day.

In District I some women had a great opportunity to support an outstanding woman but instead supported the fella. I will be the first to call out any of these that in the future bemoan the lack of female elected officials.

Three women will now sit at the council table. Three from the GLBT community will sit at the council table. Two Latinos will sit at the council table. Four African Americans will now sit at the council table.

Congrats go to my client Adriana Tamez for her outstanding victory. She will do a great job. Team Tamez worked their arses off. Way to go!

Dave Wilson sent a last minute attack letter against Adriana.

We didn’t even hit 4% turnout this past Saturday. More folks voted early than on Election Day.

It looks like Dave Wilson won’t have very many allies over at HCC. That is the way it goes.

Rickey Henderson played for the Angels, A’s, Dodgers, Jays, Mariners, Mets, Padres, Red Sox, and Yankees of course.

The only thing from The Yard this past weekend was a birthday shout out to B-G-O.

Read Full Post »