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Archive for January 18th, 2017

Snark

We will know today at 5 pm if Jeff Bagwell is heading to Cooperstown. This is his seventh year of eligibility.   Let’s hope he gets the 75% needed to get selected. How did Bagwell poll in his first year of eligibility in 2011?

Commentary has to talk about this I guess or suppose.

Last Friday, Rebecca Elliott of the Chron let us know that HUD had kind of smacked the City of H-Town by saying we violated the Civil Rights Act. Here is how Rebecca started her story:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is blasting Mayor Sylvester Turner’s recent rejection of a subsidized housing project near the Galleria and said the city violates the federal Civil Rights Act by giving too much weight to “racially motivated opposition” from neighborhood residents when deciding where to locate a key form of low-income housing.

HUD’s findings, detailed in a scathing 14-page letter sent Wednesday, fault the city for “blocking and deterring affordable housing proposals in integrated neighborhoods” and require Houston officials to implement a series of corrective actions.

Those remedies include providing the remaining construction costs for the Houston Housing Authority’s proposed 2640 Fountain View complex, which Turner blocked in August, or financing an alternative in a so-called “high-opportunity” census tract.

HUD also called on the city to develop a formal policy to ensure the placement of tax credit housing does not maintain segregation, establish a local fair housing commission to diminish segregation and help housing voucher recipients find homes in low-poverty neighborhoods.

“The city’s refusal to issue a resolution of no objection for Fountain View was motivated either in whole or in part by the race, color, or national origin of the likely tenants,” Garry Sweeney, director of HUD’s Fort Worth’s regional office of fair housing and equal opportunity, wrote in a letter to Turner. “More generally, the department finds that the city’s procedures for approving Low-Income Housing Tax Credit applications are influenced by racially motivated opposition to affordable housing and perpetuate segregation.”

And:

“We are taking a hard look at the letter, but there should be no misunderstanding about my commitment to providing options for low-income families. I do not believe that only wealthy areas can provide what our children need,” Turner said in a statement. “I have chosen to stay in the neighborhood where I grew up and I will not tell children in similar communities they must live somewhere else.”

Turner added that the city and the housing authority are set to announce a plan to provide vouchers for up to 350 low-income housing units in neighborhoods with high-performing schools.

Here is all of Rebecca’s article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/HUD-City-s-subsidized-housing-procedures-promote-10857101.php.

Then yesterday, the Chron’s Lydia DePillis put out an article that starts like this:

Houston loves to talk about how it’s a “city of opportunity.” It’s on banners at the airport. It’s been used to sell the General Plan. The Greater Houston Partnership uses it as a tagline. Mayor Sylvester Turner used the word “opportunity” five times in his inauguration speech last year.

But opportunity for whom, exactly? 

Opportunity for businesspeople and entrepreneurs, certainly. Houston prides itself on having low taxes and loose regulation, access to international markets, and all the other resources that help private enterprise grow and thrive. 

Whether Houston offers opportunity for people who don’t have much to start with, however — that’s less clear. And it’s downright undermined by Mayor Turner’s decision to block a subsidized housing development in a well-to-do neighborhood near the Galleria, which the federal government said last week had violated the Civil Rights Act.

Turner’s response? “I do not believe that only wealthy areas can provide what our children need,” he said in a statement to my colleague Rebecca Elliott. “I have chosen to stay in the neighborhood where I grew up and I will not tell children in similar communities they must live somewhere else.”

Noble intention. Of course, kids (and adults) should be able to succeed regardless of the conditions of the neighborhoods where they were born — communities that can offer networks of support, despite projecting the appearance of decay and neglect. Those neighborhoods deserve great schools and jobs and access to healthy groceries just as much as rich ones do. 

The problem is, they often don’t offer those things right now, and the research is getting increasingly clear that kids do better if they grow up in wealthier neighborhoods. The younger they move, the better, to maximize access to better schools, low crime rates, and a vision of economic success that seems achievable, rather than remote. 

Turner says that families should be able to live in different kinds of neighborhoods. Well, right now, they don’t really have a choice.

Go here to check out the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/texanomics/article/Residential-segregation-keeps-Houston-from-being-10861896.php.

Then this tweet came out:

Houston Chronicle Retweeted

Lydia DePillis ‏@lydiadepillis 3h3 hours ago

Dear @SylvesterTurner: You can’t be a “city of opportunity” while putting all public housing in poor neighborhoods.

Followed by this tweet from my pal Bill Kelly who works for the Mayor:

Bill Kelly ‏@billkellytexas 2h2 hours ago

Bill Kelly Retweeted Lydia DePillis

Assume this is more “snark” from the paper @SchwartzChron ? No mention of what’s planned for 350 spots in high preforming school tracks?

I had to go look up “snark” since I don’t use the word. Here is what I found:

A snide, sarcastic, or disrespectful attitude: “On the issue of mainstream monotheistic religions and the irrationality behind many of religion’s core tenets, scientists often set aside their skewers, their snark, and their impatient demand for proof, and instead don the calming cardigan of a kiddie-show host on public TV” (Natalie Angier).

Commentary expressing such an attitude: “He must now endure days of media scrutiny, schadenfreude from his rivals and an overflow of social media scorn, snark and satire” (Alessandra Stanley).

The City of Pasadena got hit by a federal judge for violating Voting Rights and the issue got covered by the Chron.

The City of H-Town gets called out by HUD for violating the Civil Rights Act and the Chron covers and has a take. That’s what they are supposed to do – right?

Oh, well. I am thinking maybe City Hall would like to write the Chron stories.

Kuffer has a good take on what he would like to see in the next local Dem Chair. I hope he doesn’t mind that I let you see it all here:

What I’m looking for in the next HCDP Chair

Jan 18th, 2017

by Charles Kuffner.

Following up on yesterday’s post, here are a few issues I’ve been thinking about regarding the position of HCDP Chair.

  1. Focus on voter registration

My main takeaway from this past election is that Harris County is now fundamentally blue, with the majority of new voters coming into the county being more likely to be Democrats. By “new voters”, I mean people who move here, people who turn 18, and people who become citizens, so they are eligible to vote but have to actually register to do so. It needs to be our priority to make sure that they do. There are also a lot of people who move within the county every year and need to update their registrations, and there are still people who could be registered but aren’t. It should be the party’s goal, especially now that we have a friendly person overseeing the registration process, to maximize the voter rolls.

  1. Expand the vote-by-mail outreach project (maybe)

There has been a focus under Chair Lewis to get more eligible Democrats to vote by mail. It has been successful by any measure, though I don’t know the details behind it. Specifically, I don’t know how many of these mail voters are people who had reliably voted in person before, and how many are new or lower-propensity voters. I’d like to hear how the Chair candidates evaluate this effort and what they would do to improve and expand it, if they think that is a good idea.

  1. Continue the focus on “other” elections

Under Chair Lewis, the party has provided basic information about candidates in Houston municipal races – what their voting history is, who is or is not a sustaining member of the HCDP, etc. It has also done some advocacy for candidates in races where there is a clear choice between a lone Democratic candidate and one or more non-Democrats. This should definitely continue, and it should also be expanded, to include the various school board races, HCC and Lone Star College, and municipal races in other Harris County cities. The May elections in Pasadena should be a particular point of interest for the HCDP.

  1. Think more regionally

Democrats did about as well as they could have in Harris County in 2016. I feel pretty good about making gains in 2018, though of course there are a lot of things that can and will affect how that election will go that have yet to play out. At some point, to continue the momentum, we are going to need to be more involved in races that go beyond our borders. Examples include the First and 14th Courts of Appeals, and multi-county districts like SD17 and CD22. Fort Bend and to a lesser extent Brazoria County are becoming more Democratic in part because they are more like Harris County in nature – more urban, and more attractive to the kind of person who tends to vote our way. We should seek to work more closely with our counterparts in neighboring counties to help maximize Democratic performance not just in Harris County but in the greater Houston region.

This is all high-level bullet point stuff, and there are more things that need to be in the discussion, but this is what I’ve been thinking about. I do intend to send out a Q&A to Chair hopefuls, to get a better idea of where they stand on things. If nothing else, I’ll need to make up my own mind about whom to support. What do you want the next Chair to focus on?

In talking to some folks, they want a chair who is all in for 2018 in terms of the countywide races. They don’t want a chair who is going to play nice-nice with Judge Ed Emmett and give him a pass. He is after all a GOPer, the GOP that gave us Donald Trump and the anti-immigrant BS.

They would like a chair who will try to get all the GOTV activities under one roof.

They would like a chair who is respected by most Dem leaders throughout the county, not someone who brings a lot of baggage to the job.

In 2011, Jeff Bagwell of course polled at 41.7%.

Jeff Bagwell, yes!

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