Tag Archives: Mayor Annise Parker

Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance Passes


Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker’s Equal Rights Ordinance passed 11-6 and proved to be almost as tedious as her mayoral election.

Although it is a major victory for the LGBT community, Councilmember Jerry Davis, who voted for the ordinance, emphatically expressed to the citizens of Houston that this is for the people of his district, the young men of color who are disenfranchised because of the color of their skin.

Councilmember Dwight Boykins of District D, stressed how conservative his constituents are and he made his decision based on his district which turned out to be a no vote.

Councilmember C.O. Bradford At- Large, Larry Green, District K both voted yes citing it was just the right thing to do.

The weeks of waiting caused both the pro and con sides to grow in there fervor for their cause.

City Council and Mayor Parker heard over 200 constituents that ranged from clergy, transgendered, transitioning, homosexuals, heterosexuals, students, elected officials and everyone in between.

There is a six month period where the ordinance can be contested but Mayor Parker hopes it doesn’t come to that at all.

Houston’s mayor Annise Parker weds long-time partner

Mayor Annise Parker weds long time partner.
Mayor Annise Parker weds long time partner.

Mayor Annise Parker and her long-time partner, First Lady Kathy Hubbard, were joined in marriage today in a sunset ceremony held at a private home in Palm Springs, California. A small gathering of family and friends, including the mayor’s mother and Ms. Hubbard’s sister, were on hand for the exchange of vows, which were presided over by the Reverend Paul Fromberg, a family friend from San Francisco. Two other close friends from Houston, Judge Steve Kirkland and Mr. Mark Parthie, served as the attendants and formal witnesses. Mayor Parker and the First Lady selected January 16th for their wedding because it marks the 23rd anniversary of the start of their lives together.

“This is a very happy day for us,” said Mayor Parker. “We have had to wait a very long time to formalize our commitment to each other. Kathy has been by my side for more than two decades, helping to raise a family, nurture my political career and all of the other ups and down and life events that come with a committed relationship. She is the love of my life and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life married to her.”

Ms. Hubbard has other insurance options available to her and will, therefore, not participate in the new policy granting city health insurance benefits to the spouses of legally-married city employees.

Ben Hall Invites Ms. Parker To Join Him In Ethics Reform


(Houston, TX) – Today, mayoral candidate Ben Hall sent a letter to Ms. Annise Parker inviting her to join him in supporting a comprehensive reform package to eradicate the corrupt pay-to-play practices rampant in the City of Houston. Following last week’s discovery of Ms. Parker handing out $65 million in taxpayer funded contracts in exchange for $1 million in political campaign contributions this election cycle, it is clear that something must be done to stop this corrupt behavior.

Hall has outlined a 10-point ethics plan and has pledged his commitment to end pay-to-play. Ms. Parker has remained silent on this issue and has failed to bring forward meaningful solutions. For the good of all Houstonians, the Hall campaign encourages Ms. Parker to join us in support of these proposals.

The letter is attached and included below along with the new ethics rules to end corruption at City Hall. Now we wait for Ms. Parker to break her silence on at least one issue relevant to Houstonians this election.

October 2, 2013

Mayor Annise Parker,

It is evident that the City of Houston has become victim to rampant pay-to-play practices. This corrupt behavior should not be tolerated at any level of government. We must set an example here in Houston and open up the doors of City Hall to all Houstonians and foster a transparent process so that taxpayers are kept fully aware of how their tax dollars are being spent.

It is shameful for any individual or business to contribute money to a candidate and receive a lucrative reward in return. I believe that we must hold all our elected officials to the highest ethical standards.

Last week I committed to supporting policies that will eradicate these corrupt pay-to-play practices. I invite you to join me in supporting this comprehensive reform package that will increase transparency and remove the corrupt element. These policies include:

1.     Two-year moratorium on accepting campaign contributions after vendors receive city contracts.
2.     Two-year moratorium on accepting campaign contributions from municipal appointees.
3.     A candidate may not accept any contributions over $250.00 from an officer, director, or employee of a city contractor.
4.     When a contract is awarded or a person appointed, all campaign contributions given by that individual and/or company during the previous municipal election cycle must be disclosed immediately.
5.     Two-year moratorium on any city employees registering as a lobbyist or working for a lobbying firm.
6.     Require lobbyists to file reports and create a searchable online database showing information like names of companies they lobby for, amount paid, amount spent, amount spent on contributions, etc.
7.     No gifts will be accepted by the Mayor within the six months preceding an election.
8.     Create a searchable online database of city contracts awarded by all departments.
9.     Create a searchable city check register available online.
10.  Increased accountability through improving search capability for ethics reports.

I have enclosed these new ethics rules and my signature as a formal commitment to the implementation of these policies. I believe it would be in the best interest of all Houstonians for you to join me in support.


Benjamin L. Hall, III


Pol. Adv. Paid for by All for Hall Committee, William A. Lawson and Alvin Zimmerman, Treasurers. 4669 Southwest Freeway Houston, TX 77027


Crime Continues To Run Rampant Under Parker’s Watch


crime choice

(Houston, TX) – Crime in Houston is completely out of control. Last night, a man lost his life when two robbers opened fire in a Houston Subway restaurant. The day before, another man was shot at a local donut shop in northwest Houston. These crimes are far too common and Ms. Parker has failed to even acknowledge the problems, let alone offer a solution.

“We live in a city where the Sheriff is not immune from having his home burglarized and regular Houstonians cannot enjoy a meal or a night’s entertainment without being victimized. Ms. Parker seems content with letting this continue without leadership,” said mayoral candidate Ben Hall. “The real tragedy is that for every heinous act of violence that hits the front pages or the nightly news there are others that never even get acknowledged. Entire neighborhoods have been taken over by violence and whole communities live in constant fear. How much more of our city will be handed over to criminals before Ms. Parker speaks out?”

Just this July, Houston experienced the highest number of violent and non-violent crimes in the last year with non-violent crimes like burglary, theft and auto theft exceeding 10,000 incidents. But these crimes are more than just numbers. Each incident is another victimized Houstonian, and each victim is one too many.

“As the leader of this city, Houstonians have looked to Ms. Parker to set an agenda that first and foremost protects them. All other priorities are irrelevant if a mayor cannot deliver on that fundamental promise,” continued Hall. “Her ignorance towards this problem is concerning and her inability to offer solutions is a sign of failed leadership.”

Ben Hall released a plan to reverse Houston’s crime epidemic and implement meaningful solutions that will take back neighborhoods from the criminal element and protect Houstonians. The full plan can be found here.

Ms. Parker has offered no solutions to this disturbing trend. Her campaign is silent on these life and death issues. Ben Hall will not be!

Mayor Parker reduces health insurance premiums for city workers

Mayor Annise Parker has approved a reduction in health insurance premiums for city workers, reversing last spring’s increased rates from 14.9 percent to 8.7 percent. The premium reduction is in addition to lower copays and reduced prescription drug costs.
The Mayor hopes that the combined cost reductions will provide some financial relief for employees while also ensuring they stay engaged in wellness activities.

“We budgeted very conservatively and have been transparent in reporting where we are at every step along the way,” said Mayor Parker. “I make no apologies for that. It is the same fiscally-responsible approach we apply to all matters related to city finances.”

Parker’s competition for the mayoral race, Ben Hall, believes it is no coincidence that there is a reform to the health insurance premium.

“It’s an election year and a lot of good policies are suddenly appearing because of the challenge of an election and that’s the good thing about our democracy that once an incumbent is made to justify policy positions during an election cycle that there is some reformation that takes place,” said Hall. “So I applaud this exercise of an election because it has causing the ship to right itself on some of the bad policies on healthcare coverage issues before.”

The city began to focus on employee wellness after an increase in claims which also was the alleged reason for the increase in premium contributions and copayments last spring. The city also moved an extra $14 million into the health benefits account to ensure minimum balances would be available to meet all claims, according to the Mayor’s office.

“In April, HOPE members spoke before City Council rallying around the issue of affordable healthcare,” said Melvin Hughes, President of the Houston Organization of Public Employees. “After detailed analysis we were able to provide the city with recommendations that found several opportunities for cost savings. This decision makes healthcare affordable for the workers that help make this city run. I am proud of our members for making this possible and thankful to Mayor Parker for being willing to listen.”

September 1, 2013 the lower cost will go into effect and remain until April 30, 2014.

Ben Hall commented at about it his press conference that he is confident there was a catalyst for the reduction but whatever it was the reduction is the right thing to do for city employees.

Many are pleased to see the reform to the health insurance premiums as healthcare is necessary but becoming such a tedious and hard to come by commodity in the country. The city is in the third year of a self-insured employee health benefits plan, where it pays only when employees submit claims rather than having to pay set monthly costs.

Parker signs executive order for foreign language access

Mayor Parker signing  Executive Order for language access.
Mayor Parker signing Executive Order for language access.

Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country that houses thousands of foreign citizens and nets about $274 billion in foreign trade annually. On July 31, 2013, Mayor Annise Parker signed an executive order for the city to develop a language access plan for five different languages.

The executive order will be used to breakdown a language barrier that prevents many Houstonians that do not speak English from getting the services they need and to help them receive the essential information they need to survive in such a large city.

“This is not about going around re-doing signs around the city,” said Parker. “This is about different populations having access to information.”
The languages have not yet been chosen but they will look at large populations like the South Asian community that comprises of Indians, Pakistani, and Hindi.

The translations are critical especially during the hurricane seasons when danger can happen within a 24 hour span and communication is vital. There are over a 100 different languages spoken in Houston.

For the next six months research will ensue to identify the point of contacts that will do the translating and communicate with the target communities. The Office of International Communities (OIC), a division of the Department of Neighborhoods will spearhead this project and they have six months to come up with the language plan.

“It will be simple information such as how to pay a ticket, how to use the municipal courts or how to report an incident with the police,” said Mayor Parker.The goal is to make city services more accessible and give the international community an easier way to connect to the community.

“The OIC will conduct a data-driven language needs assessment, work closely with the City departments, international community leaders and university- based experts to identify the five languages that will be adopted into the plan,” said the OIC representatives.

Mayor Parker sees this as a big move for Houston as it stakes its claim as a premiere international city.

Houston makes way for another Costco

Another Costco will arrive near Houston very soon as city council carried the vote to allow the development of a Costco inside of their extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).

As a part of Mayor Parker’s 380 program which is set up to bring businesses into the Houston proper limits to stimulate economic growth, Costco will become the newest business to join in.

All members of city council did not find this agreement a good move as At-Large Position 2 city councilmember Andrew Burks and Vice Mayor Pro-Tem C.O. Bradford both voted no on the deal.

For Burks veterans weighed heavily as the issue why he voted not to enter into an incentive deal with Costco. As a veteran, Burks stated he has a problem when he knows veterans are out looking for jobs or work and it seems like they are not playing on a level field.

“What I ask for with Costco is to go to a system in which the federal government uses for hiring veterans, not employment just an application,” said Burks.

Councilmember Burks addressed his colleagues and said he resents how regardless of what is said in council the contract is final and nothing can be added to it such as the veteran or summer job programs incentive in order to enter into the agreement.

“I was duly elected to work for the citizens of Houston and when it comes to someone on the outside not elected in my place making deals and then telling me we can’t do anything or add or take away but they need my approval and our approval to do it; I think its wrong, therefore I’m going to vote no,” said Burks.

Mayor Parker added after Burks comments that the item came before council in May which gave council members such as At- Large Position 3 City Councilwoman Melissa Noriega time to meet with the administration repeatedly to learn more about the issue.

Costco had many locations they were scouting to develop. The location for the Costco will not be inside Houston city limits but north of Interstate-10 yet it will still be in the ETJ.

Full story inside the The Houston Sun Newspaper.

Demolition Day 2013

Myra Griffin
The Houston Sun

The city of Houston continues their demolition initiative as the city held their 4th Annual Demolition Day where they took down 39 blighted structures around the city in over 14 different zip codes.

Mayor Annise Parker joined Council member Jerry Davis (District B) in Kashmere Gardens to bulldoze a dilapidated house that has stood as an eye sore on Lavender Street for the past seven years.

“I’m happy to be joining Council member Jerry Davis on this Demolition Day. We started Demolition Day last year as well and I appreciate his effort to improve District B,” said Mayor Parker. “We have done this now for four years and Demolition Day gets better and better and the first thing I want to say is these efforts against blighted properties like this just don’t happen in one day. I created demolition day so we can draw attention to the problem come together as a community to focus on it one day a year and with volunteers to accomplish a lot of things in one day.”

The Department of Neighborhoods and seven divisions of Inspections and Public Service take the lead role in Demolition Day each year. They work closely with the Mayor’s office, Solid Waste Management, Public Works and Special Events. Through their efforts along with the city’s legal department and outside contractors the city is able to focus on houses and apartment complexes that are decaying across Houston.

“The property behind me took six years to get to today,” said Mayor Parker. “Its not because the city doesn’t want to tear down properties, it’s not because we don’t recognize how detrimental it is to a neighborhood these kind of properties are.”

State law in Texas is very specific and very precise and it is on the side of property owners. Even if the property is driving down the property value of the houses around them the city has to follow proper guidelines and procedures before tearing down the house.

“When we focused on Demolition Day we had 250 properties. We started on this last year and we said ok on Demolition Day this year our goal was to take down 100 properties,” said Mayor Parker. “This is good news because finally we have demonstrated over these last four years that we are serious about taking down these properties and owners have received the message so in some cases after years of pleading, begging and asking nicely and finally having the law knock on their door and taking them through the legal process they finally say ok I’m going to give up and do the right thing.”

The city has 136 properties to take down this year. The Houston Contractors Association has donated their equipment and labor for the past four years. Mayor Parker noted that their contributions over the years have probably totaled at around half a million dollars. Companies such as Pelitier Brothers Construction, AAA Asphalt Construction, Conrad Construction, BRH Construction, Garver Construction, Angel Bros. Construction, Reytec Construction, and Cherry Construction donated their labor and service to Kashmere Gardens and communities all around Houston.

“We’re overjoyed to be able to help the city and to be able to help the beautification of the city,” said Jeffrey Nielsen, Executive Director of the Houston Contractors Association. “It helps with crime when we are moving a blight that’s in the neighborhood and it’s not just a blight it’s a safety hazard as well. We earn our living by building the roads, the bridges, water line, sewer lines for the city of Houston and this is one of the few ways we have to give back and kind of paying forward an we are very happy to do it.”

The community of Kashmere Gardens is neighborhood friendly. The elderly sit on their front porches and the children walk to the school that is down the street from the house that was torn down. The house at 4522 Lavender Street was a pressing issue that needed to be addressed. Neighbors like Kenneth Ellis and his mother, Mrs. Ellis sat on their porch across the street, watching as city officials and the construction crews blocked off the area to bulldoze a house that they have reported numerous of times over the past seven years. They were leery about the after effects of the tearing down of a house that was vacant for so long and how the city would handle the debris that surrounded the home.

“We already have a problem with possums,” said Mrs. Ellis. “They’re just going to knock down the house but what about the over grown trees. It’s still an eye sore and we’ve been calling on this property for years and years.”

Mayor Parker is aware of how long the house has been sitting as she told those who gathered to see the demolition that after six years of legal process, the house being trashed out by vagrants, even a fire started in it at one point, the demolition is set and ready to go.

The process to demolition a house is not as simple as a call. Mayor Parker spoke about how the city has to jump through legal hoops, make sure all the utilities are cut off and no underground gas leaks, asbestos or any thing hazardous is still active within the house.

“It is a very rigorous process. One of the things we do is sweep the neighborhood and have inspectors look around and see what’s going on,” said Landon Taylor of the Department of Neighborhoods. “We talk to the neighbors that report them and also look at the tax status that is on the property. Then it goes through the process of being dually noticed, an administrative hearing and then sometimes the owner wants to appeal but then it’s our job to show all the facts and go ahead and take them down.”

Mayor Parker compared these blighted homes to cancer stating that you have to cut out cancer so that is what the city was doing, cutting out the cancer in that neighborhood. Council member Jerry Davis has made it a commitment to get rid of the blighted structures in District B as he has already taken down 200 properties in the two years he has been in office.

Jeremy Ratcliff, president of the Super Neighborhoods- Kashmere Gardens showed his excitement for the development of his community and the efforts made by the city to help restore African American communities.

“There’s a misconception when you come through Kashmere Gardens that none of these people care and we are trying to change that,” said Ratcliff. “There are people here that care and we appreciate the help and hopefully this is a start of a relationship between the neighborhoods and the city to get more of these structures down.”

Demolition Day has helped paved the way for new opportunity and growth. Mayor Parker has issued a message to property owners that if they don’t want to keep up their property and the city has to step in and do it they will because this is a city about neighborhoods and they care.

Emancipation Park Celebrates Juneteenth

Friends of Emancipation Park(FOEP) began celebrating Juneteenth at the historic park last month.

Festivities kicked off with the annual Mr. & Ms. Juneteenth Pageant which was headed by Mildred Johnson and for the first time in the event’s history, incorporated males.

The Beauty and The Beast Tea featured elegantly designed tables that incorporated one essential message the following Sunday, freedom. Catered food, assorted teas and various desserts were provided.

Monday, children that participated in the Emancipation Park Summer Camp learned about the history of Juneteenth along with making arts and crafts that reflected their heritage.

Watermelon and red punch were given to children following Wednesday’s talent show which featured young competitors from various parks around Houston. Children danced, and sung for audiences as well as judges.

More activities for FOEP’s Juneteenth celebration are planned including a parade, a movie night, and more leading up to Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s announcement of a $33 million dollar renovation of Emancipation Park. For more information on all activities or if interested in vending, visit www.juneteenthfest.com.