KRPC has a story about a recent ordinance which passed the Houston City Council, 8-7, that legalized (not decriminalized) rummaging through garbage bins and dumpsters located on public property.
The legislation was in response to a recent homeless veteran named James Kelly who was cited after removing food from a trash bin. This has been a pet issue of Mayor Parker (who missed the vote due to being in Turkey on official City business), who desperately wants to be seen as a little more empathetic to the plight of the homeless after the food sharing fiasco.
The Chron also has a story on it, but it behind that asinine paywall. Neither of the articles mentioned the roll call vote, so I called the City Secretary’s office and got it myself. Voting in support were Helena Brown, Jerry Davis, Ellen Cohen, Al Hoang, Ed Gonzalez, Mike Laster, Larry Green and Stephen Costello. Voting in opposition was Wanda Adams, Dave Martin, Oliver Pennington, James Rodriguez, Andrew Burks, Melissa Noriega and Jack Christie. Mayor Parker was absent.
I always find these split votes to be the most fascinating. Of the 6 Republicans, they were evenly split, and of the 9 Democrats, 5 voted in favor and 4 in opposition. This was truly a vote without any partisan tilt to it. Representing the proponents, Mayor Pro Tem Ed Gonzalez, in the Chronicle article, stated that “We definitely don’t want somebody who’s just rummaging through a trash can, especially someone in need, for there to be a direct criminal response to it…” In a bizarre connection, Councilmember Pennington led the charge against the measure because of a fear of terrorist attacks, in remarks given to both the Chronicle and Channel 2. “There are health issues, safety issues. That’s emphasized by what happened in Boston. The police ought to have some sort of jurisdiction to have control of the trash cans,” Pennington said.
Oy. Anyways, this is yet another good step in the right direction for the Mayor and the City. Just another reason why I will be voting for Mayor Parker in the fall.