Nearly a week ago, Ben Hall launched a television ad. In response, Annise Parker released her own commercial, a startling attack ad on the Hall record as opposed to Hall’s charming/ominous introductory video. Not to be outdone by both of the better-known candidates, Eric Dick, the token Republican in the race, has released his own
tv commercial radio ad robocall that is being dialed in to neighborhoods across the city.
Dick’s campaign contacted me directly to share the good news on their part, redirecting me to the above YouTube video, ostensibly a recording of the robocall received at a supporters’ house. I was told on the phone that this robocall has been sent out to thousands and thousands of homes, but am just slightly dubious to this assertion, as the video is about 3 weeks old already and has exactly 48 views as of press time. I transcribe the text of the robocall below:
“This is Houston attorney Eric Dick and I wanted to tell you that, last year, Annise Parker made it a crime to give food to the poor. She then turned around and tried to put poor people in jail for digging for food out of dumpsters. Doesn’t it seem wrong to you that the City, it can pay for Mayor Parker to drive around in a limousine, yet it is a crime to give food to the homeless. This is Houston attorney Eric Dick. I’m running for Mayor, and I need your help. You can find out more about me at EricDickForMayor.com, that’s EricDickForMayor.com. Once again, EricDickForMayor.com. With your help, we’ll restore decency back to City Hall. Thank you.
Paid for by the Eric Dick, a Republican for Mayor, campaign. Clyde Bryan, Treasurer.”
For some reason, this robocall has been uploaded to one of Dick’s relative’s YouTube accounts, rather than the campaign’s. I find that somewhat peculiar in and of itself. But most of my comments have to do with the content itself of Dick’s message.
It is no secret that I largely agree with Dick’s take on the food sharing ordinance, I agreed with a majority of my fellow Houstonians in believing that an ordinance which criminalized giving food to homeless people on public land was asinine and just plain wrong. Although I would have still dissented from the measure, I do note that the final bill passed, was significantly better than earlier drafts. Most notably, it does not apply to feeding five or fewer people. Accordingly, it is somewhat misleading to insinuate the points that Dick made.
More significantly, however, is an absolute misstatement of the facts to say Mayor Parker is zealously supportive of the “eating-out-of-dumsters” ordinance. That could not be further from the truth. Dos Centavos has a great story back from March when the Mayor announced she would be pushing a repeal of the dumpster diving ordinance. The next month, in April, the vote to repeal the 1950s dumpster diving ordinance passed the City Council in a very close vote. The Mayor herself was out-of-town and thus did not cast a vote, but would have most definitely voted to repeal if present. I talked about this at length at the time.
I found the comparison between the Mayor riding in a limousine and the homeless feeding ordinance to be a little far fetched. Like, Rick Perry far fetched, actually. Dick employs a special type of logical fallacy known as an “ignoratio elenchi,” more commonly referred to as a Red Herring, to make the comparison. Whether or not the Mayor should ride in a limousine is a budgetary issue, whether or not to criminalize feeding the homeless is a ethical/moral issue. The two issues are not related.
For what it is worth, I actually do enjoy Dick’s first video, a 30-second YouTube video, I was told may or may not grace or televisions at some point in the future. This video simply is a montage of people saying what the like about Houston, followed by Dick himself saying he is running for Mayor. Nice and positive, though lacking in substance.