Mayor Parker gets engaged

Texpatriate has learned that Mayor Annise Parker will marry her longtime partner next month in California. Parker, who has long definitively stated that she planned on getting hitched only when Texas legalized gay marriage, reportedly altered her tune in recent days.

Mayor Parker has been together with her partner, Kathy Hubbard, for over 20 years and the duo has now raised three adoptive children. Back in August, when CNN covered the Mayoral race, they quoted the Mayor saying that she wants to get married “in her City.” However, a recent Houston Chronicle article on this topic notes that she may have changed her mind somewhat substantially in light of the recent transitions.

The wedding will be held in “mid-January” in Palm Springs, California. We will report more when we receive additional information.

Freeman sues City of Houston

KPRC reports that a local couple has sued the City of Houston after their full spousal benefits have been revoked. As the astute may recall, last month Mayor Parker announced that all legally married couples (includes those of the same-sex) could provide full spousal benefits from the City if one member of the couple worked for the municipality. Only three couples initially signed up for these benefits, including Noel Freeman (a City employee) and Brad Pritchett. Many will probably remember Freeman, the President of the Houston GLBT Caucus and previous candidate for the City Council, and Pritchett, an official with the Harris County Democratic Party. Shortly thereafter, officials with the Harris County GOP sued the City of Houston in attempt to enjoin the offering of these benefits; they were successful in obtaining a temporary restraining order to this effect until mid-January.

Accordingly, even though Freeman and others had begun paying the City higher premiums to ensure their lawfully wedded spouses had received the benefits, these benefits had been stopped indefinitely. In response to this injustice, the couple (as well as two others) has sued the City of Houston in Federal Court over being deprived of the equal protection and due process. As the Channel 2 article notes, the original suit that prompted the TRO will come up for full oral arguments in January.

Click here to read more about the implications of this lawsuit!

An update in SD15

There are very few competitive primaries this year within the Harris County Democratic Party, but one of them is the race for the 15th State Senate district. The incumbent, John Whitmire, has served the area for over 40 years. After just 22 years nonstop without a primary challenger, he finally drew one in Damian LaCroix, a local attorney. The LaCroix/Whitmire race looks to be about as exciting as these things go for Democratic contests this next year. Accordingly, I have now met with both LaCroix and Whitmire separately to discuss this upcoming campaign. What I found led me to believe this will be the race to watch if one enjoys watching sparks fly.

Click here to read about my talks with both LaCroix and Whitmire!

TPA Roundup (December 23, 2013)

Note: The views of the Texas Progressive Alliance or any of its members are not neccessarily those of Texpatriate or its contributors.

The Texas Progressive Alliance wishes everyone a joyful and joyous holiday at it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff wants to know why no one is taking responsibility for enforcing voting rights in Texas.

Texpatriate releases a list of Best and Worst members of the Houston City Council.

Continue reading

Texpatriate’s List of Best and Worst Councilmembers

Back in June, this board came out with a list of the Best and Worst Legislators of the 83rd State Legislature. The list was largely modeled after what Texas Monthly has been doing after sine die for now 40 years. But nobody –at least nowadays– does lists of best and worst members of the City Council; we felt it was time to change all of that.

Theoretically, this list should cover the entire term from the beginning of 2012 to the present, but it is admittedly heavily biased in favor of the actions taken by Councilmembers this year alone, given the recent inception of this board as an institution. That being said, we attempted to use a rather well-rounded method to distinguish the good from the bad. Additionally, given the unmatched power that the Mayor holds at City Hall in unilaterally setting the agenda, dissent is sometimes conflated with obstinate obstructionism. Again, this board has tried its best to separate the emotions and intentions of a Councilmember’s act of disobedience from the breakaway itself.

Much like our June list of Legislators, we have included (ranked) the three best City Councilmembers and the three worst City Councilmembers. Additionally, like Texas Monthly, we have included a further category for the quintessential bellwether. In Monthly, it is referred to as the “Bull of the Brazos,” a politician whom “the line between a scoundrel and a statesman can be hammered too thin to recognize.” We will call it the “Bull of the Bagby,” a whimsical reference to Bagby Street, the location of City Hall. Further, we will also grade the City leadership with a letter grade. Since this board includes a student of Harvard University, considering the recent attention, we have worked very hard to combat any “grade inflation” that Texpatriate may engage in. Not everyone gets “A”s, nor should everyone, so an imperfect mark is not intended to be construed as a sign of failure within this exercise.

This board also entertained the idea of given out some sort of distinction similar to Monthly‘s “furniture” designation, which denotes the lawmakers who participated at similar levels as their desks and chairs. However, we eventually decided such a label would be too harsh for any of the Councilmembers, considering we are now without the likes of a Jolanda Jones, who was notorious for playing hookey.

We know many will disagree with our rationale, some possibly strongly. We invite those to address our hypothetically-alleged shortcomings when they publish their own list of Best and Worst City Councilmembers. This board looks forward to them with great zeal, especially the Houston Chronicle’s.

Accordingly, we present, our list:

Click here to read our list!

Judge Pratt cleared

The Houston Chronicle reports that Judge Denise Pratt, a family District Judge that had been investigated for wrongdoing, was officially cleared after a grand jury declined to indict her. Back in October, a frontpage article lambasted Judge Pratt for allegedly altering timestamps on her records after falling behind on court records. Shortly thereafter, the Houston Bar Association berated her for the issue, among others.

Judge Pratt has drawn a Democratic opponent next year. Sherri Cothrun, an attorney who previously run for Judge in 2010, will seek the post. Additionally, Pratt drew four Republican challengers in the primary: Donna Detamore, Alicia Franklin, Anthony Magdaleno and Philip Placzek. You see, the Republicans actually understand how elections work and are not so lazy as to pass the buck to others, but I digress.

The Republican Party had been considering kicking Judge Pratt off the ballot if charges went forward on the corruption, but since this ultimately did not happen, she will be free to continue in a grueling knifefight for the party’s nomination. As differences between parties go, Democrats are too chicken to do anything productive, and Republicans are far too caustic to play nicely. Accordingly, even though official criminal wrongdoing has been ruled out, do not expect her political opponents to ease up any time soon. To do so would be extraordinarily naive.

For background on what Judge Pratt was accused of, click here!