Why I’m In for Jen: Jenifer Rene Pool

Houston summers can seem endless, but in reality, we’re marching through it quite fast. And nowhere is that calendar time more apparent than in the minds of our local municipal candidates. They see the hot days ticking away, and know that we’re under 4 or so months from the November elections, and 90 days from when the first votes are cast. In every corner of Houston, you’ll find candidates shaking hands, holding up signs, giving speeches, and doing all of the necessary activities local politics requires.

As Texas Leftist, I intend to cover much of the inner workings of Houston’s 2013 elections. But there’s one race I am pledged to stay out of on this blog, and that is Houston City Council, At- Large Position 3. The reason is because I am working for Candidate Jenifer Rene Pool, and I wanted to share why.

Pool’s background is in the Construction industry. Her father owned a company that built roads, water and sewer lines, and buildings throughout Houston and Southeast Texas. After working under his wing, she went on to work for other prominent Construction firms in the region, and now owns her own consulting business. She knows the city’s vast maze of permitting codes, and wants to help streamline and simplify that process for citizens.

Because of her background in the field, one of Jenifer’s primary concerns is improving Houston’s infrastructure. Everything that is done in a modern city depends on its infrastructure. You can’t get to your job without good roads to drive, walk or bike on, and neither can anyone else. Houston’s very prosperity depends on the success and maintenance of our infrastructure. But some roads have fallen into such disrepair, that they end up costing Houstonians millions of extra dollars in vehicle repair. And roads are just the beginning… some sidewalks across the city haven’t been repaired in decades. Many of those same areas are where poor citizens, Seniors and other non-drivers live. And those are the people that depend on safe, passable sidewalks the most. Jenifer wants to change this, and have Houston make infrastructure a real priority again.

“We passed an issue where the city of Houston could raise money for infrastructure repairs. That’s wonderful… I believe in paying ‘as you go’, and the bond has given us an effort to do that. But it comes down to a point of priority. Where I visit and talk to people, the repairs are not there. Their streets and sidewalks have not been repaired in 30 years, leaving Seniors having to walk in the streets. Last year, 5 Seniors were hit by cars because their only means of transportation, the sidewalks, were in complete disrepair. If we’re going to build a better Houston, we have to start from the ground up, and give proper infrastructure access to all Houstonians.” said Jenifer at a recent public event. As the city continues to wrestle with it’s rapidly developing future, Jenifer’s wealth of experience seems a necessary voice in Council.

Along with infrastructure, Jenifer cares about equality for all of Houston’s citizens. As an openly transgender woman, candidacy is an historic one. If elected, she would become the first transgender person to hold office in a city of more than one million people. That would be the highest elected office held by any known transgender person to date. Of course, that’s not why she’s running, but it is an important part of her candidacy to recognize. She has been a leader in Houston’s LGBT community, having served as a past President of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, and as the 2012 Pride Marshal in Houston’s Pride Celebration.

Yesterday at City Hall, Jenifer Rene Pool made her official entry into the At-Large 3 race. Here’s coverage from TransGriot

“She’s been hard at work at it for several months, but yesterday Jenifer Rene Pool made it official and announced her candidacy for the Houston City Council At Large Position 3 seat on the steps of Houston City Hall. And yeah, some blogger y’all know was there for the announcement a little after 3:30 PM CDT. I wanted to be there to witness Houston and trans history.”

Which is also why I’ve chosen to write today. As a citizen blogger, I try to cover most issues from observing, yet opinionated perspective. But I chose to work for Jenifer Rene Pool’s candidacy during the At-Large 3 race. I’m officially a campaign volunteer… not getting paid, but I help out with phone calls, block walks, and try to use my skills to advance her cause. Respectfully, I will not be covering the At-Large 3 race for Houston City Council on the Texas Leftist blog. Instead I would highly encourage readers to check out awesome coverage from Off the Kuff and Texpatriate to keep up with this city race. I do still plan to weigh in for other local races though.

Lastly, this post is not an endorsement, but just a recognition of why I’ve chosen the path of getting involved for this race. Sometimes when you believe in someone, you have to step in, work hard and see if you can make a difference. I know that if elected, Jenifer Rene Pool would be a monumental asset to Houston City Council. I want better streets and sidewalks in my neighborhood and everywhere I need to go, and she does too. If you’re a Houston voter, I encourage you to check out all of the candidates running, and make the best decision for you.

Me? I’m In for Jen.

(Jenifer Rene Pool’s official announcement at City Hall… July 11th, 2013)

This post is NOT an endorsement.

Grand Chance: Steve Grand’s All-American Boy

For being known as “the love that dare not speak its name”, gay romance is sure getting a lot of exposure lately. And that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, as 2013 has been a landmark year for the LGBT community. The Defense of Marriage Act is DEAD, America has its first openly gay active NBA player, and songs like Macklemore’s Same Love are burning up the charts.

So it’s time for you to meet the next big musical hit-maker on the subject.

Not exactly sure if he’s known as a Country artist, but I have to salute Chicago singer/songwriter Steve Grand on taking a grand chance with the genre. His efforts have resulted in a song and video that are taking YouTube by storm, and for good reason. What’s depicted here in song and image isn’t just an American love story, but it’s in fact a universal one, and is as old as time. The video was uploaded on July 2nd, and as of today has already garnered more than 1.2 million views. Here’s more from Michael Cidoni Lennox of the Huffington Post

He’s a musician without a record label, a card holder without any remaining credit. And the gig that supplies what he calls “food money” may now be in jeopardy.

But after events of the last week, Steve Grand said “I would die a happy man today,” and not for the reasons he’s suddenly getting attention.

Grand’s first music video, for his country-tinged rock ballad “All-American Boy,” was posted on YouTube last Tuesday. By last night, it had exploded, attracting more than 400,000 total views — nothing for top-charting videos from big-name recording artists, but an impressive figure for one from a complete unknown whose only promotion has been internet buzz.

The video cost just $7,000, a fraction of the major-names’ going rate, but it was a fortune to Grand, who came up with the entire budget himself by maxing out his only plastic to tell the video’s story.

“All-American Boy” portrays a young gay man who misreads signals from an apparently straight “all-American” male friend. On a day hanging out with the gang, the two guys and a girl take off in a car. She drives, as the guys sit together in the back, with the straight man, at one point, falling asleep on the gay man’s shoulder. Feeling like a third wheel, the girl eventually, angrily drives off, leaving the two men to pal around in the woods, where they end up stripping down and going skinny-dipping — even sharing a quick kiss. Ultimately for the straight guy, it was just all in good fun. But for the gay man, it was something much more significant, and he is left dazed, confused and longing.

I for one am really glad he maxed out those cards, as this is a story that needs to be heard and is long overdue.

An Orange Rally with Blue Roots

Yeah ok… As a Democrat and someone who didn’t go to UT-Austin, I have to admit that I would have preferred a different set of colors for the Stand With Texas Women movement. What’s worse is having the Anti-Choice counter attack steal our blue. Not cool.

But the irony of yesterday’s Stand With Texas Women’s Rally in downtown Houston? It may have been orange from the outside, but you could feel some serious energy within to Turn Texas Blue.

The crowd started off reasonably strong… 200 or so people standing by the Discovery Green stage, mostly trying to stay out of the punishing sunlight, signing petitions and rapidly buying their burnt orange shirts. You could tell that the people showing up in Houston had just left work (like me) and were tired from the busy day they had already experienced.

But as soon as the crowd got word that the Stand With Texas Women Tour Bus was pulling up, new life seemed to take over the crowd. They suddenly found a collective Second Wind, and the strength to stand and shout at Discovery Green park. And finally, after another brief delay, the real rallying started. Texas’ newest political rockstar Wendy Davis, accompanied by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, and State Senators Sylvia Garcia and Rodney Ellis of Houston, Jose Rodriguez of El Paso, and Kirk Watson of Austin. What felt like a few hundred people dispersed around Discovery Green swelled quickly to 1,000 as we condensed near the stage in a veritable sea of orange.

Cecile Richards kicked things off…

“It’s wasn’t just that Gov. Perry and some of his allies in the Legislature ended the women’s health program and cut more than 130,000 women in Texas off of preventive care, but now the Legislature is considering a bill that would force dozens more health centers in this state to close their doors making it even harder for women to get care and ending access to safe and legal abortion.”

The crowd definitely cheered at times, but also listened intently to each person at the mic. Like the above, it “felt” different… maybe because it wasn’t technically a political rally, but because this was a group of Texans that were putting up a fight. But no one was lost to the fact that this was a Democratic affair. State Senator Garcia, with Wendy Davis standing directly behind her, got the loudest cheer of the night.

“Instead of Texas women always having to fight our Governor, maybe it’s time for a Texas woman to BE our Governor.”

Yeah, that was basically all it took to make that group happy. And that’s when it hit me… Texas’ conversion to a swing state is happening right before our eyes. Even a couple years ago, Democrat and Leftist forces would have never put even a dime into something as intricate as a bus tour in Texas. When the 2011 legislature decimated our education budget (Wendy Davis’ first filibuster), most of the media wrote it off as “par for the course” in Perrystan. But now in two short years… who am I kidding… 4 short weeks… We’re standing here rallying and recruiting activists like we’re just west of Florida’s I-4 corridor. This is the stuff that I remember watching all across the country in 2010 and 2012. Every time Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or Nancy Pelosi said something even halfway controversial, the other side had a bus ready to go. And for the GOP, they barely need an excuse to wait. But in Texas politics? Complete dormancy.

The Bus Tour is evidence that Texas Democrats are beginning to put the puzzle together. If the GOP continues to suppress and oppress, then it’s up to Democrats to not sit silent, but stand up and fight. Keep shining the light on GOP atrocities and tie these events into voter registration. Work hard to wake up the massive group of disengaged people out there. And if that can happen, they’re going to roll right through the orange patch, and turn Texas blue.

No More Perrystan!! But what’s next?

At least come early 2015.

Yesterday, the longest-serving Governor in Texas history, made his big announcement… Rick Perry will not seek re-election. Here’s more from the Texas Tribune…

Perry announced Monday that he will not run for re-election next year, creating the first open race for Texas governor since 1990 and making Attorney General Greg Abbott the instant favorite to replace him.

“I remain excited about the future and the challenges ahead, but the time has come to pass on the mantle of leadership,” Perry said. “Today I am announcing I will not seek re-election as governor of Texas. I will spend the next 18 months working to create more jobs, opportunity and innovation. I will actively lead this great state.”

This is an historic announcement for the state of Texas. For the first time in the 21st Century, Rick Perry will not hold an elected office in Texas State Government. And as for having an open field for Texas Governor, it’s going to be a welcomed change. And hopefully, for the first time since 2006, Texans will get to observe a General Election debate. In case you forgot, Rick Perry was re-elected in 2010 without even debating Democratic candidate Bill White.

Sure… some people may think of debates as more show than substance, but it’s been an important tool in recent American politics. Debates offer a chance for voters to (potentially) hear both sides of an argument presented on equal footing. Our country couldn’t have had better evidence of this than the debate series between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It’s arguable Romney’s performance in the first debate was the only time in his campaign that he felt like a credible candidate for the Presidency, and it was the time that Obama’s re-election hopes were in the most danger. The simple course of 90 minutes and two candidates having to interact had a profound impact on months… years of work.

Is anyone surprised that Rick Perry chose to chicken out of debating a very viable opponent. Why expose voters to the truth?

But thankfully, the time of Perrystan now has a definitive closing date. We can all look forward to seeing honesty and transparency return to the Governor’s office, right?


Though he lacks the showmanship of Governor Perry, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is just as shrewd and potentially dangerous. Don’t let the disability fool you. He’s at constant war with the Obama administration on virtually every major federal law. He’s an adamant Anti- Choice proponent. And if you thought that maybe his brand of Conservatism allows for the freedom to marry or be respected as same-sex partners? Think again. He’s already vigorously preparing to fight every aspect of the latest SCOTUS rulings striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. If you were looking forward to escaping the horrors of Perrystan, Abbottstan would probably be worse.

But here’s the good news… it’s not election day yet. Democrats still have more than a year to get their stuff together. Again it all comes down to doing the hard work of uniting behind the right candidates. The recent protests at the Capitol have proven that progressivism still has a place in Texas. But these protests have to turn into real political action. They cannot fade into the night once the legislature closes. And regardless of the outcome of candidates, all Texans should demand a series of General Election debates. Let’s face it folks… a well-televised debate is the single most important event that can occur for voters whom are less politically engaged. One has to wonder that if Bill White got 42% of a low vote election, how much more could he have gotten with a more informed public?? In the 2014 battle, this cannot be allowed.

Texas Democrats, say hello to your new Public Enemy number 1. No More Abbottstan

The New American Patriotism

On this Independence Day, I am proud to be an American. Even with all of the issues we have in this country, it’s truly great to live in a place where we can settle the majority of our disputes in court and at the ballot box, instead of at the end of a gun. 

But it’s time to realize that the United States is at a great point of transition, and it’s up to us in the here and now to see it through. Most of the infrastructure that forms the backbone of our economy? It is the legacy of Americans from the mid- 20th century… they built our interstate system with their hands. So far we are not contributing to that legacy… instead we sit back and hope that it will “hold out” through a divisive, stagnant federal government. But stagnation is not the American way. As our nation grows more diverse, and our infrastructure falls away, it’s time for us to take up the banner and create the America we want, instead of just settling for what others left us. We will be a more diverse nation, we will reach a new level in the continuing struggle for Civil Rights, and we must build a 21st century infrastructure. 

On this Independence Day, we celebrate what Americans (all immigrants by the way) did to create this nation. We honor their deeds as an important part of our past. But I believe this day is just as much about our future. Let’s be the nation that we know we can be… that we are called to be. It’s time to be the New America.  

Texoblogosphere: Week of July 1st

The Texas Progressive Alliance stands with Wendy as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff points to two recent polls about abortion to note that the people really aren’t asking for more restrictions on reproductive choice.

Horwitz of Texpatriate asks the question on everyone’s minds: will the Senate Democrats stay or go in the Second Special Session?

Rick Perry thought he learned more from the life of Wendy Davis than she did, so he mansplained it to an anti-choice organization last week. And even Joe Straus was appalled. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs observed that this mansplaining business is a much more common form of testosterone poisoning than anyone previously knew.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson says it was a bad week for voting rights, A sad day in the United States.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw tells us about http://www.texaskaos.net/diary/7362/the-night-texas-turned-blue”>The Night Texas Turned Blue. Wendy Davis made us all proud.

This week at McBlogger, Cap’n Kroc has a message of welcome for the people newly energized by the Filicluster.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme hails the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA, but check out what the DOMA ruling means in a state like Texas.

The Ghost of Sam Houston makes an appearance at Darth Politico to talk Wendy Davis, Democracy, the rule of law, and the importance of civil disobedience.

And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Jim Rigby pens an open letter to the women of Texas.

Iain Simpson contemplates the connection between whistleblowing and civil disobedience.

BOR explains what the SCOTUS decision on UT’s admissions policy means.

State Rep. Mark Strama announced his plans for the future.

Nonsequiteuse places the blame for Tuesday’s debacle in the Senate where it belongs, and reminds us that the fight is far from over.

Lone Star Ma stands with Wendy.

Mark Bennett gives the ten commandments of courtroom humor.

Andrea Grimes explains to people outside Texas why they should never write us off.

Texagain and Rachel Farris document their experiences in the Senate chamber during the Davis filibuster.

Concerned Citizens thinks Sen. Davis should run for Lt. Governor, not Governor.

Harold Cook updates us on the latest Republican minority outreach program.

Rule Number 1– Never Underestimate Wendy Davis

Until one week ago, most people in the United States had never even heard of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis. I’ll even wager that most Texans didn’t know who she was. But they’re sure starting to find out now. In that 168 hours, her Twitter account skyrocketed from 1,200 follower to upwards of 127,000. She’s been interviewed by every national news network under the sun, and even gotten major write-ups in international papers like the Guardian and Le Figaro. It’s sufficient to say, that over the last week, she became a Democratic superstar and a national sensation.

I guess that’s what a well-publicized 13 hour filibuster can do for you. When you get #StandWithWendy trending on Twitter, your name becomes known. And sure, I agree with Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post… Wendy Davis shouldn’t be praised solely because of one filibuster. But it seems that the national media has done what they typically do.. focus on the event to build the person, instead of starting with the person to build the event. And as the national media’s attention shifts, they have started to sour on Davis’ prospects, partly due to a new PPP poll that predicts a slim chance of her making it to the Governor’s mansion. Luckily the GOP is going right along with them on this, and that will prove to be a big mistake. People need to know that Wendy Davis isn’t your bargain basement politician… she’s a real political fighter, with real guts.

Wendy Davis is someone that has beaten the odds her entire life. She was a poor, single mother at the age of 19, with no college education. But even then, Davis saw that her life could be more that her immediate surroundings. She put herself through community college, earned a scholarship to Texas Christian University, graduated with High honors, and went on graduate from Harvard Law School. All the while, raising a family. When she finally decided to run for State Senator of District 10, Davis once again faced a tough road. As a Democrat in a solidly Republican district, she beat the male, Republican incumbent Kim Brimer in a nail-biter race. Also worth noting, her former City Council seat is currently held by the wildly popular LGBT politician Joel Burns.

So that’s how Davis became a State Senator in 2008. Most GOP operatives blamed her victory on the “Obama wave” (eventhough John McCain clearly won her district) and saw Davis as a novelty that would be easily beaten in 2012. They of course thought wrong. Senator Davis won reelection in 2012 from a during a bitter campaign battle. Here’s an excerpt from the Texas Tribune’s 2012 election night article…

State Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, narrowly clung to her seat on Tuesday night, fending off Republican state Rep. Mark Shelton in the most-watched legislative race of the Texas election…

Her win kept Republicans from coming within one vote of the two-thirds majority needed to render Democrats virtually powerless in the upper chamber. And it gave hope to Texas Democratic Party officials, who see Davis as a rising star and a potential a statewide candidate.

The Tarrant County district was hardly a certain bet for either candidate. It has traditionally leaned Republican: Gov. Rick Perry won the district in the 2010 gubernatorial race; U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., won the presidential vote there in 2008.

“I think it’s really a reflection of people wanting a bipartisan voice,” she said. “People rose above partisanship in the way they voted tonight. They voted for integrity, for a fighter.”…

Clearly with Davis, HD10 has started some new traditions.

But what happened with the previous races is critically important for Texas Democrats, and national Democrats to understand… thanks to the make-up of HD10, Wendy Davis is well-practiced for a statewide race. Her district is virtually a microcosm of it, and she has figured out what Democrats need to do in order to win there. That’s why you’re not going to see her spewing hardcore “left-wing” ideology. Instead Davis carefully speaks about Texas values, and limited, but effective government. She has carefully crafted a message that allows her to appeal across party lines and political philosophies. This is exactly why I wrote back in February that Davis is the top Democrat prospect for a statewide victory. She’s a pro at this stuff.

So I have to agree with Andrew Kaczynski over at BuzzFeed… winning statewide is “not likely” for a Texas Democrat…

But thankfully… Texas is a state that never cared for “likely”. Senator Davis, the ball is in your court.

For more opinions, check out Off the Kuff and Texpatriate on this.