HERO Opponents File Suit Against City of Houston

Here’s the story from Mike Morris of the Houston Chronicle

Opponents of Houston’s new non-discrimination ordinance sued Mayor Annise Parker late Tuesday after city officials rejected a petition the group had submitted hoping to force a repeal referendum in November.

Plaintiff and conservative activist Jared Woodfill said his group is asking a state district judge to declare that City Secretary Anna Russell followed her legal duty and verified a sufficient number of signatures to force a referendum before City Attorney David Feldman illegally inserted himself into the process.

“If he felt there were underlying problems with the petition then he, like us, has the right to file a lawsuit if he doesn’t agree with what the city secretary did,” Woodfill said. “Going in before she’s ever made the decision and influencing her is inappropriate, it’s illegal and we believe the court will agree with us and that folks will have their voices heard in November on this issue.”

Feldman declined to comment until he had seen a copy of the lawsuit, but earlier Tuesday disputed the idea that his involvement crossed any ethical or legal lines.

“The fact is, that given my role as defined by law,  I’m supposed to give advice to city officials, whether they be elected, appointed or just employees,” he said. “That’s part of my role and the role of this department, so I don’t see anything out of the ordinary here in terms of our involvement.”

This move was to be expected, which is why Mayor Parker decided to delay the new ordinance while all of the legal battles are being worked out.  Plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit were Ex-Harris County Republican Party Chairman Jared Woodfill, almost convicted criminal Steven Hotze, Pastor F.N. Williams Sr. and Pastor Max Miller.  Noticeably absent from the plaintiff list was Pastor and Kendall Baker, whom has had his own trouble with the law. Rest assured, it ain’t no “family values” Brady Bunch.

UPDATE:  Be sure to visit Lone Star Q for an excellent post on the lawsuit as well.  Here is some critical information that they have published…

The lawsuit alleges that last Friday, City Secretary Anna Russell determined there were approximately 17,846 valid signatures on the petition, more than the 17,269 needed to qualify for the ballot. However, on Monday, Parker and City Attorney David Feldman held a press conference to announce that the petition contained only 15,249 valid signatures.

Given that there is a significant disagreement between the City Secretary’s numbers from Friday, and the announcement on Monday, this could certainly strengthen the plaintiff’s case in the lawsuit.  Kudos to Lone Star Q for publishing not only this information, but including both the lawsuit and City Secretary’s official memo, dated Friday August 1st.

(Steven Hotze.  photo credit:  Death and Taxes mag

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